Saturday, March 5
The rooms are not large in temporary billeting in Union III and afford almost no privacy at all. I had a room to myself for a day or two after Mary the forensic scientist and Kim the oddball Egyptian translator left but private rooms don’t last long there. People come and go constantly at all times of the day and night and you would be well-advised to sleep with earplugs and an eye guard if you wanted to not only get to sleep but, stay asleep.
By their drawls and y’alls, my new roommates, Deirdre and Joanne, were both from the southern US somewhere. They had a particular – and strange to me – pattern of interaction, in which they both spoke quite a lot but neither of them seemed to listen or respond to the other. Deidre has practiced sound bites which she punctuates with either an “mmmm, hmmmmm!” or a rehearsed laugh at the same part of the story each time she tells it (which is usually several. “Yeah, Ima gone get me one of them lil shuschitshus. My daughter say ‘Mama, you get it now and by the time you come home in October it’ll be all potty trained and everthang’. I tell her no, I ain’t gone do that, it gone think you its mama and I’m the one paid for it!”. Pursed lips and a big belly laugh followed this one. Joanne, who when in repose looks both very unhappy and highly disapproving of the world in general, says nothing in reply to Deirdre but starts a long rambling story of her own about her two labs and how she and her husband rescued them and what her husband said to her and what she said to him. But, before Joanne is finished her meandering tale, Deirdre cuts in with a verbatim repetition of the above, including the precise same belly laugh with Joanne, again, giving a blank stare and saying nothing.
Deirdre, who was actually quite nice, was to have gotten a CHU the day after she arrived. Despite liking her,I was pretty excited to have her gone; not only did she snore at an excrutiating volume, she liked the room to be absolutely freezing and blasted the cold air all night long, claiming it was for her asthma. When she told me this, I figured her health issue had to trump my preference for warmth and, inwardly sighing, relinquished the remote that I’d tucked away. But after that, I was so cold that I slept badly at night despite the 2 comforters, a cardigan over my pj’s, bed socks and my Maasai blanket from Kenya.
Sunday March 6
Roommate situation went from bad to really bad. Deirdre continued to keep me awake with her snoring and the iciness of the room but Joanne is just as angry and nasty as her expression would suggest. Last night I got into bed and started to watch a movie on my computer, plugging my earphones in to the computer so as to not bother anyone. After about a minute or so, I realized Joanne was right beside my bed, yelling at me. I took the earphones out and heard her yelling at the top of her voice, “Put the damn cord in the computer so the rest of us can’t hear your damn movie all over the damn room!” and stumped furiously back to her bed. After some momentary confusion on my part, I realized I’d stuck the earphone into the wrong hole in my computer. I tried explaining it to her but she was busy making loud announcements to one and all (Deirdre I guess, who seemed unconcerned) that “the whole damn room doesn’t need to hear your damn movie. I gave up, plugged the cord into the correct hole and turned up the volume.
The next day brought more Joanne-unhappiness, this time regarding my having the room warm in the middle of the day. I’d had a pounding bad headache and was laying on the bed trying to rest. She came in to change from out of her church clothes and marched over to my bed and grabbed the remote, “For Christ’s sake – does it have to be so damn hot in here!? You always want it so damn hot – what about the rest of us?” Pointing at Deirdre’s bed, “She’s been complaining about it!!”. On and on she went – small, pinched up face raging at me as she stormed around the room. When I suggested that perhaps we could just discuss it, instead of her comandeering the remote and yelling, she yelled louder, “There’s NUTHIN’ to discuss – it’s hotter in here than it is outside! It’s not just your room and we don’t like it so damn hot.” Finally, I sat up, “What is your problem? Is it really necessary to be so rude to get your point across?” Her: “My PROBLEM is that it’s too damn hot in here! And you just better get used to the fact that I’m rude!” My clever riposte, muttered so softly that under my breath that there’s no way she could have heard me was: “Yeah, well, I’d hate to have to be you!”
I so wanted a glass of wine right then.