NYC in summer

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?

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Near my office

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Photoshoot at work

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Photoshoot at work

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Stealth shot, Guggenheim, girl unknown

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Stealth shot, Central Park, girl unknown

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Alexei in adult shoes

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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).

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Stealth shot in Upper East, couple unknown

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DC at home

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M. on lunchbreak

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Portrait of the artist and J., wearing each other’s glasses after midnight, Washington DC

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Portrait of ABT at home

Written in a copy of the Geste of Beowulf

by Jorge Luis Borges

I ask myself from time to time what reasons
Move me to study, as my night comes on
And with no hope of mastery or precision,
The language of the harsh Angles and Saxons.
Wasted by the years, my memory
Keeps letting fall the word repeated in vain,
And in much the same way my life goes on
Weaving and unweaving its weary history.
Perhaps (I tell myself) it’s that the soul
Knows in some secret and sufficient way
That, destined, as it is, never to die,
Its vast grave sphere encompasses the whole.
Beyond this arduous task, beyond this verse
Waits, inexhaustible, the universe.

The White House is pretty cool

Well, with a stroke of good fortune from contacts within TechLadyMafia, I was invited to the White House this week (technically the Executive Building) to participate in a “21st Century Jobs Jam” sponsored by the Office of the VP, Office of Science & Technology, and the Department of Labor.

I got to hang out with Mark, the undersecretary for economic affairs, while in the 45-minute line for security. He was great. We lost about 18 pounds collectively in the 90+ degree heat.

The event itself was a blast. Met really interesting people – elected officials, startup CEOs, technologists and designers from Glassdoor, Google, and career-related platforms. Our mandate was to brainstorm ways the gov could make better use of public and private data by creating digital solutions for American jobseekers. We split into six groups and narrowed down ideas. After developing these throughout the day, we each volunteered to help develop one or more projects for the next 90 days, after which we will return to the White House for a celebratory pow-wow with Biden (again) and maybe even POTUS himself. Biden appeared during this event and tried very hard to pay attention to us before dashing to a (more important) Middle East lunch with O and Shimon Peres.

I’m on two projects at the moment, but that might expand depending on the extent to which my company would like to become involved. I have to say, I was impressed by all the officials whom I met within the administration – smart, dedicated guys (though yes, mostly guys – except for Lynn and Erie who managed the event). I had a blast and am super grateful to have been included. Can’t wait to return in September!

Some photos from the day:

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Ladies, don’t sit in awkward positions

Dating tip from 1938

Dating tip from 1938

Found this on some site. Perfect. My grandmother was the target demographic for these tips, age 25 at the time it was published. There’s a whole bunch of amazing/misogynistic tips in this series, but this one was by far my favorite. I love gum AND sitting in awkward positions! Thank you God I was born in the Carter administration – had the pleasure of reaching adulthood before the internet or mobile phones took over our lives, yet born in an era when women were at least theoretically and definitely legally allowed to be, you know, people.

Unrelated: I want all that furniture.

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