My friend Angie tells me that my new apartment reminds her of Nicaragua. My downstairs neighbor, whom I have never met but my landlord tells me is very nice, covers his windows with aluminum foil.

I have three keys that get me into my apartment, which is in the attic, a last minute idea of a rented dwelling. One opens the gate's padlock, and two open my front door, which, sadly, was never intended to be a front door. It's particle board innards are slowly receding from the two pieces of plywood that hold its shape, making it look from the side like a wood chip sandwich.

The man who lives in the adjoining lower apartment has a hibachi and several white plastic chairs. There's a stove down there with a rug covering it and a variety of skewed screen doors.

The iron steps that lead up to my place have little holes eaten through them with rust. My kitchen sink is so illogically hung that I use a stepstool to do the dishes.

All the walls are slanted halfway up so that most of my posters have to be held up with foam double-stick tabs that will, no doubt, remain on the cheap wood paneling long after I am gone.