Friday, July 18, 2008

Caffeinated Ruminations

"[O]ne of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before."

I was in a Starbucks not far from NYU this morning before work, which is what happens when you are so Type A that you have 15 minutes to kill before work, which is just the way you are if you are a copy editor.

After buying my latte (which I recently found out you can buy at Starbucks, but ask your local Orthodox rabbi) in my denim skirt and a matching shirt/flip-flop combo, I curled up in a chair to read.

My newspaper had an earlier accident with some coffee, so I was reading "Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers," essentially a book of essays about people my age trying to figure out who they are.

I thought I could be mistaken for an NYU student. And I sort of wanted to be. I still mostly identify myself as a student. A journalist, too. But then again, I was a journalist even when I was a student.

A full year out of school, I should perhaps not identify as a student, not refer to my college newspaper as "my" paper, not buy baby gifts in the Columbia bookstore (after all, a "Somebody at Columbia Loves You" T-shirt would be inaccurate as I am not at Columbia).

But there's a nostalgia for the student life. The life where you get up in order to go to Starbucks to read. Where the things you need to do are clearly defined by class syllabi. Where you produce a newspaper that you can call your own. Where so many of the people you care about live within a five- or ten-minute walk away.

For four years, these things defined me in some way, and I don't think they disappeared as soon as I was handed a fancy diploma in a language I do not understand (Latin).

And, yet, I think I'm getting there. After 15 minutes at Starbucks, I got up, put the book in my professional-looking bag, walked across the street to my office, to finish my coffee at my desk. Where I spilled the remnants of the latte on my keyboard.


At 7/19/08, 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that 20something book any good? Which essays did you like? My favorites were "Sex and the Sickbed," "Live Nude Girl," "You Shall Go Out with Joy and Be Led Forth with Peace," and "California" -- but I'm just a girl in the world . . .

At 7/20/08, 9:33 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

The Twentysomething book suffered from the problem most essay collections suffer from--some of the essays were fantastic and some were, well, not.

My favorite essay in the book was "The Waltz." I especially disliked "Goodbye to All That"--why ruin a great Joan Didion essay by rewriting it?

I thought the book was mostly worth the read, though.


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