After the Bubble Bursts

Jeni Houser

I recently wrote an e-mail to several Lawrentian-friends (Law-frien-tians?) filled with nostalgic reminiscence. With the first nice weather of the season, I found that Central Park just did not have the same ambience as Main Hall Green. The surroundings may actually be prettier, but it’s shocking not to recognize anyone lounging nearby. At any rate, I miss Lawrence. Sometimes.
I am not the only LU alum to have moved to New York City after graduation. We have quite a little crew out here now, which is marvelous. Of course, one downside to New York life is that it’s an unimaginable hassle to actually see friends.
Between different work schedules, the various performances or gigs one has to attend, and the fact that getting from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn is the equivalent of driving from Appleton to see friends in Milwaukee, I’ve seen my local Law-frien-tians only a handful of times.
Without a daily dose of hallway gossip or library chatting, I’ve had to find other ways to fill my time.
Turns out, that’s not tricky. Between nine hours of work at an investment bank each day, singing practice, cooking my own meals, and a German class, there’s little time to spare.
Luckily the day job doesn’t drain me horribly since it involves scheduling meetings, organizing e-mails containing information I only partially understand, creating Excel documents and expensing trips that I could never afford to take.
It’s a great day job because I got to shape my hours to create a practice schedule, I have excellent benefits, and I have become more fashionable. However, it is rather exhausting to go home after work and try to put in a day of singing practice before my self-designated cutoff time of 8 pm. No complaints from the neighbors so far!
Primary goals for my time in New York relate to singing. After teaching in Madison last year, I was ready to work a job that doesn’t involve running away from second-graders trying to throw chairs at me, or running toward first-graders who are jumping on the heads of classmates.
So now I take voice lessons and prepare for upcoming auditions and think vaguely about going back to graduate school for a master’s in voice or maybe moving to Asia. One can never predict.
My secondary goals right now include the following: paying off credit card debt left over from studying abroad in Amsterdam (which has been building ever since, I’m afraid — but SO worth it), paying down my student debt as much as possible, paying for occasional trips to see the suddenly far-away family, paying as little as possible to see world-class performances at Lincoln Center and paying for food and rent and things.
Let me tell you, money doesn’t matter. But it’s much easier to remember that when you don’t live in New York City, the land of ridiculous expenditure.
When do I miss Lawrence? A little bit every day, to be honest. I’m a big fan. But this next phase of life (the nebulous mid-20s — Should we get jobs? Should we get married? Should we herd sheep?) is pretty fabulous. I highly recommend graduating and going somewhere new and trying something different. Emphasis on the graduating first, seniors. Happy Spring!Jeni Houser
Class of ’05 (always in my heart), ’06 (officially?), ’07 (when they sent the diplomas)