A tree grows in Brooklyn

One day soon after I came home from my freshman year at college, I printed out several dozen copies of my résumé and, with a supportive friend, went up and down 7th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I walked up and down a ten-block stretch of the avenue for half an hour before I had the courage to enter a store and tell them I was looking for a job for the summer. I became more comfortable with the routine as I repeated it many times that afternoon, but it wasn’t made easy by the businesses I was approaching: restaurants (or diners or cafés) and real estate offices. I lacked any appropriate experience, and I resisted looking at my résumé all day to avoid reminding myself of the ridiculousness in applying to barista jobs on the back of my position as features editor of The Yale Globalist.

That evening I came home to find an email from Kroll, the one place I had previously interviewed for a job. The email included an offer for a paid internship, and I took it, thus ending my fruitless search for jobs in Park Slope. Though I didn’t need to receive any more job offers, that I never did left my ego with a minor bruise and drove home that I had been unqualified for the jobs I had asked for that day in Brooklyn — that I was more underqualified than overqualified.

At Kroll, I had a great internship. I was paid well, walked six blocks to work, came and went largely without supervision, and enjoyed my own half-office with no one looking over my shoulder and no one even able to see my desk without entering the room I occupied. I worked on various projects over the summer, some of which took only a morning to complete, others which required a full week of work. I learned what I was supposed to learn on the job, both in skills and business know-how, and mostly enjoyed myself while getting paid. Plus, when I wasn’t given work — often — I read all I wanted on the internet and even managed a lot of writing. That summer was the most productive period for an autobiographical project I worked on for most of 2007, which led me to record everything I did all day long, in as much detail as I could. With several hours at a computer and no assigned tasks to complete most days, I devoted many hours that summer to a complete personal account, recording everything from navel-gazing and banal daily routines to thorough and thoughtful written self-reflection. The month of July 2007 is now saved forever as forty-five single-spaced pages in a Word document. I also spent a lot of time on Wikipedia, and I learned all I wanted to about whatever I wanted to.

Today, walking along St. John’s Place, just off 7th Avenue in Park Slope, I saw a tree that made me cross the street to see it better. Seven or eight feet above the ground, a single thick branch grew horizontally outward, at a perfect right angle from the trunk. And extending above that branch, also at right angles, were five smaller branches growing straight upward. There was no way this tree grew naturally; it must have been shaped as it grew, though how it could have been shaped while planted on the sidewalk I couldn’t figure, and how or why one would have transported such a tree to its current location I couldn’t guess. Regardless, it brought back a good memory, that of a discovery I made during one of my many hours on Wikipedia two summers ago. I’m still in love with arborsculpture, and I’d still love to have a tree home one day.

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