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Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Riding the rails
Got up ridiculously early today to catch the train to Schmancy U for the first day of this grant--SU is about an hour and 20 min away by train, but since first I have to GET to the train station, I'm looking at close to a 2-hour commute each way. Which today, anyway, really wasn't bad: on the way out I finished up last week's New Yorker, and on the way back I would have made a serious dent in Erving Goffman (don't ask) had it not been for the fact that I kept falling asleep for a few minutes at a time and then waking up in alarm whenever there was an unexpected noise. Which was often.
I may live to rue these words, but I don't really mind commuting when it's by train, and especially when it's not every day--last year I was commuting to Instant Name Recognition U twice a week, again just under 2 hours each way, and this fall I'll be commuting about the same distance, three days a week, to BUU (different locations and different transit systems, so at least I get some variety!). On the whole I find the train time productive, and when I was teaching I found that by saving most of my class prep until the commute I managed to limit and focus the amount of time I spent on my lesson plans.
And--I just really like trains. This may sound stupid, particularly since we're talking here about crappy commuter trains (Amtrak is only somewhat better), not The Golden Age of Rail, or anything, but I like living somewhere rail travel is a reasonable and affordable option; I like looking out the window, I like being able to get up and move around, and I like the way that mass transit creates a fluid, temporary community (especially good for when there are delays--this sense of being in something together). I guess it's the same reason that I like living in cities; you're surrounded by people, but at the same time able to be quite alone.
And this is even stupider, but growing up in a suburb way out west, in an area with virtually no train travel and where buses are the only form of public transportation, I think I also associated trains with everything in the Glamorous East. (Exactly what I thought was glamorous about the east, and exactly how those illusions got shattered, is the subject for another post. Although I will say that I was deeply confused when, at about age 14, I babysat for a family that was living in an apartment. I'd never been in an apartment before, and the whole idea of apartment-living seemed very exciting and sophisticated. . . but the place they lived was just a townhousy complex of boring new buildings surrounded by a parking lot. Not at all what I'd expected!)
So we'll see how it goes--after making the trip to Schmancy U five days a week for a few weeks, I may not be singing quite the same tune.
link | posted by La Lecturess at 9:20 PM |
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