Everything Is Illuminated
Jonathan Safran Foer

The Immaculate Collection



Sunday 30 June 2002

the ultimate pipe dream

Every time I come home to Lebanon, a little more is removed from my room. First it was the pillaging of my book collection, and then I went through most of my Tori Amos bootlegs on tape (close to a hundred, which is entirely ridiculous considering I don't even own a tape player anymore). Poking through various unlabeled shoeboxes in my closet, I came upon one that was labeled "PGSA".

And so I went through it, not taking too long to linger over it (the only thing I read was a letter from Deborah written while I was there). Appropriate, I guess, considering I would've been leaving tomorrow, if I had been selected. I'm still sort of pissed at it all, but for the right reasons, I think, as in I'm pissed at them for not giving me the opportunity, but not pissed at myself for not being good enough. But I think I'm mostly okay about it. My attitude has evolved to the "fuck 'em all" variety.

I'm glad, in a way, because I just didn't want to have to deal with the upheaval of moving and driving right now. It's the last thing I need. What I do need is some stability. My nesting instinct has been strong lately, and has found me poring over interior design books at work and becoming increasing obsessed with Trading Spaces. I just desperately want a space to call my own, and not have to worry about settling in too much, only to be ripped from it nine months or a year later. I'm so sick of being transient.

I went to The Book Trader on South Street this past sweltering Wednesday, to spend the credit I had there. Among the things I picked up there were books by Margaret Atwood, Isabelle Allende, Naomi Wolf ("Promiscuities" - which is the best book by her I've read) and a guide to NYC apartment hunting.

The girl at the counter glanced at my selections and commented, "Moving to New York?"

I stammered and said no, not anytime soon. I don't exactly know why I got that book, maybe just to feed my fantasies. I came home and lay on my brand new futon in my AC-enhanced apartment, and read the book from cover to cover. I pictured in my mind that perfect little studio apartment in Inwood, in Long Island City, in Greenpoint, in Astoria. I calculated the trains I would need to take to visit John. The only thing missing from my equation was the job, the livelihood, the reason for being there. I don't want to be one of those idiots moving to New York just to move there. I need a reason. Because, as anyone knows, New York City is no fun if you have no money.


My sister's birthday is today. Her birthday/graduation party was yesterday. The usual orgy of food was prepared and set out by my mother. I took my usual place, drifting from conversation to conversation and grazing on the food. It reminded me a lot of my graduation party. The same food and same people were there.

She loved my gift, too, a little something I had been working on for the last month: a NYC survival kit; including the first season of Sex and the City on DVD, a little book on shoes, an I Love NY mug, Manhattan socks, a pen topped with a plastic Statue of Liberty and a $10 Metrocard. I am so unspeakably jealous that she's going to NYU, though I don't think I'm $38K/year jealous. It'll be interesting to see just what the city does to her. For that I can't wait.


And my vacation was wonderful. I'm not going to go into it much, because it was essentially a repeat of our vacation last year, and these sorts of things aren't that interesting in the telling. Sufficed to say, much money was spent and much food was eaten. The only thing altered from last year was that on the way back from the Cape we stopped to visit UMass Dartmouth, which is one of the places I'm looking at for grad school.

I went on the campus tour, which was like deja vu from four years ago. All the kids on the tour with me were with one respective parent, and they all looked like babies. I felt strangely over the hill.

But anyway, the facilities at the art building (which was on a separate campus from the rest of the school) were absolutely beyond amazing. They're housed in an old converted department store, and the ceramics studios are on the top floor. All brand new (the place only opened last year), all hardwood floors and exposed brickwork and piping, huge windows overlooking downtown New Bedford and the harbor. I felt more like I was on the set of "Friends" than in a school. I try to see myself there, and it all just seems so far away.