The architect of [Grand Central} station was Whitney Warren, and the Main Concourse is his masterpiece. This noble room, 275 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 125 feet high, is a model of symmetry. The immense windows at either end are double, and passageways with floors of glass connect the two ends of the building through the windows themselves. If you look long enough you will probably see someone walk casually across. The effect is peculiarly spidery.
-Cue’s Guide to New York City, Chap. 5: Midtown New York
What can you do with a BA in English?
-Opening line of ‘Avenue Q’
My cousin Ella graduated today, from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, to which one must take a train. The ceremony was at ten am, and about forty minutes away, so we set the alarm nice and early so we would have time to get ready and get there. Unfortunately, the alarm did not see things that way; it had its heart seet on going off at eight. Which made things a little tight, and I didn’t get any breakfast, but we made it, dashing on to the last train bare minutes before it left.
The campus was lovely, though damp, as it had started raining again- just misting when we arrived, but by the time the ceremony got underway it was pouring down, complete with enough thunder and lightning to make me wonder if it really was such a hot idea to be sitting in a tent that was held up by two giant metal posts. The fact that no one got electrocuted is probably attributable to the the amazing isulative powers of East Coast WASPs.
Since it was a graduation, there of course had to be several people speaking about Your Future and The Value of Education. The president of the college went the traditional route, talking about how much their school emphasizes original thought and questioning convential wisdom, interspersed with recitations of party lines that date back to 1938 and cliches so tired that they didn’t even bother to set their alarm.
On the other hand, Ann Patchett, the graduation speaker was original, relevant and sincere, telling stories about her adventures with the question of ‘what next’, which can apparently be a real problem when you leave school with four years worth of very expensive education and no marketable skills. Of course, things worked out for her, because she is Ann Patchett. Very few of the rest of them are likely to be so lucky. (Someday I am going to write a post about the difference between dreams and plans. It will be cynical, preachy and self-important, so I’m sure you just can’t wait.)