Friday, May 6, 2011

Palisades Park, NJ

        I moved. I was informed that I couldn't be around while El's dad goes through treatment. I took the news lightly at first since I know have many living options at my disposal, but slowly I realized how much I loved the situation I was in and how much it would suck to be away from El and the comfort of Leonia. Fortunately, although in mid-freak-out, I found out that Bobby's mom was renting out a room. Now, I have my own space, a lot of light from a few big windows, and three cats to get to know. El fell in love with Mambo, so he decided he'd take care of her. Lucky for me. Now I won't have to deal with any chaos from the felines. I stop by to visit and I'll take her back when I leave the area, but for now I'm living only a town away. "Pal Park," I like to call it.
        About three blocks down is Broad Avenue. The Koreans own that strip. Hair salons, restaurants, ooh, and karaoke bars. A little nightlife in my backyard. It's bigger than Leonia, so I'll have more opportunity to converse in Korean. I've been taking lessons online, and now I have a textbook in the mail. Autodidactic learning rocks.
        I got my hair cut. Bobby told me that I should get a white girl fro. I loved the idea, but realized I'd need to get rid of the dreads and grow my hair out a bit for a perm. So, I made sure to enjoy and appreciate my hair until 4/20. Then, I had Bobby hack it all off. Of course, now my hair was all different lengths, so I went down to Broad Ave and stopped into the first salon I saw (there are many to choose from). They wanted forty bucks to even out my hair. I said I'd go to the ATM, but really I meant I'd go check out the deal down the street. The next salon I walked into was empty, but a middle-aged Korean woman who spoke little English assured me they were
open. She said she'd do my hair for twenty-five. She thought she finished, but there was a section of my hair that was shorter than the rest. I tried to tell her I needed it all the same length She then made me question myself. "Very, very short," she said with a concerned look on her face. I told her to go for it. At the end of the whole ordeal, I was pleased. It felt good to start fresh. I haven't had short hair since I was a baby, so I'm happy these dread gave me a reason to try it out. I handed the woman forty bucks since I was so satisfied. She was very grateful, and I left with an "Annyeonghi gyeseo!" This literally translated to "stay in peace" and is the common goodbye when one is leaving somewhere.
        I got a job. All I have to do is walk up the hill to the Italian neighborhood to start my shift at Hanky's Pizzeria and Deli as the counter gal/waitress. Charlie's the boss. His son, Charlie, is boss too. Lou has been there since they renovated the place three years ago, when Charlie took over the business. Hanky was Charlie's grandfather. He started Hanky's circa 1900. It was like a 7/11 for those days. The family is huge. I'm always meeting new cousins or brothers/sisters-in-law. Aunt Loretta lives upstairs and comes down to help every now and then. She's such a sweetheart and tells me fun stories from the past. There are some old fellas that live and have lived in the neighborhood all their lives who come in and talk about how things used to be. Old photos of the family decorate the walls. One depicts a wedding at the Catholic church across the street. I think about how perfect this job is. I don't have to work for a huge corporation. I get to work at a small place with great people. Even before coming down here, I had imagined that I'd work at a pizzeria. Serving is my thing. I like tip jobs and I like people. I learn tips along the way about making great food and, as a plus, I get to take some of that great food home at the end of the night. I was talking to Ollie the other day about this job. He told me about his friends coming out of college now that are like, "What, I can't make 60 tho with my college degree, and, instead, I'm getting a job that I could've gotten out of high school?! Shit." According to this article, "[i]n the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees." It looks like I can be just like them except without the average of $25,000 in student loan debt. Among the statistics was also "[a]ccording to very extensive research detailed in a new book entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, 45 percent of U.S. college students exhibit 'no significant gains in learning after two years in college." Of course we all learn everyday, but it looks like any type of measurable academic progress was absent. Even at this new job, I try to learn as much as possible about being the best server I can. I suppose some might find it bizarre, but traveling waitress might just become my career path. It's flexible, lucrative (enough for me), and work that I can be proud of. I basically get paid to make people smile. What could be better? I envisioned finding a passion that I can make money off of, but I think the simplicity and cheer found in this line of work is good enough for me.
        So, here I am, going day in and day out with a "normal" American life. I'm not doing anything extraordinary. I'm existing like an average nineteen-year-old, but with a twist. I move around a lot. If I don't save up enough money before winter, I think I'll head down to Boca Raton to stay with my aunt. I'll find a new server position during Florida's busy season and get to know a new place. Yeah, sure, it's the land of the retired, but if I'm aiming for wisdom, I guess the elderly are the people to talk to. I don't know much about the ethnic diversity of the area, but perhaps I can practice my Spanish at the good ol' Rat's Mouth.
        My mind likes to daydream about all of the other places I could be right now. I could stick my thumb out on the side of the road and head west...or south...or northeast. Anywhere. I could be impulsive with my savings and head overseas. But, no. Here is good. Summertime in the city is something I've dreamed of since I was little. I'll experience what the big apple has to offer and then be on my way. I remember looking at colleges and becoming frustrated that they all seemed the same. The only difference that I cared about was location. I wanted to be in the big city, but I'm realizing that college wasn't my only shot at living there, and certainly four years time was more than wanted.
        I go upstate every now and then. I visited my dad to grab some things, including my bicycle. It makes not having a car so much more enjoyable. Walking is nice. One can smell the roses during a walk, but if I need a quick commute, my bike does the job. I also picked up some more clothes. I decided a new look was in order for this new hairstyle. It's always fun to change personas. "Erica Goldson" is a blank slate. My dorm hall may know me as a hippie, but Pal Park will see something new.


  1. hey bonomy! I like your blog. !!! I will visit everyday!

  2. Hi,
    I'm a senior in high school, and I found your speech online after googling for speeches critical of our education system. Yours is the most concise I've yet found, so I was wondering if you would allow me to deliver your speech for a public speaking assembly at my school (Columbia Prep in NYC). Glad to hear you're making your own life now, and that you're determined to truly find yourself.

  3. Hi Erica!

    I came across your speech a few months ago and loved it. I myself am taking time off from college after coming to several realizations similar to yours. I actually started a something called The Eduventurist Project where I profile young people taking alternative paths to learning and living. I would love to be able to interview you through skype or something! Check out my site, to learn more about the project!

    -Weezie Y.S.

  4. Scaramouche,

    Of course you can deliver my speech for your assembly!



    My skype name is ericagoldson. I'd love to talk sometime.

  5. I delivered the speech to a crowd of about 20 faculty members at my school, and it was a big success! I got an A in the course, and everyone - my headmaster included - agreed that it was a great speech. I pointed them in the direction of your blog, so you may have a few more readers in the near future =)

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