Sunday, January 6, 2008

If I Get Shot I'll Stop the Bleeding With Toilet Paper

I moved out of my parents home in the late 80's, the summer I turned 21.
Living at my parents house had become unbearable as my late night, "wild" lifestyle was too noisy for them.

I went to school full time during the day and worked a full time job in retail at night. My shift ended at 9:30pm after the store closed and the cash drawer could be counted and the floors swept. I usually arrived home at around 10pm. In our open floor plan, ranch style house, their master bedroom was just off the kitchen/family room combo and they went to bed every night at around 9pm.

The biggest factor to our domestic problems was this: they refused to close their bedroom door, saying that it made the room too hot. So if I tried to fix myself something to eat after arriving home from work, no matter how quietly I crept about, the noise woke them up and one or both of them would get up and yell at me to be quiet. Ditto for watching television in the family room, or talking on the phone. (Hey kids! Once upon a time in the olden days there was no such thing as cell phones! Whacky!)

Everything I did it seemed, woke them up and they always woke up angry. I was paying them $150 a month for rent, which included groceries I never got to eat, cable TV I never got to watch, and a phone I never got to use.

During this period of my life is when my greatest dream was to get the hell out of that house as soon as possible.

Eventually I just stopped coming home from work altogether and found myself hanging out in the library of my university until it closed and then after that I would go and hang out in bars. This wasn't a great plan either because the later I stayed out, the more likely they were to be woken up when I unlocked the door to come in the house, which resulted in more yelling. On more than one occasion I actually slept in my car in my parents driveway rather than run the risk of waking them up. It was a really shitty and exhausting way to live. Essentially, I was homeless.

At this point my lifestyle became every bit as wild as my parents had originally believed it to be. College life started to interfere with the bar hopping and socializing (and there was that math phobia I mentioned in a recent post), so I dropped out.

After I dropped out of college things got really bad at home because in addition to being upset at my noisy ways and wild lifestyle, now they were seriously disappointed in me. To "teach me a lesson" they doubled the rent and said I'd have to start buying my own groceries.

I remember feeling very trapped. Nothing I did was right, and I was giving them a large amount of my very hard earned money each month to live this way. In the end I didn't so much "move out" as just not come back. I took nothing with me but some clothes, my alarm clock and a sleeping bag.

My friend Psych Major, was a beret wearing, Shriekback fan who went to school during the day and worked as a waitress at Friendly's in the evenings and on weekends. She was getting over a pretty serious break up with a long term, live-in, cheating boyfriend, whom I had made out with several times behind her back, while she was at work. My confession of this to her was likely the key factor in her resultant break up and need for immediate housing. To my amazement, she didn't hate me and even suggested that we move in together.

The apartment was pretty nice for a first timer, like me. It was a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom duplex built at around the turn of the century (the other century, as in 1900), that Psych Major (never washed the pots and pans she cooked in and didn't flush the toilet when she peed) and I shared with Dancer and Debbie, who were friends of Psych Major's.

I had my very own bedroom in which I slept on the floor in my sleeping bag with my alarm clock next to my head. It was absolute bliss. I could eat, watch TV and talk on the phone whenever I felt like it. I could stay out as late as I wanted and with whomever I wanted. Na Na! Whee!

Dancer (fought loudly with her boyfriend late at night and constantly slammed doors) was an OSU student majoring in modern dance and minoring in fine arts. She was the kind of goth-ish girl that came from a very wealthy and educated family but wore unravelling sweaters held together by safety pins with wrap around skirts and colorfully striped knee socks. We didn't have much in common, but a love of Bauhaus and combat boots worn with fishnet tights.

Debbie (lost 3 sets of house keys in the span of 6 months, drank my liquor supply and lied about it and beat my cat with a rolled up magazine and then complained when he shit on her pillow) had a steady boyfriend majoring in cinematography, whom we all liked very much. He was thoughtful and a lot of fun and the kind of guy that stumbles into cool things without even trying, like the time he went to JC Penny to buy a new pair of Chucks and the escalator ate the toe of his shoe so the store manager gave him a new pair of Chucks. Things like that were always happening to him.

Debbie on the other hand was a bit of a scuzzball. I remember coming downstairs for breakfast one morning and seeing Debbie eating a big bowl of instant oats. I sat down across from her and said, "You've got a little oatmeal on your cheek there."

"Where?", she asked, and we proceeded to do that little wincing face dance you do when you're trying to help someone get a smudge or piece of food. She wasn't getting it so finally, I reached across the table and touched it with the very tip of my index finger. "Oh, that's just some dried sperms", she said, and carried on eating her oats.

Debbie also allowed her brother (hogged our parking spot, left whiskers in the sink and left the toilet seat up and little urine droplets all over) to come and live on our couch indefinitely without kicking in for the rent or bills. My other roommates and I pointed out that we had been sharing, bathroom time, hot water, groceries, cable and phone bills and square footage, not to mention an entire couch with him for nearly 3 months - so it was time for him to get the fuck out or chip in. For some reason she thought this was an unreasonable request and moved out to go live with her boyfriend. Her brother stayed for another 2 weeks until he found a place of his own.

I had many other roommates over the years, including my friends Dan (monopolized the TV and kept letting my cat outside) and Nature Boy (never washed a dish or made ice cubes and had noisy sex), and it's all pretty much the same.

Other people are irritating, weird and filthy in ways that I cannot appreciate and other people don't seem to appreciate the ways that I myself am irritating, weird and filthy (I will not answer the phone or take your messages and I leave my clothes, shoes and coats all over the place). This leads to arguments and unhappiness with people who you may or may not like.

There was only one solution for it so I traded the hip urban scene within walking distance to the bars and clubs I frequented for a neighborhood on the other side of town in an apartment complex known popularly as "Uzi Alley".

It seemed OK at the time because my friend Bob lived there too, for exactly the same reason - she desperately wanted to live alone. The rent was $250 per month for 600 square feet with utilities and heat included. Awesome.

I lived there for 5 years.

Yes. It was a terrible neighborhood.

Yes. My apartment complex was on the news nearly every night because of some gang related shooting or drug bust.

I didn't care.

It was a sweet little oasis in the middle of hell and living there meant living alone, so I was willing to put up with nightly gunfire, police sirens and low flying helicopters at all hours of the day and night. You get used to it in the same way you get used to train or airplane noise when you live next to the tracks or under a landing pattern. After awhile you might even miss it when it's not there.

When I could afford it, at the urging of my constantly worried friends and family, I moved somewhere less crappy. I never regretted living there though because having bullets whizzing over my head was better than fuming over dirty dishes or sitting down to pee and realizing that there isn't any toilet paper in the house because it was your asshole roommates turn to buy it and they forgot.

I lived alone for almost 11 years and never once ran out of toilet paper. After living with MDH for nearly eight years, the record remains unbroken.


WendyB said...

Dried sperms...hmmm..I think I saw those in the grocery store next to the dried apricots and the raisins.

Anonymous said...

I was absolutely thrilled to get my first studio apartment and live on my own. It didn't even have an oven - just a hot plate type of thing, but it was mine...all mine.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Wendy B - I never let her borrow my chapstick after that.

Suze - I used my oven to heat the place because the free utilities meant that I didn't have a thermostat and they controlled the heat. It was freezing!

constant drama said...

Whoa dude, I'm lucky my parents dont make me pay the rent. But then you see my parents are a little....uuuhhh, insane for lack of a better word.

If I'm not home by 10ish at night, my dad will be on the phone yelling at me telling me to get my ass home. And they won't sleep until I get home.

Once I got home at 3am and I tried to slip in through the backdoor. I was so quite and proud of myself and when I get to the living room, there they were sitting in the dark, in the middle of the living room, sipping tea- waiting for me.

I never had another moment in my life where I actually was scared for my mortality.

So like I say....insane.

- said...

aren't roommates fun?

tonight is the first day back after not seeing my roommate for two weeks. within the first hour he told me that when our lease ends at the end of august, he'd like to live on his own ["no offense"]. there was none taken, since i only ever signed up for one year to begin with, and its already been far too long.

Family Adventure said...

Brilliant post, Lady. I could totally imagine myself there with you....

The sperm thing...yuck! I'm sure she was kidding! (right?)

And what's with men and their aiming problem...I live with three, it drives me crazy.


PS: I thought your family too, too harsh. I realize this is your POV, and there may be another side of the story -- but, still, you were coming home from WORK. At 10 pm. Not cool.

Anonymous said...

Nice...your first place sounds about as nice and accommodating as mine was. I had a luxurious 400 square foot place where the kitchen was bigger than the living room. The bathroom resembled a long hallway and the heat was always on..steam heat.

I never had the roommates, until the girlfriends started moving in, but I did have all of my friends living in the same building. Ironically, I could never keep a twelve pack longer than 24 hours.

Great post..I might have to swipe this idea for later use.

Tara said...

Great post! I bought some toilet paper yesterday, even though I have most of a whole role left. I do not like running out of it.

Claire said...

Nice new avatar! I loved living alone; I also had an apartment in a marginal complex, but it was MINE.
"Dried sperms"? Oh, I do hope she was kidding. This is 2 levels of offensive: 1. Wash your face for God's sake! and 2. The plural of "sperm" is "sperm".

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Drama - my parents were very strict and often were waiting up for me too. I started paying rent the year I turned 18 the same year they lifted my curfew.

They worried about me, rightfully so, as I was a bit free spirited.

They thought I was doing drugs years before I actually did them.

Player - some of your posts were my inspiration for writing this. My husband is the only person I've ever been able to live with and not want to murder at some point.

Heidi - Debbie was totally gross and leaning very much on the crass side. Sometimes it was funny, but mostly not.

My parents were freaks about my noise even before my night job. We were all unpleasant to live with. We get along just fine these days, but I'm very uncomfortable staying overnight at their house in Florida.

Evil - I loved and hated that apartment. I froze in the winter and roasted in the summer as there was no air conditioning and I was on the 3rd floor - it was still worth it to live alone.

Tara - At one point I actually hoarded TP in my room and brought my own roll to the toity as needed.

CDP - Debbie was probably trying to be cute, but it still caused me to shudder and take a shower immediately.

The Guv'ner said...

OMG dried sperms. I almost bust a gut. WHAT A SKEEZE BUCKET:):):)

I have been in similar situations. not at home because I was lucky to have a mother who was liberal and allowed me to come and go as I pleased until I left home at 21, but room mates. It's always the same. I could never go back to room mate living. I hate living with people. There is NOTHING like having your own place and your own rules and I really regret that I never had my own place - I shared with five people, then three then one other person who was a FREAK then with my lovely boy El Codo. Much as I like him, I do regret the fact I never got to have my very own place with no one else. I'm a person who thrives on having their own space so part of me still wishes I had an apartment all of my own. Hey, the boy can live next door, no?

Chris the Hippie said...

When I was 19 or 20 I caught my first wife in bed with my best friend. In the ensuing chaos, I ended up losing the trailer, two cars, a motorcycle, and pretty much everything else I thought I owned. So, hat in hand, I return to the family farm, hoping to get my old room back so I could finish college and pay all the divorce bills without worrying about rent. My parents didn't seem so enthused about the idea.

I ended up sleeping in the camper. For a year.

No heat, no water.

For a year.

It gets worse. Six years later, in my mid-twenties, live-in girlfriend kicks me out (long story). Nowhere to go, I call Ma & Pa. Hey, guess what? I ended up in that damned camper again...

Boldly Serving Up Wheat Grass said...

I definitely do not miss roommates.

SkylersDad said...

My first apartment was with a high school buddy who had amazing luck with the women. I got to listen to him and a new girl about 3 or 4 times a week.

That will beat down the old self-esteem! (pun intended on the beating part)

Coaster Punchman said...

Another hilarious post. I think you've gained me as a reader. Hope it won't be a burden. (And I never forget to buy TP.)

paperback reader said...

Man, you know how to party.

Quiet one said...

I had quite the opposite. My parents were sooo noisy they woke ME up. Every morning my dad would get for work around 4:30-5 am and SLAM his dresser drawers. And my mom never walked up and down the stairs she STOMPED on them. When I moved out to my little one bedroom garden apt it was HEAVEN>

Quiet one said...

I had quite the opposite. My parents were sooo noisy they woke ME up. Every morning my dad would get for work around 4:30-5 am and SLAM his dresser drawers. And my mom never walked up and down the stairs she STOMPED on them. When I moved out to my little one bedroom garden apt it was HEAVEN!

Del-V said...

I had a roommate who liked watching porn. And when the VCR in his room broke, he would watch it in the living room.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post as well, it reminds me of quite a few memories myself.