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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Squeeze Box

knock knock

I'm groggy, and I can barely see my alarm clock, but I can see that it's 8:48 a.m., which really means it's 8:38 a.m. I have to get up in twenty minutes. I hate being woken up this close to the time that I actually have to get up.

"Yeah," I manage to say.

My roommate opens the door and stands in the doorway. I've been living in this house for fourteen days, and I share it with five other people: my sister, LG, a seventeen-year-old Kiwi girl who is a co-worker, RA (a twenty-eight-year-old Englishman), and SH, a twenty-five year-old Kiwi girl. Oh, and E_, a twenty-one-year-old six-and-a-half-foot-tall Maori guy, who is the seventeen-year-old girl's boyfriend. E_ is standing in my doorway, and he takes up nearly the whole area.

"Sorry about last night," he says. "We were pissed as, and I just get stupid when I do that. I'm still drinking now." He gestures to a bottle in his hand.

"Jesus."

Last night I was woken up at 4:30 in the morning to hear Eminem's The Eminem Show blaring on the stereo in the living room, and several voices conversing indiscriminately in the hallway outside my room. I opened the door to see what the hell was going on, and some guy turns around and looks at me.

"Can you keep it down?" I ask.

"Oh, yeah. Sorry, mate."

I close the door.

"Was I being too loud?" I hear the guy ask.

"No, you're fine," I hear E_ reply.

The time is 4:40 a.m., the music's been turned up. E_ and two other guys are standing in the bathroom.

"Hey man, you guys gotta keep it down. I'm trying to sleep and it's 4:30 in the morning. I have to wake up and go to work." I'm less polite than I was eight minutes ago.

"Oh yeah, sorry 'bout that," he says. "Show me how low you want it."

So I follow him, in my boxers, into the living room, where I find five people standing around smoking (against the house rules) and drinking. E_ goes over to the stereo, and changes the track, then turns up the volume.

"That's the wrong way," I say.

The song starts, and it's louder than it was before, because the volume was turned up.

"Down," I say.

He turns it down a little.

"More," I say.

He turns it down to a level that I imagine won't disturb me.

"That's fine."

I lay in bed, and I can feel a tenseness in my shoulders that won't go away, especially because I can still hear the music, and the talking hasn't quieted at all. It isn't as intrusive as before, but it's still there, and now I'm awake, so of course it's bothering me. I'm also bothered because the three other roommates (not including my sister, who is away for the weekend, but definitely including his girlfriend) haven't gotten up to say anything, and left me to take care of it. I know they're awake, I can hear them walking around in their room upstairs, and I heard LG arguing with E_ in their room, which is right next door to mine. I drift in and out of somewhere between wide-awake, anger, and semi-lucidity for the next half an hour, mainly because I heard someone say that they were "taking off in a minute here, bro." The voices stop, The Eminem Show stops. My shoulders just start to loosen up, when--

BOOM BOOM BOOM BA DA DA DA DA DA
BOOM BOOM BOOM BA DA DA DA DA


He's put on some kind of drum and bass, and turned it up as loud as it can go. The house is vibrating off its foundation, due to the ten-inch subwoofer connected to the stereo that is situated on the floor. I throw open the door and march down the hall.

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, MAN?" I yell above the noise. He turns it down. RA steps out of his room onto the balcony of the stairs.

"Can you turn it down please?" he asks in his polite English way. I continue spouting off about how it's 5:30 in the morning, how we all have to go to work in the morning, how there are six of us that live here, get these people the fuck out of here, and turn that shit off and leave it off. E_turns the music off. I march down the hall back to my room and lay in my bed for the fourth time that evening.

Everyone's gone and the music is off, so I assume I'll be getting back to sleep soon. When I was a kid, my grandmother taught me this exercise that has always helped put me to sleep. I start with my toes, and begin moving up my body, relaxing every muscle until I'm completely relaxed. I can't seem to get past my calves. I shift positions in bed over and over again, hoping it will help. It doesn't. Five minutes after the music is turned off, I hear E_ and LG arguing in their room. She seems to be accusing him of doing methamphetamines ("P", they call it here), he's hurt that she would accuse him of that. It seems mostly one-sided. She has to wake up in about forty-five minutes for work, and doesn't want to deal with it. But he won't shut up. Eventually I just start yelling.

"SHUT UP. SHUT UP. SHUT UP," every few minutes.

I must have fallen asleep, because before I know it, I'm being woken up again.

knock knock

I'm groggy, and I can barely see my alarm clock, but I can see that it's 8:48 a.m., which really means it's 8:38 a.m. I have to get up in twenty minutes. I hate being woken up this close to the time that I actually have to get up.

"Yeah," I manage to say.

Of course, it's E_, and he's apologizing for last night.

"Sorry about last night," he says. "We were pissed as, and I just get stupid when I do that. I'm still drinking now." He gestures to a bottle in his hand.

"Jesus."

"I got cracked over the head with a crowbar at this pub last night. Apparently it was a 'white people only' thing."

I'm laying in bed, unsure of how to respond. He's obviously drunk, and I'm pissed at him for keeping me up all night, and I'm trying to sleep. But he seems comfortable in telling me this story for some reason. I cover my head with a pillow.

He continues. "This guy says to me 'You're a little dark to be in here, aren't you?' and I end up having to stab my way out."

Stab my way out?

He points to what he says is a gash on his face, which I can't see since I don't have my glasses on. Then he starts asking me if I'm having trouble with my car, which I only kind of am. He offers to work on it sometime, and tells me that he took the engine of his car out and in and out and in again earlier this week. Then he mentions that he's going to drive to Mapua now, which I think is a couple of hours away. He asks if I have a map, which I don't. He takes a slug from a bottle of what looks like Jim Beam.

"Should you be driving?" I ask. "That seems pretty dangerous, and there's a lot of cops out there."

"They'll have to catch me first," he says, grinning. "But I'll just finish with Jim and go."

"Have a good time," I say.

I haven't been able to speak to anyone else in the house about this, since I got up and went straight to work, but if this happens again, I'm moving out.

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