Dear Diary, I give thanks for the struggle.

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Tech City Sunday, March 26th, 4:07 pm

I had pretty good day today. I’d like to tell you about it.

I have been house/ fish/ chicken/ dog sitting my housemate’s house for the last couple days. This was planned far in advance, but the timing was kinda perfect, for two reasons. The first was that my car had broken in the driveway on thursday, and so it wasn’t like I was going to go anywhere anyway. The second was that the past week of school had been a real knock out. For the first time in a while my body was telling me quite clearly that it didn’t want to see anyone, so 6 pm friday my half comatose body was (very kindly) given what felt like a hearse ride to my house by my old landlady. It was deposited on the concrete steps, and tumbled the rest of the way to the couch where the laws of physics constructed a spontaneous and permanent prison with the cushions my body was wedged between.

And aside from my house sitting responsibilities chores and two utilitarian meals a day (and a call from my sibling and a visit from a friend), that’s really been the deal since then. Aside from standing in the doorframe when I let the dog into the yard, I didn’t really go outside.

There was something curious I did half-notice in my comatose state. Perhaps I was imagining it, but as the hours drifted by, the previously half full tub of cookies and cream seemed to be sublimating at a fairly constant rate. And alas! Last night, to my horror, I opened the fridge to reveal the once plump and almost burgeoning confectionary wealth had been fully reduced to a hollow, naked, sickly cardboard and plastic shell. ‘ So, at noon today, I resolved to strike out to replace what had gone missing on my watch. There was a time limit as well, as the Family I was house sitting for came back Monday night.

The first idea was simple. I would get Triple A to tow my car to the dealership to be repaired Monday morning, and have a nearby friend pick me up from the dealership on her way to school. On her way back, she would drop me off at the dealership, I would drive to the store, get the ice cream, and make it back in time Monday night with tub substitution for a photo finish.

Copy that. The first thing that this plan required was for me to be able to shift the car into neutral.

After an hour of searching the house, it was concluded by all present that the keys were not there.

Well. They will turn up. But there remains the problem of the ice cream.

Plan 2: Even Simpler! I’ve got a bicycle. A rusted chain and flat tires. Nothing a pump and a prayer can’t fix. I would have to get the ice cream today. But there is a larger problem.

Aside from a bike (and a helmet), there is one additional object that is required for any serious utilization of bicycles in the urban environment. That object is a chain and a lock.

Now, this might surprise the rural or motorist reader. Well, I was surprised when my dad told me such, and gave me my first lock and chain when I was around 10 I think. I was further surprised a few years later when not only my mom’s beloved 20 year old two wheeler, but the TWO chains and locks that secured it had might as well been magicked away from Porter Station in Boston. That kind of thing you don’t forget. I digress.

Wait! I had a lock and chain! I remember! Tucked away in the back of my dresser, there it was. Thick braided wire and shiny blue speed dial master lock that just effused security, contentment and happiness. And, of course, after a few moments of beaming at my possession, I realized that I’d forgotten the code.

What to do. What to do. Well, I didn’t remember ever setting a new combination. I thought to myself that the code must be factory… hmm. A quick google results in a stellar find- even though the number of inputs is limitless, the number of internal states are not, much like a hash function. Another quick google search and- Bang! A page of brute force attacks that promise to take 6 (six!) minutes to try 100% (one hundred percent!) of the factory codes! Hurrah!

6 minutes of sliding and clicking come and pass. No luck. And a quick call to the dad cements the festering fear- he set a new combination before giving the lock to me, and can’t remember it.

Op. That’s it for pedal power.

I’m feeling pretty shitty at this moment. I drop the lock on the floor, and I stand up. This day has not had one thing go in my favor.

This is where my day started to turn for the better. This is not because the day would not continue to present challenges. The actual reason was simple. I stopped, and meditated for a half hour. And then listened to some vulfpeck.

A half hour later, I brushed my hair. I put my wallet in one pocket and my phone in the other. I put an insulated lunch bag in my backpack. I locked the door. I started to walk the couple miles to the store.

It was a beautiful day today. I walked past a shirtless soccer game. I walked past the ruins of the old IBM plant. I walked through the endless strip mall. I walked past plastic detritus scattered everywhere. 45 minutes later, I had gotten to my destination.


AC blasted my face off, and I joined the throngs of Sunday afternoon shoppers.

And so many things to buy.

New Index Cards. A wooden box for my Leitner System aspirations! Nutella!! And a thing of pasta sauce for my dinner, as I didn’t have much back at the pad.

And strategically gotten last, a big ol tub of the chosen Ice Cream.

I was anxious in the line. I had a long walk in the sun ahead of me, and the sooner I could get the ice cream into my insulated bag, the better.

5 minutes later, my turn arrived.

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep

It all came to about 20 dollars.

I inserted my card, and-

This is the moment in the story that I would instruct the readers and myself that if there is any reason to feel bad for me, it is not my financial straits. Biggest Picture, I have lovely and upper class parents 200 miles away that keep a bed for me. Smaller Picture, my saving account is healthy enough. But, unfortunately, because of some banking shenanigans and me not having downloaded a banking app on my phone yet, at this moment I did not have access to those funds. My card declined. And again. And again.

So the cashier took my items, and I walked out the door. And kept walking.

This must be what hunters feel, losing the trail, and understanding deeply that there’s more to hike back in order to return home empty handed. A deep and singular… disappointment. I’m having a hard time putting this bitter emotion into words.

And that disappointment carried me for about 10 minutes before I paused and remembered I had cash.

So back I went. I bought the ice cream, and even had a dollar and a cent left over.

What a day!

It really was beautiful outside today. I walked off the parking lot, and down the hill. At the crosswalk-less 4 lane intersection, I waited along with a middle aged stranger. I asked them how they were. I crossed at an opportune moment, and they followed. When we came to the other side, they thanked me and we parted ways.

In telling today’s tale, I do recognize that I have indulged in a significant amount of detail. But I feel that it was all worth it, for walking back along the train tracks, and the soccer game that had grown larger, a thought occurred. Today was important. Why?


Changes are coming for me. In this entry I’ve felt comfortable in giving geographical detail because in a few days, I will be leaving this house to live on my own, in a tent. For the first time, I will be cooking my own food and completely responsible for every aspect of my existence. Showers, laundry, food and water. It will be hard, and there will be real challenges. There will be the bitter and the sweet, charoset and maror.

Some days will be harder than the hard parts of today. Some will be more joyful than the joy of today.

And I think to myself now as I thought to myself walking back:

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.