Dazed and Confused: Housesitting with a College Professor’s Wife

Everyone I know is moving this summer, myself included. I’m finally settled in at my new place, which is great, but it has killed my productivity the past week, which is not so great.

I’ve been housesitting in Hyde Park all summer for a professor in my department, where all the houses look like this. Living rent free in one of the best neighborhoods in Austin has definitely been a lifesaver and somewhat of a Summer routine for myself. For the most part it’s been good, if a little solitary at times. Like having your own ranch. People have been asking me what it was like living by myself on nearly an acre of land in Hyde Park. I’ve decided to give you all my Top 5 “Highlights” of my summer Housesitting with the College Professor’s Wife (more on that soon).

1. Battling Raccoons

The most important part of housesitting usually involves making sure any pets stay alive. This was no different. The two cats placed in my care, Bella and Jasper, were pretty easy going if a little needy at times. Like a typical male cat Jasper loved hanging out with me, while Bella had the look of “who the hell are you” etched into her face for nearly two months.

What was different was the third “houseguest” to come through the cat door at night. On the list of things I didn’t think I’d ever cross off a list, coming face to face with a raccoon in a kitchen, on multiple occasions, is definitely near the top. It was like camping in the backwoods, only it was inside a house, in a major U.S. city.

2. Healing Sessions

Usually, when you housesit for people they tend to not be there. Such is not the case in Hyde Park Hollow, where I essentially had a roommate on the other end of the house for the first two weeks. Vickie is really sweet, really nice, and really interesting. Also she is Dr. Browning’s wife. Here is an email I got from my roommate regarding her spiritual prowess.

Hi Joe,

I will be doing an energy healing at the house today from 4:40 – 6:40PM, and Friday from 4-6PM. I have decided not to use the regular healing room, which is on my side of the house – the sun porch room, because it is too hot, and the air conditioning doesn’t reach it.

I will be using the living room. I will leave the back door unlocked, so you could enter through the kitchen. There might be the sounds of drumming and gongs and rattles during the session. Thank you so much in advance for being flexible!!!!

I think this can stand alone.

3. Becoming one with ALL of Austin’s Bugs

Welcome to the Jungle

The benefit of having such a rainy summer was that watering the thick forrest the house was essentially carved out of was a breeze. The drawback is that such an eco-friendly set up was especially beneficial to the eco-friendly bugs that were everywhere. After a few weeks I didn’t get out of bed for anything less than 3 cockroaches on the counter. And I’ve got so many mosquito bites it looks like my ankles have track marks. So much for the starving raccoon.

4. Playing landlord

Needless to say the Professor and his wife are very smart financially, owning and renting out several properties all over Austin. But someone’s gotta deposit those rent checks on the first of the month and that person was me. It was quite the experience to take a half-dozen checks from strangers each month and deposit them into another stranger’s checking account. No Questions Asked. And they say we are in a financial crisis!

5. Not having a single party (in case anyone of note is reading this).

Let me just say again, I did not have any parties at the house. I also did not tell anyone I was going to have a party, nor did I brag about how epic a party would have been. There was NO secret Evite or Facebook event that went out and that tree falling through the roof of the side room was definitely not caused by anything no one at the house was not doing during this party I did not have. Not really.

Note to everyone: Always take the opportunity to house sit for a professor. Their houses are usually baller, and this was no exception. They really hooked me up this summer.


About Joe Faina

Rhetoric & Media Professor, Writer, Humorist

Posted on 08/03/2010, in Academia, Adulthood, Austin, Cats, Transition. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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