Thursday, June 4, 2020

My Memoir

I just finished writing my memoir. It took me 3 years to write it. 

Daddy's Little Girl: A diary of a woman's difficult relationship with her father who helped shape who she has become today.  


Dara Michele 


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Check out my Published Stories

I am a Content Writer for Angie's Diary. Below you could find my published stories:

                                                                 Angie's Diary

Monday, September 3, 2018

Craig's List Nightmare

Craig's List? or Little Shop of Horrors? Before you answer that question it depends what you are seeking. It is a ubiquitous website people use all over the world that caters to every demand and need you are seeking from jobs, gigs, romance and real estate. I'm not talking about romance or other kinky/fetish ads on there that led to murders like that Craig's List Killer who was an ivy grad, that's so overrated.

No I am talking about something not as talked about......Apartment Shares. 

If you are looking for a place to live and need roommates and have no other choice but to find people you don't know to reside with, most people turn to Craig's List. These days thanks to Facebook becoming more like a cult there are a million groups on there that serve the same purpose such as Gypsy Housing. The bottom line is it is scary to have to share such an intimate situation with a bunch of strangers but have no choice due to your finances or other personal reasons. I was blessed and since I moved out, I have had only small problems living under these conditions. I thought my biggest problems I had faced previously were dealing with catty girls in charge of my lease and lending out the room to me and deciding on a drop of a hat if they wish to throw me out. It sounds like a sorority but worse because you are in the real world and have to pay your bills and empty your pockets to evacuate. Or my last residence where it felt like I lived in a monastery and the other girls were woken up by a pin dropping. Of course I knew I had it made though. I had a fight with the last creepy girls when I was still living in Westchester. It was taxing enough since this house I shared with other women was on top of a winding hill. It was more of an ambush and attack on me. When I first moved in I was in a rush because my last apartment I was living in at the time (I actually lived by myself & loved it) the lease was ending after a year. I had a month and after answering this ad on Craig's List for a room not too far from where I was I met the girl who showed it to me and liked her. She was a crucial part of my decision making to live there because I would be sharing the upstairs & bathroom with her. Once she gave me the room a day later I felt over the moon. Looking back in retrospect, I should've gotten a lay out of the land first because the distance to the train station was a rigorous and unaccommodating walk; it was on top of a winding hill with tree branches everywhere and no clear walking path for pedestrians like side streets you would see in the city; you could easily get hit by a car.  Obtaining a parking permit to have a reserved spot for Metro North was next to impossible; you could be on that waiting list to get approved for years.  Having a car in this part of Westchester had its own host of problems. The streets here were designed just like parking in the city; over congested with people parking their car in front of the sidewalk and every other day you had to move your car; they had alternate side parking and tow away zones on certain days a week. Even if you had a parking permit it was still tough to find parking because there was no reserved spots just reserved streets which every other car had taken already. When it snowed forget it. One particular time I had left my car parked after a blizzard hit; it looked like a snowball. It took me so long for the ice to melt after the storm that right below the windshield wiper was a block of ice clasping my parking ticket for leaving it there for well over 2 days; probably almost a month. I'm lucky they didn't tow it.
In retrospect I should've ditched my car then.

That was nothing compared to the other snap decision that I made.

My feeling of glee quickly waned after I moved in. Although I had the opportunity to meet the other girls occupying the house when I viewed the room, I didn't let my feelings and bad vibes get in the way - which turned out to be my downfall. The girl's name who was the head of the house (the one person whose name was on the actual lease of the house) was named Andrea.  When I saw her I felt ill. You know that sinking feeling when you meet someone for the first time and you get bad feelings/intuitions? Well that's how I felt about her but I was dumb enough to go through moving into the house once Jen, the girl I was sharing the upstairs with accepted me. I figured it wouldn't be a big deal since it was Jen & I who would be the only ones sharing the bathroom and I liked her and she obviously liked me to have chosen me for the room. However, shortly after moving in I learned she ended up having a breakdown. That was the one night she was living there that I wasn't home. I was thankful I wasn't there that night. I heard her mother was there and early in the morning was when she lost control. They told me she was yelling in Spanish to her mother (she's of Dominican descent but grew up in the Bronx) and eventually she had to be carried out in a stretcher. She was put in the hospital for a week before she returned back to her room. She worked at Columbia and had a very good job working with opthamologists. She was studying to complete some sort of certification and I guess the stress finally took a toll on her. She claimed she had a bad reaction with over the counter barbiturates. I was only living there for a month at that time and she was already living there with the same other girls for a whole year. I couldn't believe something so catastrophic would occur when Jen has been fine living here and under control for a whole year. Anyway, when I returned home I was informed of what happened. Catherine showed zero sympathy whatsoever and just told me I should just ignore her. She said she wished she would leave now, "It's not her problem that Jen has to find a new place to live first  before she moves out". I felt afraid when I was given that warning. She was returning from the hospital soon and we should all just ignore her? I expected Medusa with a million snakes hissing from her head.
However, it turned out she was totally normal and they still spoke to her regardless of their warning they gave me. I saw her in her bedroom with her door opened and she told me the story.  Jen ended up moving out a month later like she said. After that my fate was sealed. Like I said, I didn't care for Andrea and Catherine (putting it mildly) but I never thought it would become a war. First I was a little insulted that they didn't seek my approval once Jen left. I was the one who would be sharing the upstairs with this new tenant, you would think since I would be mostly with this future roommate they would for my approval. They ended up telling me it was because I had just moved in the house and they had been there for a year together. After my new roommate moved in all hell broke loose. She caused and instigated a lot of trouble. She had the nerve to tell me what to do, when to clean as if I was a slave and not paying rent to live there. The three of us had cars and shared the same run down driveway. The whole house was basically in shambles and Andrea had said they once had a problem with mice. There was so much drama having to move our cars all the time if we wanted to leave and the other person was home. It amounted and erupted like a volcano. I'll call her Sara. She was a phony and I could tell she was used to using her charms to win people over and she knew it too. It didn't take much for her to start a lot of trouble for me.

She enjoyed cooking & baking along with making fancy cocktails you would drink from a lounge and would love to kiss up to them by leaving some sustenance as a cupcake or two to enjoy while they went to work: "Just a little surprise. Enjoy them!" She left it on the kitchen table. She loved parading around in her LBD's (Little Black Dresses) while advertising Grey Goose - she was a brand ambassador.  I found her Instagram and she snapped pictures of her new found sisterhood with this creepy group by posting photo ops of them lunching or food she made for them. So she was a master making mixed drinks and made delicious guac. She even gave out free wine glasses to this creepy bunch - with the exception of me. I always felt uncomfortable around Andrea and she was the one who had control of the house. She claimed she went to church all the time, one of the biggest religious hypocrites I've ever met. Well after much prodding and persuasion from Sara's part, her brown nosing worked. They wanted to throw me out of the house. I had been living there for 7 months already and the holidays were right ahead, what an altruistic Child of God Andrea is, to have no qualms about throwing me out at Christmas over dirty dishes! They claimed I didn't get all the stains from the dishes out and my clothes that I was hanging on the drying rack almost leaked that shitty house. Sara would drive me insane with my car. We all left our keys right by the door in case we had no choice to but to move another person's car if we wanted to leave and no one was home. The cars were so tightly packed in the small driveway that it looked more like a junk yard. Well she decided that at 7 am she would wake me up by telling me that she needed to leave and my car was blocking hers. But she was leaving in a couple of hours, not right then at 7 am. She decided to tell me a few hours prior just to set me off. Well it worked. I was furious. I told her that's why my key is in the basket for her to move it herself. I was sleeping in, it was the weekend and I was exhausted. I yelled on top of my lungs and went crazy. I couldn't take it anymore, especially after being woken up so early on the weekend. She claimed she didn't know what a Volkswagen key looked like. What a stupid thing to say, it could only be one of two keys and the symbol of Volkswagen was on it. Not only that but it turns out later after this incident, I saw her in her sister's car which was also a Volkswagen. So they wanted me out. I was going to leave eventually but they made the decision for me, right around the holidays. Some god fearing woman Andrea was, to kick someone out right before the holidays over a cockamamie thing like dirty dishes. But I'm not surprised, she's not the first avid church goer I've met who needs to realize they're immoral; let alone not following the righteous path from studying the bible.

Andrea was always stoic and I questioned what her story was; she grew up in some middle of nowhere place, Ohio and acted strange like from the movie Carrie. I could see her as a frail and frumpy school girl who gets scolded from their religious zealot parents; just like the torture Carrie endured by her mother. I also met her parents once and they fit the cast of Carrie perfectly. She also grew up in a backwards town and gave off a vibe like she was from Nowheresville, USA. She always creeped me out.

Carrie a.k.a. Andrea and her followers all ganged up on me out of nowhere one night while I was trying to enjoy my turkey burger. I had always tried to be nice and before hand even suggested paying Catherine $20 for installing the lock on my door knob for me (she of course accepted). How many people would do that? Andrea attacked me with nonsense that happened 7 months ago when I first moved in when Jen was still living here. To make a long story short, I finally left. It took me a while because I was between jobs at the time and unlike most people I had no one to help me move, or places to crash at such as family like most people have the option of, so I would have to find another place to rent and pay for all moving expenses out of my own pocket. I had enough of Westchester. I knew I would be moving closer in the city. I had spent nearly all my time there anyway except for living there. I was itching to leave. Westchester is for married couples and college kids. I always wanted to live in Queens. Never Brooklyn, but Queens. Don't ask me why I zeroed in only the borough of Queens and had high expectations of it besides because I never spent any time here or had any personal reason other than a strong intuition...

When you are on a fixed budget and have no one else to move in with your selection is rather limited. Everyone knows New York is one of the most expensive cities to move to. Rooms I have rented are equivalent to a whole apartment in let's say, Binghamton NY and any other Anywhere, USA.

I had no idea I was being 'picky' when choosing a residence to make my home. I needed to be close to the subway (MTA), meaning a walking distance away to a train that would take no longer than 30 minutes to get to the city, preferably the midtown area. After all I had spent my whole life commuting on Metro North and the trip was up to 45-60 minutes, I didn't want to repeat it again. One of the biggest perks of relocating to the city is not needing (actually an inconvenience) of having a car. I always hated driving but had my license and a car because living in the 'burbs there's no way to get around without one. It is a complete inconvenience not having a car here in the styx.  You have the opposite reasons of having a vehicle here in urban life: Not only is it impossible to find parking and driving in the city is a war zone (I like to joke & say you need to pass another road test in order to handle the bedlam in these city streets), you have all the options of mass transit i.e. subways, cabs, walking, buses.....I never understood why people are surprised when I tell them that I have no car living here especially when they are New York natives themselves.

After much searching, hunting and banging my head against the wall I finally struck gold. It was one of the most frustrating & aggravating processes. I found a cute area right in Queens outside of midtown. I've never heard of it before but when I found out how strategically located it was to the city I went to look. As soon as I stepped off the 7 train I was in love. It was Woodside. It reminded me of where my parents grew up in the Bronx on Irwin Avenue near Riverdale, one of the nice parts of the Bronx. It was everything I had imagined Queens to be. It was so idyllic and had a tight knit community. It was clean, you could almost eat off the ground. There were parks and churches and a lot of adorable Irish pubs; the staff were off the boat Irish, chipper with a sing song tone to their brogue. It was a melting pot mixed with mostly a Hispanic and Filipino population. I relished and enjoyed the Mexican food especially; it's one of my favorite cuisines. There was also a couple of family owned pizzerias. They have been open for years and very nice as well, they made you feel as if you lived there forever.  it was not too far from other neighboring quaint areas like Sunnyside.
It defied my belief that when you have high expectations over something they are almost never met so it is a good idea to have no expectations. However this situation was an exception. I thought I wanted to live in Astoria but it was not meant to be. Not only did I hit pay dirt but I was shocked besides once discovering this gem.

The landlord was a kind man. He was in his 40's and a forever resident of Queens. He was a little peculiar and reserved but in a genuine way. He dressed like his clothes were from the '70s, almost like he saved them from when he was younger and could've been the costumes for old sitcoms such as Three's Company. The apartment was on the third floor of his house.  He kept his small house in pristine and in immaculate condition. The house also seeemed like it was passe; the carpet had a putrid color and the front door seemed old school but very welcoming. His apartment was on the first floor and when I entered it it was also decorated like from another era. He even had tenants occupying the other 2 bedrooms in his place and his living space was small too to share.
He cared about all of his things and made sure all his tenants were responsible and maintained cleanliness. He was nice enough to even provide his tenants with granny carts in the foyer in case we needed it when we ran our errands. He made sure I didn't have a bicycle let alone a car because he said there was no space for it.  He also cared about my concerns and any issue I had he addressed it and took care of it right away such as a leaking faucet or broken door knob; even if I vented to him about catty things such as a messy stove one of the girls didn't wipe up after she cooked.
He also went above and beyond by offering to assemble some furniture I had bought; it was this office chair and I ordered it online and if it wasn't for him I never would've been able to put it together.

The second floor was only one apartment. It was a small stair case that lead up to the third floor. The only bedroom that was available that he was showing me was huge. New York is notorious for living in small spaces which are very expensive but again this was the exception not the rule. I only had to share a bathroom with two other girls. A lot of ads I answered you had to share a bathroom with up to 6 people. I could never imagine how that could be possible, but people somehow manage.
I was in love with the place and felt warm, fuzzy intuitions. Love at first sight. John, the landlord lived on the first floor of the house. I had thought about deciding whether to take it when leaving. I wanted it to sink in so I could think about this meticulously. After telling him I wanted the room (I was desperate to move in ASAP) he told me to give him the deposit quickly or else someone else might potentially grab it tomorrow. I ran to the closest ATM, my bank was not there but unfortunately the other bank refused to dish out all of the dollar bills needed to give him the deposit. So he gave me till tomorrow to hand him the deposit so he could cancel the viewing with another potential tenant.
I never officially met the other girls occupying the space other than a glimpse and little hello of two of them. But I had a good feeling about this. Instead of the lease being controlled by someone running more of a clique from high school, the strings were being pulled by a landlord who happens to be an older man concerned with making sure everyone follows his rules and respects his property, almost like an R.A. of a dormitory instead of a sorority.

I came back with all of the bills just like I told him. And it was mine! I moved in immediately. He had already furnished the 2 large windows with these beautiful, purple, floral drapes. They were brand new. I loved it. I eventually met the last girl. She was occupying the bedroom right next door to me. We shared the same wall. Her name was Cara. You had to enter the kitchen to get in her room. I always like to say there are pluses and minuses to everything; in life the best you could do is find something with more pros than cons.  This apartment share was civilized and run by a landlord more like our father but due to the small size and sensitivity of my other roommates they wanted absolute silence. When I signed the written agreement it said no noise after 11 pm. I fully understood and agreed but I had no idea what his definition of what 'noise' constitutes is and he didn't tell me before moving in. In the beginning it was okay because the first 3 girls didn't mind if I walked in the kitchen late at night to grab something to eat or drink or make sure my TV was at the absolute lowest volume.

Cara and I became fast friends. Of course we fought over cockamamie things like dirty dishes but how could we not? Sharing such a small space with no living room and only a small hallway and bathroom would be next to impossible to avoid butting heads every now & then.  Also, upon moving in I discovered that the hardwood floors creaked every footstep I took; it turns out it's because the house was very old. I could hear everyone's footsteps due to the old floorboards although they were recently polished. When I first moved in I got my first outburst. Apparently I had made a lot of noise when I came home very late one night. I couldn't imagine how anyone could complain because I am not an out of control party girl or out of control, period. That is when I found out about the old floor boards. The girls below me were absolutely livid; they complained to John and took it upon themselves to yell at me as if I was Paris Hilton and all I did was party all night while they were trying to get a good night's sleep for work the next day. Fortunately, that cleared up and I ended up being friendly with them for the duration of the 2 years living there. They lived on the second floor, were off the boat Chinese and had a fat cat. After a year past the first few girls who I got along with ended up moving out. After they were replaced by two new girls that was when things had taken a turn for the worst. The new girl who occupied the room next to me claimed I was "being so loud" by walking into the kitchen to satiate human needs like hunger and thirst. She also claimed my TV was "blasting", she would bang on my wall as if I was waking up all the neighbors with this "noise disturbance". After I went ballistic telling her how sensitive she is and this is not noise she is complaining about but sounds, she told me that in order for her to fall asleep at night there had to be absolute silence. If she heard a pin drop she would get a headache and falling asleep would be impossible for her. She ended up sleeping with ear plugs. My landlord had this uncanny knack for remaining calm in EVERY situation possible to the point that I was envious of him. I never understood how so many issues that you would think would trigger him to go ballistic never set him off. No matter how annoyed he would get with these catty issues, and even serious ones such as my faulty air conditioner almost causing the roof to cave in because it was leaking (unbeknownst to me) still would never make him break. I was even more stumped because he was a chain smoker and would go outside late every night smoking endless cigarettes; you would think this would cause him to undergo major anxiety and exacerbate his calm aura but no, it never did. He of course agreed with the other girls that my TV was all of a sudden too loud and he even politely asked me if I wouldn't enter the kitchen past 11 pm. All of a sudden after living there for a year he politely gave me all of these conditions as if I just moved in. These are ridiculous things he should've addressed before I moved in; and he should've emphasized what he meant by noise. It's not noise it's sounds. The only rule on his list he emphasized upon moving in was not allowing any male guests to sleep over. I was okay with that; I didn't find the prospect of inviting a guy I was dating over to a small space with 3 other girls appealing anyway; if anything I would feel like my privacy would be invaded, after all the kitchen was the size of a closet and the entrance to one of my roommate's bedrooms was through there. 

These tenants occupying his property were sensitive to sounds to the point that it felt like I was living in a monastery.  I already missed the camaraderie I developed with Cara when her & I were first warned of our "loud behavior" by being greeted with a notice on the bathroom door asking us to be quiet past 10 pm.  We were also asked to lower our voices while chatting in the kitchen.  I wished I could've turned back the hands of time to when I first moved in and I made friends with Cara - fighting over dirty dishes would've been a small price to pay compared to what I had in store for me with in the next year. Although Cara and I had some arguments, she was always nice to me. Her and I came from similar fields: She is a social worker and I was a teacher at the time I met her. She really helped me a great deal when I stressed out with my work and she certainly exemplified the true definition of a therapist; she would take the shirt off her back for a stranger. She was very moody however, one of the most moodiest people I ever met. But I am grateful for the ear she lended me, especially one time in particular where an incident occurred of mine and she let me vent to her the whole weekend about it.

In hindsight, it almost felt like the college experience I never got because I ended up staying at home for college; except this was a new spin on it: It was the college experience later on in life by knowing what it feels like to bond with my roommate but this time with the added pressure of hacking it in the real world by fighting to survive in order to keep a roof over my head and food on the table.

After Cara left my new roommates & I would send each other group text messages regarding any issues in the place we were sharing. After a while I became so fed up with this new set of girls complaining that I was being "noisy" that I finally had enough and exploded. It ended up becoming a barrage of nonsensical text messages as if the world was coming to an end.

Another girl who remained quiet finally chimed in too and told me she was always bothered by my "loud behavior". I would be on my way to work and send angry text messages relaying to them what I am saying here; that this is ridiculous and so on. Finally I had to block all of them and put things in perspective. I had stop for a second and tell myself to remain calm and realize things could be so much worse than this; I should be grateful for all the benefits of living here and not let this nonsense get to me. I had no idea how much I needed to appreciate my own pep talk until after living there for two years: My landlord finally took action on his idea of renovating the apartment by knocking down my bedroom wall, which meant I would have to move out. He never intended on becoming a landlord of an all girls apartment; he did it out of family obligation.
 I would've had to leave eventually anyway because he raised the rent every year but thanks to his decision he made me leave earlier than I planned to.

I had no idea this go around would be next to impossible. I thought I had it bad before I first moved to Queens, I ain't seen nothing till now. I wished my biggest gripes were combating the sound of sounds and messy dishes.

 I looked two months prior to having to leave and every place I looked like squashed my hopes.  A lot of these apartment shares looked more like crack/squatter houses, not fit for a beast let alone a human being and they had the nerve to charge rent as if it was desirable all because it was down the street from the train.
Due to my frugal budget it made looking for roommates on Craig's List even harder to find. I knew I had it lucky before finding a hugely renovated bedroom so close to the subway that was so close a ride to midtown; and the minuses being no over night guests and "being loud" but I had no idea that it would be this grueling to get lucky again. Each place I looked at and inquired about had these ridiculous conditions and rules such as:

1. No cooking/or only "light cooking" such as using a microwave. I've never met anyone so afraid of using an oven until now. And how do you not cook anything? What are you supposed to eat every day without burning more $ in your pocket and not consuming cheap junk food and getting fat and getting diabetes?

2. People renting their rooms wanted to make sure you didn't work from home. I understand this probably pertained to people who would be sharing the same space as you and wanted to make sure you wouldn't be in their face 24/7 but come on, you're paying to live there! It's not free or even a hotel.

3. Landlords treated their property as if it was theirs and you were only staying like a guest. I spoke to some people whose name was on the lease, and apartment was theirs and would tell me that after 6 months she would "review" my written agreement and see if she still wants me to live there. The whole apartment was decorated to her liking, including her dog living there and she's also treating me like I'm free loading and not paying rent as if it's my space I'm living in too.

4. Innovative ideas of designing a bedroom inside a living room only partitioned by curtains. I am speechless and don't know how to even express this discovery on my apartment sharing journey.....Anyone who doesn't mind camping out in someone's living room or living in a place where someone is sleeping right next to the kitchen deserves a medal....That's all I've got to say.

5. "420 friendly", smoking allowed, drugs, etc... and any other like terms. I HATE DRUGS/SMOKING/POT.  It's still supposed to be illegal here in New York City to smoke pot but apparently everyone is getting away with it because every block I walk on and room I viewed people are busy smoking pot and not even getting in trouble. It's not fair that this is illegal and the police aren't at least giving them fines. When I drove and would get parking tickets I would have to spend at least $50 for leaving my car there longer than I paid for; but yet all these people walking the streets and living in their residences are free to smoke this disgusting drug where I suffer and suffocate as I try to inhale oxygen and they don't even get fined? They're bothering people like myself doing something that is supposed to still be illegal here, but when I ran out of minutes for leaving my car in a spot I was fined? I wasn't harming anyone.
If you park your car in in an illegal spot here of the streets in NYC or the time on your parking meter ran out, good luck even seeing your car. Chances are it's towed away and you have to go locate it and pay the tow truck driver for hauling it all the way to Long Island and getting it from the impound late at night. And if your car is still there and it was really a no parking zone, parking tickets could be over $100.

I had made the mistake at times of not asking the person until I arrived if they smoke drugs. I say "drugs" and not pot because these days who knows what they're really smoking; people lace it with so much junk now I don't even want to know. Then there's people who only want you to stay short term. I had exhausted most of the time I was allotted to live in Woodside that I was worried I would never find anything suitable. I had 5 days left to evacuate and wanted to make sure to honor the maximum time John gave me to stay because I didn't need any problems with him. He still kept his cool of course but I could tell he was worried I wouldn't leave on the final date he gave me. Sometimes when he would casually ask me about my search it would feel like he thought I was doing this to him deliberately like I was spiting him. In actuality I had more pressure than him. I was the one who had to find a new place to live and fast, along with having to find movers and figuring out all of the other moving expenses that went along with it. 

It also made this room hunting extra grueling because a lot of rooms were furnished already and I coudn't take my furniture with me; there was no way I was going to ditch my prized possessions and furniture as if I was a bum. I also had a queen bed which made the nororiety of small living quarters in NYC affect me because almost every bedroom was so small that if it even fit my bed it couldn't fit anything else. I knew most of these past occupants must've been transients or passing through New York like most people who are inhabiting this city these days; because there would be no room to keep any of your clothes and other valuables one needs in order to make themselves a home. I knew I got a blessing from the universe when I found John's bedroom for such an affordable price in a desirable location. One room I looked at was so small; it could fit a queen bed and maybe one dresser. The rest of the apartment was the size of an average kitchen and actually was shared by 3 other roommates! They each had their own bedroom but I couldn't imagine being within 5 feet of each unknown tenant by using one bathroom and stove within arms length of each other and to add insult to injury they raised the rent each each year.

Somewhere along this painstaking process that was trickling down to the wire something even more unbelievable happened to me:

I had answered one of many countless ads for a share in Astoria, my dream location I always wanted to live in. It was a roomy house with many roommates but the rent was so cheap and in the most popular and action packed part of Astoria and right near the subway. The girl answered me right away and said she was having a viewing, an open house for all other people who are also interested. I told her she would have to make a decision ASAP because I had to leave in a week at this point and she said they would all make their decision by the end of the evening. The pictures depicted a washer & dryer on premises and the images of her bedroom looked very cozy. She was raving about how she has lived there for so many years, it's a great place to live and would've stayed if she didn't have to relocate back to Texas. She emphasized the fact that the rent never goes up and other unbelievable features of this ad. She said she was leaving in a few days but when I told her I had to take the room that night she all of a sudden changed it to saying that her plans changed and she was actually leaving the next day and taking all her furniture with her. At first that sounded too good to be true; the fact that she all of a sudden expedited her move out date after I stressed the fact that I needed it earlier especially since she was traveling across the country to the Southwest. Every other question I asked her was another 'yes' to my every wish; my wish(es) were her command.
But that was nothing until I went to the viewing.

When I went to Astoria that evening, I happened to catch the viewing the only night all the girls were conducting it (or so they said), I couldn't find the house. It was already dark at night and I couldn't see the mailbox number. At first I walked in front of the gate to this large house but it was an abandoned building. Then I exited the gate to this charming, little house to my left. There was no mailbox number either but I knew it was the right place because another young woman was standing in front of it waiting to be let in. She told me she was there for the viewing too but she's been standing out there for quite a while since there was no doorbell to ring and both of us didn't have a phone number to call them to let them know we were there.  It was also peculiar because when I approached the locked front door with no doorbell of any kind nor any list of tenants that lived there I quickly discovered there was no way to announce yourself at the door.

So we both waited for about 15 minutes until all of a sudden I saw through the glass door a girl flying down the stairs. She was very enthusiastic as she came out the door and told us girls, "It's so much fun in there but so crowded. It feels like you are on a set of Desperate Housewives!" She wasn't kidding. As I entered the front door as she exited, I walked up the stairs to the second floor where the viewing was and as soon as I entered I was flabbergasted. It looked like some big social event, all that was missing was champagne flutes and strawberries on silver platters served by butlers. All walks of life were there; every Tom, Dick and Harriet. It didn't feel real. I thought all the girls were playing a joke on me and the rest of the viewers. As I left they had informed me if they chose me at the end of the night over the other millions of viewers I would get an email. Needless to say, I never heard back from them again.

The house itself, the fact that the rent was only $700 a month in this comfy home with a laundry room and near the most bustling part of Astoria couldn't be true. The room wasn't huge but could've been doable for me. The girl who placed the ad was the star of the show since it was her room she was vacating. She acted like she was from Central Casting, kind of like an actress from Tony N' Tina's Wedding. I thought to myself this must be some sort of a sick joke, if they're not actresses then they're psychology students doing a survey on how aggravated and stressed New Yorkers looking for an apartment share could be until they finally break....She even added, "The landlord doesn't even raise the rent! Okay, he raised the rent once when I first moved here 8 years ago....and he phrased it in such a way that he would disappoint us because the increase was so high, although it was only another $40!"  The house itself looked like it was a TV set from The Gilmore Girls, it was beautifully decorated with so much furniture and fixtures like a comfy family home.

With 5 days left, I felt the mounting pressure begin to take hold of me. I had to remain positive and convince myself that I have to continue to arduously and tediously looking at Craig's List a million times a day, refresh my page and reach out to anyone that looked decent and I would definitely find something. You get what you put out and I knew it would be impossible not to find anything if I spent the final 5 days devoted to continuous searching. I even bit the bullet and paid $20 to hire a broker to help me find a share. This was worse; not only because I had to waste 20 of my precious dollars but he was an obnoxious, haughty jerk who had the nerve to ridicule me because my deal breakers consisted of living in a suitable apartment and no drugs. He had the nerve to laugh at me and claim I was being too "picky". I had no idea I was being too picky because I didn't want to pay a fortune on a ransacked house or live with a family. I initially left his agency after speaking to him because I couldn't stand his condescending attitude towards me but I walked back in because I was so desperate and time was ticking louder in my ear that I felt like I should swallow his surliness and spend my $20. It turns out the rooms he found me were worse than the rooms I found on my own. He would call me to ask how I liked it; I didn't want to be dramatic with emotion by crying out with disgust because it would only bolster his belief of how 'picky' I was. Although, it was very hard to contain myself because the first place he showed me looked so run down and old like from a scene of A Street Car Named Desire. It was the most dilapidated ransacked building with a steep staircase barely held down from old murky green floorboards. I knew if it was bad on the outside it could only be worse in the inside. It looked like it was going to catch on fire.
As soon as I walked up the stairs to the second floor I was greeted by this young boy from Chile; he said he was a carpenter. The apartment smelled of rust. The whole place was deteriorating; I was waiting for a rat to jump out. The shower was so rusty and cracked and the sink looked like it was built from WWI; it was this huge sink bin. I felt like I was going to pass out. One of the doors were broken and the room that was available looked like an old stuffy attic. I felt like I was in a horror movie. I did my best to feign calmness and shook the boy's hand because he acted friendly and then kindly left and thanked the landlord's mother for showing it to me. By the grace of the universe, shortly after my own hard work paid off and I no longer had to suffer from being desperate to depend on the broker's assistance.

As the final week progressed I had answered another barrage of ads waiting on pins & needles. In the midst of it all I stumbled upon this innovative way of meeting other roommates: Roomspeeddating. Instead of attending a speed dating party to meet your other half you attend a mixer reserved for potential roommates. I saw the invitation on the event was free and sponsered by WeWork. The date they were having it was a week away and all the way downtown on Fulton Street. They were serving complimentary appetizers and alcohol. I remember praying that I would've secured something by then but as luck would have it I didn't.

So there I was that splendid evening: 3 days left to evacuate but I still gave it my best shot. I had a couple of viewings lined up that evening after the event but I didn't want to get my hopes up because each time I did I was beyond disappointed. However, there was a glimmer of hope in this subsequent viewing. A woman whose room I inquired about on Craig's List did me a favor by texting pictures of another apartment her friend was renting out. It was beautiful. It was a huge, empty bedroom where I could keep all of my furniture (nearly impossible to find for both), it was a condo building with a laundry room downstairs. I put myself together and wore my best fall/winter outfit to impress potential living companions. It was March so it was still cold. I had winter boots on and jeans, of course accompanied by a jacket. As soon as I arrived to Fulton Station I was mesmerized. It looked like a Disney World of the MTA subway system. Fulton Street Subway was newly renovated and huge with many floors like I was in Trump Tower. You walk in the glass elevator and ascend to the top floor where the WeWork Millennials kept their space.

I was greeted by WeWork employees to sign in, most of which was fully equipped with a tablet. It was such a typical millennial organized event with very young people who looked like the ink on their college degree barely dried yet. We wore name tags. Instead of the name tag you would wear for looking for a date with your name/age, you put if you were renting or seeking a room. Then you put your price budget. Well, I never felt so poor in my life. I'm not going to even put my budget I was seeking. Let's just say my budget only had 3 digits while all the lease holder's budgets had 4 digits. You may be thinking 4 digits, big deal.....Oh no, it was well over a $1000. I knew it was a fortune to live here in the Big Apple, and this city is notorious for small spaces that are worth the same amount of a house in North Carolina but I had no idea how alarming an epidemic it was until that night. I was actually embarrassed that my amount was so low. Everyone around me was seeking up to 2-4 roommates with rent over $1200. I couldn't imagine one apartment with more than one bedroom could be that much money for each bedroom until then. I only saw one other room seeker whose budget was as low as mine. I went over to the counter WeWork designed to be fully equipped with a sink and refrigerator as if it were someone's kitchen to take a slab of complimentary brie and a cracker along with maybe 2 glasses of wine. I then took a deep breath. I made sure I was one of the first ones to get to the cheese plate; I didn't want everyone's filthy hands all over it and knew it would be gone before I knew it. That was the one defining moment the universe tested me to be positive and remain calm under pressure. I had to keep saying to myself standing over there by the counter that it will work out; the room later on that evening will be a good fit or even the next day with only 48 hours left to move.

So I left after I saw everyone pile into the room and felt confident those were my only options. I was set to head all the way back up to Queens in a new part I was vaguely familiar with. I've only been there once to go to one of the couple of malls located there; after all there aren't too many malls if any around here. Between seeing how alluring the photos are and the proximity of the subway to Manhattan I was ready with open eyes. It was later on that evening, late around 10 pm. I have never visited an unfamiliar building so late at night but I was desperate and had to look at it A.S.A.P. before it was taken. It was a nice young couple from China. This spacious and newly renovated apartment also happened to be inside an apartment building equipped with a gym, laundry room and elevator.

After getting a tour and seeing how beautiful and spacious the features were just like the photo displayed, I desperately asked them if I could take it that night. They told me they negotiated the  price of the room and made it a little less for me because I was referred by one of their friends. I was standing there with my Michael Kors black, winter coat with faux fur trim wrapped in a scarf  along with blood shot eyes from sleep deprivation & aggravation and knew I had to make up my mind fast. There have been times I thought I liked something but after giving it some thought I rejected it; but this time had to be an exception.  What were the odds that I would score another HUGE UN-FURNISHED bedroom again? Could lightening really strike twice? Well, in my case, it did. Except even better because I only had 2 roommates this time, one of which was barely home.  I told them I was going to run to the closest bank and be back in 15 minutes to give them their cash deposit for the room. There was no way I was coming back that early the next morning, I'd rather get it all over with that night with the assurance of knowing the room was mine. I found the bank and came right back and signed the written agreement. I moved in 4 days and had just moved out the last day I was given by John.

I had only met one of my roommates. It was 3 bedrooms in total. The other one was taken already and the girl was nice. I had this peculiar, morbid feeling that whoever they would rent the last room to wouldn't be someone I could see my self coexisting with. I didn't want to be negative but couldn't shake off this nauseating feeling in my gut. That's the crazy thing I never understood about the universe and its law of attraction: How do you know the difference between being negative and just having a bad feeling in your gut about something?

On move in day I met her. I don't even know how to begin to say this. It was much worse than what my gut had warned me about. I had no idea what was in store for me. I owe this experience to the inspiration of this blog post; to be honest I have never experienced such a horrific and scary experience from a roommate on Craig's List until now. Her name was Sara. When I first met her I felt goosebumps; mostly because she was accompanied by another person helping her move in. The two of them gave me the chills; but the kind of chills you would experience watching a horror film on Halloween. I have never been caught up in such a depraved experience before; this is worse because I had to share my residence with her, it's more intimate than another setting for this to occur in. For the first time after years of  cohabiting with strangers, the risk of living with these stranger(s) slammed me right in my face. Now, on the outside she and her companion don't look scary. Sara is a very young looking petite girl. She looked like she was still in high school. She's pretty quiet. But you can't deny the sinking feeling of intuition us as humans innately possess. Always go with your gut, especially when your stomach feels like its doing somersaults.

I want to make you understand, in case some of my fortunate readers can't relate to having to live with strangers:

Imagine walking down the street and you step inside the coffee shop looking forward to your first cup of joe. As you proceed to stand on the line you see this unsavory character in front of you. He or she looks creepy, you might not be able to even describe it; just an uneasy feeling that leaves you counting the minutes until you don't have to breathe the air in the same room. Or even worse, you're outside and you see this person who looks like a bum and high on drugs. Well, all of these unattractive encounters you inevitably experience could very likely turn out to be your roommate(s). These people you're sharing a kitchen and bathroom with are literally strangers; meaning anyone, all walks of life from all sorts of situations could inhabit the most intimate part of your life from sleeping, showering, not just eating and drinking but your whole privacy of your bedroom and possessions are now on display. You are now vulnerable to the idea of someone invading all of these needs and necessities us as human beings require to function.

Since you are resorted to having to share an apartment with others that wasn't even your choice to live with, you take a chance 24/7 breathing the same air x 1000.....A lot of times you didn't even have the chance of meeting the rest of the tenants. From my experiences I've noticed that a lot of people take the room without meeting all of them and I couldn't imagine why they wouldn't want to meet everyone first before they decide to move in; especially since this decision involves a lot of preparation with money being involved to move in. That's only the tip of the iceberg. You take a chance from renting a share with the landlord; what if he or she is a nightmare? This is their place and you have no choice but to abide by their rules, especially if they live in the same apartment as you. Another huge minus is that this isn't even your lease; it's not like you are going the conventional route where you lease an apartment yourself; you're renting from someone else's lease so you have to follow their quirky habits and nonsense from not using the kitchen past 10pm to working remotely from home. Unless you hit pay dirt and the person wants you to co sign their lease with them; however other problems could arise with this alone since it's a stranger: They could bail on you and disappear which leaves you legally obligated to pay the rest of the rent even though their name was on the lease too.

Now getting back to my last experience. Sara seemed innocent enough. But slowly and surely things crept up that made me explode. It started with her using my things without asking. At first I was nice about it and told her she could borrow it just as long as she washed everything after she was done using it. I always left my toiletries in the bathroom but this time I couldn't; I could tell she was also using my shampoo and body wash. I remained quiet and just decided to leave it in my room instead. According to her she thought an apartment share meant that we all use each other's belongings; this was her first time moving away from home.

At first I swallowed my frustrations that I already felt for Sara. I still tried to be as nice as possible for the first couple of weeks. But then I ended up discovering other things quickly after that hit my breaking point; major issues that I never had to endure until this Craig's List Nightmare:

 I ended up being the whistle blower on this fiasco. After all, I am paying rent PLUS utilities; when I feel mistreated when spending my hard earned money is involved I automatically snap. I don't care if it's Santa Claus or Tinkerbell whose taking advantage of me; if they're sponging off of my hard earned $ I would be just as furious. My only other roommate was almost never home, plus she was oblivious to Sara's antics from the beginning. It turns out my other roommate wasn't aware that there were even two people living with us because she thought they looked identical. It made me wonder if they dressed similarly on purpose in order to be sneaky and conniving. After all, they were both Hispanic, with similar hair and both in great physical shape.

My landlord Allan would've had no idea whatsoever because he didn't even live in the same building as us, let alone the apartment. First I noticed that Sara's companion was always staying here to the point of free loader status. Her partner in crime was very quiet too but looked very nasty. I felt like this person had a super power of making me jump out of my skin; literally jump out of my skin as if I saw a ghost. I have never felt that rattled over someone's presence before until now. It was bad enough that the place I was living in was being inhabited by an extra person; but worse because this person sent chills down my spine & wasn't chipping in for the rent in addition to sponging off of the utilities I have to pay for. At first I didn't say anything because I wasn't even totally sure if her partner-in-crime was over using the 2 day a week policy for visitors. What started these confrontations was our front door. We lived in a pre-war building so although our apartment was renovated the whole door is still old. Allan failed to explain to me the trickery that needs to be used in order to master how to lock and unlock the door; I had to learn the hard way. Sara was out late at night a lot; I heard she was a bartender. She was mainly the one who had the most trouble with the door. She would come home almost 6 am from being out all night and one night couldn't get in. She had no trouble ringing the bell either to wake me up around 2 in the morning. When I opened the door there her and her menacing partner stood in their scantily clad dresses and stilettos. They walked in quickly past me as if it was me who woke them up so late at night; not even a thank you. I tried helping her figure out how to lock the door as nice as I possibly can but she just yelled in my face, she acted defensive as if I was calling her stupid for not being able to use the lock. She said she could figure out how to lock it and unlock it herself followed by her slamming the door in my face. However, she never figured out how to master the lock because the next time I woke up I noticed that she left her key inserted in the lock outside the door. I knew it was her and not Julie, my other roommate. Julie was responsible and not even home. In retrospect, I should've swiped her set of keys and kept it in my pocket. I already didn't feel safe since Sara was so incompetent and irresponsible to not only figure out how to unlock the door but leave her set of keys in the outside lock! But instead I didn't point fingers at her although I knew it was her and texted everyone instead informing them that "someone left their keys" inserted the outside lock.

As time went on it was clear that her partner was living there pretty much full time. The lock became such a catastrophe that Allan told us just to continue to lock the upper lock and ignore the faulty lock which happened to be the door knob. Then another event took place that made me beyond livid. I could've sworn I smelled pot in her bedroom. Marijuana is a drug; (contrary to ignorant people who don't want to believe it just like caffeine and alcohol is a drug too), it was permeating in the hallway starting from her bedroom. I like to refer to it as smoking drugs, not pot, because these days drug users lace their weed with who knows what other kinds of drugs. At first I wasn't totally sure it was drugs because it had a sweet scent to the odor and I didn't want to call her out on something bad if she really didn't do it. Of course using drugs here is strictly prohibited; my landlord would never have accepted that plus it was on the written agreement. I learned the hard way by making sure before I moved in that smoking and drugs was forbidden. Allan was in my room helping me assemble the curtain rod and I asked him if he thought it smells like weed. He was oblivious to it like Julie and said he didn't think so. But after a few weeks went by the odor became more powerful and less with the sweet scent to the point that I was 100% sure it was drugs. I have only been living here for a few weeks and it already felt like a few years. I have had enough. I texted Allen and told him he must come here. It was around 10pm when I smelled it and luckily at the time he was still living across the street. At that point I already told him that Sara had her partner living there but even after he spoke to her nothing changed. So he swung right by and couldn't deny the odor either. He called Sara into the kitchen where I heard the conversation behind my door. She said she only needed it for sleeping and she wouldn't do it again.

She had previously cornered me by asking to speak to me. She told me she felt uncomfortable around me because she noticed me standing down the hallway staring at her. I told her I had no idea what she was talking about; I would have no reason to stare at you I relayed; but now it all made sense. Her drug use must've caused her to become paranoid and she was apprehensive to have moved out for the first time to begin with. She also complained that she felt uneasy that I was waiting for her to be done using the bathroom so I could then use it; I have shared a bathroom with more people than I could count and never did one of them tell me they felt uncomfortable because I waiting outside to use the bathroom after them.

I later found out that Allen never installed any smoke/carbon monoxide detectors in the apartment so heaven forbid there was a fire the whole building would perish in flames. He reluctantly paid for one of them and I bought the other one for my bedroom. But nothing still changed. I still smelled the drugs and her partner was still living there. I incessantly alerted Allen about this and of course he was furious too. Although he kept telling her to stop, she wouldn't. Then I figured out what this sweet scent was that she so cleverly diffused the odor with. I was standing in front of the mirror by the door. Behind me was the shoe rack. I believe the universe was looking out for me because at that time there wasn't any smoke alarms. I stared in the mirror and caught a glimpse of something grey. At first I thought it was a gross bug but after a second glance realized it was an incense stick dangling from below a shoe on the shoe rack; it was lit for a while because so much ash was falling to the floor and the candle was almost burnt to the end. That was the sweet smell Sara masqueraded her drugs with. It was a miracle that I caught it; if it fell to the floor this whole apartment would've went up in flames. I already stopped concealing the identity of the person causing all these problems in the apartment; I had no choice of being the anonymous whistle blower any longer because none of this would stop. After seeing this potential fire, I took a picture of it and texted it to Allen. I said enough is enough! What more do I have to tell him to make him understand that Sara is not only irresponsible but a risk to all of our safety? I'm not sure if Allen knew the danger of this situation because he is from China so who knows if he knows what an incense stick is. He still gave her one more chance though. Julie who also shared the same beliefs as him, maybe because they both share the same customs and culture due to coming from the same country, said it was  also no big deal. No big deal?? I explained to them what incense sticks are and how it is the same thing as a lit up candle and could easily catch fire; anything lit could catch fire! But no, they all still gave her a pass.

Finally after crying out for help and making all of them see the light, Julie was aware of what was going on. Her bedroom was right next to Sara's and she started to smell the potent scent of weed. I googled ways to get rid of the odor; it stunk so bad, it was my worst nightmare come to life. She took every precaution WikiHow recommended to diffuse the odor: open all the windows and light incense sticks. The fact that she always kept the windows open drove me more into a rage because there were no screens on them so many bugs kept flying in; I had to buy a fly swatter. Each time I would shut the windows I would later enter the bathroom and kitchen to see the windows were open again and the kitchen window was all the way above the counter so I would have to stand on top of the counter to pull down the enormously sized window.
The Febreze odor spray did nothing to get rid of it; it just enhanced the smell. I now had a full on war with her and her partner. These two were actually street walkers; worse than I knew beforehand. I really didn't want to live with an enemy; but it became almost unbearable to live here, but I couldn't move just yet; I just moved in and spent plenty of $ and as you know it was nearly impossible for me to even find this place. Plus, she had signed only a 6 month lease so I was hoping against hope she would really keep her word in leaving then. The 6 months trickled by, it was torture. I had no choice but to finally call out everything to both their faces and expressed beyond anger how they were nasty and disrespectful; especially after I caught Sara with the drugs. I actually lived with two full blown enemies; my worst nightmare come to life. I ended up buying my own portable refrigerator so they couldn't touch my beverages.

After Julie realized that it was two girls and not one; that Sara had her companion here all the time, and she finally smelled the drugs she kept continuously doing, she had enough too. Allen also had enough and finally forced Sara to leave. Another risk you take with apartment shares is suffering the price of a landlord's poor judgment of deciding your roommates for you. It turns out Allen didn't even know tenants rights and the fact that you can't just throw out a tenant; you have to file a judgment in civil court first. Sara went ballistic at him and knew full well of this law too and refused to leave right away. She began to harass me to my face yelling at me but I couldn't be afraid of her; she was so small. I told Allen that they're right, you can't just throw a tenant out. He called the cops but they couldn't care less. The first night it happened the scene took place in the lobby of my building. I went downstairs to find the whole scene already beginning: A group of cops with my landlord, his girlfriend and roommates from hell. It became so heated after the cops blatantly expressed their apathy of my matter that when they left Sara went right up to my face and nearly physically assaulted me. Other residents walking in saw the whole thing.  The cops had told Allan this is ridiculous and something the civil court takes care of. They didn't care that I was concerned with my safety; that I was living with mortal enemies. I gained to find out that even though the tenant smokes weed you still can't throw them out; although it's still illegal here in NYC it doesn't matter. I didn't know that. This whole time I felt comforted thinking that if this ever happened the police would take care of it and fine them; but now after learning I was wrong I now have a new wave of anxiety.

Sara made sure to stay the remaining few months of the 6 month lease she signed. She acted like the poor victim like she did nothing wrong and would cry to all our faces. She first pled to me, "What did I ever do to you? I've been nice to you, if I get thrown out I'll be in the streets. You'll get your karma". She was sick enough to even pretend like we were all plotting against her for no reason as if she wasn't abusing us and this place by being disrespectful, using drugs and other dangerous activities. I think she was my karma from something I must've done wrong in the past.
Eventually, she became nasty herself and had the audacity to cook in the kitchen and live freely here like everything was fine and she wasn't ruining our lives. My enchanting bedroom that I made a home was my shield to block me from the vortex of evil permeating outside my doors. Each time I had to leave to relieve myself I looked through the crevice of my double doors to see if they were standing there and my room was right by the front door so each time I heard it open and shut I would mute my TV and look through to see if it was them so I would have an idea if they were here and when the best chances of avoiding them were. Every time I had to enter the kitchen I would do my best to drown out the evil energy around me by blasting uplifting music such as U2's Beautiful Day or Jon Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer so I could mentally be taken away from this toxic environment I was being forced to physically live in by trying to be optimistic by listening to the happy and positive lyrics rushing through my ears.

Julie would complain to me and say she was getting headaches from the weed. Sara had already threatened Julie with text messages warning her to leave her alone; another thing the cops said didn't mean anything; just like almost setting fire to the building wasn't grounds to press charges either. What did Julie want from me? It turns out she also didn't know about the law. She was still convinced they could get thrown out. She said she knew lawyers, just take their picture and send it to the police! Is what she claimed. I told her about the police being called and about the law, I finally ignored her. She wanted to stay out of my problems all this time and she was becoming nasty. She ended up calling the cops too. I told her they will be here for nothing because there is nothing you could do; I've done this over and over. She yelled at me and told me to take pictures of Sara! I didn't need this hostile situation with Julie, so I remained quiet and waited for the police to show up to repeat to her what I have said. I never got so friendly with the police department before and met so many cops in my life. The first time I called 911 from my first confrontation with Julie, Sara had beat me to it and unbeknownst to me already had called the cops and they were in the lobby. Sara knew about the law so she called them to pretend like she was being harassed and threatened knowing she couldn't be thrown out.

After Julie spoke to the police, her and Allan had a brilliant idea: We should change the locks on them so they can't get back in. I told the both of them that is illegal and you will get arrested if you do that; you can't throw a tenant out without going to civil court first. They were both so mad at me for telling the police they were planning on doing that; of course the cops said if they do that they will be arrested. I saved my landlord; if he changed the locks he would've had to be bailed out. Then he told me I should hold back the door so they can't come in! Is he crazy? So I'll hold the door shut as they try to come in to the point of a physical altercation, he said that's what he would do. I don't mean to insult him but he's not so intimidating, he's an insignificant looking short and puny quiet man who does not come off as a threat to put it mildly.

The remainder months of walking on pins & needles living with them became so excruciating that I would leave my place for hours at a time just to avoid sharing the same space as them. I also kept hoping they would leave when they said they would. You think it's just a few months, but when you are faced with such a dilemma where you are frightened, it feels like forever. Sara was almost always home; and if not Sara her partner was here instead; it turns out they made copies of the key. I would leave early in the afternoon and come back sometimes as late as midnight. I silently thanked them for being the ones to beat my procrastination of forcing me to hit up the gym more often and devote hours of work in the computer lab. Luckily I am healthy and when something is stressing me out I take it out on exercise and completing work that has to get done.

I wouldn't wish this amount of animosity and cruel hatred out on anyone. It felt like they possessed me like from a scene of The Exorcist. I became so enraged that nothing could be done to stop all of this from happening; the law wasn't even protecting me and couldn't care less. I have never said such cruel things to another human being before and I've had my fair of unpleasant experiences. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Finally August approached; the moment of truth that determines if those two would finally leave like what they agreed to. I firmly believe the universe had my back that fateful night. I got called to work an over night shift the evening they were due to move. I texted Allan incessantly to make sure they didn't try stealing my TV and computer. I would never trust them and wouldn't be surprised if they would pull something since they were finally leaving. Allan informed me that they had him wait in the apartment ALL night till almost midnight for their moving truck. I really think they were waiting for me to enter that apartment to cause me bodily harm. They kept jerking Allen's chain by saying they were leaving at 7 pm, then it turned into every hour up to 12. He said the reason was because they were waiting for their moving truck. Who moves so late at night? It's unheard of to move all of your belongings when it's dark outside and secondly, who was driving their truck? If you rent a truck you are responsible to pick it up, drive it yourself then go back to drop it off at the lot. So who could they have hired to do that for them so late at night?   Whatever the case was, I was saved and didn't have to be around that final tension. Allen stood guard of my bedroom and when I came back the next day they were moved out. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

This whole universe is built on energy and I needed to wipe out the bad, toxic energy they left lingering in this apartment. So I burnt sage all over the apartment to clean it out and replace it with positive energy and renew the air by welcoming good vibes to make sure my living arrangement is finally a happy and positive place. The sage smelled so good and as I traced the fumes all over the place I silently gave blessings of a happy home and now I am free of anything toxic and bad from living in my apartment.

I am a firm believer that there are no accidents in life and we meet people for a reason, good or bad. I believe each uncomfortable experience we endure is for our better good by teaching us a lesson and making us feel stronger. After I was able to breathe again, I can't help but scratch my head: What did have to learn from this? I already knew full well the price you pay by living with strangers; and I'm not talking about the price of the rent either. I feel like this was Allen's lesson to learn, not mine. He was the one who chose her to rent the room and this was his first experience with apartment shares.

Whatever the case may be, I feel stronger in the end and this harrowing 6 month episode helped reassure me that I could still undergo any hurdle and still stand up.


Friday, June 22, 2018

The Criminal INjustice System

Like most current events and issues America faces, our criminal justice system is the most corrupt. I feel like we should change it to the criminal In Justice system. This is scary because criminal justice plays a major role in society and affects all of us.

First let's start with the prison system in America. These prisons are so overcrowded and filled with people convicted of non-violent crimes which is mostly drug related. The population of all prisoners in the U.S. is more than Los Angeles and New York combined! that's only scratching beneath the surface. These prisoners are treated so inhumanely and most of them suffer from mental illness and are not getting any treatment. They are just rotting away in their filthy, empty jail cell more like a cage while their whole well being continues to rot. The sanitary conditions and mistreatment makes us the worst prison system in the world to ever be thrown into. There are no windows in any of the cells, no one listens to anyone's proclaim of innocence or honors any of the constitutional rights we're supposed to be given such as right to counsel and our right to a fair and speedy trial. Do you know how many people are in prison for crimes (murder) they didn't commit? I don't even want to think about the ones that were never saved and ended up dying there or given the death penalty for someone else's crime. Or how about the ones that were saved but didn't leave jail for years later? Some decades later? No compensation in the world could help fill that void the judicial system did to them by missing out on all those years with their family and their life. They finally walk out of that cage not even knowing what a cell phone is, never mind sending a text message or the Internet. They missed out on everything from holiday gatherings, graduations, weddings, birth...etc.
Some of these people were in there for so long just because they were caught with drugs. Talk about something so innocuous. These people should be offered intervention and psychiatric and substance and drug abuse treatment/counselors, that way they could improve their lives and not return. So many people are treated like dogs as if the filth, squalor and gang fights isn't enough, they get thrown into solitary confinement 23 hours a day! Only one hour to see the outside. Most of these people might not even have done it but no one fails to listen to them or give them their constitutional rights as promised. For blacks it's even worse. They are slapped with worse serious sentences; given harder time.
This society is a disgrace and makes me ashamed to be an American. Discrimination is still wide spread, and I have no faith in the police or judicial system. Police abuse their power in every facet and continue to get away with it. They're all connected to the prosecution and judge so no one will listen to your cries of injustice of these disgusting cops. They're all in on it to lock you up. The amendment of a fair to speedy trail is more of a farce than anything else. Most of these defenders are given plea bargains and forced to take them even if they didn't do it just so they could return home sooner. They want the case solved so due to the defendant's desperation, they know there is a good chance they will plea out in order to put the case to rest.

The police make snap judgments by making sure you are convicted and if you don't have the money to hire a competent attorney than you are screwed. The dud of an attorney will just watch you sink. How about those "interrogations"? It's more like manipulation and abuse to force a confession out of a suspect who nine times out of ten is actually innocent. They lock them in a small room with no food & water for hours at a time while screaming at them and harassing them right up to their face. Finally after being deprived nourishment and rest and being locked up in a room with no sign of life on the outside for nearly 24 hours, they finally confess to a crime they didn't even do just for the sake of this torture ending. A lot of these victims are young teenagers, the detectives especially love to take full advantage of these naive youths. A lot of people can't believe suspects confess to a crime they didn't commit. Well, if you think about it for a moment: We are all humans, so think like a human. If you are being deprived food, water, locked up for hours at a time like a dog while being yelled at and literally harassed to your face for almost 24 hours, you don't think you would finally confess just for this havoc to end? The right response but most people don't know is to say they want an attorney and refuse to speak. There is nothing they could do about that, because if you don't and start talking, whatever word you utter to them will be used against you. 

This is a heated topic for me because I have a genuine and long term passion for the law. When I was in college I was determined to become an attorney. I had previously interned at the Westchester County Attorney’s office in the abuse and neglect division. I had a minor in pre-law while in college and was preparing for the LSAT’s but halfway through the prep class I became dissuaded. I ended up going down a different path into teaching. My desire that propelled me into law is the same I thought of in education: I wanted to make a difference in this world and change a person’s life. How many professions are there where you could make a positive impact on someone and this world? I love to read and write. I am outspoken when I feel like there is an injustice or unfairness. I found there to be a fine line between law and education. I had the opportunity of seeing firsthand how disadvantaged and underprivileged this society is. I had taught for several years as a substitute and the majority of that was in the inner city schools of NYC. It is unfortunate that these children do not have the support and encouragement they need in order to lead a bright future. Most of these children do not speak any English nor are getting any support from ESL teachers like they deserve. These classrooms are filthy and filled up to over 30 kids with only one teacher. As the school year resumes in the fall, teachers end up getting even more kids later on with barely any room to place them. There is cursing and physical violence. There have been times where I was afraid of being physically assaulted and the administration couldn’t care less. Most of these principals don’t communicate with you at all, you are assumed to know what is expected of you. One principal never even looked my way let alone acknowledging my existence. I was teaching first grade and there was a boy who was physically violent and I attempted to seek help to help remedy the situation. I saw her in the hallway without even knowing if she was in fact the principal. “Are you the principal?” She looked at me with a mean look in her eye. She was in my classroom earlier in the day and walked in speaking to the kids without any indication of the position she held. “Yes, I am.” I knew from the tone of her voice she did not want to be bothered. After I let her know of the boy stabbing another girl with a pencil she immediately brushed me off saying that’s what he does, I have to deal with it.  I have become so overwhelmed and dissatisfied with teaching that I want to use my master’s in education in a different direction. I still love education and working with people. I would love the opportunity to segue into the nonprofit sector. My passion for helping people and making a difference in society will never cease. The law still and education both still interest me. Below I have written my passion and thoughts of law and the judicial system:

When someone is arrested for a crime and taken to trial we say “innocent until proven guilty”. This may be written somewhere in fine print as to how we should proceed by determining someone’s fate but in actuality it’s not done like this. This may be a matter of opinion and people may not agree with me but sorry to sound blunt and nasty but if you do not agree with the system being flawed you need to get your head out of the sand. I could go on and on naming high profile cases that have had unfair verdicts from celebrities to average people who have been publicly shamed just because they may have not been a saint and may have engaged in promiscuity or have cheated on their spouse. In that case all of us would be thrown in jail then. How many people commit adultery and engage in debauchery? Unfortunately once the defendant’s past and how they live their life comes to light the jury is now tainted and biased. This is why a lot of times the case gets moved to another county. You can’t forget the prosecution’s main role in this too. They have a field day with this one. When they hear a defendant was cheating on their spouse they blow it out of proportion and make a big scene of it in court. They call all witnesses to help validate their claims that this person is heartless and cruel. The prosecutor does such a good job that the jury now believes the defendant had to have done it. I love to say that being a lawyer is similar to acting. Trial attorneys are trained to make a big show and use their acting skills in order to manipulate the jury into believing them.

Before I move forward with a well noted and powerful example I would just like to say that I don't believe every law enforcement official are cruel and callous and do not care.  There are many cases and crimes where justice is served and good hearted, altruistic attorneys, judges and police officers do exist and make it their mission to never quit until the case is solved. Some of these selfless officials let these cold cases take over their life as if it has happened to them.
 They have so much sympathy for these innocent loved ones who are suffering to have these murders solved because they have families and children of their own and couldn't imagine the grief they are going through. 

There are plenty of not for profit/pro bono lawyers that band together and do everything in their power to fight for convicted criminals who are in prison for a crime they did not commit. These altruistic attorneys fight with every fiber of their being without receiving a dime to retry these unfair cases where the whole trial was flawed from the beginning. These guardian angels receive nothing in return other than the reward of knowing that they saved a life; an innocent life of a person who was unfairly convicted of a murder and paid for a crime they never committed in the first place. In some instances they saved a life by stopping an innocent person of being executed; sentenced to death. There is no bigger tragedy and miscarriage of justice than that.  

Unfortunately, there's still a great deal of injustice and enough greed still present that makes American society as a whole still undergoing a crisis. 

Let me take a recent example that I feel touches upon this beautifully: The Michael Peterson case. His documentary was just aired on Netflix called The Staircase:

He is a wealthy novelist whose wife was found dead on the bottom stairs. He was the one who found her and frantically dialed 911. The moment the police department got there they were sure he definitely killed her, it was not an accident. Although he had the finances to hire a prestigious and competent legal team, he was still committed of the crime. Another point I am now bringing up is what if the person did it but there is not enough proof to commit him or her of the crime? That is where “innocent until proven guilty” comes in. This is not always the case. Michael Peterson is a brilliant example of all of this. He ended up spending all of his money on lawyers that by the time he got out he was destitute. He has a huge extended family that stood by his side from day one. He was fortunate that he had all those people to offer him food & shelter.

The medical examiner and coroner could not say with 100% certainty that his wife’s lacerations on her head was due to a fall or if he hit her with a blow poke they claim he had in his house. Now maybe he did do it. The jury thought so and convicted him twice. The point is that how could you seal a man’s fate without the most important pieces of the puzzle (forensic evidence)? It turns out years later Michael was finally granted an appeal because it was found out that the catalyst of throwing him into the fire was blood spatter analyst Duane Deaver. He had given false expert testimony in his cases and many others saying the blood spatter shows they did it. After one man was exonerated for the crime, Michael’s lead attorney David Rudolf was able to appeal his conviction.  Now maybe Michael really did do it but my point is that if there is not enough evidence to verify if this person in question did it, how could they be convicted? It turns out after reopening Michael’s case, other people on the forensics team admitted they lied too on the stand. Another forensic expert whose testimony was also thought to be credible admitted that she really had no idea how his wife Kathleen could’ve gotten those lacerations on her head either. Even David Rudolf said on camera that maybe Michael did do it but we really have no idea because there is not enough proof to back it up. We will never know what really happened on the bottom of the stairs. It’s unimaginable to think this way if you try to put yourself in the shoes of the victim’s loved ones. Kathleen Peterson’s sister was so adamant that Michael did it that it also turned out that her relentlessness to making sure Michael was kept in prison also tainted the judicial system. When Rudolf reopened the case and found so many other documents that were never seen before, he found evidence stating that she was in on it with the other attorneys to have the experts lie. The biggest blunder yet was the blow poke. Remember how I said when law enforcement came on the scene they did not want to be wrong? Well, it turns out the police recovered the blow poke at the crime scene in the garage and even took a picture of it. They never said anything, they just continued to lie and say it was missing. But they still had the audacity to accuse Michael of killing Kathleen with it! How could you be so cruel and make up a false accusation responsible for taking away something priceless like a person’s freedom?  After all that time when Michael was being tried his children were running through home videos of Christmas trying to remember where that blow poke was. They claimed they haven’t seen it in years. They finally recovered it in the garage. The prosecution was so adamant that he killed Kathleen with it although the blow poke was never found. Now all this time later after new evidence being discovered, it turns out this “missing weapon” wasn’t missing at all but kept under wraps. The police didn’t want to be wrong and wanted the case to be solved so they decided to “choose” the murder weapon to be the blow poke.
Another part of this case that I had mentioned before: After he stood trial it turned out that he was bisexual and committing adultery. The prosecution dug so deep and found evidence on his computer of him joining gay sex sites of men dressed in the military that they even called one of the male escorts on the stand. This case gained so much publicity that the press blew it out of proportion too. The D.A. did a great job to manipulate the jury into thinking he wanted to kill his wife because she had just found out about his homosexual adultery. It was also discovered that Michael lied for years saying he was injured from the war, when in fact he was not. He never fought in the war. This case became more about his character than the physical evidence itself. The only other thing that was discovered that leaves you scratching your head is that years before in Germany a woman also was found on the bottom of the stairs. Michael was the only one around too but it was ruled an accident. She was a friend of Michael’s named Elizabeth Ratliff and her children he ended up adopting said that she was suffering from dizzy spells. They are staunch supporters of Michael’s innocence.   It is quite perplexing and odd that this could’ve happened before but could you really punish someone on mere coincidence if there is no undeniable physical evidence that leads to the contrary?

Combine this coincidence and his hedonistic and clandestine life, you get his inevitable conviction.

There are so many cases like this that are based only on circumstantial evidence but yet lead to a conviction anyway. Or how about ones that are so clearly obvious with physical evidence? The OJ Simpson case is a great example. I don’t want to go into it since it has become a cliché but there was a plethora of physical evidence. Justice is flawed and that is a shame.
There are many unfair verdicts and trials and a lot of it could be bought if you have the money. An example of greed is the case of  “Affluenza”. A rich boy named Ethan Couch was found drunk driving and killed four people. His attorney appointed a psychologist in order to make up a phony claim as to why this happened which was because of his entitled lifestyle. His parents left him home partying in his mansion for days at a time and wanted to blame his actions on his neglect and indulgences. All he got was 10 years of probation while another boy who was poor that committed the same crime received 20 years in prison.

Needless to say, I feel like the criminal justice system is an oxymoron.