Below – Mariza on her street in Bolton Hill
Mariza rents a house along with some roommates in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill district. I was a little apprehensive when Mariza got her job in Baltimore. I remembered the crime and squalor. But the city has improved a lot in recent years and there are some really nice and neighborhoods. The Mount Vernon area, right next to Mariza’s area is very nice. A lot of her co-workers live in Federal Hill, evidently a yupifiying district. We walked around there. It is not that nice, IMO, but it does have large numbers of restaurants. It reminded me of State Street in Madison.
Mariza moved her last year. She started out by looking for apartments in the Inner Harbor area, which is superficially attractive but too expensive and a little artificial, sort of like living in Disneyland. Actually, I have to admit that it was our advice that she look there. It was the only area of Baltimore that Chrissy and I knew. Her further investigation turned up other, better opportunities.
Where she lives now has lot of parks and museums and the Maryland Institute College of Art is there. Many of the old buildings have been recently renovated and it is a mostly intact 19th Century neighborhood. It is within walking distance to restaurants and stores and has good access to public transportation and the light rail system, which is important because Mariza doesn’t have a car. It is a nice place to live and seems safe.
I like the fact that she has roommates. She has the usual roommate woes. The landlord forgot to pay the electric bills for the previous period and they were about to lose power, so Mariza had to pay. The others owe her money. This is not a big problem; she is in touch with the landlord and can just deduct it from the rent, but she is now in the position of managing the landlord relationship. They have the mirror image problem with water bills. Mariza and her roommates were supposed to get the water bills, but they went to the landlord instead. Now he wants to be repaid for those bills. It looks like Mariza will again have to front the money and get it back from the roommates.
Below – We were a little worried about some Baltimore neighborhoods. Mariza didn’t look for houses where we saw this rolling bail-bond truck a couple summers ago.
I had six roommates one year when I was in college in Madison, but we had trouble after two women moved out and went to Florida. We had a joint lease and we all had the responsibility to pay our shares of the rent, so we had to find new roommates. In a college town, there is usually something wrong with anybody looking to rent an apartment in October or November, but we were desperate and got some real weirdoes. Some were more responsible than others in paying. I got the enforcer job. One of my roommates, Marcus, didn’t pay until I threatened him. This I had to do two months in a row. After that, he claimed it was a hostile environment and he moved out with one day notice just before the third month’s rent was due.
These pictures are from our town house complex in Vienna, VA. The trees are turning nicely.
Marcus was slob who didn’t use sheets on his mattress and it was stinky and dirty. When I came home the day after Marcus moved out, I found the house full of smoke. One of my other roommates, Tom the stoner (this was the 1970s), was sitting around with his friends in the living room. I asked them what was going on and Tom just said, “I don’t know, man. It’s been that way for about an hour.” I thought it a good idea to find out where the smoke was coming from and found it was coming from under the door in Marcus’ room. When I opened the door, his bed burst into flames. Tom had wanted to get the smell out of Marcus’ mattress, so he put some incense on top it. It burned through into the mattress and was smoldering inside so that when I opened the door, the rush of air ignited it. I expect it would have started flaming soon enough in any case and I believe that had I not come home when I did, Tom would have burned the house down and he and his friends would have been caught in the conflagration and become literally burnouts. When he saw the flames, Tom just said, “Wow!” I beat the flames out with my coat. We dumped some water on the mattress and got rid of it. Roommates can be challenging, but they provide interesting stories. The stories are funny when you look back; not so much at the time.
Our complex again. I just like the trees in their fall colors.
Back to the present, I like Baltimore and have been pleasantly surprised by the charm.