I Pay Rapt Attention

Notes from Los Angeles Public Transportation – Part 1 #longreads

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on September 2, 2011

EDIT: <begin life update> For anyone who cares, I am now living in Los Angeles. Moved here to take a job doing communications and digital projects for an after school education provider in the area. Totally different than what I was doing, but the move was right for more reasons than I can say. But I miss Chicago. </end life update>

PREFACE TO THE PREFACE

Since moving to Los Angeles two weeks ago (a story for another time), I’ve been getting around the city on foot and, in most cases, by bus. Most days, I take at least four buses getting to and from my apartment in Culver City and my office in Inglewood. It takes between 40 min and an hour, depending on the time of day. Note that in a car on the freeway, even with traffic, the drive is at most 15 minutes, usually more like 10. Then, after work, I frequently find myself meeting friends or attending events downtown- another hour each direction on the bus. I note this not to complain, but to make it clear that I’ve spent pretty significant time on public transportation as of late, and so feel justified in relaying a few stories from the time I’ve spent so far (and extrapolating a bit from those experiences.) This will hopefully take the form of a few different posts over the next few weeks, though my track record of finishing these series is pretty poor, so we’ll see. If nothing else, I’m starting with a monster post below. So that’s something. Oh, and for those keeping score back at home, I’m starting this post from my phone, on the 11:18 733 to Santa Monica 🙂

BEFORE I BEGIN

Let’s get this bit out of the way. I take Santa Monica Big Blue Buses, Culver City Rapid Buses, and a few Metro buses in Inglewood near the area, so my thoughts are restricted to those buses, because who knows what the other ones are like. The buses themselves are quite nice- for the most part clean and seemingly new. They generally arrive on schedule, assuming they are not too full to stop (which happens with some frequency when headed downtown during rush hour on a weekend.) The bus drivers have always been very patient with my idiotic questions, friendly and courteous to me. And I like public transportation for a number of philosophical and practical reasons, so please don’t take this as any kind of attack. I just believe turning a critical eye to our institutions is a fundamentally healthy exercise for communities, and one that can lead to positive change in many cases. Now then.

ILLUSTRATIVE ANECDOTE #1: WHY AM I THE ONLY YOUNG WHITE FEMALE WHO TAKES THE BUS?

I’ve taken buses and trains all over the country, everywhere from San Francisco and New Haven to Chicago and New York. Obviously, each city has its own special culture around public transportation, and so the demographics vary pretty dramatically on a regional basis. But seriously, I have never seen a ridership quite like this one. As with many major metropolitan areas, the vast majority at all times of day are just workers on their way to work. From what I can tell, most work in landscaping, house painting or other relatively manual labor. They look uniformly exhausted. Like I said, relatively standard. There’s the usual smattering of high school and college students, depending on the time of day. Later in the evening, there is usually a love couple and a fabulous gym bunny trying to get to his cardio class. Nothing odd there. But then the rest is pretty exclusively homeless and/or mentally ill individuals. Maybe my attempts to be PC here are impeding my point (as they often do) but let me try to be clear– in 80% of cases, I am the only middle class OR white OR young female on the bus. Seriously. Usually I am the only in any of those categories.

Now I assumed this was just the buses that I happen to ride, but keep in mind– my neighborhood does not match the demographics described above. My neighborhood is at least 30% middle class white 20-somethings. Probably way more. But you know what? I have no clear way of knowing, because EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER HAS A CAR. I knew that Los Angeles was a car city and all, but holy mother of potatoes, they weren’t joking. People will drive literally 30 seconds to go to the 7-11 for a bag of chips when it probably takes more time to start the car than to just walk there yourself. But that’s a separate pet peeve of mine that I probably shouldn’t rant about right now. Not the point.

Anyways- last week, I encountered two situations in a row which convinced me that this was pretty standard, at least for my route. In the first, I enter the bus in my usual 6:30 AM stupor, fumbling for the quarters I use to pay, because yes, I have been too lazy to walk the few miles to the Culver City center to buy a tap card. I know, I’m awesome. Anyways. This particular morning, I am so exhausted that I’m wearing my lazy proudly in the form of a giant sack dress made of Jersey, leggings with holes in them, knock-off Keds, and giant $5 plastic thriftstore sunglasses to cover the fact that there is not only no makeup on my face, but I probably forgot to wash it this morning. Much like I certainly did not wash my hair, as evidenced by the scrubby pigtails I’ve dragged it into in a halfhearted attempt at camouflaging my complete and utter failure to get ready this particular morning. It was not my finest moment, y’all.  I describe in such painstaking detail my state of dishevelment so that you’ll understand my complete and utter confusion when the bus driver glances at me, and in total seriousness, engages me in the following conversation:

Him: Well hey! You got that look.

Me: Huh? (I’m thinking oh god, is it obvious that I was asleep 5 minutes ago? Do I really smell that awful that the bus driver feels the need to comment?)

Him: You know, that look. <pause> That Mercedes Benz, Jaguar look, like I just didn’t feel like taking my car to work today. <pause, while I stare at him, making no attempt to disguise the fact that my mouth is gaping open in confusion.> It’s ok, you can tell me, sweetheart. I’m a bus driver. You can tell a bus driver anything.

</end scene>

Needless to say, all I was particularly capable of doing at that point was laughing. Very, very hard. And then explaining that not only do I not have a Jaguar, I don’t have a car at all. And haven’t for years. I decided not to mention that when I do get car soon, it’s likely to be very ancient and very cheap. Best not to beat a dead horse, or whatever.

At the time, I found this entire exchange extremely hilarious and proceeded to tell everyone I’ve ever met that I look expensive. (Which, in retrospect, was maybe not the best thing to say. For so, so many reasons. But yet again, I digress.) But looking back, I’ve decided that maybe funny isn’t even the right category of adjective. There’s something inherently disturbing about the prospect that I look “expensive” or of higher social class solely because I am white and female. I wish I could attribute his assumption to anything else about me, but let’s be serious, I didn’t get a chance to say anything to him, so it can’t have been my manner of speaking; I have the worst posture known to man, especially early in the morning, so it wasn’t my manner of carrying myself; and as explained above, my clothing didn’t exactly scream able-to-pay-rent, let alone able-to-afford-a-Mercedes. I’d like to think I exude grace and charm and beauty under all conditions, but it seems far more likely I was exuding the scent of unwashed hair. (Please, if there’s something I’m missing here, tell me– I’ve allowed myself to mull over the situation for so long that it’s possible I’m missing something obvious. And no, he was not being sarcastic. I wasn’t that tired. He was totally serious. So it can’t be that.)

What does it mean for a city if a young white woman riding the bus must 1) be rich and 2) only riding the bus because there is either something wrong with her car or because she just doesn’t feel like driving? Is the sight of someone like me riding public transportation so rare that it necessitates that huge leap to be reasonably explained? That says all sorts of uncomfortable things about the demographics of individuals taking advantage of public transportation in a place. Maybe it’s just me, but that raises red flags across the board, from the environmental impact of an urban culture that puts such an emphasis on a car that taking public transportation is unthinkable to those who can afford a car to much larger problems of inequality along racial and socio-economic lines. If even moderately comfortable people refuse to take the bus, do they ever interact with the vast swathes of society that have no other option, besides in a service context? I mean, I’m not in the habit of chatting up strangers on the bus, but there’s something to be said for coexisting with people who lead different lives than you, if only for an hour (or 10 minutes) on the bus. I think it’s illuminating, and it concerns that a large part of the population in Los Angeles doesn’t do it (from what I can tell, but again, that involves a huge number of assumptions on my part, and I moved here less than a month ago, so what do I know?) It’s also a problem that many, many cities have, and I acknowledge that. But I’ve never seen it so starkly displayed as in this particular case.

I’ll also admit that I have absolutely no constructive recommendation to offer based on the 1600 (!) words above. I don’t think I’ve even been particularly critical, not least because I don’t have the appropriate vocabulary to have a productive conversation about these issues without inadvertently straying into ignorant or offensive territory. These issues make me uncomfortable; I have no good way of talking about or dealing with them. But I have the sense that for precisely that reason, I probably ought to try to work through them. Otherwise, I run the risk of jumping in my metaphorical car and zooming past all the metaphorical people waiting at the metaphorical bus, who are 1) more essential than we give them credit for and 2) certainly worthy of attention.

If you made it this far, congratulations! That was 1733 words. You’re impressive. I’m pretty sure even I’m not going to reread this monster. But I would really like your thoughts on any of the issues presented above, either constructive or suggestive or argumentative or whatever. I need your help to think through it, truly.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on January 3, 2011

Hi all!

It’s been a while. Since we last chatted, I moved to Chicago, started my new job, weaseled my way into a new community of writers, got published, picked up a few new hobbies, and learned to love the David Tennant version of Doctor Who almost as much as Matt Smith. Oh that, and I became a corporate blogger. Weird.*

We all know deep down that New Years is ultimately an arbitrary date, and that we should be able to make goals all year long, but resolutions are in the air this time of year, so if nothing else, it couldn’t hurt to join in the fun.

So: I’ve decided that (for me at least) 2011 is the year of experimentation. I spent all of 2010 reading and absorbing and deciding what I find interesting, and now it’s time to nudge those findings into practice. I’m still working out the details, of course, but I know I’ll be experimenting in these categories:

1.Personal development
2. Writing
3. A side project (vague, I know, but what’s significant here is that I’m going to pick just one. As a compulsive multitasker and project dilettante, for me, that’s a big deal.)

Oh, and now that I can write posts from my phone, I’ll be documenting the whole thing, as well as the articles and videos that inspire and challenge me along the way. Here’s one to start: the most lovely TED talk by Brene Brown on the importance of vulnerability and wholeheartedness.

Cheers! Here’s to a lovely New Year.

*Yes, I’m a blogger about sustainability in electronics for my current employer. All opinions expressed on THIS blog, however, are entirely my own and don’t reflect my company in any way, shape, or form.

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Loose thoughts on the “Contemporary Crisis in Publishing/Literacy”

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on October 5, 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the future of the book and literacy in the digital age, partially because I’m in a class called “Adventures in Literacy” which talks exclusively about issues in contemporary reading, and partially because it’s been all over the media recently.

Case in point: this Wednesday, I found myself at the Yale Entrepreneurial Society’s annual New York conference, which this year took the form of a panel on the Future of the Media. Unsurprisingly, YES pulled together an impressive panel, including the founding editor of Conde Nast Portfolio magazine, an investor in media and entertainment properties, the CEO of an online content company, and a director of digital strategy at a media consultancy (who only graduated from Yale in ’08!)

Less fortunately, they didn’t really have anything new to say– books will become valued for their materiality (aka, the book will return to being a luxury good, as it was for hundreds of years until the relatively recent advent of the cheap paperback…); newspapers are screwed and need to rethink their business models; no one knows how to get consumers to pay for content now that they’ve been getting it for free for so many years; there are cool flexible screens on the way and that’s how we’ll get our magazine/newspaper content; if you figure out how to monetize content you’ll be very rich; and so on.

[Note: I still think there should be more consideration of a crowd-sourced (in the literal sense of many people participating, not in the searching-for-one-genius-by-advertising-broadly sense) patron model (that is, you pay some small amount to support a writer’s future writing on the basis of the previous work they’ve created, or in other words, many people paying small amounts based on perceived relevance and quality encourage writers to write better and more relevant stuff), but I seem to be the only who thinks that, besides maybe Matt Mason of the Pirate’s Dilemma. Oh well.]

What are we to do with this issue? In many circumstances, the internet is simply a more efficient platform for content delivery, and if the materiality of the text is irrelevant for a particular work (say, a reference text) then there’s no point in wasting the paper or effort to print and use the book version. Then again, from what I’ve been told (and I should probably look this up, but I’ll trust the people on the YES panel for now), the kindle and other digital readers still don’t have hypertext or indexing enabled, which is needlessly frustrating and makes them frankly useless for what I’m talking about.  That’ll change soon, though, or the people behind digital reader products are idiots.

But what about novels and other long-form narratives? Is there something about the technology of the book that imparts a different experience of narrative than a Kindle or mobile device can provide? Which is more important- convenience or the tactile experience?  That seems to be the main question people are asking these days, but I’m not so sure it’s the right one- although convenience seems to be the driving force at first with any new technology, as it becomes “domesticated,” the technology often assumes a different role than it previously did—and often one that subverts the original function as a facilitator of convenience. Just look at how email has evolved: while it was originally viewed and used as a casual means of electronic communication, it has become increasingly formalized, finding widespread use in the business context.

So we’ll see. To those people who keep proclaiming the death of the book, I say this: perhaps we’re seeing the death of traditional publishing, but I don’t think the book itself is dead just yet. It may go the way of vinyl in the face of CDs and mp3s, but I’ve seen no compelling evidence so far to indicate that the technology itself has been completely outdone.

In case you were wondering…

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on September 30, 2009

HBS– Had my interview, realized mid-interview that I didn’t have a good answer for the question “Why Harvard” and was thus unsurprised when 1) my answer was terrible and unconvincing and 2) I didn’t get in. I wasn’t upset, though– and no, I’m not just saying that– frankly, I didn’t really want to go. Not yet, at least. And I know that program allows you to work for 2 years first, but I had begun to feel trapped by the prospect of cutting off whatever path I had chosen after only 2 years, and I wasn’t certain if Harvard would be the right fit (after all, I’ve turned it down for precisely that reason once before…) and so on, and so on.

 So: what I’ve gained from that whole debacle is a good GMAT score, a snazzy suit, practice interviewing, and personal proof that I should really figure out how I feel about opportunities before I’m in the middle of the interview. All solid gains. Sure, my pride was a little wounded, but that’s probably a good thing too.

 

In other news: a new post is coming soon. It will probably have to do with either the contemporary “crisis of literacy” (because I’m in a grad colloquium about it) or job hunting, because it’s one of the main ways I spend my time (between stage managing and costume designing and writing slam poetry for the new team and going to work and teaching the fabulous new taps of Magevet how to sing soprano and oh, that doing my homework thing.)

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Quick update

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on August 25, 2009

Just got back from “Julie and Julia” and was reminded that I hadn’t written in a while. In fact, I basically fell off the face of the earth– in the middle of a two part post. Oops. (In case you wondering, I went to both the international poetry festival and a huge theater shindig in the middle of Yerba Buena Gardens. It was pretty sweet, and I learned that I love the sound of Persian. The end.)

Here’s the 30 second update about the end of my summer: good times at work, a lot of soul searching stemming from a personal shitstorm combined with packing up the room I’ve considered my home for the last 12 years. And then my interview at HBS. Needless to say, it’s been a turbulent few weeks. I now find myself in Mamaroneck, New York, on my rush retreat, surrounded by people I love and trying really hard to just relax a little. It’s been that kind of summer. Also: I am not ready to be a senior. But I don’t have much choice, so I’m bracing myself. We’ll see how this little adventure goes.

In any case, I apologize for my silence– both now and in the future. I guess I don’t have a lot of coherent things to say.  It’ll be over soon. Can’t promise I’ll be writing much, but I’ll see you on the other side.

Here’s hoping this year is unexpected and marvelous.

Notes from the Weekend (a follow-up on Tall thoughts)

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on July 13, 2009

Not that I want this blog to only ruminate on the issue of my height, but I’ve got a little more to say:

Inspired by my musings on being a Tall Woman last friday, I did a little experiment this weekend, and I’m back to report on the super-unscientific-but-interesting results. Essentially, I got a haircut Saturday morning, and decided to try dressing up for once- just to see if there was any difference in the reaction I received from random strangers on the street.

Typically, regardless of what I look like, I attract some level of attention just by virtue of being 6’2 and female. At most, that usually means some stares (usually from toddlers) and the occasional inquiry about my athletic prowess (in case you were wondering, I’m the most uncoordinated human being of all time, so that ‘potential’ is entirely wasted on me. Sorry.)

Well, it would seem that my ideas about the importance of attractiveness/confidence and its effect on how a tall woman is perceived were not wholly unfounded: on two separate occasions, I was approached by complete strangers who said, respectively that I was “awesome” for my height, and that I “received compliments for my height” and “carried it well.” What’s funny is that the only thing that changed between that day of shopping and the last time I’d been out (during which I wasn’t approached at all!) was my haircut and the fit of my jeans- my heels were the same height, and my posture was identical (I was paying attention.) I find it interesting that an objective change in my hair led to comments on my height, which clearly hadn’t changed at all. To me, this implies that tall women who “carry it well” are rare enough that looking polished while tall is worthy of comment. That’s a sad conclusion, if you ask me. After all, would you walk up to someone who’s 5 feet tall and tell them they handled their height well? I should hope not. There are plenty of people of all heights who slouch and dress badly- do strangers comment when they don’t? (I’m under the impression that no, but I could be totally wrong.)

Look, I recognize that those comments were clearly intended to be complimentary, and I’m not going to pretend that being told I was awesome by a stranger wasn’t a great ego boost; it was. It’s just interesting that being tall as a female is automatically seen as something to be struggled with, or overcome. It’s relatively universally acknowledged that for a man, being tall is a good thing- an unfair advantage, even- but for a woman, it’s always about the difficulty of finding pants or a boyfriend or “owning” your height when everyone is against you. And I’m not a fan of the victim narrative pattern, personally, so it’s hard to take those kind words without a grain of salt. If I’m successful in business in the future, will my success be framed by the fact of my height and gender? I certainly hope not- I’d like my personal story to be about more than overcoming some physical fact of life, learning to “own” myself, or whether or not my height makes me more successful because it makes me more masculine.

In other news: This week I’m going on my very first business trip. I’m inordinately excited, although I’ve been told that they’re not nearly as exciting as I currently imagine them to be. That’s ok; free lunches still excite me, whether or not they’re in the Bay Area or LA.

RIP, Starman

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on June 25, 2009
All this death. Yesterday, I lost a friend. I say friend in the loosest sense, as he was little more than a fellow outcast who once told my mother I was rather plain from most angles. I think I resented him for it at the time. His life is proof that what might be called eccentricity can also be endearing; I think we all loved him, in our own way. He was a ubiquitous figure, a creature of habit, always walking the same path- except that he took different people with him in every iteration. The one time we really spoke, he told me I was green/yellow. He had some theory of personality and color and relationships, and all I really took from it was that I had the opposite colors of my mother, which explained all the fighting. I didn’t really get it. Now, I wish I had asked him as many questions as I could, understood his systems so  I might preserve them. It is the absence of things that gives them their fullness, I suppose, but I do not like this permanence. I do not like this loss.
Even though I’ve never believed in such things, I hope there is a Peet’s coffee and a studio wherever you’re going.
Rest in peace.

All this death. Yesterday, I lost a friend. I say friend in the loosest sense, as he was little more than a fellow outcast who once told my mother I was rather plain from most angles. I think I resented him for it at the time. His life is proof that what might be called eccentricity can also be endearing; I think we all loved him, in our own way. He was a ubiquitous figure, a creature of habit, always walking the same path- except that he took different people with him in every iteration. The one time we really spoke, he told me I was green/yellow. He had some theory of personality and color and relationships, and all I really took from it was that I had the opposite colors of my mother, which explained all the fighting. I didn’t really get it. Now, I wish I had asked him as many questions as I could, understood his systems so  I might preserve them. It is the absence of things that gives them their fullness, I suppose, but I do not like this permanence. I do not like this loss.

Even though I’ve never believed in such things, I hope for the sake of paint-soaked jeans and checking email in the library and giant modular portraits of Jesus and most of all for your relentless spirit that there is a Peet’s coffee and a studio wherever you’re going.

Rest in peace.

http://www.danvilleweekly.com/news/show_story.php?id=1698

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A Summer Ripe with Broke Studying…

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on June 14, 2009

So… applying to grad school is really expensive. The GMAT costs $250. The GRE costs $140. Each individual school has its own application fee. You’ve got to buy books to study for the tests. You probably should at least get coffee, if not lunch, with your recommenders. You can’t take on freelance work that would make you money because you’re too busy writing your own crappy essays. It’s very distressing.

In other words, pardon me if this blog gets boring: I’m burying myself into applications, and that means my adventures are being kept to a minimum.

BUT! I still have BART and study breaks in which to read great books and watch TERRIBLE movies. Thus, I present to you two recommended reads and one hilariously bad film:

The New York Trilogy- Paul Auster

This is a set of three novella-length works, all of which play with the genre of detective fiction. Along the way, however, they play with literary and philosophical conventions (while immersing you in a great story.) Great stuff.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name- Vendela Vida

An exotic (if cold) location, family intrigue, a hot reindeer herder, the northern lights- what more can you ask for? Even though this book is 226 pgs, it only took 2 hours to read. Not what I’d call light fare, but it’s quick and compact and lovely.

and finally…

Hitman

Timothy Olyphant, you’re beautiful. Somehow, you pull off being bald and having a bar code tattooed to the back of your head. Also, there’s always that deep pleasure I get from watching someone who is really good at what they do (even if that thing happens to be killing people creatively.) And your chemistry with Olga whatsherface from one of the Bond movies is definitely there, and the whole creepy backstory of being raised with a number instead of a name to be an international hitman? Lots of potential. Here’s the thing, though, Timmy ol’ pal- when you open your mouth to speak, I sort of can’t help laughing. And it’s not because this movie is a comedy. It’s more that I get the feeling you (or, to be fair, maybe your misguided vision of your character?) don’t really talk much. Like… probably never, considering how stilted both your dialogue and its delivery seem to be.

Look, this might all just be a function of the movie being based on a video game, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions here. Why don’t you just stick to silent killing, buddy, (or RomCom tv shows? Aren’t you on Samantha Who? Oh, no, Billy Zane replaced you…) and then we’ll talk.

A Few Brief Thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on June 9, 2009

First week of work was tiring and I don’t have much to say about it except politics are stupid, but it’s nice to be in an office again. I do fear that I’ll spend the whole summer staring at spreadsheets, but I suppose that comes with the territory, working in a data department. I also made the tough decision to forego a potential freelance writing gig- much as I really wanted/needed the money, I’m spending so much time working and preparing to apply to the HBS 2+2 program (deadline is July 1!!) that I have little time for anything else, let alone the reading list for my senior thesis (which I’m absolutely itching to start) or my own writing, which is pretty much all I want to do these days.

It’s funny- immediately following my observation of graduation this year, I convinced myself that I didn’t want to pursue creative writing as a career. I’m a pretty social person, and writing is a pretty solitary endeavor, and, to be frank, I don’t like things that aren’t easy for me. Offices and corporate culture are easy. They have easily defined rules, which I happen to follow pretty adeptly, and that makes the lucrative sort of office jobs that offer the security I want quite appealing. So– business school it was, and forget all this stupid writing nonsense.

Except as soon as I made that decision, I got the itch to write again- worse than ever before. I know it’s something I’ll never lose, but now that it’s not an obligation, it’s become the only thing I want to do. I find myself scribbling on the bart, during my lunch break, while I’m cooking dinner. Perhaps it’s a symptom of having few people my own age around, but seriously? This is getting a little ridiculous.

Regardless. This was intended to be brief, so I’ll wrap up with something more humorous and less obsessively dissecting my continuous quarter-life crisis.

Here’s what stood out (good and bad) from the 8-hour long new employee orientation I suffered through today. Please note that since I worked here last summer and am an intern, I am neither new, nor really an employee, and so 99% of the information I either already knew or couldn’t apply to my own situation (or both.) Oh well.

  • “History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes” — a loose paraphrase of a quotation paraphrased by the historian who came to speak to us. This strikes me as an interesting concept. I like it.
  • We should indulge in “healthy pleasures”– the first one listed was sensuality. Last year, Alison Janney flat out told us in a radio spot to make love often and well. This company is apparently very invested in my sex life. Interesting.
  • If you show up 4 hours late to a presentation you’re supposed to make, everyone will forgive you if you teach them how to salsa (and look damn good doing it…)
  • Aroma Cafe cookies make everything better. Even hours of monotony.

In other news, Trader Joe’s Nonfat Frozen Yogurt rocks. my. socks. Forget my diet- until this stupid application is in, it’s eating as much of that delicious actively-cultured heaven at night as I want. I promise I’ll try harder in July?

Commencement, Cookies, and California

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on May 22, 2009

Commencement

It’s that wonky time between the end of classes and senior graduation, and in true Yale fashion the theater community (ok, really the Dramat) puts up a musical in 10 days. And, in true -me- fashion, I’m acting as assistant props master while also working full-time at my term-time job. That means that I work from 9 to 5 and then come to the theatre and glue and tape and disaster manage until anywhere from 1-3 am. Except last night, when I stayed until 7 am. Not fun. It’s astonishing how protective one becomes of pairs of scissors when said scissors are the only thing allowing one to do one’s job. I legitimately found myself yelling “you mess with Matilda [the scissors] and you mess with me!!!” into an empty theater. Not pretty. The show this time is How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and it’s… interesting, if nothing else. It’s based on a real book of that title that really does purport to teach you how to climb the corporate ladder (fifties style, of course.) While there are some gems in the piece (ie the song “Coffee Break,” in which office rats essentially become deranged zombies upon discovering that there’s no coffee,) it’s definitely not my favorite musical. There’s a song called “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm.” Though to be fair that song eventually becomes more ironic and sad, it’s meant sincerely at first, and that’s… oy. Just oy.

Cookies

Yesterday was my last Hebrew lesson of the school year. Though I’m not religiously Jewish, I am technically speaking, and I’ve always wanted to learn the language (if only because I like languages and being in a Jewish a capella group [completely inexplicably] I got tired of having no clue what I was singing) Regardless, I found someone who eagerly -wanted- to sacrifice 1-1.5 hours a week to teach me the aleph bet– for free– and I’ve been going pretty regularly for a semester. I can read relatively fluidly at this point, though I still don’t know what anything means.

None of this is particularly interesting except in that my teacher’s going away present for the summer was a box of aleph bet cookies. Which was AWESOME. I don’t know if they taste any good yet, but I’ll report back as soon as I open them. Which will probably be tonight after the show, because personal considerations preclude me from having a good time at the cast party tonight, and more importantly, because I have no self control.

Speaking of, only in the last two weeks of being at Yale and living in a house with a friend rather than in a dorm have I discovered just how much I hate dorm living. Give me a kitchen or get me out, as it were. Oh well, only one more year…

California

I’m going back on Wednesday morning. I’ll be returning newly-single, frantic about my post-graduation career prospects (Yes, that is in a year, but I have to apply for things now. And take the required tests. Ew.) and hoping to do some real writing. We’ll see. I’m trying really hard not to place unrealistic expectations on myself this time– every summer I make a ridiculous list of things I want to accomplish, and they never ever ever happen, and for once I’d like to feel like I’ve done what I set out to do- which means making sure that I’m being realistic from the outset. So, in the interest of putting this out (semi) publicly so that I have some accountability besides the tadalist account I studiously ignore, here are my (super loose) goals for the summer:

1. Get started on my senior thesis reading. (This is totally reasonable because technically I already have started so hah. It’s also the greatest reading list EVER. Perhaps I will post it here later. SO. AWESOME. Experimental literature, I love you. You too, digital literature.)

2. Maintain my hebrew. (It’s not that many letters or words. I don’t know grammar. How hard could this possibly be?)

3. Finish some writing samples. (I just have to do this if I want to go to grad school. Which I guess I do?  And either way, I should be trying to publish, so there you go.)

4. Take the GRE. (Ew.) Maybe the GMAT (but EWWWWW)

5. Learn to cook. (THIS HAS TO HAPPEN. The end.)

We’ll see. Pretty reasonable. My less reasonable goals include swimming regularly (but that would require buying a new swimsuit, ew); remembering to put on sunscreen; being successful at a slam (but that would require me to write some new pieces and actually perform! Haha funny joke.) and trying to write a play. In collaboration. Oh, the funny funny jokes I make with myself.

Maybe I’ll even resurrect Post-it Poetry. I mean, what else am I going to do with myself at the office? My job? Psh.