Places I’ve Lived: Have Fun Googling ‘Bird Mites’

Where have you lived, Carolyn Yates? 

Rue de la Montagne, second floor, Montreal, Quebec, $550/mo.
I picked my first post-residence apartment solely because it was close to school but wasn’t in the student ghetto. My roommate took the bedroom while I took the dining room and hung curtains for walls. I bragged to friends about the leather-studded door. My “bedroom” window looked over a scenic, cigarette-butt-littered parking garage that has since been filled in, and which was really easy to climb on top of—something I found out when I locked myself out one afternoon and had to break in through my own balcony. Shortly before moving out, we discovered my roommate’s hair had clogged all the drainage pipes in our apartment and the two below. Luckily, the building changed ownership every few weeks and we weren’t fined.

My Parent’s House, Toronto suburbs, Ontario, free
I lived at home for five months for an internship. I spent four hours on the subway and various busses a day, made awkward television-based conversation with my younger brother, and sweated in my attic bedroom—my parents believe in air conditioning, but only for the ground floor. 



Rue de la Montagne, fifth floor, Montreal, Quebec, $675/mo.
Over the summer, my roommate moved us into a larger apartment in the same building. The day I was supposed to arrive, I got a text from her at 7 a.m. that read, “I’m on the way to Mexico but when you get to the apartment we might not have a bathroom ceiling.” When I made it there at around 2 a.m., the ceiling over the toilet was bulging and dripping greasy water into an overflowing bucket. I went to get the janitor and hovered awkwardly as he peered at the bulge and then stabbed it with his utility knife, making a huge hole in the ceiling. He said he’d be back in the morning to fix it. It was still there when I moved out three years later.


NDG, Montreal, Quebec, $480/mo.
Unemployed and unsure about whether or not I should stay in Montreal, I found this apartment, signed the lease, and moved in within 48 hours. It was a studio apartment with a small bathroom and one room that fit a bed, two bookshelves, a tiny kitchen table that I also used as a “home office,” and very little else. It had a kitchenette, which really meant a fridge the mice used as their home base, a hot plate, and a teeny toaster oven. The building website says my apartment was 350 sq. feet, and at least a third of that was a long, narrow hallway. I had to get rid of half of my stuff, but I was living alone for the first time and I loved it.

Two days later, when I was cleaning out the bathroom cabinet, I found a bag with vials of meds and several straight razor blades. Then I noticed that the doorjamb and deadbolt were broken, and, a little freaked out, I called the management company. A very apologetic receptionist told me that the janitor had broken in when the previous tenant’s social worker called because she hadn’t heard from him in a month, but not to worry, older people just slip in the bathtub sometimes, and they’d cleaned really well.

Which is how I found out the previous tenant had died in the bathroom.

I bought a lot of bleach.

The apartment also had bird mites, a cafe that installed their sound system on the ceiling below my headboard, broken heat until December, a window in the bathroom that faced onto a wall a foot away for no apparent reason, and a wall-sized window in front from which I watched three car accidents and an arrest in a bank robbery.

Starting in January, someone in the basement screamed loudly and apparently recreationally every day from about 4 p.m. until after midnight. The police came once, and left, and the screaming continued. That was when I decided to move.


My Current Place, Ottawa, Ontario, $725/mo.
My current apartment is the nicest place I’ve ever lived. It’s the third floor of an old house with two balconies (two!), a pivot door (doors!), a real kitchen, and trees out almost every window. Every time the old-fashioned doorbell rings I feel like I’m about to have a heart attack; the storage space consists of two tiny closets; and we’ve had to prop up, nail down, or otherwise attach every piece of furniture to something because the floors are so slanted. It is my favourite place ever.


Carolyn Yates is a copy editor and writer


17 Comments / Post A Comment

lrodrigue (#1,315)

I google’d bird mites.

@lrodrigue but did you have FUN

megsy (#1,565)

I am jealous of your $725/month Ottawa apartment. Renting in Ottawa has gotten a LOT harder (I moved away for almost two years) and now I’m paying a small fortune for a place out near Algonquin. Argh.

@megsy I haven’t lived here before but my number one feeling is that I got really lucky (though that number is per person, for two people). In one apartment I saw the carpet was so gross/sticky/dirty that I almost lost a shoe.

thenotestaken (#542)

@megsy My ex had a really nice big one bedroom in Vieux-Hull for $525, and it was only a 10-15 minute walk from Byward/Rideau. I don’t know why more people don’t live there, it’s a bit shady and there weren’t any groceries close by but other than that it was a perfect spot.

Megano! (#124)

Yeah you totally got lucky with a $725/month apartment in Ottawa. There’s a really big shortage of rental properties in Ottawa. It’s really hard to rent if you have a dog, because while they technically can’t NOT rent to you, there are more than enough other applicants that they can just give the apartment to someone else.
Also, I am gonna guess where your apartment is: Sandy Hill?

whizz_dumb (#151)

@Megano! So we’re talking $1450/month for a large one bedroom or is it a 2 bedroom?

@Megano! Centretown. Sandy Hill was far too student-y. (Also most apartments seemed to be rooms in other people’s houses, though that might have been the time of year or something?)

Megano! (#124)

@Carolyn Yates@twitter That was my second guess!!
@whizz_dumb I think it’s about $1100 for a two bedroom now? But it really varies greatly. My sister was renting a two bedroom for like $950 (not including hydro), and just moved into a much bigger two bedroom for I think $1250? My old apartment in Ottawa was $1000, but now it’s more than that (I couldn’t find out how much, as their website is down).

sventurata (#27)

@Carolyn Yates@twitter I was all set to be SUPER JEALOUS until I saw the roommate comment (although perhaps your roommate is really nice, and maybe I should be jealous of that?). Anyway….. Still hanging onto my quasi-luxurious 1BR in the Golden Triangle, even if the neighbours are hellbent on cutting down every tree in sight. 3 years marooned in the west west west end (think bears!) help me appreciate every moment here.

@sventurata She’s actually my girlfriend, and she is indeed really nice.

That is the WORST about the trees! Is it a house? Do they have some sort of arboreal disease? (Either the trees or your neighbours.)

Megano! (#124)

@sventurata Oh if $750 is only half the rent, that’s actually about right for a downtown apartment.

sventurata (#27)

@Carolyn Yates@twitter I assume several were diseased, as Ottawa by-laws are very strict re: cutting trees over a certain diameter. Still very sad to see them go.

A roommate who is also a girlfriend is definitely awesome. Cheers!

@Megano! Agreed. I couldn’t find anything serviceable in the bachelor/1BR range for less than $800. Saw a few places without kitchens, completely windowless, above factories, etc., but if I wanted to live like NYC, I’d live in NYC.

honey cowl (#1,510)

eeeeee dead guy in the bathtub!!!!! You are making everywhere I’ve lived seem suddenly much better.

hershmire (#695)

Ah, yes, screaming neighbors. My first place in New York had a synchronized husband and wife team. They would warm up nearly every night by drinking themselves angry and then start a brawl in the street at 5 a.m. with lots of smashing of glass and very vociferous threats. Oh, memories.

I don’t understand why people willingly pay for shitty apartments. How can you go home everyday to an awful place? I remember one landlord in my apartment search wanted almost $700 for something that looked like a serial killer’s lair. These landlords have some nerve. how can you expect me to pay you and you can’t even keep the place in a livable condition?

His subject is good, long while I find this topic and I think it is here, world population day

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