Einar Jørgen Haraldseid / Via Flickr: ejh Keep in mind, this all happened at a time in my life when the old rules got lost in the fire, and the new ones hadn't grown in yet. I showed up in New York City, a small town girl (Chicago's small, right?) with an equally small paycheck, and nowhere to live. After an elaborate Craigslist search, I managed to wrangle myself up a spot at an old Brooklyn factory building turned "anarchist" loft with a bunch of other adult children. The F.B.I. had raided the building five years earlier, looking for vigilante group Anonymous. They found nothing, or at least nothing that they disclosed to Wikipedia.I was curious to see how an anarchist loft managed to collect rent, but once I moved in, the only sign of activism I noticed was a small anarchist sticker on the wall. When I asked my roommate Jim about it, he laughed."Oh yeah … Well, we wanted to rent out a room, but we knew the place was too dirty for normal people. So we came up with the idea of calling it an anarchist loft so nobody too uptight would respond to the ad. We wanted to attract the right kind of person."I was, apparently, the right kind of person.It took me a full month before I figured out who my roommates were. Twelve people were living there at the time, plus four eleven-inch long turtles our leaseholder kept in the living room, and two French guests of a roommate who'd technically moved out the week earlier, but was still very much taking over the couch. They made delicious homemade lemon crepes to placate my actual rent-paying roommates, who were annoyed by the squatting but felt strongly about breakfast food."The only reason they call toast "toast" is because bread's a bitch until you put it in a toaster," my roommate Darren once explained to me. "They don't call food you put in a microwave 'microwave.' If you put toaster strudel in a microwave, it's still called toaster strudel. Although, toaster strudel kind of sucks too. Cause it seems like it's supposed to be a tart, but it's just not."It didn't end there."Bread is a bitch," proudly proclaimed Darren, ten minutes later. "Toast is like a strong, strong woman. Toast is like Beyoncé."Our leaseholder's name was Nahlejj, pronounced "knowledge," and he was a Kung Fu master who didn't actually live with us but was around quite a lot. He seemed to be into some sort of Eastern spirituality, as evidenced by Buddhist paintings on the walls, two Chinese umbrellas and full sized yurt in the basement, although no one could tell me what his beliefs actually were."Time is a measurement of motion," he once explained with the help of a lot of circular hand motions. I couldn't tell if he was referring to Einstein's special theory of relativity or if he was just enjoying hearing himself talk, but that phrase would stick in my head for months.My roommate, Alexander, eventually admitted that Nahlejj, who was racially ambiguous, was a member of the "Five Percent Nation," a small religious group started by a former Malcolm X student and Nation of Islam adherent in Harlem that believed five percent of the world had 100% of the world's knowledge. Which was that white people were the devil.As one of their affiliates wrote in an essay for Vice, "The first lesson I learned from the Five Percent was simple: Fuck white people. Seriously."They believed God existed in all black men (Not black women though. Because fuck women. Seriously.). And Jews financed the Holocaust. And a black scientist invented white people 6,600 years ago using grafting."But Nahlejj isn't that religious," Alexander reassured me. I'd like to take a moment to refer to their scripture, as voiced by Shabazz the Disciple, a Brooklyn rapper.Grafted from original black man's sperm. Thin-blooded weak, grafted-brain punk.Your power's a third of mine, you drunk funky skunk.Not to be a man divided against himself, Nahlejj combined his professions by converting the bottom floor of our loft into a dojo. Students would come in all the time to kick stuff and punch stuff to manly-sounding workout music while we were brushing our teeth. It eventually came out that the actual landlords and Nahlejj were having some sort of dispute about how Nahlejj wasn't, technically, paying them. He had no trouble collecting our rent — talented guy, Nahlejj — but he had this unfortunate habit of using the money to invest in a nightclub in New Jersey. "So it's kind of our nightclub." I told my roommates. "Let's storm in like we own the place." We did not.Nahlejj's lawyer, who went by "Messiah," had the brilliant idea that it'd be really hard to kick Nahlejj out of his apartment if he had people squatting there. Besides us, that is. Because that's how laws work. So Nahlejj decided to pressure his obedient Kung Fu students to occupy our living room.All of a sudden, a ninja invasion became a real threat."But there's no way he'll actually make them come, right?" I asked Alexander. "He can't.""Not legally," Alexander replied. "Do you have a lawyer?""No.""Me neither."We installed an extra lock on our door. For weeks, we lived like ancient Chinese peasants on the wrong side of a turf war. In the chaos, the place fell into Roman Empire-style decline — unwashed, sometimes broken dishes in the sink, luggage lying around, paint drops mysteriously appearing on the ground. Nahlejj wasn't cleaning the turtles' cage anymore, and the water turned algae-green and started to smell, the poor turtles stuck in their own filth. Someone wrote "Nahlejj is power" in Sharpie on the wall.Threatening knocks beat on our door at random hours. We'd stop what we were doing, turn the lights out, and wait like farmers scared of getting kidnapped into the Soviet army. Anarchy had finally materialized at the anarchist loft, and not the vegan co-op kind.Late one night, Nahlejj gave us a call."Things went bad with the Jews," he confessed (our landlords were orthodox Jews). He explained that they were evicting us … in twelve hours. We divided into teams: one to reason with the landlords, one to go to housing court, and one to rent a U-haul and storage space.As the resident Jew (upon finding out I was Jewish, one of our subletters politely asked me, "So what's with you guys controlling the world?"), I was dispatched early the next morning to talk to the landlords, the theory being that I could hypnotize them using my bat mitzvah Torah portion or something. "Can I take the day off?" I frantically texted my boss as I rushed up the stairs to the management office. "I'm getting invaded by ninjas.""Okay," he responded, with no follow up questions.Alas, the landlords were out of town celebrating Sukkot, a holiday that commemorates the time ancient Hebrews left their homes in stupid pyramidy Egypt and wandered through the stupid starvingy desert for forty years. The landlords were too busy empathizing with our shared ancient homeless ancestors to reconsider throwing me out of my home.So instead of saving the day, I grabbed my headphones and turned on "Subterranean Homesick Blues," a song written by another wandering Jew, and headed to the 99 cents store to buy garbage bags because you gotta put all your belongings somewhere.Twenty years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift.I was in my windowless bedroom, emptying clothes into the bags.Get dressed, get blessed, try to be a success.How would I get my surprisingly comfortable second-hand mattress through the doorway?They must bust in early May, orders from the D.A…Our eviction orders were actually from the D.A. I went back and listened to that line again.Look out kid. It's somethin' you did.As I tossed a container of dried lentils into the bag, I glanced out my kitchen window and saw the superintendent walking down the street with a padlock.Look out kid. Don't matter what you did. At housing court, the judge flipped slowly through the cases. Look out kid. You're gonna get hit.By noon, the judge got through nearly all his cases. It was just us, Nahlejj and the "the Jews," a nickname my roommates had uncomfortably adopted by this point. Thanks again, Nahlejj.Look out kid. They keep it all hid. We waited with baited — really, just full of bait — breath as the judge finally reached our case.Don't wanna be a bum. You better chew gum. Eh, Dylan, I suspect you just needed a rhyme there.The judge gathered us together — Nahlejj, Messiah, the landlords and us tenants — and looked us like we were bickering children."Alright, what the Hell's going on here?" he asked like the representative of law and order in this land of the free that he was.Messiah tried to explain his side of the story, which made all the sense of a yurt inside a dojo inside a Brooklyn loft, but the judge cut him off."Shut up," he said. The clock kept ticking. It was ten minutes until noon, meaning ten minutes until our lives were locked away and we were forced to scatter, probably never to see each other again. I could picture the padlock, swollen with anticipation.The judge turned to us. "Alright, so what about you guys?""They're clearly conspiring with Nahlejj!" blurted out the landlords' lawyer."Shut up, that doesn't make any sense," replied the judge. He turned back to us. "So you have no idea what's going on?"We did not."So you're victims. You know what? I'm gonna help you out."The judge pulled out his cell phone. We looked on with the hope and reverence of our 12-year-old selves meeting J.K. Rowling as he dialed."Hey, so how're the kids? …. Mhmm … So you know that eviction you've got this afternoon? … No, the other one … No, the other other one … Yeah, cancel it."Salvation."We're gonna drink all the alcohol and eat all the ice cream!" shouted Darren as he came home victorious to our totally not padlocked apartment. We proceeded to celebrate at a pizza place, where we each drank a single pricey beer.All was Dove chocolate and warm showers until two weeks later, when "the Jews" filed an appeal and successfully kicked us out. "What should we do with the turtles?" Alexander asked Nahlejj over the phone."Throw them out," Nahlejj replied. Spiritual guy, that Nahlejj. The day I was moving out, after Nahlejj had left town with our security deposits and last month's rent, I happened to run into one of the landlords, who didn't recognize me."How are you doing?" he asked."Not great," I replied. "I'm getting evicted."He looked surprised. "You're living there? A nice Jewish girl like you?" He offered to let me a rent a different room in the same building, but of course it was far too late; I'd already signed a lease on a new place."Well, let me know if there's anything I can do to help," he offered."Actually, I'm in the middle of doing laundry, but the laundry card machine is broken. My clothes are just sitting wet in the dryer," I explained. "Could you let me borrow a laundry card? I just need thirty cents.""Uhhh … No, sorry."That night, we piled our lives into a U-haul and set off for the unknown, meaning the new apartment we rapidly managed to get about ten minutes away. Eviction complete.It don't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.