Friday, November 7, 2014

Typing Lessons at the Empire State Building

Several people have asked me how I crank out these blog posts "so fast" and how I can get anything else done. Truth be told, they don't take long. Maybe about 10-15 minutes each. They're a great mental palate cleanser either on a lunch break; when I'm trying to clear my head between tasks; or while I'm engaged in the interminable bedtime routine of lying down with my kids while they fall asleep each night.

The main reason they take ten minutes each goes back to the biggest fight I ever had with my dad. The summer before I left for college, he insisted that I learn to touch-type. He claimed I wasn't allowed to leave home without perfecting this skill, and somehow found a twelve-week course of typing lessons in the basement of the Empire State Building. I've blocked out the details, but I know I took the subway to midtown from the Bronx several times each week in oppressive humidity, only to sit for three hours at a time in a darkened, windowless room in front of an industrial typewriter. The instructor was a dumpy, pocket-protector wearing, serial-killer-looking, child-molester-with-a-white-van Bernie Goetz-type (see in his mid-forties. He paced around me and thirty single moms vying for office jobs, breathing over our shoulders with putrid-smelling breath and yelling at us every time we missed a keystroke.

My fancy private high school had left me well-versed in the Baroque period and how to make a stained glass vase (seriously). But somehow, Riverdale Country School failed to teach me how to type "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" at 60 wpm. I looked around the room at the women (they were all women) who desperately needed this class to get a decent paying job: not to fill a gap in an expensive education that had prioritized Chaucer over the most basic administrative skills. I felt worse than ever. I attended four of the twelve classes before I faced off with my father and insisted I was done. We argued and argued, until finally he subjected me to his own typing test and agreed I was good to go.

There's also a secondary reason why I write quickly: It's something a friend described perfectly as follows: "If I actually said the things I thought, no one would talk to me anymore." Every day brings something new. Something that makes me roll my eyes (literally and figuratively), either inward toward myself, or outward toward the rest of the world (See, e.g., recent post titled: "Earth to Whole Foods: Fuck Your 'Values'"). In short, I derive my inspiration from deep self-loathing and snap judgments. And Lord knows: at least as far as I'm concerned, there's an endless supply of both.

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