The Vine: November 10, 2010
A while back I asked for curly-hair-friendly products that wouldn't affect my asthma or my sensitive skin. And something has happened recently that makes me want to warn all my TN peeps about self-diagnosis.
I do have sensitive skin, and I have had contact dermatitis, but the patch I was assuming was allergic reaction isn't. It's cancer. Not, thank God, scary melanoma (because holy cow was that week waiting for the biopsy result a nightmare). It's "just" basal cell carcinoma, "not a danger to your health or life, but cancer so we want to get it out."
My warning is, if you have a patch of skin that flakes over and over and sometimes bleeds, that seems to heal but then comes back, don't assume you know what it is. Don't assume it's what you've had before. Go to a dermatologist. If I'd waited three years and it had been melanoma, I'd be facing a much tougher row to hoe right now. But even with the way things have turned out, it amazes me I could be so careless and stupid. Fortunately I'll just be sporting the forehead of a space alien the weekend of December 10. But I'm lucky and I know it.
So if you don't mind sharing with the crazy tomatoes out there. Be aware. Be proactive. And don't count on the 99.5%-cure-rate version. You never know.
Thanks for the tip — and on behalf of Earth (hee), let me wish you a speedy recovery. Glad to hear everything's more or less okay.
I have my quarterly appointment with Robbie on Friday. If any of you has a mole that looks like it's growing, or is kind of blue, or keeps "turning into a zit," or any other skin sketch that you cannot positively for-sure identify as acne, a bug bite, or a cut: go to the dermatologist. It's probably nothing, but if it's not nothing, catching it early is critical.
I have a problem that, practically, affects me only peripherally yet bothers me a great deal. I don't recall seeing anything like this in The Vine in the past, and I was hoping to get your perspective and thoughts.
I'm a single woman living alone in a beautiful, up-and-coming neighborhood in Brooklyn. My place is a block away from the subway. A fantastic bar just opened on my corner. I've got a lot of friends who live nearby. Moreover, my apartment is big (by New York studio standards), charming, and extremely affordable (which is great, since I love having my own space but don't make much money).
The only hitch, which I knew about when I signed the lease, is that I don't have a private bathroom; I share a bathroom in the hallway with my neighbor down the hall, who lives in a similar unit. Honestly, sharing a bathroom just doesn't bother me as much as sharing a kitchen would, and the setup keeps my rent down, so I can't really complain. Generally speaking, I've been very happy with my living situation since I moved here about a year and a half ago.
Then, last night, as I went out to the hallway to go to the bathroom, I ran into my upstairs neighbor. She's about my age (early to mid-twenties), and we've had a couple of friendly conversations since I moved in. She told me that there was a problem with the bathroom that she's supposed to share with her neighbor upstairs, and that the landlady had told her that she could use my and my next-door neighbor's bathroom in the meantime. My neighbor was surprised that the landlady hadn't told me about this arrangement, and so was I, but I told my neighbor that I was fine with it, but hoped that the landlady would be able to fix the problem with her bathroom soon.
Then my neighbor told me that the problem with her bathroom was not a plumbing problem, as I assumed, but was the behavior of the man with whom she shares it. She told me that he's smeared his feces all over the toilet and walls, left used condoms lying around, and pulled the sink out of the wall. Apparently he feels jilted — he made a couple passes at her, she turned him down, and this is his revenge. He also made threatening statements to her when she tried to confront him about the bathroom. He sometimes plays music at ear-shattering volumes to bother her when she's at home, and when she brings dates home, he comes out to the hallway and stares at them. In short, he's harassing her in a pretty intense and frightening way.
My neighbor talked to our landlady (who is a very elderly woman whom I've never met but have talked to on the phone) and our super (who is the landlady's son, and who's always been pretty helpful and courteous to me), but they refused to do anything about the situation except tell her that she could use my bathroom. But the landlady told her to be discreet about it, presumably so that my next-door neighbor and I wouldn't find about how creepy this guy upstairs is. My neighbor otherwise likes living here, but is planning to move out at the end of the year to get away from this asshole who's harassing her.
I realize that this problem isn't really any of my business. (I mean, I find that I have to wait to use the bathroom because someone is in there taking a shower more often than I did when there was only one other person using it. But obviously I see how trivial that problem is, given the context.) However, I'm furious that my landlady won't do anything about this. It's clear to me that she needs to kick this asshole out of the building, and it seems terribly unfair that my upstairs neighbor has to be the one to move out (and that she has to live in fear for her safety until she can gather her resources to move). Moreover, I don't want to live in the same building as someone who's capable of this kind of treatment of woman.
I don't think it's a good idea for me to tip off the police or make a big fuss about this to my landlady, since that might trigger the asshole to assault my upstairs neighbor (or me, for that matter). It seems like my upstairs neighbor has made up her mind: she'll put up with this for a few more months, then she's moving. But it infuriates me that the landlady and super are basically surrendering to this campaign of harassment instead of doing something about it.
Am I out of line in thinking that my landlady is being derelict in her duties by refusing to get rid of the asshole upstairs? Is there anything I can do here, other than tell my upstairs neighbor that I'll support her if she ever decides to press charges? (Though, honestly, I doubt I'd be much help, since I haven't witnessed anything firsthand.) What would you do in this situation?
Formerly untroubled tenant
I would move.
Yes, you can probably go on rent strike, or threaten to take the landlady to court over the failure to meet the terms of the lease (provided that she's actually violating the terms of your lease by asking you to share the bathroom with more tenants than you'd originally agreed to), but that takes time; it means you have to collect evidence; and the housing-court judge is probably not going to order the guy evicted. S/he'll more likely tell your landlady to stop making you share with X number of people, because as far as your lease goes…you see what I'm saying.
There's kind of no such thing as a bargain in NYC real estate, just trade-offs you can live with; you shouldn't keep living with this, because we're not talking about creaky floors or a bathtub in the living room here. The guy's dangerous. I moved out under similar circumstances — beautiful, inexpensive apartment; elderly landlady; stalky fellow tenant — and I understand that you want to save money, and that it's not "fair" that the psycho gets to stay and everyone else has to move out to get away from him. But it's hard to rout a crazy tenant, and unless you own the building, the effort is just not worth it.
Mr. Stupidhead is a Brooklyn rental agent; he can help. Send me an email with some specifics, if you like, and we'll see what we can do. In the meantime, start checking Craigslist for other apartments, and buy a baseball bat.
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