Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I live in a shipping container.  Literally.  It's a standard 40-ft shipping container that has been converted into two living quarters.  In military parlance, it's a "Containerized Housing Unit", or CHU, pronounced just like it's spelled.  My room is the one on the bottom on this end.  I've got dirtbags in the front (again, literally: that's what those bluish shapes are, big wire mesh framed bags of dirt) and concrete T-walls behind me.  They're there to provide protection against things that might come flying at us at high speed.  Like bullets.  On the side of the container, you can still see the big steel doors.  Come to think of it, I hope they're welded or locked shut ... remind me to check on that tomorrow.  (This image, by the way, is a watercolor that I just finished up.)

Here are a few pictures of my own little nest.  As you can see, it's been upgraded from your basic shipping container.  It has rather stylish faux-white-pine panelling, a bed, a desk, and a large and noisy air conditioner (very necessary).  We also have an internet connection.  I've added a second screen since my MacBook's screen is so small.

Moving around the room a bit (3 feet from where the previous photo was taken), you can see more of the room.  I have a TV that I have yet to turn on ... it gets Armed Forces TV and even has a DVD player, but since I'm not big on TV, it just takes up space.  More importantly, I have a small refrigerator stocked with Diet Cokes, V8's, and the remnants of a 10-day-old Cinnabon.  And as you can see, my bed just barely fits.

The door next to the refrigerator is my front door.  The little closet doors are my hanging closet and most of my chest of drawers.  The little brown and tan thing is a plastic chest of drawers.

And here's the final corner of my little room, showing the door to my bathroom, with my very own hot-water tank that looks like it's about to fall off the wall.  That's because it IS about to fall off the wall.

I'm poking fun at my room, but I consider myself lucky.  There are lots of places here in Iraq where two or three people would be living in a room like this.  Also, I have a "wet" CHU, meaning I have running water and a bathroom.  Lots of CHUs out here are "dry", and their occupants have to use the men's or women's communal latrine somewhere (hopefully) not too far away.  Lots of fun for those middle-of-the-night emergencies!

So where do you put a collection of CHUs?  Why, in CHUville, of course.  Ours are stacked two high and lined up in neat, Army-regulation rows.  Actually, you could never take a photo that would match my watercolor up above, as there's another row of these little houses that would be in the way.  We make efficient use of space.  

So that's how I live out here in a war zone.  Not too shabby, all things considered, and I have certainly lived in worse conditions ... even some that I had to pay for.

1 comment:

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 04/30/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.