Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy new year you crazy bitches!

May 2009 treat us all a little better than that piece of shit 2008.

I hope you all wake up hangover free and may all your resolutions be easy to keep!

I rounded out 2008 with a nasty round of back spasms, so I'll be taking pain killers and going to bed early.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Deep thoughts, not by Jack Handy...

I've been doing some thinking. Serious thinking. The kind of thinking that has gotten me into trouble in the past.

In case you care, I will be spending the holiday alone. Tragically, my crappy job (which at least provides a paycheck, and that alone is reason to be grateful,) requires me to work on Christmas eve, and the day after Christmas, so I will be unable to even go so far as to drive to my dad's house which is a mere 3 and a half hour drive away if there are no weather problems, but that is also not the case at present. But since we're talking about family and the holidays, I should mention that my mom is down south visiting her side of my family. Since she was there, one of my cousins called me up and very sweetly offered to fly me down for the holiday, but I sadly had to decline due to the aforementioned crappy job and crappy schedule.

While I was on the phone with the cousin, I couldn't help feeling the genuine love and sadness at the fact that I would miss the holiday with everyone. It might seem strange of me to say this, but the truth is that I've missed feeling so loved.

Don't get me wrong, I know that I am loved, and I know that I am missed, but the fact is that since my move to Ohio, I haven't seen my family, and aside from daily phone conversations with my mom, I haven't had any connection to my loved ones.

After the conversation with my cousin, I really got to thinking. Basically, I've been thinking that Ohio hasn't turned out as planned, that it shows little sign of turning around, (because economically it is still currently the worst state in the union,) and that for all intents and purposes, despite the fact that my best friend lives here, and that I've been living in her house on her good graces, I very seldom see her since she decided to go fall in love and get engaged, so although it was unforeseeable at the time, I've discovered that it was a mistake for me to move here.

As such, I've considered resuming my nomadic lifestyle, and picking up the stakes and hitting the road once more. Moving to the south was something I had originally considered when I decided to leave the social work gig. I decided to venture east to Ohio instead. Since things didn't pan out, I am looking at this as a move based on the premise of casting a legal Obama vote in a swing state before settling in a red state. Now that that's done, it's time to move on. Hopefully once I land in the south, I will acquire some gentility, and southern charm... And then use that charm to spread my liberal notions to the masses...

Seriously, I've got to stop moving, or start buying stock in the u-haul company!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An update not of the poop house variety...

Dear friends,

We're all friends here, right? Some of you know that I'm working. A few of you know that it's a crappy job that I have no intention of keeping in the long term, but hey, a girl's gotta eat in the meantime, and we all know that right about now the job market is about as pretty as what washed up in the poop house sink basin. So I have this crappy job, and in talking to some of the people who work with me, more than one has mentioned that they are interested in going into the field of social work. I laugh my usual bawdy laugh, and then try and talk them out of their possible job prospect using a few of the mildest bits of my job history. I think they think I'm just making all of this stuff up.

Trust me, I'm not.

I haven't even gotten into the real guts of the matter with any of them, and they seem horrified. They continually say things that imply that it couldn't really be that bad... IT IS THAT BAD!

The world does need social workers, don't get me wrong, but it won't be me, and it won't be anyone I have any influence over! You bitches need to believe that we're about to delve into the real belly of the beast here...

There is more to come.

It does get worse.

I am not making this up.

Don't be a social worker.

Don't encourage anyone you care about to be a social worker.

I'll work on the next poop house post over the weekend when I've got a couple of days off.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Poop House Chronicles (Part Ten): Better or Worse?

The last time I'd seen the poop house family, (including all nineteen animals, and all of their piles of feces,) it had been a Saturday, I'd gone out and purchased toilet paper, bread and bug spray for them because they lacked the money and the wherewithal to go out and do it themselves, I noticed the most horrendously awful "heat rash" I'd ever seen, and I'd been informed that Millie might have lymphatic cancer. I didn't have a great weekend when all that went down.

I typed up my weekly paperwork, and turned it in. I turned it in because I didn't want to be tortured by thoughts of the poop house all weekend long while dreading doing my paperwork, so I just got it over with... I still had no such luck. All weekend long, I was tortured by the idea of this kid living in the conditions I'd seen. I was baffled at the state allowing it. I was troubled at the idea that the family had squandered their state check and Martha's paycheck on SOMETHING, and yet had no toilet paper or bread. Needless to say, I was bothered by the cancer issue. I was really having a rough time trying to put all of this on a back burner so that I could have an actual weekend and a bona fide personal life, (which was to become a running theme of my time as a social worker). Many of you might not get that last statement, but the thing is, when you're working for the people I was working for, you were constantly told that you needed to do everything in your power to not take your work home with you, and to leave all your work cares at the door of the last client's house... Of course, then they made us carry work cell phones so that we were on-call 24-7 for those clients, even on those weekends when we should've been more worried about what movie to go see, instead of, "How the hell am I going to find an open food bank to get these people through the rest of the weekend on a Saturday at 4:30 PM?" To boot, they made us turn in paperwork on the weekends in such a way that required everyone to make a special trip to the office at some point during their weekend to do work-related paper work which had to be done AFTER all of your client meetings for the week, and BEFORE the office officially opened on Monday.

Those things made it a little tougher not to think of clients on your own time.

Those things also made having a personal life a lot tougher.

So after my weekend was spent thinking about things I had no interest in thinking of, (namely poop, bugs, cancer, clients, and the like,) the weekend came to a close, and it was back to the daily grind of going to see the poop house family along with all of my other clients.

In the meantime, my weekend was sufficiently ruined by thoughts of the tediously disgusting work with the poop house family which persisted, even through the otherwise pleasant haze that a couple bottles of wine afforded me.

On the first day of my work week, I did all of my other work and saw all of my other clients... (because apparently the poop house wasn't amply sufficient in ruining my life). After I finished my typical daily run through other people's misery, I drove to the poop house. I continued my normal pattern of cursing and snarling involuntarily with my increasingly worsening facial tic. I changed into the poop shoes, and braced myself for the smell before opening the car door... The day was about to go down the drain... But as I was about to learn, that was all that was going down the drain.

I walked up to the disgusting door. I knocked and surveyed the ever-growing pile of garbage on the front porch as I waited. Mitch answered the door. He said that he was going to put the dogs in the bathroom before letting me in. He closed the door. As I waited, I continued to look at the huge pile of festering garbage on the front porch of this "home." I continued to wait... and wait.

Five minutes later, I figured that I'd caught busy Mitch by surprise, and that he was attempting to do a minimal amount of cleaning before letting me in. It was a safe assumption.

When the door finally opened, and Mitch let me in, I reeled and gagged at the odor, which seemed worse than usual. There was a new dimension to it. Usually it was merely the unbearable odor of cat urine, all kinds of animal poop, and hot garbage... There was definitely something new this day. There now seemed to be the added foulness of rotting food of some kind and swampy mildewy water.

"Mitch, I'm not going to beat around the bush, and I don't mean this to hurt your feelings, but I just have to tell you, it STINKS in here!"

"Oh... That's the sink."

"The sink? What's wrong with the sink?"

"It's clogged. That's why we haven't done the dishes."

"Ok, so that's the reason for the mountain of dirty dishes I'm seeing behind you there."

"Yeah, we haven't been able to do dishes since Friday."

"Why didn't you say something when I was here on Friday or Saturday?"

"Well, we thought we'd get a plunger and that everything would be fine."

"And did you get a plunger?"

"Yeah. but it didn't really help."

At this point Mitch led me around the landmines of dung that the animals had left behind, and toward the kitchen sink. As I looked at the mountain of dirty dishes precariously heaped on the counter, and I worked hard not to gag or vomit at the intensifying odor of rot and filth. I was also very VERY careful not to accidentally bump into anything, including the counter, which was crawling with a thick brownish coating of roaches. I couldn't control the internal desire to be out of this house as soon as possible. And I was about to get the jolt that would push me over the edge and make me want to run away screaming.

"Mitch, before we get to this, how is Millie? Any news on the possible cancer?"

"Oh, yeah, she's fine. The antibiotics are working to reduce the swelling, and the doctor called and said she's going to be fine in a few days."

"Oh, good! You all scared me with that cancer thing!"


"So, what's going on with the sink that the plunger can't knock out?"

"Well... uhh... you see... "

Mitch then picked up the plunger. I was close enough to the sink to see that there was about a centimeter of standing water in the bottom of the sink which was semi-translucent.

"Mitch, have you guys tried something like liquid plumber?"

"Well, I don't know that that would do any good."

"Why not?"

Mitch nervously thumbed at the handle of the plunger. His downcast eyes let me know that there was more to this story that he wasn't telling me.

"Well, I don't think liquid plumber is designed to do anything for this particular kind of clog."

"What? WHY? What the heck kind of clog do you have that something like that won't do any good?"

Mitch then issued his reply, but instead of saying it with words, he SHOWED me.

Mitch stuck the plunger over the drain and pumped it a few times. He then pulled it away from the drain.

I was utterly HORRIFIED at what I saw.

(Keep in mind that this is a whole other dimension of HORRIFIED in what was already a horrific situation... And my additional horror might be an indication that you need to go and get a receptacle in which to contain your own violent reactions at what's ahead... I recommend something rather large and preferably concave.)

As the plunger cleared out of my view of the drain, I saw what had come up in the plunging process.

Considering that this sink was primarily used to wash the household dishes, I was expecting nothing more than chunks of soggy food because these people didn't strike me as the type to do a thorough job of scraping the plates before rinsing and washing dishes. But chunks of soggy, semi-disintegrated food was not what washed up in the plunging.


In fact, I don't think there was a single particle of food in all of the drain back-wash... But then again I might have been distracted by everything else that did wash up.

As the drain back-wash settled enough for me to realize what had come up, and I visually processed the items in view, and mentally come up with a way to comprehend what exactly I was looking at, the reality of it took several seconds to sink into my psyche.

I, for one of the VERY FEW times in my grossly over-articulated life, was rendered totally and utterly SPEECHLESS.

If I hadn't been afraid of what might enter my mouth, I'd have stood there agape and agog with the horror of what I saw.

NOTHING ELSE had washed up, and by nothing else, I mean NOTHING else, other than about a thousand dead roach carcasses.


[I will pause momentarily here so that you might vomit and afford yourself the natural reaction to such an image, and an appropriate amount of time to recover from this revelation... Keep in mind, that since I was standing there, in front of my "client" I was afforded no such opportunity to genuinely react, and no time to recover... I think that you'll find that with this pause I'm being quite generous. --All better? Me neither. But we must press on, because there are many more horrors ahead. Though I think now that you know this, you better understand why I took longer than previously forecast to get through creating this post for your reading pleasure, because understandably, I didn't want to revisit it... And I don't want to revisit anything else that is yet to come, but I will. For you. But please remain patient with me. I'm fragile.]

Oh, so now that you've had time to comprehend what I just told you, don't just cast it aside. REALLY LET IT SINK IT. PROCESS IT!

As I stood still horrified and unable to think or speak, my mind raced, but I was unable to grasp a hand-hold on any of them as they sped by.

I mean, picture yourself for a moment in this situation. You're already horrified at the state of the "home." You already struggle to breathe because the air is stifling, stagnant, acrid, and foul. Generally, the only thought that runs through your head in this situation is how to breathe as shallowly as possible, or how to get out of there as quickly as possible, or maybe even how to best ensure that you don't carry any contaminants from any of the critters out with you. If you have the mental capacity to get past all of this, all you can do is mentally detach and fantasize about an industrial sized bottle of hand sanitizer, a super-heated steam shower, and a job which doesn't require you to venture into the earthly portal to hell on a daily basis... Perhaps something as spectacular as a job with the fine folks at the Clorox companies... Somewhere where germs are endangered, and kids are clean, happy, and healthy. Your brain is already doing all it possibly can to prevent you from having a mental break which might cause you to either find give up on reality and figure that this lifestyle is acceptable, or go on a murderous rampage... Either way, the circuits are overloaded as it is. But to round out the picture, you have to think enough to talk to your clients about the unacceptability of this lifestyle. You have to think about ways to improve things. You have to formulate manageable tasks for these imbeciles. You have to supervise them as they work on these tasks so that you can ensure that they get done. All at the same time. All while trying to breathe and to keep from fainting or vomiting. It's a lot to process all at once.

And now you have to engage your clients. And you have to engage them about the thousand dead roaches which just washed up out of the kitchen sink drain. And you have to formulate a way that they can work around this problem until you can come up with a way for them to genuinely solve it... Which is also something you will have to do when considering that they are impoverished and can't afford toilet paper and bread, let alone a plumber for a proper fix... Not that any self respecting workman would ever cross the front lawn, let alone the threshold, or the poop minefield... Nope this is all on your shoulders. Congrats! And for all of this you get a pitiful paycheck, no retirement plan, no paid holidays, no health benefits unless you want those taken out of your measly paycheck, and no appreciation. Man, how did you luck into a job this awesome?

Can it possibly get any better than this?

If by better, you really mean A LOT WORSE, then yes.

Yes, it can... And it will.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I lied.

I planned to have the next edition of the PHC up over a week ago... It's no secret that I continue to suck.

I've had even less desire than usual to think about the poop house, and thus less desire than usual to compose the posts.

When you combine that with a best friend getting engaged, a celebratory hangover/ day spent assisting with wedding planning nonsense, and work nonsense, well, the last thing I want to do on my day off is to think about that hell hole.

I'll get to it as soon as I can.

I'm not going to apologize, because I'm entitled to take my sweet ass time here, because IT IS MY BLOG, DAMMIT! So just get over it, and go read dlisted or something. I mean really, you've got your nerve coming around here and thinking that you can place demands on me... Selfish assholes! It's not like you're paying my bills or anything! You really need to think about other people's needs for a change, especially when you're coming to their playground for a visit!

(As far as the italics go, I kid... but you knew that already!)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Back soon.

I'm going to be working on your latest poop house post tomorrow, and it will be up at some point in the day.

I'm a bad blogger. I know.

I could make excuses, but it's not worth it to anyone.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Poop House Chronicles (Part Nine): A Thin Line Between Pity and Disgust

I'd been going about my business with the poop house family for a couple of weeks at this point. I know that it's difficult to comprehend that all of this disgusting, revolting information can occupy such a small amount of time, but I assure you that's the case.

I mentioned in the last post that during this time I suffered from nightmares about the poop house, and in general didn't sleep very well. I was about to see things which would add to those troubles.

Seasonally, at this point in the story, we're in roughly early- to mid-autumn. In the Midwest, that generally means that it can still get up in the upper 90's during the day, sudden showers can crop up out of nowhere, the humidity makes life unbearably sticky and gross, and it's possible to have frost on your car when you wake up in the morning. All of these factors combine with other things which in all are supposed to comprise the appeal of life in the Midwest. Personally, despite spending the overwhelming portion of my life here in the North American Midwest, I still don't see the appeal, and if it weren't for the ties of friends and family, I don't think I'd have anything to do with the place. I mean I like seasons and everything, but the Midwest finds new and interesting ways to make the best parts of the best seasons totally suck.

So one sweltering day, I had a mid afternoon cancellation. This meant that if I went to the poop house a little earlier than normal, I could be done for the day. Normally people would look at finishing a work day early as a good thing... Since the poop house stood in my way, I was not one of the normal people. I knew that in order to finish early I would have to ruin my day early by going to the poop house, and that by going to the poop house earlier than they typically expected me, I would be surprising them. (And not in a good way.) In all likelihood, they would not have lifted a finger to work on anything because they weren't expecting me until later.

I went to my office. I chatted up one of my friends who knew my caseload while I was there.

"So the 'Waltons' [name changed] canceled on me."

"Oh! That's great! There's no coverage today. You want to go get a drink? I finish at 6:30... We can go then."

"No can do."

"Why not? You just said that you had a cancellation. Last time I checked, that means that you finish early since there's no coverage on the board."

"Well, you see, I always go to see the poop house family last."


"And since they're not expecting me until after that appointment is supposed to be over, if I show up now, that place is going to be extra gross."

"Yeah, extra gross poop house means you'll probably have to stay there longer than usual. And that equals extra-strength heebie jeebies, and an extra long shower, it's almost more trouble than it's worth."

"If you ask me, that whole case is more trouble than it's worth. They should just put the kid into a permanent placement and be done with it. The parents are NEVER going to change."

"Well, if you're out of the shower by 8 give me a call and we'll go get that drink."

"Will do."

I chatted up a few other people around the office, putting off the inevitable, giving them time to get something done, even though I knew it wouldn't happen.

Sometime between 5:30 and 6, I ran out of people to talk to, and procrastinate with, and so I went begrudgingly on my way to the poop house. And on the ten minute drive from my office to that festering sore of a residence, I shuddered at what I was likely to encounter, and I cursed to myself, and my upper lip curled in an unpleasant snarl that was becoming a victim in the form of an entirely involuntary facial tic.

I pulled up to the curb. I tried to control the snarl, and the cursing. I sat in my driver's seat, gripped the steering wheel in my fists and violently shook back and forth. I then reached back into the bag in the back seat and changed into the poop shoes while muttering incoherently something to the tune of, "...Can't believe this... fucking disgusting... nobody is paid enough for this... fuck... if one of those fucking little dogs touches me... son of a bitch... living in poop... this is hell... I'm in hell... need to advocate human sterilization... Fuck."

I walked up to the front porch and noticed that some of Mitch's alley-way finds hadn't made it to the trash, but to the top of the porch heap of garbage. Not quite the same thing. I knocked and the dogs began to shrilly bark. Mitch opened the door a crack, looked surprised, and told me that he was going to put the dogs away in the bathroom before I came in.

"Fine. Do it."

A few minutes later Mitch emerged, coming out onto the porch rather than letting me into the house.

"You're early."

"Yeah, I am. But your goals were the same no matter what time I was going to come and check on the progress."

"Well, we're not exactly done yet."

"Would you be done by the time I normally show up? Think carefully about how you answer."


"Probably? When did you get started working on the stuff we talked about?"

"Well... uhh... you see..."

"Let me guess, you haven't even started."

"Well, uhh, kinda."

"Kinda? You 'kinda' started to clean up the mess? You 'kinda' picked up poop? You 'kinda' did the dishes? You 'kinda' did laundry? You 'kinda' got rid of all the stuff you picked up in the alley? You 'kinda' gave Millie a bath? Stop me when I hit something that you 'kinda' did."

"Well, we didn't do any of that."

"None of it?"

"Well, we were going to do it before you got here, but you're early."

"That wasn't a wise answer Mitch. You just told me that at the very most the goals I've set for you would take up less than two hours of your day, because you haven't started, and I'm roughly two hours early. That's not good for two reasons. One, you're not working at a full time job, so you have AT LEAST EIGHT workable hours per day, and yet you're not managing to work here for even two. And I'm betting it's not the commute that's stopping you. And two, if you're not working to accomplish the goals I set until you know I'm coming over soon, that means that you're not spending the right amount of time on them, which means that you're not cleaning appropriately, and that means I'm going to have to look harder at what is getting done, and how it's getting done... There are more things wrong, but those are the biggies!"

"Well, uhh..."

"Mitch, why haven't you started? Why is there poop on the floor? Why are there dishes in the sink?"

"Well, that's the thing. We're out of toilet paper. I don't have any way to pick up the poop."

"Well, usually when I run out of something necessary like that, the solution is to go and get some."

"Well, Martha has the money, and she's at work... And we don't even have bus fare to get out to see her."

"You have no money and no toilet paper in the house?"


"Ok, that's something that you need to take up with your wife. It's absolutely unacceptable that if you have money between the two of you that at least some of it should be left here, because taking care of kids costs money, and you're going to run into expenses."

"Yeah... I guess you're right."

"I know I'm right. So what I'm going to suggest is that for right now, you pick up some of those old newspaper ads and use that to pick up the poop, because it can't stay here on the floor."

"Oh, I hadn't thought of that."

"Ok, so let's get going on that."

As Mitch went through the house using newspapers which should have been thrown out months or years ago to pick up poop deposited days or hours ago, little Millie came bounding out of her room to see what was going on. She was filthy, but that took a backseat to the first thing that I noticed, which was the angry red rash which covered the vast majority of her exposed arms and legs. I then noticed the swelling in her face. I'd like to say that the facial swelling was noticed first, but due to her normal level of pudginess, it took me a moment to realize that this was well above and beyond her normal look.

"Mitch! What's going on here?"


"Mitch, Millie is covered in a rash, and her face is REALLY swollen. Don't tell me that you didn't notice!"

"Oh, that. Well, Martha took her to the doctor, and he said that it's a heat rash and swollen tonsils. She's got medicine in the fridge."

At this point Millie began screaming that she wanted more of the medicine. Mitch responded by screaming back that she couldn't have any more until later.

Millie became enraged at being told no once again. She ran over to the disgusting rusty box that they called a fridge, and tried to pull it open. Mitch blocked her and prevented her from opening the fridge. This only pushed her further over the edge. At which point she turned suddenly and felt that her best course of action was to sucker-punch me in the stomach.

The wind knocked out of me, and aghast at that response, I could not speak. I inhaled sharply trying to recover my breath... My body's natural response to a need for air was met with a considerable problem when the only air to inhale was so foul and nauseating as that which I was being forced to inhale. My eyes began to water, and the chunks rose in my throat. Meanwhile Mitch grabbed Millie by the upper arm and pulled her into her bedroom. He closed the door behind her after casting her solidly into the room in a forceful but not abusive way. Millie audibly screamed and cried in her room for the next several minutes but did not reappear.

Once I was able to regain my breath, choke back the vomit, and blink away the natural eye-watering response to the foulness, I said something briefly to Mitch about his response to the outburst. The exact words escape me.

As Millie continued her temper tantrum in her bedroom, I looked around and noticed that the roach problem was significantly worse than it had been lately.

"Mitch, I noticed that your roach problem seems to be getting worse, what's going on there?"

"Well, they usually get worse this time of year, but they are pretty bad right now."

"And did you guys go out and get any spray like I suggested?"

"No. We couldn't afford it."

"Ok. When does Martha get paid again?"

"Not until next Friday."

"Ok... Well, I really think we need to get something going before then... Hmmm."

"Well we don't have the money for toilet paper right now, so we REALLY don't have the money for bug spray."

At roughly this point in the conversation little Millie came out of her bedroom calm as ever, as if the previous incident involving her fists and my stomach had never happened. I admit that part of me was pissed off at getting physically assaulted by a five year old, but pity took over when I looked at her swollen face and the horrid rash covering the vast majority of her body. Kids lash out when they don't feel good in any way... It happens.

Little Millie then asked Mitch for a sandwich.

"I can't make you a sandwich."

"Why not?"

"We don't have any bread, and I don't have any money to go get some."

My heart broke.

"Mitch, you don't have any toilet paper, bug spray, or bread, and you don't have any money whatsoever?"

"Nope. Martha might have a few bucks, but we've got to make that last until her next check."

I thought for a moment. I knew very well the idea of not having the money to go and get necessities. I knew what it meant to have to make it work with what you've got, but as someone who typically planned for things like toilet paper, I knew that hunger often took a back seat to being able to wipe your ass. But in the time I'd known that feeling, I never had a child I had to support. It wasn't fair that she couldn't have a sandwich and had no toilet paper. It wasn't fair that she had to live in this roach motel because her parents were spending their money on god only knows what instead of getting bug spray.

"I tell you what, Mitch, get started on your chore list. I will be back in a little bit and I want to see some progress."

I let myself out as Millie pleaded with Mitch for a sandwich and he repeatedly told her that he couldn't make it happen.

I went to a local market and picked up toilet paper, bread, and bug spray. I paid for it out of my own pocket, and never submitted the receipt to the office for reimbursement, because it was within my power to do $7.64 worth of charity that day. I then drove back to the poop house and walked up to the door. I knocked and Mitch and Millie came out to the porch.

"Mitch, I went and I got you enough bread and toilet paper to get you through, and a can of bug spray because you need it."

Millie looked at me as though I were the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy all rolled into one.

"You bought us bread?"

"Yeah, I did... You said you wanted a sandwich, didn't you?"

"I DID!"

"Well, now you can have one."

"But you got us toilet paper, too?"



Mitch thanked me, and I told him that he could thank me more effectively by going back into that house and actually spending some time on the chores he knew he needed to do.

I turned and left, driving to see Martha at work.

I walked into the pizza shop, and shook my head in disbelief at the fact that they let her work there. I then addressed her as she stood at the front register.

"Hey, Martha."


"I was just over at your house. I saw Millie and talked to Mitch. He said that you took her to the doctor for that rash and the swelling in her face."

"Yeah, it's a bad heat rash, and the doctor had to run some tests to figure out what is going on with her face."

"What do you mean?"

"He thinks she might have lymphatic cancer or something... Said he'd know more in a couple of days."

"Oh my god!"

"Yeah, my aunt died of lymphatic cancer... so there's a chance."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"It could be nothing, that's why he gave us the antibiotics."

"Ok, well, be sure to keep me updated about that! But the other thing I wanted to discuss with you is the fact that you're the one working and you're leaving Millie with Mitch, and he's got no money to buy anything as needs arise."

"I don't have any money either. All I've got are the bus tokens I got from Dave."

"And you don't get paid until Friday?"

"Nope... We're due to go to the food bank though, so we should be fine."

"Ok, well, if that doesn't go as planned, let me know, or have Mitch let me know... We'll figure something out."


I couldn't believe it. We had enough horrible shit to deal with... Adding cancer to the mix was not anticipated.

I left Martha's pizza shop, and called Dave to let him know what was going on medically. He showed a marginal amount of concern, but didn't seem to get too worked up. I, on the other hand, was plenty worked up for the both of us. I just had to wait to see how it all played out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In case you care:

I know a lot of you are just coming around for poop house posts, but in the interest of keeping you informed, I will let you know a couple of things:

  1. First off, my computer is still being a huge bitch. This usually means that I am relegated to typing up the poop house posts on the meager time that it allots to me before randomly deciding that it needs a rest and spontaneously shuts down... It makes things difficult.
  2. Secondly, my time is now occupied by a crappy retail job that I took in the interest of paying bills until I can find real work... Who knows how long that will be. This means that I'm spending a minimum of 30-40 hours a week doing swing shifts, and not sitting on my computer being awesome/unemployed. This also adds to the delay.
  3. And finally, in a move totally out of character for me, I have gotten sick. I currently have a really nasty cold, and in addition to not being able to breathe out of my nose, all I want to do is sleep. I might have to take the Admiral's cure, (known as "whiskey-ing it out of the system,") which is to drink enough alcohol to kill any and all germies coursing through my bloodstream. I have a feeling I might be able to use this method effectively.
Furthermore, I have this weekend off, but I hope to be spending it tailgating at the Ohio State- Michigan game... This will be a prime opportunity to continue the whiskey-it-out method if I haven't already recovered somewhat.

That's all for now. More poop house to come, and trust me when I tell you that things will get REALLY REALLY NASTY within the next few posts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Poop House Chronicles (Part Eight): Let's get ready to RRRRRRUUUUUUMMMMMBBBBLLLLLLLLLE!!!!

(My computer is still acting up, so I apologize for the delay on this and some future posts.)

The poop house haunted me, both when I was awake, and in my nightmares.

When awake, I fitfully itched and scratched, compulsively cleaned things I already knew to be clean, compulsively showered multiple times per day, did laundry to a point which would be considered highly wasteful by energy and water conservation standards, and generally dreaded my next foray into hell.

When asleep, I was tormented by the nightmarish number of cats, dogs, and cockroaches. Sleeping sucked because it was seldom restful sleep, and usually I was at the mercy of all the living creatures in the poop house, which generally meant that I dreamed of having dogs biting at my ankles, cats hissing at me from shelves, and cockroaches surrounding me no matter where I turned... And of course the smell. Yes, even in my nightmares the smell was thick and utterly rank.

Normally, Lizzle is pretty affable most of the time. Hell 95% of the time Lizzle is downright likable to most people with any intelligence. (Admittedly Lizzle is less likable to those who posess IQ scores on the lower end of the spectrum, because she derives intense pleasure from mocking many of them with words that are too big for them to comprehend... And despite the lack of intelligence and vocabulary, they somehow manage to pick up on tones of derision, ridicule and mockery.) Lizzle really tries not to make fun of the dummies, but so many of them just beg for it! And like any good realist, Lizzle admits that there are always bad days here and there for anyone, and she's not going to pretend that she's the least bit likable when things are bad, or when she has cramps. But once the poop house came along, Lizzle started losing sleep. Sleep-deprived Lizzle is a different beast altogether. Sleep-deprived Lizzle tries to be nice, but generally operates on a really short fuse, and once that fuse is lit, it's spent for the day, until a little bit of fitful sleep essentially hits the reset button. Lizzle knows that parenthood robs a person of countless hours of sleep, but those hours are balanced out by the mellowing effects of affection for the offspring, rendering most parents pretty tolerable, if not likable. But the sleep-deprived Lizzle has no children. No pets. No nothing. Instead sleep-deprived Lizzle had the poop house, and needless to say, there was NO affection WHATSOEVER for the poop house. In point of fact, Lizzle had nothing but contempt, loathing, and hate for the poop house... And all involved with putting her there and keeping her there.

Lizzle is tired of referring to herself in the third person.

I admit that I was a little coarse and probably difficult to be around at this point in time. Things were not looking as though they were going to improve any time soon though, so my real friends tried to offset my general aire of unpleasantness by asking me to recount my daily interaction with the poop house family. I don't know if they thought it would be cathartic for me to just vent and that I would be more pleasant once it was out, or if they just had a really morbid curiosity about everything, or if they figured that since they had to suffer my presence, they might as well get the latest chapter of the horror story, but whatever the hypothesis, whatever the reasoning, no matter how many people I told, I didn't feel any better about it. Never. I did get to a point where I was able to laugh about the sheer foulness and and misery of my daily visits to the poop house, but only as a means of mental self preservation... I never genuinely felt any better about it, and to this day it still intensely bothers me. The laughter and joking merely made others more comfortable around me.

So I went back the next day.

Again as I sat at the curb, changing into poop shoes, I cursed under my breath. I then cursed at normal volume because the subtle cursing didn't make me feel any better. I turned my gaze to the poop house, noticing a grocery cart in the front yard that hadn't been there before. Knowing that there wasn't anything more than a run-down bodega, much less a full-on grocery store, within a mile of this shit hole, I had the distinct feeling that the cart had not been idly dumped by someone traveling to their own home, but rather that it had some significance to play in this visit. As it turned out, I was right.

As I choked on the foul air standing and knocking on the front door, I listened to the dogs barking. Mitch took his sweet time doing whatever he was doing inside, I assume he was getting up from his late afternoon nap in front of the television... Because he certainly wasn't cleaning. He opened the inside door, and as he reached to open the screen door, the five small dogs barked and rampaged down at his feet, and spilled out onto the porch the instant the door was open. Contrary to the instincts that you and I have, they were not out to make a grand escape. Rather, they snarled at my feet and one of them chomped at my pant leg. While I'm not one to advocate violence against animals, I am also not one to tolerate being bitten, especially when the offending animal has been living in filth and has god only knows what growing in and on it. I fought the urge to kick the little bastard off my ankle and merely shook him off, and suggested that Mitch store the animals somewhere other than little Millie's room for the duration of my visit. This would become a part of our daily routine.

As he collected the little beasts one by one and shoved them back in the bathroom, I pulled up my pant leg to make sure that my skin was still 100% intact. Once the process of containing the dogs was complete, he opened the screen door and let me in. Instantly I knew two things: 1) Mitch had DEFINITELY not been cleaning prior to my arrival, and 2) I knew I was right about that shopping cart. As I looked around, I saw enough dung on the floor that if I hadn't known better would have made me think that I hadn't been there just one day earlier. I looked around without moving more than three steps beyond the front door and could count more than a dozen piles of crap.



"Mitch, I'm still within spitting distance of your front door and I can see at least a dozen piles of poop on the floor... That's your number one job on the chore list, so what on earth have you been doing? Because picking up poop ain't it."

"Well, uh, you see..."

That aforementioned short fuse had been lit. I was now a ticking time bomb.

"And now that I'm looking around to see more than just poop... What is all this stuff?"

"Well, uh, you see, that's what I was doing."

"I don't follow."

"Well, I was out earlier walking down the alley, and I saw this computer, and then I saw this box of stuff, and then I saw this..."

He carried on, indicating all of the treasures he'd found on his trek down the alley. My inner rage was about to boil over, and so I focused my efforts on controlling that, rather than listening to the whole list.

"MITCH. STOP. You're telling me that despite the fact that you have a total of nineteen animals to clean up after, and a house that the state has told you is too cluttered and filthy, that you went down the alley and picked up OTHER PEOPLE'S GARBAGE and brought it into your house?"

"Well, yeah," he said in a manner so frank and simply that it astonished me.

"Mitch, if I've been coming every day and telling you things that you need to throw out or clean up, what part of picking up other people's trash and putting it in your house did you think I'd be ok with?"

"Well, it's not trash, you see..."

"Mitch, I'm going to cut you off, because here's the deal, if your house is already too full of stuff you can't manage to keep clean and organized, and the state has to call to make sure that someone like me is coming by every day to make sure that things aren't getting any worse, and in fact, work with you on making it BETTER, what made you think that taking things that other people had THROWN AWAY would make this better?"

"Well, this isn't trash... It's a computer."

"Mitch, I'm not trying to insult you, but you don't live in the ritziest neighborhood in town... When someone around here throws something away, there's usually something pretty significant wrong with it that they can't fix. Nobody is going to leave a WORKING computer out in the alley."

"But I can fix it."

"Really? Do you have the expertise to know exactly what is wrong with it, or the parts to repair it?"

"Well, no. But I've got these other ones over here too... and I'll fix them and sell them."

"You see, this is why I have a problem with this... You're currently pointing at five other computers which you've amassed by some means or another, and I am assuming that none of them work either. If they did, you'd either be using them, or you'd have sold them as functional. You've told me that you don't have the expertise or the parts to fix them, and since I know you guys are going to food banks to get food, I think it's a safe bet that you're not in a position to go out buying computer parts, diagnostic equipment, or even pay for a class to learn how to figure out what's wrong with them. Stop me if I'm wrong, at any point, but if the state is telling you to clean up your house and get rid of all the clutter, which by the way would include broken computers that you don't know how to fix, doesn't adding a grocery cart load of other people's trash seem a little counter productive?"


"You don't have to say it... We both know the right answer to that one. And I tell you what, I'll even tell you that you can hang on to that broken computer, but in trade, you've got to take TWO grocery cart loads of other stuff that is broken, or trash, out to the alley. You can't keep adding other people's trash, when you've got too much of your own."

Mitch looked at me utterly crestfallen. I was making him choose. And for him, choosing certain things among his house full of garbage was like Sophie's choice.

"Mitch, I'm not trying to be mean here, but if that's what it takes to show you I'm serious, I'll be meaner than a rattlesnake. I want you guys to get this house cleaned up. I want to be able to tell your case worker that you're making progress. I want to be out of here just as badly as you want me to be out of here. And I know that you don't want me in here every day, telling you your business, and if you get this place cleaned up I don't have to be, but that's the problem; that's why you can't keep heaping new stuff onto the pile here."


"That's also why you can't be going out to look for stuff when you've got a house full of animals to clean up after. Because it's pretty obvious that while you were out and about, the animals have gone to town, and it shows that cleaning up after them wasn't your first priority."

"Well, I was going to, but then I sat down to take a break and then you showed up."

"Mitch, if I haven't even made it this far into the house and I can count twelve piles of poop without even looking around for the ones which might be a little bit hidden, or around a corner, I'm betting that you didn't just sit down and 'poof' I was here to catch you taking a break. I am in full support of taking breaks, but that means you've got to be doing something productive in order to take that break... And I've already told you I wasn't born yesterday, so I'm betting that you guys haven't cleaned a thing since I left yesterday, have you?"

"Well, we did some laundry."

"You started that while I was here... So that doesn't count."


"Come on... I'll give you the points for honesty."

"You're right."

"I figured. The question is, what are YOU going to do about it? I've already told you that I am not going to do it for you. I will tell you what you need to do, and I'll supervise, and I'll help you with resources, but my job it to make sure that Millie is safe, and that Dave knows she's safe... And I can't say that I'm able to give Dave a very good report today."

"I'll clean up the poop."


"I'll go through the pile of stuff."


"And I'll take some of it out back to the alley."


"And I'll do the dishes and the other stuff on the chore list."


"And what? What else is there?"

"Mitch, there's a whole lot that isn't on that daily chore list that could be done... But in the interest of setting goals I think you can achieve, I will settle for what you've already promised me you'll do, AND NOT going out and adding to your problems with other people's trash."

"Oh. Ok."

I did a pretty standard look around the house, made sure that the poop got picked up, (in the end there were more than two dozen piles of poop found and cleaned up,) made sure that he knew what he had to get done by my next visit, and left.

As I changed out of the poop shoes, soaked my hands in sanitizer, and raced home, I called case worker Dave to make sure that he knew about the massive amounts of poop, and the additional garbage in the house... There was NO WAY IN HELL that this was going to come back on me. I passed the responsibility to him by making sure he was aware of what he had Millie living in.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Time to separate the wheat from the chaff!

If you can make it through watching this video without audibly giggling at least once, then you have no business here... If you cackled like a freak, then you're right where you belong! (Possibly not safe for conservative work environments.)

Thanks for coming out!

Dear Readers,

I know for a fact that you are an intelligent group. As intelligent people, I'm sure that you all voted yesterday. No matter the candidate you selected on your personal ballot, nor the candidate selected by any of your given states, I want to thank you for going out and participating in what was a long, arduous, historic, (no matter who won the presidency, it was going to be pretty historic,) and intensely electrifying election. Participation in the democratic election process is just one of the many things that makes this country so great! And whether you supported him or not, it's now time to unify behind President Elect Obama and get to work on turning around this runaway train.

Whether you hail from a red state, or a blue state, or a county which went the opposite color of your state as a whole, know that your vote mattered, and be proud to live in a nation where you were allowed the opportunity to be a part of the process.

I am going to show my political bias by stating that I am proud that all three of the states I've called home since coming of legal voting age all went blue, and it makes me intensely happy. It also makes me happy that we have a President Elect who is eloquent, calm under pressure, and knows how to pronounce the word "nuclear." I am also happy that Sarah Palin is headed back to the snowier regions of the non-contiguous USA, and return home to her pregnant teenage daughter, and her moose hunting. Thanks, Alaska, but you can keep her!

With all of this said, I thank everyone for their civic duty, and hope that the next four years bring peace, prosperity, and a renewed sense of pride to you all.

Way to be awesome, America!!

Faith, Hope, Peace, and Love,


Monday, November 03, 2008

The Poop House Chronicles (Part Seven): Time to meet Millie

When last we left off, I was in the poop house, struggling to breathe and counting up the grand total of 14 cats and 5 dogs.

Like you, I was appalled by the number.

The mad rush of felines to the food bowl was astonishing, and not in a good way... (In case you hadn't figured it out already, nothing that happens in the poop house ever happens in a good way!) But with the sudden burst of activity in the home, the human residents all decided to come and and marvel at the fracas.

Martha had incited the feline riot. Mitch came staggering in next, and I'm only half convinced he wasn't after a little bit of that kibble for himself. It wouldn't have surprised me to find out that anyone in the house occasionally dined on the off-brand meow mix currently being served. Shortly after Mitch's arrival in the kitchen of feline horrors, a tornado blew in... And that tornado was named Millie.

So many of you want Millie to be a shiny, pristine little cutie in a frilly pink dress and braided pigtails... So many of you will be disappointed.

Millie wasn't really able to help the fact that she was a spitting image of her corpulent maternal genetic heritage. She was of average height for a five year old, pudgy - bordering on the brink of being a childhood obesity statistic. She had pale skin, which made it all the more obvious that she was not one to go and play outside, though the degree of paleness was difficult to determine due to the amount of filth all over her body... (The fact is that if you or I at age five had had a face one one hundredth as dirty as this poor soul, our mothers would have instantly pulled us over by the upper arm, licked a tissue and taken to bathing us using the universal solvent that is "mom spit." But then again, our mothers didn't raise us in poop houses, and wouldn't have the worries of encountering animal feces or contracting toxoplasmosis from the endeavor.) She was barefoot and wearing tattered second hand clothes. Looking at her little legs, it was blatantly obvious that she was covered in flea bites. And as she whirled around the kitchen it was hard not to notice that the bottoms of her feet were quite literally black and caked with god only knows what. Little Millie had stringy, greasy blonde hair not unlike her mother's, which obviously hadn't been shampooed in a week or more. And as she bent down to pick up one of the cats during the middle of its meal, her mother hollered "No!" and it instantly became clear that this was not a word that the child was accustomed to obeying, and very possibly not accustomed to hearing. That single word set the storm in motion.

Instantly little Millie began screaming at her mother. And since we're dealing with such high caliber parents here, Martha's obvious reaction was to scream right back at her.

Given that this was very early on in my interaction with this family, I elected to observe, rather than instantly correct the poor choice of parenting method... I mean I'm not "Super Nanny" here, my job is to work with them on the house first, effective parenting methods could be managed later... And some parenting skills would come in later, but not until the home cleaning, animal over-population, and hygiene issues were well on their way to being resolved.

Millie continued to scream at Martha, Martha continued to scream at Millie. Mitch must've felt that he was being left out because then he got in on the screaming too! It was roughly this point where I had to yell over everyone.

"OK EVERYBODY! LISTEN UP! This screaming match isn't solving anything. Millie, your mom told you not to pick up the cat while it's eating. She doesn't want you to get scratched or bitten. So please leave the cat on the floor until it is done, or go find something else to play with. Martha, Mitch, you're not saying anything that can't be said in a normal tone of voice, so let's take it down a notch or two."

They all stood stunned in silence. Clearly this concept was foreign to them. Not yelling? Who in the world came up with these shennanigans? What tomfoolery is this not yelling business?

The only sounds came from the cats fighting and chewing down at our feet, and perhaps the light skittering noises of all the cockroaches all around, both visibly and beyond the surfaces of the walls.

Millie, momentarily silent, stood shifting uncomfortably and began picking at the crotch of her soiled little outfit. Once situated down below, she was once again attracted by the sounds of the cats, pouncing on the first cat she could find who was not actively chowing down on the kibble. She picked it up, baby-talked to it for a few brief seconds, held it awkwardly enough that the cat was noticeably uncomfortable, and then chucked it in the general direction of the ground when it began to hiss and scratch at her.

Millie and Mitch pounced on this opportunity for a "told you so" moment. I again decided not to correct the parenting and instead refocus attention on the more serious issues.

"Millie, can you do me a favor and go play in your room? We'll be in to see you in a minute."


"That's fine. You can go watch TV for a few minutes, I've got to talk to your parents for a bit."

Millie gave me a little attitude and sashayed out of the kitchen.

"Ok, I know that this is just my first time meeting Millie, but based on what I'm seeing, I'm not encouraged guys."

"Whaddya mean?"

"Well, clearly we need to start addressing some hygiene issues. When was the last time she bathed?"

"This morning."

"Ok, see, I don't believe that. I might have been born at night, but it wasn't LAST NIGHT. So let's try again with the real answer."

"I don't know... Mitch, do you know?"


"See, that was more along the answer I was expecting, and the fact is that if you can't remember the last time it happened, then you're overdue."

"(silence from the peanut gallery)"

"Furthermore, I noticed that she was grabbing at her crotch, so that means that we need to talk to her about the importance of wearing clean underwear every day, and it's pretty likely that we also need to talk to her about cleaning herself up after using the toilet."

"How do you want us to do that?"

"Well, since there's a history of molestation by her biological father, I'm going to suggest that you handle that Martha... Start out by talking to her about it, and then stay on top of it by making sure that she's actually changing her underwear every day by assisting her, or by checking the laundry. As for the bathing, I'm telling you that she needs a bath or shower AT LEAST every other day, and since it's summer and it's hot out, it really ought to be happening every day... and if need be, you should probably spend some time making sure that she is washing thoroughly."


"Now let's get this poop picked up off the floor and get started on those dishes so that I can get out of here."

Martha took to the sink to begin work on the dishes. Mitch tracked down a roll of toilet paper and began scooping up piles of excrement. When we got to Millie's room, I noticed an unusual amount of dung on the floor again. I again admonished them for keeping the animals in her room. I then decided that a shower was more important to me than anything else I would accomplish during this visit.

The shower was scaldingly satisfying.

(The next visit gets a little hostile!)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

It is very nice to meet you all!

For those of you curious as to how I spent my Saturday, I'll tell you.

I went and performed my civic duty as a responsible member of the citizenry. Many of you might wonder what else I did with my Saturday... (That's provided that you were interested in my Saturday to begin with, but since you're still reading, I will keep telling you.) I did very little else with my Saturday. Why? Because as a responsible member of the citizenry in a swing state, I spent FIVE HOURS waiting in line to cast my vote.


Five hours of standing in line, getting to know the other civic-minded Ohioans who happened to join the line roughly the same time that I did. Making corny election-related jokes which were still infinitely more amusing than Jay Leno, making corny "waiting in line" jokes, being generally amusing, and doing cross words that I had the foresight to bring along in my purse, you know, just me being awesome in a 5 hour line.

Hold up that beautiful little hand of yours with all those gorgeous digits fully extended. Now imagine that each of those fingers represents one hour of your Saturday afternoon. And if you can't get enough of this example, then take those five hourly digits and break them down into the sixty sub-parts to represent all those minutes... You can keep going, breaking it down to smaller and smaller parts for as long as you want to keep gazing at your hand, but I don't want to bore the rest of the readers, so I'm going to stop with the current breakdown.

So yeah, when I got home, my poor little feet were really perturbed, so I sent them off for a pleasant soak.

Those of you who know me well, or at least pay some degree of attention here probably already know how I voted. I'm not going to state it directly because this is not one of those political blogs, but I'll just say that if the next four years are anything like the last eight, don't blame me.

If any of you have any curiosity remaining about the voting, I will say this... If the line at the polling place today is in any way indicative of how Ohio is going to turn out, I have a feeling that we're going to swing blue this year.

Since I'm already here, I will get to work on completing the next installment of the poop house chronicles... I think it should be up tomorrow, Monday at the latest.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Please don't hate me...

Your next installment of PHC has been delayed.

I was doing some final edits and the whole thing deleted, and of course with my luck it left no trace anywhere. Not even an original unedited copy is anywhere to be found. It was as long as the other ones, so when it deleted in the final editing stages, you can imagine how pissed I was. This goes hand in hand with the fact that my computer is currently acting wonkier than Paris Hilton's eye... And we all know that that's pretty friggin wonky!

I am hopeful that this, along with other problems, will be resolved soon.

And I'll get on retyping things, and as long as the computer cooperates for an indeterminate amount of time, I should have something up for you at some point this weekend, though I know from my stat counter that most of you have real lives on the weekends and don't sit around reading this mess, because really who wants to ruin a perfectly good weekend with this drivel?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A little harmless fun...

I've gotten ahead on typing up the poop house chronicles, so there should still be posts, even if I get a little bit lazy... There are no assurances that I won't get a lot lazy though. But I'll do my best to stay on top of it.

The fact is that lately Lizzle has had a rough time of it. This week brought an emotional breakdown that I hadn't anticipated. And I'm not an overly emotional girl by any stretch of the imagination, so a noteworthy emotional breakdown is BIG headline news.

But as it happens, Big Daddy Spankbottom, of Las Vegas fame, is coming to town this weekend for some homecoming / tailgating action. So I plan on getting shit-faced drunk, being ridiculous, making questionable decisions, and generally having a good time, strictly because it's been too long since I've been able to genuinely cut loose, and after the last couple of weeks, I friggin deserve it!

There should be pictures... You know, just to break up the monotony of the PHC posts!

Have a good one kids!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Poop House Chronicles (Part Six): "The monkey house..."

I was recently watching an episode of Project Runway season 4 where Tim Gunn visited the designers in their homes to discuss the progress they had made while working on their collections away from the cameras. One of the designers had adorned his line with human hair. Like most of us Tim Gunn was repulsed by the idea of human hair as part of the clothing. When trying to talk the designer out of using the hair, he noted that it was kind of like the monkey house at the zoo. The designer gave him a perplexed look. Tim explained, (I'm paraphrasing here, but using quotes anyway... But it helps if you read it in that Tim Gunn voice, if you know who Tim Gunn is and what he sounds like.)

"Well, when you first walk into the monkey house at the zoo, and you smell it in there, you think to yourself, 'Disgusting! I can't believe anyone wants to go in here!' And then after twenty minutes or so, you start thinking, 'Well it's really not all that bad.' And if you stay in there an hour you don't even notice it anymore... I think it's the same way with this design, you've lived with it this long, so now you don't even notice the disgusting part. But if there's someone who is just now coming into the monkey house, to them it's still disgusting."

Tim Gunn was onto something. If you've lived with something foul for so long, you probably do become desensitized to it, and even get comfortable with it. That is the only rationale I can come up with for the folks who actually LIVED in the poop house. But as someone who merely ventured in for a small portion of the day I can tell you that there is no desensitizing for the normal folks. Even if you can handle being in the place for twenty minutes, (HIGHLY UNLIKELY for most normal folks,) the smell doesn't go away, and at no point do you find yourself saying "It's really not all that bad!" As someone who spent more time than I care to remember, and more time than anyone should ever spend in that toxic waste dump, (sometimes more than 2 hours a stretch,) I can tell you that I never got used to it, and from the second I walked in until the second I was home and fully showered, sanitized and scrubbed, I choked on every breath I took. And even as I would sit at home after my shower, with the laundry running, and my hair washed and dried, most evenings I would still psychosomatically itch and get chills of disgust from the mere IDEA that I'd been exposed to that foulness. And while I sat there, itching despite being clean, I would ponder. And the more I thought about it, the less I was able to wrap my head around it. The residents of the poop house DID venture out on occasion. Mitch told me he went to group therapy sessions, little Millie went to a state sponsored head start program, and from what I gathered, mom had a job. This means that they went out and functioned in some of the better smelling parts of the world around them, and upon returning home, one would think that the foul odor of their residence would assault them the same way it brutalized any other person... One would think that upon noticing that your home smells worse than say, oh, I don't know, a city dump perhaps, that one would be inclined to do something to remedy the situation. Even a mediocre remedy such as purchasing an air freshener or two, or, dare I say CLEANING UP the direct causes of the festering foulness seemed totally unheard of to these folks... Like I said, I was BAFFLED by the concept of remaining in the proverbial monkey house when you have to be aware of the stench and yet, not doing a damn thing about it.

I knew I'd have to go back again. And the stench haunted me even when I wasn't there.

The day after my initial meeting with Mitch, I knew I'd have to go back later to actually see the child, and to meet "mom."

I called up state case worker Dave.

"Hey, Dave! Met with our favorite clients last night."

"Oh, yeah? How did that go?"

"Disgusting. Naturally... There is just no way that that house meets minimum standards."

"Well, actually it kind of does."

"How is that possible? You had to go in and inspect the place before they ever got Millie back from foster care. How did they pass?"

"Well, they had food in the house, and there wasn't anything structurally wrong where she was going to fall through a gaping hole in the floor or anything, and they have functional utilities, so technically it made the cut. I wasn't happy about it, but I had to sign off on it."

"You're kidding me! The menagerie of animals in that place, and all the poop and garbage and bugs didn't disqualify that rat hole?"

"Technically, no."

"Well, that's tragic... Seriously... But speaking of the bugs, I was talking with Mitch and he seemed to think that you had something in the works to deal with that roach situation they've got going on in there. Care to comment on that?"

"Well, yeah, I've been talking to my supervisor about getting some waiver money to get an exterminator or something in there."

"Personally, I'd opt for a wrecking ball."

"Yeah, but the waiver money hasn't come through yet, so you might want to just tell them to get some spray and try to control it that way."

"That place is so far beyond spray! If those bugs can thrive so well in the toxic fumes of that house on a daily basis, I don't think any kind of chemicalized bug spray is going to do much good."

"Can't really hurt though."

"I guess not."

"I'll get back to you on the waiver money progress when I've got something to report."

"Thanks... Oh, wait, what about all the animals?"

"What about them?"

"There's got to be some kind of statute saying that they have too many, right?"

"Well, I don't know. I'll look into that. I don't know if there are set numbers anywhere on the books, and to be honest I've never been able to get a solid count of all the animals."

"If the roaches count, it's too many! Hell, even if the roaches don't count, it's too many!"

"Well, I'll take a look at the books and see if there are any limits."

"Fair enough."

And that was that. The house was technically structurally sound, although I suspect that the structural integrity of the place really just consisted of the roaches holding hands to keep the place upright. They had food and utilities in the house... That was enough to make the grade. Tragic but true.

Knowing that Dave was unable to get a solid count on the animals living in the house, I figured this would be an interesting endeavor the next time I went into the poop house... Incidentally, it was to be later that same day!

So I went about my regular daily business. I saw all of my other unappealing clients first, and then drove over to the least appealing clients of all. As I put the car in park, turned off the engine and looked at the house, I turned, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, (knowing it would be my last for the day,) sighed heavily, cursed under my breath, shuddered, and went to face the beast...

I walked up the cracked front walk, uneven from the tree roots which had burrowed underneath when the trees were still alive, (they were long since dead and lopped off at odd levels somewhere above the 8 foot mark). I breathed less deeply with each passing step, as the odor intensified the closer I got. I went up the three crumbling steps to the garbage-cluttered porch. I knocked on the once-white, now dingy beige door. The dogs barked. A chill went up my spine. I heard someone approach the door from the other side. I heard a woman's voice yell at the dogs to shut up. The lock disengaged. And a genuinely large woman stood winded before me as the door opened. I marveled at the fact that she could be winded, because I knew the dimensions of the house, and knew that there were no stairs nor exercise equipment in the home... She couldn't possibly have walked more than 60 feet. There was no place in the house further than 60 feet from that door... And 60 feet is probably pushing it. It was far more likely that she'd been parked on her sizable rear end on the couch, a mere 30 feet from the door. Yet here she was, totally winded like she just finished running a half-marathon.

I knew this was "mom." I knew her name from the info sheet I'd gotten from the office. We'll call her "Martha." Martha, as you may have already guessed had a pretty significant weight problem. I'm by no means a small girl, but next to her, I'd have been considered Allegra Versace. (Google it if you don't already get the reference.) Seriously. This woman was no taller than I am at 5'7" and HAD to be tipping the scales at well over 400 lbs. I wish I were kidding... Once I got a good look at her, I understood why she was winded after hauling that load off the couch and walking all of 30 feet to the door... Lugging that around would wear me out too! When the wonder about her windedness wore off, (whoa, alliteration!) I marveled that she was in real clothes, and not the mumu which is stereotypically sported by women this size.

"Uhmmm, hello, Martha?"

"Yeah. I'm Martha."

"Hello, Martha, I'm Liz. I'm Julie's replacement."

"Oh. Hi."

"Yeah, hi. Ok, so you know why I'm here."


"Ok, well, since this is my first time meeting with you, I need you to sign a consent form saying that you understand that I'm here because you're involved with the department of child services, and that any information I get from you, or from coming to your home can be shared with your state case worker."

"Ok. You got a pen?"

"Yes I do."

(Knowing that she lived in the poop house, and knowing the likelihood that she probably hadn't washed her hands in 6 months, I opted to let her keep that ten cent bic pen.)

"Ok, so I got a fair amount of information from Mitch when I was here yesterday. I'd like to ask you a few questions too, just to round out the picture. Would you mind joining me out here on the porch for a few minutes?"

"Well, Millie is in her room, but Mitch is in the kitchen... He can watch her."

[At this point she yelled something unintelligible to me back into the foul recesses of the house, but I assume it was letting Mitch know that she was meeting with me on the porch, and that he needed to watch Millie.]

"Ok, so Mitch tells me that you're working, where are you currently employed?"

"Domino's Pizza."

I'm sure that my horrified expression was laid bare as I tried to compute this new information... Fortunately, being totally spoiled by the delights of Chicago style pizza, and never having been a fan of Domino's, I could not recall having consumed Domino's Pizza any time since I'd left Chicago... And I certainly haven't had it since learning of their star staff member! (I think it's fair to say that I'm ruined on the concept of EVER eating a food product from any franchise where I know a poop house resident has worked.)

"OH... Uhhh... OK. Domino's Pizza. And how many hours a week would you say you work in a week?"

"Well, usually thirty or so, but we've been really busy lately, so probably closer to 40 or 50."

Again, I was horrified. I think people should know when someone comes from the poop house to prepare the food you're ordering... And if they're logging 30 or more hours a week there, then that's a whole lot of tainted pizza and breadsticks!

"Ok. So you're there quite a bit..." (I couldn't think of anything else to say)


"And I imagine that most of that time is in the afternoons and evenings, so I'm guessing that Mitch is really the primary care giver here while you go out and work."


"Ok... Well, I did talk to your case worker earlier today, and we chatted about the issues in this case."

"Ok. What did he have to say?"

"Well, it's pretty evident to all of us that you guys have a pretty significant bug problem."

"Yeah. He was talking about getting an exterminator for us, but he hasn't done that."

"Well, that's what we discussed. He told me that the waiver money to cover the costs of an exterminator hasn't come through yet, so in the meantime he wanted me to ask that you consider getting some bug spray and trying to at least attempt to manage the problem that way."

"Well, I don't get paid until next week... But I'll look into getting some spray when I get my check."

Another shiver ran up my spine at the thought of her being so nonchalant about the bug situation, and letting it persist for at least another week.

"Ok, another issue he wanted me to discuss with you was the number of animals you have living here. Exactly how many are there?"

"Well let me see... There's 5 dogs."

"Five! Oh! I'd only seen four."

"No, we've got five in there."

"Uh-huh... And how many cats?"

"I think probably eight or nine."

"Probably? You don't know?"

"Well, we can find out."

"How is that?"

"We can feed em."


Instantly my heart sank, my stomach quivered, and my gag reflex fought to be heeded. I knew that since none of the animals ever went outside, I'd be forced to go in to get a count during feeding time.

"Well, let's go in... Oh, and you can meet Millie."


And in we went.

I followed Martha through the close quarters of the front room, through the maze of little dung heaps on the floor, through the putrid den area, and into the more open area of the kitchen.

Martha stood a few feet from me, close to the kitchen sink heaped with dirty dishes... It was at this point when I got my first really good look at her, despite having spent the previous few minutes talking to her on the front porch. She was roughly my height, every bit of the 400 pounds I initially figured her for, and every bit as disgusting as her husband. This was clearly not a case of opposites attracting. She wore no shoes or socks, which repulsed me because I knew the state of that carpet, dirty khaki pants, a stained t-shirt with partially ripped off pocket on the chest area, and CLEARLY wore no bra despite her size. She had yellowish-brown teeth which bore all the tell-tale signs of decay and hard living with no dental care. Her complexion was pale and lightly freckled, including all three of her chins, and she had long, stringy, greasy brown hair which seemed to be pulled back in a ponytail, as a means of prolonging her time between showers. It was evident that hygiene was never a strong suit for anyone in this family... And when one combined this revelation with the state of the home, it really didn't come as any genuine shock.

She yelled something unremarkable in the general direction of Mitch and Millie, and then addressed me.

"You want me to feed em?"

"Well, um, if that's the only way to get them together to count them, then I guess."

"OK! Watch this! ...Oh, you might want to move away from the door there."

I sidestepped slightly to a more interior part of the room, and slightly away from the door, looking rather puzzled as I didn't know why this was necessary.

Martha then grabbed a tupperware bin the size of a large stock pot, and shook it.

In an instant, cats came darting through the kitchen door from all directions, sprinting to the feeding area with all the fervor of refugees greeting a truckload of food and supplies.

Martha cackled at this.

"See why I told you to move away from the doorway?"

"Uhh... Yeah."

I marveled at the number of cats. And as they vied for a prime spot at the food dishes, and writhed around each other, I attempted to count them. And when I was through counting them, I was in disbelief at the number I'd tallied and began counting again figuring that some of them had to have moved around and gotten counted twice... The second and third counts were the same.



"Umm, you said you only had eight or nine... by my count, you guys were way off! I see fourteen!"

"No! There's no way we've got fourteen!"

"Well, they're your cats, and they're all here... Count them for yourself. Name them off... I'm seeing fourteen."

"Well, there's Sable, Pretty Boy, Fancy Face, Pearl, Precious, Midnight, ...."

The names were rattled off. All fourteen of them. Many were rattled off two or three times because they would lose track of who had been counted on their extended fingers, and who hadn't. Meanwhile, I stood aghast that anyone could have fourteen cats at all, let alone in such close quarters, and that all fourteen had names, yet even the family couldn't fathom that they actually had fourteen cats.

Having been stirred up by the cavalcade of cats streaming by, Mitch and Millie had come into the kitchen... I was about to meet Millie.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Poop House Chronicles (Part Five): Into the fray...

I apologize for the lengthy break... Shit has been going down lately, and I just couldn't deal with the poop house in addition to everything else that's been going on. I hope that you haven't given up on getting all the gory details, because we're about to delve into the real heart of darkness.

When we left off, I was standing on the front porch of the poop house, talking to the resident male. He'd informed me that the mother and child were not home at the moment. I knew I was going to have to go in anyway, and I was dreading it.

I stood there, trying to deal with the stagnant sewer smell, and trying to figure out how I was going to deal with the worse smell that I knew lurked in the house.

I asked him a few routine questions to determine the best way to shape my services for this family.

"Ok, Mitch, are you working at the moment?"

"No. I hurt my wrist at work a few years ago, and haven't gone back to work since."

"I see. Are you on disability?"

"No. I've been trying to get it, and I've talked to a lawyer but he thinks it will be a year or two before my case goes through."

"Ok, so you're not generating any income. I know you've been working with Julie up until now, did she put you in touch with any of those other resources that you can use so that you're able to get by while you're not working?"


"Ok, what are you currently using?"

"Well, I go to the food banks. We can't get welfare because the case is still open from when they took 'Millie' (psuedonym for the child) away. I go to the community outreach clinics when I get sick, and when I go to group."


"Yeah, I go to group for depression."

Mentally, I simply thought that if this was my life I'd be depressed too... I'd have offed myself long before I'd ever have let my home look or smell like this, but depression was a given.

"Ok, so how is that going for you? Are you getting any kind of results?"

"Well, no. I used to have individual sessions too, but my counselor stopped doing that because the state said I'd reached the limit."

"Ok. So if you're at least getting into group sessions, you're meeting with someone who knows what is going on... And are you medicated at all?"

"Nope. Can't afford it. I had some stuff when I went to the individual sessions, but now that I only have group I can't get it."

"Ok... I might be able to help you with some resources to get meds if they are something that your group therapist is willing to prescribe... Is your group leader a prescribing therapist, or just a group counselor?"

"They've got somebody who can prescribe something. I just haven't talked to them since I only have group."

"Ok. And how often do you have group sessions?"

"Well, they meet once a week, but I haven't been in about a month."

"May I ask why you haven't been?"

"Too busy."

"Hmmm... Well, forgive me for asking this so bluntly, but you're too busy doing what exactly?"

"Well... Uhhh..."

"I'm sure that you have things to do, but I'm asking because it is important that you take care of your mental health just as much as, say, going to the doctor for a broken arm... If there is something wrong, and someone can help you fix it so that it heals properly, then it is important to take the time to go and get that help, don't you think?"

"Yeah, but I've just been to busy to go lately."

"Ok, well, I'd like for you to work on figuring out a workable schedule so that you can get your other things done too, and still make it to your group meetings. I mean I'm not a therapist, but I think if you have a diagnosed problem then it is very important that you set aside the time to work on it, don't you?"

"I guess so."

"Well, I don't mean this to be offensive, but you're not currently working, so that right there frees up 40 hours a week... Your group lasts what, an hour? Two maybe?"

"An hour."

"Ok, well, then you need to consider setting aside that one hour for yourself, and doing everything else that you need to do during the other 39 hours. I mean I'm not trying to tell you what to do with every minute of your day, but we're talking about one hour a week that someone thinks you need. And if you didn't think you needed something, you never would have been going in the first place, would you?"

"I guess."

"Well, I just want you to try. And in fact, I'll tell you right now, that that's all I'm ever going to ask of you. I'm telling you right now that I'm not going to come into your house and fix all this for you. You've got to be the one putting in the time and effort to TRY to make things better."

"Well, I appreciate that. Julie would just get mad at us and holler at us for not getting stuff done."

"Well, I'm not saying that I won't expect results. I do want to see progress. But I also know that Rome wasn't built in a day. You all didn't get into this mess overnight, and it's not going to get better overnight. I'm going to work with you guys, and I know that this is going to take some time and some real work, but the fact is that if this was all good, I wouldn't have to be in here telling you what's what... Obviously I'm here, so you've got some work to do. I want to make this as quick and painless as possible, but that's going to mean some effort on your part. You with me on that?"

"Yeah. I got it. So you're not just going to get mad at us like Julie?"

"Well, if I see that you're putting in a fair amount of effort, I'll be willing to keep working on improving things with you... But if you're not holding up your end of the deal, I'm telling you right now that I'm not going to be willing to work any harder than you are! So if you get the work done, then things are good, and I stay off your case, but if things aren't getting done, then I'll be mad and you'll hear all about it!"

"Sounds fair."

At this point the dogs in the house seemed to have found other things to do, and other patches of carpet to shit on, because they had lost interest in barking at us through the screen door. Realizing that the dogs were otherwise occupied, that I'd already been smelling the foulness from the relative safety of the porch, and that the quicker we went in to see the situation in the house, the sooner I could get home and shower... I told him that as part of my job I'd have to see the inside to make sure that things were "acceptable" (although the state and I have VERY different ideas of what qualifies as acceptable) and I'd probably be on my way shortly.

We went in. And the instant that the screen door was flung open, the wall of stench hit me like a nuclear shock wave. It took every fiber of my being to not recoil and run the opposite direction, or to vomit on the spot. I girded myself as the wave of nausea swept over me and took hold. I choked on what little breath I was able to take. And as I looked down to see the four little dogs running around my feet, barking at me and snarling at each other, I noticed four fresh piles of dog poo within two feet of the door... Most likely left there while the little beasts were originally barking through the door during the conversation on the porch.

As my vision panned upwards, I noted that very little, if anything, had changed since my original foray into this hellhole several months prior. If Julie had gotten any results at any point in the meantime, it couldn't be detected now.

On the desk to the immediate left of the door was still a mess of papers, some of which had evidence of urine and feces on them. In the makeshift bedroom setup, the clothes and garbage were still heaped up to be level with the mattress, and in some areas it was higher than the level of the mattress, which itself looked ever more defeated and begging for a quick exit into a dumpster. Without any sheets on the mattress, it was readily apparent that the animals had repeatedly used the bed as a stomping ground and makeshift litter box. One pile of dung on the upper reaches of a boxy particle-board headboard appeared to have been there for quite some time as it was dried out and crusted in place. I'm convinced that if an inanimate thing, (in this case, another pile of dog shit) - if the other pile of dung, which rested almost dead center on the mattress, could've smiled, it would have. It was fresh and chilling in the middle of the bed... It was a self-satisfied little pile of dung which had just lucked into some prime real estate!

I noticed to my right that cats were climbing up, and over, and through the assorted piles and entanglements of various dumpster delicacies which were heaped in this front room. I counted three or four... One couldn't be sure, and lord only knows what else was living in those piles. I followed Mitch through the cramped den area, into the more open kitchen area.

Once in the kitchen, the bug problem in the home became much more apparent... It was readily evident in the rest of the house, but I'd focused on attempting to count animals and trying not to step in the numerous piles of dung, haphazardly laid out on the carpet like smelly, disgusting land mines. I asked Mitch about the dishes in the sink, and why they weren't done.

"Well, I was going to do them, but I just got too busy."

"Busy doing what? That's on your chore list that Julie made you put up right there... And that list says you've got to do the dishes and clean as you go."

"Well... Ok. I'll do them. Are you going to stand here and watch me do them like Julie?"

"Not today... But if I come back tomorrow and they're still there, then yeah I'll make sure they get done if it means standing here while you do them... Besides, don't you think a sink full of dirty dishes contributes to this cockroach situation you've got going on?"

"Well, we were going to get a can of spray, but we just didn't..."

"No offense, Mitch, but I think a problem like this is going to take a lot more than just a can of spray."

"Well our case worker, Dave, said that he was going to see if he could do anything, but we ain't heard anything back about that."

"I'll talk to him and see what I can find out."


"And what about those other chores on the list? Number one says pick up the poop and keep the litter box clean... I have seen all kinds of poop, including a few piles out here in the kitchen floor. That's one I will have to stand here and make sure you do, because I can't leave here knowing that there's poop on the floor when you tell me that your kiddo is coming back here later tonight."

So Mitch went through the house with a roll of toilet paper and picked up the poop one disgusting pile at a time, often needing me to point out piles he would have missed otherwise. I then noted that I needed to see the child's room. I needed to make sure that Millie had an "acceptable" bedroom situation... And since we knew that cleanliness wasn't something that factored into the state's definition of "acceptable" I was really just hoping to just peek in the door and not see a child-sized cage. As Mitch opened the door to Millie's bedroom, I thought I was going to faint, and if it hadn't been for my extreme fear of ending up laying in a heap of animal dung with roaches crawling all over my face while passed out, I probably would have... Because although I didn't think it was possible, when he opened the door to her bedroom, the smell worsened.

It is difficult to describe, and for as much as I know that I have not done justice to the original stench, but this new odor was a different kind of disgusting. It was hard to keep the chunks rising in my throat in check, and all I could bring myself to focus on were the small brown roaches climbing on the wall near the door frame. The odor which poured out was intensely acrid, reeking of that ammonia-like cat urine smell. Beyond the initial wave of ammonia was a sickly sweet smell, I couldn't place it, but whatever it was, it hung thick in the air in this room.

Once I was able to blink away the moisture in my eyes generated not only by the intense urge to vomit, and the overwhelming ammonia which had caused my eyes to burn, I looked inside. Needless to say, I was not pleased. I noticed an additional three cats which I hadn't seen before. Apparently they'd been confined behind that door for quite a long while. Since the time of their original confinement, they'd pissed and shat all over that room. I noticed at least six piles of crap on the floor, and told Mitch to go get his roll of toilet paper so that those could be cleaned up as well.

It took Mitch a few moments to locate his roll of toilet paper somewhere in the mess elsewhere in the home. During those moments, I noticed the rest of little Millie's room. Along the wall to the left of the door was a sad little twin bed with no sheets on the disgusting greyed mattress. There was a headboard with empty little cubby holes which had once had doors that had long since been ripped off. There was a small table with broken toys and clothes heaped on it, which sat in front of a closet which had a curtain instead of a door, and a large heap of clothing spilled out onto the floor. It was readily apparent that the cats had been hanging out on that pile of clothing and they had no problems shitting where they sat. Panning further to the right, there was a small desk, again covered in cat shit, dirty clothes, and broken toys. In the far right corner there was a chest of drawers with a small television on top. The drawers were haphazardly pulled out, and articles of clothing spilled from one drawer into the next. Piles of filthy stuffed animals and more broken toys littered the floor around the base of the chest of drawers and led the eye back around to the right hand side of the door. I noticed that the walls were randomly marred with crayon graffiti in shades predominantly of green and brown. There were no pictures, merely tangles of lines and odd shapes drawn in colors which most children would likely have discarded when opting for pretty colors when drawing pretty pictures of their pretty houses... That said, these colors and these tangles of bizarre forms fit right in.

Mitch picked up the dung in the room. I told him that I wanted to see serious progress in cleaning up this room first. I instructed him that the laundry needed to be done, and that the clothes needed to be put away properly either in the closet or in the chest of drawers so that they remained clean, rather than ending up covered in cat excrement. I told him that if the bed was in that kind of shape underneath, the least that they could do was to put clean sheets on it, and if they didn't have sheets that they needed to at least cover it with a blanket tucked in on all sides. I told him that the smell was an issue, because there was no way that constantly inhaling all that concentrated ammonia smell could be good for little Millie. I asked him to try to air the room out and not confine animals in there if at all possible. I listed a few other chores for him to take care of, and having reached well beyond my limits of tolerance for this kind of olfactory punishment, I departed. I got to my car and upon seeing the front door close with Mitch securely on the other side, I hacked and wretched and struggled to catch my breath.

As soon as I opened my car door, I reached in and got the bottle of hand sanitizer and bathed my hands thoroughly, despite the fact that I couldn't recall touching anything. I considered what else I needed to soak in the stuff before actually getting in and starting my car. I took off the soon to be infamous "poop shoes" and placed them back in a bag which I'd set aside for this purpose. I put on the shoes I'd worn to all my other appointments, got into my car, resoaked my hands in purell, knowing that I'd just touched the "poop shoes," (even though the handling was minimal, and I had been VERY VERY careful to only touch the upper portions of the shoes,) and proceeded to drive home the quickest way I knew, all the while finding that I could still smell the offensive odors of that house on myself. As soon as I was inside my front door, I stripped down and put the clothes directly into the washing machine on HOT and ran to take the most ridiculously hot and scrub-tastic exfoliating shower you can imagine... Little did I know that this was to be a near-daily ritual for the next NINE MONTHS.