Tag Archives: life

I <3 NY

30 Sep

All cities are palimpsest. All cities are noisy, chaotic minglings of human bodies and human voices and the creatures who live off our filth. All cities are layers of history pressed close between aching fingers. New York is just much more in-your-face with all that. And how typical.

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Within seconds, Manhattan streets change from rather ramshackle collections of dollar stores and fast food joints to vast mansions and big brands. People who look like they wandered out of 1945 cross the street side by side with kids in sports leggings. South American immigrants sweep puddles into the storm drain so guys in suits and trench coats can cross safely on their way to Wall Street.

I love it. Love the deep, grimy brashness of the city. The energy that hums 24/7, for, as they rightly say, this is the city that never sleeps. It is a creature that huffs exhaust fumes and the weird, steel-scented gas that comes from subway vents, veins constantly fizzing with traffic. Lucky enough to visit twice this year, I find myself nodding at the ad campaign. Yes, I heart NY. More so on my return.

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Ten Things I’ve Learned Since Turning Twenty

21 Mar

I can’t hide from it any longer. Thirty is looming. I’ve got six-and-a-bit months to go until the big 3-0 and to be honest 29 is feeling like a weird limbo. I wonder if, when midnight tolls on October 4th, I’ll suddenly pull a Kevin the Teenager and undergo an instant transformation into an actual adult who wears Jaeger pantsuits and drinks coffee. Probably not.

Of course, many of my friends are also facing the same transition, and I’m starting to see a rash of bucket lists, special hashtags and daily Facebook affirmations crop up as people start to take stock of their rapidly disappearing youth. I’ve steered clear of that so far – a bucket list in particular would just be depressing because I know I would fail to achieve the majority of things on it before the big birthday.

 

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A typical Saturday night for 20-year-old me, in the glam and sweaty surroundings of the Flora Anderson Hall

But I am starting to reflect on the things I *have* achieved, and the ways in which I’ve changed. When I was twenty, I was pretty darn happy.  I was in my second year of university and living with a group of friends spread out across two tiny flats in North Oxford, right next to the canal. We did typical dumb student stuff like watch TV for 24 hours straight and brew our own booze and live off a diet of pie (much to the disgust of my continental housemate). I took Classics Mods, the notoriously tough mid-course exams, and didn’t fail Ancient Greek composition which to be honest was a miracle from Athena herself. I was also quite unwell for most of the year and went through a really testing time that summer following an operation. It took me a really long time to recover and I’d say it was two years before I really felt back to normal. In some ways it still has an impact on me now.

Since then I’ve lived abroad, done two kinds of postgraduate study and worked in three different schools. I’ve travelled, learned languages, danced and written four books. I don’t think I’d have predicted any of those things at 20; I was looking into a law conversion or a media career and thinking I’d go back to live with my parents in London while I interned. Things didn’t really work out that way, not least because I graduated smack bang into the middle of the recession. Also, although I’d probably be significantly richer right now as a solicitor, I highly doubt I’d be any happier.

Anyway, life lessons. Since 20, I’ve learned:

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