I was entirely overwhelmed by the lovely welcome I received upon my return. I’d had a sinking feeling said return would be greeted by silence as I tapped weakly at my electronic microphone, and instead you splendid people shocked and delighted me with kindness and alarming information about Mary Wollstonecraft. I shall respond to questions from the comments, but let me tell you about my new job first, because wondering about it is probably keeping you all up nights.
So, my new job! I have one! I went from working for a massive multinational corporation at its 6,000-person headquarters to working for a company with fewer than 100 employees total. Most of these employees worked for said corporation at one point or another: several years ago my former employer divested its law school/academic business, and like the arm of a starfish, or maybe it is a snake or sea creature—what is that thing that makes a whole new self from a severed limb? The point is, the limb struck out on its own and now I work there, editing casebooks and such, beautiful heavy books written by learned and sometimes adorable legal scholars. It is perfect for me, and quite novel to be working on authored and mostly non-statutory material. If there is a spelling error it can usually be fixed, rather than left with a dry footnote until the legislature gets around to correcting itself.
As I also mentioned, my office is downtown, and the location means I no longer have to drive to work. There is a bus stop one block away from my apartment. I walk there in the morning and then a fleet ten minutes later am deposited two blocks from my building. I have always said that if there was one thing that could lure me away from the Twin Cities it would be public transportation—I do not care for driving—so this is very exciting for me. The people on my bus in the morning (the 6:22) are always the same, and because my ride is too short even to read, I am in the midst of creating involved backstories for them. I love my morning bus ride, and it always gives me a pleasant, diffuse sense of closeness with my fellow citizens.
I feel close to my fellow citizens on my afternoon bus as well, but come afternoon this closeness no longer seems something to celebrate, because that particular bunch of fellow citizens smells terrible. I try to be tolerant and expansive, because my bus passes the city’s largest homeless shelter and not everyone has access to washing facilities and I am very lucky! So lucky and grateful! AND YET. I am not my best or kindest self in the afternoon, because I am tired, and crabby, and have been working for many hours and usually have dreadful Manuscript Wrist and am oppressively aware that people in my house are going to be expecting me to have some sort of Plan About Dinner, and then to carry out this Plan, and so instead of equanimity I feel only despair. How has my life come to this, that I am sitting on a bus, oppressed by the unwashed, on my way home to an unwashed house and another set of unwashed persons all of which will remain thus unless I wash them myself with energy I do not have?
Morning Bus Alexa thinks about how hard people work and how everyone is doing their best and how nice it is to be a part of the human family. Afternoon Bus Alexa wonders how she can be expected to bear up under the weight of the human condition, all of us struggling in vain toward largely unattainable goals. Why is life so terrible? she wonders, and why must it also smell so bad?
But then I am home. The children are returned from their various keepers, and they cheer me right up, and my afternoon cortisol dose kicks in, and the need for that Plan About Dinner means I am too busy to contemplate existence anymore, thank heavens.
What are you all reading? I just read the new Kate Atkinson, and have now moved on to a memoir of sorts—a heartbreaking tale of one woman’s lifelong struggle with mental illness called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”