“You can’t have most of the world living in the 21st century and the rest of the world living in the 8th century, unless they’re going to limit themselves to 8th century weapons.” — Newsroom
an anecdote that found its way to my inbox:
“In line at the grocery store, a cashier told the elderly woman checking out that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”
“That’s our problem today,” the cashier responded. “The former generation
did not care enough to save our environment.”
He was right, that generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over—so they really were recycled.
But they didn’t have the green thing back in their day.
In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.
But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.
Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts—wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady was right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.
Back then, they had one TV and/or radio in the house—not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a hankerchief, not a screen the size of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you.
When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she was right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.
They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a disposable cup or plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor when the blade got dull.
But they didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their moms into a 24 hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn’t have the green thing back then?”
“I saw you on the Manhattan-bound Brooklyn Q train.
I was wearing a blue-striped t-shirt and a pair of maroon pants. You were wearing a vintage red skirt and a smart white blouse. We both wore glasses. I guess we still do.
You got on at DeKalb and sat across from me and we made eye contact, briefly. I fell in love with you a little bit, in that stupid way where you completely make up a fictional version of the person you’re looking at and fall in love with that person. But still I think there was something there.
Several times we looked at each other and then looked away. I tried to think of something to say to you — maybe pretend I didn’t know where I was going and ask you for directions or say something nice about your boot-shaped earrings, or just say, “Hot day.” It all seemed so stupid.
At one point, I caught you staring at me and you immediately averted your eyes. You pulled a book out of your bag and started reading it — a biography of Lyndon Johnson — but I noticed you never once turned a page.
My stop was Union Square, but at Union Square I decided to stay on, rationalizing that I could just as easily transfer to the 7 at 42nd Street, but then I didn’t get off at 42nd Street either. You must have missed your stop as well, because when we got all the way to the end of the line at Ditmars, we both just sat there in the car, waiting.
I cocked my head at you inquisitively. You shrugged and held up your book as if that was the reason.
Still I said nothing.
We took the train all the way back down — down through Astoria, across the East River, weaving through midtown, from Times Square to Herald Square to Union Square, under SoHo and Chinatown, up across the bridge back into Brooklyn, past Barclays and Prospect Park, past Flatbush and Midwood and Sheepshead Bay, all the way to Coney Island. And when we got to Coney Island, I knew I had to say something.
Still I said nothing.
And so we went back up.
Up and down the Q line, over and over. We caught the rush hour crowds and then saw them thin out again. We watched the sun set over Manhattan as we crossed the East River. I gave myself deadlines: I’ll talk to her before Newkirk; I’ll talk to her before Canal. Still I remained silent.
For months we sat on the train saying nothing to each other. We survived on bags of skittles sold to us by kids raising money for their basketball teams. We must have heard a million mariachi bands, had our faces nearly kicked in by a hundred thousand break dancers. I gave money to the beggars until I ran out of singles. When the train went above ground I’d get text messages and voicemails (“Where are you? What happened? Are you okay?”) until my phone ran out of battery.
I’ll talk to her before daybreak; I’ll talk to her before Tuesday. The longer I waited, the harder it got. What could I possibly say to you now, now that we’ve passed this same station for the hundredth time? Maybe if I could go back to the first time the Q switched over to the local R line for the weekend, I could have said, “Well, this is inconvenient,” but I couldn’t very well say it now, could I? I would kick myself for days after every time you sneezed — why hadn’t I said “Bless You”? That tiny gesture could have been enough to pivot us into a conversation, but here in stupid silence still we sat.
There were nights when we were the only two souls in the car, perhaps even on the whole train, and even then I felt self-conscious about bothering you. She’s reading her book, I thought, she doesn’t want to talk to me. Still, there were moments when I felt a connection. Someone would shout something crazy about Jesus and we’d immediately look at each other to register our reactions. A couple of teenagers would exit, holding hands, and we’d both think: Young Love.
For sixty years, we sat in that car, just barely pretending not to notice each other. I got to know you so well, if only peripherally. I memorized the folds of your body, the contours of your face, the patterns of your breath. I saw you cry once after you’d glanced at a neighbor’s newspaper. I wondered if you were crying about something specific, or just the general passage of time, so unnoticeable until suddenly noticeable. I wanted to comfort you, wrap my arms around you, assure you I knew everything would be fine, but it felt too familiar; I stayed glued to my seat.
One day, in the middle of the afternoon, you stood up as the train pulled into Queensboro Plaza. It was difficult for you, this simple task of standing up, you hadn’t done it in sixty years. Holding onto the rails, you managed to get yourself to the door. You hesitated briefly there, perhaps waiting for me to say something, giving me one last chance to stop you, but rather than spit out a lifetime of suppressed almost-conversations I said nothing, and I watched you slip out between the closing sliding doors.
It took me a few more stops before I realized you were really gone. I kept waiting for you to reenter the subway car, sit down next to me, rest your head on my shoulder. Nothing would be said. Nothing would need to be said.
When the train returned to Queensboro Plaza, I craned my neck as we entered the station. Perhaps you were there, on the platform, still waiting. Perhaps I would see you, smiling and bright, your long gray hair waving in the wind from the oncoming train.
But no, you were gone. And I realized most likely I would never see you again. And I thought about how amazing it is that you can know somebody for sixty years and yet still not really know that person at all.
I stayed on the train until it got to Union Square, at which point I got off and transferred to the L.”
original post here
answered in user comments
“There is no such thing as a modern Patti Smith.”
“So the millennial generation is now just being referred to as Lena Dunham’s generation? I dissent.”
“I figured the point of Patti Smith was that there was only one Patti Smith.”
Miley Cyrus: “HER LYRICS SPEAK TO ME.”
jess and her fiance were back in town for a wedding so i made sunday brunch (artichoke heart, sundried tomato and goat cheese quiche and a stonefruit salad) and we had it al fresco in dolores park.
i wish my apartment had room service
35 Classic Movies You Might Not Realize You’ve Been Misquoting
I’ve noticed that people seem to apologize for being or sounding earnest. why is that? is it seen as a weakness?
or, 36 signs that you grew up in princeton and your best friend went there
tonight I’m grateful that there’s so much food in my fridge that I’m struggling to make it all fit
watching newsroom while making soup, jam and quiche.
"I wrote my thesis on overpriced sweaters." -Anthropologie majors
— braden graeber (@hipstermermaid) August 1, 2013
@mynamesmasha finding graffiti in that bathroom is like finding a girl in yoga pants in the Marina.
— nader! (@knawder) August 1, 2013
Slowly, Waldo's wife and Mr. Sandiego started putting the pieces together
— donni (@donni) August 1, 2013
Just forgot to exercise for four straight years
— Jake Weisman (@weismanjake) July 30, 2013
If a white girl has brunch and nobody is there to Instagram it, did it really happen?
— braden graeber (@hipstermermaid) July 29, 2013
The smell of Pine Sol always brings back childhood memories of my mom. Out drinking while we mopped the floors.
— Amy Miller (@amymiller) July 29, 2013
Twitter is the cry for help of an entire generation.
— Miles K (@NotMilesK) July 28, 2013
remember, if your friend is too high, hold their hand, rub their back, and whisper in their ear, "how weird is it that we all die?" #prankz
— Morgan Murphy (@morgan_murphy) July 28, 2013
Friday night is my weekly time to ponder…which do I hate more: my friends, or having to make new friends?
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) July 27, 2013
Sorry lady – I'd take you to Funkytown, but I've got to get down to Swingtown.
— Jim Brandon (@jimbrandon) July 9, 2013
#WorstBreakUpExcuse The gradual shifting of tectonic plates made you live too far away.
— Tym Puglio (@the17birdman) July 16, 2013
If someone says hi to me in public and I can't remember who they are I just respond with, "Who is this? New phone."
— james coker (@JamesWCoker) July 24, 2013
hot coffee: a lighthearted little friday-night documentary about the politics of tort reform
Just in case you were wondering, 370,000 babies are born worldwide every day (source: Google). All of them “royal” to someone.
— Peter Mansbridge (@petermansbridge) July 22, 2013
All my ex's live in texas and they do not have access to affordable reproductive healthcare
— christopher_rex (@christopher_rex) July 20, 2013
Apparently "Give me one of whatever will stop my weeping" is not a valid drink order in this bar
— Michael Barthel (@michaelbarthel) July 20, 2013
Just looked in my Drafts folder and it's nothing but "Me and PSY should be 'Seoulmates'!!!" typed 150 times 😦
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) July 20, 2013
My dog ate my heart. #WorstBreakUpExcuse
— ♡ Selfless Love. (@JamiaTheGentle) July 16, 2013
I am beginning to think that I as a person am NSFW.
— eric dadourian (@ericdadourian) July 17, 2013
Relationships are tough, but when you find a special gal, you just gotta drag it out even if neither of you are happy. That's what love is.
— Smokey Jackson (@SmokeyJacks) July 17, 2013
When someone says, "If evolution is real, why are there still monkeys?" Tell them, "Education is real and there are still morons."
— kelly oxford (@kellyoxford) July 17, 2013
Know your ABCs: Always Be Clouding
— San Francisco Fog (@KarlTheFog) July 10, 2013
It's sad that "You must have a lot of free time" is never meant as a compliment.
— Josh Weinstein (@JElvisWeinstein) July 16, 2013
Puts on thinking cap. Recognizes the horror of an empty existence predicated on fleeting accomplishments. Takes off thinking cap.
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) July 16, 2013
"I am so baked right now" -Ziti
— Jake Weisman (@weismanjake) July 15, 2013
probably the low point of 2013 for me so far: copyediting olivia palermo’s wikipedia page
this is the one you feel when you realize that you will never ever date tim riggins