Have you ever done something and had absolutely no clue what you were doing? Your only recourse is to fake it. That happened to me this afternoon. In an attempt to solve my summer housing situation, my fiance and I went on a tour of a potential apartment. In the past three weeks I’ve learned more than I’ve ever known in my entire life about renting an apartment. I’ve looked places up, made several dozen phone calls, and made multiple calls to my parents in one week.
Today I took the big step and actually toured a place. As the manager lead us across the property and towards the empty apartment we were going to see, a dull silence descended on the three of us. The multitude of questions I was prepared to ask had somehow all slipped away. I had a sheet full of questions you were supposed to ask before renting an apartment, all sorts of odds and ends like where can you do your laundry, how much does it cost, and are there specified hours when you can do your laundry. All kinds of in depth stuff that you probably wouldn’t think of until the situation actually arises–if it ever does.
As we walked across the property I forgot everyone of those questions and could only listen quietly while the manager rattled on about this or that insignificant detail, punctured by awkward silences when I felt like I was supposed to congratulate her on her complex. As we toured the apartment all I could do was poke my nose into every corner and nod, as if I knew what I was looking at. Yep, that’s an empty bedroom. I don’t see any holes in the wall. Yep, that’s a linen closet. It has shelves. Very good. What am I supposed to say?
Near the end of the tour I managed a better showing, actually asking several questions and procuring a copy of the lease, something that’s certainly not necessary at this stage. But it made me feel like I knew what I was doing.
Why do I feel like I’m going to be faking my way through the rest of my life? If you look at every major area in life–I probably have experience in none of them. So what am I going to do? Fake it. I suppose eventually you get good at faking it, and by then you know your stuff. See what college does to your perspective on life?
Dropping the basket on the floor I began pulling out shirts and random articles of clothing and draping them across the back of my chair so they wouldn’t wrinkle. I dumped the remaining socks and what not in the seat of the chair and started folding. First came a soft yellow t-shirt, worn from too many washings. Next came a plain white t-shirt that still had that stiff new feeling. I folded each shirt carefully, being sure to smooth the wrinkles and uncurl the sleeves. There’s something about folding someone else’s laundry that makes you take extra time. There’s something about doing someone else’s laundry that makes you stop and think. This isn’t my shirt. I don’t know where it came from or how long the person’s had it. I only recognize it as something they wear. Now here I am folding it and placing it back in the basket in a neat and orderly pile. Next comes a pair of jeans and I’m tempted to read the label and see what size they are. She always avoids the issue like it bothers her, when really it doesn’t. I resist the urge and fold the jeans in thirds, adding it to the pile. You can tell a lot about a person from doing their laundry. What kind of stains do their clothes have, if any? How threadbare and worn is the fabric? What are you folding when it all comes out, dress clothes or scrubby t-shirts? What kind of underwear do they wear? Do they even leave their underwear for you to wash–that in itself says a lot, either they’re saving you the trouble or they don’t quite trust you. What kind of socks do they wear? Are they all different styles of white so you have to spend twenty minutes matching them all? Or are they goofy designs and anything but white, making the matching process a colorful game of memory? It’s also kind of humbling to wash someone else’s clothes. It’s usually the kind of job reserved for your mother or a servant–ironic that the two are paired together. It’s an interesting clashing of social norms. Or maybe I’m just thinking too much.
You crunch the numbers, the bills stack up, and you hope the bottom line is a positive number. You have to remember to pay for this, but you just got this check in the mail to cover half of it, and don’t forget that extra money over here. But you also have to pay this new bill, and you need to pick up one of those. And don’t forget about the money from the bike you just sold. You also owe Joe money for this. You owe some, you get some, you pay some. Sometimes I just want to crawl in a hole and hope money takes care of itself.
The funny thing is that I don’t have to worry about it. God’s watching over me, and he’ll worry about it. Now I’m not naïve enough to think that the money just takes care of itself. I don’t sit on my butt and watch the bills get paid. But somehow the ends meet and you scrape by. And it doesn’t come without sacrifice. I’m fretting over money and whether or not I have enough to pay my bills—and I certainly do, I’m just worrying too much. But then I sit there thinking about how much I want a pop. Which is exactly the problem in the first place. If we want stuff we really don’t need, we’re going to have problems with the dough. Believe it or not we can get by only on what we need.
Why all the talk on money? You’d think I just finished school and had to pay the rent, the phone bill, the gas bill, the electric bill, the insurance, and all that. Oh no, I just had to pay my Christmas Visa bill. I think I worry too much.
I stand in the middle of the shell of my bedroom. A quiet and empty monument to days gone by. Quiet and empty because I’m away at college, and now seldom come back–not even for the summer. The room is even emptier and less my room because the bed is gone–taken during my parents’ separation–leaving behind an empty and discolored patch of carpet. That’s probably the color the rest of the faded, off-white carpet is supposed to be. Memories and treasures are all that remain–the stuff too important to throw out, but not important enough to bring with me.
Continue reading Shell of My Bedroom
It’s laundry time this week on Kevin’s Summer Away From Home. You watched him cook for himself and not burn the place down, now see if he can get his clothes clean. So I went down to the laundry room today to see how much it would cost me. I looked at all the machines, and I couldn’t find the quarter slots. Then I realized–there were no quarter slots! Free laundry? At a college? No way. But just when I thought I had discovered the best part about Judson, I turned around and saw a credit card machine on the wall. You need a stinkin’ credit card to do your laundry at Judson. Well, I guess the plus side is I don’t have to save up the quarters. Now I just need the plastic.
Welcome to life in the Real world. Today my internship at Real Media began, and things went pretty well. I learned that publishing isn’t always writing, editing, and layout. Sometimes you have to do some tedious stuff. Today I learned phone etiquette and how to use the fax machine. But it went well. I had fun.
Life on my own continues to be fun. I spent most of my evening trying to figure out how to make local phone calls and get on the internet. It turns out Judson makes you pay for local calls. How nice. So getting on the internet has been a little difficult lately. I must apologize for the lack of updates to these ponderings. But at least I’m still writing them. They’ll get uploaded eventually, you’ll just have to be patient.
Tonight I cooked for myself. I never thought you could mess up grilled cheese, but I found a way. Now stop laughing, I didn’t ruin it. It came out just fine, and when the RD came to introduce herself, she commented that it smelled good in here. So there. Anyway, this place has one of those gas stoves. So I turned it on, and the knob has three settings: OFF, HI, and LITE. So I fired it up, and turned it down a little and set the pan on the burner, you know, let it warm up a little. Not even a minute later I slapped my cheese and bread on there (yes, butter side down), and that puppy started frying! Wow! In two seconds flat half my grilled cheese was nearly burnt cheese. With the flip of a spatula I had it saved, and one side was done. But the other side took a little longer, so the cheese actually had time to melt and it all came out okay. It was pretty good eatin’ if I do say so myself. Certainly not mother’s cooking, but food you can live on. See, the boy can feed himself. And you had doubts.
Welcome to life on your own. For the first time in my life, I think I can really say that I’m on my own. This weekend I moved into my home-for-the-summer at Judson College. As I’ve said before, I have an internship with Real Media Group in Elgin, Illinois. I’m living in the dorms at Judson College just a few minutes down the road. As of today I don’t have a roommate, although that will probably change.
Continue reading Welcome to Summer On My Own
I have devised away that the state of Illinois can save millions of dollars every year. All they have to do is stop posting speed limit signs. I learned today that the residents of Illinois don’t follow them anyway, so why put them up? Think of the money they could save! Why, the could get rid of that wretched toll system!
While driving through today I noticed that the speed limit was 55. Let’s just say I was driving slightly above the posted limit, although only in an attempt to keep up with traffic. And I do mean keep up. Half the cars went flying past me like I was sitting still. They had to be doing at least 75. Now why won’t drivers do that in Michigan, where the speed limit is 70?
I moved into my home for the summer at Judson College, near Chicago, Illinois today. And then promptly left for the weekend. I’m in Green Bay, Wisconsin right now. I get around, don’t I? Now I just need to find a paying job.
Did you see the moon tonight? Wow, it just lit everything up. I hope you took advantage of the silvery light of the moon to play on the swings or ride the seesaw.
Oh the joys of packing. I realized today that I have too much crap. I spent an hour or so deleting old e-mail messages this afternoon. I think I need to learn how to throw stuff away as soon as I don’t need it. I’m also wishing I was more organized. I keep finding all these slips of paper with quotes or book titles written on them. I end up labeling a folder “quotes” and sticking ’em all in there. What a filing system. I probably have six folders that are essentially “various.” Well, you never know when I might need something. Yeah, right. How useful are my CIFA theater reviews? There’s something about being in college and having to pack and move all your stuff twice a year that makes you want to keep a lot less. Especially this summer since I’ll be living in Chicago. I’m trying to figure out what I need. What I really need. I might need a lot of things. But most likely not. I’m trying to pitch a lot of that most likely not stuff. Some kind of a Thoreau-esque attempt to live simply.
I’m done. I can wipe my hands of school work, I can shake the dust off my feet. My last final was tonight, and the school year is pretty much done. Of course I’m still here. I’m not going home until Saturday. I’ll just take my sweet time packing. Speaking of packing, you’ll be impressed to hear that I cleaned. Well, sort of. There is no longer a mound that my desk is located beneath. There is now one small pile located on the floor, a few things on my desk, and one overflowing grocery bag waiting to be ushered to the dumpster. My roommate must be breathing a sigh of relief.
Speaking of things that are done, the Red Wings lost to the Colorado Avalanche tonight, 5-2. Thus, the Wings are eliminated from the playoffs, and Colorado advances to the Conference Finals. I’m kind of bummed. But to tell you the truth, I’m not so bummed that they didn’t win a third straight Stanley Cup. I’m bummed because I won’t get to watch anymore Red Wing hockey. Nothing beats playoff hockey, and I love watching the Wings. But now it’s over, and I only got to watch two or three games.
Did you know that there are places in this country where the house numbers are single digits? You could live on 7 Recreation Drive. A friend of mine lives on 3 Ellen Lane. No boring three or four digit house numbers for them. America. What a beautiful country.
I look up into the dark night sky and ask what sweet perfume this is on my lips.