Boring update first, pseudo-poetry later. So I’m currently in New York City, on the cusp of participating in something really exciting (we’ll talk about that tomorrow), and I realize haven’t written anything here for quite some time. You might appreciate the break, but I feel a little bad for the silence, so here’s my flimsy excuse: as you know, I’ve been writing various things for various other people. It turns out that when I have to write something, even if it’s about a subject I really love and am inspired by, my process gets kind of clunky and a little less fun. I’ve learned a few ways around that, but as it happens, when I have to write several big pieces in a short amount of time, I’m less attuned to the things that randomly inspire me to write. I love having editors and publication venues. It’s brilliant and soo growth-inducing, but I’m not going to lie, it’s kind of cool going back to writing just for myself. There’s freedom in that I’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
As for Let’s Talk About Education Tuesday, I was considering putting that on indefinite hiatus, but the Common App for 2013 just went up today, which means that you’ll get at least one more about higher education!
Aaaaaaand now for some good old-fashioned traveloguing.
It’s strange how similar big cities are to one another, even when they’re on opposite sides of the globe. The dense air, permeated by the smell of sweat and exhaust. The way everyone and everything is packed into tiny spaces so at any given moment you could reach out and touch a storefront, a cab, or a hand. Steps that lead down to subterranean doors, because you can only cram more things in on the vertical plane.
It’s muggy but overcast, and as it starts drizzling, men emerge from nowhere to hawk umbrellas to ill-prepared tourists. They’re everywhere, too, though the idea of personal space changes from country to country. The rain’s picking up now, and it feels like Rabat. It feels like Tokyo. It feels like Nairobi, like Amsterdam. If you’re lucky, the clean, earthy scent of the rain pokes its way through the smog to you, bringing with it hints of fresh strawberries, hot sidewalks, and cumin from the Halal street carts.
New York is still special, though. Where else could you find a century-old knish shop with pictures of Woody Allen and Charlie Chaplin taped to the door? Or walk past a psychic outside of Whole Foods? Those subterranean doors I mentioned earlier are usually otherwise unremarkable, but not so in New York: just a few hours ago I walked by a set of steps that ended next to a wooden bench, on which two old Chinese men sat talking. Here, parks pop up in surprising places, people rush past one another carrying bags in one hand, cell phones and cigarettes in the other (somehow managing not to set their hair alight). Random strangers play chess in the middle of the square across from several overlapping games of pick-up basketball. Stores that sell biker jackets and combat boots also offer ethereal diadems of ice-blue leather, crystalline beads dripping from each spire.
New York engenders spontaneity. The cliche problems–the crowdedness, the smell, the poverty, the noise–are all very much extant, but so are gems innumerable and unexpected. Bad and good coexisting so visibly not only helps you get your priorities back in order–everyone needs that sometimes–but reminds you that that’s what the world’s made of, and that if eight million people can handle this on a daily basis, so can you.