Friday, July 20, 2007


Life sucks, but a person can suck it back.

I've been out of writing commission for a few weeks for a variety of reasons, but mostly because we were dealing with 1) the death of David's beloved 87 year-oldgrandfather , 2) a broken air conditioner -- for the fourth
time -- and 3) a sudden swell of fleas in the apartment. Which caused
us to have to 1) move out to a friend's house (thank you, Diana) for a
week, after having just moved in one month before 2) purchase a new
vacuum cleaner, one with a bag so that we could remove it, full of
fleas, after every vacuuming session and take it directly to the trash
and 3) deal with how unpredictable life is overall.

We have been living in the wreck of reality -- without our routines to smooth
over the jagged edges of the way the world falls down around us, every
day. Living this way, there is no other option but to choose to see the
wreck differently, because it's not going to stop changing
catastrophically all the time. Catastrophe is the nature of life.

We have dealt with fleas before
, and upon seeing the first baby one hop[e] onto my leg, I spiraled into PTSD so hard, I got the wind knocked out of me when I hit the carpet. My dejection nearly got the best of me. Nevertheless, at 7:45 a.m., I got
online and googled "pest control in Houston."

Which is how I found The Pest King, Mr. Miles Self.

Mr. Self listened to my qualms about using chemicals to combat the fleas,
and he agreed with me. "Chemicals won't work for your problem. I hate
chemicals, and I use them everyday," he said. "What you need to do is
get yourself a good vacuum with a bag, and vacuum every inch of your
house. Move the furniture, lift the bookcases away from the wall, get a
crack 'n crevice tool. The fleas love to hide in the floor boards and
the cracks in the baseboards. Vacuum every inch; and then two days from
now, do it again. Then two days after that, do it again. If you do
that, I think you'll be miles ahead of the game."

"What vacuum cleaners would you recommend?" I asked. I have a Dirt Devil the size of a camper van; it has no bag. I don't mention this to the Pest King. I'm talking to a professional! here.

"Oh, Kirby. Or Electrolux. They're gonna run you a lot of money. It's not going to be cheap. But if I come over there, I'm gonna have to use chemicals and I'm telling
you that's not even gonna work.Chemicals'll only kill the fleas where the substance hits the surface. That's it. There're no residuals in these things anymore. Which is a good thing, but this is why I hate treating for fleas. I'd rather not do it. But I'll come over there for twenty bucks, and if you decide you need me to use
chemicals, we can apply the $20 to the cost, which isn't cheap either."

"Hmmmm," I say. "So the vacuuming -- "

"I have an Oreck, he says. "It's professional, what I use. It's a good machine. It'll cost you a lot, but it's worth it."

So I went to the Oreck store right around the corner from my new apartment. I tried to talk the salesmen into giving me a bunch of free stuff with my purchase. I
told him "my friend told me to come here because you guys would give me
a bunch of free stuff."

"No, you have to pay for the stuff," they said.

I acted perplexed. Diego crawled through the forest of Oreck uprights, set up on the clean, ultra-Hunter green carpet. I looked skeptical.

"We do have one that we're selling for half-price --"

"What's that one?" I said.

"The Teal Edition. It's being discontinued."

"What's the difference? Besides $200?"

"It's teal."

"That's the one I want."

Turns out when I bought the vacuum, they DID throw in some free stuff. Not enough, but whatever.

And as expensive as it was, it was a much better investment, certainly,
than my "free" car, which bled money from me for over 5 years.

And what was my alternative, in any case, to the Oreck? It was either Oreck, or wreck.


chuck said...

the teal one was totally the right choice.

houston + summer + fleas = falling off a cliff of sanity, screaming "no!!" without ever hitting the bottom. good luck!

Powergirl said...

So sorry!

Ann_Bogle said...

The internet is moving slowly this week & news has been awful; yet reading here about your anti-flea vacuuming was actually invigorating. That is bec. you write well abt. just abt. anything, even lousy disturbances, such as fleas. It's a gift. I hope you'll be writing regularly again -- I look forward to it. I wrote a critique of sex w/ fat men -- (that reads like bad TV!) Now I have fat-porn seekers at my weblog. I have intended to query poets on the listservs re: a discussion list for literary bloggers. I think it's needed.