It’s a story. There are challenges. There’s hard work, pulling up laces, rolling up shirtsleeves, and forcing yourself. Up. Overcoming, transcending, et cetera. You’ve heard it before. It’s not my life, but it’s illuminated two metres tall behind me and I’m speaking it into the soft, malleable faces tilted forwards on uniformed shoulders. I recite my old lines like new secrets. Click to the next slide. Giant, diverse, smiling faces in grey suits point at charts, shake hands and wave behind me. The projector whirrs and their smiles morph into the bank’s roaring logo. Time to wrap up. I look out around the rows of schoolgirls. Thank them for listening, before taking questions.
the content isn't particularly inspired or original but the style isn't too bad
‘Sometimes, I just –’ He stopped and picked at the label on his beer bottle. It looked damp and soft from condensation and he tore off little pieces at a time, balled them up between his finger and thumb and flicked the sticky globs into the grass. When we’d first dated, he would brandish his name to maître d’s with a booming exuberance. I wondered whether that sense of self had been picked away, or whether his self were only a dinner jacket he put on and then took off again. Head tilted back, he glugged from the bottle. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed and I imagined cool beer flowing down his throat, along the curve of his chest and sloshing into his belly.
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We had our usual table at the mezzanine coffee point above the office lobby. Rach’s nails, peachy-manicured as always, tip-tapped against her almond latte. We’d slipped from co-workers to friends over the last year as her father recovered from cancer and my grandmother died of it. She was a Home Counties, Kate-loving, Jaeger-shopping, Lean In-feminist who arranged animal-welfare fundraisers at the weekends and bought handmade earrings from Etsy. She once called me in tears from the Hermès store. It’s all too beautiful, she’d sobbed in halting syllables as the shop assistant packaged her scarves.
this is mean without any real justification. i don't like it
What compelled Rach to pursue this career? I knew why I did it. Banks – I understood what they were. Ruthless, efficient money-machines with a byproduct of social mobility. Really, what other industry would have offered me the same chance? Unlike my boyfriend, I didn’t have the prerequisite connections or money to venture into politics. The financial industry was the only viable route upwards. I’d traded in my life for a sliver of middle-class comfort. For a future. My parents and grandparents had no such opportunities; I felt I could hardly waste mine. Yet, it didn’t sit right with me to propagate the same beliefs within a new generation of children. It belied the lack of progress – shaping their aspiration into a uniform and compliant form; their selves into workers who were grateful and industrious and understood their role in society. Who knew the limit to any ascent.
similar to tech for some people i guess
Sitting around a dim-lit table, a few months back, in a windowless restaurant beneath an art gallery, I watched the father speak through lips tinged red with wine (ordered after a wide-ranging and apparently very welcome, vigorous discussion with the sommelier). He raised up his quill and drew me into their world. On the page of that evening I was a part of it, I belonged. Yet, it was a distanced intimacy. Sincere but lacking permanence or consequence beyond a particular interaction. He asked me variations of the same questions each time. With the same indulging interest he extended to the restaurant staff.
i mean what do you expect lol
[...] I was across the room, pinning up my hair. We formed a perfect scene. Sun sliced through the sash windows. His room was bright and sparse and he sat small in it at the edge of the frame, a plump suitcase on the floor beside him. I chuckled and he smiled back, uncertain. I went over to him, cupped his jaw in my left hand and swept the soft edge of his hair back with my right. It was time to go.
i like the sun bit but i dont feel the stakes here (and i also dont get the point of "we formed a perfect scene")
In a panorama around me, the sky is melting: reds and oranges into inky blue and nighttime. I stare through the surely colour-distorting, anti-UV-tinted, floor-to-ceiling window-walls. Out past the skyscrapers and into the blurred green-grey horizon beyond. My fingers feel numb but my face is hot, and prickles. I log out of my workstation, pack up my handbag and head towards the lifts.
this is like almost good but the last sentence is stupid. "head towards the lifts" feels clumsy and lazy. what is the point of including this here? it doesn't even sound nice.
I feel. Of course I do.
I have emotions.
But I try to consider events as if they’re happening to someone else. Some other entity. There’s the thinking, rationalizing I (me). And the doing, the experiencing, her. I look at her kindly. From a distance. To protect myself, I detach.
the sentiment is all right. the diction feels somehow lazy.
But what it takes to get there isn’t what you need once you’ve arrived.
A difficult realization, and a harder actualization.
I understand what this weekend means. Pulling back the curtain, he’s invited me to the chambers beyond. It’s not acceptance, not yet. It’s just a step further, closer. I must learn to navigate it. Through him, and Rach, I study this cultural capital. I learn what I’m meant to do. How I’m meant to live. What I’m supposed to enjoy. I watch, I emulate. It takes practice. And an understanding of what’s out of reach. What I can’t pull off.
Born here, parents born here, always lived here – still, never from here. Their culture becomes parody on my body.
i agree with the first sentence but i find this whole section annoying overall. why? is it because the stakes feel so low?
This is the boom
and this is the climb, you’ve twinned it, followed it up. Not euphoric, as you’d imagined. But perhaps it never is, when you’re in the thing. It can’t
last, though, you know. And so, you put it away, you save. It rains every day in England! Here you are, with your accounts and now your accountant, and you put things into bonds, into funds; you pound cost average. And you brace yourself for it. Hold cash in accounts, in a wallet, in a box beneath the bed. Gold – you start to consider. Seriously, something is always coming. Words embossed – into brass, into aluminium, you watch videos of men, pouring fire into buckets; the charred, white-hot remains. Money is just belief, reality is perception, so why not? Stow some there, some everywhere. Be careful, though, and save
you see others – Rach, Lou, they spend. They enjoy it. But is their current lifestyle peak truly a new floor? You don’t know. But you can weather an emergency, stress-test yourself, you will not be undone by a small thing. You hope. There’s only hope. Hope it’s enough to weather any bust until the swing back around when you can grab hold, pull up and start the climb again.
argh i almost like this but i dont. it feels too superficial somehow