Printed in The Recorder on February 22, 2006

Living with four other women is hell. I wake up to the sound of my sister’s voice. “Andreina.”She says.”Mamí wants to know where you put her curling iron.”

I groan. It’s five in the morning. FIVE in the Mother-Loving-Morning!

So that means that I’ve only had three hours of sleep. Just great.

“It’s sitting on top of my dresser,” I say. My sister grabs the curling iron off my dresser and runs out my room. “Shut the door!” I scream after her, but of course she doesn’t hear me. And so begins another day.

I drag myself out of bed at 8:15 am. I got it figured out perfectly: I have fifteen minutes to shower, and fifteen to get dressed. I have to be out the house by 8:45 so I can catch the bus in time to be in class at 10 am.

Forget makeup and hair, most days my hair is in a bun and my face is so shiny it reflects sunlight. Most days I perform my routine on autopilot and I’m not fully awake until I take a hot shower. But today the bathroom is locked. I pound on the door. “Who the hell is in there? I have to get ready for school!” I scream.

“It’s me,” my cousin Tatiana shouts back. “I’m dyeing my hair!” “At eight in the morning?” She opens the door and looks at me. She has a shower cap on her head and brown hair dye is staining her hairline. “I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I figured, why not?”

I give her a look and push her out of the bathroom, then I quickly jump into the shower before realizing that there’s no hot water.

I’m sitting in class where my professor is explaining something I’m sure is going to be on the test. But I’m not listening. Instead I’m thinking about the fact that all I have is twenty bucks in the bank and no job.

My original plan was to take a year off and return to school for the fall of 2006. That plan changed three months later when I realized just how incredibly and utterly bored I was. I quit my full time job and picked up where I left off. But the time off made me rusty, and balancing my school schedule with my hectic home life is a lot harder than I remember.

I try to remember when was the last time I had a full night’s sleep when my phone rings. It’s my mother. I run out of the classroom under the pretense of going to the bathroom. The professor gives me an annoyed look, but he is not quite as scary as my mother is.

“Que?” I whisper. Translation: What Do You Want? “I need you to buy me some cough medicine on your way home.” “Ok” “And remember that your father is going to be here tonight.”

Great. A visit from my Dad usually means its Let’s Pick On Andrea Day.

“Anything else?” I say. “Yes. You left your homework on the kitchen table.” God, please kill me now.

At The End Of The Day 
I get home by 7:30 looking forward to watching tonight’s episode of Smallville, my first in two months. My mood is lifted with the thought of seeing Clark Kent and his perfect abs. I run down the stairs to my room to drop off my book bag, but the sight stops me in my tracks.

My room is clean! I can see the floor! Wait, since when do I have a carpet?

“Your sister and Tatiana cleaned it,” Charmaine says to me. “They know how stressed you’ve been so they cleaned it for you.”

The gesture makes me warm inside. Maybe it’s not so bad, I think. Maybe having a crazy life with a crazy family is good for me. It’s a nice thought.

I manage to hold on to those warm and fuzzy feelings until I look into the fridge and realize,

“Dammit! Who ate my Crunchy Peanut Butter!”