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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Jennifer Barish at 4:31PM   |  5 comments
a photo of Jennifer Barish

Blog posting written by Jennifer Barish, Communication Management & Design ‘14, FLEFF intern, Skokie, IL

Last summer, while interning in downtown Chicago, I attempted to be an adult. Pencil skirts. Train tickets from the suburbs to the city. Newspapers. Lattes.

My days were long, and after my unpaid commitment to a small consulting firm, I would take the red line home, throw my heels in the closet, and don a navy hat and gray park district t-shirt. I was a working stiff that hot summer—a corporate drone by day and a concession stand dish-washer by night.

This type of lifestyle was a culture shock, and my first taste of the “real world” was influential, but brutal.

Miles away from the dynamic Ithaca College campus where you can find impromptu string quartets on the quad, my life felt flat—a lit too stable, a bit too busy, and just uninspired.

But the train station made life deliciously more noisy and volatile.

Men and women singing the blues. Public displays of affection. Domestic disputes and heartfelt apologies. Bucket boys. Sports rivalries.

I put down the paper and started to listen, and the hot summer was soothed by these micro moments of chaos, music, and voyeurism.

The train was my microtopia—where my world could be dynamic, but safe, impulsive, yet calculated.



Mmm, this Jennifer Barish sure does know how to write a compelling story! What a unique voice!

Jenny- you mention that your time in Chicago was a sharp contrast to the inspiring atmosphere of Ithaca College's campus, save for your time at the train station.

How exactly did the scenes that you witnessed in the train station inspire you?

When you're in college, your JOB is to be inspired. You're supposed to learn and get angry and overemotional about things. At home in the city, I got into this really stagnant pattern. Maybe it's just that I hate schedules. Maybe I hate office buildings or panty hose. The train station brought a factor of unpredictability--something that I find a lot in college.

And sir Bonaroo, thank you for your kind words!

Excellent posting. I really like the reference to the Chicago train station as a microtopia, lively, if not slightly chaotic. You manage to shift the concept of utopia as a protected, enclosed place, to an open, public one.
Thomas More might not approve, but Socrates certainly would.
Also, thanks for the link to the performance of Chicago bucket boys. It is absolutely fantastic.

Thank you for your comment! When I close my eyes and think of Chicago all I hear is that very particular kind of drumming. I worked at Wrigley Field one summer and those sounds filled the air for hours.

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