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Living on a couch in New York City with nothing but an English Degree

I f you read my column about a month ago, you would know that I took a trip to New York City over winter break. But you didn't read my column, did you? No, you read the first paragraph and flipped to the comic strips because you were intimidated by so many words in a small space without any goofy pictures in sight (excluding the painfully goofy picture of my head that is staring at you right now). You are such an ungrateful, back-stabbing ... wait, wait. Don't turn to the comic strips again. I'm sorry. I love you.

Anyway, I was going to say there's a chance I'll be living in or around New York after I graduate. (Remember that part about graduating, kids, because I use it as a segue later in this column). So over winter break I went to different areas of NYC and the surrounding cities to check out the quality of living and average cost of rent. The first area I went to, somewhere in Brooklyn, had extremely expensive real estate and no quality of living. It didn't have low quality of living - it had none. There was no quality in the living. From what I gathered from the area, the people were lucky just to be living. I was dodging bullets, knocking rabid squirrels off my back, and I was up to my ankles in some sort of sidewalk sludge. Apparently the sidewalks in New York secrete an unidentified brownish ooze that can burn the feathers off a pigeon.

Despite the apparent nastiness of the area, the rents still were outrageously high. Of course, "outrageously expensive" for someone just out of college with no job and no future is the same as the cost of one roll of Bill Gates' custom-made triple-ply toilet paper. So you see, it's all relative.

Next, I checked out some areas just inside New Jersey. These places were nicer, but they cost even more. I did some calculations and discovered that to afford an apartment there I would have to sell one of my kidneys every month for a year. Either that or get a normal job. How long does it take for a kidney to grow back?

One of these cities was Hoboken, New Jersey. Hoboken is a beautiful little town, and what makes Hoboken so great is actually what it doesn't have. It doesn't have any of the brownish sidewalk goo of New York or the painful stench of New Jersey. For all of you proud people of New Jersey, I'm just kidding about that last line - the stench only was mildly annoying.

I checked out some of the fliers for apartments that were taped on lampposts in Hoboken. One said, "How would you like to live in a beautiful first-floor apartment for only $400 a month? Ha! Wouldn't we all?! I'm actually looking for a roommate for my 38th floor apartment. There's no elevator, no air conditioning, no heating and no bathrooms. Concerning the rent - you can only afford it if you're dealing drugs. Non-drug dealers need not apply."

Because finding an affordable apartment in big cities is so difficult, I want to help you all out and give you an extensive list of easy ways to do it.

1) Get inside a big box and mail yourself to a senile person. When they open the package pretend to be a stuffed animal.

2) Break into a nice apartment and then act like the owner's butler. By the time he figures out your name isn't really "Winsley" and your tux is just a T-shirt with a picture of a tux on it, he'll be too dependent on you to kick you out.

However, finding an apartment is not the only hardship of graduating. (See, I told you to remember that segue). You also have to decide what job you want. People always are telling me to go see a career counselor to help me figure out what to do with my life, but something about that bothers me. How am I supposed to trust that career counselors know what I should do with my entire life when they ended up being career counselors? It looks like they messed up that career decision pretty badly themselves.

You have to wonder what kind of interests they had in college. Were they really having that much fun at the career counselor's office?

Career Counselor: Well, what do you enjoy doing?

Future career counselor: This.

Career Counselor: This??

Future career counselor: Yeah, this. I love this. Can I make another appointment for next week so we can do this again?

I'm just kidding, of course. Career counselors are hardworking men and women, and the true reason they can't help us is because we lie to them. They ask us what we like to do, and we always say we enjoy something like law or chemistry or literature. But we never tell them the truth.

Otherwise every student would walk in there and say, "Well, I enjoy drinking beer and watching television. What kind of excellent jobs do you have for me? Oh, and sleeping is a hobby of mine as well. How will that look on my resume?"

But I'm not worried about getting a job. I've worked hard here at the University, and I will leave proudly with an English degree. Such a degree has boldly prepared and qualified me to be homeless in the near future. But an English degree also makes me qualified to teach. "Teach what?" you ask. With just a few short years of graduate school I could teach other clueless English majors how to be homeless in the near future.

That's right, I'm ready to conquer the world when I graduate!

By the way, is anybody going to have some couch space in New York they'd like to rent out? If so, you can find me outside Rockefeller Center dancing for nickels.


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