Monday, November 29, 2010

'Tis The Season To Be Jolly And Joyous

Well, Thanksgiving is over, so I guess it must be the holiday season. At least, that's what the decorations of New York are telling me! People who live here seem to love complaining about Christmas in New York - that it's crowded with tourists - too crowded to see anything. To them I say phooey. New York is always crowded. If you want to see things, you just have to go at slightly unusual times (this theory has yet to fail me, though it will be tested when I set out to go ice skating in Rockefeller Center under the Christmas tree next week).

I had an amazing time being home for Thanksgiving. After an hour it was like I had never left Charleston. Coming back was kind of tough, it's pretty cold here and (compared with the warmth of family, home, pets, and fiancé) kind of lonely. Of course, I do have friends here. Wonderful friends, who are amazing to spend time with! But it's not my home, and right now everyone (including me) is way to busy finishing all of the semester's work to be social on anything like a regular basis. So today that combined with a foot injury that's preventing me from running (following up with Sports Medicine doc on Friday), made me a bit gloomy.

But none of that is any good reason to stay gloomy, so I went to the Chelsea Market for some groceries and hot chocolate. I got to see some of the before mentioned decorations, including some very impressive lights inside the market. It definitely lifted my spirits. And despite the moratorium of running, walking is still allowed, and that is definitely one of my favorite things to do in New York.

So I took today to ease back in to the feeling of the city, and it was worth the extra time. Tomorrow I have to really throw myself in to finishing this semester's work- which means writing my two final papers. A 12-15 page review of three books and a 20 page paper drawing on at least 5 articles from the syllabus. Not easy, and definitely time consuming, but certainly not impossible. Plus, I'm seeing the Daily Show live next week, and am still planning to hit as many of the holiday high notes as I can.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"If You're Wondering If I Want You To, I Want You To"

Things have stayed pretty busy for me, and most of the time I'm either reading for school, writing for school, or thinking about how I really should be doing one of those two things instead of whatever I am doing. But we did have a mild break in the cold weather - for almost a week the daily temperature was in the high 50's/low 60's, which was really nice. Though it does look like it's about to get cold again.

Last night I went to Ippudo with Kim and Ji-Sup. Ippudo is Japanese restaurant that was highly recommended to me. They specialize in ramen, but (obviously) not the freeze dried noodles and powdered flavoring on which many college students sustain themselves. No, it appears that proper ramen is a noodle soup, available in a wide variety of flavors.
That's my ramen, the only vegetarian one they offer. The soup is soy sauce based, and in addition to the noodles there are numerous vegetables, seaweed, and a big lump of wasabi on top. I respect wasabi, and thus put most of it to the side. It was great, especially considering the cold temperature outside.

Yesterday, I went for a run in Central Park, and then walked the four miles back. It was a beautiful day, but even two degrees colder and it would have been too cold. So I probably won't have too many more opportunities to do that this season.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"It's Been Minutes, It's Been Days, It's Been All I Will Remember"

On Saturday I made plans with friends to see the New York cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it was sold out when we got there. Fortunately they perform every week, so we'll try again before too long. On the way back we stopped at the Waffle Cart (it's what it sounds like) for a waffle cheer up. I ordered a waffle with chocolate sauce, but accidentally dropped it on myself before I got to eat it. Michelle and Rachel both shared their waffles with me, which took the sting out of the situation. But there isn't much to take the sting out of the dry cleaning bill I'll be paying when I pick my coat up on Friday (except for the fact that I got a great deal on the coat in the first place). This has been an opportunity for me to exercise my skills at layering sweaters against the bitter cold, and they have performed admirably.

In spite of my failure to see Rocky, I have managed to spot two creatives I love very much - David Sedaris and Stephen Sondheim - this week at my local Barnes & Noble. I do love that it is a pit stop for all the best authors. Michelle went with me to see David Sedaris, who was absolutely hilarious. He read to the crowd from his new book and his diary, then took questions from the audience. Stephen Sondheim was in the format that Lewis Black's was, an interview with a friend of his. I would have gotten a signed Sondheim book, but apparently at 80 he doesn't much feel like signing hundreds of books. Ah well, it was incredibly worth it. And I will say that one of my favorite things about New York is that of all the celebrities I've seen at Barnes and Noble (Russell Brand, Bill Bryson, Lewis Black, David Sedaris, and Stephen Sondheim) Sondheim easily drew the biggest crowd. The people of New York have spoken, and they love the composer of musicals most of all!

Aside from that, I've been pretty occupied with my classes. I'm halfway through an essay now, and I have two more to write next week. I've started looking at pretty much everything from a graduate student point of view. For example, Michelle mentioned to me that she thought female Disney villains were more frightening than male Disney villains on the whole, and I've been engaging in villain analysis in my free time. This is what I posted on her Facebook earlier today:

"By the way, in my continuing examination of Disney villains, I have developed a new theory in which The Little Mermaid is actually a retelling of the story of the Garden of Eden, where Ursula is Satan (operates by contracts, lives in the deep, imprisions souls, etc), King Triton is God (long white beard, all powerful, quick to anger, but truly loves his children), and Ariel is Eve (coveting the knowledge/experience she does not have). Obviously it's a different perspective on Eden and it needs some tweaking, but I thought it was important to tell you so that when you get back from Canada and have to come pick me up from the asylum, you'll be able to explain my ravings and get me out."

That's right - giant nerd, right here. And I'm not sorry.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Instead of Stressed, I Lie Here Charmed"

It has taken a distinct turn for the chilly here. Armed as I now am with coats, sweaters, gloves, and scarves, I was not psychologically prepared. Could I ever really be? Also, the change in temperatures means I seem to be catching a cold (it's strictly in the slightly sore throat stage right now, but I know how this works). I just had one less than two months ago! But the transition between New York seasons appears determined to take its toll on my health.

Not that things are all negative here. To the contrary, my oncoming cold is barely a tug on my buoyant spirits. I had an amazing day yesterday, that was basically a nonstop fun fest.

Rachel and I decided we wanted to go check out the Fall foliage (The West Wing taught me this is called "leaf peeping"), so we decided to get brunch and have a walk in Central Park. We set out to eat at Bubby's Pie Company in Tribeca, where we had what may well have been the best pancakes I've ever tasted.

On our way to Bubby's, we were flagged down by a film crew. You have to understand that in New York, particularly the part of New York we inhabit, film crews are a dime a dozen. When you see them you don't think "Hmm... what are they filming?" No. You think, "Get out of my way, or I will lose it." Which is pretty much the go-to thought for any New Yorker in transit. But I knew I had seen the guy with the microphone on T.V. before, so I was intrigued. He said he was from the Discovery Channel (I'm not at all sure that's where I saw him. But I've got nothing else). He interviewed us about the bedbug epidemic - we went back and forth a little about whether he could call it "deadly" since, you know, it's not. He then introduced a bedbug sniffing dog (which do exist). When we allowed the dog to smell us, it barked to indicate we both had bedbug residue in our clothes. We didn't buy it.

For good reason. It was all a wind up. I'm not sure what the point was, or where things were going to go if we believed him and the dog (though there was a suggestion of changing into skimpy outfits while our clothes were dry cleaned, but they had long since lost credibility with us at that point. I think I said, "Yeah, cause getting in a stranger's van isn't a way to get ax-murdered.") So, that was strange. Keep an eye on random bedbug-themed prank shows, and you might see me and Rachel sassing a host who has failed to trick us.

Anyway, after the familiar-yet-strange television personality and the amazing pancakes, we went to Central Park. In spite of how chilly it was when we set out, it was a gorgeous day. The leaves were in full color (but falling quickly, so leaf peeping season appears to be reaching its conclusion), and we had fun wandering through the areas that we've ended up in so many times that they've begun to feel familiar. Rachel took this picture of me, which I thought was actually pretty cute. I got a tourist to take a picture of us together, so we could combat the illusion that we go everywhere alone (which is the result of our always taking pictures of each other). But, well, this one is more flattering to me. So it's the one I'm publicizing. Note the wool coat. That is a very warm coat.

In the afternoon I spent a couple of hours preparing to write an essay (which I wrote today and is due tomorrow - I have less than a page and some formatting left to do). Then I went to Barnes and Noble to get a seat early to see Lewis Black. I got there about two hours before it started, and secured my front row seat.

I may have mentioned this before, but the Barnes and Noble near me has a lot of great celebrities stop through and give free talks/readings/book signings. I always shoot to get there about two hours early, because it all but assures a good seat, and waiting is actually pretty relaxing. You go through the store, grab books and magazines you want to read, get a drink from the cafe, and settle in. It's actually a great way to unwind.

Anyway, I managed to use the seat I was holding empty next to me in the second row to tempt my friend Michelle into joining me (she was very responsibly doing schoolwork while Rachel and I were galavanting through the park, and Rachel was doing schoolwork while Michelle and I reveled in the hilarity of Lewis Black at Barnes and Noble. No worries, I do plenty of school work on other days). We had a great time - Lewis Black was great discussing his new Christmas book, and it appears that his stand up/Daily Show persona is a fairly mild exaggeration of how he actually is. I mean, he was a little more relaxed, but he was not afraid to emphasis with volume, and let his flag fly on certain topics.

From there, I went to meet Kim, Mario, and Ji-Sup so we could go out to dinner to celebrate Kim's leaving for a conference in South Korea the next day. We had Vietnamese food, and then went out for coffee (we always go out for coffee). It was a lot of fun!

So yes, after the nonstop fun parade that was yesterday, I was much more focused today. I wrote an essay and went to class. I have the essay I'm currently working on and three more to finish before Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving I have a 20 page paper and a 12-15 page paper to get done before I come home for the holidays (on either December 18th or 19th). So not every day can be so glamorous!