Journal Entry 32- Peer Review 4
A. My thesis is about feeling lost in NYC and feeling like the ‘other’ when actually the city can be everyone’s home. The change I talk about is learning to navigate my way around emotionally and physically. I’m searching for a home in NYC and talk about the vastness of the metropolis that lets everyone find that home. Because everyone is different, no one is different and therefore everyone fits in.
B. I draw upon Whitehead, using him to prove that disappearing and feeling lost in NYC is in the “city charter,” therefore it’s not an uncommon feeling. I also connect him to E.B. White saying this disappearing element is what enables everyone to fit in. Because there is this great diversity in the city, everyone feels like the other and therefore no one does. I use Judith’s preface to Crossing the BLVD to further strengthen that point saying that the stories and different cultures that define the people of NY also define NYC as a whole and therefore anyone (even a suburban girl like Judith and me) can find a place here. I think I do draw enough on my own experiences and those from the texts.
The points about feeling both emotionally and physically lost are well developed. Also my feelings of “me vs. them” I think are interesting and well-developed.
The passage that needs a little more elaboration is the one connecting E.B. White and Whitehead. I haven’t fully developed the idea of how disappearance allows for everyone’s acceptance.
C. The voice I’m presenting is basically my train of thought. It’s very conversational, very much trying to figure out where I am and where I belong which fits well with my thesis.
D. The structure consists of a suspenseful beginning and then becomes chronological. It flows well as I describe my journey that is actually still taking place.
E. The title was a little too generic and should be personalized a bit. The essay opened with a very relatable topic and closed with the journey which I continue to take. I think they worked well with the topic and added both relatable and universal aspects to my essay.
F. There were minor grammatical mistakes but none that were consistent or that can’t be corrected.
G. The in-text citations were done correctly and I have not yet done my works cited.
Journal Entry 31- Reflections
I think it really takes time for this feeling to change. I have definitely made progress, but that sense of the ‘other’ is still ingrained in me. I still feel like a suburbs girl. I still feel like New York City is more of a tourist attraction than a home. And I still feel very small among the towering skyscrapers. Nonetheless, I have started to feel more comfortable in the NYC setting. I have learned that many people have this sense of the ‘other’ and through the diversity that I think defines NYC, everyone can find a way to fit in. I think the major change has been that I now see the importance of embracing the feeling of the ‘other’ in order to feel like an insider, because so many others contain that feeling.
A key part of my experience in NYC that I did not mention was my lacking sense of direction, or inability to navigate this dense expanse of land. A major component of my feeling like the ‘other’ stems from my lack of acquaintance with the area, and subsequently my total loss of direction. I have to research destination routes online, pull out maps on the subway, and occasionally ask a passerby for directions. Because I feel physically lost, I therefore feel emotionally lost, not feeling like I belong. This navigation component plays a major role in my experience of the city and thereby plays a crucial part in the changing of that experience. By learning to physically navigate my way around the city, I learn to do so emotionally too. Living in Queens has gotten the wheels turning, but there is still awhile more to go.
Journal Entry 30
1. My experiences in relation to themes:
The theme of the ‘other’ and isolation is one that is clearly reflected in my experiences in NY. As the large population that makes up the city seems to rush back and forth on the streets of NY, I am left to referencing my subway map for a way to navigate the grid layout. This sort of consistent experience makes me feel isolated as no one else seems to share that sensation. With this lacking sense of direction, comes the lacking sense of belonging that once again these passersby seem to embody. Because I am still learning to navigate and learning the social codes and norms, I feel like there is no community for me in NYC to which I can belong. I don’t even know enough about the communities in NY to search for one. Through Whitehead’s “Brooklyn Bridge” I have discovered that others feel this isolation when standing in this great metropolis. Furthermore, as E.B. White expands, in order to belong and remove yourself from the isolation, you have to find a community which is readily available as NYC is home to a great deal of diversity.
I have also felt the sense of ‘other’ in that way. I am not yet used to the attitude of New Yorkers and therefore instinctively apologize for bumping into people on the street which inevitably happens. I am the ‘other’ in that way as not many NYC residents do the same. In addition, I constantly refer to my subway map, something no proper New Yorker would do as they contain that built-in GPS I am so clearly lacking. I am the ‘other’ in the sense that I do not yet know the social norms and codes that define NY residents or embody that instinctive sense of direction.
2. Think of a personal issue:
I have moved around a lot. Not just houses, but cities, states and even countries, so I have not found a place where I really belong. I have always felt like the ‘other’ everywhere I am, whether it is in a new school, new community, etc. Therefore, it is no surprise that I feel like an ‘other’ in NYC, where I have never actually lived. At the beginning of the semester, during my first days living in NYC, I was absolutely terrified. This physically large area that makes up the great metropolis and the vast number of people that populate it was just overwhelming. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing, where they were going, and how to get there. I on the other hand carried around a subway map which I took out at least once per train ride, and continue to do so even on routes I have taken several times before. Even once I got off the train, as I walked along streets and avenues, I consistently looked up at the street signs to make sure the numbers were still going up and would calculate in my head “Yes 56 is less than 57.”
Despite this, I tried to put a ‘game face’ on, to give the appearance that I knew where I was going. It still amazes me how people can climb out of the subway station and just walk. They cross streets, turn corners, and get to their destinations without seemingly paying attention to their surroundings. I have not lived in any one community long enough to have that sense of direction, so navigating NYC simply scared me, and quite frankly it still does. When everyone else has that built-in GPS and I don’t, I feel isolated, I feel lost, I feel like the ‘other’. I feel intimidated by the mad rush of people passing by, constantly in motion, and feel the need to act the same. So while I walk around pretending to fit in, my inner feelings reflect a far different experience, a more lonely one.
Through my experience not only attempting to navigate this great metropolis, but also discussing various ‘other’ accounts in class, I start to see past walkers’ ‘game faces’. With accounts such as Judith’s in Crossing the BLVD, I am both discouraged by the fact that I have not yet found myself like she has, but also encourage that there is potential. I recognize this isolation that immigrants and other newcomers feel in their initial days in the city. Through their writings and that of Whitehead and E.B. White together I also have learned that the key to surviving in this great metropolis is to find a community in which you belong, a place to which you can disappear. As I have gotten better at navigation and relating to New Yorkers, I still sort of feel a sense of the ‘other’ as I have not yet found my community to which to belong. It is both discomforting and comforting to know that in such a densely populated area, so many feel alone.
Journal Entry 29- The Eyes of the City
With the amount of people present, it could easily turn into a social scene or at least a meet-and-greet. What I have found, though, is that actually the crowd that forms remains silent and each person refuses to make eye contact with the others as he/she awaits the bus. I have found that during the earlier hours of the day the crowd consists of mainly middle-aged men and women with children waiting to go to work, school, or grocery shopping. There is no interaction between those waiting except for the occasional “parental” remark to one’s anxious child. Contrastingly, at later hours, the area contains mostly college students and teenagers, heading back home or out for the night. They sometimes whisper quietly to their traveling partners, but never to others they don’t know.
What would seem a conversation starter is the glass structure under which many gather either as shade on sunny days or as a roof for the rainy and snowy ones. Interestingly, though, there isn’t much communication between those that squeeze under aside for the periodic, unavoidable body bump. During inclement weather as many people as possible huddle under that 3×6 roof, and yet all eyes remain turned to the left anticipating the bus that should arrive any minute. Those who do not fit inside the structure stand around it, either behind, under the large tree, or on the sidewalk to its left. On some occasions, only a child has the courage to sit on the steps that lead up to the two townhouses that stand on that corner. Otherwise, all remain standing, facing left towards the direction of the anticipated Q64 bus, completely silent, on the junction of Kissena Blvd. and Jewel Ave.
Journal Entry 28- Capitalism and the City
Both view capitalism in a negative way discussing the corrupt and unfavorable effects it has on NYC. Gorky, though sees this capitalism as defining NYC and therefore influencing his negative view of the metropolis as a whole. He has an overwhelmingly harsh tone in his descriptions of NYC and capitalism, personifying the inanimate objects that make up the city while sort of de-personifying the people. Gorky uses capitalism to explain this ‘de-personification’ describing the people as flies and other animals, making them almost soulless. He also uses this analogy of the “yellow devil” in describing capitalism. Through these images he portrays, he paints a sad and dark picture of what he sees in business and NYC as a whole.
Levitch similarly depicts capitalism as he recognizes its corruptness. Quite contrastingly, though, Levitch doesn’t see capitalism as defining the city even though he uses NYC as a prime example of capitalism and the business world. What he sees in capitalism is the lack of intimacy it affects and for which it allows. He uses both a cynical and sarcastic tone, using exaggeration to bring to light serious, and otherwise overlooked, issues. In his interpretation of George Washington’s sculptured outstretched arm as the basis for American history, Levitch exaggerates the details to prove his lack-of-intimacy point. He takes the reader on a tour of Wall Street, through which he manipulates a tour of the effects of capitalism. He describes the different aspects of corrupt business as if they are landmarks in the area and through that description portrays the impact of capitalism on the city. Both Levitch and Gorky use imagery and analogies to really make the reader feel their disgust towards capitalism.