fall is not cooperating; i need a milkshake

Posted by on October 4, 2007

The stalling of cool whether is beginning to agitate and demoralize me. Eighty degree days in October, days of inescapable and intense sunshine, are simply not right. In these conditions, the imagination does not have to work very hard to conjure destructive images of global warming and a future in which my child may never know the joy of wearing a sweater. At least, that’s the fear. This is Indiana, I tell myself, and winter will come. But why not fall??? Fall, fall, where are you??

To make matters worse, Jeff and I were chosen to be building representatives for the duration of this semester. This is not the privileged leadership position it sounds like. They say if you live in the married student housing long enough, this lot will fall you eventually, and I think it has fallen to us so soon, only because two other families in our building just had babies. I am not good at rallying people together for group events and enciting community enthusiasm. I sent out an e-mail to everyone in my building and so far only one person has responded, and I didn’t even want to send out the e-mail in the first place, but I had to make it sound cheerful.

I am trying to be a good household manager and can’t seem to excell at everything all in the same day. There are various permutations. Dinner gets made; toys are everywhere. Floor is crumb-free and laundry done and folded; dinner does not get made and we are low on groceries. Bathroom is cleaned and disinfected, dinner is made, but kitchen floor is wretched from Esme throwing food on it three times per day and bed was never made. Groceries are purchased; mail remains unopened. I make home-made granola bars for Jeff to take as an afternoon snack; dinner is not made. New photos are uploaded to flickr and e-mail checked obsessively, laundry and most of the days dishes are done; all other chores neglected.

Some days, when I feel I’ve worked the hardest, are the very days in which a stranger could enter my home and think someone very lazy lives there.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to communicate here. To make matters worse, my friend and next-door neighbor Manuela is gone for the entire month. It’s only been one day without taking a walk with her and the afternoon today seemed endless. Esme and I were the only people on the playground, even though upwards of eighty families live here. It was lonely, and Esme could feel it too. Maybe I should look for a part-time job. I called the human resources office of a local college (to be unnamed) here today and no one answered. I waited until after lunch hour, and called again. There was no answering machine either. I may not have the heart to try again tomorrow, or I may have the heart, but totally forget.

I’ve been reading the Orthodox lectionary and the demarcation of verses is strange. Why does it sometime begin on verse two, leaving out verse one, when verse one contains essential introductory information? It really doesn’t bother me though. In fact, I like it. I contemplate only what lies between the brackets– brackets that I didn’t decide upon. The stories and words, like the ones written by Paul from prison, are all too familiar, but if I didn’t read them again they would never cross my mind.

I am looking forward to Sunday so that I can hear another sermon by Fr. Bill. They usually involve a message such as: life is too comfortable for you; you have not had enough disappointments and missed opportunities; if you don’t go to church because you love God, then what other reason is there to go to church?; if you don’t come to church because you love God, you should still keep coming; if you don’t know what you’re talking about, then just be quiet; and so forth. He is the first priest I’ve been able to pay attention to for years and I sincerely love his sermons and think about them all week long.

It reminds me of the line from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: “And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, / When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, / Then how should I begin / To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?”

How shall I begin to spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? That line passes through my mind a lot. Jeff and I had a coupon for Dairy Queen which I almost threw away a few days ago with the thought that Dairy Queen was not really a part of our enlightened lifestyle. But tonight I talked Jeff into going to get those blizzards. Afterwards we stopped at Martin’s grocery store for toilet paper and I picked up a twelve-pack of La Croix sparkling water, to which I think I am addicted.

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  1. Ser
    October 5, 2007

    I swear, Julia, we are living shadow lives.

    Of course, it could be that our experiences are not all that unique. Still, there was something a bit uncanny about the football parking/married student housing experiences.

    But really, I’m trying to say that household management is one big, unwieldy, never-ending enterprise that is often unrewarding and never, ever finished.

    And, as I sit, lonely, at our empty playgrounds around here, I will think of you at your empty playground.

  2. Manuela
    October 5, 2007

    Dear Julia,

    again, I wish I could beam you over to Germany and we could go on a walk and enjoy the weather.

    I miss you, Manuela

  3. Julia
    October 6, 2007

    Thanks, Ser. I think it’s partly that our experiences aren’t that unique and partly that we are the type of people who feel the need to analyze, process, and express everything.

    It makes me feel better that you’re out there.

  4. Jenny
    October 7, 2007


    It helps to read your description of the domestic scene. At our place, there is always an unmade bed, crumbs on the floor somewhere, or total chaos because of my cooking attempts. And like you, the harder I work, the more loose ends there seems to be.

    I’m frustrated about the heat too. I want fall with all of my being!

    Come see me soon!


    P.S. I love Fr. Bill’s sermons too–I know exactly what you’re saying.

  5. Jenny
    October 7, 2007


    Just wanted to say–I checked the weather forecast. Looks like here in Chicago we’ll have rain on Monday and the cool will come! I bet you’ve got something similar headed your way.

    I love how the liturgy holds all our concerns–even those that could never have been anticipated when the prayers were written.

    I always think about my fear of global warming when we pray for “seasonable weather and fruits of the earth.”

    I think I need to blog about fear and hope, because I see this time has such a mingling of both. We are afraid of global warming and at the same time, I have real hope that my kids will grow up in a cleaner world than I did–that they’ll learn to drive in clean cars of some sort . . .

    But in the meantime, let’s keep praying for seasonable weather.

  6. Julia
    October 7, 2007

    Jenny, your faithful comments always make me feel much better, even when I’m being whiney and probably don’t deserve so much niceness!

    Your house always looks good. Maybe there are crumbs on your floor, but I’m convinced they are more miniscule than the crumbs on mine.

    I just looked into the future and saw us together in Hyde Park on a gorgeous fall day. What a relief. I’ll write you soon and we can talk about a good day.

  7. Nostalgia
    October 7, 2007

    Today in Church, while Fr.Michael Roshak – our new wonderful priest – was preaching, instead of concentrating on his words I was going back and forth: “I will be thinking about what he’s saying all week long! Yeah, it’s very good… no, may be I won’t… It’s good, but I will still probably forget… I wonder what I’d feel listening to Julia’s priest… Oh, I wish I could compare the two… I want somebody, who will shake my universe – who will say words, that I’ll ponder on all week long… Hm, Mary is wearing really high heels… Why didn’t I wear mine today? I wonder being a little over-weight, is it more difficult for her to be on high-heels?”
    I don’t remember what Fr. Michael was preaching about, except that the real world – is God’s World.

  8. anna j
    October 7, 2007

    You know, “the love song of j.alfred prufrock” is one of those poems that i find myself quoting at random times in my head. normally what i tell myself is “i grow old, i grow old, i shall wear my trousers rolled . . .”
    don’t ask me why!
    But more importantly, I love this post, Julia–it is brilliant in its perfect encapsulement of what it is to live in this daily routine of ritual, meaning, drudgery, and blessing.
    And perhaps less importantly, I also must add that all I wanted for my birthday was to use my DQ coupon. So a traveling buddy obliged me, and I contentedly indulged in my birthday blizzard 🙂

  9. Julia
    October 7, 2007

    Wow. I thought this was a total throw-away post, and all these wonderful comments.

    Nostalgia, your thoughts about high heels in church perfectly incapsulate the kind of mental driftings I usually have during the liturgy. During sermons, I can sometimes listen a bit better, but they evaporate as soon as they are concluded. I usually would not be able to remember them by Sunday afternoon to save my life.

    Maybe I should start taking notes during Fr. Bill’s sermons and publish them here (paraphrased) for everyone’s benefit. Today’s was another great one about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. He said if God doesn’t take something difficult away from you, it’s probably because it may be the only way that someone near you can understand the gospel by looking at you. God needs people who can go through terrible experiences without losing their faith. While suffering, you won’t be able to see what, if anything, is being accomplished, or how, and bystanders will misinterpret the whole thing, but who cares?

    It’s all delivered in a such a dry, cut-the-crap tone of voice.

    Anna: I haven’t even wished you happy birthday! (I am so useless for birthdays.) Happy birthday!!! I can’t believe we share a passion for both Prufrock and blizzards and I never knew it, but it doesn’t really surprise me.

    What’s your favorite flavor? Mine’s heath bar.

  10. anna j
    October 8, 2007

    It surprised me too, realizing I didn’t know you loved Prufrock–funny how it’s the realization that we didn’t know our shared passions, not the realization of those shared passions, that is the surprising thing 🙂
    Favorite flavour? Well I often end up trying different ones, depending on the mood. This past time I tried the Pecan one [I can’t recall the precise title], as I always like nuts, and it was definitely a winner!

  11. Jenny
    October 24, 2007

    Julia is no cooperating; I need a new post.

  12. Julia
    October 24, 2007

    Jenny, I’m sure you meant to say “not” but the “no” makes you sound like a bossy woman from the old country. I better get to work.

  13. anna j
    October 25, 2007

    Amen, Jenny–I’ve been thinking the same thing as I lurk in blgo-world!