Monday, September 1, 2008

"I'm A Stranger Here Myself"

Today is Labor Day.

My classes begin tomorrow, and Andrew’s first day at his new job is tomorrow.

Andrew and I are resting, which is suitable, given how much labor we have performed over the last week.

Our apartment is now habitable.

Last week, we cleaned everything mercilessly, painted the walls and ceilings, steam-cleaned the carpets, and assembled furniture. We would not have been able to finish the project in a week if Andrew’s middle brother had not been here to help us. His assistance was invaluable, and so was his companionship.

On Thursday and Friday, I attended orientation for first-year students. Thursday was an especially long and exhausting day—I was gone from early morning until late at night, as a series of dinners was convened involving the entire first-year class—and I missed Andrew more and more as the long day went on and on and on.

When I left the apartment early Friday morning, our apartment was still without furniture. Alex and Andrew remained behind, waiting for the arrival of the furniture they had purchased on Thursday.

When I got home late Friday afternoon, Alex and Andrew were in the midst of assembling the furniture, which had been delivered in my absence, and I joined in. We had to assemble the kitchen table and chairs, the unit of bookshelves, the desk/computer table/sound system unit, the desk chairs, the end tables and the bed. Only the sofa had arrived fully assembled. We did not finish assembling the furniture until 11:00 p.m.

The furniture made all the difference in the apartment. With furniture, the apartment suddenly became suitable for habitation—with the added benefit that we no longer needed to sleep on the floor (Alex was more than comfortable on the sofa, which pulls out into a full bed) and no longer needed to eat standing up. Seeing the furniture in place was a welcome sight.

On Saturday, Alex and Andrew and I unpacked the boxes we had shipped from Minneapolis and we unpacked the things we had brought with us from Minneapolis. We followed that project with some SERIOUS food shopping, fully stocking our kitchen with everything Andrew and I will need for the next several weeks (except for perishables). Our final task was setting up the desktop (which is actually Alex’s desktop) and our new sound system, at which point we were officially settled in. We celebrated by cooking steaks and potatoes for our dinner and having a bottle of red wine with our food, as well as by listening to Ute Lemper singing Kurt Weill.

Andrew’s parents, spending Labor Day weekend in New York, as well as Andrew’s older brother and his family, came up to Boston yesterday to check out our apartment and to make sure that we are settled in comfortably.

We gave Andrew’s family a substantial late lunch—white bean soup, followed by a distinctive tomato salad that included cucumbers, onions and cheese, followed by roast chickens with two different kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and a cranberry-apple salad—and we entertained them for a few hours before they returned to New York.

There was just enough room in our apartment to accommodate everyone. There was just enough seating, too. Between the sofa and our two desk chairs in the living room, and the four kitchen chairs, everyone had a place to sit—but a ninth person would have been out of luck.

Early Sunday morning, Andrew went out to buy a couple of bouquets of cut flowers in order to add more color to the apartment. He placed one vase of flowers in the living room and one vase of flowers in the kitchen. He thought his mother would appreciate the flowers, and she did. They added a note of beauty and cheeriness to the place.

Our bookshelves already are home to one complete shelf of books, because last week I bought my casebooks for the first semester. The books cost a fortune. Alas, the spines are not colorful, so the books do not add much charm to the living room. Andrew’s father remarked that the living room should look perfectly fine once the bookshelves are filled with books—a project that will probably be complete about the time Andrew and I prepare to leave Boston three years from now!

I don’t think anyone was particularly impressed with our small apartment, but I think everyone was impressed that it was so clean and I think that everyone was impressed that we had done everything possible to make it as comfortable and as pleasing as possible. It will be suitable—just—for a three-year hiatus.

Andrew’s family left late yesterday afternoon and returned to New York, taking Alex with them.

We will next see everybody over Columbus Day Weekend, when we will all gather in New York for what will prove to be our final gathering in Manhattan. Alec and Lizbeth and Tim will leave New York and move to Minneapolis in November, leaving Andrew and me the only family members disbursed. Their move to Minneapolis will also deprive everyone of a free place to stay in New York, alas. Consequently, everyone in the family is bound and determined to have one last long weekend in New York in October.


  1. Hey, Josh.

    I hope your first day back at school was not too daunting. School OUGHT to be fun, but it seldom is. Good luck on everything.

    I like the lyrics to "I Am A Stranger Here Myself". I am not, however, familiar to the repertoire of Kurt Weill.

    I wish you a successful first year of law school!


  2. Hey, J.R.

    The first day of school wasn't too bad.

    If you want to explore Kurt Weill, a good place to start would be "Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill", which includes many of his most famous songs. I am crazy for that disc--crazy as a coyote!

    See if your library has a copy or can borrow a copy.

    Don't confuse "Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill" with "Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill, Volume II". Andrew says that Volume II is nowhere near so fine as the first album. However, I am still curious to hear Volume II.

    I bet you might like it.


  3. "Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill" begins with two tracks from "Der Silbersee" and ends with three tracks from "One Touch Of Venus."

    You can check the tracks to confirm which album is Volume I and which album is Volume II.

  4. Thanks, Josh. I'll check them out.