To be Exquisite

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Legendary Harvard sociobiologist E.O. Wilson and former Poet Laureate Robert Hass in conversation about why science and poetry need one another

Lionello Balestrieri, Woman on a Paris Street at Night, 1924

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1949

Albert Marquet  (French, 1875-1947) - Le Pont Neuf sous la Pluie, N/D

feeling very stupid, naive, and suburban lately. today, my coworker asked me if i liked my school, and it was a tremendously awkward conversation. i wish i’d known earlier that my school is basically the laughingstock of the city. as hard as i’m working, i feel deep down like it might not be enough to achieve the things i want to achieve. i did too much damage to my transcript when i got apathetic (not complacent) two years in (it’s not so bad, but it’s just one more thing i beat myself up about). i try reassuring myself, but then i realize that everyone and their mother is writing a thesis and in the middle of their fourth internship, too. my parents are public employees cut from the old “work-hard-and-you’ll-stay-in-one-company-forever” cloth and although they do so much for me, i feel like there’s this barrier i’ll never be able to cross in terms of navigating office politics and knowing about obscure things partly due to my personality but also due to decisions i’ve made. there’s no point regretting things or whining, because i am tremendously lucky, but i’m still disappointed. i got everything i wanted this semester in terms of life goals and whatnot, but that feeling still remains. i’m sure in this terrible job market—where people have just accepted that this is a fact of life rather than questioning why a recession calls for throwing out the baby with the bathwater—i will be faced with this kind of thing over and over again, but i’m terrified that my past decisions indicate that i’m too dumb, stubborn, and traditional to ever make choices that will actually serve me well or be able to do anything really innovative.

going through an annie hall/patti smith/maybe even fran lebowitz phase where i look like a disheveled frump and i don’t care at all

I feel like I’ve figured everything out backwards.  There are certain experiences I’ve gone through in life, some unpleasant, some pleasant, and all edifying, that some others my age haven’t gone through yet.  Then, there are things that come standard to everyone else but that seem so far off in the future to me.

I spend all my time feeling either really young or really old.

movin’ out?

Maybe this is a stupid decision, but because time is running out for the summer (even by New York last-minute standards), I settled for an apartment that I’m not totally over the moon with because it’s much nicer and roomier than anything in Manhattan and because it won’t take me too long to get to school. I’m a little nervous about living in Brooklyn because it means I’ll be kind of far from the friends I’m not living with, but more than anything I’m nervous because of what this symbolizes. I’m supposed to sign the lease on Wednesday- my first real home away from home. I lived in a real apartment in Paris, but that was temporary, as are dorms at school. But I will actually be moving there, if only for a year or two, which sort of means moving out of my parents’ house. I’m moving to Brooklyn (or so it seems, who knows what will happen in the next 36 hours), not Wichita, so that doesn’t mean I can’t still go home every couple of weeks to get out of the city, but there’s an element of finality to it that’s a little scary. I know, most people have this kind of separation when they leave for college, but that is different because you’re not packing up your childhood bedroom and all your furniture and bringing it somewhere new. Who knows what will happen post-grad, but for now this whole apartment thing is freaking me out a little. To say I’m not independent enough would be half truth and half being too hard on myself, because I lived in France with a stranger and traveled alone and was perfectly fine, and because plenty of people live at home while in school or don’t go to college at all, and nobody considers them overly attached misanthropes. Having an actual apartment will be a lot of fun, because I’ll finally be back living with people I like and know and will be able to have people over, but the speed at which my roommates and I had to make these decisions took me aback. 

-the world is not a place just to be afraid of and I wish my parents had taught me that.

-there’s no honor or value in blundering your way through something that doesn’t work for you when a better alternative exists.

I feel like I’m half awake sometimes, not making any sense and not even being invested in what’s going on in my life, but I don’t know how to snap out of it if that’s even possible. One day I’m just going to wake up and be like, “crap.”


Thank you, seventeen-year-old Nora, for being naive and shit at making decisions. Thank you, nineteen-year-old Nora, for being a slacker and not knowing what’s good for her.

I go to a good school, but honestly could’ve done better, but because I’m lazy, my grades don’t reflect that, and I feel like I have an inferiority complex because I can’t relax and accept that my grades are actually totally fine. And also very ungrateful because my school might not be terrific wow amazing, but it’s still really good. For once I need to actually sit back and appreciate what I have instead of making myself so goddamn uncomfortable all the time.

I worry about you too much because you don’t worry about yourself.

whatever it was that was holding me back, keeping me from doing my best and enjoying myself, i’m ready to get rid of it. finally.