Tag Archives: Filthy

Roaches Make Strange Bedfellows

Rusted and RuinedMy mom tried to kill herself, and was consequently deemed an unfit parent. Children services took my brother and me away and introduced us to the wonderful horrors of foster care. Luckily, our grandparents decided to take custody of us shortly thereafter, but forms and proceedings had to happen before they could take us “home,” so we were stuck in the system.

Children services decided to put us both into a group home for boys. They knew the situation was temporary, so they gave in when we begged them not to separate us. That’s how I, a girl, ended up sleeping on a couch in a group home for boys. They only let me stay there because I promised not to go upstairs where the the boys slept. I stayed downstairs, where the bathroom had no shower or bathtub, and I went without a shower for a week. But, all this was fine by me because my brother said the roaches were worse up there.

It was hard to imagine an infestation larger than the one downstairs. Roaches where everywhere. I hardly slept the entire time I was in that house. I knew the roaches would crawl all over me the second I drifted off to sleep. When the house was dark, they crawled out from their hiding places, frolicking on the counters and cabinets, tables and chairs, walls and ceilings, curtains and rugs.

I fought the urge to burn my clothes and tear off my skin every morning. I knew, I just knew the filthy creatures laid eggs under my skin while I slept. The disgusting things had crawled in my mouth while I snored. They went into my ears, ate the wax, then shit it back out. The dirt of their little bodies covered every part of me, but I couldn’t take a shower because it was upstairs with the boys’ rooms. I washed myself in the bathroom sink downstairs as well as I could, but I didn’t feel clean again until after I had taken four or five showers at my grandparent’s house.

People seem to think that foster homes are safe and clean. They think that the places are regularly inspected, the foster parents thoroughly checked. They think the system works, that it protects children. They’re wrong.


The Cat Pee Sauna

What Smells Like Windex

The smell of cat piss was awe-inspiring. It wasn’t just a hint of ammonia in the air. It wasn’t just a smell coming from the litter box. No, this was a smell that made you question reality. It was a living smell, a sticky ooze moving over your skin. It greeted you the second you walked within five feet of the house. If you ventured inside, it jumped on you like an excited puppy. It licked your face and rubbed against your clothes, leaving its scent behind.

When the weather turned hot and humid, the house became a piss fueled sauna. The only escape was my mom’s bedroom, where a small air conditioner sat in the window. It supplied us with fresh, cool air while we slept and ate. It was an oasis where we hid ourselves away from the foul world we lived in.

Little Debris

Rainbow on the Rugs

When I was a young girl, I remember crawling on my hands and knees across the living room floor. I was picking up little bits and pieces of the debris that covered the carpet. We didn’t have a working vacuum cleaner, but I wanted that floor clean. I moved with the slow determination of a glacier. I was unstoppable, my little hands clearing away life’s rubble.

I stood panting in the middle of the room, surveying my work. My knees were gray and scratched. My hands were streaked with dust, my fingernails were black. My body was coated in a glaze of sweat and cat hair, but all that mattered was the floor looked clean.

Little Lives

Little Kitty Ear

My brother and I went down with shovels–yes, shovels–to get rid of the ankle deep piles of cat shit in the basement. My mom locked the cats down there for days with big bowls of food and water, but no litter box. We weren’t allowed to let them out unless she said we could, so they languished under our feet.

The cats would die because of fleas and filth. Some got pregnant, filling the house with pitiful kittens who never had a chance. Our backyard slowly morphed into a cemetery.

I once knelt on the floor and held a three day old kitten in my small hands. I cried as I watched it have multiple seizures. I knelt there, praying for its tiny life. My knees were breaking, my legs were numb, but it didn’t matter. Every time a seizure stopped, I was sure my prayers were being answered. As it convulsed more and more, my faith became less and less. I watched helplessly as a tiny little life ended in the palm of my hands.

Dirty Little Hands

Home was where dirty dishes masqueraded as science experiments as they multiplied in the sink. Mounds of stained, soiled clothes settled like strata over the floor, a geological record of the years. Every corner was caked in the mysterious substance that’s only found in abandoned spaces. Broken toys were tossed aside, never moved from where they fell. The kitchen floor was sticky from years of sprinkled sugar and dripped oil. The counters were a jungle of empty bread bags and cereal boxes glued together with mustard and syrup. Stains spread across the leaking ceiling, brown relics of bygone rains.

The filth was an army. It invaded us from every front. It marched over us. It trampled every shred of pride we had.

It left a hopeless devastation in its wake that rots on my skin to this very day.


The dirt of poverty creeps in and infests every corner. You’re so busy worrying and struggling and fighting the world, you don’t notice the dust, dirt, and debris piling up. Then you look around you, and all of a sudden the mess is leering at you from every nook and cranny.

Shame washes over you, and you grab a bucket and a scrub brush, and you set to work. The more you clean, the more you notice is dirty.  So, you scrub and scrape until your arms feel like they’re going to fall off. You get to a point where you just can’t move anymore. You look at the progress you made, look at the progress you didn’t make, and your sense of accomplishment dwindles away like the embers of fireworks. Crushing defeat settles in, and you bury your face in something, so you can’t see what a failure you are.

The Dirt's Creeping In Again