06 March 2007

The Resurrection

My blog hiatus began with the graduate class I took last semester while working full time and applying to PhD programs. Then the waiting period began. Nothing to write about there – just lots of nail biting and exercising because frankly that is the only way I know how to handle stress. And then the gods of academia answered my applications in the form of three consecutive small envelopes – and my fate was known. No PhD program for me – at least for now.

Maybe I seem flippant, but I have had a lot of time to deal with this. Two years ago I was devastated to be rejected. Being a historian was my identity and I felt it had been torn from me. It still stings a little this time around – but the experience I have gained from working these past two years teaches me that these rejections are not measures of my intellectual capabilities or accomplishments. But that is not even the big news…

My inspiration for resurrecting this blog – I am moving to New York! I am taking a job in Manhattan, working with my current boss, but in a more dynamic capacity – both admin and research. And while I have no doubt that much of this job will similarly entail assistant-ish work, I am looking forward to exploring some seriously uncharted territory. The last and ONLY time I have ever been to New York was on a one-day bus tour in the eighth grade. We visited the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations and I recall someone pointed out ABC Studios from the window of the bus. This is the knowledge base I am taking with me. This is the knowledge base I use when I look up rentals incessantly on craigslist (I can’t stop refreshing the browser), however, I did learn all about boroughs and neighborhoods on wikipedia, so I am practically an expert, right? ;-)

More than anything, I can’t stop thinking what a cliché I am. Tall, sweet, blonde young Californian moves to New York (only to be hardened by the harsh realities of big city life). Some craigslist ads specifically request roommates who already have New York experience under their belt. What – are they tired of teaching people how to use the subway and listen to them cry about missing their families? ;-) I guess I understand where they are coming from – kinda like me living with a Berkeley freshman. And in some ways that is what I am. I have lived in the Bay Area for eight years. The people I see here on a weekly basis are my second family. And now I am leaving again. It is a huge opportunity, but with some major costs. Now when I come back to visit, I will be juggling two families rather than one.

But I feel the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Right now, the idea of living in the Bay Area and not being a student just doesn’t make sense for me. The Bay Area is a great place to end up, but while you are tying to make a place for yourself – whether in writing, or international relations or general politics – the center of this world is not San Francisco. The big opportunities in these fields are on the east coast. To have made a commitment to move is almost a huge weight off my shoulders because I know I won’t allow the Bay Area to hold me back any longer. So many things keep me here – my friends, my family nearby, my new great roommates in my new great house and the cats that come with it, the healthy lifestyles, not to mention the natural beauty of everything around me. But the reality is, I will always wonder about the intellectual life in New York unless I try it for myself. I have been interested in the literary culture and history of the “New York Intellectuals” for almost a decade now, and while I know I am not going to step off the plane and make friends with the editor of The New York Review of Books, I do look forward to experiencing a little of the intellectual culture for myself in present time – rather than confining myself to study it from a library carrel. Maybe that is what I was supposed to learn from the little envelopes.

So like the last “quarter-life crisis” that started this blog two year ago – this one isn’t really a crisis at all. Rather, a new opportunity to experience and try something completely different. And I know this sounds quite optimistic and overly touching, but I am embracing my inner cliché – this is my chance to be wide-eyed in the big city. I will miss everything about this place but I can’t wait.


Blogger Claudia said...

Leah, I so enjoy your writing. I'm excited for you and you know your Mom and I will visit.
I feel like I should buy you a Mary Tyler Moore hat or Carrie Bradshaw shoes! You go girl!
Love, Claudia

2:05 PM  

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