Okay, I am not going to lie– Toledo, OH was never a place I imagined myself living. For any period of time. I am more than halfway through my internship at the museum and those reservations have been more or less confirmed.

I took this position at the museum because it was the best for my “career” (whatever that means). I have not regretted that. My experience to date at the museum has been incredible. I work in the Curatorial Dept. and my supervisors have taken an active interest in my interest level and my ideas, which, in my experience is not something often found in these internships. I am excited to go into work everyday and am thrilled that some of the things I am working on will have a tangible product. That being said, come 5pm, Toledo, OH is far from my home away from home.

It is hard to establish yourself in a new city. When I first went abroad to Glasgow, Scotland I spent a few days wandering the city, trying to find my bearings. And it’s hard and often awkward.

Here are a few things that have helped me feel more at home…

1. Finding the NPR station for the area. Listening to NPR every morning will always make me feel at home. Along with a good classic rock station.

2. A movie theater.

3. A bar with a fabulously cheap happy hour, even if it’s a dive bar.

4. The bougiest grocery store. Margaret and I went to the local “Fresh Market” the first week we were in Toledo and while we quickly realized it was not our demographic, sometimes going to a grocery store that is dimly lit and playing classical music is really refreshing. You can buy some $2 organic avocados or the most delicious $4.99/lb potato salad.

5. Joining the local YMCA.

6. Making an effort to see “work friends” out of work.

7. Going to a sporting event. Margaret and I went to the Minor League Baseball game: The Mud Hens last week. $7 40 oz. souvenir cups filled with Bud Light and Chili dogs. The seats were only $9 and there were after game fireworks!

8. What’s within walking distance? The answer to this question in Toledo is- nothing. But in Glasgow, I walked absolutely everywhere and within those first few weeks, you establish a perimeter of your “stomping ground.”

9. The Goodwill.

10. Local coffee shop with wireless.

Bruce Springsteen was a guest on the Daily Show a few summers ago. Jon Stewart, a fellow New Jersey native, could not help but hide his awe of his beloved Boss. It was actually really endearing—the liberal news media mogul reminiscing about the Springsteen concerts he went to, the song requests he shouted from the back.

The most moving part of the special episode was in the seventh minute when Stewart admitted that Springsteen was the inspiration with his initial trip to New York.

“I do what I do because of Bruce Springsteen and I’ll tell you why. You introduced on to the concept of the other side. You introduced me to the concept of– you go through the tunnel, and you take a chance, and you can work to get away from your circumstance. And by working to get away from your circumstance you can make something better of yourself. But there’s no guarantee. What I loved about what you do and your music is… it’s complex. You can work to change what you do but when you get the other side– you may be the rat and you may get gunned down in the street. But the joy of it is chasing that dream and that was my inspiration for leaving New Jersey and going to New York.

I just wanted to thank you personally from the bottom of my heart for giving me something to put in the dashboard as I drove a UHaul van through the Holland Tunnel.

When I graduated I thought I would be independent.

But, in many ways I have never felt more dependent.

At Smith I was able to function under this guise of distance from my parents. I realize, however, that in retrospect, I was no more independent– just as reliant on their generosity, commitment to my education, and ceaseless support. But on the surface, I had my own room, my own job, friends, and relationships and I called my mom a few times a month.

I am not living at home by any means, and support myself financially. I buy toilet paper and coffee filters. But the fantasy I had about real life and real world autonomy has been largely disappointing.

Remember when in Reality Bites Winona Rider’s character is given a gas card by her distant father. It is her graduation gift and he says he’ll “pay that bill for a year”?

I wonder at what point I will “cash-in” and let my mom buy my coffee filters and refill the gas tank.

Limp handshakes.

When you try to open the car door as it’s being unlocked.

Really bad knives. What is the point in purchasing a sub-par knife? People that have buy knives also seem to have A LOT of them. Dozens of terrible, mildly serrated knives.

When acquaintances over share to the question “how are you”.

Not refilling the Brita. I don’t even believe the Brita really does anything, but I like it filled and put back in the fridge. Also– ice trays.

When people sing along quietly, like whisper to the song right behind your front seat in the car.

I think I started thinking about these things because I’ve been watching old episodes of  Seinfeld. The show about nothing. Nothing, except how crazy people are. And maybe how crazy I am for being so neurotic about ice trays.

Is it just me — or do the last few measures of the Seinfeld theme sound like the chorus of “My Prerogative.”

This movie really meant a lot to me when I was seventeen.

I had this poster. And I admit it, I too loved Lloyd Dobler.


Or maybe I just loved John Cusack and his delightfully heart-shaped face, faded pants, and Peter Gabriel devotion. And I think I loved him until I saw Must Love Dogs. That movie was real crap and his face– not so heart-shaped.

Regardless. Say Anything… represents the pinnacle of so many careers: John Cusack, Ione Skye (whatever happened to her?), and maybe even Cameron Crowe (Elizabethtown anyone?). But what relevance does this Ro-Co hold for me now?

In the movie, this total brainy-philanthropic-babe named Diane Court FINALLY agrees to go out with Lloyd Dobler. He woos her, they have sex to Peter Gabriel, and eventually he tags along on her overseas fellowship educational adventure. In the middle there is some business with Diane’s father avoiding taxes and stealing from the elderly– an odd plot twist to say the least.

On this most recent viewing, another part jumped out at me. In the middle of the movie, Lloyd is invited over to the Courts for dinner. And the tax-violating father asks him what he wants to do for a career.

” A career? I’ve thought about this quite a bit sir and I would have to say considering what’s waiting out there for me, I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I dont want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed as a career. I dont want to do that. My father’s in the army. He wants me to join, but I can’t work for that corporation, so what I’ve been doing lately is kick-boxing, which is a new sport…as far as career longevity, I dont really know. I cant figure it all out tonight, sir, so I’m just gonna hang with your daughter.”

When I went to Smith I never really thought about how I spent my leisure time. Sometimes, especially during my senior year, I felt like every hour of my day was scheduled. Maybe this is hyperbole, but whatever, I never thought about it. I stopped really watching TV,  except maybe HGTV or the Food Network, the occasion Bravo reality drama. But I never really tuned in for anything. I didn’t read novels that weren’t assigned, or like, knit…

I’m trying to think of other leisure activities…?

Anyway, it’s July today, over a month into this whole REAL WORLD thing and I’m suddenly very conscious of this “free time” label.

Maybe it’s because there is such a sharp divide. I work from 8:30 to 5pm. When I come home, it’s free time. There is no homework. I am living with one of my best friends from school, who also works at the museum in Toledo. We’re house sitting in this fancy and kind of scary house with stained-glass window motifs, stiff leather couches, and shitty patio furniture. I don’t think a pet has ever seen the inside of this house. The only TV is a perfect black cube from the early 90’s and it’s wheeled around on a eye-level-from-bed cart. There are only three channels and of those three, two are blurry. The internet is like this:

Okay, that is hyperbole.

But, ok– so what do I do?

Tonight I baked scones. I’m reading all those Stieg Larsson books and listening to archives of This American Life.

I wish.