Where is that smell coming from? / by laurel

Did I mention that I live alone?

In case you’ve only recently joined me, much to my utter aggravation—and due to extenuating circumstances—I live alone. Alone in a studio apartment in the pleasantly insular, tangerine biosphere of North Orange County. Alone and recently graduated and learning to care for my—and my apartment’s—domestic needs. It’s important to note that the quality with which I am identified most closely is probably Socialism. Not the share-and-share-alike, cold and snowing Soviet form of Socialism, but rather the I’d-sooner-eat-my-own-hand-than-have-‘alone time’ sort of Social-ism.
So now I have been abandoned (extenuating circumstances, like I said) to brave adulthood on my own. Many of my friends and acquaintances are accomplishing the same feat (albeit with roommates), and I’ve noticed the ease with which they’ve made the transition. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the same results.
Here are a few concepts of domesticity I’m having trouble assimilating (this could also be titled Things I Must Convince Myself Are Normal In Order To Feel Sane):

-There is nothing wrong—read me, nothing wrong—with a few errant beverage bottles occupying my counter space for a few days after the date of consumption. Even if it’s a few weeks.

-Thunder and lightning occurring in the middle of the night—waking me up from a peaceful slumber—could have been a bomb, okay? It could have.

-Soap scum is a living, breathing entity, and to discover a way to combat this rogue is worth congratulations. Not eye-rolling.

-Calling the number posted on the “Sick of your job? Discover what your worth!” signs on freeway offramps to report a spelling error (via a strongly worded message) should be considered a Good Deed.

-When I am hanging things, it’s not helpful to sit on my couch whilst tapping the “cool” button on my remote control A/C unit and saying things like, “It’s still not straight.” Well, I clearly knew that, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken the time to position the nail and hammer it into the wall in hopes of someday hanging something there.

-Cooking is not for everyone. Enough.

-The Terror of Bugs: Critters who seem to inhabit my apartment with an almost transcendental amount of comfort and ease. Why is there a Giant Threatening Spider in my shower? Was the Giant Threatening Spider there—gasp—this morning while I was rinsing and repeating? How did this GTS arrive in such a place? Were the serfs in the dark ages really mistaken in their negligence of personal hygiene?

…and while I’m on the subject of peculiar phenomena, my car has started rejecting each and every gas pump I’ve managed to pry into its Scandinavian gas hole. Three times now I’ve watched my world utterly disintegrate when the nozzle mysteriously dislodges itself from my car and flies wildly into the air. Now a normal (albeit painfully expensive) trip to the gas station has morphed into a fearsomely difficult task which often ends with me dodging a sputtering geyser of gasoline while spewing an impressive array of choice expletives to the amusement of any spectator within a three mile radius. (I know that last sentence was long, take a deep breath. It’s not fun reliving the experience, either, you know).
I wish I could say events like this only occurred sparingly.
I also wish that Californians hadn’t decided to settle and prosper on a fault line.
My point is, I am single and I live alone, and when things do go right, I give credit where credit is due. I frequently have to congratulate myself on my small triumphs as such. Having said this, I have a friend whose very existence is an utter mystery to me. The logical way by which he orders his thoughts into a particular arrangement is baffling. I’ve never questioned my own sanity until I spent time with this glutton for common sense.
It doesn’t matter what condition my car or apartment is in—freshly scrubbed, pleasantly cluttered, or toxic trash heap—to the exclusion of all else, he will comment on whatever evidence of non-domesticity he can find. There’s nothing quite like underhanded comments to really bring your shortcomings to light. Normally these things can build over time, but there are certain verbal shortcuts, certain zero-to-sixty asides that can really get my blood boiling.
Case in point.
I don’t even remember how we got on the subject—and really, it doesn’t matter. In reality, we very likely weren’t even within the same library as the subject, but nonetheless It came up (‘It’ being my apparent inability to function normally in Adultland). I believe I was verbally applauding myself for cleaning my apartment, when (and this is where my threshold for bonehead Type A remarks is really tested), my friend snorted and sort of guffawed to himself.
“You’re the only girl I know of who is messier than me,” He stated.
Oh, why thank you.
And I’m sure in his neat, organized accountant mind, this sort of statement qualified him for some sort of grateful pat on the back. But that’s because while the world’s (and surely his) center of logic is precisely here, I find that mine is precisely elsewhere. And in this delusional state, I’m fairly certain a statement like this could nominate him for a swift kick in the ass. But I’ll digress, because while the details in my domestic life are small triumphs, I regard them as being no less than monumental. Whether anyone else agrees with me or not.