Enjoying It Wrong

Some days, it’s hard to like things.

I’m super excited about this latte! I say, and the internet laughs back at me, a stupid (white, thirtyish) lady with my cliched Starbucks drink. Dumb for enjoying the foam patterns and the seasonal flavors, and double-dumb for even thinking about Instagramming that, a silly sheep who just blindly enjoys the things that are marketed to my white-thirtyish-lady demographic. Starbucks coffee is burnt (Apparently? This is a thing?), I’m clearly enjoying it wrong.

I’m super excited about this game! I say, and the world shouts back that games are for guys, that girls don’t really play games, or don’t play real games, because I am a girl and once a girl enjoys a game it becomes a casual game and not a real game anymore. I’m reminded over and over that gaming is a subculture not meant for me, that I must correctly recount obscure games trivia to prove that I legitimately enjoy a pastime not expressly designed for me, and I’m clearly enjoying games all wrong.

The internet points out, again and again, those who are missing the Real Point(™) by snapping selfies or using their phones. Two pieces titled, in typical BuzzFeed hyperbole, 23 Pictures That Prove Society is Doomed and 28 People the Deserve The Own Special Place In Hell (Actual titles. No, I am not linking them.) are collections of pictures, including people snapping photos of dinners out, museum exhibits or sunsets. Society is doomed and you’re going to hell for snapping a photo, you frivolous social media user, the posts say. And also, click to share this listicle with your Facebook friends!

This attitude, that Instagramming an entree or snapping a selfie, is somehow the wrong way to enjoy a nice time, is weird, and it’s particularly hilarious when social media is mocked on BuzzFeed. Don’t use your phone to CREATE content, just consume Buzzfeed’s content! Don’t share your own content, share Buzzfeed links instead!

Presumably, someone had to take the snarky photo of someone taking a photo of a sunset, the Mona Lisa, or their favorite entree, and if given the choice, I’d rather be snapping the picture of something I love.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you all that I plan take more photos, blog more books, review more games, and share more of the stuff I like, in whatever ways I feel like.

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Everyone Knows That

One of my littlest students from my afterschool classes in is back my summer class this week. He’s an adorable and intense 8-year-old who runs Linux at home and says Fusion is at least easier than Eclipse, but he can have a little difficulty with which way letters should face, and with reading social cues from others. Mostly because he’s so little, but he seems to struggle with social cues even more than other students who are the same age.

Anyway, this student walked up to me at lunch today, and told me shyly that he’d reinvented his hero loads of different times in his other classes.

“Noah! You’re not supposed to change to change your core concept after Monday.” I said, taking a deep breath before beginning damage control on app design disaster.

“Just kidding! Everyone knows that! I fooled you!” he giggled, and when he saw me start to giggle, he laughed harder.

(That is some brilliant comedy from an eight-year-old.)

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Blog Book Tour: Children of the Gods


Children of the Gods: The Talon Project is a short, self-published story of investigative reporter Micheal Cohen receiving either the greatest tip of his career, or a huge set-up. An aging Kentucky politician and his beauty-queen wife invite Cohen to their home, where the mysterious Bible code is revealed. This explains that the different lifespans in the Old Testament are actually alien races (Adams and Methuselahs lived longer than average humans), the Milky Way is the Garden of Eden, and that humans have made alien contact multiple times… or it’s all a massive set-up from someone Cohen has skewered in his columns.

The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, and a few plot threads are left unanswered, so I expect this to be the first of a sci-fi series.

You can enter the blog book tour’s raffle here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of this book from Whirlwind Virtual Book Tours for review.

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Saturday With Harold

Star wars pezStar Wars Pez Dispensers

On Saturday, Harold and I went out to Winston-Salem to pick up some Star Trek toys communicators. Apparently there still are some Trek collectibles that he doesn’t own! He’d dome some kind of trade with the shop owner at Heroes Con, where he swapped some of the nerd paraphernali  he didn’t want for the kind of nerd paraphernalia he does want. Somehow he did not actually end up with more space, but he was pretty pleased with his new toys.

Then we stopped at the bookstore. Sure, I have about a dozen eARCs on my Kindle, but a couple months ago, a friend from Fortnite got me into audiobooks for the long drive. After GoT, I’ve listened to The Hunger Games, because obvious, and Citizen Girl (a lovely Manhattan story, although I deeply disagreed with the portrayal of game developers). This time, I picked up Chasing Harry Winston and Operation Mincemeat. (If you’re a history reader at all, check out The Man Who Never Was, a very readable account of Operation Mincemeat.)  I had a small credit from the last time I sold some books I didn’t want anymore, somehow I did not actually end up with more space.

I was happy to bump into some friends from Fortnite at the bookstore, too! Even though I just love teaching the YD kids game design, I miss my team at the game studio. Plus, it was funny to run into friends in a city where none of us live.  (Look, Harold, I called Greensboro a city without putting mock-quotes around it!) (But I totally typed it in an ironic tone.)

And I got to explain that we were just, you know,  driving across the state to get Harold some Star Trek communicators. As one does on a Saturday.

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Realistic Teenagers in Jennifer Mathieu’s ‘The Truth About Alice”

The Truth About Alice deals deftly with teenage sexuality and identity in a small Texas town.

Everyone in Healy, Texas knows that slutty Alice Franklin slept with two guys in the same night (I shudder to think about high school rumors in the age of mass texting), and basically killed the star football player by sexting with him while he was trying to drive, and probably got an abortion afterwards. The novel moves between several high school students, all discussing what they know about Alice, and readers quickly discover that doesn’t quite add up to what everyone knows is true. More importantly, each narrator has their own secrets and motivations.

The story never becomes a morality tale or Afterschool Special. Instead, debut author Jennifer Mathieu takes on homosexuality, underage drinking, abortion, and eating disorders, all with compassion. She really shines in the complicated relationships between teenagers and their parents.

Alice is a pretty likeable heroine, flawed and realistic. She’s susceptible to these rumors because she’s experimented with guys (although not, actually, sleeping with either of the guys in question) and had boyfriends before. Characters question Alice’s choices, and through her, their own choices, for a subtle story about peer pressure and teenage cruelty. Yet even the cruelest and most vengeful characters have sympathetic traits.

The story’s ending felts somewhat rushed, partly because we only get Alice’s POV at the very end, and also because — spoilers — after a novel of pitch-perfect teenage reactions and awkward interactions, Alice’s final realization that she’s not going to stay in small-town Texas forever felt somewhat underwhelming.

Overall, a sympathetic and realistic story of peer pressure, teenage relationships, and finally independence.

I received an eARC of this novel from the publisher, which has never stopped me from snarking about books I don’t like. All opinions are my own.

More Truth About Alice


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Editorial and Supernatural Adventures in ‘Ghost Train To New Orleans’

My cousin Andrea got me The Shambling Guide to New York City for Christmas, and I just loved it. Then I received an ARC of Ghost Train to New Orleans, the second book of Zoe and her adventures.  I like to think that I’ve gotten Club Monstrosity, Monsters In Your Neighborhood, Ghost Train To New Orleans, etc. because I’m some kind of influencer in the non-porno modern supernatural genre, but I imagine that I’m actually on some publisher’s list as Mrs. Screamland.

The Shambling Guide to New York City begins with aspiring editor Zoe moving from Raleigh to New York to rebuild her life after a pretty disastrous ending of job and relationship, and stumbling into a new job writing a supernatural travel guide. Because that’s the kind of job you can only have in New York.

I’m a great fan of urban supernatural novels, Good ones blend the real weirdness and true history of the city with convincing supernaturals. I’m not a huge fan of the almost-obligatory werewolf makeouts, though. (Once in college, my roommate lent me a Laurel K. Hamilton vampire/werewolf porno, on the totally logical premise that I enjoy both supernatural fiction and bodice rippers, and I have still not recovered from it.)

In New York, Zoe joins a team of assorted supernaturals working on a coterie travel guide, in a disused theater.  Her new staff includes vampires (hungry for human blood), zombies (hungry for human brains), an incubus (hungry for Something Else), a baby dragon (only 200 years old, aww!), a death goddess (who can see Zoe’s lifespan), and a water sprite (who does not want to eat Zoe at all).

Some humans work for the city’s Public Works, keeping an eye on the supernatural residents, although most humans don’t really recognize coterie things, thanks to a combination of the supernatural glamour and the humans constantly rushing in Manhattan.

Over the course of the novel, Zoe discovers that she’s a citytalker, not just an everyday human with a knack for being the right place at the right time.  Citytalkers (which I mentally replaced with Urbvocatrix or Polislallia, because classics) can communicate with the spirit of city they’re in, meeting the city’s real personality.

Even though Zoe was born a citytalker, the spirit of Raleigh never spoke to her while she lived there. This is because the city of Raleigh probably only points out how much cheaper  a cul-de-sac McMansion is in North Carolina than up north. While Manhattan has secrets and excitement, history and factions, the city of Raleigh probably only speaks to members of the homeowner’s association.

Well, actually, the second book explains that there’s another reason why Zoe only hears New York (although I think my rationale makes perfect sense).

Zoe’s supernatural and editorial adventures continue in Ghost Train to New Orleans, as she, along with her mostly-human Public Works boyfriend and some of her coterie travel-writing team head to New Orleans for their second travel guide. The snarky supernaturals, the coterie hidden in plain sight, and other things enjoyed in the first novel were all here. I realized in reading Ghost Train that a lot of what I’d loved in The Shambling Guide was the blend of supernatural weird and average-day-in-New-York weird. Ghost Train did the same for New Orleans, or at least, what I imagine New Orleans to be.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about Zoe’s background and about coterie history. Dramatic moments managed to be creepy without being gross, which is a hard line for dark supernatural fiction to find.

Unfortunately, having so many kinds of superpowered coterie makes it a little hard to keep track. So a citytalker when possessed by a ghost does what to a zoetist now? What do demons eat again? If a zombie got in a fight with a golem, who would win?

After a while, it seemed that every single character knew more about the supernatural world than Zoe and none of them could be bothered to explain in full, resulting in an endless series of revelations that need to be kept secret from everyone who wasn’t in on the revelations. This became a bit frustrating, because what I knew about the novel’s world was constantly changing, but in many ways it felt like a setup for the next book.

I preferred Shambling Guide to Ghost Train,  but I’m still excited to read the third novel to see how it all comes together for Zoe.

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Free Free Free To Play, Pay Pay Pay To Win

fffff2p bannerIndie studio Elevate Fun’s new free-to-play iOS Game, FFFFF2P, is Free Free Free Free Free To Play. Like most free-to-play games, you can, of course, pay to win.

No, seriously. Pay to win this game!

No, seriously. Pay to win this game!

Free Free Free Free Free To Play smartly satirizes the usual free-to-play model by  blatantly bribing with in-game currency for social sharing and return gameplay,  and blatantly offering in-app purchases to unbalance the difficulty. The message is obvious, and the game is still a cute and playable playable casual game.

When the game opens, your girlfriend, Princess Pixel, is kidnapped by an evil monster who throws ads at you, trying to either squash you by dropping an advert on your head (I died a lot that way) or trap you in a cave of flashing adverts (I died a lot that way). Typical free-to-play calls to action, like limited time and bonus and so forth, flash on the falling ads. The message is clear:  our beloved videogames are being held hostage by free-to-play mechanics.

I’d really have liked the option to switch sprites, and be a little girl player trying to rescue Prince Pixel.  But this game satirizes free-to-play mechanics, not the perceived difficulty of adding a playable female character or the constant invisibility of female players, so male is the only way to play. FFFFF2P is far being from the only game where the player must be a male, but it’s particularly sad that this game so cleverly mocks scammy free-to-play games as one of the depressing and insidious trends in our industry falls prey to another depressing industry standard, the lack of playable females. An option where you could pay extra to be a girl (GET IT???) would fit well with the theme.

I’m not particularly good at platformer jumpy games, and gave this one a try mostly to check out how Elevate Fun mocks free-to-play mechanics. My lack of skill is just fine because players can get several times the coins they’d earn by jumping and closing ads by sharing on Facebook and Twitter. So FFFFF2P literally gave me the choice between earning coins through gameplay or quickly spamming my friends to get lots of coins.  This is Cow Clicker-style interactive satire.

My Twitter friends now know that I've done something very important in a game.

My Twitter friends now know that I’ve done something important in a game.

Coins earned from closing ads or sharing your progress can be spent on upgrades to help you earn more coins. Which help you earn more coins, to be spent on upgrades, to help you earn more coins. I’m no longer sure if this is Elevate Fun having a little joke, or if the entire free-to-play leveling system is an elaborate joke on all of us. In the shop, you can buy a cheap one-use candy or a more expensive multi-use candy for your hero, both candies are good for crushing this saga.

Saga is crushed by candy.

Saga is crushed by candy.

The game FFFFF2P actually is free-to-play and ad-supported, so real ads will occasionally appear as you play. I tapped one out of curiosity, and was prompted to download Blizzard’s CCG, Hearthstone, another free-to-play game that’s recently been criticized as free to play and pay to win. Another level of satire, or just an indie studio trying make some clickthrough cash to keep the lights on?

This weekend, I’d downloaded the Kardashian game, too, mostly to figure out how it could possibly be so profitable (Answer: I have no idea. So far the most entertaining part has been making my aspiring-starlet avatar and discovering that no pretty girl can wear glasses). So whenever I picked up my iPad, I’d have the standard invite from the Kardashian game to bring my doll to a pretend photo shoot, next to the tongue-in-cheek push notification from FFFFF2P inviting me to click for coins, which couldn’t have made the comparison more obvious.

While clearly parodying free-to-play mechanics, FFFFF2P offers more engaging gameplay without forcing an in-app purchase than plenty of serious free-to-play iOs games.

Other Gamers Rescuing the Princess and Paying To Win:

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Busy Person’s Correspondence Card


NYC cards page #1Love this amazing old postcard I found. The concept of this low-tech, automated message is amusing, and some of the options are just delightful.

I’ve found myself in a lot of interesting little secondhand shops since Harold and I started spending time together. Also, I know a lot more about vintage Star Trek figures now. These are not entirely unrelated facts.

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Math For Killing Zombies

I’m pretty sure being a professor at a small college is the best way to survive the collapse of society.  History professor John Matherson survives in One Second After, and teacher assistant Olive does just fine in An Etiquette Guide To The End Times.

In Zombies and Calculus, math professor Craig Williams mistakes the first of zombie hordes for a chronically-late student, until that student starts trying to eat his former classmates. As the zombies destroy campus and attack anything that moves, professor Williams and his allies must use math to defend themselves.

The characters, holed up in an office while zombies feast outside, work out the increasing curve of zombie infection rates, based on population, speed of infection, and — rather calmly — how many people the zombies will eat before running out of fuel. They also use physics and more math to design some improbable improvised weapons, although, naturally, the professor who manages to get and shoot a handgun completely forgets about the recoil.

You don’t actually need a calculus background for this book. Basic algebra and an interest in math applications is enough to follow the clear and straitforward explanations, and to enjoy the zombie-focused challenges. This is a modernized version of Zeno’s Paradoxes, little brainteasers imagining math concepts in daily life. The Greeks imagined speedy Achilles trying to overtake a hypothetical tortoise, but we prefer to imagine a bicyclist chased by zombies in a perfect circle.

Characters are not particularly well-developed, and there are a few moments where that cried out for a little introspection. (Naturally, a good person tries to save others from certain death at the hands of hungry zombies, but are you obligated to save an unpleasant colleague? What if it requires personal risk? What if he previously opposed your tenure?) But, overall, the characters are essentially friendly placeholders in mathematical models, and if there’s a little tell-not-show in clunky backstories, all you really need to know is that they’re the good guys using their creativity and math skills to escape from predictable and mathless  zombies.

This is a quick, fun read about academics escaping the undead, and a good answer to any student’s question about the applications and relevance of higher math.

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PanemVille: The Hunger Games Adventures

The Hunger Games novels suggest so many good games — a minigame hunting prey with Katniss’ arrows (a popular choice for the middle-school girls in my game design classes), a crafting and survival game like Lost In Blue set in the forest outside District 12, a combat game in the Arena, or even a social RPG, like Whitewolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade, set in the Capital — that I had high hopes for The Hunger Games Adventures.

hunger games adventure in IOS

I hope you like this yellow meter. You’ll be seeing it a lot.

Even when I realized this game had some appointment-style mechanics, I still thought that could work well. Maybe I’ll set snares and traps in the woods, with Gale and Katniss, and come back when I’ve caught something! Maybe I’ll have to perform actions at certain times, like sneaking through the fence when the electricity is off!

Instead, The Hunger Games Adventures is an appointment-style builder with thin missions, where pretty much every action involves spending one point of energy to tap an item,  waiting for the yellow meter to fill up, and completing the action so you can spend another energy to tap the next item. It’s not a unique mechanic by any means, although this particular game is on Facebook, iOs and Android, click-and-wait is the basis of way too many Facebook games. I’ve written before about monetizing on freemium games by designing to bore players and it’s  particularly disappointing in a game set in a world that really invites creative gameplay.

yellow bar primrose everdeen

I can’t wait until this yellow meter fills up so I can fill up my next yellow meter!

The game’s art, although clearly inspired by the movies, is awkward and mismatched. The characters have the proportions of Bratz dolls, with more realistic faces, not quite photos but definitely resembling the movie actors, while bodies are awkwardly cartoony. Arms, legs, and torso don’t quite match up, creating gaps and overlaps at the joints for all characters. (Since the game is a movie spinoff, Katniss is the Jennifer Lawrence version, not the olive-skinned Seam resident from the books.)

default Hunger games adventures

Worth noting that the default character is female. Yay!

capital couture

Unsure if this is genius monetization, or if someone missed the part where the Capital are the bad guys.

One of the introductory missions asked the player to plant flowers at the home base, a pretty standard social game task, although a terrible mismatch for Katniss’ character. In the novels, Katniss complains about the uselessness of candy, iced flowers, rainbows and hair ribbons, so marigolds before food is a pretty unlikely choice.  Also, one of the tokens for premium currency are multiples of the little mockingjay pin Katniss wears in the arena… the precious, unique pin she wears as a symbol of her district… I am pretty sure my middle schoolers understand the themes in these novels better than that.

yellow meter

Shown here is a yellow meter in its natural habitat.

I spend a lot of time around middle school kids, who are all pretty crazy about the Hunger Games. More than one student has shouted I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE! in response to their name at attendance, and I use student name Katniss E as the example for the lesson on file naming conventions. (I do not tell them that working in game development makes me emphatize with Seneca Crane.)  This is particularly good with the  middle schoolers, since the younger students are crazy about some  Frozen thingy which has something to do with asking each other to build snowmen. I discuss the Hunger Games frequently, with dedicated fans in the target demographic, is where I’m going with this.

Genius monetization! At least the first dozen times...

Genius monetization! At least the first dozen times…

As I played the game, tapping to fill yellow meters that representing burning bread in the bakery’s oven, shooting wild turkeys with Gale, or helping Prim heal injuries, I would receive popups telling me that Haymitch had found a sponsor for me, which translated to watching an advert in exchange for free tokens. This isn’t a unique system, and I’ll admit to watching a few adverts for coins on The Sims Social. But here, clicking to wait for an advert to play to give me points just highlighted that I was waiting through an ad video in order to spend those points clicking and waiting for another meter to fill up.

These popups were push notifications, occurring randomly when I was trying to doing something else (usually completing a mission or traveling to a new location. Getting harassed to watch ads, or click a second popup, confirming that I really didn’t want to watch an advert for tokens, combined with a gameplay that mostly involved watching meters fill up became frustrating very quickly.

A popup asking if I'm sure I want to close this popup.

A popup asking if I’m sure I want to close the popup I didn’t request.

No! I do not watch to watch an ad! If I wanted to watch an ad, I’ll click Haymitch and watch an ad! I want to tap on things and pretend I am living in District 12!
By pretty much any standard, The Hunger Games Adventures is not a good game. It’s a click-and-wait mechanic, plus clunky art, supersaturated with click-and-wait adverts. And yet, I kept playing, because I wanted to pretend to be surviving in District 12.  After several days of gameplay (I’m also a dedicated game reviewer), I can definitively say that you’re probably better off running around the back lot shooting imaginary squirrels with a pretend bow or just rereading the books already.

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An Unpleasant Combat Game

Quoted from Leigh Alexander’s blog. Posted without comment, because how could I improve this?

What’s your favorite video game?

Metal Gear Solid 3. It’s a game set in the Cold War that you can play however you want, but those of optimal skill levels aim to play with perfect stealth. Ideally you kill no one, except the person that matters most to you. I’m attracted to ambivalent ascension narratives.

What’s it like being a woman in the game industry?

Like playing Metal Gear Solid 3. You feel a sense of pleasure and mastery so long as you don’t generate noise or movement above a certain acceptable baseline. Call enough attention to yourself and suddenly you’re fighting an unpleasant combat game in which you experience crushing anxiety and virtual pain. I’d like to see that change for us.

via Leigh Alexander.

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But I Really Like This Book

Harold: Look, I got Robocop on DVD! Will you watch it with me?
Meg: I guess if it’s important to you –
Harold: It is!
Meg: Then I will read my book in the same room where you watch this movie.


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My Kind Of Advertising

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An Etiquette Guide To The End Times

etiquetteIn Maia Sepp’s novella An Etiquette Guide to the End Times, Olive writes a blog answering etiquette questions for well-mannered survivalists in the semi-collapsed society. Just because the earth grows warmer every year, beachfront property is now underwater property, and infrastructure has all but collapsed, there’s no reason we have to be impolite about it. Olive only mentions a few recent headlines, inspiring the reader to imagine other potentially awkward social situations in a world where hoarding solar panels is an etiquette breach.

Harsh times make for unusual allies, and Olive notes that before the collapse, she might not have had much to say to her neighbor, Camilla, who was a PR rep back when there was anything to publicize. I loved the worldbuilding here, the casual mentions of protein loaf, retrofitted electric cars, and unlicensed chickens.

Representatives of the Core — the remaining government faction — invite Olive into what’s left of the city to discuss turning her blog into a government mouthpiece. The Core still has coffeeshops and air conditioning, telephones and formalwear, unlike the homesteaders and survivalists now living in Olive’s former suburb. There’s plenty of temptation in the offer, but there’s also a warning in what might happen if Olive chooses to ignore the “request” of those in charge of enforcing the laws. (On a more personal note, themes of a writer considering trading in her personal blogging for a sponsored, if less creative, site, really struck a chord for me.)

…the novella carefully blends tiny, personal moments with larger social themes…

But that’s just background. The real story is about preparing a dinner, at which Olive will enlist the help of Camilla’s sailor friends in finding her missing grandfather, and as she collects ingredients, the novella carefully blends tiny, personal moments with larger social themes. Olive’s able to pick veggies in the back garden and use up precious stores from before the collapse. She has to trade for meat, and an unpleasant conversation with a predatory butcher is both a personal challenge as she prepares dinner, and a larger concern — without social rules, what will stop our baser instincts from taking over? And without these social norms, what’s to stop the sailors from accepting her food, and failing to respond with a favor?

My only problem with this novella is simply that it’s a novella. The half-collapsed society and cast of characters are just coming into focus when the story ends. I can only hope Maia Sepp writes a complete novel set in this world.

I received an eARC of this novel from the publisher, which has never stopped me from snarking about a bad book. All opinions are my own.

Related Books:

For great post-apocalypse fiction, I just read M. R. Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts. Also One Second After, which I read only because my friend James recommended it,  and it’s absolutely ruined visiting Asheville for me, Mira Grant’s Feed which I read only because Alicia promised it was really more about journalism and blogging than zombies.

What Other Reviewers Are Saying:

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Meteolojinx Recanto

I wrote this a while ago, right after it happened, but I thought it was too negative, and didn’t post it. Recently, I got into a discussion about whether we’d recommend our rental company to friends, and I had to admit that no, whenever we have to deal with this company, it starts a serious talk about buying a house.  I’ve rented happily for more than ten years in different cities, and we’re now in a beautiful apartment, in a lovely building, where all the other residents own their apartment.

I was originally going to write about a nice day at work and a peaceful evening at home with Harold.  But that evening, after he’d shut off the Star Trek we were watching (see previous re: “at home with Harold”), we heard a strange noise… which turned out to be water dripping through the ceiling onto the washing machine. This is not a sound that is immediately identifiable, since washing machines are not typically outdoor furniture.

Harold went to alert our upstairs neighbour that it was raining in our apartment, and probably not benefiting her floors any, and she called the building emergency number, and went through a long phone tree where she pinky-swore that it was a real emergency, and we really, really did need an after-hours maintenance visit.  No luck. As we waited for them to call,  Harold, our neighbour and I all talked about how great it was that in two apartments full of books, no one’s books got wet. (Now that I have a Kindle, the physical books I own all have emotional significance for me, and it would have been really sad to lose any of them.)

Maintenance called the next day, saying that since we weren’t calling for a real emergency, they’d try to come back sometime soon, if they could get around to it. Look, I’m not a repair expert, but if water coming through the ceiling isn’t a maintenance emergency, I am pretty curious about what that emergency would be.

When the crew came, they discovered that we hadn’t actually heard the water coming through until it had filled the light fixture, and started to drip down. And I guess the light was turned on, although it wasn’t exactly emitting any light, just charging all the water in the light fixture!

I wasn’t actually watching when the crew poured out a ceiling light full of hot water, and I wasn’t the person who took the rusted lightbulb down. But I am pretty sure this isn’t a healthy lightbulb.


They promised to be back right away to deal with the rusty wires hanging from the ceiling (also not an emergency), and they were super sorry about that potential for electrocution. I shrugged.

“Hey, Harold,” I said, after the crew had left, “Did I ever tell you about the time I had an extension cord running through my shower?


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