We like to think We Get It.
We’re all big-hearted people that grasp other people’s adversities — yada, yada, yada.
The trouble is, a lot of us don’t talk about our adversities, so how could you possibly grasp what you’re not even aware of?
I’ve been really bitchy for a while now, and it’s only in the last couple weeks that some of that has begun to evaporate. The trouble has been a few things, and I’ve sort of been sitting on it more than talking about it, because sometimes talking about it just doesn’t fucking help.
In fact, when it comes to cockroaches, talking about it makes it worse.
I’ve never understood pest problems, or why people lived in shitty buildings, or how you could sit idly by while your situation worsened and worsened.
But then it happened to me.
About five weeks before I blew my back out, in September ’08, I saw my first cockroach. I cleaned everywhere, but they kept appearing here and there as a result of a garbage-collecting Dumpster-diver on the first floor (fucker). Then I blew my back out and had to live on the floor for about six weeks as they escalated in numbers.
The last 22 months were an endless battle.
Honestly, I’m not sure I would have moved had I had the money. After all, once you get a cockroach infestation, I mean, geez — have eggs, will travel. You’re best to stay put once you get people working on the problem.
Right around then was when my bathtub faucet started to malfunction too. Naturally, having a hot bath’s a bit of a necessity when you have a back problem brought on by fucked-up overtense muscles.
For the last year, I’ve been running a bath by using the shower.
Then there’s the decaying kitchen floor.
It’s been a really fucking long two years — just on the “around home” front.
See, I don’t write about money and shit very often. It’s not really your business how I live. But here’s the thing: I’m pretty smart about how to live The Appears-Good Life on a budget. I buy cheap wine that isn’t lighter fluid, I know how to make little pieces of meat go far in tasty brilliance, and I buy a few “quality” ingredients to give me the impression I’m living it up.
But what I’m really doing is living very cheaply in an expensive city. I don’t buy clothes, go to fancy salons, or any of that jazz. Life hasn’t made income very disposable for me. When I eat out, it’s usually because others are treating me or because I’ve budgetted two weeks ahead to afford that dinner-and-a-beer.
And that’s the way it goes. It’ll continue that way now that I’ll be returning to school to learn basic business accounting and other self-employment skills for the next year, too, while I journey down the Working-for-Me future.
So when it comes to “home life”, it’s really important that I like where I live — because I’m financially, & writing-hobby-wise, required to stick around a lot.
This spring, the cockroaches reached the worst point ever.
They began escalating in February.
By the end of May, I’d now had a couple cockroaches in my bed (clutched one under my pillow one night), had them crawl on food, and other horrifying things — all for someone who’s had a lifelong terror of bugs.
Despite 18+ months of persistent problems, I’d never had them outside of the kitchen or in any kind of numbers like they’d now become — and they had full reign of my home, invading every corner in a matter of weeks.
I couldn’t invite people over for shame I’d have a roach run up the wall in front of them.
In my part of the world, cockroaches are NOT common, and there’s a stigma attached to having them. And the fucking people who say, “Why don’t you move?” ARGH!
Like it’s that easy when you don’t like what you’re dealt. Just pick up and go? Not everyone’s reality allows these things, and a little more empathy and less judgey “Well, gee, that seems easy to solve” sanctimony would go a long, long ways.
You want to bankroll what life requires on my behalf? No? Then don’t fucking ask why I didn’t move. Because: Money.
Well, I finally learned the laws and realized I had a very, very easy time to file an official complaint about the state of living. At the end of May, I called City and reported my building, then I called my landlord and informed him that, NOW, I wasn’t working, and NOW I had the time to make his life a living hell if he didn’t stop making mine one, now that he had 6 months to get started on it. I said I had a very, very strong desire to fulfill that threat, and a REAL GOOD way with words when it came to writing letters to politicians and shit.
Unbeknownst to me, because of the cockroaches, an inspection happened immediately (without notifying me of entry, thanks!).
Two days after, pest control was begun throughout the entire building for the first time!
Three weeks later, I saw my last roach. It’s been nearly 2 months after pest control and the last week or two has finally seen me begin to fall asleep without the last thought before I shut my eyes being of all the cockroaches I’ve seen, or of grabbing one as I flopped over and stuck my arm under my pillow in bed.
Yesterday and today, my landlord has begun to repair my complicated bathtub problem.
Next month I get a new kitchen floor.
I wish I’d gone to the city sooner. Thank you, City of Vancouver.
We think the government doesn’t give a shit, or that the system will never help us, but all we’re doing is just removing a possible solution from an otherwise grim outlook where we need ALL possibilities to be explored.
This morning, I was telling a friend about how much life in The Time of the Cockroaches sucked, and I got all emotional and began tearing up and gasping.
I hadn’t realized what a burden it’d been and how cynical it made me of life and people while I fought and fought for resolution to my problems — but I fought in the wrong direction and went to the wrong people.
Fighting the fight isn’t good enough.
Fighting the fight requires it being the right kind of fighting, and against the right opponent. It means knowing where to turn and what you need.
But, mostly, it requires you believing you’re in the right to pursue that goal.
I became outraged at the end of April, flew into a rage on the phone, but with the most calculated and well-thought series of viable threats I’ve ever strung together.
And now I await my landlord’s return with the Final Parts so that I may once again bathe with pleasure. And without hot water dripping from a shower.
We do things wrong.
And things go south.
And, if we’re lucky, we learn a lot about ourselves in the process, making a difficult experience not have been in vain.
I’m lucky. I’ve learned a lot. I know what to worry about in life now, I know when life kinda sucks for realz. I also know I’ve only scratched the surface of what others endure. Yeah. I’ve learned a lot.
Don’t think you know what people are living with. You often haven’t got a fucking clue. Lord knows most of my friends didn’t.