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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Doug Milam

New semester...

8:48AM: cat meows in face, demanding food or he will die this instant. At 18 lbs., he is like a bowling ball on the chest, with four pressure points. Girlfriend has gone to work and I am the only food provider left.

9:02: the 'NPR alarm' has been going off for two minutes. Somnolent voice. Garden apt. ensures muffled reception, little light. Cat asleep again on pillow.

9:05: 'cereal bin' rings in head as if bin = barricades. Body not buying it, though the faint question of revolution's been on the mind.

9:07: caffeine addiction must be met on own terms. A cup of sitting, staring, reading a nutrition almanac. Cereal crunched.

9:41: mega vitamins consumed in lieu of health benefits.

10:05: check e-mail. No surprises from students of last semester wanting to be 'given' a C despite low attendance, missing assignments, poor effort.

10:11: read the bit of news online. Chomping at it. Operation Just Death and celebrity couplings navigated scrupulously.

10:30: the stench of killed stories causes one to pace. Coffee helps. Have not been paid in three weeks.

10:35: leave for class. Chicago traffic. Will not get paid for another week.

10:45: Mancow, Hooters, and pharma-giant billboards illuminate morning drive.

11:03: arrive at campus parking lot in hand-me-down, 232,000-mile vehicle. Wonder how long steering will survive. No AC.

11:30: class begins. Composition. Roll call, syllabi, the smell of new text.

11:35: first look at the clock. An hour and 25 minutes of textbook, tangents, and policy.

12:30PM: by now it's apparent who will earn an A; the rest of the students are stupefied by the unconventional use of language. Avoid thinking lustful thoughts.

1:00: class over. Hour long drive to next class begins shortly.

1:05: sigh in car. Hot as hell, and only one window works, doomed by electronics.

1:29: potholes a joy to behold. Sweat pours down back. CD skips.

2:00: after a number of attempts at different routes, none prove trafficless, without construction or jarring ruts.

2:10: no spaces left in faculty lot due to construction fencing. Park on the curb, ticket likely.

2:37: adjunct 'lounge' continues to be empty; a catnap would seem in order. However, no privacy, no office, no recourse. Full-time 'refugee' professors in little holding pens paste icons of worldly idols on their doors and shut themselves inside.

3:03: no students visiting 'office' hours yet. Read copy of nonrelevant philosophy textbook borrowed from cabinet, then peruse syllabus for errors. Own textbook already boring.

3:50: class begins. Composition. Roll call, syllabi, the smell of new text.

3:51: student wonders aloud if I shouldn't be in the class, rather than teaching it. I tell him it's only Michael J. Fox syndrome, then realize the potential misunderstanding.

4:16: talk about independent thought largely in one ear and out the other.

5:30: at break a student complains about lack of proconsumption viewpoints. I remind the class that I want all disagreements in writing.

6:25: class ends. Decide to hang out in library rather than face traffic. Check out book, Chomsky on miseducation.

7:08: leave campus. Ticket on window. Have not eaten decently since morning; $4 hot dog didn't cut it. Traffic bumper to bumper. Hour-fifteen home.