I want to make it clear from the beginning that I have a unique set up at my house. And by house I mean two bedroom apartment with 4 adult humans and 3 animals. No matter what – I’m extremely fortunate. I live in an incredible city that’s two blocks away from a CVS with wine, half-baked Ben and Jerry’s, and adult diapers if it ever comes to that. But still, it’s strange.
I live with my mom, my sister and my mom’s best friend Islean. Living in a relatively small space with so many beings gets chaotic, dirty and often mirrors a “Lord of the Flies” vibe. It’s every man for himself with a, “I’m here for you if you absolutely NEED me to be and if I’m not busy” kick. But, there’s never a sober moment as they say. Dull! I meant dull moment.
Our apartment was looking particularly disheveled one day when my mom’s husband stopped by. I’m already being dishonest. Our apartment is always disheveled – it wasn’t just that one day. When you live in a two bedroom apartment with too many people that don’t thoroughly enjoy cleaning, it gets messy. My mom’s husband walked in, took a quick look around and said, “I feel like I need to wear a hazmat suit every time I come here.” For those of you who don’t know, a hazmat suit is impermeable protective gear – you know for people who encounter poisonous, radioactive chemicals on the reg. After he made that reference, the idea kind of took off and spiraled out of control. We began calling our apartment “Hazmania” as if it were its own country.
My mom falls somewhere between Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman’ and Sarah Conner in ‘The Terminator.’ Except she’s not a prostitute and is only a smidge homicidal. She’s intelligent, funny and totally charming when she feels like being charming. She’s got the attractiveness of a model combined with the wit of Bill Burr or any other middle-aged male comedian.
“I wish I was the type of person who enjoyed traveling, but I genuinely regret it every time I go anywhere. I’d rather stay home and watch tv pantsless.” My mom has been saying every version of this sentence ever since I can remember, and all I can say is that I really admire how well she knows herself. Most well-adjusted 23-year-olds don’t want to live with their mom – but I’m not well-adjusted so I don’t fall into this category. In an ideal world, I’d live with her for forever. Or until my future husband tells me it’s time to maybe move out of my mom’s house “since we’ve been married for 8 years now.” She’s my best friend, my confidant and the Queen of Hazmania.
Islean moved in with us a few years ago mostly for entertainment value. When I say moved in, I mean he showed up here every other day unannounced and slowly started leaving all his shit here. Islean and my mom met at the gym, which is where they both live when they’re not here. If I’m remembering correctly, my mom was very into Yoga at the time and Islean was teaching her meditation techniques.
I feel it’s better to leave these photos here without any explanation.
Islean is a big, buff personal trainer and he’s funny as hell. He comes from a theatrical background and studied acting at NYU back in the day. Just picture a big, buff dude… who occasionally bursts out into song. And puts up with three unpleasable women. In Hazmania, he is the entertainer, the comic relief, and the one who trains us for free.
Have I not mentioned my sister yet? She’s like me, but I’m better in every way. And she’s also very different from me. Growing up, Bri was the athletic one and I was a book nerd. In other words, she beat the shit out of me and I retorted with a very mean and robust vocabulary. Bri has the emotional intelligence of a 70-year-old woman who has SEEN SOME SHIT and, like our mom, could’ve been a model. She’s often the one who brings us all together because she doesn’t just want attention; she demands it. If one of us isn’t paying enough attention to her, we get tackled. And we all must accept the fact that if we make food, she’s going to eat it.
“Okay so here are our options,” I said. “Hazmanians. Hazmatians. Hazmatters. Hazmats. If we’re going to be our own entity, we should definitely have a name and probably a fun uniform, but that’ll come later.” I enjoy taking things too far and thought our Hazma-society needed more than just a name. There was some discussion and then we took it to a vote (apparently we’re a democratic society). We are now the Hazmanians of Hazmania.