Hurray! I finally got to have a couple of "only in New York" times! Granted - school is still dominating pretty much every moment of my life. Sometimes my friends and I exchange bewildered looks and ask, "Remember this time last year? Didn't we have free time then?" The consensus is that yes, we did. And now we don't.
Of course, it's not exactly a mystery. People who are planning to get a job after graduation are working internships now, people who are planning to go into academia are sweating their applications, and a lot of people from both groups (certainly all the academia people) are worrying about the thesis that's hanging over their heads. I am too. The weeks that bled into months of procrastination when I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Twilight (largely because I was paralyzed by a total certainty that I had bitten off way more than I could actually chew), are not in evidence these days. I'm working - writing outlines, doing research, and making notable progress. I would be surprised at myself, but the fact is I just don't have the luxury of procrastination with the deadlines I have.
So when I landed free tickets to a taping of the BBC America show "Would You Rather? with Graham Norton" the first question was whether or not I really had time to go (still undetermined, but I did decide the take the break for fun). The second was whether I would be able to find anyone to go with me. It was dicey. People were busy with school, Rosh Hashanah, and God knows what else. Graham Norton is not exactly drop everything famous in the U.S. (I had to look him up on YouTube to figure out what exactly he did). But luckily, my friend Lili shares my plucky can-do spirit and affection for the BBC! She was in, and we had a great time. The premise of the show was that he has a panel of four comedians on, and they answer a ridiculous "Would you rather...?" question, defend their answer, and then Graham Norton picks the best one. They ranged all over (e.g. "Would you rather lose both thumbs, or a cousin?" "Would you rather spend a year chained to roadkill, or a disapproving nun?"). They taped an episode, then they had everyone in the audience move to a different seat while the tv people went backstage to change clothes, and then did another one. I got a free shirt (essentially by waiting for a quiet moment and then asking for one). We had a lot of fun, and the show was very funny. Afterwards we had dinner at the Tick Tock Cafe next store, whose egg creams were apparently written about in the book "Eat Pray Love." I did have one, and it was tasty, but not really more special than any other egg creams I've had.
The next night I went with my friend Michelle to the Metropolitan Museum for cocktails on the roof amid a sculpture display. Admittedly, I was much more interested in the cocktails and the rooftop view than the sculpture (giant, brightly colored, modern metal shaping that is certainly art but doesn't move me). We were happy to not get the stink eye when we didn't pay the full suggested donation (the Met really doesn't like you to know that the admission fee is optional, but it is and we go a lot), and before heading up to the roof we stopped by our shared favorite section - 19th and Early-20th Century European painting. Here we can visit our favorite impressionists, and marvel at landscapes that are near-photographic. After the roof cocktails (and plenty of time enjoying the incredible view of the sunset of the city over Central Park), we headed through Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture - a little disoriented by the Met's distinctly non-intuitive layout. We had dinner at an excellent vegan restaurant called Candle Cafe. But I'm not big on dessert in vegan restaurants. I eat butter, milk and eggs, and I think dessert is improved by their inclusion. For dessert, we walked to Dylan's Candy Bar - a pretty famous spot I had never been to before.
Dylan is Dylan Lauren, the daughter of Ralph Lauren, who decided her passion was sweets and not fashion. She went all out - her place on the Upper East Side has three floors of candy - a ground floor where you can load up on seasonal and bulk candy, a basement with specialty and nostalgia candy, and an upstairs cafe where you can get various desserts.
We settled on milkshakes, and settled in the brightly colored sitting area, at a gumball filled table, and set in to enjoy ourselves. And we did - the milkshakes were excellent, the ice cream of high quality, and I was glad it was dairy instead of soy. They were pretty rich and thick, neither of us was actually able to finish our milkshake, and we walked a fair portion of the way back to aid digestion. But it started to drizzle on us, so we got into the subway. However, when I got out of the subway, it was pouring! Oppressive, heavy, flooding rain seemingly out of nowhere. I had to get a taxi to take me the three long blocks back to my apartment (something I never do), and then got soaked crossing the street. However, my spirits remain undampened. The precious moments I get to steal that remind me what a great city New York is make it that much easier to dive back in to the all-consuming school routine.