Category Archives: this actually happened

on leonard cohen’s “hallelujah”

I didn’t want to write this post. I thought I wouldn’t need to. I thought our collective listening comprehension was better. I should have known.

Let me be clear: I really like this song. All of its many verses. I like it a bit less when it’s belted by some aspiring diva who doesn’t understand subtlety, but it’s still a great song. It’s a song of profound heartbreak and honesty. It is beautiful in its strophic simplicity. It is not, however — as so many people apparently believe — a religious song. I know, I know. Hear me out on this.

It started last year when I heard several (mediocre) renditions on holiday radio. Even when any song even vaguely referencing holidays or winter qualifies as a “Christmas song” or “holiday song,” this references neither. I rhetorically wondered to a coworker why this song was so heavily featured in the radio station’s rotation, and he replied, “Well, isn’t ‘hallelujah’ something they say in church?”

I… wow. Sure, yes, but… really? First off, “hallelujah” is traditionally more associated with Easter than Christmas (please, please don’t get me started on the “Hallelujah Chorus”). But more importantly, that line of reasoning qualifies Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” for liturgical inclusion. And last I checked, Madonna (the singer, not the mother of Jesus) was still verboten in church. (Please do not correct me if I’m wrong.)

I figured this coming holiday season I’d have to write something on it. As you know, I have a special place in my heart for holiday songs of all kinds, from liturgical to super-secular. This is simply not one of them. So I had it on my brain’s back burner. Until this morning, when someone sang it in church.

I couldn’t believe it. Whoever decided it was okay for inclusion in a church service apparently fell for the same reasoning as my coworker and paid zero attention to the actual lyrics. Let’s review, shall we?

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
that David played, and it pleased the Lord,
but you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth,
the minor fall, the major lift;
the baffled king composing Hallelujah!

Your faith was strong but you needed proof.
You saw her bathing on the roof;
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to a kitchen chair,
she broke your throne and she cut your hair,
and from your lips she drew a Hallelujah.

Maybe there’s a God above
but all I ever learned from love
was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
It’s not a cry that you hear at night,
it’s not somebody who’s seen the light,
it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

These were the three verses performed in church this morning, probably the most popular. And thank heaven for that, because the other two popular verses are much more suggestive. Here, we’ve got several historical biblical references — including to Samson, brought down by his love for a woman — but nothing that even remotely qualifies it for inclusion in any church service. Which made me seriously wonder how the performers didn’t realize this is completely inappropriate. Worse, the congregation didn’t notice either. They loved it.

I am not bashing this song. On the contrary, it’s one of the better pop tunes out there. But without getting into a screed regarding the theological soundness of modern worship music, I pray we can all agree that this does not belong in a church service. Ever. Sing it at home, sing it in the car, sing it at the talent show. Don’t sing it during church.

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life imitating art imitating life

So I’m sitting at my desk eating a cheeseburger. Lindsay Lohan, one of the resident cats, is sitting on the windowsill next to me. She likes to look out the window at passing cars and critters. After a few minutes I turn my head to look at her, for no particular reason. She’s looking right at me with that look. The one all pet owners know. Pitiful begging.

“Oh, hi. I see you have a food there. It smells good. I also like food. Maybe… maybe I can have some? Maybe…

“I can haz cheezburger?”

That’s right, kids. I was just memed by a cat named Lindsay Lohan.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt IV, rubble

So apparently my email to Linda hit a nerve. I wasn’t originally going to post her reply but… the more I read it, the more it needs to be shared. I think you’ll agree.

I went to bed around midnight last night, and I was done. Done with all of it.

The flicker of lightning woke me up around 3:30, and then I noticed my phone blinking a notification at me. It was an email. From Linda. Time-stamped 3:04 am. Well! That’s quite a time to be sending an email. Let’s see what it says. (Note: I have redacted some details to protect her family, as I don’t have evidence that they were involved in the illegal aspects of this shitshow.)

“You are correct.  I have no experience as a landlord nor have I as a tenant.  My intention for buying was to move in and share with family.  Several of my [family] live in Cincinnati and work at [places] nearby.  My [family] who lives [nearby] found the place.  We bought it very quickly without investigating. Since you had a lease, [family] was recovering from surgery, and my [family] and my place in [other state] hadn’t sold yet, I found that along with having the building,  I was to becoming a landlord by default.  And still did not have my own place in Cincinnati.  It was bad experience.  Thank you for taking the time to educate me.  I’ve learned I don’t want to be a landlord.”

Let’s unpack this gem, shall we?

First off: Who enters a legal contract with another person and goes, “huh, I know nothing about this, I’ll just wing it?” How… how dumb do you have to be?  I mean, the whole situation sounds like poorly thought-through and even more poorly executed mess, but really, winging a legal contract? Really?

Second: That’s a lot of excuses – a lot of excuses – I count five excuses and five irrelevant “life is hard” complaints masquerading as extenuating circumstances, correct me if I’m wrong – with not even an acknowledgement of any responsibility on her part whatsoever.

Third: No apology. Nothing even in the same galaxy as an apology. Not even a half-assed one. Not “Sorry you went through this,” or “Sorry this turned out the way it did.” Nothing.

I cannot even imagine the hubris it took to hit Send. Seriously though, you end up in legal jeopardy due to your own willful neglect, I decline to take you to court over it, you can’t even admit you had any responsibility in the matter, and don’t even attempt to apologize? Wow. I can’t quite decide if she’s too ashamed to let it go without attempting justification or too proud to admit she fucked up big. Could go either way, but judging by the snide and condescending tone, I’d bet on the latter.

But, the moral of the story stands. Don’t rent from Linda Wilson (Wilson Booth LLC). She’s already proven she’s a horrific landlord. She’s just built a pile of evidence against her as a person, as well.

Good riddance.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt III, burn

Landlord‘s name is Linda Wilson. She is neglectful, uncommunicative, and unfit to be a landlord. Do not rent from her.

Right about when I had enough alcohol to calm me down Linda responded to my email last night, approaching midnight, destroying any chances I had of sleeping. It began:

“Dear Liz,

I assumed you decided to forego your deposit. [Yes, she actually typed that.]  I know you were working at cleaning but with the heat I thought you had given up. I took pictures which I will attach so you can see what all still needed to be done.  I hired someone to help.  She worked for over 15 hours at $20 an hour.  I paid her $300.  I will have a copy of the receipt made for you if you like.”

She then sent me a series of photos. The only actual cause against me were boxes left in the basement and some items on the porch, both of which I verbally cleared with her in the preceding weeks. Every other picture was of dust. Literally. Dusty windowsills, a cobweb in a corner.

She claimed “it was a big job” and offered me $150.

I could drag her into small claims court, dispute every charge she made against my deposit, and win almost all of them. And boy is that tempting, after all the shit she’s tried to pull. But the thought of dealing with her for that much longer… I couldn’t abide it. I accepted the offer, and I drafted an email laying out my case against her and why she is unfit to be a landlord. She dropped off the check this afternoon, and as soon as I deposited it, I sent the email.

—————

Linda,

Thank you for dropping off the check. Speaking as your now former tenant, I advise you to brush up on Ohio’s laws regarding the landlord-tenant relationship before leasing out the apartment again. I don’t know if you’ve ever been a landlord before but it’s painfully clear you don’t know what you’re doing. The only reason I haven’t taken you to small claims court is that I sincerely never want to deal with you again. But I could have, and was sorely tempted to. Here’s why.

According to statute in every state, the security deposit cannot be used to cover anything that is considered “normal wear and tear,” including dust. You had a legitimate case with the boxes. The bathroom would have been arguable. None of the other photos indicated any “damage” or excessive dirt that would have been considered neglectful on my part. These would not stand up in small claims court.

Relatedly, you seemed to think the boxes in the driveway were somehow something you could charge me for, on no grounds whatsoever. They were trash, as should have been patently obvious by the fact that they were sitting next to four full trash bins. They go out with those bins on the next trash day. There’s no legal basis to charge a tenant for something because you’re annoyed trash day happens after they turned in the keys.

Most importantly, I could take you to court solely on the basis of your email’s first line: “I assumed you decided to forego your deposit.” Again, I don’t know on what planet you think that’s legal or even reasonable. I gave you my forwarding address when I moved out, therefore within 30 days you had to either 1. return it to me or 2. provide me with an itemized list of why you were not. Those are your only options. You don’t get to decide to keep the deposit and not tell the tenant. That’s both incredibly slimy and ILLEGAL.

FURTHERMORE – and this is important – the only reason I’m forced to settle is because I contacted you yesterday, 7/26, instead of today, 7/27, which prompted you to send me your complaints. I have heard not a single word from you since I handed in my keys 30 days ago. Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. Read that again: Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. The only reason you get to keep ANY of my deposit is because I contacted you 24 hours too early.

I am kicking myself for that, but I am absolutely furious with you. You have failed to communicate with me at every stage. I thought you would have learned after you called me at the airport to yell at me for not being able to read your mind, but I was apparently mistaken. I wonder if you would have figured it out if you legally owed me the entire deposit because of your own neglect to contact me. You also seem to think you can charge a tenant because you’re annoyed at them, on no legal ground whatsoever. For your sake, I hope you get your act together before your next tenant has grounds to sue you. I am not optimistic. I am telling all my friends not to rent from you.

Good riddance.

Liz Remizowski

—————

Her name is Linda Wilson. Do not rent from her.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt II, flashback

While we’re waiting for Landlord* to get her act together, I thought I’d share the airport incident referenced in Part I.

It was a Wednesday in early June. I had secured a place to live and was starting to pack. My neighbor was just about moved out from downstairs – we had been commiserating about the moving process for a few weeks. That morning, we met outside the apartment one last time. She said she had officially informed Landlord she was out, but Landlord told Neighbor to give me the keys and she’d pick them up. This seemed highly odd to me, and in retrospect should have been a red flag, but I took the key and wished her well. I sat it with my spare key on my bookshelf, figuring I’d be giving them back to Landlord all at the same time.

That afternoon, at 2:43, Landlord texts me.

Landlord: I am on my way over to get Neighbor’s key. Thanks
Me: (are you fucking serious? no notice? I’m literally on my way out the door to work.) I’ll be here another 5 mins, I have to leave for work
Landlord: Two minutes

I stood outside on the landing. Soon Landlord pulled in the driveway and I went down to hand her Neighbor’s key through her open passenger-side window. She gave me the most condescending smile I’ve ever seen and asked how the moving was going. I told her, “It’s going,” and when it became clear she had nothing else to say I turned around and got in my car. I was already angry with her at her unprofessionalism in handling this move and her condescension was not helping.

Meantime, I was also preparing to fly the next day to NY for a week to attend my cousin’s wedding and visit family. That night, I realized I would be gone for the only recyclable-pickup day left in June before I was scheduled to move out, so Thursday morning I shot Landlord a text:

Me: I’ll be out of state this afternoon returning 18 June- since Neighbor is gone, would it be possible for someone to put out the trash/recycle bins this Monday? Sorry about this, but it’s the last recycle day before I plan to move out
Landlord: Sure be glad to
Me: Thank you! I’ll let you know an official date as soon as I finalize with the movers
Landlord: [thumbs-up emoji, and another emoji my phone won’t process] (again with the unprofessionalism)

Good, got that taken care of. Now for my car. While Neighbor lived at our house, she had always parked in the narrow stone-walled driveway, and I in front of the house on the street. But since she had officially left I decided to park in the driveway while I was gone instead of paying for parking at the airport or leaving it on a side street.

I got a ride to CVG, got through TSA, and grabbed a table with an outlet in the food court. I finalized a date with the movers, then settled down with a podcast on my lappy and plenty of time to spare. After about half an hour, the phone rings. It’s not a number I recognize, but something tells me to answer. It’s Landlord.

Landlord: Hi, Liz?
Me: Yes?
Landlord: It’s Landlord.
Me: (I’ve got a bad feeling about this.) Hi, what’s up?
Landlord: Is that your car parked in the driveway?
Me: (oh no) Yes…
Landlord: Could you move it? I need access to the garage.
Me: (welp) Uh… I’m at the airport right now.
Landlord: (clearly not anticipating this answer) Oh…
Me: Yeah, I’m gonna be gone for a week. I told you that this morning.
Landlord: (getting angry) But you always park on the street!
Me: …because Neighbor parked in the driveway. That was our arrangement. Now that she’s gone, I parked there, since it is part of the property.
Landlord: (accusatory) You know I’m moving in downstairs, right?
Me: (don’t you dare with that tone) Sure, but you didn’t tell me when. I had no idea you were planning to move stuff in this week.
Landlord: I need access to the driveway for the moving truck!
Me: (and this is my problem, how?) You never said anything to me. We’ve spoken twice in the last 24 hours, I informed you I was going to be gone, you confirmed that you knew I’d be gone, and you never mentioned it. If you had told me, I could have moved it to a side street or to the airport. But you said nothing.
Landlord: (seeing this is her fault, grasping) Well… do you have a friend who has a key who can move it?
Me: No, I have the only key.
Landlord: (exasperated sigh) So you’re telling me I have to cancel the moving truck and rent storage space for my stuff for a week?
Me: (oh for fuck’s sake) I GUESS SO. I don’t know what you want me to tell you! You didn’t tell me you needed driveway access and now there’s nothing I can do. Maybe you should have communicated better.
Landlord: (at the end of her rope) I’m really frustrated!
Me: (at the end of MY rope) Yeah? Well frankly SO AM I. You call me up at the airport to yell at me for not reading your mind. You knew I was leaving for a week and you said nothing.
Landlord: I have to cancel the moving truck.
Me: (yep, you do) Again, I don’t know what you want me to do about it. You never mentioned it to me.
Landlord: Alright well… goodbye.

Un. Believable.

I was somewhat concerned she would try to move my car, since she obviously doesn’t think anything even halfway through. But she didn’t, either because she realized it would be several kinds of illegal or gave up because it would be too difficult. I thought this episode would teach her to communicate better, but as we can see from yesterday’s post, it did not. I did take some satisfaction (schadenfreude, admittedly) when she later informed me she couldn’t open the garage door anyway, because when RPM’s guys tried to fix it under the previous owner, they jammed it shut. There’s no way to open the garage door without destroying it.

*Oh yes, I’m releasing her full name in the next post. As soon as the check clears.

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let sleeping dragons lie Pt I

If we’ve met, you know it takes quite a bit to anger me. I am very understanding and pretty tolerant. Mistakes happen; rectify it and we’re good. However, every once in a while, someone or something crosses the line and rouses the dragon.

This is one of those times.

Relevant backstory: Landlord* bought our old house last year. I had hopes she would be a better landlord than Pete, but I soon discovered my hopes were ill-founded. Suddenly in late May, she decided to evict my neighbor and me so she and her husband could move in. We had until June 30. Profoundly annoying, but legal. (This saga deserves a entire series of its own posts. However, in the interest of brevity, this is the story in a nutshell.) Over the course of that month she declined to grant me a moving extension, then angrily called me while I was waiting for a flight at the airport berating me for leaving my car in the driveway while I was gone, because she needed access to the driveway but didn’t tell me because apparently I was supposed to read her mind. (This will be its very own post one day, oh yes it will.) When I returned from my trip she took a tour of the place to see what condition it was in and what repairs she’d have to make since she never walked through before she bought it, offered me an undefined extension four days before the movers came, informed me she eventually wanted to rent out my apartment to someone else, and bought my spare furniture from me so she could rent out the apartment furnished. But she didn’t think of this beforehand – she kept half my furniture but not me. And every time I spoke with her she was entirely condescending.

I moved out of my old place June 27. Handed Landlord my keys, gave her my forwarding address, didn’t swear at her, and drove off. I haven’t heard anything from her since.

I texted her this afternoon (the most reliable way of getting a response) asking if she sent out the security deposit yet. Three hours later, she replied: “I had to hire professional cleaners for 15 hours at $20 per hour. There were also some damages”

Furious. I am furious. It was clean, there was no damage, and WHO THE FUCK THINKS IT’S OKAY OR LEGAL TO EAT A TENANT’S SECURITY DEPOSIT WITHOUT TELLING THEM?

Fuming, I texted her back asking what exactly were the damages. Then I called her and (surprise!) left a voicemail. Then I looked up Ohio state code. AND GUESS WHAT! According to code, she had 30 days to give me written notification and an itemized list if she was keeping any part of it. So I sent her an email both linking and quoting the code:

“(B) … Any deduction from the security deposit shall be itemized and identified by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant together with the amount due, within thirty days after termination of the rental agreement and delivery of possession. The tenant shall provide the landlord in writing with a forwarding address or new address to which the written notice and amount due from the landlord may be sent…

(C) If the landlord fails to comply with division (B) of this section, the tenant may recover the property and money due him, together with damages in an amount equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorneys fees.”

and followed it up with:

“Since tomorrow is the 30th day since I turned in my key, and I have not received written notification of any kind since I moved out, including itemization with proof of damages in any form, as of tomorrow you are in violation of state law. If this is not rectified and I have not received my security deposit back by this Friday (July 29, 2016) I will contact the appropriate authorities.”

I then texted her, telling her to check that email account. I got no response. I don’t expect one.

Though she legally owes me my deposit by tomorrow, I will give her until Friday so to avoid legal issues, since clearly the law is on my side. Even if she were asked, she cannot prove any of the “damages” were caused by me (which they were not), and I am sure the old Property Management Company still has records on file from when I moved in four years ago. And even if I had all that against me, she has already abdicated her legal claim to my security deposit since she has provided me with absolutely no written communication whatsoever since I moved out 30 days ago.

I have been warned it will be an uphill battle to get my money back. To which I say: this is a battle I will not lose. This is illegal. She has been nothing but miserable, condescending, and uncommunicative to me. I have put up with her shit for that long, but this is a step too far. This is illegal.

You woke the dragon; I will raze your village.

Stay tuned for further developments. I am not optimistic but I am prepared for war.

*I am assigning her the moniker of “Landlord” for the time being in the interests of not being a jerk (even though I’d be completely justified). If this does not reach a peaceful resolution, I will give you her full name.

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mixology, or why i should drink more often

I needed an Aperol Spritz. For a bunch of reasons, primary of which is this damn heatwave. And as I’ve learned, the Italians have mastered the art of the Refreshing Beverage, therefore, Spritz. So I looked up the recipe. Pretty simple – 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, one part tonic, twist of orange. Not wanting to fuss (and frankly not caring that much), I figured a combo of the first two would suit fine. So out I went to Party Source.

I picked up the cheapest bottle of prosecco I could find, because come on now. Using it as a mixer. And they were all out of Aperol proper, but I got a bottle of something their mixologists recommended as a good substitute. Taste-tested it in the store – solid. Got home, put everything in the fridge.

3 hours later, it’s drink time! Pull out one of my rocks glasses, two ice cubes. About a finger of Aperol-substitute. Popped the cork on the prosecco and… suddenly remembered you can’t reuse the cork. Shit.

Uh okay… well, first order of business is the Beverage. Two fingers of prosecco… almost perfect. One more splash and I’m satisfied. Good. Now for the problem at hand. I know I have a bag of corks made just for this situation, but my best guess is they’re in any one of ten boxes labeled “kitchen,” because I just moved and they’re not essential. Okay… plastic wrap? Yeah, plastic wrap and a rubber band, that could work! Except I can’t find my plastic wrap either. I can find parchment, aluminum foil, and a thousand sandwich bags, but no plastic wrap. Crap. What do I do?

Then in the box of everything-except-plastic-wrap, I see the little box of jewelry bags. Little 3″ plastic earring bags. That… that could work! I slip it over the top of the bottle and it just fits. Secure it with a (brand new) hair tie… yes! It works! Hopefully. Hopefully the seam is strong enough that I won’t have flat prosecco tomorrow. If I do I guess I’ll just have to go get the tonic water after all. This is what I get for trying to make an Aperol Spritz outside Europe.

HAPPY UPDATE: As I wrote this, I took a guess at which box the spare corks were in. AND I WAS RIGHT! SUCCESS!! No flat prosecco for me after all!

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