Welcome to the Working Week
It’s four AM on a Monday and I am reading about an elementary school in Brighton, Massachusetts. Conn, in its infinite wisdom, gave me three thousand dollars to do basically that. This is the life of a journalist: take the things that you see around you, decide what parts of them other people should know about, and condense it into language. Let me tell you, from my first taste, that the process gets difficult around step two.
Thanks to CELS I have an apartment in Brookline. One of the main perks so far has involved walking past a 7-11 to get home and thus having the option of microwave pizza at all hours. I also work at a restaurant, where one of the managers is the bassist of a well known pop-punk band (American Hi-Fi), and between them I have enough money to afford, among other things, microwave pizza.
This is my first time living in a city. Perhaps due to a steep dosage of Kafka, I expected city life to be alienating and lonely, insofar as crowds of indifferent people would shuffle past me hourly as my life crested or troughed, unobserved.
In reality, the main component of city life turns out to be that I have spent hours on public transportation. My original approach involved headphones and eyelids, but I learned soon enough that the other people on the T are, in fact, people, and are therefore capable of having conversations. As a direct result of this discovery, I have received a number of shoe-based compliments, learned a fair amount about skateboards, and seen a couple of youtube-hosted Sesame Street musical guest appearances which would otherwise be lost in the blurry seas of internet stimuli.
So now I keep my ears open. The things I hear around me form a soundscape of useful information, sirens, and profanity, but each word is one more brick in the bridge between me and the city. Every day I come closer to belonging here; every stop on the green line brings a new morsel for my brain to digest. As I spread my roots farther around the Brookline soil, I know more, and the more I know, the easier my job gets. When I know my surroundings and know my readers, I will be able to tell them what they need to hear about.
For now, that means a children’s concert. Maybe some day it will be presidential elections, large scale national disasters, and Miley Cyrus, but I am comfortable with starting small. So far, I’ve learned one thing well through CELS: unplug the headphones. Stretch your roots. Branch out. The more you know where you are, the more you know who you’re writing to, and the more you notice, the easier it will be to turn those three things into useful writing. And useful writing begets microwave pizza.