Friday, March 25, 2005

The Company Store...

When I was a kid (somewhere in the dark ages), Tennessee Ernie Ford had an AM radio hit with "Sixteen Tons." Every time I make a major purchase, that song echoes in my head--"You load sixteen tons/ and what do you get?/ Another day older and deeper in debt./ St. Peter, don't you call me/ 'cause I can't go./ I owe my soul to the company store."

I don't work in a coal mine, though sometimes it feels that way, but I feel as though I'll be working for the rest of my mortal life, a slave to ownership. My reason for lamenting? I just bought a new car.

I like this car; I think it will serve me for quite a time. But I am indentured to it for the next five years (and beyond, if you count maintenance costs, gasoline, etc.). I suppose if I lived in a city like Austin, TX, or in some quaint little neighborhood where everything was is walking distance, I could dispense with a car, as my children have. They both live in Austin and haven't owned cars for several years. They're incredibly fit because they walk and ride their bikes whenever possible. And they don't have car payments or insurance; they take the city bus when they need to, and are quite familiar with the Greyhound Bus and Amtrak schedules. They've learned to live without the vehicle, and I envy them.

So, I chose to live 45 miles away from the places where I work; but, even if I lived in the city where my jobs are, I would still need a car. The city has a lousy bus system; what's more, it has spread, spider-like, in every direction and the bus doesn't reach all areas of the city. Using public transportation would create difficulties for me; I can't imagine what it does to the people who rely on it. The buses begin running around 7am and shut down around 7pm most nights; on weekends, they stop running earlier and run less frequently. If I had to be to work at 3pm, I'd be okay; but, if I worked until midnight (which I do), I'd have to walk or beg rides from my coworkers. A city with a population over 200,000 should have a better (and cheaper) public transportation system.

Okay, enough about that, though I think we create many of our own difficulties. And, of course, we buy into popular perceptions of what makes up "the good life." I'm content, at the moment, to know that I have reliable transportation--my old car was on its last leg (or would that be tire?) anyway.

I'm making inroads on grading my papers and should be finished with the majority of them by Sunday. On "my" time, I've managed to knit a number of washcloths and make some progress on a couple of scarves I've promised to people. My niece is expecting a baby and I want to start on a baby blanket, some booties and a hat for the tot.

I really love to knit. It's become addictive, the way writing has always been for me. I love the texture of wool and cotton and the fun of eyelash and metallic yarns. And color--I love color, especially for hats. Ah, I think I'll knit for a while before bed.


The dogwood is in bloom, as is the redbud. Color everywhere, and scents! Spring's a wonderful time, except for my allergies. But I try to ignore them and enjoy the season.

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