This season I hang out with ABT, my friend from Peru who lives closest to me, in the Upper East Side. We get our nails done and go walking or skating in Central Park, and I eat raisin swirl pastries from an overpriced French bistro. She’s one of the few friends in my age range whom I hang out with, at least this summer. Everyone else is 11 years younger or 20 years older.
I photograph people at work – especially M. in the office and on the street, and often, the two of us in our various work outfits, jumping around when no one is looking. I go to DC’s house and drink imported fruit soda and talk about careers and international travel and all her exploits, as I’ve been doing for 15 years. I go to a lot of museums, because I get in free to many of them. I photograph people on the street when they’re not looking. In the evenings I plan screen flows for a digital platform for US jobseekers in the college market (WH project; very fun but time-consuming).
Alexei came to visit. It was his first real visit to New York. I have these boys in my life who are like brothers – J., whom I’ve known his whole life (he calls me his godsister, and will inherit all ten of my dollars if I die), and I. (aka Alexei, because he looks like a Russian gymnast), whom I met at MIT and traveled to Germany with. They’re both the same age as my “real” brother. Funny thing about Alexei and J. is that they are both brilliant – in Alexei’s case, he’s an actual genius who skipped many grades and entered MIT at age 16, worked as a BMW engineer and then an aeronautical engineer and is now halfway done completing his PhD at 24, but might take a quiet hiatus at Harvard Business School for a while.
J., meanwhile, is one of those people who can learn instantly from his environment and is capable of doing anything. He taught himself fluent Spanish at age 16, could do triple axles in the kitchen as a child, and takes whatever role he’s in and does it better than any of his supervisors. His mother calls him “the chameleon” for his uncanny ability to observe people and then imitate them perfectly, especially as a coping mechanism in certain academic or professional arenas. He worked for a senator, and is now in PR but contemplating law school. I stayed with him when I went to the White House in June, and I saw that he still gets up at the crack of dawn to iron his clothes, write press summaries, be early for work. He gives me hope for his entire generation, as do a few other 20-somethings I’ve met in recent years. But his working hours are insane, and that’s considered normal now. It’s too bad this country/world has no jobs for these kids, or actual career paths. Everything these days is a hustle.
Even my career is a hustle. I wanted to be a photojournalist and poet, then realized there’s few paying jobs for writers (and none for poets or photographers) so I switched to marketing and communications. Then everything went digital, so I became a mobile ethnographer and digital strategist. But ethnography is for academics (unless you really hustle), and everyone started saying they were “digital strategists”, and digital strategy positions died as quickly as the startups that created them. So I switched to user experience design, which, solidly rooted in the tech industry, is a field that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. But it’s all still a hustle. Sometimes I wish it were 1960, if I had been born male.
But I digress. How’s your summer?
Near my office
Photoshoot at work
Photoshoot at work
Stealth shot, Guggenheim, girl unknown
Stealth shot, Central Park, girl unknown
Alexei in adult shoes
Portrait of the artist and Alexei outside the Koch brothers’ building. Had I a dead chicken, I would have left it on the doorstep (shoutout to DD for that Neapolitan recommendation long ago).
Stealth shot in Upper East, couple unknown
DC at home
M. on lunchbreak
Portrait of the artist and J., wearing each other’s glasses after midnight, Washington DC
Portrait of ABT at home