Getting back home to a wave of responsibility after three weeks away was a bit overwhelming. Many things to catch up on before the tidal wave that is my Ph.D. program threatens to drown me next week. It's funny after taking a long trip, I noticed the people around me much more acutely this week.
They made me think of that Sesame Street song... "in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood". It gets stuck in your head, doesn't it?
SATURDAY Taxi driver: Tells us the base fare from the airport has increased by two dollars. At first we don’t really believe him and he can tell, but then once he goes through the toll fare we do. So then I feel bad for doubting the hardworking man, so I over tip him (even though he blared his music while we tried to give him directions to our apartment). I tell him to keep the change and he gives me a big smile.
SATURDAY Librarian: She has checked me out at least 30 times in 3 ½ years and always acts like she’s never seen me before. She’s usually cranky, but occasionally very nice and chatty, particularly when I’m checking out a knitting book. She has trouble crocheting lately because of arthritis. Today she reamed me out for not having my library card and for having a hypenated last name. And I mean reamed. I grit my teeth and think, “Well, isn’t that a fine welcome back to Massachusetts”.
SUNDAY – I don’t leave the house.
MONDAY Postman Joe: Delivered a ton of mail on Monday even though I went to the post office Saturday to pick up a box of of 3 weeks worth of held mail.
We converse about vacations and I get to hear about how the fish are returning to Boston Harbor the past few years which is making his 4 week summer fishing vacations more pleasant.
TUESDAY Friends: Thank god for friends. I’m in such a bad mood this week. I’ve had so much work to do before school starts up next week and seeing them again makes me feel better about the world.
WEDNESDAY – I don’t leave the house.
THURSDAY Mentor: I meet her for a lunch meeting to talk about papers we are writing and I tell her I need a pep talk before starting up my new semester. She buys me the best stir-fry with brown rice and lemonade at Betty’s Wok and Noodle Diner. The conversation turns to this paper I’ve been working for well over two years. It’s always been at the bottom of my to-do list. She encourages me to just finish it, “for no other reason than that you won’t think about it and how it’s still not done before you fall asleep at night”. I decide that’s my new incentive for doing everything I hate. For the rest of the day, I think of all her sage advice over the years, like, her loosely translated rabbinical story about people sitting in a circle, hearing everyone’s burdens, then choosing whether to take someone else’s burdens or keep their own. Inevitably, everyone keeps their own. Again, I feel a little better about my week.
FRIDAY Computer repair man: I drive an hour to campus in pouring rain to drop off my laptop which suddenly won’t let me close or resize any windows even after a reboot. I get to the computer repair shop and there is a sign on the door that says, “Do not knock on the door unless you have an appointment. On Thursday and Friday we are improving our workflow.” I knock anyway. I open the door and say, “I’m sorry. I drove an hour. I checked your website before I came.” He says, “Just because it’s not on the website doesn’t mean I’m not busy with special projects over the break.” Once that unpleasantness is over, he’s pretty nice about trying to fix my computer.
SATURDAY Midwestern friend: He's in town for the week. Matt and I have both known him since middle school. We meet up for breakfast. We always love a little time with the midwesterner visitors. Their occasional visits make it feel like we're not so far away afterall.
In the end got one paper done this week, among other things. I still have too much work to do, but I'm feeling a little more hopeful. A little bit back into the swing of life here. So maybe I won't drown after all. Here's to hoping!