The Blair Witch Project: A Roommate Drama

The steady pounding resonated through the entire house.

THUD.

THUD.

THUD.

THUD.

THUD.

Each contact was made with such force that I felt anxiety resonate in the pit of my stomach . . . and no small amount of concern for the floorboards. My roommate, Blair, was demonstrating what Caitlin (my other roommate) likes to call her “T-Rex impression”.

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Welcome to my Week Three True Confessions of an Annoyed Roommate, inspired by nearly 11 months of living with Blair, or what I sometimes like to call:

The Blair Witch Project.

It has been a long year, and living with two Craig’s List Specials is always a regular roulette game, but this year brought some particularly interesting spins of the barrel.

Russian roulette

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Rewind to that first e-mail . . .

how it all began

So unassuming, no?

A few short months later it is October, Blair’s then-boyfriend Sam and she were constantly on the fritz because she didn’t really care about him and was just dating him because she didn’t want to be (gasp) 24 and single. At this point some of the niggling issues from the summer months started to really blossom into full-blown concerns.

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Examples?

How about the time that one of my very best friends and her fiancé were visiting from Virginia and, on a Saturday morning, when she had nowhere pressing that she had to be, Blair was unbelievably rude to both of my guests. She actually asked if they could get out of the bathroom and get ready somewhere else because she wanted to shower immediately instead of waiting 5 minutes. Later, when I brought it up with her, she said, “Well, I should get priority, I mean, I live here. I get priority over, like, guests.

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These friends have visited me since that unfortunate run-in and opted not to stay with me, based solely on Blair’s presence in the apartment.

Or there was the time that Blair blew up at me for sitting on the couch next to her, because she needed personal space, which I clearly have little to no respect for, considering how I “always have to use or take” whatever it is that she is using. Like the couch. Or the living room.

There was also that time that I was peeing. You know Peeing; it’s an activity that takes around 2 -4 minutes typically? Well, in that time, Blair managed to knock on the bathroom door three separate times. The third time she knocked she said, “I’m sorry but on a scale of like 1 to 10, it’s like a 9!!!”

Still not seeing why life with Blair has its difficulties? Maybe you have to be there, or hear the interchanges for yourself. Here is a conversation that actually took place, to the best of my ability to jot it down:

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Blair: Um, can you not put my bike in the back pantry area? I don’t want people to move my bike.

Me: Oh, sorry. Actually, I moved it because It’s kind of driving me nuts to have it in the middle of the kitchen, and my niece Izzy actually pulled it down on top of herself by accident the other day  [Izzy was 2 years old at the time], so I think we need to figure out a new place for it.

Blair: Hmm. Well, it’s a really expensive bike and I use it, like, every Saturday for triathalon training. It’s a really high quality racing bike and so it needs to be well-taken care of. I’m not sure where else it could go.

Me: Well, there is the back pantry area, but then there’s also the basement, or upstairs in the hallway outside your room, or even under the front porch, bike-locked where my bike used to go.

Blair: Oh no. No, there is no way it is going outside. It needs to be completely protected from the elements. The tires can’t get to hot or too cold because that will mess with the air pressure, no. It’s not going outside.

Me: Well, what about the basement?

Blair: No, I am not dragging it up a flight of stairs every Saturday morning when I want to use it.

Me: Are you sure? I mean, there is always the bulkhead door, which is right on the side of the house, we can just leave that open for you on Saturdays, it would be easy enough to lift it right out of–

Blair: No. I – I don’t want it anywhere where I need to bring it up or down a level in order to use it. I already have to carry it down the front stairs, that’s enough.

Me: Okaaaaay, well that pretty much leaves us the back pantry area, or, I guess if we really had to have it in the dining room area, we could.

Blair: Or the kitchen.

Me: I’m not okay with it being in the kitchen anymore Blair. It’s a high traffic area with a lot going on, and we all have to use the kitchen daily, it’s just not working.

Blair: Well if we lived in Boston or Somerville, it would be normal. Lots of people who use their bikes all the time keep their bikes in the main entryway or one of the main rooms. I don’t think it is that unreasonable to keep it in the kitchen. Maybe I want it in the kitchen.

Me: Well, we have half of a house available to us, and we live in the countryside, so I think we can probably manage to find another place for it. Now, if I have everything straight, your requirements for your bike’s storage are, that it be safe and protected from all of the elements, that it be on the main level of the house, that it be accessible, particularly on Saturdays when you need to use it. Is that right?

Blair: *pause* yes.

Me: Well, then it sounds like the only place that will work for both of us (as a compromise) is the back pantry area. It is fully protected from all the elements, it has a lock for safety, it is on the mane level, and it’s about five feet total difference from where you had already been storing it, so it fits all your location requirements.

Blair: *pause* Hmm. Yeah, no. I just don’t like that. I just don’t like it.

And that was the end of the conversation.

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You get the picture. I could go on and on. We could talk about her one-hour bath habit, or the leaving-beer-bottles-in-the-bathroom habit. We could shoot the breeze over her passive-aggressive notes and catty methods of handling confrontation. Ultimately, though, what it boils down to? Blair is not somebody that I can live with in the future. We actually asked her to move out once, back in November. It was a long and difficult conversation, and what did Blair do to handle it? She ignored it completely, and called our landlord up, telling him a sob story about how it just wasn’t possible for her to move in the near future. Clearly, the only two times when it is remotely possible to find a roommate or an apartment are in September and June (???). On top of that, she had a really big test to study for . . . something related to her work (like the business person’s equivalent of the GRE). She was quite clear that she could not possibly move out and also efficiently prepare for her exam . . . the exam that she conveniently rescheduled. Twice. Before taking it one Saturday morning after she had been out drinking beer at all hours of the night with Sam. Needless to say, Blair’s nonexistent “studying” paid off, and she scored embarrassingly low on her test, proving how much of a priority the whole thing really was. By that time, we had all but given up hope and moved on as far as the whole roommate conflict went. It wasn’t like we could force the issue – we all signed the lease and our resident manipulator clearly had no plans to allow herself to be ousted before the our term was up.

After Christmas there was a clear shift.

Blair’s tactics changed dramatically post-conflict. She realized that picking on me was counterproductive since the landlord had 5 years of positive experience in my favor if lease renewal became a question. Instead of challenging my every word, Caitlin became the target of every sarcastic jibe, caustic quip, and passive-aggressive comment that Blair could produce. Simultaneously, Blair started to butter me up like I was a fresh white roll and she was Paula Deen at a Cracker Barrel on Thanksgiving. Despite all the flattery, friendliness, and fawning, there were still moments of clarity when I could see (cue Cindy Lauper) Blair’s true colors shining through . . .

Even in the little “jokingly” sarcastic things she said, I could tell she was biding her time and biting back the negativity that comes so naturally to her.  One day she cut her finger while slicing veggies – not a big cut, but I’m a baby when it comes to getting hurt, so when she came running upstairs to show me the tiny cut, I gave her all the sympathy I could. She asked if I thought she needed stitches, and after looking at the very small cut, I proclaimed her in need of a Band-Aid and some triple antibiotic ointment, both of which I provided. After cleaning up her finger, putting ointment on it, and putting a few bandaids around the cut, she said thanks and went down the hall to her room. Every few minutes, though, she would call out, “It really huuuuurts! I’m such a baby!”. After the third time or so, I chuckled and replied, “Yes, you kind of are.” She stopped mid-complaint in front of my door and let out a miffed laugh, saying, “ You are SUCH a fucking bitch.” This is the second time that she has used this come-back on me “jokingly”, and I called her out on it. “Wait, I clean and bandage your little cut and when I agree with you that you’re being a little babyish about it, that makes me a fucking bitch??? I don’t think so.” “No,” she admitted. “It might make me honest, but not a fucking bitch.” I left it at that.

returnables

I thought the label was a nice touch.

A few weeks ago, I was just finishing prepping all of the recyclables to put them out the following morning – Neither of my roommates are much for housework or recycling – when Blair called upstairs to me, “Hey, Abby? Do you return our bottles?” Not sure where she was going with her question, I answered, “Well, sometimes I’ll return the returnable ones, although not very often!” There was silence for a minute, and then she called back, “So, what do you do with that money?” I’m pretty sure I let out one of those sort of disbelieving laugh/breaths where you just say “huh” on a laugh. . . and I said, “Well, Blair, last time it wound up being like 45 cents. So . . . I think I spent 45 cents on something?” She waited another minute and said, “Do you think we should pool that money?” I laughed again – I couldn’t help it! Pool all of our 45 cents in some kind of a jar so that we can, what, buy something off the McDonalds dollar menu by the end of the year? I said as much and was met with only silence, Blair’s favorite communication tool. So, I followed it up with the statement, “Well, you’re welcome to take things back to a recycling center and get the return money yourself, I’m not going to keep track of the extra nickels and dimes.” A few minutes later, after much rustling and clanking, Blair was off the subject and had moved on to something else. BUT, the resolution she had found might just say it all  . . . She had decided to take a bin (that I was getting rid of) and repurpose it for herself (see right). I wish she had just taken them all back and kept the money for herself.

It would have been nice to have some help with the recycling.

So, the weeks passed and finally the time came to have that conversation. You know, the one where Blair got told to start the hunt for a new place to live when our lease comes up next month. I even wanted to have the dreaded Conversation two months in advance so that she would have plenty of time to search for a place, and because I was about to get my tonsils out and my doctors said talking would be difficult for a while.

Little did I know how dramatically the talking quotient in the apartment was about to change . . .

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Blair was the person who initiated our little talk. After weeks of being unavailable, she suggested we all chat while we were home one Sunday night. With a sense of foreboding, I agreed that this would be a good time.

Caitlin’s dread-filled eyes stayed glued to her bowl of Easy-Mac while she practically shook from anxiety on the opposite couch. She sat in silence for almost the entire discussion, while I attempted to explain the situation to Blair in as nice a way as possible. Whenever Caitlin did speak, Blair reacted à la Mean Girls and the two would immediately start to bicker, listing past grievances and citing old spats as ammunition. I had to intervene three times to get us away from devolution into bratty teenaged behaviors, but finally all was said. Blair’s response, however, was a little unexpected.

“Well, I’m not ready to accept that,” she stated abruptly, “It’s not a convenient time for me to move.

. . . what are the odds that you and Caitlin will be moving out of this place?” I floundered for a moment, feeling like a middle school boy who had just tried to break up with a girlfriend and she had refused. Rallying, I finished the conversation, saying, “Well, I understand it isn’t ideal. Moving is always inconvenient, and that is why we wanted you to have two months to get prepared. There is not chance that Caitlin or I will be leaving come June.” So began the silent treatment. In the three weeks following the break-up conversation, Blair said exactly two things to me. First, “Can you move your laundry over?” and, second, “Yeah, I saw it on the calendar.” Other than that, there was no eye contact, no conversation, and no interaction whatsoever. Just a lot of stomping.

This leads me to the part of my story that went badly; the part for which I am partially to blame.

It was a sunny Saturday morning and Blair had risen early and, I’d thought, left, although her car was still in the driveway. Caitlin and I woke up later than usual and chatted pleasantly in the hall while we got ready for the day. As it is sometimes wont to do, conversation turned towards our now-silent housemate.

Cait: How’s she been with you since we talked?

Me: Dude, I think she’s said a grand total of like two words to me!

Cait: Is she really gonna give us the silent treatment for two months?

Me: I know, it’s a little ridiculous, but – Hey, it could be worse.

Cait: True, she could get crazier on us.

Me: I have a feeling we’re going to see several Blairs over the next few months, unfortunately.

Cait: Yeah, lets just hope she doesn’t break and go totally nuts  – I could see it happening.

Me: Well, I think she’ll probably exhibit a lot of different behaviors, but we’ll just have to deal with them as they come. . .

I’m sure more was said, but this was the bulk of it, as far as I can remember. Cait has a tendency to say things like they are, a good quality for a roommate, but a bad one if you happen to be a mean person who is eavesdropping on the conversation . . . which Blair apparently was. Oops.  It turns out she actually cracked her door open to hear better what we were saying about her. Once we figured it out, we both felt bad, but thinking back to the conversation, it was relatively un-bitchy and fairly accurate.

Well, fast-forward a week. It has been 5 days since my tonsils were removed, and I am on 24 hour pain pills and not exactly loving life. Blair has said absolutely nothing to me concerning my surgery or anything . . . amazing lack of reciprocation for a person who asked me to take care of her on numerous occasions when she was sick. So, it was my first day home after staying with my incredible sister for a week. I was on the couch, watching a tv show with a friend who was kind enough to drop by and keep me company for an hour. Which is when Blair came home.

THUD THUD THUD

THUD THUD 

THUD THUD THUD

I could tell she was miffed when I asked a quick question directly to her, and she ignored me entirely, walking away from  in the process. The sound of her bedroom door slamming signaled her final exit, or so I thought, until my phone buzzed.

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Now, I know that there is nothing good that can come of a response . . . I know all the rational reasons for why NOT to engage in a texting battle with people who exhibit characteristics of a narcissistic personality disorder (at least, that’s what I, and all my other friends who work in the mental healthcare field think might be going on). Ultimately, though, sometimes you just get annoyed. And I was pretty darn annoyed at the massive quantity of passive aggressiveness represented in this one short text. So, despite all my better-person-instincts, I texted back rather snarkily. Complete with accidentally saying “want” instead of “wasn’t”, I thought this might shut her down, but I should have known she would be ready with a come back.

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Now, once you dip your toes in this kind of conversation, it’s hard to just stop.

So I didn’t.

How could I let her get away with calling herself confrontational ?

Part 2

Well that was an ouch.

That darned eavesdropped conversation was resurfacing for the first time since it actually happened. It was infuriating on a couple of levels. I mean, first of all, it had nothing to do with what we were talking (or, should I say angrily texting) about – a classic passive aggressive misdirection maneuver. But second of all, she never even brought it up to me in person. There she is, steaming to passive aggressive pieces over something she isn’t even willing to talk about in person. So, I finally came to my senses and realized I was not dealing with a rational person, and it was going nowhere.

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There was no response. Maybe she just didn’t read it. Maybe she couldn’t follow my rambling text-patterns.

Either way, it was back to silent treatment the next day.

These have been some of the recent low-lights of life chez moi, and I won’t even bother going into the hour-long baths, dating of a married man, accusing her boyfriend of being a murderer, long discussions of the vibes of Bonaroo, less-than-subtle comments about my weight, or the neverending supply of empty beer bottles materializing in the bathroom. Quite frankly, it has been a long ten-and-a-half months, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the next 45 days (8 hours and 11 minutes . . . but who’s counting) are going to seem even longer. Anyone with insights to offer or advice on how to survive the next month and a half, please feel free to share them! I’ve begun watching The Walking Dead so that I can gain expertise on dealing with inhuman monsters, but since I don’t think this particular Blair Witch Project will be resolved with violence, I’m not so sure it will do me that much good.

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I hope we all survive.

Passive Aggression

Passive and Aggressive behaviors should be mutually exclusive; they’re a true paradox, don’t you think?

passive AND aggressive

According to a printable worksheet regarding Passive and Agressive Behaviors that I read recently, Passive Communication is described as “When using passive communication an individual does not express their needs or feelings. Passive individuals often do not respond to hurtful situations, and instead allow themselves to be taken advantage of or to be treated unfairly.”

Passive aggressive

Traits that indicate passive communication include (but I’m sure couldn’t possibly be limited to…):

1.) avoidance of any direct human contact (this includes eye contact)

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2.) failure to ever get one’s own way/perpetual dissatisfaction

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3)  perfection of the art of muttering (aka being “soft spoken” or “shy”), gossiping to others about perceived problems, and/or using written notes as your only form of confrontation

facilitate that passive agression with these easy labels...

4.) consistant state of annoyance (due to ineffectiveness of methods)

direct...

5.) increased use of non-verbal expressions (i.e. the “silent treatment”)

silent treatment

According to that same resource, “aggressive communicators violate the rights of others when expressing their own feelings and needs. They may be verbally abusive to further their own interests.”

Passive Aggressive Notes

Traits of aggressive communication include (and yet, refuse to be limited to):

1.) use of criticism, humiliation, and domination towards anyone who might even marginally be construed as inconvenient or threatening

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2.) frequent interruptions and failure to listen to others

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3.) consistant state of annoyance (due to ineffectiveness of methods)

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4.) loud expressions and/or an overbearing manner

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If you’re between the ages of 12 and 55 and own a computer (my rough estimate),  you’ve probably chuckled at a few of the humorous passive aggressive moments circulating internet-ville. . . or maybe you’ve seen the books of passive aggressive notes now in circulation. Now, we might laugh, but this is an indicator of a serious problem: If there are enough examples to publish multiple books, then clearly there are too many passive aggressive people in this world. passive notes

As pointed out in an extremely funny explanation of the levels of passive aggression that I read recetly, passive aggressive notes are a level 2 Passive Aggressive move. . . and they are infamous. I’ve received a few of these over the years, actually. What I’ve noticed (as a veteran note-recipient myself) is that they just don’t work. 

They don't actually work.The problem with Passive Aggression (of any kind really) is that it is inherently flawed and utterly unproductive. Ultimately you just end up stewing over your own pet peeves until you explode at some unsuspecting offender – an act which guarantees a self-defense retaliation reaction and subsequent fight. When you can manage a level-headed confrontation, you can resolve issues/frustrations with a little bit of honesty, then move on and quit it with all of the inner annoyed-ness over things gone by . . . 

drop it

Careful, though! Just because you’re annoyed at people, don’t go in the direction of the aggressive communicator, you shouldn’t just spew nastiness at people in the name of “being honest” and “confrontational”. Sometimes you are actually the one being unreasonable. This is why you have to work on perfecting a very specific skill. I like to think of it as:

keep it in

Sometimes people are frustrating. Welcome to the human race, glad you could make it. People’s frustrating aspects do not, however, give you the right to bulldoze them verbally with your frustrations. Remember that you need to cut people slack sometimes. Have the discernment to know when you should engage, and when you should smile, nod, and move on. Try to keep in mind that attitudes (yours included) are just a nasty bit of business occasionally. Allow for grace, particularly if you know the person at fault has other stuff going on. Lets face it, people who irrationally piss everyone around them off? They usually have some underlying stuff that they’re trying to deal with. . . Which leads us to another relevant truth.

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So, strive to be happy with your life, and try to approach people with a gracious attitude when they might be taking out their own unhappiness on you. When your snarling inner beast rears its ugly, toothy, rabid head, remember: don't!

You can keep yourself in check and deal with conflict situations like an adult – by approaching someone with honesty and caring. Lets face it, if you don’t care about the person you are addressing, you are in a conflict for only your benefit and aren’t thinking about the entire situation at hand. You have to force yourself to consider both sides of the story (NOT stew internally while gossiping with everyone else you can find) and then keep yourself from going all wolf-tastic and attacking your unsuspecting prey. Ultimately,  if you have legitimate frustrations to address (i.e. so-n-so always forgets to ____, even though they know it’s a safety concern), there is a way to deal with them like a grown up . . . don’t let your anger make you act like an idiot. Not only is is both unattractive and immature, it’s unproductive.

Facebook Status SHUT-Up[!]dates.

Warning: This could possibly be deemed “a rant”.

I know Mark Twain wasn’t talking about facebook per se, but he probably would vehemently apply this philosophy to social networking sites as much as other forms of communication . . . I find it highly frustrating when people air their complaints to the Facebook world via complaints in their status updates.

Of all the things to post, it is incredible to me that people take the time and the effort to post some of the crap that they share. . . .

Perhaps this comes as  no great surprise, but I also find the world of passive aggressive roommate non-dialogue highly frustrating. As a rule, I love direct communication, even when it’s awkward and uncomfortable and angsty.  I’d rather have a fight than  snide comments, cold shoulders, or a guilt trip.

Imagine my  disappointment upon encountering the combination of these two non-preferred types of communication. That’s right, folks. Unfortunately, it seems that social networking has opened up a new realm to the terminally passive aggressive and whiney, and indirect complaints about me can now be sent out into the world to garner the reactions of the general public.

Situation: I went home for two days, leaving my cat well provided for, with a friend who would be checking in on her.

Status Update in reaction to circumstances indirectly caused by myself :

This, coupled with the three text messages which (using impressively veiled and passive terminology) very-indirectly alluded to what a pain-in-the-butt my cat had been yesterday, has officially frustrated me. I’m sure it was annoying to come home to a cat that was whiney last night, but , frankly, so what?  Annoying things happen. It does not mean that you need to spit it onto Facebook to garner pity and inspire guilt-trips  over a situation that is not  in anyone’s power to change. So it was inconvenient? Welcome to communal living and shared space. There are many things we could all complain about; the daily inconveniences caused by the minutia of our idiosyncrasies. Maybe I find it annoying that cigarettes are smoked on the front porch and the smell wafts back in through the doorway so much that my eyes get all itchy and red. But I don’t post about it on Facebook, because it’s not other peoples’ business. Instead, we had a face-to-face conversation.

Lots of things are tricky in the navigationof rooming situations, and I thing the key to actually maintaining sanity and not devolving into some kind of Mean-Girls-back-stabbing-regressed-middle-school-summer-camp-crew  is to focus on the positive and try to reverse our initial frustrations.

This leads me to the most important piece of advice for the successful living of all roommates the world over: (which I might be breaking currently)

I’m trying to practice this, not just preach it. I have now purchased 8 new scented candles for the house, and am the proud owner of eye-allergy drops which help me deal with any secondhand smokiness. I’m working on it. Still not perfect, and perhaps Mark Twain (or you, dear reader who has read this far) would chastise me for the inherent hypocrisy exhibited by the very writing of this rant. My only excuse (and I’ll own that it may seem flimsy) is that , while I am venting frustration in this moment via blog, the situation would ultimately benefit very little from confrontation.

Which brings us tothe second cardinal rule of roommate-living :

This is one of  those “battles” that I need to just let pass me by.

That said, please accept my apologies for the rant. Thank you for letting me get the angst off my chest.

If you can possibly help it, do everyone (including yourself!) a favor and remember not to complain with no hope of productivity to the world of Facebook about situations that are outside of everyone’s control.

Perhaps you can benefit from this experience in some way.

Perhaps I will, too.

Roommate Advice (aka: Act Like An Adult)

Things you should know if you plan to have success living with other adult human beings:

1.) Sometimes, you have to share.

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This involves living space, couch space, TV time, apartment expenses, and all major appliances. If you don’t want someone to sit near you on the couch, then don’t camp out in the living room. If you want to listen to music, read, and be by yourself? Go to your room.

2.)Your needs do not always automatically come first.

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You are not entitled to everything you want the second that you want it. When you have to go to the bathroom, do laundry, or cook dinner, it doesn’t always mean that you will be able to do those things in the very instant that you would like to. Someone might just be in the bathroom, laundry might already be in the washer, and the oven could already have a pizza in it. Tough luck. Your lack of planning ahead does not make it okay for you to attempt to take over that space when it is already in use.  So don’t take your roommate’s wet clothing out of the drier before it is done in order to dry your own laundry. This is commonly seen as a witch-with-a-B move.

3.) You have responsibilities.

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So Man up. Clean something every once in a while, and not just the thing you want to use, but something that is dirty. Throw the shower rugs into the laundry for once. Take out the trash occasionally. Turn out the lights before you go to bed. (In other words, be an adult.)

4.) It always works out better if you try to be nice.

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Being nice to your roommates house guests is a good place to start. You should never try to kick them out of the bathroom while they are using it, say, or treat them like a second-class human being because they do not pay rent. This is something called common decency. If you are not familiar with it, you should be aware that it is pretty crucial for human interactions. This one doesn’t just go for guests or visitors, though, try to understand that your roommates are human beings, too, ones who might have a bad day just like any other human being (like, say, you for example). When this happens, and they are tired, frustrated, and at the end of their rope, try NOT to push them, fight them, or insult them until they have to leave the room and cry themselves to sleep.

5.) Noise: make less than usual at night.

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Night time, as a generally recognized period of time designated for sleep, should be observed by all. If you do not observe this typical schedule, you should be aware that your evening habits might impact the people you live with. Keep the noise down when your roommates are trying to sleep or study. A “silence rules” rule might be in order if you struggle with this concept, but honestly, it’s not that hard. If you absolutely must listen to your indie-hipster Pandora station at full volume from 6:30-9:30pm, ear-bud headphones are an excellent invention which might behoove you to use.

6.) You do not have any automatic claim on your roommate’s time.

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When you come into the house and need to vent to someone, try to assess the situation prior to opening your mouth to dump on whoever might be around. Even the most understanding of roommates might not be able to take a tirade about work politics or the juvenile, catty interplay that you foster in your workplace. You are not allowed to get hurt feelings when your roommate does things with other friends, because that is life, and your roommate will have other friends, just like you do.

7.) If you are passive aggressive, you will fail at life.

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8.) Logic wins.

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This particularly concerns parking and decisions such as who should shower first. If someone else has to leave first in the morning, then they should park behind you. Case closed. This also might be relevant when discussing seemingly inane or arbitrary questions as they arise. (Such as, but not limited to, why we aren’t keeping a racing bike in the middle of the kitchen when we live in a three-level house with a lot of storage areas.)

9.) You are not a dog; there is no need to pee yourself a territory line.

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When you move into a pre-furnished apartment, try NOT to perceive every attempt to use the space as an exertion of authority over you. Maybe your roommate just wants to remind you that she cares for her possessions and would rather not have them ruined. So when you use her favorite pancake flipper to kill about 15 flies, try to understand that your actions did not fall into the framework of expected uses for a pancake flipper. Or when she asks to sit on the same couch as you because it is nearer to the lamp and she needs to grade papers, try not to take it as an exertion of power over you, since it is clearly a logical choice (see #8).

10.) Work/School-nights are different from weekends.

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If you are planning a wild night, plan it for a weekend night or a night out of the shared apartment. You may not mind being up late and making a huge mess in the house, but your roommates are sure to notice the late-night noise and the loud company. Remember that one time that you got pissed because your roommate’s brother was over with a friend? Well, you need to understand that, when the noise situation is reversed, you piss people off, too. Similarly, if it is the weekend, you need to understand that complete silence probably won’t be achieved at 9pm throughout the living-spaces of your apartment. You might just have to deal with a little bit of noise on the weekends.

11.) If you are an extraordinarily light sleeper, take necessary precautions.

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For example, get a noise machine to eliminate extra noise, and if that fails, take a sleep aid. Hell, chug NyQuil. A whisper in the kitchen should not keep you up at night if you are on the second floor. That is unreasonable. The moderate volume on the television (see #5) should not bother you on the opposite end of the house . . . one floor up.

12.) Don’t get a dog unless you are independently wealthy or work less than 6 hours a day.

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Dogs wreck things, puppies more so than others. If you want to maintain a good relationship with your roommates, do not get a drooling, slobbering, chewing, peeing, defecating puppy which you cannot consistently train, keep in a crate when gone, and monitor. If you plan to stay at home with a puppy, or take them to daycare daily, then that is another story.

13.) Don’t be a bitch to your roommate’s brother/friends/cat/family.

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This kind of behavior is generally not going to endear you to your roommates. Perhaps you do not see the value of family connections, friends, or pets, but most human beings tend to value these three groups pretty highly, and do not take very kindly to their mistreatment. So quit “gently moving the cat with your foot” (aka kicking the cat) when you think nobody will find out, and try to be nice to visitors, because they don’t have to like you just because you pay rent.

14.) DO NOT bring up ancient history or irrelevant facts in arguments or discussions that arise.

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Just because you were gone all weekend and didn’t sit in the living room (which, fyi, could be true of your roommates as well – so don’t assume shit that you can’t know) does NOT mean you get sole rights to the entire downstairs on Monday night. It was your choice to be out all weekend, a choice your roommates did not make for you. Also, the fact that your roommate’s older brother stayed in the house for a week two months ago has NO bearing on your obsessive need to blare music at an unbelievable decibel level tonight. History is history, and if something is a problem, you should bring it up in the moment and not two months later.

15.) Everybody has quirks and will need patience sometimes.

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Newsflash, just like you are not always easy to live with (please try to accept this, as it is always the truth), your roommates will never be 100% perfect either. As flawed human beings, people just require patience and love and sometimes, a healthy combination of the two.