There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men

which, taken at the flood,
leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Julius Caesar.
In the race to catch the tide that will take me to New York next week, I have been packing furiously and donating just as fast to thrift stores. This undertaking has been supported by two of my friends who have brought me boxes from liquor stores, emptied my kitchen and packed it up, and taken a heroic number of trips to Arc’s Value Village and used bookstores.  I’ve dismantled bookshelves, played tetris with my books as I slotted them into boxes, and taken out more trash. Funnily enough, my apartment does not look noticeably emptier—

just slightly messier than normal.

So much for my belief that I’m not into acquiring possessions.

Today, I made a list. I am not a list maker. I am more likely to scribble something illegible on a post-it and then misplace it in the pocket of my pedal pushers. But as I said, time and tide….

1.     Call the electric company, the phone company, and the long distance phone company.  There is a great deal of muzak during this waiting period but missions are finally accomplished.
2.     Call in one last prescription so I’ll be set for the next couple of months and not have to find a new doctor right away. The automated system refuses to process my request so I have to wait and explain the situation to a human.
3.     Re-post remaining possessions (Ikea entertainment center, old computer cart, decent stereo system, old desk) to Craigslist, freecycle, and a yahoo group.
4.     Wait for FedEx guy to bring me the keys to my new apartment. He does so at noon.
5.     Return some books and DVDs to the public library, and some academic books to the university library. Hope that none accrued late fines.
6.     Wait in line at pharmacy to pick up prescription. (Why are other people here during the work day? Shouldn’t they be at work?)
7.     Stop at store to buy a marker to black out alcohol labels on liquor store boxes. Panic at choices of sharpies—chisel, bullet, less odor, more odor. Have to seek help to pick appropriate one. Whew.
8.     Wait in line at campus bank location with streams of new jet-lagged students who have just arrived for orientation. Get certified checks to pay first month’s rent and the broker’s fee. Looking at the receipt of what’s left in that account is painful.
9.     Detour around Kafkaesque sprawl of on-campus construction to FedEx Kinkos. Wait in line while another customer explains some long and complex situation to harassed-looking manager while the only other employee is on break and determinedly playing chess. I feel sorry for all of us. Fill out paperwork and send off certified checks into the Bermuda triangle of NYC real estate.
10. Bike to campus gym and ask about cancelling membership but since it is closed for annual renovation, employee suggests I do that when I clean out my locker this weekend. List item stays unchecked.
11. Use on-campus computer to check if the reactivated bank account I hope to access in New York is accessible through the bank’s web site. I cannot see it. Did they make it dormant again after I reactivated it twice last week? Despite having cashed the check that transferred most of my funds into it from my local bank? $**$%$$@. List item “transfer funds” stays unchecked.
12. Stop at campus bike shops and ask about rates to ship bikes. One says $25 to box and $125 to ship. Other says $49.95 to box and then whatever UPS or FedEx charges to ship. Will have to find a bike store in Jackson Heights to reassemble for a fee. (My bike was bought on Craigslist for $50.)
13. Eat lunch.
14. Go to other bank and wait to see different banker. Explain that I would really like to see my account and make sure the money I put in it is actually there. She sorts it out. Try to use ATM. Machine refuses to do a transfer between accounts. Back to banker. She sorts it out. Go to teller window. Deposit check with Indian teller who keeps trying to persuade me to open another account. Err, no. She asks where I’m moving and tells me Jackson Heights has lots of Indians. Wants to know if I’m married. I realize that moving to Jackson Heights may involve such conversations on a daily basis. But it’s too late to get those certified checks back.
15. Stop at grocery store to replenish fruit and milk. Realize I left bike helmet at bank.
16. Return to bank for bike helmet. They don’t have it. Grr.
17. Return home and try to read to prepare for new classes I have to teach.
18. Drink tea and try and download free software to wipe the hard drive of a computer I mean to recycle at Best Buy. First download requires IOS file be burned to a CD. I don’t have a data CD that seems to work. Second download can allegedly be saved on a USB but when I run the exe file, all I get is a DOS prompt that refuses to let me type in the erase command. Cursor blinks at me as I curse at it.
19. Black out alcohol labels on boxes. Feel vague longing for original contents of boxes.
20. Notice that bike helmet is sitting on the plastic stand by the door. Huh. Guess it didn’t think I have a functional brain worth protecting at the moment.

 All the voyage of their lives…

Be quiet, Brutus. Nobody asked you.

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One Response to There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men

  1. kris says:

    Madhurima and I have often wondered that, too; where do all these people come from who are out and about during the day when we are? They certainly can't all be freelance Web designers and professors, can they?Good luck with the move and congrats on finally getting a place for real!

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