A Cry for Help

It’s the end of July, and still no job. Money’s tight, bills are mounting, I bought generic shampoo last week, for god’s sake! And the feelings of rejection and failure are starting to eat at my belly. Sometimes, late at night, thoughts start running through my mind. Crazy thoughts. Scary thoughts. I try to block them out, focus on the positive things in my life, but sometimes when I wake up, I just can’t breathe, like there’s a heavy weight on me, pinning me down. Usually that’s when I realize that 30 pounds of cat decided to curl up on my chest for the evening, but it’s not only that.
This is starting to scare me – I mean, I know that most people have experienced similar thoughts, but very few truly act on them. Things will get better, right? I don’t need to do anything drastic, do I? Well – I don’t want to keep it bottled up anymore, so here I go – I have seriously been contemplating getting a roommate.
I’m really hesitant to consider a roommate because I can’t say that I’ve had all that successful a history when it comes to sharing my living quarters. I think the tone was set by my first roommate in college, Tina. Tina was a year younger than me, very quiet, wore giant glasses, and was a psychology major. I didn’t know it at the time, but over the years I came to learn that there are three types of people who major in psychology:

  1. People who were truly interested in a career helping others work through their personal issues. This type makes up the smallest percentage of all psychology students.

  2. People who took psychology in high school, had a crush on the teacher, and thought it would be an easy “A” in college.
  3. People with severe emotional problems who thought that getting a psych degree would be cheaper than checking themselves into the nearest mental institution for rehabilitation and/or electroshock therapy.

Tina, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, fell firmly into Category #3. She seemed nice enough at first, but as the semester rolled on, I started to notice some bizarre habits of hers.
Although we had cable in the dorms, there were only three TV shows that Tina would watch: Three’s Company, Little House on the Prairie, and Sesame Street. I wish that I were kidding about the last one, but really, I’m not. It was kind of a guilty pleasure that she engaged in when she thought I wasn’t paying attention, or wouldn’t be home for a while.
I used to listen with great envy as my friends would tell me stories about how they had walked in on their roommates smoking pot, or having sex with a TA. If only those were my problems! I was too embarrassed to tell them that just a few days earlier, I caught my roommate humming “C Is for Cookie”  while she waited with baited breath to find out if that day’s episode was sponsored by the number 7.
While Tina’s list of odd habits was long, the one that almost drove me to the brink of insanity was her obsession with pencils. Our desks were on opposite sides of the room, so when we were studying, our backs were facing each other. Without fail, every night before settling down to study for her latest psych test, Tina would pull out a brand new box of number 2 pencils and start to sharpen them in her electric pencil sharpener. Now, I’m not an ogre – sharpen your pencils if you want – go ahead! I mean, I will say that most people I know over the age of eight successfully made the transition from lead to ink, but hey, if carbon is your gig, go with it. My issue was with the fact that she would sharpen no less than ten pencils at a time. Slowly. In her electric pencil sharpener.
I would just sit at my desk, gritting my teeth as the “rrrrrr – rrrrrr – rrrrrr” of the sharpener droned on for minutes. Why would anyone need more than two sharp pencils at a time? Sure, you need a spare in case one breaks, but why did she need more than half a dozen? It just made no sense.
The other major problem Tina had was that she had some sort of sleep disorder that put her into an almost comatose state every evening. In order to wake up on time for her classes, she had to put her alarm clock on the highest volume it could reach. Again, fine – so you’re a deep sleeper. No big deal. Except for the fact that she couldn’t have her alarm anywhere near her bed, or she would just turn it off while she was still half asleep, and then fall right back into her sweet dreams of Bert and Ernie.
This meant that she had to install the alarm at the opposite end of the room, which coincidentally, was pretty much right next to my head. That way, when the blaring alarm would sound each morning, she would leap out of bed like a maniac, jump over to the alarm, and slam it until it turned off. Once out of bed, she was released from her sleep spell and could proceed with her daily routine. So for a semester, I had the equivalent of a mini-coronary each morning as I awoke to the sounds of an air raid going off in my room.
Years later, I received a call from the Milwaukee Police Department about Tina. No, she hadn’t been arrested. She actually was applying to be a police officer and gave me as a reference. In an award winning display of passive aggression, I just told the officer that I didn’t remember much about Tina, except that she had trouble getting up in the morning, liked watching Sesame Street, and would spend long stretches of time sharpening things at her desk.
I felt it was my civic duty.
So, all that being said, you can see why I’m a little gun shy when it comes to sharing my apartment with someone else. I guess I should really think about what I’m contemplating here, and the effect it will have on my friends and family.
I think I’ll do what usually helps me when I am overcome by these feelings – call the number a friend of mine gave me the last time I went through this.
“Roommate hotline. This is Susan. How can I help you?”
“Uhh, hi. My name is Jenny, and I’m thinking about getting a roommate.”
“Okay, Jenny, I’m going to ask you to put down the Classified section. Just put it down, so we can talk…”

Comments are closed.