Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Hours Between Five and Bedtime

The joy and sorrow of being a graduate student is that you never have any free time. There is always some deadline looming and there is always some book to read. But the unmarried salarywoman or salaryman who works from 9-5 (or 8:30-4:30) might very well have a problem. That problem is the hours between five and bedtime.

The unmarried graduate student is poor. He or she probably has a housemate or lives in a dorm with a lot of other unmarried people. When I was working on my M.Div., I lived in a lovely warm house with some lovely nuns. When I was working on my PhD, I lived in a big draughty house with two philosophy students, Jon and Ted. The nuns were often available for a chat, and the boys inevitably appeared into the kitchen to cook and eat and exchange political and social views. So I very often had company. Thank goodness for the lovely nuns. Thank goodness for Jon and Ted.

But the unmarried, childless salaryman or salarywoman is compartively rich and has his or her own apartment to himself or herself. All the mess is her mess. All the stuff is his stuff. All the noise is her noise. All the food is his food. It can get really, really quiet.

The last time I lived all by myself, with a job, with no housemates, I thought I would go crazy from the lack of noise. My day began when I went to the gym. Then I went to work. Then I came home to my cat. Thank goodness for my cat. Occasionally the cat made noise: he snored and he caught mice, who squeaked.

At home I tidied. I made my supper. I read a little. (I had no television; I think it is wrong for Single people living alone to watch television, just as I think it is wrong for Single people living alone to drink.) And then I made for the Bauhaus Cafe and Bar. Thank goodness for the Bauhaus Cafe.

The Bauhaus Cafe was what you might call a hipster joint. It no longer exists, alas. It was sold and televisions were screwed under the pressed-tin ceiling and barflies sit at the copper-topped counter and push buttons to answer the quizzes. But when I went there it was packed with young artists, young actors, philosophy undergrads, Goths, young painters, young writers, young art curators. (We all lived in an industrial town, and so this may have been the only truly young-artsy place to be.) I went there almost every night, and on weekends I showed up soon after opening. And what I did was write. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and when I came up for air, I had a look around to see who was in, and what was going on, and who would welcome a chat. At Bauhaus, anyone could talk to anybody, so long as you were young or attractive.

And that's how I survived the hours between five and bedtime, the last time I lived alone. The previous times I lived alone, before I discovered Bauhaus, I filled up the hours with boxing training, language studies, going to films, and writing at home. And, of course, for years there was always my monthly trip to Toronto to read stories and listen to poetry good and bad at Clara Blackwood's Syntactic Sunday spoken word event. And of course there was dating and meeting friends for brunch.

Years later when I contemplated my still-Single state, I thought perhaps that I had squandered the last of my twenties by hanging out with Goths and Wiccans and waitresses in Bauhaus Cafe, to say nothing of the hours spent in the boxing gym. Perhaps I should have become more involved in parish activities and hung out with, ya know, eligible Catholics. But perhaps it was this very lack that helped propel me into theology school. And, of course, theology school led to my destiny.

I wish there could be a Bauhaus for all Singles everywhere, somewhere where you can do your writing, or handicraft, or whatever it is you like to do best, in company with others under a beautiful pressed-tin ceiling.

And how do you put in the hours between five and bedtime, my little Singles?


B said...

Monday night is teaching swing dancing at the local university.
Tuesday night is meeting with my womens' group.
Wednesday night is swing dancing at the weekly local dance.
Thursday night is either my Catholic young adult group or Theology On Tap.
Friday night (thank God) I can finally stay home and do laundry. Quite often one of my roommates is also home, and we end up watching a movie or something.
Saturday night there's usually something going on with my friends.
Sunday day often means family time, which means that by evening I'm usually quite ready to head home and stay there.

And that's my week. Quite often, actually, I'm grateful for the time I get to stay quietly at home. But then, I have a strong tendency towards being overcommitted.

IA_ said...

I've been taking night classes at a local university for an advanced degree.

Two nights a week are occupied with classes and two with studying. It works out well.

Once a week our parish had a young adults group which was nice. It is disintegrating now though.

Dominic Mary said...

In my experience, at least in the UK there usually is somewhere like your Bauhaus.

It may be a pub, or a cafe, or even a cheap restaurant; but it will welcome you unfussily when you arrive, not hassle you whilst you're there, and - most important - won't have big screens, loud music, or be over-expensive.

I've lived all over the place, and I can honestly say that there's always somewhere I feel comfortable to spend an evening; even if it's not quite as splendid as the Bauhaus obviously was.

Of course, the other thing is for a group of like-minded people to find somewhere they like, and just start using it like that - it'll soon take on the character !

And what do I do between five and bedtime ? Well, not get home at five, for a start - seven/eight is nearer the mark. Say Vespers, a little Lectio, and cook (really cook, not just zap) something to eat, and you're usually about 9:30 - and then a good book, and a (note the singular) glass of wine, and you're probably OK; especially if you only get two or three such evenings a week anyway.

Amy said...

I'm a teacher, so I leave school in time for a 4:30 exercise class, then home for dinner and grading or lesson planning. Thursday nights I have a study group on the Theology of the Body, and usually there's at least one other weeknight committment during the week. Friday nights, if I'm not hanging out with friends or doing something school-related (football game, basketball game, school play...), I make my meals for the week. (This keeps me from eating unhealthy/expensive frozen dinners or fast-food when I'm too tired to cook on weeknights.) Almost every Saturday night has some social commitment. And Sunday is my favorite day, because I read something I want to (not for work) and drink coffee and then nap or garden or sew or watch a movie (or some combination thereof).

Seraphic said...

You guys are inspiring!

The silence always bugged me; back then I could only write if I had people around and sometimes I even needed loud music in the background...

FrB said...

Between 5pm and bed-time? Often my busiest hours... Evening Mass, incredibly random phonecalls, School Board meetings, Pastoral Council meetings, Liturgy Group meetings, Parish Finance Council meetings, Diocesan Finance Council meeting, Baptism preparation meetings, Marriage preparation meetings (seeing a pattern?), food occasionally, funerals and catching up with my e-mail.

I can warmly recommend priesthood to men who find their evenings difficult to fill. ;)

aussie girl in australia said...

I work in a female saturated job and do not finish most nights before 7:30 or 8. So when I get home it is dinner, put my feet up, read a blog or two (or check email or facebook). Then go to bed. For I have to be up very early the next morning! So I miss out on all the Theology on Taps etc that happen during the week. Except for school holidays! My sister tells me this is why I'm still single - I don't socialise enough. Thing is, my job involves lots of socialising (with children and parents) so when I finish at night I just want to come home and not talk to anyone.

On weekends I sometimes visit my parents house which is nice as I do like to catch up with them after spending so many years away. However, this is not helping me meet anyone either. *sigh*

Well maybe I will become a social butterfly over the summer!

st jude said...

Hm. Two nights a week I do a chaplaincy group in a boarding home in the inner city. One night I practice sword dancing and drink pints with my sword dancing ladies. One night a week is spent either playing Irish music in a pub (likely with my family) or singing at one church or another, followed by a meetup with other singers from other churches.

The other nights are either homework, family, or the odd social occasion with old friends who wonder where the heck I disappeared two when the MDiv swallowed my life. I go to ceilis or contra dances. Sunday night I try to go to Mass at the University and lurk about a bit afterwards. In the mornings I go to the gym or a pilates or yoga class.

I hang out with my family half of the week, and while they are very nice I'm pretty sure I can't marry any of them.

KimP said...

Monday nights are bible study. A couple of nights a week are at the gym. I usually eat out a few nights a week, as well. But otherwise? I'm sewing! I know this sounds like a terribly spinster thing to do, but I love it. I think about it all day until I can get home and sew. I look up fabric on the internet (sometimes) at work.

And of course, I read (blogs, books, email). I don't mind the quiet - I find it restful and I need it to create.

Oh, and the cat died two years ago - I used to love to hear him snore. But I'm not replacing him. I'm hoping that by not subliminating my romantic feelings into a relationship with a cat, I can form a romantic relationship with, you know, a man. We'll see . . .

theobromophile said...

I teach and tutor at night to help pay my student loans.

When I'm not teaching, I read - law opinions, blogs, etc - or books. I also try to spend time with my family.

My evenings are not in the "inspiring" category, really, but I'll happily take inspiration from all of you!

Dominic Mary said...

it can be the silence that makes being alone good, not hard : all too often it's the noise which stops us being who we want to be.

If BA brings you to London for a weekend sometime, try making a 'mini-retreat' one Saturday morning at the Oratory - get there as early as possible, pray, read, look about you, and hear many masses - but try to avoid actually 'attending' any of the scheduled ones . . . if you get there at 07:00, and leave at 11:00, you'll feel as though you've been through a spiritual dishwasher !

Seraphic said...

Very true, Dominic Mary. The problem is that for lonely people the silence can be too much to bear if there is too much of it.

What I find heartening is that so many responses involve getting out and being with people in a variety of activities.

Seraphic said...

Oh, when we are in London, we will certainly visit the Oratory! I like the idea of four hours in a beautiful sacred space, just reading, praying and listening before the Blessed Sacrament.

Dominic Mary said...

Remember what the peassant said to the Cure d'Ars whent he Saint asked him what he did in church all day, just sitting there ?

'I look at Him, He looks at me'.