Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Big Black Door

There was a great big black door and I turned the knob, hoping to go outside, but it was locked. I stayed in that room for awhile, wondering what to do, feeling trapped behind this black door. Then it occurred to me that there were other rooms in the house, so I walked around the corner into the next room. I discovered a window, there. The light coming in was so bright and beautiful, I was sure it would be my way out. I pushed and with only a little effort, the window slid open. I crawled through it, and fell to the ground below. The fall hurt a little and I would wake with a bruise, but I didn't care. I could smell the fresh air, the sky was so beautiful, and the world felt more real. I didn't bother getting up for awhile. It was beauty and freedom and I thought it was worth savoring.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Schiller Apartment Shenanigans: Rebekah

This is a story about me being honest about being dishonest, where I didn't know I was being dishonest.

I didn't know Rebekah. I never knew she existed. Obviously someone had lived in apartment number 9, but I never saw her or knew about her. There were always a couple apartments where I didn't see the person living there. For instance, number 1, on my side, we always assumed was a drug dealer. There were always people coming and going, and there was a big, white van outside. But we never saw who lived there.

About Rebekah, apparently my neighbors knew about her. They knew her name. One day, Chef Steve and Jared came to me while I was outside and asked if I wanted to pick through her things. I said, "What? I'm no thief. I'm not going to steal her shit!"

They insisted that she had been evicted, had abandoned the place, the door was unlocked, and all was fair game. It sounded reasonable. This was the type of place where that sort of thing was quite likely.

There was not much furniture, the place was already pretty picked out, as though what they said was indeed true.

I walked in, and at first glance, it kind of looked like a treasure trove. Chef Steve and Jared were all about me finding anything I liked, since I was a girl, and it was a girl's place. I went through everything, carefully and methodically. I was a picky collector of special things at the time, and therefor didn't find much that I liked. I was never big on collecting other people's kitchen things, so I skipped that section. If there was anything of value there, I don't know. I slowly made my way to the bedroom, where the two men opened the closet. She had a huge collection of fur coats. It seemed that she was larger than me, so, while I liked a lot of them, they were huge on me. I found one coat that seemed to fit me reasonably. It still felt absurd, wearing it, but I took it. 

Then we came out to the living room where there was a desk. I had just started painting and in the desk, I found a wicker basket in the shape of a small travel suitcase. The latch was quite precarious and didn't make sense to me, but there was a gold mine of oil paints in it, and those are quite expensive. So, I took the basket/box, and I kept it for years, using the paints to no end, before doing away with oil paints and giving it to my sister-in-law, along with all the oil paints I had accrued over the years.

In another drawer, I found a necklace that intrigued me. I took it, as well, and I still have it. It felt very tribal, and I was very into it.

A month later, I learned that Rebekah hadn't abandoned her place. But she had left her door unlocked and hadn't taken anything. I was no thief, but I also wasn't a snitch, especially on myself.

I never wore the fur coat. It seemed too over the top to me. However, I no longer have it and don't remember what I did with it.

I'm sorry to Rebekah, because, I was naive and didn't know exactly what I was doing. But, I also feel that I took as little as I could, and only what I thought I could use.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Schiller Apartment Shenanigans: Creepy Karl

To be honest, I had no thoughts about him at first. But one day, for some reason, I chose to watch Oporah, an episode where George Clooney was a guest, and for some reason I saw an uncanny resemblance to Karl.

Karl was an exceptionally kind man, who would go out of his way to help anyone in great need. 

Before you go out searching for McDreamy, here, keep in mind that I felt that there was something just not right about this man. Something about him screamed "creepy" to me. He began living with Monique at one time, and he mentioned how much he just loved the extra skin to be had. I had no opinion to give on the subject, but that is beside the point.

Karl really went out of his way to help me, quite often, and he expected so little in return. For some reason, I was ever waiting for that other shoe to drop. He gave so many favors, that I wondered when it would happen that he'd call all of those favors in for a huge request that I wasn't able to offer. Really, it was just too grand, what he'd do for a person.

One day, I made an exceedingly bad decision, which led to me leaving my car in an unknown driveway, out of gas. I had the money, but I simply forgot to refill the tank. It was an hour which I can only refer to as "after closing time." Actually, it was just before such time, and I thought for certain that I would be able to find a gas can at a local gas station, and fix my situation quickly. Lucky as I was to find a station that was open at such an hour, I was informed by the attendant that they didn't provide them. How absurd is that? I thought it was incredibly so, and my only option I could foresee was to leave my car in the driveway where I had left it and come get it in the morning.

I went to a nearby bar, where I figured I could call a cab, and it turned out it was closing time, and cabs were wanted everywhere. Therefor, it was very hard to get a taxi to come by. I waited along with a few other people. We were all willing to share any cab we could get, but none would come. It was odd, indeed, but for some reason, it just didn't happen. One of the people waiting, called a friend who was willing to take us all home. It was exceedingly kind of the person. I know I had my keys on me at the time, but I later realized that I must have left them in this person's car, because in the morning, I couldn't find them. How I found my way into my apartment, I'll never know, since I never found them thereafter.

I had to work at 11:00 am, and I spent the majority of my morning figuring out how to get my car back. I started with a taxi cab. I took it to where I had left my car, and sure enough, it had been towed. So, I took the cab back home, and what a waste of money that had been.

So, at home, I had no idea who to call to figure out where to find my car. My neighbor, Karl, had the answer, and even leant his phone, at which time I went through my phonebook to find the right few numbers, and eventually, I figured out where my car was and how much it would cost to get it back.

What a sweet man Karl was that day. In exchange for a simple pack of cigarettes, he was more than happy to drive me around town to get it all figured out. The first stop was the place of work, at which I was due to be in only a couple of hours. I retrieved my paycheck, and happily, it turned out that I had two waiting for me. I know this seems odd, but at the time, I was very good with my money, and had no immediate need for any checks that might have been waiting for me. So, extra happy as I was, Karl proceeded to take me to a cash store (it being a weekend, no banks were open), and I found a way to quickly cash my checks.

Then he took me all the way to the other side of town, where my car had been towed, where I showed them my proof of insurance and paid the fee. But, here is where I discovered that my keys were not, in fact, in my car, where I figured they must have been, and all the tow company could do for me, was tow it out of the lot into the parking lot across the street.

All these issues were just too much for me to deal with. Karl was ever so kind as to drive me back home, but he stopped at the convenience store, where I asked, "Why are we here?" He said that I owed him that pack of cigarettes. So, I bought a pack for him, and happy, he continued back home.

I was due at work, so all I could do was find a way to get to work. So, I took my very first bus ride to work. It was a crazy feeling to me, riding the bus, but I made it there.

While at work, I called my father. He had a spare key to my house and my car, and I asked him if he would get my car. I informed him that I had a can of gas sitting just outside my apartment, but he was kind enough to ignore it and fill the tank himself. I was so happy! Everything worked out so beautifully!

My father brought the car to my work and gave me the spare key, of which I made yet another copy for him.

But, this towing issue created a big problem. A towed car is exceptionally expensive, and all of this mayhem dipped into my rent money. I had my beautiful Mercedes of a car, but I had no money to pay rent. And, here came a huge cascade of not being able to afford anything. Suddenly, I became a person without proper means. It was the first time, and I wasn't accustomed to such a circumstance.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Schiller Apartment Shenanigans: The Zippo

I didn't always keep an entirely tidy home. I was never the tidiest of people, I'll admit. But I did have my moments. It is a fact, however, that it's much easier to keep a clean place when you are the only person making messes.

One day in my life, Chef Steve thought to be an exceptionally kind soul and gave me a Zippo lighter he happened to have. Just before that, I had found a very small Zippo which had eventually run out of fluid. I didn't know anything about lighters and how they required fluid, where to find it, or just how cheap it was to purchase, and especially how to go about refilling a Zippo.

I, for some reason, don't recall the terms of receiving this lighter, but it must have been agreed upon that one day Chef Steve would come calling for it, because eventually he did. I really don't remember this being the case, but I imagine I would have put up a bit of a fight, if this were not the case. The etiquette of gift giving would definitely have been a defense, otherwise.

Eventually the fluid ran out, but this was hardly a large issue. I'm sure I could have eventually figured out that it needed to be refilled and how to do so. But, at some point, I lost the golden Zippo, and had no idea where it was.

At some point, my home was a mess, and I decided to clean it up in a "spring cleaning" fashion. At the end of the day my home was impeccably clean, and I was proud of it. It turned out that the Zippo was found under my bed, and I placed it on my kitchen table, even though I was not able to use it at the time. It sat there, shining, being the only thing worth looking at in my entire home.

Jared, after Krystal had left, decided to visit on just this day when I was proud of my exceptionally clean home. I was happy to have some company, and I treated him to one shot of my stash of vodka, of which I also partook. Yes, just one shot.

I then said, "What the hell, let's go have a good time," and decided to take him to a new favorite dive of mine. Knowing he was nearly 10 years older than me (and he looked it), I didn't think it was an issue, but it turned out he had misplaced his ID at the time. When he ordered his drink, it was understandable that he was denied, not having his ID, but when I ordered mine, I was also denied. She thought I was already intoxicated. Sadly, this was a common occurrence of mine. Having only one eye, at that time my bad eye had a way of making me look quite loopy. I could have just taken it out and explained that this wasn't the case, but that thought didn't occur to me very often, and instead, I would become quite confused by the circumstance.

Since I had Jared with me, I figured we'd just leave and go somewhere else, and we did.

Something incredibly sad and somewhat ironic happened a week later. Vickie, the bartender just mentioned, died a week later from an accident involving a suicide victim jumping from a bridge above a freeway. I happened to be traveling on that freeway when it happened and it took two hours for me to make my way out of the situation. I was on my way towards an appointment to have a new and better eye painted and made. I had to call and reschedule the appointment since it took so long to leave that freeway. Since that particular eye was made, I never again had the issue of bartenders thinking I was drunk when I was in fact sober. It was a strange circumstance, and while she was a bit of a cold, hard kind of lady in general, I still liked her, and I attended her wake soon after. I don't believe Jared ever knew what happened.

After Jared and I were refused at the dive bar and had enjoyed one drink elsewhere, I decided that we should just hit the liquor store, since I was due to replenish my stash, anyway. We walked there since it was somewhat close, and I liked to walk to places when I could. At the time, I had a dog named Tibet, which I took along for the walk, and about seven or eight blocks away, we ran into another dog which we recognized as belonging to a house across the street from our apartment complex.

We knew who the dog belonged to, but he just wouldn't return home. He decided to simply follow us wherever we went. So, Jared took his belt off and used it as a leash for the dog, so we could bring it back home. About ten blocks from home was the liquor store, and I bought my glass bottle of vodka to supply me for the next few months. Jared was kind enough to offer to carry it home for me, but I shouldn't have obliged, because he managed to drop it in the parking lot, and it broke. Not having been a very cheap bottle, I was quite distraught over the situation, and I returned to the liquor store explaining the situation. Since they provided the plastic bag that the bottle broke though, they were ever so kind as to replace the bottle at no charge, warning against carrying the bottle carelessly. I decided to carry the bottle back home myself, and we managed to make it back with two dogs. We returned the labrador back to our neighbor and enjoyed a few drinks at my home.

Strangely, almost as though it were a test of honesty, Chef Steve asked if he could have his Zippo back, just the next day. I had this Zippo in my care for at least three or four months. It was odd that he would just then ask for it back. And, like I said, I don't recall if this was part of the arrangement or not. But, it must have been, because I was more than happy to oblige. I knew where the Zippo was. . . right in the open, on my kitchen table.

When I went to retrieve it, however, it was not where I left it. I couldn't have used it and misplaced it, because it was out of fuel. I never touched it, and the only person who had been in my home since I had found it was Jared. So, I assume that Jared had stolen it. I would never in a million years put it past him. Jared was that kind of man. I believed he did steal it, and still do to this day. But, he denied it when I asked, and all I could say to Chef Steve was that I was positive that Jared must have taken it. I offered to buy him a new one, but he declined the offer. He just wanted the one he gave me. But, goodness! What kind of a person asks for such a thing? They're not that expensive!

The Zippo was never found.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Schiller Apartment Shenanigans: Vampire Van

Sometimes the oddest things happen, and it's interesting to be on the other side of a situation. Almost like an observer, even though you are a participant. Here is an example.

If you recall, Nathan had two vans exactly alike outside his apartment. One day, he told me a story about them…or the first one, anyway.

I don't remember the story exceptionally well, now. It was about an accident which occurred on the Burnside Bridge. Somehow, a horrible, headon collision happened, and Nathan was quite traumatized by the situation. He walked away quite fine, but a young passenger in the other vehicle ended up in the hospital with some serious head trauma. It was a story that haunted him. He held back tears as he told it. 

One evening, I was sitting on my doorstep with a boyfriend I had at the time. This was before Daniel. There was no one else outside, and no doors were open. For some reason, the van that had been in the crash would reflect the street light in such a way that it would look like some kind of stone cold vampire-like creature was sitting in the front seat, glaring at me. If I let it, it would creep me out and make me shudder. I mentioned the vampire in the van to the boyfriend sitting next to me, and he asked about that van. I told him I didn't know about the second one or his apparent attachment to that make and model. 

Yes, I know it was a very personal story, but I chose to tell it. I spoke very quietly about the accident, in hushed tones, yet as soon as I finished the story, Nathan's door opened, and out his door he stepped. As he walked across the parking lot towards us, I began to panic within my mind. Somehow he must have heard me. As soon as I thought of a solution, my mind rested and I was at ease.

I smiled cordially, as Nathan stood there in front of us, smoking his clove cigarette. He looked up into the clouds in his mind, as he was wont to do when he spoke.

"Do you mind if I ask you a question?" He asked.

"Of course!" Was my response.

He asked me, "What were you guys talking about?"

I did think it was quite forward and rude, not to mention, socially unacceptable, but he was right to ask, considering what was said. However, I had already thought of my solution, so I used it, and it worked perfectly.

It so happened that we had only just come from the theater, having watched the movie Butterfly Effect. I mentioned that we were discussing the movie we just watched. I roughly explained the plot to him, in such a way that it sounded just like the story I had told about him. 

I felt very clever, of course. At the end, I threw this in, "Oh, and your van has a creepy vampire in it. Look!"

Nathan showed a sigh of relief, and also a sort of puzzled curiosity. 

What he said had me mystified for years. "I just had the oddest experience. Have you ever overheard a conversation and thought one thing was said, and then discovered it was something completely different?" 

I think I said something like, "I don't think so. Maybe. I don't recall."

Inwardly, my response was, "Yes, Nathan, I know exactly what you mean. You, in fact, did hear correctly, and I just convinced you that you heard differently." 

Yes, I am aware that I behaved poorly on all counts, here. But, this is about what happened, and I make no apologies for my behavior. 

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Schiller Apartment Shenanigans: Taffy

Once, I was sitting on my front step, and Monique was grilling a few links and drinking rum and cokes. She offered me some, and at length another neighbor came by. She seemed to know Monique, and not just as a neighbor, but maybe from some other pastime I wasn't aware of. I think her name was Tammy. Our first conversation is both memorable and vague, at the same time. I remember this instance, but I become quite confused when I try to work out the facts. For some reason I remember her name being unique and yet a familiar word. Yet, when I really think about it, I am certain her name was Tammy—Eureka! In writing this story, I have just this instant remembered her name. And I've been spending days trying to recall it, as I was sure I didn't quite have it right. Her name was Taffy. What a relief. 

Continuing onward, she seemed somewhat older. She would mention how she was getting old so fast, with so many regrets. There seemed to be one that consumed her, but she never spoke of it. Often, you could see her eyes drift off into that regret with her thoughts. But she was rather paradoxical. She looked older than she was, but then she seemed much younger than she looked. You really couldn't put your finger on which was right. 

She was 50, I believe. She did tell me once. Her hair was a beautiful dark brown color, but it was always wild, loose, and unkept. She spoke with a small, timid voice, and she seemed like a sad, tortured, childlike character, trapped inside this aged and used up shell. Miserable and wishing to scare away her memories and her past, she was always on some pill or drink, resulting in a loopy little lady, desperate for something beautiful or happy. She loved friendship, laughter, anything special.

One day, in the very early evening, I invited a crew of friends we had, to come over for a little party I was hosting. I remember the evening well. The sky had become green and unusual for this region. We were certain that a storm of cosmic proportions was on its way, but it never did come.

I had one rule. Everyone brought their own alcohol, and no one touched my private stash of vodka. It was a highly regulated stash. It lasted me a long time, and I didn't want the whole thing gone before my eyes. I couldn't afford to replace it that often.

Though not really invited, Taffy stopped by. I didn't turn her away, I had no reason to. I actually really liked her. But she did ask if she could have a drink or two. I made an exception. At the time, I didn't know that she was a pill popper. If I did, I wouldn't have acquiesced. I only gave her two drinks, and very quickly, she became not just intoxicated, but very loopy, faint, and not even aware of her faculties, let alone in control of them. 

Daniel remembers this next part as if he was there, but he wasn't. It is only because I told the story as soon as I returned, and we've recalled the situation many times since. 

When it seemed that Taffy was on the verge of passing out, my friend Chloe and I decided to take her home.

There was a much younger man, by comparison, who looked like a wild Native American sort, who had apparently moved in where Jared and Krystal had formerly lived. He was maybe 30-35 years old. It took some time before I realized that Taffy lived with him there. I never did know what their relationship was. Were they related, together, just roommates? I had no idea, though I was quite curious. 

For some reason, they would use their back door as a front door, so Chloe and I walked Taffy around to the back of the building and knocked on the door. The tall man answered and was exceptionally rude to us. As we helped her to a kitchen chair, I explained that she was a little intoxicated and we were bringing her home. He was quite angry and yelled at Taffy. "It's 5:00, and you're already stupid! What the hell is wrong with you, Woman?!"

Chloe and I exchanged a glance. We were torn between amusement at what was said, and pity for the lady. As we headed back towards the door, he yelled at us. "What are you two still doing here? Get the hell out of here!"

I had a habit of saying things that I shouldn't from time to time. This was one of those times. I turned and yelled back, "I'm sorry I brought her home, sir. Next time I'll just leave her on the floor!" I slammed the door behind me, and he instantly became an amusing anecdote at the party.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Schiller Apartment Shenanigans: Monique

Monique was morbidly obese. Every day she wore a different moo-moo because, well. . . that was all that could be worn.

She lived just next door to me, on the left as I walked out of my own door. She seemed to live just outside her door, like the "neighborhood gossip," just watching everything that went on.

It was amazing, really. Anyone could just pull up a chair (and many did) just outside their door and watch. There was rarely a chance to be bored. Remembering back, it feels like it must never have rained or snowed. It did indeed, and I remember each one of those days. It was like the whole day was closed for business. 

Many times I would open my door and stand on the threshold, watching the broken gutter dump buckets of rain right on my door step. I would just stand there for the longest time, disheartened, but mesmerized at the same time.

Monique must have felt the same, because every time I stepped outside on a dry day, she would be sitting there on her chair, watching the small world go by, and exercising her voice loudly, quite often.

Many days, there was an unspoken competition of sound, the clash of music competing for the right to be heard. It would be warm and beautiful outside, and everybody's doors would be open, letting any wayward cool breeze find its way in.

Monique, around 45, with her light blonde, straight, long hair, would play her music at a reasonable volume. Then Gary would turn his louder, then Chef Steve, then Jared.

And the end result: no one could hear their own music, but they all wanted theirs to be heard. It was a huge clash of multi-genred noise.

Monique and Cats.

Monique loved her garden plot, but I never saw her in it. She would always mention how much she hated cats, because they would get into her garden. But only one of the neighbors had a cat, and her garden only had a few flowers. Nothing entirely worth writing home about.

When Daniel moved in, he had a cat. I didn't really want a cat, but I realized that this pet came with the man, and accepted the black cat: Dimitri.

Dimitri was old, and Monique didn't seem to even notice he existed. But one day it was my birthday, and our friend Mikey and his girlfriend both came over–my birthday was just a coincidence.

She'd had a job that day, which took her to a farm in the city's outskirts. There, she had found the tiniest little tabby kitten I had ever seen. She asked the farmer if it was his, and he seemed appalled by the fact that it was even brought to his attention. Knowing that the little runt would probably die in the wild, she brought it home.

She asked if I would take her, and I was happy to. I named her Lotus. But, Daniel had just bought me a black and white kitten for my birthday, which I named Guido.

So, we now had three cats, two of them kittens. Guido was spunky and a little skittish, and Lotus was sweet, quiet, and loved to cuddle. 

I loved little Lotus. Every evening, while Daniel finished up work, she would cuddle up at the back of my neck, while I read a book, or watched TV. I loved it.

Once I saw her up on the kitchen counter, but as she was so tiny, it blew my mind that she could jump that high. Then I remembered Zeela's little kittens that were always escaping. 

One evening, Lotus never came to cuddle up on my neck. I thought it was weird, so I looked around a little and never saw her. I returned to watching a show, before it was time to go pick Daniel up from work. 

I didn't have to. It was an easy walk. But, it was late at night, and I thought he'd appreciate the ride.

When we got home, he asked where the kitties were, and I explained how I hadn't seen Lotus.

We looked around, opened the door, called to her, and that is when Monique, sitting next door, informed me that I ran over her when I left. Apparently, she had escaped through the kitchen window. I behaved calmly and stoically. I grabbed a towel and picked her up, bringing her inside. Then, I broke down.

"How could I do such a thing?" I asked. I cried rather hysterically, for awhile, then I dried my eyes, we put her in a tin box, and we buried her out back, with a few words.

A few days passed and I began to eye Monique, suspiciously. I started to wonder if I had really run over my kitten, or had Monique hit her with a shovel. 

Come to think of it, she had threatened to do just that to any cat she found in her garden, just days prior. 

I began to loathe Monique.

And this is where my name began.

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