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.)

Advertisements

Pleasurable Penance

I have redeemed myself (for now, anyway) as far as the Columbus Metropolitan Library is concerned.  I’ve been unable to check anything out these past few weeks, because my unpaid fine balance kept creeping higher and higher.  When it exceeds $10, the library suspends your borrowing privileges.  (I have kept mine at $9.99 for over a year, but my card went inactive when Susie lost a book borrowed on my card.  Yesterday, I went down to the main library to pay for the lost book, and the book jockey gave me some very good news.  Some anonymous Good Samaritan had found the book and had returned it.  I guess I’ll never know where he/she found it, but at least I don’t have to pay for replacing it.)

While lost, the meter kept running on the book’s fines.  So, after church today, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to read off my fines.  (I’m not 100% in the black, but my fine balance is below $10, so I can borrow again.)

You can read off your fines once or twice a year at the library, at a rate of $8 per hour.  Reading off the fines means sitting at a table and reading–no text-messaging, no computer.  I checked in at the desk at the Whetstone Library when it opened at 1, and the woman at the desk figured that 2½ hours would reduce my balance enough to where I could borrow again.  I pointed out where I’d be sitting, and went to the table to serve my “sentence.”

That’s why this entry has the title it does.  I have never considered reading to be work, and it was definitely never punishment.  If I’m eating alone, I have to be reading something, even if it’s the side panels of the cereal box.  (I think a byproduct of my Asperger’s syndrome is a strong tendency toward hyperlexia.  I may not retain all that I read, but I have to be engaging in the mechanism of reading, even if I’m only looking at words. (If I’m without a book at McDonald’s or somewhere else, I’ll read discarded copies of Sports Illustrated or The Buckeye Sports Bulletin, publications I would otherwise never peruse.)

I am glad there is no designated place at the library where people reading off their fines sit to do it.  Although I would gladly be doing it, I would be less than happy to be in a place that trumpeted, “Look, everybody!  This guy is in the hole with fines!”  It would feel like being in the penalty box during a hockey game, or like being in the stocks during the Puritan days in New England, except that at the library nobody can throw mud and rotten eggs at you.

Crazily, I came prepared in case there was nothing at the library that struck my fancy.  I brought along Harlot’s Ghost, Norman Mailer’s 1310-page novel about the CIA, which I bought when I lived in Cincinnati (I left there in 1995), and have tried to read more than a dozen times, never getting past the first 10-15 pages.  At McDonald’s between church and Whetstone’s opening time, I conscientiously kept Harlot’s Ghost in my bag, wanting to save it for the library.  (I wrote in my diary instead–I didn’t want to run the risk of finishing all 1300-plus pages in the time it took to eat two McDoubles and drink two cups of lemonade.)

I never took Harlot’s Ghost out of my bag again.  Once at the library, I found an excellent book, Charles Lachman’s The Last Lincolns, about the direct descendants of Abraham Lincoln, starting with his four sons (only one of whom, Robert Todd Lincoln, lived to adulthood), and Robert’s children and grandchildren.  Abraham Lincoln has no direct descendants alive.  When his great-grandson Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith died in 1985, that was his final lineal descendant.

When the woman told me how long my “sentence” would be, I started the stopwatch on my watch, but I didn’t pay attention to it once I began reading.  I was a few pages into the book when I decided that I would christen my newly reactivated card by borrowing it.  (I did just that, along with a three-disk set of Bob Dylan’s Biograph, a boxed set I used to have on LP.  When I bought it, I turned off the phone, locked my apartment door, and listened to all 53 songs.)

The change to Eastern Daylight Savings Time came this morning.  I was awake for the change, because I wanted to make sure that my cell phone and my alarm clock made the adjustment (I have an Emerson Research SmartSet clock radio that adjusts itself automatically when you plug it in), and both of them.  It mattered because Susie and the rest of the Rising Voices choir would be singing at both services today, at 9:15 and 11 a.m.  Susie had to be there at 8:45 for rehearsal and warm-up, so we left the house just before 8 to catch the bus, so we could eat breakfast at church beforehand.

I stayed for the entire first service, and stayed at the second service long enough to film the kids.  (I shot a video of the kids at the 9:15 service, but started it about five seconds too late.  Although both performances were wonderful, the second one was the better of the two.)  They sang “What is Pink?”   (Susie is in the front row, wearing an orange shirt, and this is the link, for your viewing and musical enjoyment.)

I left after the girls (Rising Voices isn’t intentionally all-female; it’s an all-girls choir by default) sang.  Susie stayed behind to go to OWL class (an acronym for Our Whole Lives, the human sexuality curriculum), and I killed time at McDonald’s until the library opened.

Dominion Middle School’s second and final performance of Annie Jr. was fantastic on Friday night.  I took some pictures during the show with my new cell phone, the Motorola that arrived via FedEx on Thursday.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a USB cord with a Micro-B male terminal, so I can’t download them yet.  Stay tuned to this blog, and as soon as I find the right cord, I will share them with all you eager readers.