The Trouble with Roommates


I’ve spent the last three years living alone for sanity reasons (even though it wasn’t the best financial decision ever). I had moved to a strange town and had learned the last time I went away to grad school that rushing into a roommate situation is a bad idea. And I really liked living alone. I liked that I didn’t have to worry about my odd sleep cycle disturbing others. I liked that I didn’t have to dodge around someone else in my closet sized kitchen. I liked that I could have naked time whenever I wanted.

But my friend talked me into going in with her on a townhouse. A little less money and a lot more space and it was too good an offer to refuse. I moved in at the end of July but she only just got back into town. So it’s only in the past week that I’ve actually had to adjust to having a roommate again and while in the long run I think this will be a good situation, right now the childish petulant part of me isn’t liking it.

Roommate only gave me two hours notice of her arrival and admittedly I had stashed stuff in all sorts of space that wasn’t rightfully mine because the school year was starting and I was starting a new job and I’m getting ready for the most important test of my life. (And apparently have acquired a predilection towards run-on sentences) I meant to clear things when I got more settled, I just haven’t gotten more settled (somewhere, my military-wife mother is hanging her head in shame). But in the two hours I was given I did at least manage to get everything out of her room. I just didn’t get everything moved to my half of shared spaces. She’s been incredibly understanding about this.

Me meanwhile? Well I’ve spent a good chunk of the last couple days irritated. She spends an awful lot of time sitting on the couch working on her laptop. Which inhibits my ability to watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. And I always watch TV while I eat. And with there being no new TV on at the moment, that’s what I’ve been watching. Except when someone is already in the living room you don’t want to come in and turn on the TV and disturb her. Especially when she might judge you for watching (and even more shameful, DVRing) reruns of cheesy sitcoms. So I eat upstairs, in front of my computer and stew a little.

It also limits my ability to work out (which I try to do at home four times a week—I have dance classes of various varieties twice a week, so assuming I miss at least one workout per week that has me exercising five times a week which is my goal). I mean, you can’t just come into a room where someone is already and start doing yoga; it’s weird!

Then it occurs to me… this is all my fault. Where else is she supposed to go? She can’t use the study because she has no furniture in there, quite possibly because most of the room is taken up by my crap.* That leaves her bedroom where she’s sleeping on a floor mattress that has to be lifted up when she’s not on it to prevent her cat from peeing on it. So of course she’s in the living room. She’s not the bad roommate; I am!

But I had a much more disturbing realization: Years of living alone has turned me into Sheldon Cooper! Okay, obviously this analogy has its flaws, because he’s a genius with no social skills and I’m a non-genius with a few (though not many) social skills. I’m not a germaphobe and I don’t eat take out (because I can’t afford take out). But I have a very strict routine. Typically: I get up, I eat breakfast while watching something on TV, I do work for a couple hours, I work out, I eat lunch in front of the TV, I take a nap, I work some more, I eat dinner, I work some more, I make sure all cleaning is done in the kitchen, I take a shower, I eat a snack and drink an adult beverage, I go to sleep. This varies from day to day, of course, depending on whether I teach, run errands, etc. I knew I had a routine, I just didn’t ever realize how inflexible it was until faced with someone who was not on the same routine. Seriously, I’m a nut!

So now that I have become aware the issues are not all with her, but with me as well, I’m sure things will be okay. She will learn to lock doors, I will get my crap out of her space, and eventually I will probably talk to her about my yoga problem. I will probably wind up watching less television, but this will probably be a good thing, so that’s okay.

What all this has done is given me extra sympathy for those who have lived with me before, so Cammy, Bridget, thank you for putting up with me all that time. And thanks for never calling me on my crazy. There is a lot of it.


*Update: As of the posting of this entry I have vacated most of her half of the room and she has a desk and a chair in there.

Downton Fail!

If you were waiting last night for our weekly Downton Redux, you were disappointed. I doubt this actually happened to anyone seeing as I don’t think we have many readers who don’t follow me on twitter, and I spent a good chunk of time whining about this on twitter. My DVR has been acting squirrely for weeks. I knew it was going to need to be replaced. When it crashed on Thursday night, deleting all my recordings for the second time in two weeks, I knew it needed to be replaced soon. But I was leaving town Friday morning and I was able to get it back online, so I figured I’d deal with it another time. When I got back on Saturday night it needed to be reset twice, but each time came online without deleting anything. And I was tired, so I did nothing about it. I had to reset it again on Sunday, but I was still tired and my vertigo had returned. And once again, I was able to get it working again. I was even able to watch things I had recorded on it. I decided to call AT&T on Monday.

About 6:00pm it started making a funny noise (I wasn’t watching TV at the moment) and I realized it needed to be reset again. Only this time restarting it didn’t work. I tried resetting the gateway it connects to and that didn’t help. Then I tried unplugging it and resetting everything. Usually that wipes my DVR but gets it going again. Not this time. I went to online customer service (AT&T has recently made the phone number for customer service nearly impossible to find). The man on the other end of our chat talked me through restoring my DVR to factory settings. This still did nothing. He informed me that he would send someone out to repair/replace it and the earliest time slot available was 8:00am on Monday morning (due to my work schedule we had to schedule a much later one, but that’s not relevant to the story.)

And that’s when the nagging fear I’d had since Saturday night became a reality. I would not get to watch the Downton Abbey Christmas special when it came on at 9:00pm. Yes, it would later be available online. Yes, my friend J who lives across town and currently owes me some serious karma already has the DVDs and I could borrow it from him. Yes, my mother bought me the DVDs as a thank you for introducing her to the series and for paying off my car early and will probably get them to me by this weekend. No, it was not the end of the world in any way.

But I still sat down and sobbed. Then I realized it was stupid to cry over such a trivial thing when there are so many worse things going on in the world. Heck, there are many worse things going on in my life. This only made me cry harder.

You have to understand I am having the semester from hell. In the past couple weeks I have been reminded/realized 1) that I am a tiny insignificant cog in an overworked system 2) my staff sucks and I have to do all of their jobs 3) I have been screwed over by my committee 4) I will probably not get to take my qualifying exams this semester as planned 5) I am really not all that smart, and that might be an impediment in my chosen career path.  Add to that a severe case of vertigo.

In the midst of all that, the one bright spot has been Downton Abbey. It’s the only show on television I look forward to watching. It’s also the only time in the week I stop multitasking. Any other television I watch while grading papers, sending emails, cooking/eating meals, working out, etc. But for the past several weeks on Sunday night I take my shower early, fix myself a cup of tea or a glass of wine or both, and sit on my couch in my jammies with my kitty on my lap and lose myself in a delicious bit of fluff.

Last night that opportunity was taken away from me. And, naturally, I did the neurotic grad student thing of telling myself it was because I don’t deserve to relax like that. I have too much work to do to spend two hours watching television unless I’m also doing something productive. This was probably the judgment of the universe punishing me for being a slacker. I hadn’t been as productive Sunday morning as I could have—this was my punishment. Hell, if I had just had the initiative to contact AT&T in the morning I might have been able to get it fixed earlier. I had only myself to blame.

In the end it’s still not the end of the world. Some very sweet stranger on Twitter let me know I could watch on YouTube, quickly adding a note that he would ordinarily not endorse such a thing, but he recognized it was a major emergency. It was bizarrely touching. And since I knew I was useless for grading papers (I would have failed everyone) I decided to indulge a little bit. Not trusting the image quality on YouTube I decided to rewatch last week’s episode on I didn’t relax the whole time—I was periodically minimizing it so I could print today’s attendance sheets, packing everything I would need for today at work, and organizing the papers I was not going to grade until today. But I also relaxed some. I drank a cup of tea and a glass of wine. I ate a Reese’s peanut butter egg that’s been in my freezer since last Easter. I looked though my cookbooks for my next ice cream recipe.

And the upshot is that next Sunday, when I otherwise would have had to deal with the reality of no Downton till next year, I can lounge on my couch and relax one last time.

Post Performance Letdown Disorder

In addition to running this blog, teaching, and being a full time graduate student I also work extremely part-time as an acrobat.  My mentor used to tell his audiences that performers do what we do because for us applause is like those hugs we never got enough of as children.  It’s one of the truest statements I ever heard about performers.  Not that we all had bad childhoods, but that we are all extremely insecure people.  This is the thing my mother (a non-performer who gave me plenty of hugs) understands the least about what I do.  To her (and I’ve found to many non-performers) people who get on stage must be extremely self-confident because they can get up in front of people and do whatever they do.  It is, in fact, just the opposite.  We tend to be the sort who are so insecure we can’t believe we’re worth anything at all if we don’t have people periodically affirming us.

Which brings us to the actual subject of this blog post.  I’d like to propose a new disorder called Post-Performance Letdown Disorder.  This phenomenon it kind of like Seasonal Affective Disorder where people get all depressed and crotchety if they don’t seen enough sunlight.  But in this case it’s brought on by a lack of applause rather than sunlight.

I don’t know how it works for other performers but I find this usually sets in after a series of performances.   Things are going well as long as I get my regular injection of applause; it has a serious anti-depressant effect.   But the minute I go off applause, I go into a funk.  I’m like a junkie in withdrawal and I’ll be honest, I’m not all that pleasant to be around.

The real dilemma here is treatment.  People with SAD can get those sunlamps with help.  But I don’t think artificial applause machines are going to help.  Performers are neurotic enough to see through the ruse—we’ll know that applause is for someone else.  Someone who’s probably getting roles and getting stage time while we sit around being worthless.  Did I mention we’re neurotic?

So until a valid treatment is discovered, people with PPLD are left with two options:  go cold turkey off applause and wait for the withdrawal symptoms to dissipate or find another excuse to get applause.  A sad fate indeed.

My List

Recently there have been a lot of events supporting peoples’ right to love whoever they love.  Something that we here at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter totally support.  I personally am a heterosexual spinster, but that doesn’t mean that even I don’t have a romantic streak.

Back when I used to teach Intro to Literature, I taught a short play called “Sure Thing.”  One of the central themes of the play is the idea that women have a mental list they look to check off when they meet a prospective suitor.  I’d like to put my feminist hands on my hips and deny it, but it’s fairly true.  At least for me.  I don’t want to speak for the entire female gender.  Contrary to what I suspect a lot of men think, however, my list has little to do with physical appearance and a lot more to do with other types of attributes.

I don’t think any prospective suitors are reading this blog, but just in case, off the top of my head, here’s my list:

He must know what continent Argentina is on.  (Yes, I once went out with a guy who didn’t know that.)

He must have read the United States Constitution.  This one is negotiable if he is not a US Citizen.  He doesn’t have to agree with me on interpretation at all, he just has to have read the thing at some point and made some kind of attempt to understand it.

I would love to make it a requirement that he have to know what year and place the United States won their independence.  But I have come to realize finding that is only wishful thinking.  So I will let that one slide as long as he’s not a US History teacher.  (Yes, that’s based on another personal example.)

In my youth I would have said that I wanted to date a guy taller than me (I’m 5’8” tall, but not super tall).  Now more mature, I don’t give a damn how tall he is so long as he isn’t insecure about my being taller than him.  And please not that no matter how short he is, I’m not going to stop wearing high heels.  His insecurity is no reason my legs shouldn’t look as nice as possible.

He doesn’t need to be rich, but he can’t be expecting me to be the family breadwinner.  (Let’s face it, I’m a folklorist, if he’s expecting that, we’d be in trouble.)

On that note, I don’t care what profession or field of study he’s in, so long as he doesn’t make fun of mine.  (I can tolerate some good natured poking, but the first time he says, “You majored in unemployment,” it’s over.)

On much the same lines, he doesn’t have to like the television shows I like, but he has to understand that my television is very important to me and many of those shows have been in my life much longer than he has.  He doesn’t have to watch with me so long as he doesn’t interfere with me watching.

Though I really think it’s important to be open-minded, I have to be honest and admit I’m not sure I could date a vegan.  I could date a vegetarian no problem so long as he wasn’t self-righteous about it, but a relationship where I had to feel awkward eating cheese or ice cream?  I’m just not sure it could work.

He has to be comfortable with the fact that I sometimes go to places in funny clothes; again, doesn’t have to do it himself, just understand that I am that particular brand of attention whore.

No guys in bands.  I keep caving on this one and then remembering why I created it in the first place.

He can’t (in seriousness) denounce all southerners as ignorant and backward.  That would officially make him a guy I can’t take home to Momma, and while that has its merits, I think it would be a problem in the long run.

He can’t be a push over/let me win every fight.  It’s boring and insulting.  Like I need his help to win.

He has to be willing to dance with me, even if it’s only when no one’s looking.

He can’t spend too much time telling me how beautiful I am.  A) While I’m not a dog, I’m not all that B) it makes for boring conversation.

I’m willing to negotiate on the issue of children so long as he understands I’m not physically having them.  And would like to keep my DNA out of the picture for the child’s sake.

He can’t be a smoker.

I don’t want to completely rule out guys with dogs, but if he does have a dog he can’t be one of those jackasses who brings it everywhere.  And he must understand I’m not walking it, scooping poop, or sharing the bed.

I’d like to say that’s the extent of my list, but there’s probably more (let’s face it, I’ve just been stalling till my internet connection came back) but we’re going to wrap up there.  I’ll get back to you, if I think of anything urgent.