As you may or may not be aware, a new decade will begin on Friday. Since lists are what people do at the end of things because paragraphs with common threads are just entirely too difficult to cobble together, I’ve followed suit with a random hodge-podge of observations, thoughts and things learned over the course of ten years.
2000: We were league champions after going on an improbably post-season run. Knocked off Wheeler, 53-51. In my career, we only beat Wheeler once. Lesson: Only one game counts.
2001: 9/11. Vagina. Lesson: You can learn all things from war and genitals.
2002: High school graduation.Robert Horry hit that shot against the Kings. on my graduation day. Lesson: Robert Horry is the Butterfly Effect.
2003: Yale. The Michelle. Being an idiot regarding several things, mostly The Michelle-related. Lesson: Flattery is the key to infidelity.
2004: The College Dropout (album and real life). Lesson: Being a nightclub bouncer is infinitely more interesting than folding pants at the Gap.
2005: Yale, again. The Justice League. Argentina with The Intercontinental Champ. Lesson: You can always go home again, but it might not be how you left it.
2006: The best and worst day of college happened on the same day. Iberia. Lesson: Sometimes, you have to make trades, especially when you don’t have a choice. Also, sometimes friendship is no friend at all.
2007: Yale graduation. Lesson: Getting in is easier than finishing.
2008: The Spirit Warrior’s Dream. The Feath. The Election. Lesson: It’s usually the one you never saw coming.
2009: Freezing at the Inauguration. Brougham gets married. The Feath begins work on The Franchise. Lesson: It’s about grown man time…
Another installment of the Get-Right Gang.
This week’s gang goonie: MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL
I had the pleasure to meet this Princeton professor, commentator and all-around G via twitter (@harrislacewell). She’s quite, quite official. Below is an article she wrote yesterday regarding Skip Gates for THE NATION.
Skip Gate and the Post-Racial Project
Over the past several days a strange characterization of Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has emerged. Many are portraying him as a radical who easily and inappropriately appeals to race as an excuse and explanation. This image of Gates is inaccurate. In fact, more than any other black intellectual in the country Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was an apolitical figure. This is neither a criticism nor an accolade, simply an observation.
Gates is the director of the nation’s preeminent institute for African American studies, but he is no race warrior seeking to right the racial injustices of the world. He is more a collector of black talent, intellect, art, and achievement. In this sense Gates embodies a kind of post-racialism: he celebrates and studies blackness, but does not attach a specific political agenda to race. For those who yearn for a post-racial America where all groups are equal recognized for their achievements, but where all people are free to be distinct individuals, there are few better models than Professor Gates.
Gates is largely responsible for the institutional investment in African American studies made by premier universities over the past two decades. Student activists and faculty advocates led the massive black studies movement of the 1960s; a movement that created substantial changes in course offerings, faculty recruitment, administrative structures, and student retention at many state universities. But the country’s most privileged institutions remained largely untouched by this populist era of race and ethnic studies.
Rather than relying on techniques that mimicked the Civil Rights Movement, Gates helped innovate and perfected a market strategy for African American studies.
Gates used the inherent competitiveness of Ivy League institutions to create a hyper-elite niche for the very best black academics. His strategy improved the market value of black intellectuals throughout the academy and the public sphere. At one point Gates assembled a “dream team” at Harvard that included professors Cornel West, K. Anthony Appiah, Michael Dawson, Lawrence Bobo, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Lani Guinier and William Julius Wilson.
For a fleeting moment Gates was the curator of the world’s best living museum of black intellectual life. His Harvard cohort sent other prestigious schools into a competitive scramble to assemble their own collection, initiating a gilded age of black academia.
Some individuals would have approached this task as a racial mission; a chance to influence public policy and discourse toward progressive racial ends. This was not how Gates approached it. His style is more deliberate and more detached. By my reading, Gates is tremendously proud of his racial identity, history, and legacy, but he has no particular political agenda beyond the collection and display of black greatness, regardless of its political valence. For example, although their ideologies are profoundly oppositional, Gates finds both Colin Powell and Louis Farrakhan emblematic of black manhood and greatness.
Gates frequently compares himself to W.E.B. Du Bois for whom his institute is named. Aspects of the comparison are apt, but Du Bois, unlike Gates, was first and foremost, a race man with a political agenda. In the course of his long, prolific, academic and activist life Du Bois pursued every imaginable strategy to address America’s racial inequality. He advocated education, research, patriotic military service, interracial coalitions, direct advocacy, legal strategies and journalism. He was first a staunch integrationist and later a socialist. His self-exile to Ghana was a final expression of his disillusionment with the American project.
Professor Gates is not disillusioned with the American project. He is enamored of it. His home casually mixes classic Americana with protest art of the black Diaspora. His dinner table is rarely segregated and his Rolodex certainly isn’t. Even his more recent commitment to genealogy and fascination with the human genome project is prompted by his delight in uncovering the messy, unexpected, deeply American stories embedded in black life.
Du Bois was a product of the American racial nadir. He lived at the hardest moment in our history for black citizens. He was deeply suspicious of white America and constantly vigilant in his interactions with white Americans. Gates is possible only in our present moment.
Du Bois deplored the double consciousness the ripped at the black soul. Gates is remarkable, in part, because he doesn’t wear a mask during interracial interactions. Gates is precisely the same man with an all-black crowd as with a predominately white one. Though he certainly perceives color he does not make the subtle rhetorical, political, or self-presentation adjustments that most African Americans consider both necessary and ordinary.
Gates is invested in black life, black history, black art, and black literature, but he has managed to achieve a largely post-political and even substantially post-racial existence.
Then he was arrested in his own home.
The Cambridge police and Professor Gates tell somewhat different versions of the story. But both sides agree that Gates came home to find his front door jammed. He used his key to enter by the back door. He and his driver then pushed at the front door until it opened. Witnessing this, someone called the police and indicated there may be a breaking-and-entering in progress. While Gates was on the phone with a property management company a police officer arrived. The officer requested identification. Gates produced it. Even after ascertaining that Gates had not illegally entered the property, the officer arrested him for disorderly conduct. The police report asserts Gates yelled and behaved aggressively. Gates denies this. The charges have been dropped. In short, Gates was arrested even though the police officer was fully aware that Gates lived in the home.
In a moment of overzealous policing a young officer in Cambridge managed to handcuff and detain the living embodiment of post-racial possibility.
And although Gates maintains “I thought the whole idea that America was post-racial and post-black was laughable from the beginning,” as if in a testament to his apolitical sensibilities Gates said in an interview to TheRoot.com “I would sooner have believed the sky was going to fall from the heavens than I would have believed this could happen to me.”
It is hard to imagine many other African American men who would indicate such surprise. Even President Obama has spoken of the difficulty in hailing a cab and First Lady Michelle Obama has expressed her understanding of black men’s vulnerability to random violence. But Gates seems genuinely surprised and deeply hurt. His sense of violation and humiliation evokes great empathy, but also some incredulity about his astonishment with racial bias in the criminal justice system.
I like and respect Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Although we have had intellectual and political disagreements he has always welcomed dissent and encouraged individuality. Our personal connection is not why I was so devastated to see his mug shot or images of him handcuffed on his front porch. I was not even distressed because of class implications that reasoned, “If this can happen to a Harvard professor then no one is safe.”
My distress is squarely rooted in feeling that I watched the police handcuff American possibility.
The Get-Right Gang consists of the people and work that helps me get right. Very often, I am acquainted with the people in question, but there are definitely instances in which I’m merely recognizing game.
First on the Get Right Gang hit parade is NIKITA GALE. One of the homies from Yale, she’s a budding photographer in ATL and the person from whom I got my site banner. Peep her game below.
Me and Bacchus would have been homeboys.
Though I’m not one to indulge too often in the earthly libation known to our Native American friends as fire water–and have exactly one minus one times in man sex–I thoroughly appreciates those evening in which I pour a few glasses ( or tie one on as my old white duns call it). While drinking like a freshman that gets found passed out in their entryway is less than agreeable, a few drink over a fish dinner in which you discuss: how much you want to hit Sarah Palin with a hammer, being a a Yale graduate, car insurance, and how much you want you want to hit Sarah Palin with a hammer–probably in the knee but maybe the mouth depending on the situation–certainly qualify with “gangbusters” status in my book.
As most of you probably aren’t aware, my girl The Michelle is heading to the Nati that she might be able to one day take over the good people who make both Crest and Magic Erasers. For me, there is a good deal of emotion involved, namely because it was around six years ago this week that a young freshman scrap in maroon wifebeater attempted to woo her outside her apartment after having grossly miscalculated the distance from Zeta Psi to her residence. There is also a bit of emotion attached to the fact that she has been there through think and thin; through chocolate and vanilla and everything in between. In some less-than-sober way, hers is the only opinion I care for when it comes to my maturation from young scrap to older scrap because, in the best and worst ways, she has seen the arc in its entirety.
I won’t lie: This back-to-school time makes me feel somewhat nostalgic. Unlike your first fall out of school when you’re still trying to figure out why real life doesn’t involve a meal plan and no work on Friday–which I’ve still managed to finagle because I’m ill like that–your second fall is one in which you’re a bit more familiar with how this new phase of life is supposed to work. In this sophomore season, you have more of an opportunity to not only look wistfully upon those who still have the opportunity to live in an alternate reality, but also fondly ponder those times in which your “work” began at the crack of 11.
Over dinner, I found myself doing that. Whereas your last year of college is memorable, wistful reflection has more to do with missing circumstances that are far removed from the present. When your trip down memory lane goes longer, when you think about the early days of black roommates paired together, of five dollar couches and breaking the belt loop on that junior’s pants at your first college party EVER, you start to clear your throat and pour a glass of prune juice. Unlike the little effort it takes to remember when you were a sophisticated senior who had mastered the art of holding the inhalation of a marijuana cigarette while downing a shot of whiskey, navigating the waters of being a “not lame but rather a semi-cool version of lame because you didn’t have quite the right seasoning to keep you from being anything other than not lame but rather a semi-cool version of lame” seventeen year old is both rough and enticing.
As I recounted the story of meeting The Michelle to my parents, I couldn’t help but be struck by how vivid the memory seemed. I’ve forgotten many frames of the movie of my life, but this one–and many from that era–are my Zapruder. In some I’m waving at the crowd; in others, Jackie’s crawling on the back of the limo to grab my skull cap. For some odd reason all these frames appear to be sunny. These images capture a sunshine I secretly miss, even when Jackie’s going to the back of the limo. It’s funny; despite the fact that I know some of these days were a bright, shining lie, I remain dazzled and want one more chance to wave from that motorcade.
Sometimes I want just one more glass of water after a night at Zeta Psi. Peace to The Michelle.
Penultimate Thought: If “liberal elite” means I don’t like the dumb, so be it.
Final Thought: Michigan with an Adidas contract is crime against the universe.
Yesterday, I woke up around 8am, put on my black and yellow sneakers, black shorts, two black long-sleeved shirts and Yale track and field Boathouse and went to the bus stop to wait for the 8:50 bus–number 79–to take me to Bally Total Fitness, arriving approximately at 9:01. Glad to be out of the rain and having deposited my change upon boarding, I sat down in one of the first four rows of seats, feeling oddly out of place among the morning shifters and bummish derelicts that tend to frequent the number 79 at that time of morning. Being dressed for the gym and then getting on a bus not driven by Skip and not headed to or from Payne Whitney has a tendency to make me feel oddish. Perhaps I merely yearned for the halcyon days of yore, but it’s more likely that getting eyeballed by bummish derelicts had an adverse effect on me. I’d probably have felt entirely out of place had I not been a morning shifter in disguise.
The bus having made its stop for a lady who works at Papa Gino’s, it was my turn to disembark. Having made sure I didn’t leave anything behind on the seat, I thanked the bus driver and stepped off the bus. Though it was on its way to being a warm day, I knew the two black long-sleeved shirts would come in handy as I made my way through the double doors of Bally’s. Melody, the good-natured blonde who does works there on the side while pursuing her music career–a Berklee grad no less–smiles and waves as I make it through the inner door. I do the same. Passing a few elliptical machines, a take a left into the office I share with two other co-workers. It being 9am, I’m the first one in, so I put my bag down and head down to the personal trainer’s office where I collect four jump ropes of various weights. Having begun to work out seriously in the last two months, jumping rope has not only become an exercise I enjoy mastering, but also a good way to do cardio when I don’t ahve an iPod, which is always.
Having collected the ropes, I go into the PT section, where Colin, a Nigerian and Caucus mash-up, a trainer and collegiate high hurdler, begins the morning with the standard heckle for using the black speed rope which, of the ropes, is by far the lightest. Kerry, the fitness director–a jolly Black giant of sorts–joins in while he stretches out a client. I reply that the other ropes burn my forearms something terrible and they reply with something in the neighborhood of “get the sand out of your vag.” Sufficiently heckled, I begin my rope workout. Two feet, one foot, switching feet, double jump. I don’t break an honest sweat for ten minutes, but after that point I’ve got a decent lather going. At the thirty minute mark, I put the ropes away and finish my workout, which is a full body circuit. Having stressed out my body, I hit the showers and unsuccessfully try to ignore the ball smell, old man ball sightings and the old man conversation–often had while their balls are out.
Finally dressed in my red t-shirt, too-short black Champion swishies and the same black and yellow sneakers I sat at the bus stop in, I exit the locker room and punch in at the front desk. By this time, Justine, an affable Puerto Rican lass of 23, is at the desk and we shoot the breeze a bit. Breeze satisfactorially shot, I head to my office and open my file cabinet drawer–third from the top–and take out my nametag. Clipping it on the upper left part of my red t-shirt, I remove a file from the cabinet and sit down and checked my appointments for the day. Having none till the afternoon, I go to our phone list and began making calls, urging people to come in and check the gym out. I also manage to call Kim and see how her red shirtedness goes across town. That being done, I sit and work out prices and different pricing scenarios until I’m called to the front desk by my manager Darren, an energetic jock-like white boy, not unlike many of my former Eli goonies. At the desk I got some tip or other about membership sales and then, for clarification, I asked some questions back.
The story really gets started in the afternoon. I spent some time at the front desk, where I answer phones and swipe cards. Once Teresa, my sassy assistant manager, comes to relieve me from this, I get the black heckle rope and do some jumping. Though I jump during the dead part of the afternoon, I returned to the front desk area to find people waiting to be toured around the club. Quickly changing back into my red t-shirt, I go into my office with various characters and ask them some preliminary question concerning their lives and fitness goals. After that, I toured them around the club–spin bikes, free weights, pool–and get to know a little about them. Arriving back in my office, I threw out a few numbers to see what would stick. Three of the people didn’t have the money but would “be back”; the other group knew exactly what they wanted because they had talked to someone else before meeting with me. Now here’s where it gets interesting.
Contract printed out, gone over and signed, I made this couples’ ID cards and got them set up for their first workout with Dana, one of our hulking and good-natured PTs. Shift over, I head to my office to collect my things and get called into my manager’s office. We sit down and discuss not letting people walk out without memberships no matter what. I explained that I did my best. Now here’s the kicker: He says OK, just work on refining your technique.
That being over with, I collected my things, punched out and sat and waited for Kim to come pick me up, feeling out of place in my Yale track and field Boathouse as I watched varying degrees humanity stream out of the club and towards their cars. Upon Kim’s arrival, we went to my house and sat in my parents’ living room until she had to leave at 1am (house rules).
Multiply by five, accounting for changes in weather patterns, and that is my life, ending one day at a time. Peace to Second.
Penultimate Thought: If you’re a member at a gym and remain fat, you should probably ask for fitness advice.
Final Thought: Or stop wasting money on the gym altogether.
Since I now spend most of my waking hours doing work that only seems to serve the purpose of keeping me from doing that which I enjoy–and yes; I do wear a name tag while doing it–this is my first opportunity to wax eloquent about two-week old backlogged material. Fear not; the information has been kept from spoiling and is indeed ready to be loosed onto the world.
So, two weeks ago, I found myself in the Lenexa Triangle, a region of the middle western United States in which life as we know it is relegated to second chair in the symphony of the bizarre. One must fight to keep the mind’s autonomy for only then can they truly appreciate the strangeness of this business. Did my two buddies really just get married? This indeed was so. Can I now say I have stood in an orchard in Missouri to witness the nuptials of people I know? Yup. Did someone really show up falling down drunk to the wedding? If I said no, you sir must hold me in contempt of this court, for I have perjured myself. Had I seen Amelia Earhart or Jimmy Hoffa in the buffet line of this buddy nuptial in an apple orchard in Missouri, I’d have thought little of it, other than to calculate how much free booze their stomachs would be denying mine.
For cert, there is more to know about this -than-abominable-but-still-rather-bizarre Triangle, but I must forge on to inform thee farther of the most treacherous demonstration of its temporal stranglehold: The airport.
While over the course of two and a half days I’d grown accustomed to the delicate temperance of the Triangle–Yes; I guess you can have a Pflumm Road and expect people to be able to pronounce it–it was from the airport that this deadly shrew displayed her most unmitigable rage. Only a Triangle such as this would allow an airport to be run by the criminally insane and the old timers that couldn’t get that Wal-Mart greeters job. Only a wench nonpareil would replace my one-stop flight with a non-stop flight…on an airline with run decidedly less precision than the evacuation from Saigon. Oh, I got my direct flight. Thirteen hours later.
Finally on a coast that makes sense and having been thoroughly flagellated by this Triangle, this demidevil, I found myself on the train home drafting some notes on how best to save my time and wallet from the clutches of the world’s other Triangles, known and unknown, that sit with maws wide open, waiting to strike.
Thusly, friends, I give you the Quahog Corollary, a formula and set of guidelines to help determine the worth of a leisure adventure involving the support of a friend or family members happening or event. Obviously, the final arbiter in the situation is the individual applying the Corollary, so the outcomes in every different circumstance are different. Even more obviously, this Corollary is based upon those of us with tight financial circumstances and/or time.
To help you better understand it, I will apply it to my own life and circumstances.
Translation: The Degree of Difficulty must be directly proportional to the Import of Relationship.
Note: It’s simple: The harder the execution of the adventure, the more I need to care about you personally. In these days post-Triangle, if the event is not Rhode Island-centric or in a nearby metropolis which can be reached fairly easily, said event will be placed under intense scrutiny before a judgment is rendered.
Below are some guidelines to better help you render a verdict. Again, these are not deal breakers, but rather, things to consider. In the below instances, “Situations” refers to the events one is considering undertaking.
- If you cannot afford it/ It consumes a significant amount of your monthly income
- If it necessitates checking a bag
- If it is a locale not worth being stuck in should an emergency arise
- Inconvenient hotel to airport distance
- If arriving at said destination requires use of another airport (because the airport closest to you does not fly to that locale), thus adding transportation hassle on the front and back end of said trip*
- If you are not in a position to figure in hotel/car rental as a pre-trip cost
- If an in-trip adjustment (flight delays/cancellation) would cause a serious disruption in your professional life**
- Time of Return: If you are not able to set foot into your home and have a reasonable amount of time to prepare for the next day***
* Not applicable to those in the New York/ New Jersey metro area.
** Not applicable to weather/ natural disasters/ airline debacles that make network and cable news
*** Not as applicable if you don’t have work the next day
- Affording: Easiest to review because it’s the situation to which the Formula can most easily be applied
- I really hate checking bags, so that hatred can truly factor in.
- Being stuck in the middle of nowhere = Not tight.
- Too much distance from the hotel to the airport makes me nervous and said distance should be reckoned with.
- If I can’t fly out of T.F. Green Airport in RI, I’m probably just not going to go. Getting to Logan Airport is, very likely, not worth the transportational orchestration.
- Falls under the heading of being able to afford it, specifically with regard to when you can figure out your financial situation for a trip and how much that will affect your monthly income. If you can’t plan/ afford the cost of said trip and have enough time to make some of that money back….pobreci.
- If your planning has you cutting it close enough that you might lose the job that allowed you to take the trip in the first place, scrutinize further.
- Time of Return is a biggie. Assuming that I have work the next day, I like to get in and be at least nominally ready for the next day. Since I’m not much of an unpacker, my rule of thumb generally evolves around feeling, on the energetic level, that I have ended my trip and am back in step with my real life.
No Excuses Clause: Reserved for those few individuals and events that transcend the Formula and situational guidelines. If you have to take three bicycles, a seaplane, and rotted out canoe, you do it and feel somewhat more gangster for having done so.
Spontaneity Clause: Sometimes in life, a buddy from Boston will call you in Rhode Island at 3:30pm and see if you want to go a Mets game at Shea stadium that starts at 7:15. Don’t be so lame as to apply the Formula here.
There you have I friends, and from the mire of the Triangle’s filthy wretchedness, a lotus has thus blossomed and spread a new gospel onto the world. Amen. Peace to Sycorax.
Penultimate Thought: If you have stretch marks about the tum tum, feel free to never wear midriff-bearing tops.
Final Thought: Though I prefer curly or wavy hair, I’m still a sucker for the slick back.
Seeing as I’m trying to write a bit before I’m inevitably compelled not to, I went ticking through possible topics and came back to the only thing worth talking about–because it encompasses most things worthy of discussion–sex. And just so you don’t think I didn’t really give it an effort, here’s a bit of how my process went:
- Family? Generally fine, and anything worth talking about is none of your business.
- Politics? The Black guy won. Some of the female folk are salty, saying it’s an example of how sexism supersedes race, but never neglect to mention that a Black guy won. Yes, they even let a nigga try to be president before a white lady. Considering who benefited most from Affirmative Action over the last forty years, I’m willing to make that trade. And frankly, Hillaryites, he won because he didn’t seem like “business as usual.” Your girl did. If it makes you feel better, I think Michelle Obama could’ve given you a run for your money.(See that was only about a paragraph).
- Gas prices? They’re high and I ride the bus.
- Economy? We’re not at the point of using the dollar as wallpaper. Yet.
- The environment? We are fucking up. And going green costs green.
-Religion? They’re might be a God. Or they’re might not.
-R. Kelly? WOW.
See? I’m forced to go with what I know. Now the question is, what am I going to say? After wrestling between two topics–I’m gonna keep the truly juicy one in the hopper for now–I decided to let a summer Saturday morning guide me. At this time of day, I feel relaxed and reflective. And it is with this mood that I type. This is something of an open letter to the women who have made my life interesting.
To Whom It Does Concern:
As I stroll down memory lane, there isn’t a question in my mind that I have some degree of G. Though I am human and am unfortunately subject to bouts of wackness, I tend to think that I am worth a young woman’s time and energy. I blame my dad. Loyal to my mother, a devoted husband and father, never mistake for a second his swag. The guy’s a Scorpio. I blame my mother, a woman of grace and passion who set the bar for thoroughness so high that I could always proceed into situations with the notion, “Girl, you ain’t badder than my mama.”
Shit, I even blame my brother, who stayed leanin’ with that nice guy swag. What can I say? It’s a family affair.
Still, despite my genetic dispositions, I must take the time to say thank you. Without you, Id be just another clown spouting off with sad hypotheticals and far-fetched innuendo. Because of you I never have to lie. Now I could easily spend the time worrying about the pathos and effects of such a life–and I have. But those are night time thoughts. Right now, the sun is out and I can spend a lot of time smirking at the follies of my youth. Did we really try to do it one hundred times in a month?
Let’s set possible beef aside for a second. On days like these, I cackle with delight at the thought of too-small sweatpants, senior film projects, broken futons, extra-long twins, sultan beds, no bed, trundle beds, guest beds–with your cousin in the next room. We even got it done before the cops could catch us.
Some people might think it’s crass that I would spend time to say, “Hey, I appreciate that we did the do,” but when I think about, I think most show a lack of respect because they don’t. The do ain’t no right. And while I appreciate a a go at the rodeo as much as the next man, I’d be lying if I said that any vagina would do. Whether you knew it or not, no matter the level of our seriousness, you very likely had sex with my frontal lobe before you did with my lower one. As Aristotle noted, “A man should steer clear of chickenheads.”
I appreciate that you allowed to learn and improve. If wish I could say you always got more than you expected. But we know that’s not true. Sometimes I wasn’t “ready”–things could happen so fast that my manly parts were on tape-delay–; sometimes I feel asleep and sometimes the fight was over before it started. And while I’m sure you might have cackled with a homegirl or two, you generally kept my name out the streets, as I attempted to keep yours. At times, I wonder why you didn’t let me get chewed up. I’ve come to the conclusion that it came down to respect, and that humbles me still.
Thanks for being there when I got it right.
But mostly I want to say thanks for letting me lay in your hair. Curly, wavy, straight, weaved, relaxed, braided, brushed, teased, tossed and occasionally sweated out. If you do the math, I’d say a staggering majority of our time spent in bed wasn’t spent tussling. It was spent talking, laughing, debating; wasting whole days naked for the sake of the skin. And you would bring me safety as I slept. Warm milk has nothing on you.
It’s always good to see you on the lane. Take care of yourself.
Not everyone went to Yale. I say that as neither insult nor compliment; I merely say that to open this up with a fact that all of us know. Indeed, to further illustrate the obvious, I’m going to say that not everyone went to whatever school we went went to nor is from whatever place we are from. This is something I’ve only recently begun to wrap my head around–due partly to the fact that I have a big head. I believe this information, obvious as it may be, gets lost in what my boy classifies as the Post-Graduation Psychosis, that condition which affects all those who get degrees only to realize no one gives a shit.
PGP is an affliction that essentially takes what you have known for the last four (or five!) years–and really, you’re whole life–and flings it into the halcyon days of yesteryear. The most basic things, things you were doing before you got that scarlet degree, suddenly make absolutely no sense. You say, “I got gas before I had a degree. Paid for it with my own money. Why does it suddenly hurt to do this? (if you’re a subwayite, feel free to replace ‘gas’ with ‘MetroCard’). All aspects of life have something of a morning-after stubble to them. The seas boil; the sky turns green; a black guy wins the Iowa primary and you realize everything costs money. Luckily, you quickly realize you don’t suffer from the PGP alone; all your friends suffer from it and when you guys converse or get together it’s exceedingly obvious people enjoy getting together more than they used to because life sucks more than it used to. Such is the transition from charmed to real life; such is life with the Psychosis. To varying degrees, it is, for a time, what must be.
But there’s another side to this well-worn coin, a side that brings me back to the beginning: not everyone from where you once were is where you are now. Often times, lost in the fog of the Psychosis is our opportunity for renaissance. While I was staunchly opposed to actively stimulating this change in the transition from high school to college–and still am frankly; on that level, I think that is a more reinvention, a change which begets, among other things, the classic “smart person who acts likes a wild and crazy guy just to prove he is a wild and crazy guy” and the much more personal and insidious ‘blacker than thou’ disciples–I feel differently about it these days.
PGP provides the opportunity for a fairly fresh start as a fairly fresh person in the eyes of those that behold you. Of course, there are obstacles to this. I’m not blind to certain realities of industry and spheres of influence; some schools and some businesses monopolize and create small circles which act merely as different interpolations of life when keg stands were still socially acceptable. And yes, a lot of those new people beholding you are idiots not really worth dealing with, but, in separating the wheat from the chaff, some good bread can emerge (Sidebar 1: For real though, the Idiots are another PGP whammy. They’re a reality that can escape you when you’ve spent nearly half a decade at an institution of higher learning: Out in the world, lots of people are dumb. And I don’t think people are dumb because they did or didn’t go to college; I think a lot of people are dumb because they’re idiots. Those who have suffered from PGP have, on more than one occasion, furrowed their brow in disbelief and said of another, “Are you serious right now?” Is that to say there are not knuckleheads in college? Obviously not, but it is to say the spike in idiocy can be almost disconcerting).
Yet, there is still a silver lining. In the non-continuation world, the world where we ignore idiots as they should be ignored, you can be born full grown (or at least a good approximation of young and fully grown), informed by the past but not dictated by it. This is vastly different from college where staying the same is staying the same and changing and finding one’s self becomes so routine that it becomes staying the same. It’s a velvet strait jacket. To those new people we meet in the world, college is a footnote, an interesting backstory which needs only inform the present as much as you want it to. This is neither deception nor denial; it is merely the recognition that you have the power to make those things matter as little or as much as you wish.
In my own life, I can say I look back on college with a guarded fondness. Distance and difference have already begun to soften the more prickly edges of the past and make me cherish the good times perhaps a bit more than I should. Certain water has long flowed under the bridge and I can look out onto it appreciating it for everything it was and everything it was not. Now I find myself in the exciting and troubling space of being in a world where the people I interact with know nothing of Eli breakfast sandwiches and don’t spend any time at all attempting to rectify this. More importantly, that I do know of them makes little difference. Life is created with each new interaction and those interactions are essentially informed by our last interaction. As my friend once said, we’re every age we’ve ever been at the same time, so I’m not claiming amnesiac status here, but I am saying The old way of doing business is nearly as applicable as it once was. In this next phase of life, the question is not, “who am I?”; rather, it is, “who am I now?”
Now, anyone that knows me knows how much the past and history and memory are central to my being, so it’s without understatement that I say I find this question and this element of the Psychosis fascinating. I don’t have to be someone else, someone I am not, but I also don’t have to be someone I once was. That is both freeing and terrifying. And at this juncture, I will use my license as a writer to bring up old shit to prove a point:
As some of you know, my family’s business is theatre and, in keeping with tradition, I’m directing a musical (that’s gonna be tight by the by). Anyway, I was shooting the breeze after rehearsal one day, as we are wont to do after rehearsal, and I was talking about this peculiar stage of life–the conversation that prompted me to write this. As I spoke, I found myself marveling at all the things I was not saying. In my mind, I scrolled through the things I hadn’t mentioned about college, the things that used to seem so terribly and totally relevant and now seem particular and circumstantial. I got lost in these thoughts and suddenly turned to the lead actress and said:
“What does Wolf’s Head Society mean to you?”
Peace to the Spirit Warrior.
Penultimate Thought: AAA was in hearts with me last week.
Final Thought: I feel bad for my dad a lot because I generally expect him to know how to do everything.