A transatlantic flight, a thousand mile drive, and here I am, back in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. When I stepped out of my car, I climbed out of a time machine. I moved to Alabama for the first time in August of 2005 as a graduate student. I moved to Alabama again in August of 2011 to teach for a semester. And here I am, five Augusts later, moving back one more time. August, incidentally, is the worst time to move to Alabama. Some diabolical combination of the heat and the insects make this a terrifying place to walk around in an empty house in bare feet. But, lo! Compare the bindery of the future (above) with the bindery of the past (below).
There are other pleasures. An office:
That sits on top of a library:
And is down the hall from a bindery:
And a letterpress studio:
(Oh, and yes, that’s a polymer platemaker sitting over by the sink.)
After five years of teaching for dozens of studios and universities all over the UK with a different schedule every week, I wake each morning in a panic trying to remember which train going in which direction I need to hussle to catch. I will be very busy here, no question. But today I am relishing the calm, the burgeoning sense of routine, and the good fortune of not having to spend six hours traveling for six teaching hours, a ratio that was pushing me to my limit.
I can get invested. I can take on tasks that last longer than an afternoon. I can get students to help me. I can make weird, solemn, letterpress-themed vows like this one:
I hereby vow that by the first day of January in the year two thousand and seventeen, there will be no standing type at The University of Alabama.
So far the oldest I’ve found hails from 2005:
Marvel, wherever you are, this type is too beautiful to sit, abandoned, in your galley. Its time has COME! Alabama students, friends, alums, help me in my quest. If you are near, a great task awaits us all.
Do you hear the overblown language I am using? It is because I am relaxed enough to think of the future. And thinking of the future makes me speak in terms of quests, journeys, and endeavors rather than tasks, workshops, and trains.
More soon from The University of Alabama. over and out.