Take Back the Night ’11 Rally and March Tonight

I only passed the pre-Take Back the Night march activities, at the gateway to the Oval.  A cold rain was falling, and I was slogging through the wet with only one destination in mind: Thompson Library.  Many brave souls were organizing for the annual march to condemn violence and sexual assault against women, and they would not be deterred by the horrible weather and the nonexistent visibility.

Like them, I want to “take back the night.”  As a middle-aged male, I want the night–and the streets–to be as safe for me as women want them to be for them.  I have always been a nocturnal person, and night was a passion I began to indulge full-time as a teenager, from sneaking out after midnight to wander the deserted streets of Marietta, to becoming a connoisseur of B movies because of watching old movies until dawn, and trying to find third-shift jobs when it was time for me to enter the workforce.

I was totally clueless about the negative connotations night carried.  Born-again Christians’ favorite pastime is trying to one-better one another with stories of how horrible they were pre-salvation, and calling oneself a “creature of the night” was always a way to enhance your secular rottenness bona fides.  In high school, I bought a frayed Grove Press paperback of John Rechy’s novel City of Night, attracted to the title.  I lay propped up in bed until dawn reading his fascinating and tragic first-person novel of a lonely young man seeking love and acceptance while working as a male prostitute.

The radio was pleasant company for my on those late nights when I had to remain indoors.  Despite my antipathy toward organized religion at the time, especially toward mass media religious expression, I faithfully listened to a program at 4:30 a.m. every Sunday morning, Nightsounds, hosted by the late Bill Pearce.  Again, it was the title that drew me to listen, and soon I would lie in bed, lights off, listening to Pearce’s gentle voice and thoughts.  He and I weren’t on the same page theologically, and I didn’t pay close attention to the music he presented, but it was always a half hour well spent.

To me, nighttime was almost my own personal playground.  During my years in the Unitarian Universalist youth groups, both at Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) and Ohio-Meadville District youth conferences, I was one of the people who stayed up almost until dawn, reading, talking, or writing.  (The irony is that through most of high school I was such a Mormon about caffeine, yet I usually outlasted the people who never let their coffee mugs get more than half empty.)

Now that I’m older, I am more aware of the dangers of the nighttime, although I have never been mugged, pickpocketed, or assaulted.  I would love to take this laptop with me when I leave the house in the evening, so I can write in a café or fast-food place.  I don’t because I doubt I would be safe in my neighborhood carrying a computer after dark.  I am not wild about doing it during the daytime, but I do it anyway.  Once the sun goes down, I feel apprehensive to hear footsteps behind me.  I would be a waste of time for a mugger, since I’m usually close to broke, and my watch is a $20 off-brand digital from Target.  (In my younger days, I was less apprehensive about walking around at night, even when I would cash my paycheck and carry two weeks’ worth of wages around in my wallet.)

And I hope taking back the night means putting assumed guilt to rest.  A faithful reader of this blog will notice that I write about nocturnal events, past and present, quite a bit.  I never realized that being an habitué of a city after dark meant I was inherently a rapist.  Nocturnal profiling is as wrong as racial profiling.

I never knew such a thing existed until I was living in Athens, Ohio.  I was the assistant manager of a photocopy and typing service in the back of The Oasis, and early one morning a graduate student had dropped off a project that was at least 150 pages long, and had to be in her professor’s hands at 9 a.m. the following morning.

So I spent the entire day wedded to the keyboard of the Apple Macintosh Plus, gulping endless cups of fountain Diet Pepsi and chomping down the occasional cheeseburger or candy bars, getting out of my chair only for trips to the bathroom.  It was past 2:45 a.m. when the pages began coming out of the laser printer, and I went over each line to make sure it was typographically accurate.

I was staggering when I left The Oasis, just about 3:15.  I lived less than a half mile away, but the distance seemed insurmountable.  For a moment, I considered sneaking to the Church of the Good Shepherd, the Episcopal church next door to The Oasis, and sleeping on its porch until someone booted me out.

As I was nearing my house, I suddenly realized there was a young woman in front of me on the sidewalk.  How did I know this?  I learned of her existence only when she wheeled around and shrieked at me, “Why are you following me?”

Uhh… I live in this direction.  I was so exhausted at that point I was barely aware of my surroundings, and was on a primitive GPS to get myself home.  The most erotic thing I was envisioning was collapsing into bed and falling straight into dreamland.  Even if this woman had taken off all her clothes, jumped into my arms, and said, “Ravage me!”, I would not have been able to respond, emotionally or physically.

Yet since I was male and walking around in the predawn hours, ergo, my only purpose was sexual assault.

No woman asks for rape.  To say that she “asked for it” because of wearing a miniskirt and a top that exposes plentiful cleavage is bullshit.

At the same time, no man asked to be pre-identified as a rapist merely because he enjoys walking the streets at night.

The night belongs to everyone.

Proof That I’m Sleeping More Soundly

The Weather Channel’s Website is notorious for sending me storm warning emails every time the sun goes behind a cloud, so I usually delete them unread from my Inbox.  Tuesday night, I should have paid more attention to them, but I didn’t realize what I missed until afterwards.  I was skeptical as always about any bad weather on the horizon.  As Susie and I were leaving her choir practice at church, the ground was dry and not a drop of rain had fallen.

It would seem that I slept through a typhoon pre-dawn Wednesday morning.  My clock radio went off at 7 a.m. as usual.  I almost always wake up for brief periods of time during the night, still too tired to get out of bed, but awake enough to be able to glance at the digital clock and say, “Ah, I have x hours of sleep left before I have to get up.”  Susie has been on spring break this entire week, so I haven’t heard her moving around as she gets ready to head out to catch the school bus.

Susie was still in bed Wednesday morning when I roused myself a little after 7.  Seven a.m. is late for her, since she has to catch her bus at 6:30 (I think she sets her alarm for 5:45).  As I was in the shower, Steph came in and asked me if I had heard all the sirens during the night.

This completely puzzled me.  What sirens?  When she first mentioned “sirens,” my first thought was that there had been several arrests during the night.  We have no shortage of reprobate neighbors, including the Bickersons on the other side of our half double.  It would not at all be unusual for police to be coming en masse because of some disturbance or another.

When Steph mentioned all the wind and the rain, I realized she didn’t mean police sirens.  The tornado sirens had gone off, and there had been plenty of high-velocity winds and rain pelted the house.  Steph’s bedroom faces the street, and there are no buildings across the street, so she could see and feel it all as it beat against her windows.  (My bedroom windows face the windows of the house next door, so there is a buffer between any weather and my room.)  She said she pulled up Channel 10’s Doppler radar on her laptop, and watched the storm as it changed.  She considered awakening Susie and me, so we could all head to the basement (no doubt with laptop in tow, either on the National Weather Service’s site or Channel 10’s) and wait out the storm.

Before she could marshal the energy to do that, the worst of the storm had passed over our area.  I blissfully slept through the whole thing, and it seems I wasn’t alone.  Adding to my hesitancy about whether a tornado was really happening, the Conrail tracks are not too far from our house, and they run parallel to our street.  The trains’ sounds are easy to block, and I’m sure that if a real tornado was bearing down on us, my first thought would be it was a really fast and a really loud train roaring by.  (I have heard that’s what a tornado sounds like when you’re in the midst of it.)

When I got to work, many of my fellow employees were comparing notes about the ferocity of the storm, how loudly the sirens sounded (and for how long), and what damage they had seen.  One of my supervisors lives in Groveport, and the storm came within kissing distance of her neighborhood.  (Other than some overturned garbage cans, I saw no evidence of a storm, not even felled tree limbs.)

I have never had a fear of storms or inclement weather.  When I was younger, they were a welcome treat, a change from the usual.  When the power went out, it was even more exciting.  The transistor radio was our only conduit for news and information.  Candles burned in every room, and sometimes I would even be allowed to carry a candle of my own–and I was forbidden to be anywhere near matches, even to blow out my parents’ matches after they had lit cigarettes with them.

This never changed.  When I was 10 or 11, a storm was an excellent opportunity to start a taped letter to my grandfather, retired and living in Dunedin, Fla.  Had he lived in this day and age, he probably would have spend his summers as a storm chaser.  My mother said that the grayer and darker the skies were, the greater the chances they would find him lying in the back yard, intently studying the clouds and the sky as they changed colors and patterns.  This stayed with him for life–he always had a book about storms nearby, and these books were his Bible when the weather turned bad.  (He had even given our family a copy of Eric Sloane’s The Book of Storms, which I gripped in my hands whenever I first heard thunder.  I later bought copies of some of Sloane’s other books, such as A Museum of Early American Tools and Diary of an Early American Boy: Noah Blake–1805.)

I doubt I saw 95% of the storms in this book, and
for that I should probably be grateful.

My mother said that her mother would always be yelling out at the back door, “Lester!  Get in here!!  You’ll get soaked!”  My grandfather didn’t care about that.  Storms fascinated him, as much as his other hobbies of bird-watching and rock-hounding.  (He was kind of a rural Renaissance man.  During his long career of public-school teaching, he taught every subject except music, home economics, and typing at least once.)

Whenever I was making these tapes, I would always stop what I was saying whenever the weather report came on, and put the microphone up against the radio speaker and let him hear the announcer read the latest information about where the storm had been, and where it was going.

I’ve lost none of that.  I find storms exhilarating even to this day.  A little more so when I’m indoors, yes, that’s true, but I enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with battening down the hatches, and waiting for it to pass.  (I remember humming REO Speedwagon’s “Ridin’ the Storm Out” to myself sometimes when I’ve been alone and waiting for these crises to pass.)

There are people who, quite understandably, don’t share this attitude.  One of my teachers at St. Mary’s Middle School in Marietta told the class about how storms frightened her mother.  As soon as she heard the first clap of thunder, she would surround her statue of the Blessed Mother with lit votive candles, and out would come the rosary beads.

During the summer of 1987, I was living in a rented room above a small store in Elmwood Place, a village about 6½ miles north of downtown Cincinnati.  I was working as a typesetter at Feicke Web.  About 2 p.m., I was just awakening (I worked an evening shift, typesetting the illustrious Homefinder magazine), and it seemed muggier than usual, and the sky was yellowish bordering on purple.  I went downstairs to get a meal before work.  The owner of one of the shops on Vine St. was sweeping the walk and a chubby pre-teen boy came up to him, his eyes like saucers.  (Years later, the Martin Prince character on The Simpsons made me think of him.)  “Mr. [So-and-So]!” the kid said, out of breath.  “Have you heard the news?  A tornado has been spotted!”  The kid thought that this was indeed grave news.  The sentence came out, “A tore NAY dough has been spot ted,” each syllable a word in its own right.

My first thought was that this kid was way overreacting.  But later I realized that the village would never be cavalier about tornadoes.  Elmwood Place experienced substantial damage during the Super Outbreak of tornadoes in April 1974, from one of the minor storms that spun off the tornado that flattened Xenia.  I doubt this kid was alive then, or if he was, he would have been an infant, but he must have grown up hearing anecdotes about it from the time before he could walk.

So, I’m old enough to sleep through a storm that produced many decibels of noise, from rain, wind, and sirens.  It’s a hell of a way to learn my sleeping is improving, that I’m actually sleeping more soundly.

Making Cracks in the Block

I never thought that I was subject to seasonal affective disorder.  Quite the opposite; as a child, I loved winter and couldn’t wait for the first snowfall.  I had a tolerance for cold that amazed many of the kids I knew.

I’m not sure if it was the winter solstice, or all of the events and the upcoming transitions in my life, but I am coming off of what I now see is a bout of major depression.  The return (hopefully to last awhile) of the warm weather, and the fact that it actually feels like spring here in Columbus, have perked up my mood quite a bit.  I am not euphoric–far from it–but in the last few days I’ve found myself wanting to do more than just crawl into bed once Susie’s asleep.

(With the advent of my single parenthood this summer, I have come to realize that slacking off on therapy, and being lackadaisical about medication, are luxuries that I can no longer indulge.  I have a lithium prescription in my wallet at this very moment, and as soon as my current supply runs low, my next stop is the Kroger pharmacy.  When I wasn’t much younger than Susie is now, I watched my mother cycling back and forth–often in very short intervals–from one pole to the other.  Her extremes were more frightening to watch than mine, but I want Susie to see as little of it as possible.)

After I was done sulking at the inaccessibility of the OSU card catalog to us common folk, I rooted around in the over-the-shoulder bag, the portable office, that I always have with me.  I was surprised to find that I had a blank spiral notebook with me.  (I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I’m more likely to leave the house minus my keys than minus a notebook–of any size–or a pen.  My fascination with notebooks is public record, after all.)  I sat down, took out my pen, and began jotting down ideas for a “sort of memoir.”  (That phrase is the subtitle of Stewart Alsop’s Stay of Execution, a book about his leukemia diagnosis.)

I’ve filled four or five single-spaced pages thus far.  I added more yesterday when Susie and I were at Travonna, a 24-hour coffee house on N. High St. just south of W. 5th Ave.  The working title of this project is My Night Life, using my nocturnal habits, activities, and escapades as a backdrop to an exposé of my parents’ (especially my father’s) non-existent parenting skills.  (For example, when I was 11, he would frequently disappear after dinner to the apartment of the woman who would become my stepmother, without a phone number or a way to reach him.  My mother was in the psychiatric hospital in Worthington at the time, so was of no help.  Dad thought nothing of the fact that he would come home at 10:30 or 11 and find me wide awake, school night or not.)  Other passages, which exist only in my head at present, will deal with my fascination with late-night television, especially movies.  I think the faithful readers of this blog figured that out long ago, with my repeated references to Nite Owl Theater and the All Night Theater in this blog and the earlier incarnation on LiveJournal.  (When I was 14 or so, I totally understood Howard Hughes’ turning Las Vegas TV station KLAS into his personal VCR.  Hughes, living reclusively in the penthouse of the Desert Inn, wanted the station to show movies all night.  Once the station played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and signed off for the night, there was no buffer between him and his many inner demons.  Hughes kept badgering KLAS’ owner to show all-night movies, and the owner said that if he wanted that, why didn’t he just buy the station?  Hughes did.  In recounting this anecdote, I’m wondering if I was watching TV late into the night for similar reasons.)

I am just glad to be writing again, even if it’s only a few pages here and there.  I have maintained the blog, and I’m thankful I never made any public (or private) commitment to post something here every day.  And I am managing to write in the holographic diary.  I’m now about halfway through the current 200-page composition book I use.  But these have been major projects.  While looking for a batch of CDs I had misplaced, I found the fat 1983 New Yorker diary that I used to plot the outline of a larger fiction project, and actually put off the search for the disks to jot down some new ideas.  It’s a start; best not to make any commitments about when I’m going to get back to work on the fiction itself.

Last week, I streamed an interview from WGBH-FM in Boston, from the Website for the movie Hypergraphia, the upcoming biopic about Arthur Crew Inman, the reclusive wealthy poet whose only talents were his 155-volume diary and wringing his hands about all his imaginary ailments.  One of the guests on The Callie Crossley Show was Alice Flaherty, a neurologist who has written a book about hypergraphia.  Frankly, I wish I had this condition (although some people have suggested I have a mild form of it).  I recently watched a DVD of a documentary, In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger, about a Chicago artist who died in 1973.  He escaped an orphange while a teenager, and earned a living at janitorial and unskilled labor jobs at various Catholic hospitals in Chicago.  When his landlords cleaned out his room after he died, they found literally millions of drawings and paintings, as well as a complete novel, over 14 thousand single-spaced typewritten pages.

Barely a tip of the iceberg of Henry Darger’s manuscripts.

I found the story fascinating, and went to see if the library had the book Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal.  They did, but only a reference copy that could not leave the library.  I was in for another shock: The cheapest used copy I could find online was $600!
Maybe I’m hoping his hypergraphia will rub off on me.

The Card Catalog: Privileged Information?

After coming home from church, and before dinner, I walked over to The Oval, the nucleus of the Ohio State campus.  The temperature was in the upper 70s (my Weather Channel icon currently says 82 degrees), so the sunbathers, Hacky Sack players, and dog-walkers staked out every square inch of terrain.  I walked through them, wishing I hadn’t worn a long-sleeved shirt, and headed into the William Oxley Thompson library.  (I wasn’t planning to be virtuous, burying myself in books while everyone else relaxed and enjoyed spring’s true debut; I left the house with the library as my destination.)

I’ve sung the praises of the library’s renovation in emails, diary entries, and letters, but I’ve found something about it that bothers me.  This may not be so much a result of the rebuilding, but of a policy change.

If you are not an Ohio State student, you cannot log onto the computerized card catalog without a guest pass.  I used the guest pass plenty of times when I had no home Internet.  After church, or on Saturday afternoon, I’d spend hours in Sullivant Hall blogging, reading email, or surfing.  When I arrived, the person at the front desk would give me a guest pass, good for 24 hours.

Since Thompson Library reopened, the restrictions have become more severe.  When a user gets a guest pass, he or she can only use a row of computers near the circulation desk, which means sitting on barstool-high benches that are very bad for someone with spinal issues.

Restriction to these few computers causes other issues, too.  There are computer terminals strategically located in the book stacks (many floors), but a guest cannot log into the card catalog.  The upper floor computers are not Internet-connected; they only display the card catalog.  But this doesn’t matter.  If you’re looking for a book, the only way to do it is to use one of the few guest computers, access the card catalog there, and then log off and go searching for your book.  God help you if you don’t have everything you need, and have to come back.  The registration process begins all over again.

Ohio State is a public university.  Many non-students and -staff use its facilities.  I debate every year whether to join the Friends of The Ohio State University Libraries.  I first visited Thompson Library in 1985, and spent many nights–the ones I did not spend on barstools–reading or writing in the stacks.  Unable to borrow books from there, I felt like the diabetic kid with his nose pressed against the candy store window.  It is wrong for them to make searching for books so difficult for a non-student.  I don’t know whether this was an oversight, or whether this subtle we-they situation is deliberate.  In the earlier years of my visits to the library, searching was simple.  There were computer terminals (green characters against a black screen, a boxy computer sitting on a lazy susan), and you did not need a staff person to help you use them.

Ohio University never made it difficult for non-O.U. people to use Alden Library.  At the time I lived in Athens, Alden was a much better library than the Athens County Public Libraries.  (The Athens branch was in a small storefront wedged between two nightclubs.  I lived in Athens over a year before I learned of its existence.)

I understand that OSU libraries should have restrictions on who can borrow.  If/when I become a Friend, I’m sure it’ll be well worth the $50 in dues.  There is, however, no reason why searching for a book that will be for in-house use should be so difficult.  Paradoxically, the catalog is available to someone searching from outside the library.  During my on-again, off-again cataloging project for my own scattered and disparate personal library, I keep three tabs open at all times when I search for call numbers: OhioLINK, the Library of Congress, and the OSU Libraries.  (I cannot take the laptop with me to the library, because–once again–only students will get Wi-Fi codes.)

This especially angered me when I walked into the Buckeye Reading Room.  Despite the beautiful weather and the sun’s first real appearance, the room was packed.  I searched in vain for the books which were old friends to me in the pre-renovation reading room, especially Garland Publishing’s massive green volumes of facsimiles of James Joyce’s original Ulysses manuscript, or the University of California at Berkeley’s exhaustive, definitive edition of Samuel Pepys’ diary.  None of these were available, and I could not just walk to the nearest computer and find where they now are.  I would have had to go downstairs, ask for a guest pass, log in, write the call numbers down, and then end my session and go find them.

Two pictures I took of the Buckeye Reading Room this afternoon.

Libraries are truly “the people’s university.”  Ohio taxpayers contribute to the operation of all public universities, and thus it is galling that they should have to undergo such aggravation when engaged in the simple task of finding a book.  “My treasures are within,” reads the inscription on the façade of the main library downtown.  Thompson Library holds many treasures as well, and many non-students value them more than the students.

By contrast, here is the scene on the OSU campus on The Oval:

Major Change in My Life on the Horizon

Steph returned from Florida very early Thursday morning, and is planning to move there permanently this June.  She’s already burning up Craigslist and other Websites searching for work.  Although we have no future together as a couple, as far as Susie is concerned, we have always been on the same page whenever it comes to her happiness and wellbeing.

Both separately and together, we spoke to her about the changes that will be taking place in the next two or three months.  Most prominently, we would let her decide where she would live, and with who.  There were advantages and disadvantages to both choices, as there always are.  She has lived here in Columbus her whole life, and has friends through school and church, as well as godmothers and proximity to the Unitarian Universalist youth conferences sponsored by the Ohio-Meadville District.  Alternately, Florida would provide a fresh start, a clean slate, the excitement of starting from the ground up, reinventing herself.

We told her she had until June to make the decision.  If she elected to live in Florida with Steph, she would stay here in Columbus until Steph established herself, job- and apartment-wise.  (Steph posted on Facebook that she is looking for preschool teaching jobs in the Tampa Bay area, and is willing to go as far north as New Port Richey.  Florida is one of the 12 states I have never visited, so I don’t know the geography or layout.)

Susie has made her decision.  She wants to stay in Columbus with me.  Steph’s and my final parting is unsettling enough that she feels moving to completely foreign terrain–especially with a parent who is also learning the lay of the land–would be worse without the comforting presence of people she knows and loves, and familiar surroundings and routines.  She is starting at Whetstone High School this fall as a freshman, and, although it is a new school, she will be with many of her friends from Dominion, and it is in the city where she has lived her entire life.

I was a little flippant when I titled my previous entry “Diary of a Bachelor Father.”  I guess I was more prophetic than I realized.  My thought had been that Susie would elect to stay with her mother, mainly because a teenage girl would want to be very close to her mother during this period of biological transition.  Steph will still be a very active part of Susie’s life–nothing will change that.  She will still see Susie during vacations and holidays, and I’m sure they’ll be in constant email and Skype communication.

This is not hitting me like a ton of bricks.  I am, in fact, surprised and humbled by Susie’s decision.  Nor is it the first time when I anticipated single parenthood.  The first time I thought it might be possible was when Susie was less than a week old.  She was born on Monday, and she and Steph left Grant Hospital on Friday. We had been home about three hours when Steph went into congestive heart failure.  The squad took her to Riverside Methodist Hospital, and I stayed behind with infant Susie.  When Tanya and Pat knocked unexpectedly at the door an hour later (Tanya, our midwife, was pregnant–very pregnant–with her daughter at the time), I feared they had come to deliver the news that Steph had died.  But this was not the case.  They offered to take Susie for the night so I could be with Steph.  Susie had her first sleepover at four days of age.

During both heart surgeries, the possibility that I would raise Susie alone loomed over us.  Susie was not quite two when Steph had her first one, in 1999.  At that time, Steph and I decided that I would use insurance money to pay for a housekeeper and nanny until Susie started kindergarten.  In 2008, during the most recent heart surgery–which included my 45 seconds of widowhood–I thought single parenthood was a distinct possibility, and was trying to gear up for it emotionally.

The transition will not be as abrupt this time.  Steph will be here until June, and the past week has shown me that I am up to the job.  (I wasn’t always, and I’m the first to admit it.  During the pregnancy, I often wrung my hands about what a bad parent I would be, since my mother, father, and stepmother were horrible parents.  The paradox is that the more I doubted my abilities as a parent, the more people who knew me believed I’d be an excellent parent.)

I’ve told this story when this blog was at LiveJournal, but I think it bears repeating.  There was a man in his early 60s named Buddy whom I saw on the Sullivant Avenue bus several times a week while going to or from work, running errands, shopping, etc.  He remembers when I’d carry Susie on my shoulders, and he called her “Susie Q.”  (Susie will probably never be a Creedence Clearwater Revival fan.)  One day, I ran into Buddy on the bus and casually mentioned I was meeting Susie’s mom for lunch.  He did a double take.  “Her mom?”  I said yes, puzzled as to why this was such a jolt to him.  “Man, I always thought you were a widower.”  He had never seen Steph with Susie and me, and when he grew up, the father didn’t play as active a role in the child’s day-to-day life, especially if the child was a girl.

As for romantic or remarriage plans for me, there are none.  I am still surprised that I ever married at all, because for most of my adolescence and young adulthood I vowed never to marry.  I echo the words of Abraham Lincoln (in an 1838 letter) on the subject:

I have come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason, I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me.

His life probably would have been a happier one had he stuck to this.  The dreadful novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter failed to explain how a vampire hunter would marry an emotional vampire like Mary Todd.

Susie and me, December 2010

Bachelor Father’s Diary

Steph left for Florida Tuesday night to see some old and new friends, so between working (both my “real world” job with the State of Ohio and my part-time bookstore job) and being with Susie, my idea of leisure time has been sleep.  It’s not that I don’t love my readers, it’s just that I’ve been so exhausted that the end result of any session at the keyboard would not have resembled English.

Today begins my last week at the bookstore.  (I must be good at what I do, because twice my supervisor has emailed me and asked me to stay longer.)  I am eager for the 13-hour days to end, but a look at my finances made me realize I’d be crazy to turn this down.  Today was the one Sunday per quarter the bookstore was open (albeit for only four hours), and every time a cart full of returns and buybacks materialized, yours truly was in and out of the stacks, shelving them.

Susie and her drama class went to see a matinée performance of West Side Story at Eastmoor Academy last week, which was a welcome break from the regular school day.  When I came home from work, Susie left a stellar report card on my keyboard for me to sign.  (The keyboard is the only place where you can leave something and be sure I’ll find it.  The rest of this desk makes me look like I’m auditioning for Hoarders.)

Tonight I served lasagna for dinner, and put my culinary skills to work.  Preheat the oven to 375º, put the lasagna in, set the timer for 45 minutes.  I’ve downloaded the recipe for tuna casserole, and that may be dinner tomorrow night.  Quite a filling meal, and none of its ingredients are that expensive.

Never saw the show, but the title card is appropriate
for describing my life since Tuesday night.

Susie and I went to the First Friday potluck at church on–when else?–Friday evening.  We were invited to a soccer game at Crew Stadium (against FC Dallas), but declined.  I am not a sports fan, and neither is Susie, plus we were under-dressed.  By the time the game ended, the temperature would have been in the 30s.  Susie was already starting to nod off as we were on the bus headed to church, and I wasn’t surprised when she headed straight to bed once we came home, save for a cursory glance at her email.

Pat took me to lunch at the Saigon Palace Friday afternoon, and the sesame chicken meal was filling enough that I debated not eating anything at First Friday.

Susie’s godmother Cynthia took her to Cirque de la Symphonie last night at the Ohio Theater.  I ate dinner at the McDonald’s on campus, and was so wiped out that I considered taking the bus the 1.3 miles.  But I didn’t.  I hoofed it the entire way, and even made the trip a little longer by using side streets and back alleys, instead of going all the way to High St. and walking north.  (I know how contradictory it sounds–walk a mile to eat fast food.  It’s like running a marathon where the prize is a carton of cigarettes.)  I nursed a few Diet Cokes, read a chapter of Secrets Can Be Murder, and wrote in my diary, and made sure I was home before Cynthia and Susie returned.

Next Saturday will be my last bookselling day, until spring quarter winds down at the beginning of June.  I have accounts at SnagAJob.com and other job-search sites, looking for part-time work, but I’m not sure just how much my heart is really in it.  I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I’m enjoying the bookstore job.  As I apply for part-time jobs, my attitude resembles a line I read in an old “Family Circus” cartoon.  The friend of one of the boys in the comic says, “Go ask your mom if we can play on the roof!”  The little boy reluctantly walks toward the house, saying, “Okay, but I hope she says no.”

I switched my Facebook status to “single” just before Steph departed for Florida.  We are still married in the eyes of the law, but we are, at best, roommates right now.  We posted a joint letter last fall about our intention to divorce, both as a Google document and as a Note on Facebook, but I could tell that not everyone had seen it.  A co-worker of mine, who is also a Facebook friend, asked me about my new status when she saw me at work the other day.  I knew that she did not know about our divorce plans–she hadn’t read the letter.  I could tell because it wasn’t common knowledge around the agency within minutes.  (In 1948, Tex Williams recorded the song “Don’t Telephone, Don’t Telegraph, Tell a Woman”, saying this was the fastest way to spread news.  Dated but true.)