A VERY FINE HOUSE |
January 05, 2010
Name: Six Foot Skinny
Posting date: 1/6/10
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Milblog: Lost in the Desert
I live in a shipping container. Yep, a good old twenty-footer. Like the ones you see on semi trucks and stacked up in ports. I have half of it. It’s the back half, which is by far the preferable half -- rank has its privileges, even when you don’t have that much. I am lucky to have outranked both my roommates, although I don’t pull enough to get my own. The Army calls them “CHUs.” That’s short for “containerized housing unit.”
Sometimes I like to run numbers. Arithmetic has always been a strong suit for me. I dug algebra, did fine with geometry and trig. Was hopeless in calculus. So I have half of the twenty-foot CHU, and they’re seven feet wide with an eight foot ceiling. That gives me seventy square feet of floor space. It's not much, so I lofted my bed and now I get to count in cubic feet. By that rationale I have 540 cubic feet of space that is my own.
To be fair, this isn’t exactly like the shipping containers you see in ports and on the backs of trucks. These are outfitted (in Turkey someone told me), and they’re deluxe, if you will. There are two windows with blackout blinds, a door, and an air conditioner. Sweet digs. Oh, and there’s also some high-quality, laminated faux wood paneling on the walls. I feel like I'm trapped in a suburban rec room. And it’s 1983. Also, we get two lockers -- lockers like in high school -- two beds, two nightstands, and two reading lamps. The rest is up to us and whatever scrap lumber we can scrounge.
My half of the CHU is in its third and final arrangement. Having my bed lofted gives me space for a big L-shaped desk underneath. That’s where my computer, coffee maker, coffee grinder (high class), an assortment of books and DVDs, and a little chest of drawers (underneath) live. It’s also where I spend most of my time. The wall that I face is plastered with pictures of friends and family. I stopped asking people to send stuff about a month in, and asked them to send pictures instead, and they obliged. Back behind me, but within reach -- well, everything is in reach really -- is my guitar, and a plywood shelf I got from the unit we replaced. I also have one of those sweet “chair in a bag” chairs. I tell myself it’s a reading chair, but the reality is that it’s a horizontal space where I put crap until it piles so high it falls off and then I get frustrated and clean. I mostly read in bed when I can’t sleep. Oh, there’s also a nice little area rug that really ties the room together.
The CHUs are laid out in rows, facing in, and surrounded by blast walls. Our whole platoon lives in one row. It rained last night and that middle walkway area is a lake of sorts. I look at it as a moat; it keeps the riffraff away from my door. We’ve got a big charcoal grill just outside the blast walls where we grill burgers and brats on weekends. It’s a definite improvement over the chow hall.
Soon -- well, Army soon -- we’ll pack it all up and move into tents in preparation for the move south. Seems like not too long ago I was writing about preparing for the move North. Time flies when you’re having fun.