Chapter 1 of Jogging

May 20, 2008
By Michelle Harasimowicz, Rolling Meadows, IL

It was a cool night in November and I returned home from a brisk 15 minute jog. Getting a little faster each day, I thought to myself. I shuffled into my pocket to find my keys and promptly jumbled the right one into the key hole. Walking into my dorm room, I could see that Regina hadn’t washed the dishes this morning like she had promised, and that Evelyn was primping herself up in the mirror.

“Where are you headed?” I asked her.

“I have a Women’s Business Club meeting,” she replied, while applying a thin layer of mascara. She turned to me, tousling her short, bleached-blonde hair, “I left some cans of chicken soup in the fridge if you want.”

“Thanks, Evelyn. When are you going to be back?” My question went unheard, however, because she was already out the door and quickly carrying her curvy legs over to the Student Hall. I went to the refrigerator and cringed when I saw the can of soup that Evelyn had mentioned. I was so used to eating homemade, healthy food so how could I expect myself to find nourishment in a can of processed, high sodium chicken soup? I looked around the kitchen for the slightest morsel of nutritious foodstuff, and was practically euphoric to find that Regina had actually picked up the oatmeal I asked her to look for at the grocery store. I instantly forgave her for the sink of messy dishes and happily began to boil a kettle of water.

I took a light shower, threw on a soft cotton nightgown and grabbed my bowl of oats, feeling a soft, mushy, and comfortable feeling as I balled up into our old, purple couch. I was so happy that I didn’t have any homework that night because I was so incredibly exhausted from the countless term papers and calculus worksheets that took up so much of my time. Between my full schedule, chess team, French club, and GoGreen Club I felt like I threw the concept of relaxation out the window. I sat there in utter comfort, relishing every moment of soft oatmeal, clean cottony smoothness, squishy purple couch…



“Hi Jane, it’s Denise! How are you?”

“I’m all right,” I answered sweetly, though I felt a pang of frustration from being ripped away from my delicious oatmeal. Denise called like this often, being out bored all the time. We were really close friends as teenagers, but she got married right after high school, while I went off to college, and stayed at home pregnant with her first child. She called me often to make domestic complaints and ask me things like, “College must be sooo hard. Why would you want to go through that?”

I listened to her whine for ten minutes about Greg’s never-at-home-ness and how the baby liked to do Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks inside of her placenta. I began to feel unnerved at the thought of how cold my oatmeal must have grown and I began to zone out on Denise.

“So are you seeing anyone, Jane? Jane, hellooo?”

“No, not at this time,” I answered plainly. Prying into my love life was another small obsession of hers. Just as I was about to bring up an imaginary essay I had to write immediately, she quickly exclaimed, “Oh dear, Greggie’s home! I’ll call you tomorrow, ‘kay? Love you, honey!”

I sat back down next to my now cold oatmeal and sighed. Why did my life have to be so incredibly dull? I mean, even Denise sounds like she’s alive over there and she has to sit cooped up like some chicken every single day. I wondered what it would be like to travel or to be rich. I was growing tired of waking up, going to class, eating a peanut butter sandwich, attending club meetings, cleaning the dorm, taking a jog at seven every night, and studying on weekend evenings. I tried reading one of Regina’s magazines next, but I quickly became weary of the endless photos of well endowed models with pouting lips in furry winter skirts and knee high boots. Like that’ll keep them warm, I thought.

I walked to my computer, feeling inclined to pout my lips, and decided to look over some history notes that my class had posted up. It wasn’t exactly fun, but I always ended up philosophizing that if I had some extra time to do something, why not do something constructive?

“John Adams, after finalizing the Louisiana Purchase had a new problem on his hands. How was he support his actions if he was clearly a Democratic Republican, who always interpreted the Constitution very strictly?” – posted 3 minutes ago, 8:25 by Kharles

“That’s supposed to be Jefferson,” I replied to his post. I was shocked that Mr. Hot Shot History Buff Charles Peterson posted inaccurate information. He was always making a big scene in class of how much extra information he knew and what a god he was at memorizing pointless facts.

“I know.” – posted 1 minute ago, 8:32 by Kharles

I was appalled at this. I scrolled up to see all the fictitious trash that he posted in the last two hours. “George Washington first introduced AIDS to America when…”; “Before James Madison wrote the Constitution, he became famous for having authored, Cats and ‘What is Love?’”

“Charles, you’re supposed to be helping us, not hindering us. What if everyone fails their exams because of this rubbish?” I posted, though I was amused at how bizarre some of it was.

“I’ll give you the John Adams-Jefferson article, but how do you know the rest isn’t true?” – posted 1 minute ago, 8:37 by Kharles

“Like Alexander Hamilton died from having a fabulous yet fatal dance off with Aaron Burr!?” I answered. “Our class is doomed to failure.”

“Everyone except you, Jane. I’m sure you’ll do just fine.” – posted 2 minutes ago, 8:42 by Kharles.

I really didn’t know what else to say, so I simply read and reread his heinous phony history-isms. I thought about why Charles was doing this. Was he just trying to be funny or did he hoard some evil intentions of leading our unmotivated class into an unsuccessful exam? Was he a doofus like this in all of his classes?

It had been 10 minutes since my last reply, so I refreshed the page to see if anything extra was added. I was a little disappointed to see that he hadn’t added any response, and I waited a few minutes longer. After compulsively refreshing the page for a little while and seeing that he didn’t respond, I clicked off the history forum.

Regina walked into the dorm at that moment, and collapsed on the couch. “So tired,” she declared. Her hair was a mess and her books were strewn on the floor beside her.

“Why, what happened?” I asked, not really concerned at all. She came home in this fashion almost every night.

“Huge Bio test. It was unbelievable. I totally bombed it I think,” she moaned.

I nodded in response and walked back to the kitchen to start the dishes. I replayed in my mind the posts Charles had made and giggled to myself. In a moment I could hear Regina snoring and I gazed out the window. I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed so much and I found it refreshing to giggle uncontrollably and replay the clever puns in my mind. As I scrubbed and giggled I began to feel that squishy comfy feeling again, and I relished every bit of it.

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