Cellmate

an open letter to d’angelo

First, things to go read before you come back here:

The online diaries article is up at the Austin Chronicle. Read about journalling, me, greg, gwen, and the very important Eight. It’s a well-written article, and you can hardly tell that Taylor had just made my eye swell from his fur right before the picture was taken.

That’s a joke. My eye is totally swollen.

New Webhead: I’m proud of my TechnoMommy.

Are you back? Good.

Chuy reminded me through the VMA discussion board about a story I’ve never told.

My worst roommate ever.

Dear D’Angelo,

I’m sorry I’ve been bashing you lately for your VMA nominations. I’m sure you’re quite deserving. I hate you for something you couldn’t possibly control. I lived with a woman who loved you and I hate all things that she’s ever been associated with. Because of her I hate reggae, pull-out couches, cheesecake and green cars. They did nothing wrong to me personally, just as you’ve never done me any harm. But I hate all of you. I hope this letter helps you to understand.

First of all, I had a roommate planned. I was all set to move out of the dorms for the first time in my life, and get a real apartment with my own shower and my own kitchen, where I didn’t have a curfew and I could talk on the phone anywhere in the house and have people over and not worry too much about noise or quiet hours and I could park right outside and all of the wonderful things that you think are going to happen when you’re tired of living in the dorm.

But about two months before I was set to move into my own place, my current roommate and I had a falling out. Of course, it was over a boy, as that’s how almost all of my girlfriend relationships have ended. We decided that we weren’t going to be able to live together, and pretty much never saw each other again after that. I do wonder how she’s doing these days…

In any event, I listened to one of my friends who said, “I know this girl, she’s real cool and looking for a roommate. She can’t find anyone and totally needs someone to live with her. She has a place picked out already and everything.”

My first clue should have been that she already had an apartment in Austin set (we’re at 99% capacity at all times). My second clue should have been that it sounds like she did have a roommate who ditched her. My third clue should have been that the friend who was telling me about how cool she would be as a roommate lived with three other boys in a two bedroom apartment. The kitchen was used as a giant trash can, and the trash would pile up four feet high before they’d do anything about it. There were holes in every wall shaped like a boy who crashed into them a little too hard after a party. They slept on mattresses that were on the ground and their living room consisted of five couches and a Sega Genesis. Their idea of “living fancy” was when I’d make them all Mac and Cheese.

But I was very young and very anxious to not move home for another summer, and I decided to live with her.

For the purposes of this story, we shall just call her SoulSucker.

I had more flaming warnings, but I continued to ignore them. I met her two weeks before we were to move in together. She was a lot of fun. She had a loud laugh, and was always willing to get you another beer. I didn’t really drink at the time, but she was always the life of the party. She was fun and boisterous and she thought I was cool.

On the day we were to move in I called her to get her half of the rent money and deposit. She said that her paycheck was late, and asked if I’d cover for a day or two. Luckily I had just cashed my savings bonds from when I was a baby (Thanks, GG and Uncle!). I paid all of the bills, paid for setting up the electricity, phone and cable, and just put the electricity bill in her name.

I had moved all of my things in and was setting stuff up quite nicely. I was proud of my little apartment.

And then… she walked in.

She had two friends. They christened the apartment with a joint, right after I had asked if we could not smoke in the apartment because of my asthma. They brought in a day bed, but they couldn’t fit it in the bedroom. They placed it against the dining room wall and said they’d take it apart later.

That bed frame was up against that living room wall for the entire twelve months. Once she put a sheet over it to decorate. How thoughtful.

Next was the couch. Let me tell you words you never want to hear before a new piece of furniture enters your home: “Dude! You are gonna love my Roseanne couch. You can totally see DJ just hanging out on it!”

It looked exactly like the couch on Roseanne. She even had an afghan over the top.

I ignored the Blues Traveler poster. I ignored the six foot Einstein poster on the kitchen wall. I almost ignored the three foot dinosaur diorama over the sliding glass door. But two pieces of wall art I still shiver over.

One was a painted rooster on a piece of wood.

The other was a dolphin kite with twenty foot tails. It looked like a Phish concert puked in my living room.

I dealt with the smoking, the drugs, the constant loud music. I dealt with the sound of Bob Marley signaling ten strangers in my living room smoking pot and breaking my glasses. I dealt with the fact that she kept strange hours, and was never very quiet.

But then things got very very bad.

There were always people over at the house. Sometimes she didn’t know them, and they’d crash on the couch when she wasn’t home. One made long-distance calls to Canada until I showed up. Once at four in the morning a very scary man with a case of beer asked if SoulSucker was home. When I said she wasn’t, but there was some guy on the couch, he said I shouldn’t worry about “Shark” because he’s an okay guy “now that he’s not on the crack.”

She’d have maybe fifty people over at three in the morning on a tuesday. I went to school. She didn’t really. In the morning they’d watch Tupac videos and point out their babies’ daddies. They weren’t kidding around.

She ate all of my food. She drank any beverage I had. She ruined parties by bringing her friends over and they’d drink our stuff.

We almost got evicted six times. She hocked her television three times and wrecked her car twice.

She started swiping things from me. At first I wasn’t sure, but one day she came home wearing my Porno For Pyros t-shirt. Do you know anyone with a Porno For Pyros t-shirt? She told me that she just happened to have the same shirt. I showed her the pen mark I had made on the logo so that my sister and I could tell our shirts apart. She said it was a coincidence.

I started going through her room when she wasn’t home. I found my socks. I found my t-shirts. I found shorts.

Y’all, I found my panties once.

She once took twenty CDs when I went home for Thanksgiving. She had made marks in the CD holder next to the ones she had removed so that she knew where to put them back. She had forgotten, and told me that she didn’t have the CDs. She told me that someone must have broken in, put little marks where the CDs were so I knew which ones were stolen, and then walked out.

The next morning she asked me to get her some coffee. When I walked back in the room the CDs were on the table. She said that I must not have looked hard enough, because they had been there the whole time.

My friends would often spend the night because they were afraid of me being there alone.

Sometimes she’d be gone for days. One night at four in the morning she called me from jail and asked me to bail her out. She said that she didn’t even know what she was in there for, that they had just arrested her “for nothing.” I offered to call her mom. She said that her she couldn’t call her parents and she didn’t want me to tell them.

Her parents would smoke out with her in the living room and discuss the broken television.

When she hocked her third television, we started using this old one my parents gave me. The tube eventually blew and the screen would be green and shaped like an hourglass. The picture would flip. She’d still watch it anyway.

I worked graveyard shift as a night auditor for a hotel that summer. When I’d come home in the morning she’d have turned down the air conditioning in a drunken haze, and hit it all the way to 58. The windows would be fogged up and the room was frigid. I started putting Scotch Tape on the a/c monitor so that she could hit it as hard as she wanted, but it’d never go past 76. She’d rip the tape when I wasn’t home.

When she used all of my shampoo, Rose suggested I fill the next bottle with Nair. I didn’t do it. I still regret that.

When she drank all of Jeff’s Southern Comfort (a 21st birthday present), Jeff wanted to kill her with a butter knife.

She bought a sink cow. This was a cow head that fit over the faucet. Whenever you ran the water in the kitchen it would shout, “MOOOOOOOO! MOOOOOOO! MOOOOOOO!”

Y’all, that’s the trashiest thing ever. Ever.

She’d make food at four in the morning with all of my food and then throw it away.

She smoked all of my cigarettes.

She’d bring home cats and leave them at the apartment because she knew I’d break down and take care of them. After seeing them eat her moldy cheese and have to pee in a box with shredded mail for a day, I’d always go out and buy food and litter. The cats would go into heat and drive me up a fucking wall.

I taught one of them to attack her whenever she approached my room. One night I was sitting in my room studying when I heard her say in the hall, “Pam? Can I borrow— OW! FUCK! OW!”

It was the greatest moment of my life.

She went to jail a couple of times, but I never bailed her out.

The electric company called to inform us that they were shutting off the power. I had paid her my share of electricity for three months. She had kept the cash. We owed the electric company $500. WE, because she had never paid one bill all summer when she slept in 58 degree winterland.

She never paid me back for any bill I ever paid. I left that house owing her $750, and it still didn’t cover what she owed me.

I would just start crying some nights, because I thought I was never getting out of there alive.

My boyfriend at the time moved in with me, because he didn’t feel safe with me alone in that house. She once locked me out and was passed out. I knocked on the door, banged on the door, and rested my head on the car horn for an hour and a half before she let me in. That was in the middle of winter.

Oh, and in the winter? She had to have the thermostat set at 93 and walk around in tank tops.

Fuck.

I went to the apartment complex after the third eviction notice and begged them to kick her out. They had confiscated my television since she hadn’t paid her half of rent. They said that they couldn’t kick her out unless I had another roommate lined up. I didn’t. I asked for them to move me somewhere else. They said that would break the lease. I tried to get her busted for pot. They said that if they busted for pot, they’d have no tenants.

I cried every day.

One time I heard her friends talking about making crank in my bathtub.

I tried to throw a party once and it got busted by five cop cars. Five. She’s had people trying to kill each other in the living room and nothing ever happened.

The apartment complex told me that if I bought a deadbolt, they’d install it on my bedroom door. Everything was moved into the bedroom. It looked like a resale shop. A television, VCR, two phones, a bed, dresser, books, CD’s, stereo, a computer, a computer desk, all of my clothes, all of my boyfriend’s clothes, my schoolbooks and projects, scripts, food, drinks, tampons, soap, towels, dishes…

I had moved back into the dorm, trapped in my apartment.

And I had begged her over and over again to stop this psychopathic behavior. I couldn’t deal with the lying. She had given away three of my videotapes. Her best friends would tell me that they would never live with her in a million years.

She told me that she never thinks of a roommate as a person, and more as a distraction. I was the Killer of Fun, as far as she was concerned. She was the Creator of Ulcers to me.

She never improved. She wanted to renew the lease. I told her to find someone else. The night before I moved out to get my own place with my boyfriend the new boy had moved half of his stuff into the dining room (leaning against the day bed).

As I was showing him how to use the deadbolt on the bedroom door, he asked if I knew about the money he had hidden in his stuff. It was for next month’s rent. I said I didn’t know about it. He said the only person that knew was SoulSucker. I told him she probably took it, as she had stolen any amount of money I had ever left lying around.

That’s when he told me that she had already talked him into fronting that month’s rent. She made him pay the entire rent and then stole the rest of his money.

As bad as I felt for him in that moment, a great wave of relief went over me.

I was never going to have to deal with pot smoking, lying, cheating, drunken bitches stealing my shit and telling me that I was making it up ever again. I would never listen to Bob Marley. I wouldn’t have to hear that too too loud laugh, or bust open her door when she locked the phone in her room and went to work. I wouldn’t have to pick up her bong water, or wash her dishes, or take my clothes out of her closet again. I could buy something and pretty much count on it still being in my house the next time I needed it. I would never be afraid to open the front door. I would know who would have keys to my place. There would be no phone calls from jail, from crackheads who wanted to crash before they went back to jail, who showed me their scars from gang fights and gunshots, who asked how much my television was worth before I left for work. I wouldn’t get sick at the thought of spending the weekend at home. I wouldn’t feel sick at the thought of leaving my belongings alone for a weekend. The bills would be paid. The temperature would be regulated. The cats would be fed and clean.

My underwear would be where I left them.

I danced out of that apartment and I’ve never seen her since. A few of my friends bump into her occasionally, but I think that hasn’t happened in a long time. I have no idea what happened to her.

Oh, and the friend who recommended me to her? He’s still apologizing.

I have so much respect for anyone who lives with me now. Honestly, they could spill wine on my new chair, and it still wouldn’t be as bad as those twelve months where I didn’t want to go home or stay away from it for more than an hour.

I still think I could have punched her right in the face and totally gotten away with it. After sobbing on the stand for an hour, I bet the judge would just stop me with tears in her eyes, look over at SoulSucker and shout, “Which part of Hell did you come from you BEAST?”

And then the judge would punch her.

So, that’s why I hate you, D’Angelo.

She’d play your single over and over again while plotting which stuff to steal next. The sound of your name makes me nauseous. I’m sorry.

Yours in eternal revoltion,
Pamie

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