Tuesday, March 28, 2006

As I sit in the Atlanta airport, the exhaustion seeps deeply into my bones. My vacation away from the rats proves not to be a vacation, just a temporary relocation. While I had hoped to leave the rat saga behind, Rat bastard followed me to Georgia and South Carolina, as always, insisting on my undivided attention.

On Wednesday evening, I did one final assessment of my disgusting room taking pictures both to document the damage and to show to my family. Rat bastard posed for the camera and proudly displayed his handy work. My roommate and friend finally saw the true extent of the damage and were satisfactorily disgusted. While riding the train up to Boston, I listened to sad music and allowed myself about an hour of true self-pity. My sense of humor was waning and my shoulders ached from carrying a little too much weight of late. No tears were shed;it was worse. I sat curled in ball, staring out the window wondering where I could go to hide from the real world. God, fate or whoever it is that snaps us sharply from self-pity decided that I had wallowed enough for now.

On the Red Line T out to Somerville, I was awkwardly loaded down with a large backpack, a roll bag, a laptop and a purse. People avoided sitting next to the overloaded girl, so luckily I had a whole bench to myself--or so I thought. About two stops into my journey, a well-dressed, young, professional woman sits down right next to me. I barely batted an eye at her presence, still listening to the sad tunes. When the girl doubled over and vomited all over the floor, I quickly moved my suitcase out of the way and tried to comfort her. Of course, this would be the one time I do not have a tissue or anything to offer so the poor thing is sitting next to me, cradling her blueberry-red wine puke in her hands. As I looked around the car, I realized that there were only two of us on the full car who were paying this young woman any attention. Books and Ipods were of much more interest or importance than this sick woman who had already puked twice on the train. With the help of the day's news, the man and I had covered the vomit, though the woman's stomach interpreted this as another canvas to paint. At this point, the lovely man sitting across the aisle and I made eye contact. Through this momentary meeting of the eyes, we communicated that this had been a rough week for both of us and it figures that the person who would sit next to us had to barf. She was compelled to sit near us, puke her guts out and smell up the car. I began to laugh--hard. My life may not be fabulous right now, but at least I am not barfing on the train and with this thought, she leaned over and spread the cheer on to her designer leather bag. Great!

Thursday was spent traveling and sleeping. I had to wake up at 3:30AM to catch my flight. It is still dark at 3:30--and people were cranky. At the ticket counter in the airport, a customer asked the customer service agent for a pen and she said she did not have one without making any effort to find one for him. He responded," Thank you. That is very helpful!" While this was a provocative comment, it did suit the moment. Sensing his sarcasm, the customer service agent proceeded to tell the man that it was not her job to have a pen, it was her job to provide customer service. The irony was lost on her. After arriving in Savannah, I ate the fattiest meal known to humankind at the one and only Waffle House and went to bed with images of grits and rat shit dancing in my head.

The first full day of vacation was spent on the phone with health inspectors and exterminators. Each professional claimed that though my landlord was not doing a good job at exterminating Rat bastard, he is practicing due dilligence and, therefore, I cannot call in anyone else for help. Later that day, I received annoyed phone calls from my landlord and from my stressed out roommate. After a couple of hours on the phone, I just threw my hands up and said," Great!"

Finally, we all arrived on the island for the wedding. The house my cousin rented for us was stunning and my family was reunited. Life was okay...until I walked inside to find my aunt running around frantically, stressed out cousins and angry extended family. At this moment, I knew that my "vacation" was over and reality sunk in. Now, this is not to say there were not some shining moments throughout the weekend, but overall, the weekend was a wash. There were no family meals or time to play. From the time of arrival to the time of departure, we were put to work doing menial tasks for the wedding (though we were on the groom's side) or playing diplomat. Great!

When my family left the island on Sunday to catch flights or check into the hotel for the night, we finally had a family meal. It was great to sit and take in the smiling faces of my parents and brothers though we were all a bit tired.

Monday I made the mistake of checking my email before touring Savannah with my mom. The email stated that Rat bastard had died and the room had been clean according to Health Dept. standards. The following email from my roommate stated a different story. We now have all of my rat contaminated items in our living room and kitchen, uncleaned, while our broom and some rat feces remain in my bedroom. I have been repeatedly told to be patient and relax becasue the job was being done professionally, we now have direct evidence that states this whole thing has been a half-assed effort. My landlord is offering to cover a professional cleaner for our home or take $200 off rent, though neither of us have lived there for about 2 weeks. He is not offering to replace my mattress and curtains, have my clothes dry cleaned or wipe down my other belongings. I take issue with this, though I am not sure how to proceed yet. For now, I just say," Great!"

R.I.P. Rat Bastard 2005-2006
May this worthy foe enjoy many a compost heap in rat heaven.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Images of the Rat Saga
Below, you will see shots of the poop under my bed, the present left on my drawers, the poop on my Bible and Rat bastard himself. I don't think I even need to provide commentary other than to say, this is only the half of it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One piece of advice from me to you: Do not vaccuum rat poop. It does gross things to the body.
Rat Saga, Part 4....and the last entry before going on a much needed vacation

Sadly, since I last wrote little has changed. Rat bastard still rules over my bedroom until he dies the death of a poisoned rat. For the past week, I have been sleeping at either my brother's house or in my roomate's room (while he stays elsewhere because he thinks our house is gross). I periodically venture into my bedroom with some sort of blunt, heavy object to grab a necessary item, staying for as little time as possible. The smell is becoming a bit unbearable. Yesterday, my roommate decided we should do a progress check and what we found was truly disturbing, causing my sense of humor about the whole thing to wane. Actually, let's be honest...I have never had a sense of humor about the whole thing. I simply try to present the situation in a humorous manner to convince myself that all will be okay in the end.

Anyway, my bedroom is literally covered in rat poop. Some of you are, perhaps, imagining a little pellet here, and another there. Well, this image would not do Rat bastard justice. This rat poops in piles, particularly enjoying sites under my bed, behind my desk, in my closet and next to my TV. It has chewed some of my clothes, possibly burrowed in some of my things and nibbled on my book pages. Right now, my room is a rat infested, poop-filled space that bears little resemblance to my former sanctuary.

People keep telling me to be patient and just let the rat poison do its thing. While I understand that freaking out does little to assist the situation, I also understand that all my things are being ruined. If these objects were just clothes or linens, I may feel differently, but this rat is destroying my precious books and my valued space. From now on, as long as I live in this apartment, I will be fearful of another rat coming to visit. My space has been tainted and made foul by significant amounts of rat shit and I am supposed to be patient? With all the technology we have in the world, with all the advances, we have no other way to get rid of rats than to wait it out. I think that sucks. My nerves are frayed, my temper is just barely contained below the surface and my patience with people has worn thin.

While I am excited about this vacation, my leaving town means nothing can happen with the rat traps until I return on Monday. As I enjoy some fun in the sun, a rat will either be destroying more things or a rat carcass will be smelling up my space. The exterminator said," I don't mean to scare you, but the rat has probably burrowed into one of your bins or drawers. We will probably find the body in one of those." My vacation means that the rat has five more days to either rot, chew or poop all over my things. On Tuesday, I get to go in with the exterminator and the cleaners, search for the rat and then take my things out of the room. Everything I own will need to be cleaned and disinfected. The damage to my books and clothing will have to be assessed and then, I am to return to life as it was before. Somehow, I don't think it will be that easy. I am angry, grossed out, frightened and tired. And while I try to keep laughing about this whole thing, the smell I encountered upon entering my room this morning may have put any attempts at humor to rest.....for now.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Rat Saga, Part 3

Rat bastard now has full reign over my bedroom. He resides somewhere within those four walls, remaining elusive to all who seek him. Poop and plaster can be found anywhere from under my bed to on my TV stand, yet Rat bastard himself has yet to be spotted. Yesterday, all the exit routes from my room were plastered shut. My bed was overturned and my closet cleared, but the rat(s) linger still. My room is now a rat haven where they eat the bottoms my dresses, pages in books, etc.

Last night, in attempt to get a much needed full night's sleep, I crashed on my couch in the living room. Rat bastard thwarted me again when he began digging furiously in my room, scratching loudly enough for all to hear (except my roommate, of course). At 3AM, I woke to his feet working furiously, contemplated finding a hoe and ending the hostage negotiations (my bedroom being the hostage). The thought of walking in my room, killing a rat and going back to sleep somehow did not sit right with me. First of all, what if I missed? Then I would have a pissed off rat running around my room and who knows what vengeful things he would do. Secondly, what if I hit him but did not kill him? Then I would have a pissed off injured rat running around my room wreaking havoc and bleeding everywhere. Thirdly, what if I did kill him? Then I would have a rat carcass in my bedroom at 3AM and I would have to clean it up....at 3AM. I also feel that if I am the one to kill Rat bastard in my bedroom, he will haunt me as long as I live in that space. Then I philosophized about whether or not rats have souls and if they could actually haunt me forever more. Needless to say, that good night's sleep so sorely need eluded me again. I now sit pissed off and loopy telling my story.

Today, an exterminator will set traps in my room to catch Rat bastard and his friends. For the next few days, rats will be perishing in my room on my things. Apparently, removing my belongings from the space will cause the rats to burrow and we won't be able to properly catch them. My things are truly rat bait. So those souls may haunt me still! Great!

Obviously, I will not be staying in my room for a while and will be sterilizing everything I own before I sleep there again. For now, I wait for the systematic decimation of Rat bastard and his crew, hoping that one day soon I will have a good, fear-free, restful evening where scratching and furry presences will no longer plague my dreams--and my bed.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Rat Saga: Part 2

Rat bastards! This would be my new term of endearment for the furry-except-for-the-tail varmints that reside in my apartment. Yesterday, the exterminator and contractors came to get rid of the rats and seal all points of entry. Last night, I finally fell asleep, despite the scratching sounds above me. I had faith that the rats no longer had a way into my apartment and, more importantly, into my bedroom. In the wee hours of the morning, I heard a new scratching in wall by the head of my bed. Pushing through my drowsy state, I realized the rat bastards were just inside the wall with a thin layer of sheet rock separating them from me. I called upon my newfound expertise in thwarting rat invaders and turned on the light next to my bed. Apparently, rats are not fans of light. The scratching stopped.

At 6:30 this morning, the saga took a new and ugly turn. As the sun rose, I decided I could afford to turn off my lamp and hopefully get some much needed sleep without a light in my eyes. Within one minute the scratching began again, louder this time. One minute after that, a lovely black rat struts to the head of my bed on my heater board. It looks me right in the eye and continues to strut behind my bookcase and under my bed. That's right! I now have a rat under my bed at 6:30 on Sunday morning.

Last time I encountered a rat, I screamed and threw things. This time, I was not scared--I was pissed. Not only had the exterminators not exterminated all of the rats, but the contractor clearly missed a spot. And, on top of that, the rats spent the day brainstorming how to traumatize the party pooper. This morning, there were no dainty screams. This time, the rats heard, in full detail, what exactly I thought of them--while standing on my bed, of course. Then, I heard the damn thing rustling underneath my bed. I was alone in my room with a rat--or two-- at 6:30 in the morning. Clearly, the rat had won this battle. No way in hell was I going rustling through my things to find the rat bastard. I conceded, grabbed my computer and left my room.

As I sat down on my couch, the realization that I had a rat in my room finally struck home and I cried. Then, I realized I had a rat in my room, and I laughed. With the special skill that women seem to posses, I sat on my couch laughing and crying simultaneously and, of course, I called my mom.

Now my project is to go through my room, lifting my futon and opening drawers to find the rat and the entry point. This afternoon, two lovely Honduran men who speak very little English will help me rifle through my room, moving furniture and emptying bags, tryinig to find the hiding rat. If we find it, we shoot to kill. Yes, you read that correctly. We are under strict orders to kill any rat we find. And, when I say we, that does mean that I am expected to help in the finding and eliminating of the rat that has set up shop under my bed. Watch out, varmints! I don't give a rat's ass if you are a mom, cousin or generally nice guy, you are dead. You infiltrated my sanctuary, and now you pay! As I write this, the insolent creatures have slid down the wall into my closet. Great!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Last night, St. Patrick's Eve, I ventured out into the bar scene with trepidation. It had been a while, a very long while actually, since I went out to dance, play and meet people. With my job eating up most hours of each day, I have relied on old (but wonderful) friends, my brother and the internet to sate my need for social interaction. Most of my friends live a distance away so those interactions involve holding a phone to my ear. My brother is wonderful but medical school is even more demanding than my job. The internet thing has yielded some okay dates but nothing worth pursuing. I have ended the online dating thing as it was useless to me. Over time, I have become frustrated by my inability to meet new people "the normal" way--face to face. Without ultimate, I no longer have a ready made peer group and often wonder where the interesting people around my age hide. While one night onto town will not and has not revitalized my social life, it made me hopeful that some fun, interesting people do exist in my city. With the reassurance of their existence, I feel energized and ready to find them. Needless to say, this night out was important for both body and soul. I was pleasantly surprised!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Rats! In this case, not a common expression of frustration, but instead the name of the rodents freeloading in my apartment. That's right! Those disease-ridden, hairless tailed, sneaky, food-ruining varmints have taken up residence in my walls and are rapidly expanding to the areas within.

Last night, my roommate and I sat watching TV (NCAA basketball, of course) when we heard the scratches and pitter-patter of little feet in the apartment above. While we were both a bit disturbed by the sounds, knowing they were made by some unwelcome beasts, we felt relieved because they were upstairs--not watching TV with us. This was soon to change!

At around one o'clock this morning, I got up to go to the bathroom and unwittingly disrupted a disco party hosted by our rat neighbors in our kitchen. They were partying under our kitchen table and by my bedroom door, having a grand old time. Luckily, my presence had them scattering as if the police had arrived at an underage drinking party. I am sure my loud screams of horror may also have inspired their hasty retreat. Upon seeing the hairless tails scuttling to safety, I did what any good woman does--I screamed bloody murder and jumped on top of my bed, clutching my chest the calm my racing heart. This incident was exacerbated by the fact that I had to pee quite badly--the reason I rose from bed in the first place--and therefore, I needed to leave the safety of my bed to utilize the loo. What if the little bastards came back after I retreated to my room? What if there was one waiting for me in the toilet (story to follow)? Decision time loomed--to pee or not to pee, that is the question. I chose to pee, because, for those of you who know me, there was never a doubt as my bladder wins every time. My brilliant plan was to turn on my light to scare these large buggers, throw a few pairs of shoes into the kitchen to hit any remaining critters while running Rambo-style into the bathroom. Slamming the door, I quickly scanned the bathroom to make sure no other rats were present, lifted the toilet seat with my toe to make sure it was not full of rats and finally relieved myself in a squatting position in case any decided to make a surprise return. My relief was short-lived, however, when I realized I would have to get back to my room and all of my ammo was spread on the kitchen floor. I ran for it, slammed my door and jumped into bed with my face covered in sweat, my heart beating wildly, and my skin twitching at any unusual (or usual) sensations. Needless to say, sleepiness had also made a hasty retreat and continued to elude me until the wee hours of the morning. Where was my roommate through all of this commotion? Sleeping peacefully in his room, apparently unaffected by the scratching, thudding, screaming, running and slamming happening one thin wall away. Reassuring, isn't it?

Well, the story is not yet over. This morning, I awaken, disgruntled and bemused, to a cheerful," Good morning, Roomie! Sleep okay?" "Ha!" I answered and proceeded to tell the tale, or should I say tails, of the evening's events. He just smiled and said we should call the landlord. While this is true, and I am sure my anxiety will do nothing to fix the problem, his calm, cool and collected appearance this morning irked me. When I read his IM away message, I knew why. It said," The good news is that the rats seem to prefer [her] side of the apartment..." Great, so now the rats love my side of the apartment, want to hang out with me and possibly give me the Bubonic Plague. While I am flattered that they clearly know who the cooler roommate is, I would prefer the rats take their Ricketts and kindly leave me alone.

Sometimes, when I develop a fear of something I research the scary thing to make it less frightening. Over the years, I have found this to be a healthy and helpful way to deal with anxiety. Today, this usually good plan did nothing to appease my anxiety, instead it fueled my already frenzied state. Here are some of the interesting, and in no way comforting things I learned about rats.

Rats are smart, sneaky rodents that infiltrate a home and then mate like crazy. They live in your walls, cabinets, plumbing, compost heaps and many other opportune locations. Despite their larger size, rats can squeeze through tiny holes and under doors. While partaking of your various groceries and grains, rats break the rule of shitting where you eat and instead, shit all over where they eat and what you eat. In doing so, they spread good cheer, Ricketts, Salmonella, and of course, that pesky plague. When not eating your food, rats like to nibble on your electrical cords or fingers and use your plumbing for a water-park. Sometimes, rats even cause electrical fires and massive infections from their handy work! Man, are they good or what?!

My favorite of their tricks is the rat-in-the-toilet trick. I had never heard of this until a good friend of mine was paid an unexpected visit while she relieved her bowels. This usually pleasurable bathroom experience was cut short by a splash in the toilet not of her doing. With quick reflexes, she turned just in time to see a hairless tail swish down the drain. Apparently, this rat, or a fellow flume rider, appeared in her neighbor’s apartment later that same day. His experience was similar to mine, though he was dealing with a wet rat straight from the toilet and he killed it.

What is the moral of this story? Make sure you keep your toilet lid closed and do check before you sit. You never know what toothy, disease carrying creature could be waiting for you! Oh, one more thing, rats only bite 15,000 people and cause thousands of illnesses a year so no need for concern. After all, the worst they can do is single-handedly wipe out half of Europe.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Yet again, I am sitting at work with nothing to do, knowing deep inside that this is the calm before the storm. With this job, I work, work, work my fingers to the bone and then wait to be worked to the bone again. I would enjoy the down time if I had a say in how I spent it, but instead I just sit bored at work looking dreamily out the window, surfing vacation sites on the web and thinking of all I would do if I had the day to myself. Today, I have decided to write my blog and unload some things I have been pondering the past couple of days.

As we drove into work yesterday, my roommate/co-worker asked," Do you ever feel like we do the same thing everyday?" In the melancholic silence that followed, I imagined myself running on a big metal wheel in a cage of sawdust, pooping near my food bowl. Then I contemplated jumping from the moving vehicle. Shortly after, we passed three kids at their bus stop--the same three kids we see everyday standing at their bus stop. I waved. They looked at me funny. So much for shaking up the routine.

In January, I moved in with a guy--just a guy, not a lover or boyfriend or anything. Since that move, I have contemplated what I like so much about living with guys--not lovers or boyfriends. Over time, the advantages of a male roommate have become clear.

Firstly, the apartment is clean-ish, but there is no pressure to keep the place spotless. While we both clean up our dishes and wipe up our messes, it is acceptable to leave a cup on the counter overnight or drape a coat over a chair for a while. Well, let me just say that I leave my cup on the counter and drape a coat of a chair overnight--my roommate is actually quite neat. He calls the momentary lapses in cleanliness my "grace period."

Secondly, I feel absolutely no pressure to look nice in my apartment. Of course I use some discretion in my home fashion choices, but overall, lounging in sweatpants, a t-shirt and no make-up is not a big deal. Why? Because he is not competing with me--he does not need to out-dress me or be prettier than me or criticize me to make him feel better. He just doesn't care! And, if I do ever have a boy over, he won't try to seduce him! A nice perk!

Thirdly, I can watch sports whenever I want. I will never catch flack for shutting myself in my room and watching basketball all afternoon. That said, I actually never catch flack for shutting myself in my room period. Certainly, my roommate and I enjoy each other's company, frequently occupying our side by side "his and her man chairs," cheering for Donald Trump firing his latest victim or whincing for the next American fallen Idol--but there is also an understanding that needing time alone is okay too. No one's feelings are injured or ego bruised when I choose to curl up with a book in my bed over watching a movie with him. Oh, the joys of drama-less living!

Lastly, my culinary ego is stroked on a nightly basis. My roommate is adept at making pasta, sandwiches and sausages--that is about it! Of course I encourage him to branch out and try following a recipe, but he chooses to stick to familiar territory. I, on the other hand, am frequently experimenting with my own combinations or a new recipe creating anything from curry to brown bread to chicken parmesan. All of my creations, whether sweet or savory, are hailed with praises such as: "God, that smells so good!" Or, "That looks delicious. May I please have bite! Oh man, that is good!" Whether he compliments to earn a free meal or he genuinely likes my comestible creations, this nightly ego stroking does a body good.

After discussing these pros with my roommate, he has asked me to write about the cons of living with a male roommate. In the interest of preserving my happy home, and respecting the privacy of all those involved--I plead the fifth.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I just wrote a great entry, if I do say so myself, and with the click of a button, it was gone! I am so frustrated, I could cry! Oddly enough, it was all about the angstiness of the late twenties and here I am, angsty over the loss of my entry. Anyway, enough whining! Have a good one!