Me: I was cleaning my costume room yesterday and it smelled really strong in there and I realized there is mould growing on the wall. I’ve never dealt with mould before but I heard it might be dangerous and also bad for the foundation. Do you want to have a look at it? I’m not sure what to do.
Landlady: I’ll come check it tomorrow. What time will you be home?
Me I’ll be working from home tomorrow except for between 3:30-5:30 pm.
Landlady: Call me after 5:30
All day the next day, while I work from home, I hear the sound of the landlady trudging and banging and thumping around over my head.
Me: (leaving a message) Hi Landlady, it’s Jen, downstairs. I’m home all night so any time you want to drop by.
The sound of landlady trudging and thumping upstairs.
Then my doorbell.
Upon walking into the apartment
Landlady: Ugh. It’s strong the smell.
Me: Right? It’s freaky.
Landlady touches the wall for a second and then…
Landlady: Turn a fan on in here. I’ll come check on it tomorrow.
I put a fan on but about an hour later everyone in the house is coughing and/or congested and/or watering from the eyeballs and/or has a sore throat.
The next day I leave a note for in landlady’s mailbox before leaving for work in case she checks the mail while is is pretending to be at work all day but is actually stomping around on my ceiling.
I turned off the fan because everyone was feeling sick. Also, it spread the smell into my daughter’s room and she can’t go go in there anymore. I called the professional mould removal company and they said to never turn the fan on because it circulates the mould spores around the house. We’ll have to find a different solution.
I get home from work and find the fan on again and the door from the costume room to my daughter’s room wide open. There is a note.
Maybe if you weren’t late on your rent last winter I could afford to fix my foundation. you have too many old things in the way that may have mould in them so I can’t clean the room.
I quietly commit violent acts in my mind.
The next day I call landlady and in my sweetest and most concerned tone of voice, express my deepest and sincerest apologies for last year’s negligence and also offer to clean the costume room myself. Ending on the note that once I have cleaned the entire room out, she might have an inspector check out the room to make sure there isn’t an underlying problem that will cause the mould to come back.
Landlady is civil and assures me that she can wash the room out herself but just needs me to clear everything out first.
I get home to find a dehumidifier and a humidity monitor in my front foyer.
I install both before bed.
The next morning, using every precaution, I empty the room
I throw thousands of dollars worth of costumes, jewellery, fans, boas, art supplies, my sewing machine antique furniture, Christmas decorations, art, love letters, baby pictures of my kids, of their dad… (ouch)
In the garbage. I drag the garbage to the front yard.
I drag what looks potentially salvageable to the back porch for further inspection.
This takes me almost 4 hours. Just as I finish emptying the room, landlady shows up and asks.
Landlady: Do you have Chlorox?
She walks away.
I go upstairs to shower and change and eat some salad.
I feel congested and exhausted and overwhelmed by the stench of mould.
Thing 1 and I agree that a walk to the corner to check out the 4th annual Wiener Dog Races at the neighbourhood park is exactly the breath of fresh air we both need.
An hour later we get home and I sit in the sun room gazing out at the pile of mouldy crap I still have to sift through, on the back porch.
Thing 3: Mom, the landlady asked me why we have no hot water. I told her I’d been doing dishes all morning but that there was a pot of hot water on the stove she could use but she just got mad and stormed away.
I breathe deeeeeeeeeeply.
Landlady’s voice creeps over my left shoulder and into my ear, I look through the sun room door and see her standing there.
Landlady: Can you tell me why you don’t have any hot water?
Me: Because I didn’t pay the bill on time.
Landlady: (pointing into the middle of all my stuff, piled on the balcony, at a deflated wading pool) What’s that doing there?
Me: I need to clean it… along with all this other stuff… but I’m taking a break for a few minutes so…
Landlady: That’s not the point.
Landlady: It’s not the point that you are taking a break. I shouldn’t have to go all the way upstairs to get hot water and
Me: There is hot water on the stove and…
Landlady: You have 2 cats. You told me you only had a dog when you moved in and…
Me: I did only have a dog. You said I could have the cats.
Landlady: But when you moved in you said you only had a dog and…
Me: YOU SAID I COULD HAVE THE CATS. You said you like cats and it was fine if I wanted to have cats.
Landlady: You’re putting all of this on me. Why should I have to clean that whole room myself?
Me: You said you wanted to wash it yourself. I spent 3 1/2 hours cleaning that room out and I offered to wash it but you said you knew the right solution and that you’re good at that. I didn’t ask you to do anything. You have no reason to be mad at me.
Landlady: Oh! I have many reasons!
Me: No you don’t. I didn’t create the mould in your basement.
landlady: We don’t know that for sure. We’ll see about that.
Me: What are you doing? Why are you angry at me?
Landlady: There is dog shit all over the back yard and (note. the back yard is 2 feet by 3 feet and made of cement) there are weeds. That can’t possibly help with the mould (note also that 1. The mould is in the front of the house and 2. The landlady owns and lives in the house and ignores the weeds daily as she passes them on her way to her car) and.. the dog shit. We had a deal.
Landlady: My mother is sick and I have enough on my plate without you dumping this on me. Did you even go to the doctor for an assessment?
Me: A mould assessment?
Landlady: yes! You’re parading around her in your fucking astronaut suit. You don’t even know what it is! You don’t know if it’s dangerous!
Me: Exactly. Also, I’m allergic to mould. Is this why you are mad? Because I wore a paper cover-all to protect my clothes and glove and a mask to protect my hands and my lungs? This is why you’re mad? This is really unfair.
Landlady: Ha! Yah right! I’m the one who is unfair! Good one!
My mother suggested saging my house and put olive oil crosses (fresh out of lambs blood) over every door frame and whatever else I have to do to keep her evil from spirit from spewing her toxic energy all over my space.
The landlady never came back to finish washing the room but left a fan and the dehumidifier on full blast since yesterday.
This afternoon, as I sat on the back balcony, sifting through my belongings and realizing the damage was much worse than I had anticipated…
As I throw away meaningful symbols of sentimental value, $200.00 Shoes and drawings Things 1,2 and 3 had made for me when they were still full of love and adoration instead of blemishes and teenage angst…
As I heaved my destroyed and mould eaten sewing machine into a bin…
As I realized that the costume I need to wear for my performance this weekend is finished and without a replacement…
As I sloshed boiling water and detergent over the rocking chair I’ve had since I was 4 years old and prayed the mould hadn’t gotten as deep into the wood as it did the other antiques…
As I dragged my amazingly awesome 6-foot black Christmas tree into the alley…
I tried hard to block out the sound of landlady, standing above me in the window, bitching at her daughter about me.
I reminded myself of the automated email I received a few days ago, “Landlady as invited you to join xyz internet dating web site. To respond now click…”
But even thinking about how lonely she is didn’t cheer me up.
I felt completely alone myself. I sat alone in a puddle of soapy sponge water and wept. But only for a minute.
It’s stressful, exhausting and oppressive. But it’s just stuff right?
I must have some olive oil around here somewhere…
Oh, and also, because I doubt my sanity as a hobby, I checked my patch of cement for dog shit. I found this:
If that came out of my dog’s butt we have bigger problems than I realized.