It’s Tuesday morning at 7:20am. I’m sitting in a dark kitchen with the door wide open behind me, because there’s no electricity. There hasn’t been any since 1:15am when it went off suddenly during a storm. The departure of the electricity knocked out the air conditioner but not, unfortunately, the new drip that has started recently. Somewhere, somehow, there is a leak up there onto the ceiling of our bedroom inside the house when it rains. It’s loud, it’s irregular, and it annoys the living daylights out of me.
While we’re on the topic of sound, let me tell you about yesterday.
Much to my distress, it seems the man right over the fence from us has decided to set up a little woodworking shop at his house. Yesterday he and another fellow spent all day sanding down wooden doors. Anyone who has spent much time near power tools knows they can be incredibly loud. Try to imagine spending from 8am to 6pm listening to the sound of two electric sanders about thirty feet away from you, grinding down wood (but don’t try too hard, because if you’re anything at all like me this is a hugely upsetting experience and there’s no real need for both of us to have bad days on account of the power tools outside my window).
By 5:30 I was totally unable to concentrate, so I went to wash the dishes.
As I was standing at the sink I smelled something acrid that I’ve smelled more than once before at that sink. This time, as I filled the sink with warm water I noticed the smell getting stronger. Then I noticed grey tendrils curling up behind the tap. Smoke was leaking up from around the sink. When I opened the cupboard under the sink a whole cloud of chemical-smelling smoke poured out. No fire though, I guess that’s something to be thankful for.
When Mike came home last night to find me in A State he called one of his national colleagues and asked them to come over so we could talk to the men over the back fence and find out what is going on. Sadly it seems the power tools are going to become a regular feature of our life here – maybe not every day, but whenever the man over the back fence can get business.
Maybe we should offer to pay to send him to barber school, or something.
Mike and I went out to dinner. We talked. I ate all sorts of things that are bad for me. Then we came back home and sat at the kitchen table and smelled smoke again. Not the same as the kitchen sink smoke, but undeniably smoke. We smelled all over that kitchen – each other, the bulbs in the ceiling, the power strips on the floor, the light switches on the wall… we can’t figure out what might be causing it.
“I think I’m going to take our birth certificates and some other documents into the office tomorrow,” Mike said, stuffing our important documents folder into the backpack that doubles as his briefcase.
I did not have to ask why.
We went to bed. At 1:30 this morning when the power went off and I woke up with a start.
“Have you expanded your circle of hate to include me, yet?” Mike asked as we were both lying awake in the dark, getting hot, and listening to the drip in the ceiling.
“No,” I said. “I still just hate Laos. You can come with me when I leave. Tomorrow.”
“That’s really good,” Mike said – not actually intending to convey any praise at all, “that you’re able to go from peacefully asleep to hating an entire country in under two minutes flat.”
“Well I did a fair bit of groundwork yesterday to prime that pump,” I said. “Yesterday by ten I was still only hating the men over the back fence. By noon I was hating our house. By two I was hating the neighborhood. I didn’t get to the hating Laos stage until right before you came home. But, as we’ve just witnessed, once you do the hard work of getting to that level of hatefulness you can stay in that sphere for a while and jump right back to that particular point at the slightest provocation. Not,” I finished, “that I consider water leaking into our ceiling a slight provocation.”
The rain finally stopped, and so did the dripping. The power did not come back on. Mike eventually took his pillow and went across the hall in the hopes that this would help at least one of us get back to sleep sometime before dawn.
“You might want to take a shower now,” Mike said later this morning at 6:45 when he came back in. “Water pressure’s dropping. There may be no water in the system soon.”
“I will wait,” I said, getting up. “Until the power comes back on and we have warm water.”
Downstairs here there is no coffee because the kettle is electric.
“Bye,” Mike kissed me as I sat at the kitchen table and headed out the door to his very full day.
From the driveway I heard the sound of an office vehicle trying to start, and failing.
I went outside.
“Battery’s too weak,” Mike said, getting out, looking like he was hating Laos a little now, too.
I sighed. He sighed. He turned and walked out to the road to catch a tuk tuk. I came back inside to the sound of hammering from over the fence and a finite computer battery. It could be a long day.