Apartments, Cockroaches, and Appreciating the Old Year


There are a few things in life that consistently make me happy: getting kissed by a pretty girl, hearing anything by Billy Ocean in public, and being able to open a jar of pasta sauce without struggling would be a few examples.  Having a clean apartment is another thing that puts a smile on my face.  It doesn’t even have to be that clean.  Sure, the dust on the bookshelf is thicker than most of the books and the microwave looks like 8 pounds of meatloaf exploded inside of it, but those are things I can easily ignore.  As long as the place is in moderately good shape, I’m pleased.  Today, just being able to go into the cupboard and see the clean dishes inside made me want to break down in the joy of accomplishment the way Halle Berry did when she won the Oscar.

Of course I was aware that it’s the New Year and I’m starting it out rather well, with the apartment looking nice and clean.  In having this thought at this time of year – the first days of January – I suddenly became reflective.  Basking in the glory of my non-disastrous living quarters, I found myself thinking about the empty apartment I lived in two and a half years ago.

Back in August of 2009, my wife and I agreed to separate.  I moved out of our house and got my own place.  I was 31 years old and would be living alone for the first time in my life.  This was a major time of change, causing me to re-evaluate what I wanted.  In doing so, I set two goals.  I wanted to write a novel, and I wanted to live overseas.  Thus, when I got my apartment, I was determined to eliminate distractions and, also, avoid making the place too much of a home.  The apartment was stark and empty, white and austere, when I moved in, and I decided to just keep it like that.

I had no furniture.  There was no bed.  I slept on the floor.  My laptop couldn’t access the Internet.  I bought a ten dollar television set from Goodwill to watch movies on (in collaboration with my VCR); I didn’t get cable and its antenna didn’t pull in any stations.  There was an AM radio so I could listen to the baseball games and I took a wooden chair from the dumpster at the apartment complex to sit in.

I inherited that chair, and I was also lucky enough to inherit a nifty cockroach problem.  “Cockroach,” I firmly believe, is the ugliest word in the English language.  There’s not a single part of that word I like.  Personally, I would prefer not having any cocks or roaches in my general vicinity.  The word should be changed, somehow, to make it a bit more appealing.  If my friend has “cockroaches,” I’m not going near the place; if he has “boobie beetles,” maybe I’ll swing by.

But I digress.  When you’re sleeping on the floor, having cockroaches really sucks.  I’d wake up with a big brown sucker scurrying around close to the tip of my nose.  My solution was to take my 5 pound dumbbell and pound the little bastards into oblivion.  And I pounded a lot – my neighbors probably thought I was building the Ark in there.  There was one cockroach, though, that would gain my affection.  I called him “Night Roach.”  We met on a weeknight.  I woke up around three in the morning, having to use the bathroom.  Right when I flipped on the light and started to relieve myself, I saw him paused under the backend of the toilet.  I tensed up.

“Chill,” I told myself.  “It’s just a boobie beetle.  Don’t make a move and maybe it won’t make one.”  The two of us were engaged in a standoff, a blinking contest if you will.  I finished doing my business, left, and went back to sleep.  The bug was cool, so I decided to leave it alone.

In the morning, the cockroach was gone; the next night, there it was again.  We went through the same procedure.  Neither of us moved, both perhaps frozen with fear.  This turned into a routine – every night I’d have to use the bathroom, there he was, hanging out by one of the big rusty screws that held the toilet to the floor.  The mood was changing though, getting lighter in tone, and I was starting to look forward to our run-ins.  I started calling him “Night Roach,” and I even made a little song for him.

“Nighhht Roachhhh,” I’d sing to the tune of Love Boat.  “He’s exciting and cool/Nighhht Roacchhhh/I’m expecting you!”  Then I got to talking to him.  “What’s up Night Roach?  You doing okay?”  He was like my pet.  Sort of.

Finally the night came when catastrophe struck.  In my half-asleep daze, I went to the bathroom.  Of course, Night Roach was there, chilling like always.  But this time, he didn’t stick to our routine.  No, Night Roach came running up to me like a happy puppy.  I’m not sure what he expected.  Did he want me to pet him between the antennas and call him a good boy?  Well, unfortunately for him, I reacted by screaming and stomping him to smithereens.  Afterwards, I felt horrible.  Poor Night Roach.  One night he was being serenaded, and the next night he was being murdered.

Love is such a fickle thing.

No matter how bad my apartment in Korea gets, I haven’t gotten any bugs or cockroaches.  Today was January second, and while most people thought about fresh starts, the New Year, I found myself thinking about the past.  I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions, nor do I plan to.  There’s a certain notion that says brand new beginnings signal chance, opportunity.  The dawning of something different – a fresh start.  But the real convenience of the New Year is that its newness is figurative; I think when a person really has to start everything over again, that person suddenly begins to value how nice it is to have everything stay the same.  I would kind of dig an ‘Old Year’s’ party, maybe sometime around the middle of August.  A year is old then – the things only live to be 12.

Way back when I moved into that empty apartment, I had a new beginning staring me stark in the face and, looking back on it, I didn’t know what the heck to do with it.  For this New Years, I’ve decided to basically stay as I am.  Imperfect but fairly happy, just as my apartment is dusty but fairly clean.



38 thoughts on “Apartments, Cockroaches, and Appreciating the Old Year

  1. Bridget

    lol, funny story about your friend, the Night Roach. Poor thing. And I hate roaches, too. Wishing you a continued roach free existence in the new year.

    • Hi Jishi! Yes, I’m very zen…like Steven Seagal or something. Haha – I dunno. I’m glad you enjoyed the boobie beetle bit. : )

      Happy New Year to you my friend! May this year bring you love and happiness!

      • Did you know that Steven Seagal is now a sherriff in some local place? I saw it on a crime channel and my parents are still solid fans of him. Ha ha.

        Yes, I do hope for love and happiness and uh, more money. Thank you 😉

      • I might move to that town specifically to have an excuse to talk to Steven Seagal. “You have the right to remain silent.” “I loved you in The Glimmer Man!” “Thanks. Anything you say can be used against you.” “I like Under Siege 2!”

        I think you’ll find all those things. And if not, they’re all overrated anyways, right? : )

  2. Ugh. It Joe’s Apartment all over again. Shiver. The word cockroach literally pisses me off and grosses me out. And, if I THINK I see one I turn psycho. We won’t discuss what happens if I ever find one (the phrase “Cockroach Nazi” is tossed my way a lot.)

    I think you are onto something with an Old Year Party. Or what about like a half year party? Anyway, I am glad you are bug free and Happy Old and New Year to you!

    • Neat – a Joe’s Apartment reference! I remember when that one took home the Best Picture Oscar…it won that, right?

      I like the half year party. It’s like how they have half moon parties some places. If I have one, I will be sure to invite you. You can have champagne and kill whatever bugs turn up!

      Happy New Year to you, Hope! : )

  3. For me an empty apartment with a Only a rocking chair in the corner and couple night lamps would be a perfect place to Paint. I can now imagine it. Calm and serene.
    And a roach, really. Man i just hate these creepy insects. yuckh. I drag my brother all the way from his room to kill the roaches I see..

  4. only you could actually make a go at “living” with cockroaches…and actually elevating them in your mind to “roommate”.

    and then you kill him.

    tell me, my friend….did you ever think about squashing me when we lived together?

    be honest.

    • Nah, dude, you’d be too hard to squish. Plus, you have a family that would have alerted law enforcement. Poor Night Roach…I never heard anything, so I figure he was an orphan.

  5. I was walking to the store today with 2 co-workers and pass along a squished cockroach. My gut reaction was to yell, “Don’t step on the Boobie Beetle!”

  6. Karin Babin

    Why is everyone questioning the smooshing of the roach? The bigger, more important question is, were you wearing footwear? Dear Lord, tell me your feet were protected! We all know men don’t have great aim, and he was hanging out by the toilet screw. Coincidence? I think not! Ewwww.

    • The feet were not, in fact, protected. I was throwing bare-footed kicks like I was Bruce Lee or something.

      On another note, my aim is fairly good. So good that I was a bit offended when Night Roach started wearing a poncho. What kind of a person hangs out by a toilet anyways…freak.

      • Bridget

        ok, I’m with Karin on this. The barefoot aspect of this story takes it beyond yuck. Though it’s probably mitigated somewhat by the fact that the volume of roach was probably considerably less than what I originally had in mind, which was more along the scale of a fat Maadagascar type (sorry, I lived in the tropics for a short time). 😀

      • Hey, never, ever apologize for living in the tropics. That is something to brag about.

        Night Roach was not big. He was undersized, I think. But pound for pound, he was the most hideous thing you’ll ever see…especially when he was on the bottom of my foot.

        Take care, Bridget!

  7. When I lived in Missouri, I lived in a house that had a slug problem. There was one slug that would come out on the front porch at the same time every night. His name was Gary. I’d feed him dog food. I did not step on him. (Slugs don’t die cleanly by any means.)

    I hope 2012 treats you well!

    • Gary the slug sounds like my kind of pet. I like that he ate dog food. Not to sound morbid, but aren’t you supposed to put salt on a slug to kill it?

      Hi Trish! Hope you’ve been well. Love ya girl! : )

  8. They said a man with an empty apartment means he’s not ready to commit into a relationship. I just don’t know how true is that. 😉

    Love indeed is a fickle thing. I saw some parents when their child is born and still a baby, they hug and kiss and say such sweet things. But when the child reaches adolescence stage, they curse, they swear their poor child. 😀

    Just reading your past posts! Cheers! 🙂

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