Wednesday, October 05, 2005

burning down the house

Before I start on something much longer - hey, guess what? I spent some of last night reading about pirates. Two thumbs up for the chapter on female Pirates! They is NASTY!!!

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RE: this blog, linked from these cats:

Short version:

I once had a woodpecker in my fireplace. In the process of removing the bird (bird! nemesis! sqwaking, vitriolic attacker! birds! so vile!) by cornering him into a bedsheet, he escaped from our linen trap, got into the kitchen, wrecked some havoc here and there, and then eventually succomed to a soup-pot-wielding Nabob. We freed the bird to his natural habitat, North Arlington; thought I was pretty convinced that his "natural habitat" was now my chimney, so I'd see him again soon. Alas, he never returned, too scarred by his time in the pot, or maybe just in the dirtiest kitchen in the Commonwealth. I was so disgusted by the germiness of it all that I was tempted to throw bleach over every surface, which needed to be done anyway. Or maybe gasoline, and a well-placed match, and just be done with it all.

The end.

(P.S. there is currently a dead pigeon on the sidewalk down the street from my house. The dog wants it to come to life so he can play with it. It looks like a cartoon dead bird, I even think he has X's for eyes. The bird flu is upon us, people. Run for your lives.)

Longer version:

Several moons ago, I lived in a house that truely defied description. To this day, I am amazed no neighbor ever actually committed arson, so damaging was this structure to their property values. The rent was unfathomable for the neighborhood, so us 4 or 5 inhabitants (+ whoever was currently homeless and squatting on a couch: my med school friend Lauren, displaced Baltimoron K., a rugby team from Connecticut) put up with just about anything you can nightmare of.

Quicky sample of the rogue collective:

- One roommate collected Disney movies and empty McDonalds bags. Mostly harmless, somewhat digusting. Only wore purple, probably collected Care Bears. Talked to her boyfriend in baby voices. Was in her 30s, looked like she was 14, complete with 14-year old case of acne. Sometimes forgot to wear pants.

In retrospect, I kind of liked her the best.

- The other roommate was a paranoid ESL teacher, also in her 30s. She was completely obsessed with the Brazilian culture, and had a deadbolt on her room. She wore a bathrobe all hours of the day, would get upset when I wouldn't spend much time at home, and purchased a mini cactus to put on top of our TV set to "absorb harmful waves." She used to leave elaborate voicemails on my cell phone about please using non-bleach organic cleaning products in the bathroom. She moved out shortly after I moved in, but before leaving, she held an impromptu yard sale where she tried to sell furniture in the house that did not belong to her. I have a feeling she probably slept in a hat made of tinfoil. After drove off into the wild crazy blue yonder, the D. moved in.

- This leads me to Laverne and her boyfriend, who lived in the basement. The boyfriend spent a lot of time drinking in the bed of his truck and hitting Laverne. Eventually, he moved out. She lost her job at Jiffy Lube, spiraling into despair. She got a dog. The dog had puppies, so the household expanded to Laverne, several thousand puppies, and a dog that wouldn't stop barking... all living in the basement. She eventually gave away the puppies, and drunkenly totaled her Ford pickup. One evening, a friend of hers came over to express his concern (Concern: "AIN'T SEEN LAVERNE ALL WEEK, SHE DONE DID SOMETHING!" Luckily, I speak fluent Bearded Mountain Hermit) that she wasn't opening her door or answering her phone and he was afraid she had killed herself and the dog. So he came inside the house, took out door that lead to the basement off the hinges, only to discover she wasn't there. The D. and I stood there and watched. Our jaws would have been on the floor, but the floor was too nasty to touch like that. I was pretty broke then, but if there had been a dead body in my basement, that might have been the last straw. Maybe.

Eventually L to the V moved out, never to be heard from again. This was after stealing a neighbors TV set and also leaving a stolen car in our front yard. When we went downstairs, we realized the dog had been kept locked in a closet, thus all the noise. Also, she was racist.

(SIDENOTE: All three of these ladies apparently were better still than the roommate whose PLACE I TOOK, who ended up at Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute after she was found wandering down the street partially clothed and speaking in tongues. The police came to interview Disney and Brazilian, her dad came by to pick up her furniture, and that was the end of that.)

(Okay, this is becoming longer than planned.)

The house itself was a monstrosity. A potentially adorable Cape Cod, both the back and front porch were falling off the structure. The foundation sported holes the size of baby water buffalo. The den ceiling, water-damaged to a dangerous point, was ignored for years and constantly on the verge of collapse. I'd often spring from the sofa when I heard someone upstairs turn the water on, afraid that my last vision of the mortal world would be fuzzy reception on a bunny-ear TV and seventies wood paneling, just before being buried alive in an avalanche of rotting plaster. The roof was bright green and leaky. When Laverne moved out, she neglected to take her dogs fleas with her, so an infestation of sorts remained for a while. Eventually, the bathroom ceiling caved in, and the boyfriend of the roommate above called the county to eport the landlord as a slumlord. I regularly did not pay rent. I wrote letters to the landlord, where I cc'd anyone I knew who worked at a law firm, desparate to appear SERIOUS. Good times.

Then, the Wild Kingdom episode started.

Besides rats that maintained a vigilant army outside of the house, (due less to our pathetic rental and more to new construction. Arlington county thinks it's just fine to sell tiny little ranch homes to big new developers, knocking them down and building million-dollar siding'd monstrosities, and along with several other bazillion problems I have with this, those developers also tend to leave piles of scrap lumber and construction debris around for months. Which makes perfect little nests for nutria. Okay, maybe not nutria. LIONS!!!!! Okay, maybe not that either, but at least mice and rats. I wouldn't walk to my car at night without steel-toed boots and a broom. At least, as far as I know, they never got IN the house) there was a possum/raccoon of some sort in our chimney for some period of time, the fleas, of course, a steady ant problem down the back wall of the house, and, last but not least, the woodpecker.

The woodpecker in our fireplace. Which brings us back to the beginning.

The end, again.

(PS, again: Did you catch the part where I lived in a house with fleas? Yeah, just wanted to re-establish how fucking awful that was. Thanks.)


Ethan Wiggum said...

also pirates: please tell me you've seen . notice the graph.

The Governess said...

FSM? of course.

the Nabob said...

Great blog! I find your posts to be very interesting. I will make sure to read it every week.

I especially like the part where you neglect to mention how you complained for 10 minutes about how boring I was for reading a book about the social and economic conditions that led to pirating. And then you proceed to read aloud all the interesting parts while I was trying to Sudoku.

The Governess said...

the complaining: true. The reading aloud: false. I am a chronic reader-alouder, and I thought I restrained myself quite nicely, last night, thank you.