As an applicant, I wanted not one but many “A Day in the Life” posts, stacked like corned beef on rye. No one such post is representative; this is nothing more than another sample distilled into some memorable flashes. I’ll serialize a day. Here’s the morning:
All iPhone ringers, even “Harp” and “Strum,” eventually provoke profound, murderous resentment. In this mode, I wake up at 6 in my living room to where I have for the time being shifted my mattress. My apartment complex, recently re-christened “AMLI Eastside” from the more charming “Robertson Hill,” might also go by “I-35 Palazzo” or “Acoustic Echo Chamber”; NAFTA never sleeps and my bedroom seems to absorb more eighteen-wheeler vibrations than my living room. Hence the shift. Away, I increasingly find sweet repose among the freshman Uruk-hai filling the fourth through sixth floors of the Perry-Casteneda library as they quietly slave away for the humanities (future wages 8-ball says, “Better not tell you now”). Back here though, I traded noise for view and the view is spectacular. I can see all of downtown with no obstructions, the center skyline alone reaching from the capitol to the Frost Bank’s opening rocket silo. It’s still dark when I rise thanks to encroaching autumn though I wish the cool would hurry up so I don’t have to schvitz my way to class in the morning.
Today I’m a half-hour off my normal schedule. Knowing that I’ll have to skip breakfast, I opt for a single forkfull of Ben and Jerry’s S’mores, an indulgence atoned for by the immediate swigging of spirulina-laced Odwalla Superfood. In less than thirty seconds, I’ve fooled my stomach into thinking it got a meal. I’m out the door. Down the hallway. Push the parking garage door open, walk into the humidity, and with it, memories of Bangkok and durian fruit.
My Corolla fidelis. She doesn’t complain of spousal abuse in spite of the large dent I recorded on the bumper last month. Inside, like Michael Bolton, I listen to rap, Drake or Jay-Z, success music. Manowar’s more for rushing down hills in Pict blue drunk on war…in the mornings, I moderate.
Five minutes to Brazos garage. Survey options. No matter how early you come, someone else has grabbed the first spaces first. Secretly, I suspect these toads of leaving their cars here and walking home just to maintain their death-grips on those precious first spaces. Fantasizing about an altercation with the vicious imps, I circle up to the third floor and occupy a space next to a pickup. In the rear view, I see Professor S. of Switzerland walk by far too cheerily for this hour. Is it financial magic he’s contemplating or sunny Swiss chalets with little flower-boxes on their balconies? I can’t tell. Then, question still dangling, I relax. His smile reminds me I have no reason to be in such a Gargamel-ish mood. I watch him pass merrily unaware of my mood-siphon, and I, amused by his utter self-amusement, slip into contentment. Emerge from car sanctuary and walk to school.
McCombs is so cool. I’m blissfully relieved of sticky heat. Shuffling into class a few minutes early, I move into position, front and center. Always be the flak-taker, first into the breach. The teacher’s turret will generally overlook the front-seaters. Not that I’d mind. Nothing’s perfect, but this temperate haven is avowedly better than my brokedown palace. Who’d have thought the classroom would be a refuge? But among the importuning eyes of Austin’s homeless (I feel guilty eating cookies at traffic lights while they watch, though not enough to stop), under the sweltering Texas heat that refuses to submit to winter, among the droves of mosquitoes that have no honor and know no sleep, this effete yankee-in-spirit finds solace in that refrigerated hall of mental cultivation, GSB 3.104. Come, capos of finance, I am ready to get WACCed.
You may not believe it now, aspiring student, but you’ll come to deeply appreciate the air-conditioned luxury of this building; if you think you know A/C, you’re wronger than “wronger.” Beyond the refreshing 65 degrees of pleasantness, however, there’s a faint, nicely homeopathic air of camraderie in McCombs, in the classrooms, in Carpenter. There’s no gushing enthusiasm here, not among us cagey post-first-half-semester veterans, but the quiet noses in books do silently rejoice in being surrounded by so many other equally studious fellows. After my first classes, I go to Carpenter if there’s a table open; otherwise I’ll stick to modestly overpriced coffee in the atrium. I read my free Financial Times and, finding myself between paragraphs on Rosneft not really reading, I simply lie on my back in the ocean of more-or-less-glad-to-be-here, happy to let the currents carry me along. I enjoy this more mellow kindredship with a building that is now inserting itself into my routine mind.
Look forward to that. This place may become agreeably normal.