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Friday Afternoon Confessional: Winding down

I confess that today my second-to-last week of teaching at Kalamazoo College ends. My religion department colleagues treated me to a very nice going away dinner last night, and I have various other social engagements planned next week to say goodbye to my friends here. I have begun the process of “winding down” my office, carrying back a bag full of books each time I come back from campus, recycling all the various print-outs that I for some reason kept, shuffling around the mysterious folders and other documents that I inherited when I moved in.

I confess that I never fully moved into the office. Had I known it would be this long, I likely would’ve put a good chunk of my books in there, but a year seemed too short to do that, and then the time added by my contract extension seemed too short as well. Now all that remains are the books I will be using to teach next week, which I will be taking home as I use them. The very final books that will remain there will be the Bible and Ruether’s Sexism and God-Talk, which seems weirdly appropriate.

I confess that I could have been happy here, both at the school and in the city of Kalamazoo. The city itself is surprisingly walkable, the miracle of TIF funding has produced a decent downtown area, and of course it is situated in one of the prime microbrew areas in the country. As for the college, my students have generally been great, and my colleagues in religion and other departments have been very supportive. I can’t imagine a better place to find my feet as a teacher, and two years seems to have been just the right amount of time to give me the baseline that I’ll need in a future job.

I confess that I wanted to write the sequel to Awkwardness this quarter, but time got away from me — and in any case, perhaps it’s better to save it for this spring, to give me something to do. I confess that I do tend to become depressed when I don’t have some kind of ongoing “project,” and I imagine that would be doubly true during the few months of un- or at least underemployment that are absolutely inevitable even if I wind up getting a job for the fall.

I confess that there is one aspect of this transition that is solely sweet, with no trace of bitter: this weekend will be my last round trip between Kalamazoo and Chicago via Amtrak for the foreseeable future. (I will be moving next weekend and thus will drive the moving van rather than taking the train.) The baseline scenario on Amtrak is for it to be at least a half hour delayed — though catastrophic delays are genuinely rare, there does remain the fact that smooth, unremarkable, on-time service stands out as a special treat.

More than the inadequacies of the system itself, however, I have gotten really tired of dealing with the many occasional travellers who don’t seem to recognize the constraints Amtrak works within, above all the fact that they most often have to share tracks with freight trains, which are treated as a higher priority. I confess that I have also come to despise those omnipresent pull-behind suitcases, which gum up the works in every respect: increasing the amount of space each person takes up in line, complicating the process of getting everyone into their seats, and then clogging up the detraining process. I confess that I don’t know what the alternative is, but I do suspect that some people could have packed lighter.

At the same time, I confess that I may have become overly proud of my streamlined travel routine, which is in large part predicated on having a closet full of clothes on both ends of my trip (an artificial condition I can’t expect most travellers to have). Perhaps my weekly trips became my opportunity to imagine that I was the equivalent of George Clooney’s character from Up in the Air.

I confess, though, that I never bothered to sign up for Amtrak’s rewards program, which now seems like a major oversight.

March 4, 2011 - Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional


  1. I confess I’m going to New York for my 10th Anniversary in June and we’re planning on taking Amtrak. I just keep hoping they don’t screw us over, but not having to worry about airports, ticket prices, driving or renting a car will all be very nice.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | March 4, 2011

  2. I confess that my gross income for 2011 thus far is $125. I confess that I chickened out on surfing this morning after agreeing to go (for the first time ever) last night. I confess that I had many sound reasons for chickening out, to which I confess herein: I tire swiftly in the water, and didn’t want my friends, experienced surfers, to have to worry about me either thrashing about or lying bored on the beach; I agreed to go under the influence of a Sazerac (which, I confess, I concocted very well) and found myself, under further influence of same, far too tired to contemplate rising early; and today is the only opportunity this week I will have to write with my writing partner, in whose grad-school-related absence I have been, I confess, quite useless.

    I confess I drove home buzzed.

    Comment by k-sky | March 4, 2011

  3. I confess I loved and was quite good at surfing in my youth, but fear all has been lost in the decade since puberty shifted my center of gravity. I also confess if I were to have an arm wrestling match with my ten year old self she would win.

    Comment by ebolden | March 4, 2011

  4. I confess that I find the teenage daughter of the owners of a coffeeshop which I often frequent attractive.

    Comment by ben | March 6, 2011

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