was about 10 p.m. the Saturday before Mardi Gras. I was waiting in line with
for the steak & seafood buffet to become the legendary (in my mind, anyway)
Breakfast Bar at a Shoney's in Metairie, La. My cell phone rang. One of the
guys from work was calling to, in his words, "see if I was still alive."
When I headed south for my carnival vacation, a few uninitiated souls warned
me to be careful. Yet, the danger was not among hundreds of thousands of
happy people in south Louisiana... it was in my very own apartment complex.
Crime stats for February 20-25:
Murders at Mardi Gras: 0
Murders at my apartment complex: 1
When I moved to
in 2002, I went out on my own for the very first time. I did my best to be
independent in college, but I was still living at the mercy of other people's
decisions. The university told me which dorms I could choose from. Then,
they assigned me to a particular room. They chose my roommate, too.
it's been up to me to decide where to live, who to live with and how long
I should stay wherever it is I'm living. My tight-ass budget helped narrow
my choices greatly... but they are still hard decisions.
When my first-ever lease came due last summer, I wondered about moving. When
do you move? How long should you stay in one place? I'd been used to living
semester to semester... and never spending more than one academic year in
the same dorm room. I'd never considered that I would one day have to decide
about my own living conditions.
I kindly told The Man Upstairs that if something was going to happen to make
me want to move... I'd really like for it to happen before I signed up for
another year. Life in the complex was quiet. I signed on the dotted line
for a second year. Eight months later, some guy was shot and killed trying
to keep an unknown bad guy out of his apartment. Is this my sign?
I'll be honest... I still feel safe
Of course, I probably feel that way because of where I went to school. Going
to college in
was an adventure. Many times, I felt as though I was living in an inner-city
housing project. Actually, if you strip the classroom buildings from around
the dorms, it definitely looked like the projects much of the time I was
there. It was no
Green, but there was an active drug trade, there was gun play & there
were police that never arrested the people that needed to be arrested. After
living there, it takes a bit more than your garden variety shadiness to alarm
For some reason, I just don't carry a lot of fear around with me. I don't
normally fuck with people I don't know... and so I usually think that people
won't want to fuck with me, either. That's probably my small town naivete
showing through... I don't know. Of course, that's another aspect to look
has fewer than 10,000 people and one or two folks get murdered there every
year. Lesson: Violence can and does happen anywhere. In February, it happened
The law of averages is probably another reason why I'm not crippled with
fear right now.
isn't a huge city, but it does have some big city problems. I think the city
averages some thirty-odd homicides annually. But I know that (1) most of
those aren't random and (2) those that are usually don't happen in my
neighborhood -- let alone my apartment complex. So, considering that, why
should I not feel safe?
Well, there could be the two instances when
was here alone and had close encounters with the odd kind. Twice she's answered
a knock on the door and been met with a shady guy (different fellows each
time) looking for someone that did not live in my apartment. Both times,
the guys seemed curious about what was inside my apartment and weren't interested
in making a timely departure. Both times, they lingered outside for a while.
Because of that, I have a new
doesn't answer the door when I'm not here" policy.
Because of things like creepy visitors,
last summer's request to God and my general nature to be nomadic, I'm considering
my housing options. As of now, I think I have three and a half.
#1. Stay put. This is the cheapest option as one-bedroom apartments
in my world average about $650 per month. I currently pay $471.
#2. Move. This one, of course, involves money. That's a problem because
I'm a civil servant and don't get to keep a whole bunch of foldin' money
around. The cheapest place I've found worth living in is $525 per month.
More research needs to be done in this area.
#3. Move. I repeat myself, you say. Well, #2 involves moving to another
apartment. #3 is a multi-faceted plan. It involves (a) moving, (b) a house
instead of an apartment, (c) having Debbie as a roommate, (d) living in Lakeland.
[See also 6 March 2004 entry] You
know how hard it often is for me to make a decision. Because of the multiple
facets of this plan (How many times can I say facet in an entry?), there
are more decisions to be made. Can I live in with someone else? How much
more expensive will house living be? Do I actually want to live in Lakeland?
Lakeland is a 2 on the excitement meter and I might find that I'm actually
too close to work for my own good. See, #3 might be ditched just to save
me the stress of having to think about it.
#4. Live with
Yeah, I knew that would get your attention. (That is, if you haven't
abandoned this entry to go see
toe.) Seriously, she is looking at job options in the
metro area and, if she gets lucky, will need a place to live. I figured she's
the only person that could tolerate me as a roommate for any extended period
of time. Also, it's no secret that two incomes would buy a much nicer place
than one income can. Have a nice pad... Live with your girlfriend... Yeah,
I know it's not an original idea, but it's one I've never tried. Unfortunately,
#4 is what I consider half of an option. It is a plan I have no control over
and, therefore, I'm limited to focusing on plans 1-3 for now.
Facet. Facet. Facet.