Window To the Soul

A knock on my door is usually a bad sign.

It was one of my tenants of course. She’d been trying to open her old push up window when it’d slammed shut and she couldn’t get it open. It was in the high 70’s and we’re on the sunny side of the building. It was HOT. I could understand her frustration.

I was in my loungewear sans bra but went over there anyway. She apologized on the way to her unit about the messiness. I’d been in her apartment before a couple of times and when I tell you that “messy” does not begin to explain the state of her abode, I am serious. Dead serious.

Her front door does not open all the way because of clothes on hangers 10 deep hanging from the back of the door and stacks of miscellaneous books and bags flanking the hallway wall. The hardwood floor is barely visible beneath scattered papers littering my path to the kitchen. The bits of floor that do show are filthy. Once white tile in the kitchen looks marbled from dirt. Stacks of tupperwear tower precariously on the kitchen counters. Every available space has something on it that doesn’t actually belong there. Cabinets hang open stuffed to the brim with food. The living room furniture is covered in books and whatnot. I try not to stare but my morbid curiosity is peaked every time.

From my apartment to her kitchen window she was going on and on about how she was going to tell the landlords that these windows are not safe and they have to replace them. I’m reminded that the last time she needed my help another window in her apartment had slipped out of her hands as she was lowering it and it slammed shut. The force of the blow broke the window. It was raining that day and she called me in a bit of a panic while I was at work.

Obviously, she and windows don’t get along very well.

I tugged at the window a couple times, half-listening to her, wanting just to GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE BECAUSE OH MY GOD IT IS SO MESSY AND MY NEAT FREAK IS NOT OKAY WITH THIS KIND OF ENVIRONMENT. On my third try it went up and as she was securing the plank of wood to hold it open she said that she had cut all the pull cords on the windows. Um, yeah, not smart. This is definitely contributing to her “issues” with her apartment windows.

I tried not to look too desperate to flee as I carefully backed out of the apartment. I mentioned to her that if the landlords were to change her windows they’d have to change the entire side of the building for aesthetic reasons and that would likely be very costly. I have more updated windows in my unit because I am on a corner but they come with their own issues. I had to hassle them for screens when I moved in but the ones they installed keep falling apart. I’ll come home to the screen mesh flapping in the wind sometimes. This is not good when you have cats and you are a worrier because then every time you leave the window open you wonder if the cat will jump up on the ledge and accidentally fall out of the crappy screen. Eeek!

I digress.

She said her thanks and I left wondering how on earth a person can live like that- with no available clear surface on the floor or furniture, with so much stuff scattered everywhere, too many belongings none with a proper resting place.

Just goes to show you that you never know what’s behind a person’s door.

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42 thoughts on “Window To the Soul

  1. I’d like to say she’s the same woman that used to live down the hall from me in my last apartment building, but the truth is that people that messy and neurotic are probably a lot more common than we’d like to think.

  2. I wonder if she is somehow related to Will. Will’s family is HORRIBLE when it comes to keeping a house clean and organized. I thought I was a pack rat and messy until I met his family and holy. hell. in. a. handbasket. Right down to the white kitchen floor (and COUNTERS)turning a marbled grey and black. Yugghhh.

  3. Is it awful to say that this makes me feel so much better about the times that my house is a mess…because it could NEVER compare to that kind of mess? My neat freak wouldn’t like it either. 🙂

  4. I’m completely fascinated with the psychological/sociological aspects of the clutter trend. I mean, we have several reality TV shows built around the notion of people who live in squalor. What does it say about them? What does it say about our society? I can’t help but wonder to what future anthropologists and historians will point as the cause.

    Side note: my next-door neighbors kept a yard that would scorch your eyes. Trash and crap everywhere (despite a relatively cute house that just needed a little TLC). Anyway, they moved out a year ago and have been fixing it up. Yesterday a sale sign went up in yard and they’ve finally got the place cleaned up. It’s cute as a button. But isn’t that a major admission that “Yes, we choose to live in crap but we realize the average homeowner wants a clean yard/home so we cleaned it up for you.” Weird.

  5. Man, I thought I was messy, but OMG it’s all relative, apparently.

    Also, if she cut the pull cords (WHY would she do that?) then this is her issue!

  6. I often wonder what other people’s homes look like.. but apparently, sometimes it’s better NOT to know. 😉

  7. First: there is a product called Loktite- you can find it in most Auto supply stores. Get the Purple (weakest) apply a dab on each screw & install them. Problem solved.

    As for the woman: Does she pay the rent on time? Is she a problem tennent? If not, then the best thing to do is Ignore it. She isn’t forcing you to live with it- she is. There are many folks who have this condition/affliction/problem. If you research it, you find that it usually is a sign of attachment issues- using things to replace people-intimacy, Depression. It doesn’t make her a Bad person, just the Opposite of you.

    I’ve seen a Lot of apartments & homes in my career in EMS. I ignore what isn’t Important & concentrate on what is: people.

  8. I’m not a huge neat freak, but I go for the “neat clutter” look around my house. That, though, would drive me insane. Ew! Glad you escaped with out being buried in the clutter.

  9. Sounds like a compulsive hoarder. FYI, my ex boyfriend was like this, and turned my basement, garage, and office into a similar situation. he hoarded everything. It was awful, and so overwhelming I didn’t even know where to start helping him, cleaning, etc. He couldn’t let go of anything. Major psychological issues, that one.

  10. was JUST going to write about my freakish obsession with shows like “clean house” for that very reason. it’s like an accident. you have to look because you just CANNOT believe that someone lives like that. poor soul

  11. No kidding, if I was her neighbor Iwould be worried about bugs. We are not neat freaks but we do maintain the kitchen and bathroom daily. Folding the laundry can wait, I am also learning to throw/recycle more things out.

  12. First off, who cuts the pull cords on an old window? When it’s not even their window? That’s not cool.

    I don’t get the weird messy thing either. I certainly let my dishes pile up now and again, but I’d have a nervous break down if my house was a mess for more than 4-5 days.

    Maybe you should break in one day when she’s not there and clean and organize the whole thing. 😛

  13. I am the neat freak in my house. I do dishes and vacuum not because I like to but because the mess makes me twitch. (although I am prone to leaving my socks next to the hamper)

  14. there is a house on my street, which has a pretty hideous yard and porch…and i can only guess what it looks like inside…ew.

  15. You just know you’re going to get some smart alec who’ll post a ’70° hot? In insert_town_name_here it’s insert_temp_here’ right? So, er, I wouldn’t want to disappoint.

    70° hot? In Phoenix it’s going to be 104° this week.

    You’re welcome.

  16. I can only imagine what has happened in her life to cause this. There’s usually a reason that people surround themselves with so much stuff.

  17. Why in the world would she have cut the cords to the windows? You could slip some meds in her water. It just makes my skin crawl to think about it.

  18. And 70 degrees is hot, in Seattle, with the horribly ventilated old buildings, that just absorb the heat. And no one has airconditioning. (But yes, we are all heat wimps… which is why we have moved here).

  19. I don’t know how people live like that! I can’t even go to bed at night if the dishes aren’t done. In fact, I will pause my TV show during dinner and go clean up the mess then return to the show.

    Okay, maybe I have issues the OTHER way. 😉

  20. I am completely obsessed with Clean House and every episode is like this. My parents are VERY messy and definitely hoard. I live with them currently so it is not fun at all for me or KC. Our room is like a safe haven of cleanliness and they wonder why we never hang out downstairs with them. Oh how I will be thrilled to be in our own apartment where the entire space can be clean.

  21. Unfortunately, I know many people who live in worse than that. It… makes me feel shameful to admit that I have family like that. My sister and I talk about it often and how much it affected us growing up. I hope that woman gets organized.

  22. My parents are hoarders who have three dogs and two cats living with them. Walking into their house is like walking into my personal hell.

    They came to visit me once, in my sane, orderly, not overly neat house and asked me where all my stuff was. I just stared at them. How did I spring from their loins?

  23. I am a packrat by nature and a home like this woman’s is one of my fears, albeit somewhat unreasonable (but only somewhat). I think of stories/sights like you describe every time I clean out a drawer or closet.

  24. I’m definitely messy; I have, from time to time, been embarrassed about what someone else might think, but my concerns with the state of my home have been socialized into me. Somewhere along the way we decided that if it didn’t look like the homes on television, it was a mess, when in the reality for the average person, your home cannot look like that if you actually live in it. My roommate and I are both happy to have a home that is “lived-in.”

    Of course, you can see our floors.

  25. My house is always a total clutter fuck. In retrospect, I should have married a neat freak because I AM NOT ONE. I am crazy super messy, but I could (if needed) shove everything into a closet with 15 minutes notice. So… it’s not *that* bad. 🙂 However, we used to live in apartments and one of the conditions in our lease was that the management could come in at any time if they thought it was too messy. These people moved in across from us from another unit in the complex because their other apartment had mold issues and after about 2 weeks, we knew why. The woman was an actual, live-in-the-flesh hoarder. Their house was piled floor to ceiling with boxes and trash, with only one thin path to the bedroom and kitchen (which were equally packed). And she would steam clean the path at least once a day… which meant that after about a month, the carpets molded. (She also used to scrub the concrete stairs daily with vinegar) They ended up getting evicted and they had to bring in a hazmat crew to tear up all the floors and replace the floor joists… fortunately, their apartment was a ‘carriage style’ apartment (no one underneath) so they didn’t have to relocate anyone else. It was nuts.

    So, yeah, I’m super slobby, but you could walk in and be all HEY LAZY, PUT YOUR CRAFT STUFF AWAY AND MAYBE RUN THE FRAKKING VACUUM and I don’t need a backhoe to do it.

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