Ellen wonders why PricewaterhouseCoopers is changing the name of its consulting firm to “Monday”. Also wondering how anything got named PricewaterhouseCoopers in the first place? Ah, mergers. It helps that one person was actually named “Waterhouse”.
It’s kinda funny. But nothing makes me feel better about graduation than listening to happy middle-aged people, mostly content with their lives, with kids and marriages and traditions. At lunch today, everyone was talking about trips to the Jersey Shore… how they’ve been going there for 30 years with all of their old friends and their families. They look at slides from the 70s. (His suit is too tight, and look at her hair!) They sit around over picnic lunches telling the same old stories. Everyone gets made fun of for something, who’s the clumsy one, who’s the neat freak, who’s the lazy one. It seemed to embody what people mean by “settling down.”
It was comforting for three reasons.
- Because the life they described seemed worlds away. And there’s a lot that I want to do before I’ve got anything close to that. It reminded me of what I *wasn’t*, despite my post-grad status.
- Because they were talking on a different time scale. Married for 20 years? I’ve only been alive for 20 years. So no wonder it’s confusing at first, right out of college. Everyone else has been doing this stuff for longer than I’ve even been alive.
- And because someday, it’ll be really nice to gather with people I’ve known for 30 years and spend a week at the beach.
I went to Boston this weekend to see Tara. One of the other interns was driving, and I was reading the map and directions. Everything was fine navigation-wise until we got to the city and missed every single one of our turns. Now I can understand why every person I’ve ever talked to about visiting Boston mentions that they got lost. There are’t any street signs. At least, not ones that we needed. We actually had to find one crucial bridge by counting the bridges we passed and comparing that to the bridges on the map. That’s just not right.
In other transportation news, the T is very nice. It rides almost as smooth as the Metro, but it’s as friendly and laid-back as the El. Unfortunately for Mark, though, there’s no standing/walking rules for the escalators.
I also got sick over the weekend, and I’m wondering if it has something to do with Boston itself.
Maxim Saves Journalism: “If you go into magazines, and I hope some of you will, just remember this: Don’t be snobby, don’t be selfish: Write for readers. If you don’t, your career will be very unhappy…or very short. “
I’ve been doing some reporting today on breast cancer activism…. talking to activists is so cool. I worry about the littlest things, when there’s so many more important things to devote mental space to.
“If it’s impermissible to belittle the likes, dislikes and habits of local ethnic groups or people from other lands (and it certainly is wrong), why must it be acceptable to belittle the tastes of fellow Americans who live in what is often and derisively termed “fly-over country”?” — post in a NYTimes forum on being a New Yorker.
I’ve been thinking about this lately. Well, more specifically I’ve been thinking about the National Geographic-ish approach to talking about life in a new place. Like: “And then the rural Pennsylvania natives tried to learn how to swing dance, tentatively placing one foot in front of the other, balanced precariously on their skinny white legs. Afterwards they dined on a local delicacy, cabbage and noodles.” Well, that’s an exaggeration. But you know. It’s sort of what Patrick talked about in his barber shop blog. How to fairly perceive and describe a place’s local atmosphere. Hmm.
Why do I make even simple things seem complicated? And more importantly, how can I stop?
You can make a living in Central Park if you can paint children’s faces, perform a ballet with puppets, get yourself out of a strait jacket, sketch charcoal portraits, play the cello, paint names in calligraphy, bend wire into the shape of a dragon or sit on a bench with an iguana on your head (“Take a picture with the Iguana Woman for $1″). Now, I would like to be able to make a living in Central Park. But I can’t do any of those things.
So I’m thinking about setting up a stand that involves writing. You tell me your story, and I will write it down. For example, “The story of how you met! Recorded forever. Told in 150 words. $1.” I could sit there with some outlandish typewriter or something. What do you think? I mentioned the idea to Janelle’s boyfriend Dave, a native New Yorker. He pointed out that the most successful arts of Central Park have both a visual and a take-home component. It’s interesting to watch someone sketch a portrait or make a wire dragon or sit there with an iguana on her head. But no one really just gives you something to take home. It may be hopeless.
“I have heard something about that, but… it is New York. Don’t worry. They will fix it. Enjoy.” — European-sounding man selling artistic jewelry at a street fair, when I asked him about the power outage
I spent the weekend with Janelle in New York. On Saturday morning in Allentown, I bought a bus ticket at a diner called the Charcoal Drive-In. I waited in a little shack next to the diner for the bus to come. And then I woke up in New York, essentially on another planet. The highlights? On Saturday, power outage in all of downtown Manhattan: no working street lights or crosswalk signs, a young guy in thick-rimmed glasses and a trendy backpack directing traffic energetically at one intersection, store owners sitting on the steps outside their shops, restaurant workers standing outside flicking dish towels at each other, Washington Square Park full of people watching people….
Also, wandering the street fairs, remembering what it’s like to have almost everything at your fingertips, remembering what it’s like to bump into someone every three seconds just walking down the sidewalk, remembering why I missed New York, remembering why it made me tired, too… drinking bubble tea in Chinatown, drinking an alcoholic milkshake in the East Village, drinking mint iced tea in Union Square Market… sitting in Central Park, in the warm shade, watching a Japanese drumming concert.
I just found out that I’m doing AmeriCorps next year, at Turning the Page in Washington, D.C. … So I’ll be back in D.C. for at least 11 months, figuring out how to take my first steps toward…. something. (Note on that link: look for the “continue” icon in the lower-left corner of the frame.)
FTrain, on the things he carried: “…To do what I was doing at rush hour was wrong, a violation of the subway social contract, and to be very sweaty and slightly rank made me almost a criminal.”
My roommate, Nicole, and I drive downtown to meet some other interns at a bar. After a few wrong turns, we find it somewhere in Allentown’s maze of narrow one-way streets. It’s a neighborhood I wouldn’t walk alone in at night. And I’m kind of glad to be with someone else even though it’s still light. (“Is it safe to park this far away?” Nicole had asked, parking two blocks from the bar.) The bar itself looks as though it was abandoned in the 1930s and left to weather the elements. But a sign on the front door says it’s just closed for the week, for vacation. We don’t see the other interns anywhere, so we turn back, confused.
The houses down here mostly have no front yards. Everyone’s porch lives play out for all to see. Weary parents sit limply on their front steps in lawn chairs. Their kids chase each other on the sidewalk. An old man with a long white beard, wearing a white hospital-like gown, sits on a porch railing across the street and stares wide-eyed, vacantly. It’s eerily quiet with few cars driving by, and people move slowly in the heat.
Suddenly I stop. The most beautiful bird I have ever seen is sitting very still on the sidewalk. It’s small and fat, about the size of my fist. Its brilliant turquoise feathers stand out against the gray sidewalk and gray houses. Nicole stops short, too. “It’s someone’s parakeet!” she says. I have to agree. What else could it be? I watch as it breathes in and out, blinking calmly. It sits on its legs, which are at right angles to its body. “Its legs must be broken,” Nicole says. “It must have fallen out of someone’s window.” We don’t know what to do, but we memorize the address anyway.
As we walk back to the car, I wonder if we’re in someone’s disjointed dream. “If this were the Great Gatsby or something, that would be such symbolism,” Nicole says.
“Everything I know, I learned after college.” — a co-worker, at lunch
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell