March 7, 2020


As you should have read by now, I recently bought my first hen house! It had been a long-time goal of mine, and now that it's accomplished, I can proudly say I'm an adult. And as much as I love it, I'll tell you it's not all sunshine and rainbows like the educational mortgage and homeownership video told me. Some growing pains were quick fixes: from a minor DIY AC repair to overcoming the existential dread of living alone. And with all the fun of buying toilet paper and waiting on couch deliveries came an unexpected battle: the HOA.

The Home Owner's Association (HOA) takes money from me monthly to keep my neighborhood safe and beautiful (which it is!), and for this I am grateful. They also enforce the community guidelines and answer silly questions from residents like me. (Where's the dumpster?) Once I found where to take my trash, I thought I'd be done with the HOA until my gate remote stopped working.

welcome to the neighborhood.

I confess: I'm not always right.

Once I got essentials like a bed and a coffee pot, I could enjoy shopping for more frivolous things, like personal decor and a couch. As I burned through all the mailer coupons, I found a small, tasteful Buccaneers garden flag and a welcome mat that doesn't say "welcome" for the front of my home. They added just the small personal touch I wanted, without inviting strangers to my door.

A month later, I arrived home to a piece of paper in my door handle that wasn't an invite to a block party or yard sale; it was a "friendly reminder" notice that my "Bucs flag" was not permitted. Shocked and confused, I barged into my violating home and found the hefty HOA "welcome binder," which has all the rules and regulations to keep the neighborhood at Stepford Wives standards. I read every rule and petty request in the architectural guidelines chapter, put my rusty lawyer cap on, and got to work. (Previous law experience includes nearly failing my Media Law course and refusing my dad's request to go to Law School.) Confidence, anger, and experience in my wing tips, I crafted a brilliant letter stating how my small, tasteful Bucs flag fit within the guidelines and should be approved. And just in case I was dealing with stubborn idiots who wouldn't let me have my way, I crafted another argument that, in the off chance my decor still wasn't approved, I found multiple neighbors with similar "violations" that contradicted their reasoning and the printed rules. I collected photos and witness statements, and sent my case in for approval, confident the Bucs would still fly. I even added a joke about how hard it is to be a Bucs fan, hoping for a pity approval, if needed.

A week later, I received an official letter in the mail from the HOA: request denied.

This letter threw me into a frenzy, feathers flying and wings flapping back to the binder. I quickly reviewed the guidelines for door decorations, deemed it close enough, and hung the flag on my door.

The next week, I received another "friendly reminder" notice: please remove your garden stake. Since the door flag must have hit Bored Betty in the face as she placed this notice, I figured the door decor was fine and I happily removed the garden stake.

friendly patrol.

The following week, I received an official letter in the mail from the HOA: 7 days until daily fines began for the contraband Bucs flag. Where the hell was my "friendly reminder" with the smiley face circa 1990s Wingdings font? Now I was an angry bird.

I rationally knew I should wait until the next day to respond, but the glass of wine in me told me otherwise. I deliberately gathered my thoughts into a rational, yet stern and scathing diatribe to the HOA. I methodically illustrated all my injustices about how I was treated unfairly, along with a demand for a person response addressing all my concerns. Thankfully, GMail offers the option to schedule the email for later time. I scheduled my tirade for an 8 a.m. delivery, so it looked like fresh anger over coffee instead of drunk anger over wine. Thank you, Google.

A few days later, I received a personal response from Chuck, deservedly with barbs of his own. He began with the warm words, “I’m happy to respond, but with what, I’m not sure.” But he figured it out and wrote on. Here is my favorite line: Many people do not care for sports and the flags are somewhat of a detraction aesthetically. Great for a dorm room or something like that, but certainly not outside of a townhome in a community that strives to be a little more tasteful."

Exhausted and insulted, I wanted this battle to end. I thanked Chuck for his response and let him know I found his "dorm room" comment insulting. But things did not end there.

Chuck's mood or medication flipped and his response was apologetic and friendly. He apologized for the "dorm room" comment, saying he didn't intend to be insulting, but he could see how I could take it that way. He went on to make sympathetic Bucs jokes and let me know he used to rent my unit, which is his "favorite unit on the property." He ended our exchange by sharing the best sunset photos he'd taken from my back patio. Now I was blindsided with feelings of guilt and relief, and the desire to change my locks. 

Now a pariah within the HOA and probably the neighborhood, I vowed never to attempt to decorate my front lawn again. Instead, my car parked in front of my property is decorated with tacky car flags and bumper stickers. Enjoy that aesthetic, HOA.

KEEP READING! Hens Say Dumb Things!

Going Out as a Mature Hen.
Dying for Face Wash!

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