I laid flat on my back in my single room, 3rd floor studio apartment overlooking Spring Garden St, it was winter, but my windows were open due to the hissing heat from the scorching hot radiator. My bed, which was a mattress on the floor, had two blankets, some old sheets and a pillow, with a case that needed to be burned in effigy. I don’t think I changed my bedding often or at all. It was a place to fall when drunk or high and hopefully share with someone from time to time. Mostly it was my place to vanish from society and hide.
Next to my mattress was a lamp on a small end table, that also kept an assortment of empty bottles of booze, beer, pills and water. There was an ashtray that was overflowing with Camel Light butts, though a few Marlboro Lights and Parliaments from guests who would visit. Across the room was an old chair, salvaged from the street, a tiny television on an overturned box and a pile of clothes about 2 foot high. I had a small stereo and record player on the floor against the far wall with piles of compact discs and records scattered around. The two windows faced out to a half abandoned office building. The sounds of the day would usually crack my eyelids by 7-8 am but I’d often fall out again, sleeping through the day.
My kitchen had a 1950s metal table, which was from my mother, and was covered with books, papers and a laptop that belonged to my friend Joel. The sink was often full of dishes, and roaches would find their way into the sink.
At one point the roaches were so bad that I would sleep with all the lights on every night. I saw the biggest one in my life one night as I flipped on the switch. The buzzing fluorescent light flickered and came on bright. I reached for a empty mug, turned the water on and as I put the cup under the flowing tap, I saw it. It was huge, brownish, purple with long antenna and legs creeping quickly towards the drain. It was a roach like out of Naked Lunch, the talking asshole kind of bug that Burroughs describes so vulgarly brilliant. I screamed “Holy fuck! Jesus!” And fled back into the dark bedroom/living room. Laying flat, staring at the ceiling and feeling like all the roaches were waiting to crawling all over me. I was terrified, so I smoked and drank Jameson until I fell asleep. In the morning, the giant asshole of a roach had left, likely hiding in my walls or checking out the pizza place next door.
The kitchen was a small room but had lots of cabinet space. One of the drawers in the kitchen was labeled by the previous renter “Do Not Open!” Written in black magic marker on duct tape, that was also used to seal it. Once I was curious to know why, so I opened the drawer to find a horrifying open grave of hundred of roach corpses killed by dumping boric acid on them, then entombing the pests alive. It was unnerving but I simply resealed the tomb, rewriting the Do Not Open message with a short epitaph to the horrific scene there in. As bad as I felt about having evidence of insect war crimes in my kitchen, I left it untouched, out of laziness and obvious respect for the dead.
The bathroom of my apartment was located outside in the hall. I had to be sure to carry my keys as my door might lock behind me when taking a shit or shower. It was a tiny room, green tile, dirty floor and mirror. The toilet was reminiscent of something out of 1970s New York. My neighbor said it was an “English Toilet” because it reminded him of the scene in Trainspotting where Renton dives into the “Worst Toilet In Scotland”. Obviously my neighbor meant a Scottish toilet, but either way it was not that bad nor was either description very fair to the people of the United Kingdom.
The shower in winter, was brutally cold. If I got locked out I’d have to hope a neighbor was home and they had a spare key. Sometimes it would get so cold in my bathroom a thin layer of ice would be on the surface of the toilet, luckily that was only during the coldest spells of winter. I could see my breath and I would dread my bare ass touching the seat as I often had to frantically run out my door to the bathroom due to the morning beer shits or other drug induced purges. Needless to say it was bit of a hot mess and I was a very dirty punk living a life of addiction while trying to make something from nothing in the City of Brotherly Love.