Back in December, in the house on Sanchez, part of Abby's ceiling fell in. It happened suddenly--during a particularly windy rainstorm, as I recall--and was clearly only due to structural problems with the house. So we got in touch with the landlord and told him what was up (or no longer up, as it were); about three and a half weeks later, after he ambled by to take a look, after he jokingly told Dee Dee that he was glad he had insurance, and after he offhandedly mentioned that he wouldn't sleep there if he were Abby (after which she didn't, for about a week), he brought in contractors to fix the increasingly gaping hole.

They fixed it, sure, but they also ran up $50 in long distance calls to El Salvador on Abby's phone.

So it's no small relief to have a new landlord who's as close to the opposite pole as can be. When I called to report that my heaters (and what a luxury to actually have heat!) didn't seem to be working, he dispatched Jacques the handyman to have a look. Jacques came and fixed not only the heaters, but also the garbage disposal, the half-hooked shower curtain, and burned-out bulbs in the kitchen and bathroom. He tried to clean the paint left by the former handyman on the bathroom window, but reported that it would take a lot of malodorous chemicals, so he'd just replace the window instead. He mentioned this morning that, within the next few weeks, he'll be installing track lighting in the kitchen, a new shower head, and perhaps a new overhead light fixture in the living room. He walks through the house and finds things to fix--things that might be small annoyances but certainly cause no great headaches--and rails in his thick accent against the man who did the work before him. I am speechlessly pleased.

Add these improvements to the fact that I no longer wake up in the morning and have to time my visit to the bathroom to beat my housemates, no longer come home to find dishes multiplied in the kitchen sink, no longer have to step around (or clean up) anyone else's mess, and no longer have to fight for space in the fridge (indeed, I have relative miles and miles of my own now), and what you get is an unmeasurably happier me. It's true that I'm paying for the pleasure, but to cop a line from MasterCard, the bliss of living alone really is priceless.