My roommate grew up in Vietnam which means that he sometimes expresses things in a way that can be a bit unexpected. Recently, for example, he informed me that I am “a little bit mental,” further going on to categorize my individualized level of insanity as being at around 3-1/2 out of 6.
So it’s now been about two months since major shutdowns and “shelter-in-place” orders stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic started. My university switched us all over to online classes starting on March 16, and we’re a week or so past the last day of classes for the semester. To say it has been a strange and challenging transition would be like saying that Andy Dick is “a little quirky”–it just doesn’t truly express the magnitude of the reality of things.
Ah, vacation… who doesn’t love it? Or, at least, the idea of it? Americans, of all people, need to take vacations, especially given the ludicrous and slavish devotion to work that most of us have been duped into thinking is “how it should be.” Really, the eight-hour workday is a relic of the Industrial Revolution; in most “modern” jobs, people can’t/don’t/won’t/shouldn’t actually do work for every single minute out of a full eight hours. But, just as with so many other horrible, antiquated, and/or insane ideas that have either outgrown their usefulness or that never should’ve happened in the first place (e.g., Daylight Savings Time; student loans; fossil fuel-powered vehicles; deep-fried butter; tipping in restaurants instead of paying servers a livable wage; American Idol), America can’t seem to give up its addiction to 40-hour “work” weeks. That’s why it feels so good to abandon our jobs for a week or two out of the year and head somewhere out yonder for some good old R&R.
Philadelphia is the second major city I’ve lived in as an independent adult. I like living in cities; I like being able to walk to stuff, and the necessity of having to rely on your feet as well as public transit means you almost automatically build a sense of knowing the area you live in, much more intimately (though, ew… I don’t mean that in a sexual way) than you otherwise might. But Philadelphia, despite being only about an hour or so from New York by train, is a very different kind of metropolis than New York, particularly when it comes to one specific phenomenon: street garbage.
Anyone who spends any significant amount of time about me will, fairly quickly, learn two things: First, that they made a huge mistake and would like to leave, and second, that my dad is a minister. “Ohh! You’re a ‘PK!'” is something that I’ve heard a number of times from people when this is revealed; it’s always said with what seems to be a sense of palpable relief, almost as if Maury Povich has just told the person that they are not, in fact, the father of quadruplets.
People who don’t live in New York City generally have certain opinions about the people who do live here–even if they’ve never visited at all. Without fail, when I visit my parents and siblings in North Carolina, people will approach me and whinily say things like, “How can you stand all those rude people that live in New York City?” (Keep in mind that, in my hometown, “New York City” is almost always pronounced the same way that the cowboys from the Pace Picante sauce commercials say it.)