I had no business trying out for a spot to speak at commencement. I took the “college is about the experience” mantra a bit too literally, and I certainly did not waste my time on the classroom experience any more than I had to.
But, in March 2009, a couple months before graduation, the Student Advisory Counsel solicited volunteers to speak at the College of Media’s commencement. In language apparently targeted at a middle school kid, the email read:
Do you have something you want to say to all of your peers? Ready to conquer your stage fright? We ask that you prepare a 2-minute speech for the audition, while the actual speech will be 4 minutes long.
It’s mostly unclear to me, five years later, why I decided to respond to that email. A shadowy memory suggests that I wanted to make up for being a less-than-stellar academic while at the college. Maybe for a day, I could sound like I learned something about the world over the last four years.1 Read More
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I read five books at a time.
Obviously, I don’t sit down and read from all of them simultaneously; I’m not a mutant. I simply mean that at any given moment, there’s no book I am currently reading; I am currently reading books. I know other people do this as well, but I can’t speak to their motivations. For me, it’s certainly not an intellectual exercise in keeping multiple plots and concepts straight in my head, but something else entirely.
They say: adapt or die.
And that’s what I did. Really, it was the only way to save one of my favorite hobbies—reading—from what the information age has done to my brain. But let’s take a step back first.
I grew up in a family of bookworms. My sisters and I read incessantly. It’s not that any of us had a preternatural knack for it; I don’t think I learned to read until the first grade. (Is that normal for the early 90s?) It’s just that education was thrust pretty forcibly upon the Doguet children, and reading was the primary conduit. Neither of our parents went to college and so ensuring that we escaped blue-collar careers was one of their primary goals. Read More
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When Matt and I studied in Lyon after our first year of law school, we shared an apartment with a Frenchman named Florent. The whole place couldn’t have been any more than 300 square feet, including the loft. Between the three of us, personal space was limited. (Arguably, it was nonexistent.) For the two months we lived there, however, we made it work.
This is relevant to the story only to demonstrate what a shoestring budget we were on. Sure, we were gallivanting around Western Europe each weekend, but every euro we saved here and there was one more we could put towards having another bottle of wine in the shadow of some old church, or having another 4:00am kebab whilst wandering around some medieval town square. What I’m saying is: we had priorities. Read More
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Another weekend is over. I’m on Train 175 heading back to D.C., heading back home. There’s a woman sitting across from me talking on her cellphone. “It’s okay to be scared of thunderstorms; I used to be scared of thunderstorms too,” she whispers to her son on the other side of the phone. It’s not storming here yet, but it’s spitting rain—water droplets are hugging the windows as the speed of the train forces them, against their own protest, to move along.
Now, you may or may not know that I always ask myself what I learned as a trip comes to a close and the gravity of everyday life pulls me back to the District. See, e.g., And, In the End, PAGAN KINGDOM (“I guess, this is that moment where I should talk about what I learned (or, more appropriately, what I think I learned.)”). This week was not a trip around the world, or even around the country for that matter though. Maybe I should be excused from my own self-reflection over such a short period of time lest it seemed feigned. But, I’m on a lonely train with my thoughts and a keyboard, so I think it’s worth putting thought to paper. Read More
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It’s funny to think about, isn’t it? Albert Einstein—the genius of geniuses—sorting whites from colors, measuring out the soap, and hanging up the laundry in his backyard off Mercer Street in Princeton, New Jersey.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually know if Einstein did his own laundry. Maybe Elsa did it for him. But, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume he did the laundry at least once. For her sake, I would hope he did.
Sometime in between loads, Einstein developed his general theory of relativity at age 36. He’s just one in a long line of young overachievers. Read More
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Is the past a time or a place? Or, so asked my half-drunk friend last Saturday, as he fought against a rising tide of nostalgia mixed with apparent depression. All I could think to offer in return is one of those unsatisfying, middle-of-the-road answers: it’s a bit of both.
See, my friend—let’s call him Steve—is stuck in a very bad place: quarter life purgatory (“QLP,” for short). And, frankly, he’s paralyzed by questions like: is he in the right job?; is he living in the right city?; is he going to die alone and unhappy?; and, most importantly, how can he get back to when he was happy? Now, all of this might be a bit melodramatic perhaps, but still, for the person pondering these questions, it is undeniably tough stuff, right? Read More
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