Tag Archives: newspaper

Lowell of Yesteryear

11 Oct

It’s so much fun to attend Lowell Celebrates Kerouac and visit this great American literary icon’s old stomping grounds, many of which still exist today.  However, much of Lowell has changed over the years.  The streets are smoothly paved.  There’s a color television in almost every home.  UMass Lowell continually expands its presence.  New restaurants serving delicious food have opened up.  Even new communities of immigrants have moved in.  Instead of rotary phones plugged into the wall, people have iphones with apps.  A new family lives in Kerouac’s birth home.  Experiencing Kerouac’s Lowell is about more than just dots on a map.  You have to step back from the tour group, close your eyes and really listen to the rush of the Merrimack River.  You have to imagine a time period when chocolate chip cookies were a novelty, Art Deco looked crazy modern, and women used menstrual cups instead of tampons.  You have to imagine the Great Depression.  You have to imagine a gallon of gas costing 10 cents.  You have to hear swing music.  The NFL draft is a new concept.  Ball-point pens are invented.  And you are just a kid soaking it all in.  Jack Kerouac was born in 1922 and was a kid growing up in Lowell in the 1930s.  Here are a few nostalgic photos of Lowell….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Wednesday: Passion and Proximity

8 Feb

When I was an English major in undergrad, I didn’t have English major friends.  Most of my friends were premed or computer science (blame my proximity to Harvey Mudd on the latter) or a variety of random majors: history, American studies, French.  I was friendly with my classmates in the English department, but we weren’t a really close-knit clique.

That’s not to say I didn’t have any word-minded friends when I was in college.  I spent a lot of time in “The Dungeon,” what we called the basement office to the indie newspaper where I worked, and perhaps based simply on the fact that we had to spend a lot of time together, I cultivated friendships there.  When you work the graveyard shift, things tend to get a little silly around 3 am.  It bonds you, whether you like it or not.  Just recently one of the women I worked with came to NYC for a visit, and it was so much fun to catch up with her over brunch at Beauty & Essex.

When I graduated from undergrad, many of my relationships continued to be based in the literary world once again by virtue of my chosen career.  Work kind of dominates your life.  You spend most of your waking day at your job.  You might as well make friends there.  Outside of the friends I made at the publishing house, though, I gravitated towards people with very different careers than mine.  People who worked in graphic design, banking, real estate, you name it.

Being in a creative writing MFA now, it would seem natural that I should have a lot of writing friends.  Life doesn’t always work that way.  While everyone’s headed out for red wine after our classes end at 10:30 pm, I’m shuffling to the subway because I have to get up for work the next morning.  You can’t be bleary-eyed when it comes to editing books.  The friends I have made there, though, are awesome.  It’s so great to connect with writers, who understand the whole juggle of life and work and writing and who totally get it when you say you wish you didn’t have a passion to write.

I wonder if friendship is based more on proximity and circumstance or on mutual interests.  For some, those two might intertwine, but for many I don’t think it always does.  I think that’s because our passions aren’t always our biggest priorities.  I don’t mean that in the negative sense that our passion isn’t meaningful and important to us.  I just think other things can be as meaningful if not more meaningful, and we gravitate toward those who share our same values and personality over people who share our same activities.