Still Alive

So, I was in New York for the weekend, and when I arrived at LaGuardia and walked down the hallway from my gate I was struck by how much the narrow, dark hallway, full of people sitting on the floor waiting for a plane or standing in a long line at a newsstand, reminded me of similar dark, narrow hallways in airports in other countries -- "third world" countries. I don't know when that particular terminal was built; probably a long time ago, before airports in America started to have airy cathedral ceilings full of light, like at O'Hare. Well, it didn't much matter, because the first thing I thought of was Bush & Co. and how global capitalism is engaged in a race to the bottom that's attempting to turn every country into a feast of cheap labor for rich corporations and desperate, grinding poverty for everybody else. When we watched "Maria Full of Grace" last night, everything looked glossy and coiffed and too-perfect in comparison. Cutting flowers for a living in a factory in Colombia was made to look more appealing than running drugs: goggles! They have safety precautions there! They get to take bathroom breaks at all! They don't work 18-hour days! They get paid by check! The whole moral of the story is all about an ultrasound: if you live in a place where you can have one, you're set. (Encroaching fetal personhood, anyone?) I know lots of people have loved this movie, but I guess I found it just too pretty for the reality it was trying to portray.

So my weekend was pretty good, overall. I had a slightly nervewracking interview. I carefully arrived 8 minutes early (having been told not to be early by more than 10) and the administrator, who misheard my name and apparently thought I was someone whose interview was scheduled for later in the day, suggested that I go to a cafe around the corner and sit and wait until it was time to come back. We finally worked it out. I think she was as nervous as I was. If nothing comes of the interview, it gave me some good ideas about work, and I got to see my friends and their two-year-old, and my cousins.

A close friend of my friends just found out she has cancer. She came over for brunch; it was warm, and relaxing, and I felt like I was living in a short story. I think I often feel that way when I'm visiting these friends in particular -- even with nothing so dramatic going on. Maybe it's because of the particular aura that New York holds because of old memories of visiting my grandparents there.

If I were that sick I would hope to have such friends around. I ran into another friend in LaGuardia, in that dark, narrow hallway: someone who used to live here, and now lives there. She said, "Oh yes, I remember knowing people who weren't in the theater." I said, "Oh yes, I remember knowing people not in academia." That's not quite fair. But I certainly don't feel like I have the kinds of close friendships I used to. Mostly because I have no time...


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