A flick of the wrist…
So I haven’t updated this blog in a few days longer than my usual dalliance, I know, and I’m sorry if anybody is reading this regularly. In the future I’ll try my damnedest to keep it more regular. At least I have a good excuse, and not that I was camping out for an Ugly Casanova show or got a bad haircut.
When I first moved to Portland I lived with my boyfriend, another half-Jew/only child/writer with particular tastes and a generally spoiled nature. Basically I’m dating a bald version of myself who is a better skateboarder and has fewer tattoos. Needless to say, living with him in a single room that first two weeks was like reenacting a scene from The Shining, only with more menstruation and cursing. I moved into the first place I looked at, which was a large room in the upstairs section of a house south of Powell.
For those of you not familiar with Portland’s quirky geography, there are a few basics that I‘ve learned since my arrival: Southeast is where the whitest of the white hipsters play and live, there are many tattoos and a lot of vintage duds and the attitude of apathy rules. Also, there are many, many vegans. North Portland is more racially diverse and is likely to be wholly gentrified by the time I finish typing this sentence. It’s like a different world up there, in a good way. Northwest and Southwest I have no idea what they’re about but I assume that one houses the Sharks and the other is the home of the Jets. South of Powell in Southeast, however, is what happens when a meth lab, a Western Union, and the dregs of American industry get drunk off of wine coolers and decide to light the cat on fire. It is not high-class. It is dangerous in that somewhat subversive way. I would walk home and would watch the litter at the side of the road change from arcade trash from the Avalon, empty packs of American Spirits, and the fliers for the new Band of Horses release to the used condoms, broken glass, and crushed cartons of French fries that were left behind by the SouPow ilk.
My roommate was a few years younger than me and perpetually looked at me with a mixture of awe and fear. (Mind you, this was back when I was still drinking, so the fear part was somewhat justified.) He worked as a waiter at a douchebag filled pub, and had the hopes of recording an album with his band. We had no light in the bathroom, no internet, and a broken TV with rabbit ear antennas that got channels “sorta 49” and “almost 47.” There were no locks on any of the doors. My roommate’s car was broken into and he had his radio stolen three times. One day the dog ran off and nobody knew for hours because the backdoor was always swinging open. One of the band members, a twenty-one year old ex-Mormon who had severe diabetes, lived in the basement next to where the washer and dryer were kept. He had to give himself daily insulin injections so the entire lower level of the house looked like a sequel to Trainspotting, only starring the members of the band Hanson. It was not quaint or charming. Other than my camaraderie with the band, and the way that my roommate would jump to do nearly anything that I asked (buy a whiteboard where I could write drunken notes, call the landlord to try yet again to get the bathroom wiring fixed, buy soda, give me a ride to a house party he wasn’t invited to, check to make sure the kid in the basement was still breathing, buy more soda) I wanted to move. My friends and previous job were far away, it was winter and the sort of depression that hangs over that general area of town is only heightened by the gray pallor of the Portland rainy season sky. I wanted a place where I could write and piss under Tungsten. I was hoping for a home, not a dorm.
A friend of mine asked if I wanted to move into his house, located in the heart of hipsterville in Southeast, overlooking several bastions of Americana – the all-night drugstore, a gas station, the library. The house was inhabited by my friend and two other men, both of whom I knew peripherally from my favorite vegan restaurant and bar where they work. It’s hard to explain the interconnectedness of the house and its landlord, its residents, and the owners of the vegan joints but suffice it to say, I was about to become the adopted kid sister to a bunch of guys that I thought were maybe the coolest people I’ve ever met. And I do mean cool in that high-school way; these are guys who are covered from head-to-toe with ink, who fix up classic cars on the weekend, who keep skateboards, guitars, and rusted tools on the walls as decoration. A few of them speak with a Southern drawl. They were friends in high-school. All of them have the name of the bar tattooed on their body, a sign of brotherhood and badassery that I can barely fathom.
Now, this slate gray house isn’t a palace, mind you. It might be the living, moving, breathing equivalent of Suicide Girls for the female sect but it ain’t pretty. There’s no furniture in the living room, we have a hot plate instead of a kitchen, and my ceiling is unfinished, with watermarks that seem to indicate where someone’s hiding the bodies. There’s the grill to a car and an organ (of the musical variety) on my front porch. Up until a few days ago the lawn was so overgrown with weeds that the mini-greyhound who lives with us was rendered invisible when she scampered about taking a pee.
I live in a dude ranch.
But I like it. All three of the guys I live with are like characters out of the graphic novel-esque adulthood I imagined for myself as a sophomore at Friends Academy. I sometimes spend my nights watching European car racing with one of the guys and then spend the morning discussing the merits of different strippers and porn stars with another. My boyfriend gets along with them. And the kind of squalor we live in doesn’t require a feminine touch. They piss with the door open. It’s home.
When I unpacked I took the hall closet as my own. There was nothing in it and it was the closest storage area to my room, even though it was “common space.” I threw my shit in it, the same way I always do, a tangled clump of clothing and a few random items like a duffel bag and a bike lock mixed in. Although both my room and my closet did not have a lock, and I had heard the story about how a bike had been stolen out of the house when two of the three roommates were home, I felt safe. I don’t have anything of value at this point in my life, so unless some meandering meth head is going to shove my cellphone charger, my boyfriend, or my thesaurus into his pockets, I didn’t feel that the safety of my stuff was compromised at all. Besides, these guys are large and scary looking. The kind of men mothers on suburban Long Island have nightmares about their daughters marrying. The kind of guys Bravo and A&E film reality shows about in order to market rough-and-tough testosterone to those who have none.
A few days into my residence here I had to get dressed up for something, probably a failed job interview. I donned my favorite girlie outfit of skirt-ripped-up-shirt-and-fishnets and went to leave. That’s when I saw the dried vanilla frosting on my tights. And then my skirt. And my shirt.
I was in a conversation with the original friend who led me to this house when I noticed it. I speculated that it was either confection or a human secretion of the male variety. He concurred.
“It’s not me,” he said.
I was grossed out but vowed to be more vigilant with my laundry. It wasn’t like me to, um, overlook that kind of thing. I might be more like a boy than a girl but I still have basic hygienic concerns and don’t like sauntering around wearing a stained outfit, let alone one stained with DNA of an unknown origin.
I told my boyfriend and laughed about it. Though we collectively couldn’t remember the situation or circumstances that would have led to this sort of carelessness, it was funny to think that we were still juvenile or love-struck enough to have souvenirs. I washed every article of clothing I owned and was meticulous about where stuff-covered-stuff went. In my OCD I developed a foolproof system. These towels are for that and they go here. Always.
So the other day when I found a pair of my tights at the bottom of my closet covered in spunk I was not amused. (Also, we were out of detergent, the purchasing of which is not my responsibility.) I told my boyfriend. I told my girlfriends. I was more cranky about it than uncomfortable. They are my fucking tights and it’s gross. The washer and dryer are in the basement. I don’t like having to walk up and down two flights of stairs. Etc.
The boyfriend suddenly realized that this could potentially be the sign of something really fucked up, and since he lives too far from me to skateboard over and knock in some teeth if anybody did anything to me in Southeast, he started to freak out. I, of course, am the type of girl who doesn’t worry about this sort of shit being a threat to my safety. Like I said, I just find it gross, not unlike finding a snotty used tissue in my closet. I’m the kind of girl who associates more with men than women, I was predominately a dyke for ten years or so, and I do not take well to men trying to protect me. The boyfriend and I started fighting about it. This is while we’re dealing with a sudden (and welcome) influx of new freelance clients, the investment in our first office space, and the logistics of adding me to his company. Fighting about man-mayonnaise while discussing deadlines isn’t productive or fun. It’s been a rough week.
I used two pink push-pins and put up a sign on my closet door that reads DON’T SPUNK IN MY STUFF. When asked why the sign was there by one of the guys I replied that I hadn’t set that parameter and just wanted to make it clear. I can’t believe that it’s one of them – I don’t believe that it’s one of them, I can’t bring myself to – but just in case it is one of my roommates and not the random dictionary stealing meth head I figured I’d cover all of my bases. And keep my tights in a Ziploc bag.
A few of my friends told me to move, I replied that I can’t deal with anymore upheaval, financial or otherwise, right now. Besides, I honestly don’t feel threatened, which maybe I’ll regret in the future, but I doubt it. My boyfriend offered to have me stay with him but since the last time we shacked up nearly resulted in one of those cage match Ultimate Fighting specials I think I’ll take the risk and just buy an extra bottle of Tide and try not to think about the other implications of the wash setting Large Load.
So sorry for the “dog ate my homework” post as to why Jerk Ethic has appeared to be devoid of work ethic. I’ve been busy – with actual work and stuff – so instead of writing about cum-covered sluts I’ve been one. Also, one of the guys forgot to pay the internet bill so I’ve been offline at home. But I swear I’ll write about writing about sex…or write about working with someone who seems like they’re going to kick ass in your name one minute and simply kick your ass the next…or writing about job interviews in vintage convertible Triumph Spitfires…on a more regular basis, as soon as the internet is back up and I’ve finished doing laundry.
Postscript: Since typing this out I’ve discovered that my room has ants. Anybody looking for a roommate?