Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Hall Chat: April is the Cruellest Month

Jenn Tatum

I’ve been thinking about the opening line of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.”

“April is the cruellest month.”

And I’ve been thinking, why yes, T.S. Eliot, yes it is. Here we are. The weather has been unbelievably lovely. I’m breaking out dresses and light cardigans. The sun is shining, and the birds are always so happy, chirping in the morning, perching atop branches and tapping their talons up and down the trees, all bright and shiny and happy. And then there’s me. And I’m assuming most of my graduate colleagues. Here I am, laundry piled to my waist, dishes in the sink, books and papers haphazardly piled on the edges of tables, leftover gum-wrappers and snack-wrappers in the bottom of my purse and backpack, coffee stains on my essays, and ink on my fingertips and wrists. I’m glued to my computer screen and stuck indoors, while, it seems, that Spring is here and everyone is aware and enjoying it but me. So, I say again, that yes, “April is the cruellest month.”

That is because it is the busiest month. I’m less than three weeks from the end of the semester and, for me, I have the added pleasure (pressure) of moving at the end of this month. So, while writing final papers and grading final papers, I’ll also be trying not to pack said papers away and make sure that the toothpaste and detergent is nearby, because let’s face it, I still need to be presentable. And yes, this is a public space, but I’m not beneath telling you that Febreze becomes a close friend of mine toward the end of the school year. There, I said it.

But about the moving and the busyness. I’ve been using every available resource: Apartment People, Chicago Apartment Finders, North/Clybourn Group, Craigslist and Padmapper. After about three weeks of searching for “quaint” (translate: really small) and “light-filled” (translate: it’s a garden apartment with one really big window) and “vintage-feel” (hello hardwood floors from 1932) apartments, I found a place. At the end of this busy month, I will be moving into said apartment, and I couldn’t be more excited. Luckily Chicago has excellent apartment finding resources, and three weeks is actually a relatively short amount of time to look for an apartment and find one that you like. You just have to know what your resources are and see as many places as you can. If you are able to visit Chicago at all this summer, setting out on foot is really the best way to find an apartment, whether you do so on your own or with the help of a service.

My apartment search has me thinking about May (you know, the month after the “cruellest” month). I’m looking forward to summer and my new apartment, but most importantly for the free time to work on my thesis and to revise the work that I have done so far during my time at Columbia. I’m also looking forward to revising my WRI and WRII syllabi and updating my CV and Resume. And this summer I will be working for the Academic Affairs office, which is a much needed job (the summer can get a little dicey with funds), so once I get through this month, things are on the up and up.

Chicago summers (though hot and muggy) are so lively. The city has so many arts and crafts fairs, neighborhood fairs, free concerts, and festivals. Last summer I went to several of the Millennium Park Free Concerts in the Park and to the Pitchfork Music Festival, as well as several neighborhood festivals in Lakeview and Wicker Park. And the Farmer’s Market in Lincoln Square is the absolute best place to go for fresh fruits and veggies during the summer. And, of course, there’s the beach, both Montrose Beach (Where I played on a co-ed beach volleyball team. Yes, me. No laughing.) and North Beach, both easily accessible by train or bus.

So, now it’s just pushing through to the end of the semester, getting through April. Then it’s May, and then there’s summer, and then April will seem so very worth the busyness.

Hall Chat: April is the Cruellest Month

I’ve been thinking about the opening line of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.” “April is the cruellest month.” And I’ve been thinking, why yes, T.S. Eliot, yes it is. Here we …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605