Man Without a Couch

One of my favorite books is A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s a sweet collection of short musings he published before he died. Acerbic and funny.

And there I’ve just used the word acerbic. Let’s take a moment with that word.

Did you know I’ve been blogging weekly for many years? That’s a lot of years. Man without a country? Try man without an audience.


In all this blogging, I think acerbic is probably the best vocabulary word I’ve dropped. Acerbic is the kind of word that would show up on the GRE. I took the GRE in like 2002. Many, many years before I started blogging weekly. I did really well on the writing section of the GRE. Bombed the quantitative section. A man without a country? Try a man with a very loose grasp on simple arithmetic.

I did okay on the vocabulary section of the GRE in 2002. Trying to decipher words like acerbic. But I feel like I should get some retroactive bonus points for using acerbic in this blog.

I applied to graduate school in 2002. PhD programs in History. MFA programs in poetry. Did you know that I applied to the world famous writer’s workshop at The University of Iowa in 2002? Where Kurt Vonnegut taught for a year or two? They didn’t want me back then. Which was the right choice. Acerbic or not, I wasn’t ready for a graduate program when I was 21. And, all things considered, I’m glad I became a high school teacher.

But here we are in 2022, and I’m a week away from moving to Iowa City. To become a professor of English Education at The University of Iowa. Who’d have thunk it?

All of this preamble is just to say this: The movers took all of our stuff a few days ago. Our beds. Our furniture. So many boxes.

A man without a country? Try a man without a couch.


I wouldn’t have thought a couch was that important. But here we are.

Actually, we’ve been without a couch for about a month. Our couch was nearly twenty years old. And the cats had made a scratching post out of it. Sure, it was comfy. But it was time to put it the old girl down.

Bulk pick-up was early May. What’s bulk pick-up? That’s when the fine folks in Ferguson Township Sanitation take anything you put out. And we put lots and lots of stuff out. Including our enormous, sectional couch. They took it. In three pieces.

Incidentally, that couch belonged to my mother. I got it at the end of her life. Read the best-selling memoir Determined Weeds to learn more about my mother’s terrifying death wail. And by best-selling, I mean worst-selling. Man without an audience.

Katie and I spent lots of quality time on that couch. Keeping up with our frenetic boys is a challenge. There’s a sweet hour or two at the end of the day when we collapse on the couch. Watch a little Netflix. Play a little Nintendo Switch. Eat an enormous amount of snacks (#expandingtummy). Probably most importantly, our bodies get a little support as we relax after a long day.

Friends. Here is a simple truth. Sitting on a hardwood floor, pillows or not, is very unpleasant. This is especially true if you are 41 years of age. Like me.

A man without a country? Try a man with a failing back.


At one point in May, we took our air mattress out of storage. Blew it up and set it out in our living room. Like heroin addicts. The cats and the boys made swift work of the mattress. It was ravaged in less than a week. RIP, air mattress.

I’ve never bought a new couch. I’m frugal man. A humble educator. But we’re due for a new couch. I think that’ll be our first purchase when we arrive in Iowa City.

Will our cats Theo and Yara shred the new couch? It is likely, presuming Theo and Yara survive the drive to Iowa. They have anxiety issues. It’s 2022. We all have anxiety issues. Pray for them. Pray for us. But mostly pray that we find a comfortable new couch.

Because I vow not to live as a man without a couch anymore. My back can’t take it. Each day without a couch has made me more and more acerbic.

And there I just wanted an excuse to use the word acerbic again. See, GRE, I am smart!

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