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The B in Apartment 403

The B in Apartment 403

I loved my last apartment in DC. There were some drawbacks, like my neighbors. They either talked too loud or paced back and forth nonstop or liked jumping up and down on their mattress (a.k.a. having sex). I also didn’t like being on the first floor because people walking by could see into my apartment, but it was a huge one-bedroom in a great location.

I knew to expect that the size of accommodations would most likely be much quainter in Seoul. Most schools include housing in their contracts for foreign teachers, so that means they have the power to decide where you get to stay. And, most likely, they’re going to find the cheapest possible place. When I showed up at my school one December evening after flying halfway around the world with basically no sleep, the principal took me to my apartment, which is one building away from the actual school. After taking the elevator to the fourth floor, he punched in the door code (no keys here) while I mentally repeated “Please be big. Please be big.” I can get by in a lot of living situations, but I need to have space to move around. At my DC apartment, I could alternate laying in my bed, lounging on the couch, or sitting at my dining room table. I appreciate being able to feel like I’m different places without leaving my home or having to put on pants.

from Etsy

But, when the door swung open and I stepped into my apartment for the first time, I had to quickly face the fact that this place was tiny and I would just have to suck it up while I’m here. No one explained how the heat or hot water worked, and the apartment was as barebones as possible. No plates, no utensils, not even a pair of wooden chopsticks. So my first few days in Seoul were spent trying to figure out where to buy things for my apartment with no understanding of the Korean language. I survived on plastic plates and forks for a decent amount of time until Big Sis Melanie could hook me up with some metal utensils.

In the six months I’ve lived in this building, I still do not know a lot of things. I’ve never met my neighbors and I just learned that I have a gas bill and that I’m supposed to pay it every month. However, I do know that I live in apartment 403. Four is an unlucky number in Korea (and other East Asian countries) because the same character for “four” in Chinese is very similar to the character for “death”. A lot of places don’t even have fourth floors or they put “F” instead of “4” on elevator buttons.

from “25 Ways to be Lucky and Unlucky the Korea Way”

And I live on the fourth floor. So, I was cursed from the start.

Let’s start with the bed. Korean beds don’t typically come with sheets; they just use multiple quilts. But, I wanted sheets because they are easier to clean regularly. No sheets fit this bed though! I think it must be a twin XL or something. I had my mom bring some old twin sheets when she visited. They too small! And I can feel every crease in that mattress. No thank you. Miss you, queen size pillowtop.

The bed from hell. No sheets fit it correctly.
The bed from hell. No sheets fit it correctly.

My contract says that my apartment will be furnished with a “table and chairs”. This is what I got. A TV tray table. It also came with a shitty office chair that I hated, so I replaced it with this dining room chair that I found on the street. Major improvement.

The bed and this chair are the only places to sit in this apartment. No couch. ūüôĀ That also means anyone who spends the night has to sleep on the floor. So far, that’s been Nick¬†and me when my sister spent the night.

My desk/dining room table/couch
My desk/dining room table/couch. Cute wall though.

If you turn around, you’re in my kitchen/laundry room. It comes complete with a “stove” on top of the washing machine and a fridge that can’t figure out whether it’s a minifridge or a regular-sized fridge.

My kitchen/laundry room complete with baby fridge

There was a TV in my apartment, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work and I watch TV on my computer anyway, so I put it in “storage”.

Such a great use of space
Such a great use of space

My bathroom’s decently sized, but the downfall of that is that I don’t have a closed-off shower area. I just have a showerhead on the wall. I’m fine with that. I’ve used them before, especially when I lived in Turkey. But, it just sucks having one with a big bathroom because everything gets wet when I shower.

Where isn't the shower?
Where isn’t the shower?

So, my apartment’s pretty small. I can’t do yoga on the floor space without bumping into some piece of furniture. But, it’s been home enough and it’s free. I’ve further supplemented my meager furnishings with a cow print table, a nightstand, and some artwork, all of which I found on the street.

How much do you think this would get at Sotheby's?
How much do you think this would get at Sotheby’s?

So me disliking my apartment makes it extra fun to visit my sister’s apartment. The U.S. military apparently values its¬†employees more than my private English academy does. Melanie has three bedrooms. My apartment IS the bedroom…and the kitchen and living room, etc. You can actually walk around the place and there is fast internet. Much better than my ethernet connection.

I can’t believe it’s already been six months since I moved into my place.¬†But, not for much longer. Next month, I will no longer be the B—- in Apartment 403.


Home Alone

Home Alone

I left home when I was 17 to go to boarding school in Costa Rica. From then until I was 23, I lived with roommates. After a horrible and lonely six-month stint living alone in a studio apartment in Armenia, I moved to DC and lived in several group houses. In total, I have had 31 roommates. 31! By far, the worst was Princess, my gay overdramatic, anorexic train wreck roommate that I shared a wall with for the first months I was in DC. But, overall, most of my roommate experiences have been enjoyable with little hiccups here and there.

With time, I learned things about myself that made me a better, stronger person. The most important lesson I took away from cohabiting is that God has given me the power to hate everyone. Ok, hate is a little strong. But, everyone at least has the power to get on my nerves. I think most people feel this way too (at least sometimes). Being around the same people all the time makes you realize all of their irritating habits, like stomping up and down the stairs, taking too long in the bathroom, and not cleaning EVER. Once you pick up on those one, two, or many flaws, you fixate on it/them and every time you see that person, you think “I FUCKING HATE YOU FOR SPILLING BLUEBERRIES ON THE FLOOR AND NOT CLEANING THEM UP FOR FIVE DAYS!”

That negativity just leeches into your entire life and you can’t escape it. So, after more than a year of saving money by living in non-glamorous group houses in up-and-coming neighborhoods with short-term leases, I decided that it was time to make another adult decision and live by myself.

I think that living on my own is also, in part, for the good of society. The paragraph above shows that I deal with a LITTLE bit of anger, so not forcing that rage onto others should totally be a tax break or something.

After viewing many studio apartments that made me incredibly claustrophobic and filling out multiple applications that were handled by incompetent people, I found a great deal for DC: a ONE-BEDROOM apartment cheaper than some of the studios I was looking at. It’s five minutes from a supermarket and it’s in a neighborhood I like. I moved in at the very end of August and and have enjoyed pretty much every day of living by myself (and currently with my sister’s cat Fenway).


Pants are never required and are in fact, discouraged.¬†The moment I come home, I take my pants off. Especially now that it’s summer/swamp season in DC. Sometimes, I just get naked and lay on my bed straddling my no-longer-oscillating fan, hoping that the heat rash “down there” will go away.

Farting, masturbating everywhere.¬†One of my friends told me he thinks my apartment smells like farts and tears and half of that is true. It’s pretty gross, but that’s why there’s Febreeze.

Bathroom door never closes. 

Eat without judgement.¬†Sometimes I have food¬†smeared all over my face while I’m watching TV on my computer, but I don’t wipe it off because I have no one to impress.

I think to myself a lot. About what I’m going to write my book/TV show about. About why that boy never texts me back. About how many cats is too many.

Only mess I have to clean up is my own. Except for when I go to work. Then it’s like living in a group house all over again.

Boys always want to come to my place over theirs.¬†Once they hear no roommates, they’re sold. Except in the winter when it’s hot as fuck. (See below)



Live on first floor.¬†Can’t walk around naked with the blinds open.

Directly above the boiler room. My apartment is the hottest in the building. In winter, I would sit around in my underwear while there was snow on the ground outside.

My neighbors next to me and above me suck.¬†My bedroom shares a wall with the people beside me. I either hear their TV or obnoxious laughter all the time. I did work up the courage to ask them to be quiet once. The bitch upstairs I swear just moves furniture all day. I’ve never met her but I hate her. I also hear her have sex pretty regularly. More reason to hate her.

Expensive.¬†It’s like 50% more than some of row houses I was living in. But, I think it’s worth it.

Sometimes lonely.¬†I think that I have enough friends in DC now that I can socialize¬†when I want but stay home when I want too. Sometimes, it just works out that everyone’s busy/doesn’t want to hang out. So, some nights (like my birthday), I have to stay in and convince myself that I wanted to.

Had to furnish myself.¬†Because I was constantly moving every few months in DC, I was hesitant to invest in any furniture. Signing a one-year lease for this place was as close to setting down roots as I could commit to. But, the drawback was that I had to get every piece of furniture that I wanted. Everything in DC is expensive for no reason, so my solution was to drive down to my parents’ town in Methville, Virginia (not the real town name), buy cheap shit at thrift stores, and drive it up in a U-Haul.

Have to pay for laundry. In quarters. In the basement.

No dishwasher. And I hate washing dishes by hand.

If I die, who will find me?¬†My number one fear is dying while masturbating. (I’m sure that has happened to someone). Who wants to be found with a fleshlight and a bottle of lube next to them? Very unflattering. But then, I was rewatching a 30 Rock episode and Liz freaks out about choking to death in her apartment. I hadn’t even thought of that! Now, every bite I take is a gamble.

Things you find on the internet

I’ve loved living alone so far. You know who also loves me living by myself? My mom. Whenever she has a late meeting or has a work trip and lands after 7pm, she wants to stay at my place. Which I like, but:

1. The first time she asked me what city I live in. WHAT CITY?!

2. She practically moved herself in. The first time she stayed here, she left a blow dryer, her razor(?), and coffee grounds. Exsqueeze me! Boundaries, Carol Ann.

3. One time, my mom stayed at my apartment when I was out of town. I had to make copies of the keys and send them to her hotel. I was worried that she’d find some of my “things” in my closet, but the biggest thing I had to worry about was her wearing my clothes.




Like mother, like son.