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Chapter 9. Pale Happiness.
There are three draft emails in my inbox that I have kept for over a year. They are query/pitches to editors at Playboy, the New Yorker, and the Rolling Stone. I never had the balls to send it. I fear both: rejection and acceptance.
It’s been slow lately. I did what my editors asked. I queried some stories. And now I don’t want to do those stories. So I’m thinking about querying again. Because I need to make money.
So let’s go back to telling stories of Tijuana. This wasn’t what I originally set to write ever. It just happens.
I knew it was a mistake moving in with her after the first night there.
Nothing happened at night. I don’t really remember the night. It was probably uneventful. Me moving shit and setting up my room. My iMac where I currently type this was in a lonely corner of a small decent room in some ghetto Tj apartment.
Rent was $280 a month, I paid her first month + deposit. Split into two, $140+ expenses to live in that boxy apartment with her was a great deal. Better than my parents.
Nothing happened that night.
I awoke to the sounds of her singing scales with her keyboard. She was doing it wrong.
I ignored it. That was her thing. Play keyboards and sing. I’ve seen her done it before.
That’s how we met.
Oh yeah. I met her before and I already knew she was crazy. I moved in thinking, “how bad can it be.”
It was bad since that first morning.
We met randomly at some hipster event in Pasaje Gómez, an arts alley. Local Tijuanenses were selling homemade Etsy-like shit. I went there with my guitar because my brother asked me to help him with his stand. So I played guitar while people browsed his store.
She sat next to me and said nothing.
Then on her weird accent and soft voice, she said: “hi, you… play pretty…” She said it in Spanish, but it sounded like she didn’t know the language well. And the inflection of her voice goes up and down in an odd fashion.
Nothing happened that day. I met a weird pale chick and thought nothing of it.
Weeks later I saw her pale face at a punk show in Mous Tache bar. That’s what I kept doing those days. Drinking a lot of cheap shit and going to punk shows.
She was selling weed cookies and I bought some from her. They were pretty bad.
I went to the show by myself and she sold cookies to people on the crowd. I didn’t pay attention to her much, but as the show ended and the beers hit me way more than the cookies, I was ready to go home. This is back when I was still living with my parents.
She said she had more weed at her house and invited me over to her place.
We walked back to her place.
We fooled around on her couch.
Then nothing happened and I fell asleep.
Her weed was shitty. Didn’t even smoke it. I was too tired.
Months later she told me she needed a roommate. Months later I was ready to get out of my parents’ house.
So fuck it. I knew she was crazy, but I moved in any way.
She came out of her room that first morning after singing scales wearing a long white gown. Those type of pajama gowns that you only see grandmas wearing.
I told her I wanted to put some plates and shit that was kitchen-related in the drawers of the kitchen.
She replied “but we already have plates. Why would you want to put more plates there?”
I told her because they were my plates and she had her plates.
The “we” thing was enough of a sign.
She complained and said they would gather dust.
Two boxes of kitchen shit that was my property were not welcome in the kitchen we were supposed to be sharing.
Fuck it. I’ll survive a few months with a crazy chick and leave…
I left the apartment to go to work. Office at 10:00 a.m.
Before moving in, I made her clear of two things. We weren’t going to hook up at all and that I need internet to work.
She texted me at lunch time “please buy toilet paper because we need some.”
I ignored it.
“We also need soap, sponges, and shampoo.”
I ignored it again.
“Buy this type of shampoo.”
I texted her back that I wasn’t buying her all that shit but that I agreed with the toilet paper.
I came home and she had done nothing all day.
I asked about the internet. She said she was going to get it.
I asked what she did all day and she basically just sat in the apartment, cleaned it, and watched movies on her laptop.
I told her I had more shit that I wanted to move into the apartment. My TV and some furniture.
She said she didn’t want a TV in the apartment because she would watch it too often. And she didn’t want any more furniture because they get dirty.
The only internet I could get was in the corner of my room. I stole the signal from a neighbor and it was low and crappy. But that corner was the only place.
So that’s where I stayed for the rest of my night until rinse and repeat.
Following morning I come out of my room, shower, and got ready to work.
She was in the kitchen spreading some avocado on a piece of toast.
I told her that avocados are one of the only things I don’t like.
She turns around and says: “oh really?”
She then grabbed the avocado and started smushing it all over her face. Eww, why?
Because it was an avocado skin beauty mask according to her. It wasn’t. It was avocado spread unevenly on her face to spite me.
She then grabbed the other half of the avocado and said: “you don’t like it? What if I do this?” She lifted her gown and gestured touching herself with the avocado.
I didn’t fall for her game. Have a good day. Going to work.
I came home at night to find out that she did nothing about the internet.
She said she didn’t want internet in the apartment anymore. I needed it for work…
She said she worked online.
What did she do? She went to coffee shops and sold books on eBay for pennies. Books that her parents bought her for college.
How she paid rent or anything was always a mystery. I thought she sold weed or did something. But no. I suspect her parents gave her a small stipend and she would spread that stipend as best as she could throughout the whole month. Doing absolutely nothing. Wasting money.
She would also drag her piano and play in public. She barely even knew chords or music. I told her I could teach her but she adamantly said no.
She would grind on the piano seat, play random keys, and sing and moan. She told me once, that as an artist, her objective was to have an orgasm on stage in front of people.
She had cardboard cutouts in her room. Not official ones. It was just literal cardboard from a box, that she DIY and then crudely drew on them. They were supposedly Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Prince, and John Lennon. She said they were her backup band.
She lacked talent and self-awareness. She was also shy and odd.
And again, her pale face and weird accent didn’t help.
Her name wasn’t Palída Hortaliza. I learned that quick. Her name, according to her, and the landlord was “Alegría.” Happiness.
That’s what she had me called her.
Way later after moving out, I found out her real name.
I’ve only seen her once again and I’m not sure if it was her. It was like seeing the devil.
I had planned to move out after my two months since I had already paid for them. I told her that I was moving out because she refused to get internet and I needed a place with internet.
One day, I came back from work to find out that the couch she had in the living room was gone.
She sold it on eBay for $1 USD to a buyer from Arizona. She carried and dragged the old worn-out couch to the border. Crossed it over. Walked over to the nearest post office. Paid $37 to have the couch shipped.
Because she didn’t want the buyer to give her a bad review on eBay.
Two weeks later. She got a one-star review from that customer.
So she wasn’t only crazy in the schemes of being crazy. She also just plainly didn’t make sense.
And the type of texts of her demanding shit continued. She kept telling me to buy certain things. Or that the apartment needed something. That “we” needed something.
All of that happened in less than a week.
I established my boundaries once more. But that didn’t work.
Oh shit yeah.
The second night I was there… she started crying out of nowhere. I asked her what was wrong, why was she crying?
She replied, “I cry every night because no one loves me.”
And she did.
I heard her sobbing every night. It wasn’t the quiet type of sobbing. She wanted the neighborhood to know she was crying.
And then she would wake up at the crack of dawn to practice singing. Scales played wrongly and her voice not even close to matching the notes being played.
So. To recap.
She demanded shit via text. She sold shit on eBay but lost money while selling (and most of her day). She didn’t want a TV because she would spend too much time watching it, but she would watch movies she downloaded on her laptop all day. She wanted to be a singer but was nowhere close to reality in being one.
And on top of all that, she demanded to clean everything extensively. Because that’s what she did all day.
I decided to only be in my room and go out to use the bathroom. I never used the kitchen. I always ate out because she would complain.
I felt like a prisoner in my own apartment.
That’s how it was for another week.
Things got worse.
She would demand more things from me, and when I refused she went crazy.
She told me the story of why she got kicked out of her parents’ house once.
In her own soft awkward inflection voice, the story goes like this:
“So… I was at my parents’ house. And I got bored. And I grabbed drawings that my brother had made. He was in art school. Well. I grabbed them and smeared la regla on all of them. Then I showed them what I did during dinner.”
She then gave me a sly smile.
I didn’t know what she meant by “la regla” which Spanish means “the ruler.” I was confused.
She kept saying la regla… la regla… as if it had more significance.
Then she said it.
“I menstruated on my brother’s drawings.”
La regla is another way to say she had her period.
And she was proud.
She told that story as if she was an artistic genius. As if she did something amazing.
She told me another story.
“Another time, I grabbed my parents and sat them down in the living. I unbuckled my belt and stripped naked. I kept the belt in my hand and started hitting the floor and hitting myself until I was bleeding. I kept hitting myself and the floor and screaming: ESTO ES LO QUE ME HICIERON!”
“This is what you did to me.”
I have no idea what her parents ever did to her.
Shit was scary.
I just wanted the two months to fly so I can find another place.
It was two weeks into living with her that I came into the apartment and found a handwritten letter from her.
The letter was accusing me of being a bad roommate and telling me that she was going to charge me for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom because I didn’t clean.
It basically said that. But it was written on both sides of the page.
I saw her that night and told her she had to be joking. There was no way I was going to pay for her cleaning. She wanted a ludicrous amount as well. Like three times what a maid would charge me to clean the apartment.
She started hitting herself.
Slowly on her chest at first.
Like pounding on her chest with her closed right fist while staring at me.
She started pounding harder and harder. Clearly hurting herself.
She then said it.
“I’m going to call the cops and tell them you raped me.”
And she started beating herself up more.
I closed the door to my room in a panic. I posted on Facebook what I was going through in case things got out of control people knew what was going on.
I opened the door after a few minutes to find that she was still hitting herself.
I left the apartment and went next door to the gas station.
The guy in charge of the building worked in the gas station, he told me to called him “Tache”. Luckily, he was there that night. I panicky told him what was happening.
Tache, with his broad white mustache and greasy hands, said: “se le boto la canica, verda’?” Which means she went crazy, right?
I told him I noticed the apartment below was empty and asked him if I could move there that same night. He calmed me down and told me not to worry. He gave me the keys to the empty apartment and went over to the apartment to talk to Alegría.
She had calmed down but she had some blood on her forehead and bruises on her arms and chest.
I told her, through Tache, that I was there to grab my things and that I was moving out.
I grabbed my bed, my computer, some other basic things, and went to the apartment downstairs.
The following morning, with the help of Tache, I went back to the apartment for the rest of my shit. She sat in the living room observing me move out all my shit.
As I was moving the shit out and taking it to the other place… she grabbed a chair from her room, went to the apartment complex tiny ass patio, sat down with a massive book (seemed like a textbook for coding which I’m sure she wasn’t reading) and kept observing me.
She never said a word to me.
I never said a word to her.
A few days later she was gone.
Tache told me that she abandoned some shit in the apartment. Her backup band of crude cardboard cutouts. Some random clothes and broken heels. Books and notebooks with scribbles of her poetry. Other crap.
She was also didn’t pay rent and left with the keys. The rent money I gave her…
The only thing that she took with her was her keyboard.
And now I had my own two-bedroom apartment in Tijuana. Two weeks free rent because Tache hooked it up and understood the situation.
You the man, Tache!
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