I've lived alone in Bloomington Indiana for 43 days. Of those 43, about 35 were t-shirt weather. This past week I got caught in the rain. Instead of waiting for the bus, I walked a mile from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs building back to my apartment. I had a small black umbrella to shield me, but it wasn't big enough to shield my backpack too. As I crossed side streets, foot-deep curb-hugging flows splashed over my suede shoes and soaked my jean bottoms. But the worst was Walnut Street where fast automobiles sent up mean tsunami sprays all on me. When I got to my apartment, I changed clothes and set my notebooks to dry. The next time it rains, I'll take the bus.
Bloomington has poor stormwater drainage, but it is still a good city. Most days are sunny. There are lots of happy families--spouse, child, & dog--everywhere all the time. There's a farmer's market each Saturday with local everything for sale, and I haven't missed one yet. There are competitive pick up soccer games daily. The downtown area is chock full of little shoppes and eclectic restaurants. A number of sports bars show the Bears and Colts games. The town is bike and pedestrian friendly. There are several nice parks in town and nice hiking/camping places just outside of town. This part of Indiana has trees, hills, and lakes.
From my apartment I hear the tweet of birds, the chug of cargo trains, the whiz of cars going down College Avenue, and the rev of pickup trucks pulling out of the porn shop. I live next to a porn shop.
Because I cook with it a lot, my apartment often smells like garlic. I've been cooking for myself a few times each week. It's therapeutic and delicious. I do not like washing dishes, though.
I bought a cheap dirty pink couch at a yardsale for my living room. I've covered it with a navy blue down blanket. My NY Giants pillow rests in the corner. I have a National Geographic World Map from 1988 on one wall and a road map of New Jersey from 2007 on another wall, next to a picture of The Boss posing on Sunset Strip in 1975.
This semester I'm taking Environmental Chemistry, Statistics, Public Management Economics, and Limnology. I also work 10 hours a week as a graduate assistant for an aquatic chemistry professor. And I'm the campus-wide environmental science masters student representative for the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO). I go to a meeting once a month.
The other students in my program are kind, interesting, and intelligent. It is a privilege to be here learning with them. If you fall down, they pick you up.
At this point, four weeks in, the simple introductory material is ending, and the great workpile is rising. It's time to work hard or, at least, work harder than I have been. Whatever work comes, surely it won't suck as bad as walking a lonely wet mile in the Indiana rain.