December 29, 2016

A Mercifully Now Past Emergency, and Collapse

At the beginning of December, I was looking forward to doing a lot of writing. Unfortunately, I've been very sick for most of the month. For the last few weeks, I've been unable to do much of anything at all. On many days, I've slept 14 to 16 hours. I think my collapse was largely the result of what had transpired in the previous two months. So, about that ...

In the first half of October, the tenants of my building were notified that there would soon be an inspection of all rental units by the City of Los Angeles. It's part of their regular inspection program, to ensure that living conditions are basically sanitary and safe, that there are no leaks in plumbing, that things are generally "habitable." At first, we believed the inspection would happen just three days after we were notified. That turned out to be a mistake, and the initial inspection didn't happen for two weeks.

That first notification provoked deep panic in me. Over the last several years, as my health continued to decline, it became harder and harder for me to lug garbage to the dumpster. Making even one trip to the dumpster took me longer and longer; I would usually have to rest after five or ten steps, depending on how heavy the bag(s) were. One dumpster trip became the Event of the Day, leaving me unable to do anything else except collapse into bed.

As a result, more and more crap piled up in my apartment. I won't even describe the worst of it to you; it's simply too horrifying. Just recall scenes you may have witnessed in films or news reports of "hoarders" and the like, with huge piles everywhere, when it's difficult to find a path to walk through the apartment. My place was like that. I didn't ask for help for one major reason: I was embarrassed beyond describing to let anyone see how I was living. (I might have considered hiring a stranger to help with the cleanup, but I never had the money to do that, even if I had wanted to.)

But that first notice of inspection jolted me out of my paralysis. I know what City Inspectors can do to tenants when they want to, often regardless of whether conditions merit punitive measures or not. And in my case, there was certainly a lot of cause for genuine concern. In extreme cases, tenants can be evicted. Regular readers know that one of my greatest fears, together with my fears about my health collapsing entirely, is being homeless. So I slowly began cleaning up. I very slowly began making trips to the dumpster. It was taking forever. Blessedly for me, a neighbor pitched in and took over responsibility for lugging all the garbage from the landing outside my apartment to the dumpster. That help was truly a godsend.

By the time of the first inspection (ultimately, October 24), the worst of the flood of garbage had been cleaned up. But a tremendous amount of crap still remained. I knew the Inspector would give me a warning and schedule a followup inspection, to make certain that I was making my apartment "habitable" again. I'm leaving out a lot of details, but that's essentially what happened. The Inspector said he would come back in about a month to see how I was doing; the date of the second inspection was finally set for December 6.

So I spent an inordinate amount of time between the end of October and the beginning of December cleaning up my apartment. Even with the help of my neighbor, it still took a tremendous amount of work on my part. And given my health problems, I had to be very careful about exerting myself too much. If I tried to do too much or carry things that were too heavy, I could be in very serious trouble. Even trying to be careful, there were many days when I simply couldn't do any cleanup work and would have to rest for a day or two to get just a little bit of strength back.

But slowly, very, very slowly, the disaster was cleaned up. I estimate that I threw out roughly four dumpsters' worth of garbage. Yes, there was a lot of crap in my apartment. It's scary how much crap was waiting to be thrown out. (Remember: we're talking about three or four years' worth of accumulated stuff.) When the Inspector came back, he took one look around and said, "Ah." He was pleased and said everything was okay now. There remains quite a lot of straightening up and cleaning to do, but the apartment is basically livable.

That effort over a period of a couple of months took a lot out of me. I'm sure that's why my body basically collapsed in December. My neighbor continues to be wonderfully kind and generous, and I will continue to ask him to lug my garbage to the dumpster a couple of times a week. I've sworn an oath not to let things pile up again, and to beat back the tide of crap that engulfed me before.

So, that's what's been going on. I'm very sorry I haven't published any new posts, but I still look forward to doing new writing -- and using all the notes that I've been keeping all this time. Yes, I've continued to save links to items of interest and make notations about issues I want to discuss.

In the meantime -- and I'm also deeply sorry about this -- I find myself financially in essentially the same situation I was in a month ago. I have only about half of what I need for January rent, and nothing for an electric bill that I'd postponed to early January. And then there are several other first of the month bills, money for food, etc.

I would be profoundly grateful for any donations readers might be able to make. As I said, I very much want to do additional writing. I'm certain there will be a lot to discuss with the Trump administration coming to power, although I have to confess that I often find the reactions to Trump more revealing and intriguing than Trump himself. Trump is obviously quite different in certain respects from the standard-issue politician, and it is fascinating to see how those differences cause many other people, including some of Trump's severest critics, to reveal more about themselves than they intended. I very much want to explore those issues, among others.

Many thanks for listening to this tale of woe, and for any help you may want to provide. Here's to a much happier -- and cleaner! -- New Year for all of us. And blessings on all of you who are still out there.