Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Library Story Time

I take my kids to storytime at the public library because it is free and because they love being read to. It requires me to exercise more patience than in any other area of my life. It also requires me to take a deep breath and count to ten before I lose my cool. And because we live in a town that is predominantly Indian and Asian, it forces me to accept other cultures for what they are and try to embrace our differences instead of freaking out.

To begin with, the storytime ages are listed on the door of the story room, they are online and they are posted in the children's section of the library but everyone disregards the age specifications and you will see 16 month olds at the preschool event, or you will see an 8 year old at the baby storytime.

What happens next is, everyone arrives late.

Then, as the storytime lady reads the story, children AND parents, push and step on people until they are at the front of the room and then sit on people's feet who are already there. This creates bedlam and causes the children who are already there to miss parts of the story and also makes it impossible for the storytime lady to be able to read an entire story straight through. Once in a while the storytime lady will stop, reprimand the parents or children and then continue. It generally doesn't do anything but cause one or two children to cry.

Then there are the parents that drop their kids off at storytime because for some reason they consider this half hour program a viable daycare solution. I'm not sure why they do this but they must need to get something done at the library that their children cannot be a part of. It is especially fun when their child starts to freak out when they realize their Mom or Dad is gone and that creates another problem. Last week a child was wailing and wandering around outside the library because when storytime finished and their Mom was not there in the room, the child wandered away. The best part of this story is that everyone was walking past the child and not helping her, as if helping her would have somehow been too dificult or maybe upset the child more. Anyway - when the mother finally found the child, instead of hugging her and apologizing for having left her, she openly scolded her and blamed her for wandering off. This by the way is not cultural, parents do this the world around.

Once storytime is over the storytime lady puts pictures out for kids to take so you can go home and color them or sit in the library and color them. That way if your Mom has dropped you off and left, you can wait it out by coloring something pretty. The problem is that all the children AND parents push to the front of the room to grab 3 or 4 or 8 pictures for their kids which creates all this havoc but also means that when your kids finally get to the pictures, there will be none left. Last night a little girl grabbed 4 pictures and then while her sister tried to get one from her, held them over her head and pushed her sister by the neck to keep her away as she walked out of the room. When her mother asked her why she didn't give one to her little sister (who is in tears by now) she shouted angrily, "I got 3 for her!" and then stomped away. It was classic.

Lastly the children and some parents saunter out of the library and into the parking lot where I continually am amazed that there aren't more reports of children being run over by cars because no one holds their child's hand in the parking lot and kids are running around like it is a playground. How these children stay alive in their countires of origin is beyond me, it is terrifying to think of. I know that there are countries where the infant mortality rate is higher than ours but I tend to think it is because they are being hit by cars because their parents do not require them to hold hands when walking in the street.

There was a caucasian woman last month who picked up her 2 year old old after 10 minutes of angry comments and left storytime because she couldn't handle the cultural diversity and the social norms of people outside of her ethnic group. As you can see, I am an ambassador for our country in a sea of cultural diversity. And while I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, at least I continue to swim.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Landlord Blues

We are moving . . . . again. We live in Cupertino in a house that is not habitable and are moving after a year and a half due in part to being told we have to move and also having a serious mold problem. When we moved here a year and a half ago, I did not like the house and I still do not like our house. I actually hate it now that we are being forced to leave and hate the way it smells. It smells like clothes that have dried inside, mildewy and sweaty.

The landlord called me and told me that he was going to move into the house and so we needed to move out. He said that he had been advised by his "tax attorney" that he needed to move in due to some kind of tax law that said he didn't have to pay property tax as long as he lived in the house for 2 years. To which I jokingly replied, "so I guess we will be roommates?". He then told me that we had 30 to 60 days to find a place, he wasn't throwing us out but since the heater had never been fixed and the mold was becomign an issue, it was probably a good thing, we didn't want kids around that.

Backup, backup, backup, we have 2 kids. I had called the landlord at least 3 times previously about a mold problem that we had discovered and that needed resolution. Originally the mold was isolated to a closet off the dining area but has also been discovered in other parts of the house since then. I also have been in dialogue with the landlord for a year and a half (2 winters) with regard to a wall heater that doesn't work and has never been fixed. As a result, we run a space heater in the kid's room on really cold nights and have bought really warm feather quilts for them to hunker down under.

We found a house, in under 24 hours. We even filled out all the paperwork and got approved and met our new property manager in under 24 hours. So I went back to the landlord and told him we were moving out in 2 weeks and we would like our security deposit back since we had to move so quickly so we can put it towards our new place. He totally balked and started to backtrack. Here is how it went "Oh, well I'll be out all that rent if you leave early, I had no idea you would be so quick, where are you going to, what will I do for rent, what good luck you had, I had no idea the market had so much availability . . . " and the kicker "by law you have to give me 30 days notice, so you can't move out early".

It is safe to say that I'm mad as hell. I'm madder than hell. I'm mad that everytime I walk from room to room, our house smells moldy and mildewy. I'm pissed that every day I spend in this house I have to pay even though it is probably not safe and a total dump. I am creeped out that after a year and a half of living here, everytime I come home from being gone for several hours, I'm struck by how stinky the house is when I first walk in.

We lived in Davis before moving to Cupertino and we rented for 3 years from a nice lady there. We rented 2 different houses from her and thought we had a great tenant/landlord relationship. The first house had cockroaches which were never cared for. When we moved out of the second house, she took $400 dollars of our deposit to cover a tree in the front yard that died, a TREE!

Someone wise once said, "Don't get mad, get even" and that is what I'm doing. I'm getting even. I'm tired of being a renter that gets taken advantaged of by savvy and cheap landlords. I'm tired of having my hard earned money taken from me to cover trees that I supposedly killed. I'm tired of living in houses that have mold growing in them and heaters that don't work and paying through the nose for it.

It is called Renters Insurance. If you don't have it, look into it.