Apartment Hunting, Plays, and War

Last night, I went to see “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Steppenwolf Theater. It was well staged, although the acting was lacking. Altogether, it was a nicely done play. I found myself face to face with the director of Columbia’s Hillel group, who had me read at the Shabbat dinner just before Passover. I’m learning the Hebrew alphabet from Becky, but so far I only have a few letters down from a practice session over ice cream. We got the $28 tickets for free from a family that is generous enough to help support Coloumbia’s program. I’d forgotten how terrible it is to look down from a safe balcony and see people acting out the miseries of others. I truly love the theater because the emotions that run through it are intense. In the end, when the Nazis come to take them, the actors came up from a trapdoor in the stage, silently, to surprise the family eating the first strawberries they’d had in two years. The feeling ran through the audience, shared emotions, one for all. I had expected banging, clattering, noise when they arrived, warning the family, a little, at least. Shockingly well done, the end was. Mr. Frank, the only survivor, walks back onstage and begins a monologue of what happened to all the rest of the little company that had huddled in that building for two years.
Oddly enough, that was not the only violence I would conceive in my mind yesterday. I am currently engrossed in “Middlesex” by Jeffery Eugenides, the author of “The Virgin Suicides.” I am only 75 pages in, having started it yesterday morning during the sociology lecture about urban studies in Chicago. It tells of a massacre of Greeks in the early 1920s, particularly a family. The details were horrific, of course, as massacres always are, and I began to resent anyone who could kill another human being.
Coming off the train this morning back to Loyola, I grab the RedEye. It’s a free edition of the Chicago Tribune, and I attempt to get it whenever I can. The crosswords in it are wonderful. But, climbing back into bed to open it, I stare at the second page. The words “suicide bombing” jump right out at me. Here we are, living in what we believe to be an advanced society, yet we can’t stop killing each other. It’s disgusting and pathetic, and anyone who believes that any good will come from any unprovoked military action needs to be examined. It’s fine for them to quote their Bibles and hate homosexuals, and it’s also perfectly fine for them to condone sex and drugs, yet they rush at the chance to “do good” and bring their western culture to places that don’t want it, can’t use, don’t need it. We rush at the chance to kill the infidels, to spread democracy. What is our democracy really? We’re doing no good. We haven’t been now for four years, even longer. There is no way out, and no one sees that. There is no end to this war, there’s no end to the suffering. How long before we attempt to take on another project we’ll never be able to win? How long before the bombings start happening in our cities, killing our children? Will they stop then?
I saw “The Machinal” last month at Columbia College, and that’s where I am headed again tonight to see “Paradise Lost.” “Cinderella” opens this weekend at Loyola, so of course I’ll be seeing that. The last play they had was “The Visit,” translated out of the German and wonderfully done. I got in for free, because apparently Loyola has some thing where as a student, you get to see your first play for free. Granted, it saved me about five dollars, but that comes in handy sometimes.
The man who sells me alcohol was in a delightful mood last night. As we walked into the little store, he greeted us warmly as he always does, telling us his night was better now that we were there. He was sad, however, because his plants were dying from the cold. We spoke of talking to plants, encouraging them to grow. He told me that I needed to bring all of my plants inside (as if I had any…) and that he couldn’t wait for his tomato plants to bloom in the summer so he could tend them in his garden. I can see him now, smoking the cigarette he always smokes, bending over in the garden to whisper greetings to a small tomato tendril. As I type this, I am staring at my sad little bamboo plant, lonely on the heater, reaching for the light next to it. We get the morning sunlight in the room here, which is lovely if you sleep with the windows open. Sometimes I wake up to the sunrise, and am always amazed.
I’m crossing my fingers for the apartment. We went, in the rain, to look at it again on Wednesday. We saw the two bedroom for the first time. It’s lovely. It has a front door, giant living room with windows that open to look down at the street (it’s right above a grocery store). Right off of the living room is a small sun room, with french doors that could even be a small third bedroom if necessary, but with the rent at what it is, we’d hardly need a third roommate. There is a little tiny hallway that has a bathroom separating two small bedrooms. They each have nice closets similar to the one I have at home. The bathroom has a bathtub and vanity and a toilet, obviously. The kitchen isn’t as lovely as the first one we looked at, but the man assured us they were taking extra steps to clean it up. The previous tenants were evicted for not taking care of the place, and it’s wonderful to think that it would be even nicer once we move in. The rent is down to $995 per month, which, given the space, is ridiculously low. The building has an iron gate and fence that one must be buzzed into, which gives way to a tiny little courtyard with plants on the sides. The foyer of the building, if it could be called that, it a giant mass of space with a solitary stone table sitting in the middle. Then, you turn left down a hallway, and up a ramp. There is a flight of little stairs, and then (hopefully) our apartment. It’s a couple blocks to the train, or 8 to walk back to school, but the apartment literally looks onto Sheridan, which is the same street Loyola is on. We plan on getting window boxes, and candles, and all the random furniture we can find. Emily will sew on slipcovers, and we’ll live comfortably.
I wonder if dad would be willing to let me have my futon or my bowl chair. They are both mine, and would make lovely additions to the apartment. My purple rug that Grandma and Grandpa got me for Christmas one year would look nice in my tiny little bedroom, and Mom has a twin bed frame in the basement. That, with possibly the loveseat from the basement, or the recliner, would make excellent living. There is even space for a little table. It’s all hardwood, there is no carpet, which would make cleaning easy. There is enough space for closet storage, and if it comes through, I won’t have to worry about where to keep my stuff for the summer because I’ll have my own apartment.
We’ll post it on craigslist, of course, and sublet it if we can, because if not, we’re throwing away money. The only problem, however, is that this rent price is too amazing to pass up. The $995 includes heat, gas and water. I can’t even talk about it, it’s bad luck to get your hopes up.
I shoud be hearing back in the next ten days whether or not we’re released. Now, more than ever, is time to pray to whatever god or being you believe in. Please, let fate be on our side.

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