Say hello to the strange professor who sleeps on the quad. Yes, his hair is riotously unkempt and home to small woodland creatures, and he does seem to smell like a mixture of rotting carp and old tennis shoes stuffed with hyper-Gallic cheese, but he's a lot of fun, dedicated, and down with all the latest pedagogies and ringtones.
To get right down to it: it is in essence utterly impossible to find apartments accessible to me. Many of you may think to yourselves, but...the accessible law thing! Didn't it solve this?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, signed into by law by the first George Bush, the one without the raging erection for apocalypse, only goes so far. The codes that buildings and businesses of a certain size must meet are great, but adaptations must not place undue financial burden on the business. Which I agree with.
It's just that my spinal cord injury is so weird that I'm caught just on the outside edge of ADA codes working great for me. But in the end they don't. I need an electric door opener. None of these places will have that, anywhere, ever. Because they don't have to. Because it's expensive. Because if an apartment was adapted for me, they'd lose money on me for the first year at least.
And, generally, this isn't really that big a problem: there aren't many versions of me running around trying to do what I'm trying to do. Don't think there aren't a whole lot of days when I darkly laugh about a high level quadriplegic writing poems. It's like getting metaphysically punk'd. By yourself.
So I'm striking out on finding a place to live in Carrollton. Which is not news or surprising. I try every time. The back-up, and it's really back-up in name only, is taking some kind of on-campus housing. In Tuscaloosa all my three years there were spent in horrid conditions. Sample conversation, before moving in:
Me: What are these huge stains in the carpet everywhere?
UA: Oh, those. We tried to get those up. The student who lived here last year had a colostomy bag. There was something wrong with his head. We tried to get those up.
Me: I'm thinking you didn't try hard enough.
Me: You said there was a door opener here. That the whole reason for putting me out here was the door opener.
UA: I thought there was.
Me: You're going to have to put one in now.
UA: I don't know if we can do that.
Me: See, there's this law--
UA: Well, I don't know anything about the law.
Me: I think you're right.
The little hole I lived in there was in this old dorm, now demolished, which had some kind of water-based heating-cooling system. It was interesting to watch it degrade over time as it began dumping truly surreal amounts of moisture into the room. Papers began curling up. Towels stayed wet. I'd bought this huge box of envelopes, like 500 or something, and the glue in them would already be sealed. They were usable if you popped them back open and a couple of months ago I pulled the last one. Sure enough, it was glued shut. My hard back books began to warp. To curve.
Let's not miss that: I have an almost U-shaped Complete Shakespeare. Think about that.
I had to buy with my own money this filing cabinet sized de-humidifier and run a line out the window. Going out to teach or to get in my girlfriend's car, I'd watch the constant trickle.
Me: Can anything be done about this heater thing in my room? Everything is damp. My desk is like a Petri dish.
UA: Oh, yeah, this old system barely works anymore. On its last legs.
Me: My books noticed. And my papers. My towels. My sheets. That's the best part: laying down after a long day teaching this University's students and the sheets are what many people call wet.
UA: Yeah, buddy, we hate that for you.
I'm sidetracked. I still bear the scars of Tuscaloosa. And I guess that's on my mind with all this difficulty.