Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Three-Year Move and a Ten-Year Meme.

Since I began working in the Bloomington-Normal, Illinois Amtrak station in July, 2005, I've been trying get a transfer either to South Bend, near our house in Elkhart, or to Galesburg, Illinois, near my wife's hometown of Davenport, Iowa. At the end of 2006 I had accepted a transfer to South Bend only to find that another employee, who was still on the seniority roster, was entitiled to the job. It turned out that I was lucky not to get the job, as I would have been bumped later on by the elimination of another job.

Just a couple of weeks ago, one of the Galesburg ticket clerks took a job in management, giving me a chance to bid a job there. In the next few weeks I'll be moving out of The Closet Over the Stairs in Bloomington and starting the new job in Galesburg. I'll be staying with my in-laws in Davenport until we can get rid of the house in Elkhart and find someplace to live in Galesburg.

I'll be busy trying to get resettled, so posts will be more sporadic than usual. Chapter 19 of Things Done and Left Undone may take a while to complete. Meanwhile, here's the Ten Year Meme Lisa of Eudaemonia tagged me with:

What were you doing ten years ago?

In the summer of 1998 I was working at the Amtrak Call Center in Chicago, making the long-distance commute from Elkhart (drive to Michigan City, then ride the South Shore train to Chicago). I had enough seniority to hold a 4-day, 10-hour shift, so it wasn't so bad. That fall I'd start writing a column on local history for the Elkhart Truth, which I'd continue writing until 2003.

Anne had finished eighth grade and would start high school in August. Sarah was out of seventh grade. It seems as though middle school, or junior high school, is always a traumatic time. Sarah actually had a good seventh grade, but Anne hated both years of middle school. Jim would be going into third grade. Kathleen was not working outside the home at the time, as I was essentially gone four days a week.

In some ways, 1998 seems farther in the past than 1973, when Kathleen and I were married. But it was a turning point for me: I became a regular, as opposed to a sporadic writer.

Five things on your to-do list for today

Take some more books to Goodwill and continue getting rid of stuff .

Do some laundry.

Fill up the tank in my ancient Toyota.

Drive back to Bloomington.

Get rid of more stuff at my Bloomington apartment.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

I'm going to pass on this one. Money and I aren't friends --I wish there were some other way to get along in the world. I fear a surfeit of money would be worse for me than my current situation of being up to my neck in Direct Loans for my kids. Money would find a way to get me.

What are three of your bad habits?

General messiness.

A tendency towards pessimism (see answer to previous question).

Procrastination (To-do list was from last Thursday, though the procrastination here is doing the meme--I got all the tasks done).

What are some snacks you enjoy?

My own trail mix (Chocolate chips, unsalted peanuts, and raisins).

Greek olives.

Nutella on French bread (haven't had it in a long time).

High-cocoa dark chocolate (I can even pretend it's good for me).

What were the last five books you read?

Boom! Voices of the Sixties by Tom Brokaw--Brokaw is a journalist, and is more concerned with how the past affects the present than actually understanding the past. He makes the mistake of assuming that the Baby Boom generation made the Sixties. "They [the Boomers] made the Sixties. There's no doubt about that." Actually, there's a lot of doubt. It was his generation--the people born just before and during the Second World War who were the movers and shakers of that decade. Abbie Hoffman, Bob Dylan, John Lewis, Gloria Steinem, John Lennon, etc., etc. Plus some of the "Greatest Generation" such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti (people he fails to mention in his book, The Greatest Generation). My generation gets stuck with the Seventies and Eighties. However, Jerry Rubin of Brokaw's generation had the distinction for being a Yippie in the Sixties and A Yuppie in the Eighties.

A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties by Suze Rotolo--The best part isn't Rotolo's relationship with Dylan, but her description of the Village scene in the early Sixties.

Name Withheld by J. A. Jance--Not her best work, but entertaining. It was available on cassette, which is what I have in my '90 Toyota.

No one was killed, Documentation and meditation: Convention Week, Chicago, August 1968 by John Schultz--perhaps the best of the books about the '68 convention, though Schultz does take a pro-Yippie view, while viewing the McCarthy volunteers as smug and arrogant (even though his wife was one).

The Self Under Siege - Philosophy in the 20th Century by Rick Roderick (course on tape). Roderick's Philosophy and Human Values course is perhaps the best introduction to philosophy around. Self Under Siege is classic Roderick--brilliance in a West Texas drawl. He discusses Sartre, Heidegger, Marcuse, Habermas, Foucault, Derrida, and others. Roderick's lectures are available on the Web, now--click here.

What are five jobs you have had?

Working the grill and fryer at Henry's Hamburgers in Coralville, IA.

Bus driver (campus bus, Cedar Rapids Transit, and Iowa City Transit).

Rail coordinator for the Midwest office of CIT Tours (agent for the Italian State Railways).

Reservation Sales Agent.

Rate Desk Clerk--dealing with complicated fares and difficult people.

What are five places where you have lived?

Iowa City, Iowa

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Oak Park, Illinois

Elkhart, Indiana

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I was born in Peoria, Illinois. Some people find that fact hilarious--kind of like being born in Dull Center, Wyoming.

I'll forgo tagging anyone else. Virtually everyone whose blog I read has done this one anyway.


SzélsőFa said...

I have not done this meme, but you are too late with tagging me!
I loved reading yours, especially the reference to pessimism.
And I do love high-cocoa chocolate, too!
Have your tried a 100% cocoa bar?

Emperor Ropi said...

It is interesting to read what people did 10 years ago.

Charles Gramlich said...

Congrats on getting a position you were hoping for. Good luck with all that. Ten years. So weird to look back.

Lisa said...

Congratulations on the new job and the upcoming transfer. I imagine you'll be awfully glad to be able to sleep in your own bed every night again!

It's interesting what you said about 1973 feeling more recent than 1998. I get that sensation a lot too -- the more distant past often seems more immediate to me than the more recent past. I wonder why that is...

steve said...

Szelsofa--I generally don't tag people. I had read so many of these, I actually thought you had done one. I've never had 100% cocoa--I'm not sure how the bar is held together without the fat. But I pefer the 65 and 70 percent to the 85 percent.

Ropi--it is. Check out Charles Gramlich's--he kept a journal and could be more exact than most of us.

Charles--Thank you. It is weird to look back.

Lisa--Thank you. I'm going to have to get used to going to sleep without a audiobook playing.

I've talked to older people who say they have good memories of 50 years ago but can't remember what they had for breakfast that day. I haven't had that problem yet. But I do remember that in 1958 my favorite song was "Beep Beep" by the Playmates. (I didn't remember the group, though.)

Shauna Roberts said...

Good luck on the move. Hope you enjoy your new job.

Anonymous said...

I have visited Galesburg only a few times in my adult life, one of those times being earlier this summer. My impressions of the place are favorable, the old commercial district is attractive, and there's a bit of music to be heard. Three or so years ago my older brother (who lives in Peoria Heights) and I drove over there to an open mike, and I played a few songs.

I hope that surface view of the place runs deep, and you are happy there.

Anonymous said...

And speaking of Peoria, it is a place just as good or bad as any other mid-sized US industrial city.

Part of my growing up was in Peoria. Two of my brothers still live there (okay, Peoria Heights). I had a summer job in East Peora at Caterpillar. Another summer job at Pabst in Peoria Heights.

You don't need to apologize for having been born there.

steve said...

Shauna--Thank you.

Gerry--Thank you. As for Peoria, I think it has something to do with its reputation as being the essence of Middle America, as in the the theater line, "Will it play in Peoria?" I'm not ashamed of being born there. It's just that some people find it funny. My father had a one-year stint as an instructor at Bradley University, so I was born at Methodist Hospital in late 1951 and lived in Peoria until the fall of '52, when my parents moved back to Iowa City.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

That is so exciting that you have this job! It would literally kill me to have to move and part with some of my books. I am as connected to them as I am to my own body!

steve said...


Thank you. Most of the books I'm donating to Goodwill are ones that are easily available at any library, and the rest are ones in which I have no need for. I'm keeping most of the history books, such as the ones about the Old Northwest. Someday I want to do a biography of the bounty hunter Edward Bonney, who had a mill in Elkhart County and later went on to capture a notorious gang of river bandits.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

When my husband and I married, he bought me a house. He said that I could not take my Victoria Magazines with me. I was crying when I boxed them up, but he took them to a senior center, then took me there a few days later and I saw some elderly ladies reading them. It made me happy and I didn't want them any more because they looked better there.

bart said...

well written steve, some interesting insights here... thanks :-))

have been rather preoccupied recently, hence the silence, hope to be back a little more regularly in the future... keep well...