It’s Taken Me

by Jeff Oaks

It’s taken me until this week to get some sense of my spring schedule. One thing I love about my job is that it’s hardly ever the same schedule term by term. Some terms I teach five days a week, some three days a week. Next fall it will be a two day a week schedule. It takes some time at the beginning of every term, though, to get used to the new timing of parking or taking the bus, preparing for class, commenting on papers, holding office hours, scheduling administrative meetings, and finding time to write, clean the house, do laundry, read, play with the dog, and all the other personal stuff. It really just takes patience. Since I’ve decided writing comes first, my house usually falls into a state of mild déshabillé I usually don’t notice until the dog hair in the corners takes on tarantulan dimensions. That usually takes a week. Sometimes two.

Then out comes the Dyson, the lemon-scented Pledge wipes, the Windex, and Arm and Hammer Detergent.

I always think of cleaning the house as a boring chore, as something someone else is supposed to do, because my mother always did it when I was growing up, but like most of the things in my life, once I begin, I find I like it. Still, I always find it a little disheartening at the end of cleaning to think that from here on, the level of dirt can only get worse; part of me will always like better living a little shabbily but with hope for a cleaner future than living always on alert for a falling away of order. Consider yourself warned, in other words, if you come by unannounced.

So my schedule this term looks something like this:

4-6 Write (thanks Insomnia!)
7-9 The dog and I walk in the park
10–12:30 I work on papers in the cafe.
1-2 Office hours or administrative stuff
2-3 Prep for class
4-6 Teach
6-7 Dog again, this time along the river
7-9 Dinner/TV/Read

The real challenge this term has been with parking around the Cathedral. In yet another cackhanded move, the City Council decided last year to abruptly change the cost of public parking from 50 cents an hour, which (in all fairness) it was for decades, to $2 an hour this year. What used to cost $4 to park for eight hours now costs $16. The argument seems to generally be that it’s a move to keep idiots from parking and drinking too long at various establishments on the Southside and other places, thereby keeping the flow of customers in motion I guess and quietly moving people out of restaurants before they can get so drunk they piss on residents’ stoops, a well-known problem on the Southside. I still don’t understand why that argument holds around the various college campuses, where students (who are not wealthy) have to park. One of these days I’ll unleash the full rant on the city’s war on students, but not now. I bring all this up now merely to say that the new cost of parking has caused me trouble too.

Today I think I cracked the system. The sad thing is I don’t want to divulge my parking routine for fear others will adopt it. I spend my whole adult life trying to become a more open, warm, confident person, and then when it comes to this one thing, this one really insignificant thing, my inner Scrooge appears. Or maybe my inner Drama Queen or inner Sitcom writer is just saving something for another post. Roll credits. Cue theme music.