History of American Civilization

This blog has been many things over the past few years, but wherever I’ve been and however I’ve treated it, it’s always been a place for me to record things that I think are worth keeping in mind.

This past year has been nuts.  I worked at as a curatorial intern (with stipend!) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, directly under an amazing curator, Elizabeth Kornhauser, who would literally take hours of her time, sometimes daily, just to talk with me about art.  My experience with her was mentorship unparalleled, unbounded with such a wealth of resources that is the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I had the opportunity to give tours to the public, which was a rewarding educational performance.  Every tour I gave, people would stay after and talk with me longer — I had the freedom to take longer if I chose.  The tour I constructed myself, “Moments of Indecision and Catastrophe” took museum goers to David’s Death of Socrates, to Lucas Cranach’s Judgment of Paris, to Rubens Venus and Adonis, to Cole’s Oxbow, finally to Carpeaux Ugolino.  On my other tour, “Landscapes,” I was immensely proud to have people who never before gave more than a passing glance to landscapes whole new perspective on the genre, starting with Breugel’s The Harvesters, then El Greco’s View of Toledo, Cole’s Oxbow, Hannock’s Oxbow (to this day I am ashamed I never did an Asian wall scroll of any sort.  I just never felt comfortable enough with my handle of Asian art).

Simultaneously, while I was working at the marble columned pedestal of culture, I was living in Bedford-Stuyvesant with my two best pals, Mario Sosa and Misha Epstein.  Bed-Stuy, do or die, was a place where I did not, and got out of before I did.  I still cannot even really write about the experience because it is something I am still processing over a year after the fact.  Needless to say, between the regular shootings, the repeated burglaries, the sinister threats, I was really glad to move out.

Then I had this really weird two weeks where I essentially worked in the shipping depot of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Queens, which was possibly the most monotonous job I’ve ever done ever, and drove me crazy. This one I can write about, and will soon.

Following that, I worked as a private tutor to the children of one of the wealthiest families in New York City, taking helicopters around New York, flying on private jets to vacations in the Caribbean, Europe, and Mexico, and learning how the other half lives.  At this point, I’ve seen both halves, and hope to situate myself somewhere comfortably in the middle.

Now I’m living in Cambridge, MA, in what can only be described as the most beautiful apartment I’ve ever lived in.  My roommates are great, my landlord is great, and I’m studying in my first year for my PhD in American Studies at Harvard.  I’ll likely be here for the next six years, so during that time, this blog will become more of a place to post random thoughts and excerpts from what I’ve read that I find particularly poignant and worth reflection.  I have no idea what exactly I am going to get out of all this, but I have no doubt it will be a tremendous experience.  Hopefully it will also periodically become a travel blog as well!

And may I say, as I said some 4 years ago when I was working at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, a place which I love so much, which offered me mentorship, and friends who loved learning for the sake of learning, and such a sincere wealth of knowledge and opportunity (for free!) that I wondered if there was really any need to go anywhere else (and perhaps still wonder periodically), that what I said back then still stands now: Go Obama!

1 reply »

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