Construction Site

The university is constructing a new something-or-other at the bottom of my street. It’s a massive job; the plot is the size of a city block. Each day no fewer than one hundred workers putz around in neon vests and hard hats, tinkering away at the 700 billion dollar project (a highly exaggerated figure). They hammer. They dig. They bulldoze. Hundred-foot-high yellow cranes observe the whole thing from above. It’s noisy. It’s messy. I absolutely love it. I love it because it’s given me something to write about. I’ve been working on this poem about how the site looks at night. You can’t see anything, except three American flags, illuminated by floodlights, which were positioned atop each of the three cranes. Why did they put American flags on the site? I am not sure, but it’s one of those quaint observations that makes me giddy.

I love this construction site because it’s a work in progress. Something is happening. It’s alive. It’s growing. A once vacated plot now holds the promise of some new glory. Everything we lay eyes on is in constant motion. Physics will surely tell us that a tree’s cells are dividing, using nutrients from the ground and the sun. The molecules of a street sign are moving, even if we can’t see them. The movement and change that takes place in the construction site is obvious. Bulldozers move dirt around, dirt is fills holes or turns into piles that are then trucked away, the flags flap in the wind. When I walk down the street and see all of this chaos, deliberately planned chaos but chaos nonetheless, I think about all of the ways I am like a construction site. I might as well be wrapped in caution tape, with a sign around my neck that says “Pardon my dust. Renovation in progress.”


My quarter-life-crisis is full blown at this point. Autobiographies have been my genre of choice as I work through the essential questions of life. They provide reassurance that everyone lives a different way. Everyone becomes someone, and I’m no exception. I love this genre because I get answers to questions like: What do other people think of their lives? How did they get to where they are today? What do they regret? Do they smoke? (Shame on you, Amy Poehler! I still love you.) What grammar constructions do they favor? It also gives me insight into what different jobs are like, which is extremely helpful but utterly overwhelming. My top three most recent reads were written by Jimmy Carter, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Poehler.

I’m a mess of creativity and indecision, and so it’s hard for me to look to the future and see myself doing any one thing.  I like to leave things open. Books, doors–both literal and metaphorical–jars of peanut butter (preferably crunchy. preferably as close to my laptop as possible.), lines of communication. Because I like to keep things open, I find it impossible to answer questions like what are you interested in? What do you want to study? What do you think you want to do with your life? Amy Poehler commented on this in her book, Yes, Please: “Instead of asking students to ‘declare a major,'” she writes, “we should ask them to ‘list what they will do anything to avoid.” So here we go…

What will PJ do anything to avoid:

  • Events that don’t serve food
  • Wearing high heeled shoes
  • Being cold
  • Listening to Nickelback
  • Pumping gas
  • Poisonous snakes (garden snakes are OK)
  • Cleaning the shower drain

We can glean from this that I will not be an explorer of the Arctic nor the Amazon, a supermodel (duh…), or a gas station attendant. But let’s keep listing, because this is a somewhat helpful exercise.

Jobs that PJ would rather jump into a pit of crocodiles than do: 

  • Zookeeper (convenient)
  • Corporate finance
  • Nun
  • Mortician (at least my co-workers would know what to do with my body?)
  • Fact-checker
  • Anything IT-related (I know very simple coding, and I feel like a boss every time I use it, but when my printer jammed last week I tried to talk it out of its angry state…I’m better with people.)
  • Opera singer

It pretty much ends there, though. I dig so much stuff (like trenches and piles of dirt down the street). Passion has never been my problem, not nearly as much as decision. But like the workers in the neon vests I am tinkering. Filling in holes with cement, blocking off hazard areas, creating ventilation…this metaphor is beginning to stray, which leads me to believe that it’s about time to wrap this up. If I’ve learned anything from ******’s construction project, and from the autobiographies that I’ve been devouring, it’s this: we’re all growing. All the time. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. I’m going to keep my hard hat nearby, because I suspect the next few years will be a little rough as I construct and deconstruct and reconstruct myself. That’s what your twenties are for. And your thirties. And forties. And fifties. And so on. And so forth.

*photo credit from google images*

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