Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Future, My Bicycle

I am back in Essex armed with a plan: 1) Apply to Journalism MA program at University of Missouri 2) Work 3) Save money 4) Spend winter/spring 2011 in Buenos Aires with my sister.  So far, the plan is on track.  I have fussed of over my application essays, snagged four jobs and an internship, stopped traveling on weekends, and sent a letter of inquiry to over 20 English language institutes in Buenos Aires.  It is my hope that I will be able to support myself there by teaching ESL.  
It is my beautiful black bicycle, referred to by friends as my cadillac, that is making this all happen.  My future is quite literally riding on it.  Without my black beauty, I could never commute between all my jobs.  
Four of the jobs are sources of greatly appreciated income.  I take a ferry and then pedal my way to a little grocer/cafe in Vermont, pump up two steep hills to the preschool where I must build my own fire and set about sorting through hopelessly confused files, speed back down hill to paint trim in town, and then wearily wobble home to write some press releases for a freelance gig.  These efforts are for rent money, food, and the ticket to Buenos Aires.  For school, I ferry and bike three more times a week to Vermont and intern for a healthy food and living magazine.  Though they don’t know it yet, they will reimburse me with a fantastic letter of recommendation--hopefully raving about my smarts and sharp writing skills--for journalism school.    
Sunday is my day off.  The day that I have time to go rock climbing, cook a huge pot of quinoa for the week, do laundry, catch up on emails, and write this blog.  My bicycle stands still, safely perched on the back porch protected by the awning.  We are taking a deep inhale before turning into the wind and starting another week, another hill.   

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Brotherly Love

Making faces in the train station.
For two and a half weeks now I have been with my brother Anthony, who lives in Philadelphia.  He has been the most gracious host and has allowed me to live out some of the college life that I never experienced.  
I sped through college--in and out in three years while holding down a part-time job.  It was high school that Anthony skipped.  When he was 16, instead of starting his junior year, he jumped into an early start college on the East Coast.  At the time, I was his only immediate family within reach by bus or train.  He spent many of his vacations with me in Manhattan.  
Anthony in turn was the one who knew my world there most intimately.  He came to class with me and played Simon and Garfunkel for my students.  When visiting, he joined me for my nightly walks to Washington Square Park and sat with me at my favorite coffee shop in the East Village.  He was my sidekick.
Now it’s my turn to visit him.  Without work, I am the one with the time to visit for a few weeks.  He comes home from work to find me hanging out in his apartment.  He treats me to coffee.  
At 20, he is somewhere between his friends at college that he still visits on weekends and his coworkers at the laboratory.  He stays up late and stumbles out of bed moments before pulling on pants and running out the door to work.  On the weekends, he slips into what I call coma sleep and cannot be awoken before noon.  He cleans up the apartment more to appease me than out of preference.  
Living with him, I am allowed to unleash my own 20 year old or as much of her as I can let out.  I have learned to just shut the door and go out and have fun even if the apartment looks like a tornado just blew through.  I am getting better and better at this, although I still worry that the stacks of dirty dishes will attract house pests.  When it comes to sleep, my internal alarm clock has rolled back and I wake up around 8 instead of 6:30.  
Best of all, I had my very first ever crash on some random person’s couch.  Actually the couch wasn’t exactly random and it wasn’t exactly by choice, but I did sleep on a properly beer stained college futon in the living room of his friend’s house.  We meant to go home on the train as it was my one request to sleep in my own bed.
I should have known this request might be too much to ask since Anthony is notorious for confusing schedules and missing busses, trains, and flights.  That’s what happened and all we could do is go back to the apartment from which we had just said our goodbyes.  They were gracious hosts and welcomed us back to their living room furnished with a hodge podge of fold out chairs and a large table with a sticky top that was covered with bottles of alcohol, plastic coffee cups, and an unclaimed jug of Clamato juice.  
As I said, the hosts were gracious and when I said that I couldn’t possibly keep my eyes open a minute longer, they separated my futon from the other half of the room by pulling across a make-shift rod and offering a blanket.  I gratefully accepted and was asleep before they got back to their drinks and games.  
The part that really made me proud was only relayed to me the next morning.  A roommate who I had not met arrived home late and needed to walk past me to get to the party.  I was told that he flung back the curtain and asked, “Who the hell is this girl on the couch?”  I have never been that girl on the couch and for that I can thank Anthony.  
I woke Anthony up early the next morning and we took a train back into Philadelphia.  To my surprise, I didn’t feel half bad being in public with yesterday’s underwear and morning breath.  A small inconvenience in comparison to spending time with a brother I love dearly.