"As I'm just trying to make it in the world, eat a couple of square meals a day and sleep in warmth, so are the little gray ghosts, shivering through the walls and nibbling apart the kitchen. I see them scurrying off, coming from our beds, when I come through the front door. What were they doing in there? What microbes did they transplant upon my pillow? I see them attempting escape from behind the refrigerator. Our eyes meet. The little gray ghost is crippled with fear. He's like you or I, wandering within their limits of nature for the comfort of food and sheltering. As much as I believe I care about living souls, I am ready to squash the infestation. My xenophobia has higher authority than my heart. As the higher-ups, the social elite held many down in the protection of their own comfort, I am returning the favor to the little gray ghosts below me. Not only am I gleeful at the progress of my power over them, but I am disgusted with myself for setting traps of torture for the fearful, innocent eyes. With that phone call to the exterminator I sold my soul for a little safety and comfort. I am Bush. I am Stalin. I am Hitler. I am a man. I am a mouse. I am dust fighting dust. "
-Excerpt from a journal entry I wrote back during the summer of 2005.
That experience seems somewhat fond in comparison to my recent exposure to... do I dare announce it to the world? Quite embarrassing, but here it is, I will be honest, don't judge, it's an epidemic, increasingly more and more common and could happen to you very soon if you make fun... my apartment building is in the midst of fighting a little infestation of bed bugs. I feel like the kid who got sent home for having lice in grade school. That was also a big fear of mine as a kid, to be told during a lice check in front of the class, you got lice. Here I am, as a grown man, with actually a very clean, sanitary apartment, finding I caught some bed bugs. A very uncomfortable feeling if you ask me. "Don't let the bed bugs bite" is not so cute.
I woke up a week ago, and found a few little blood spots on my sheets. Strange. I have no cuts. Why would I be bleeding in those places? Do I have the goddamn stigmata? Tired, I shrugged it off as, maybe I had a bloody nose and thrashed around in odd, difficult positions. A couple days later, I noticed I had two red spots on my hand. I passed them off as a possible chemical burns from photo chemicals. Then one morning, I awoke to a little bug crawling on my chest. I crushed it and flushed the speck down the toilet. Curious, that night I investigated online. To my horror, that little bug matched a sketch of a "bed bug." I looked between the mattresses, and to my increasing horror, more bed bugs, hanging out in a little community of at least ten.
I investigated all of the procedures to take in the event one has bed bugs, to the tenth degree.
Those mattresses are history. To the curb. Along with the sheets. And pillows.
Luckily my old roommate left her mattresses, which have not been infested because they are right up against the heater, which is generously cranked to the max by the building engineers, and as I read online, bed bugs do not like heat. So I still have a bed.
Vacuumed the fuck out of the place. Called my apartment management company right away. They were good, they brought an exterminator out promptly and sprayed. They will be steam cleaning the carpet to suck up any eggs, and also re-spraying in a couple weeks if there is a "hatching." Evidently the apartment below me had a big bed bug infestation and I probably got it from them. By my bed there is a slight crack in the corner where the walls meet, and old paint is dried and cracking in spots. Cracks large enough to fit the edge of a credit card, which according to the Internet, is wide enough for a migration of bed bugs. We have found an entry point. The apartment below me has also been sprayed.
I did a shit load of laundry tonight.
Do not freak out and shun me, if you hang out with me at my place you will not get bed bugs. They have been exterminated. I am writing about this little mishap so I can laugh about it and move on, and I hope you'll with me.
So now, in my Chicago apartment dwelling experience, I have experienced rats back when I lived in a basement apartment in Wicker Park a few years ago. Big ass nasty rats. I saw a few cockroaches when I lived in The Manor in Rogers Park, in that doomed storefront where eventually it wasn't legal to perform in, and wasn't legal to live in. I must say out my experience with different apartment pests, the bed bugs will haunt me the most. They are vampires. They suck you're blood in the dark of night, while you sleep under the moon and city lights seeping through the blinds. Rats, I do not want them in my home, but I see them as living beings doing what they gotta do to make it in the city. Cockroaches have a gross underbelly with all of those little arms squiggling, and they will never be welcome in my abode. But if I see one on the street, I wish him a solid crumb. Bed bugs however, I have no feelings of humanity towards them whatsoever. I feel an inner blaze that would have the potential of reigning terror on the world population of bedbugs. Bedbugs are soulless. They should fuel the pits of hell. I never want to see another bed bug ever again. I would rather sleep in a field of cow shit, then to lie down with a colony of bed bugs. I can accept getting rats back when I did, I was a twenty one year old, constantly drunk and living in filth. I can accept getting a few cockroaches when I did, I lived in an old storefront with an uneven floor and a gaping whole in the wall where pipes were exposed.
But now, when I have finally learned to do dishes and clean regularly, to live in a state of adult cleanliness with impeccable daily hygiene activity, in a pretty nice mid rise apartment building, paying a pretty penny...to get fucking bed bugs?!
Fuck bed bugs.
I am laughing about them now.
Tonight I sleep the sleep of victorious kings. Fresh sheets. Fresh bed. Free from lurking vampires in the cracks of night.