Monday, December 31, 2007

Home Cooking

It is so COLD!!! I have been freezing ever since I got home. No one in California keeps their heaters on. My room is an ice box. To remedy this situation, I have tried to make myself as fat as possible by cooking and baking as much as possible. I have been a sautéing, baking, stirring madwoman since the moment I stepped into my house. I forgot what it was like to have tons of ingredients and utensils readily available, and I have gone a bit crazy. Luckily, my family has gone a bit crazy with the entertaining, so I make food for the people that come over to our house almost daily. Right now, I am really into biscotti and crumbly cookies, as well as quick-cooking vegetables (as always). I discovered that the sautéed sweet potato in a veggie stir fry with a little bit of ginger and garlic salt is just delectable.


I was so proud of myself on Christmas: I made two different reduction sauces. The first was a maple glaze for my sweet potatoes, which came out okay. I tried to pour it before it had reduced enough, but managed to salvage it. The second, an orange buerre sauce, would have been great had I used unsalted butter and shallots like the recipe asked for. It ended up tasting way too buttery, but the thickness was great.


I have also been experimenting with melting chocolate. It started with a batch of biscotti that I made on Christmas Day. I thought, why not try dipping these in chocolate? I did, making them quite delicious. I then started trying to make a glaze yesterday for the cake that I made for my sister's birthday party. I figured out that adding milk to chocolate makes it thicker and adding butter makes it thinner. I feel like Paula Deen with all the butter that I have been using.


So today I was very proud of myself for going butterless. Vegetables made up a large part of every meal that I had today. I had an egg white omlette for breakfast, a grilled vegetable salad for lunch, and vegetables, rice, and seared ahi for dinner. Mmmmm…all I need for happiness in life is a sauté pan, a knife, a fork, and a farmer's market.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back to Ventucky

It is nice to be home. I have already gone through a slew of emotions, and settled on something relatively anti-climactic. I spent my first two days home bombarded with family, which left me on a definite high. All those days I spent sad for a moment or two missing my family were not for naught. I actually do enjoy their company. In the last couple of days I have reevaluated my life, AGAIN (uh-gain, like a Canadian).

New York has made me elitist and a bit ethereal. It has been good to come home and realize that not everyone lives that way. Life goes on here just exactly as it was before--the same haunts, the same people, the same life. In being away from that for a while I have come to appreciate why some might prefer such a lifestyle. The suburbs make a little more sense to me. But at the same time, I can now definitively say that I am an urban girl.

I have done nothing today but drive around and go to megashops like Kohl's and Target. Ugh. Makes me remember why I left. But then again, I have also gone to Peet's, Mavericks, and Peter's house. All things that I love and have sorely missed.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Coming Home.

I am hoping that by spending two hours on my computer while sitting at the airport, I will be tired enough to sleep through my flight. I got at grand 3 hours last night (if you could call it a night), and woke with a splitting headache worse than the one that I went to bed with. I was then ripped off royally by a cabbie with bad hearing, though I didn't complain too much beyond stiffing him on tip, since most of the extra fee he charged for getting the terminal wrong and making two stops was picked up by the girl that I was sharing the cab with.

I can never get a full blog entry written because every time I sit down these days I start clicking. Clicking here, clicking there, making my way through the foodie blogs, researching my foodie interests, writing Spec emails. Restaurant Week is coming up. It will actually be going on during my birthday, which I am VERY excited about. That also means that I need to whip my food writers into shape before we even get back to school, because the week we get back it is off and running with daily updates.

But first I need to focus on going home. I am so excited to be going home to see my family, but the last couple of days that I have had in the city have really made me take into account how much of it is in me already.

"Most human beings are driven to seek security and comfort. But there is another group that can only thrive on change and the unexpected of New York."
--Cathleen Nesbit

I am one of those. Now that I have been there, done it, there is no turning back. As I was walking through Soho with Vesal yesterday, the subject of coming to Columbia came up. It turns out that both of us knew. Just a few days in the city were enough to convince us to pick up and move across the world (the country, in my case) for the allure of the city. Going home is a little scary. It is not really scary, but I wonder what to do if there is no subway to take, no city to absorb, no grand art to explore in those precious moments that I have between school and Spec and life. How do I refer to locations without the grid system? What to do when things can't be broken down into tiny neighborhoods to be explored and talked about? The hottest restaurants, clubs, and theater aren't within a 5 mile radius anymore? Tragedy.

While I can't imagine living anywhere else in America anymore (though I am not ruling out Europe), I am very excited to go back home. I am so excited for Christmas. I have been going to the Christmas markets, attending holiday cooking classes, watching the city magically transform into winter wonderland, and listening to carols endlessly on Ruckus since Thanksgiving. The only thing I am missing is my family. And now that they are less than 12 hours away I can feel my spirits rising even higher.

And I sit here thinking about what I have written and realize that it is just horrible writing. 5 AM is not my peak I don't think.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Scenes from a Day on the Town

So basically I spent the last two days doing nothing but exploring the city by day and deep-cleaning my room by night. As the days on the town produce much more interesting pictures, I tend to favor those ones. I am running late for my last day on the town before I return to suburbanville, so I shall refrain from commenting for the moment. Just take in SoHo shopping, the Met, the terrible, disappointing cupcake from Cupcake Cafe (never again), and the cute little subway creatures. As well as my foray into the world of nannies to fight to get a second with Santa.

So yesterday I started out at the Met, spending a good two hours in the European painting/impressionism wing with my trusty and nerdy audioguide (notice that THAT picture is not up here). I then booked it downtown for lunch at Better Burger, which is indeed Better than any other burger place I have ever been to before. The Karma Ketuchp is spiced with indian spices and makes my knees go weak. I would eat it plain (and do, on occasion). I also spent a little bit of time with the Santa at ABC Home and Carpet because no one is too old to get a free lollipop. While waiting for Santa to get back from his break, I headed over to the Cupcake Cafe on 18th between 5th and 6th. TERRIBLE. I repeat, TERRIBLE. This beautiful picture is nothing more than a ruse. I got a maple walnut on a recommendation from the guy behind the counter and found the cake cold and bland, as well as the frosting too melty and not sweet enough. I went back and get another one. Chocolate this time, to the same result, if not worse. $5 down the drain, though I will make sure that I, nor anyone that I talk to about this, ever goes there again. I was horribly upset. It almost ruined my day.

So I got out my anger by going kickboxing at the NYSC with Diana and her trainer, Abel. AWESOME. And yes, all of these capitals are necessary. I did some heavy-duty punching and kicking, and I am definitely still feeling that circle of front kicks around the room.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I'M DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Walking around campus today is somewhat depressing. Only the sad stragglers who still have one more final to go are left, looking exhausted after two weeks of nonstop studying and Butler-squatting. It is eerily empty, with the happy, finals-are-over(!) people packing up and heading home.

As I am one of the stressed-out stragglers, I cannot achieve my goal of turning Cosmo Shane into an amazing second-hand culinary experience as I taste my way through my final week here. However, I can plagarize from the article that I ran in the Spec the other day as a preview of the food writing that I plan on doing in the next couple of weeks when I have nothing but RELAXING to do!

Your Final Chance to Eat Well This Semester
By Shane Ferro

Walking through the annals of Butler Library is enough to make anyone sick at heart, but for a foodie, it’s an absolute tragedy. So, all you hopelessly stressed pre-meds, listen up—making it through finals does not mean your body has to deteriorate from a diet of Red Bull and late-night snacks. Have a little water. Maybe some green tea. A banana.

According to the American Dietetic Association, the majority of a person's diet should be made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fat free or low fat milk. Lean meat or other protein sources such as eggs and nuts are important in smaller quantities. This is not always achievable in the hectic life of a college student on a finals schedule, but it is not impossible.
Surprisingly, caffeine should not be overlooked in the diet of any college student. A cup of coffee or two a day may actually be good for your heart, and Red Bull does contain several functional ingredients, such as pantothenic acid, an antioxidant, taurine, which helps to boost metabolism, and three kinds of B vitamins. Yet neither coffee nor Red Bull has any actual nutritional value. Vitamins and minerals are essential to your body's functioning, but supplements can never make up for actual food.

If the thought of drinking water sounds like a sleeper, try the bubbly kind. Both Morton Williams and Westside Market—as well as various vending machines on campus—carry flavored seltzer water. "Rather than popping open a can of soda, which is packed with empty calories and sugar, which can send you on a downward spiral of mood swings later, opt for sparkling water. You'll feel like you're getting a treat, and your body will, too," says life coach and Mensa member Elizabeth Scott.

The basic fact of the matter is that you’re going to crash at some point, and the better you take care of your body, the more likelihood that such a crash will happen after your last final and the ensuing party. Here are some basic study-types that could use a bit of nutritional guidance.
If you are:

The Butler camper — Go out to Westside or Morton Williams and buy yourself some decent food, since you obviously think you’re entitled to leave your stuff everywhere and have it be there when you come back as if you paid rent on the place, anyway. Invest in some apples, which are natural energy boosters, some sliced deli meat or Tofurky for some protein, whole wheat bread, carrot sticks, hummus, and some yogurt. Maybe even some granola. Please avoid anything with onions or garlic for the sake of those around you.

The vegan — Hit up the greenmarket, and stock up on fruits and vegetables. Go and buy yourself some mixed nuts. Red Bull is vegan, as well as Kosher and Halal.
A kid who never leaves his or her room — Look up some decent takeout menus online. Order yourself some sushi from Suma or a sandwich from Subsconscious on Campusfood, and you never have to leave your building. Attempt to get something more than red meat and cheese on white bread for an even more balanced meal. Skip the coke and go for an orange juice.

A hipster who doesn't eat — Take a break from starving yourself for a week just to get through finals. Eating celery or cucumbers and salsa has about 10-20 calories per serving. Crystal Light makes energy, immunity, and hydration powders. Try Snapple Noni Berry or Asian Pear. Go for 2% milk in your coffee. Have a cracker.

A food snob — order from Westside Market. They deliver.

Hungry — This is the time when you should just suck it up and head to John Jay. Invest in a couple of large plastic containers, and go to town. Fill 'er up, then take the food back to your hole in Butler and hoard.

One of those people who eats out of vending machines — Go for a little balance. Have a granola bar, and maybe some juice instead of soda once in a while. Choose the pita chips over the Lays. Splurge for the tiny bags of dried fruit.

Eating exclusively out of the Butler Café — Go for something more substantial that a cinnamon roll, a bagel, or a Pepsi. Try a juice and a Clif bar. Or, better yet, a salad and one of the delicious Eli Zabar sandwiches. And get some green tea rather than coffee every once in a while.

Determined to keep yourself awake for 72 hours without thought to your physical state — By all means, drink 5 Red Bulls per day, live off simple sugars, surround yourself with empty cans and Blue Java cups, stop showering, stink up an entire room in Butler causing everyone around you to relocate, and become a complete hermit with no friends. But at the very least, drink some water, invest in some gum and deodorant, and promise yourself a big salad with vegetables and protein after waking up from your post-finals comatose state.

Bored and unfocused — Try chewing some gum. Not only does sugarfree gum freshen breath and help prevent tooth decay, new research suggests that it may also help relieve nervous tension, as well as help keep you alert and focused, according to the American Dietetic Association. Just be sure not to be one of those annoying people who chomp away with their mouths open while other people are attempting to study. Keep your mouth closed while staying minty fresh.

Looking for even more advice, or just another way to procrastinate? Try some of these helpful websites:
Editor's Note: For those living on the Amsterdam side of campus...we owe HamDel our lives.

Should you wish to see the comments, try clicking here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Terrible, terrible. I have been foregoing blogging for studying (gasp!), as I am now deep into the throes of finals week. What is even more terrible is that I got up early this morning to study with my friend Diana and nothing was open! No oatmeal OR coffee! It is like people around here don't expect college students to be up at 8 AM on a Saturday morning or something. We finally found some oatmeal at the cafe down the street, but it was watery and nowhere near the yummy goodness of the campus cafe's thick oatmeal with self-serve raisins. And I just had to wait for my coffee, as it is below freezing today and a little windy and I did not quite feel like making the trek to Starbucks.

On a happier note, yesterday I officially finished my first two college classes. I turned in my final Uni Writing essay, then took the dreaded Lit Hum final (the reason why I have been foregoing blogging). I am feeling generally confident about both of my final grades.

I also went to Diana's apartment with her last night on 97th and Broadway, which was AWESOME. I forgot what it was like to be in a home with drywall and knicknacks and warm light rather than cinderblock and gross tile and flourescents. It was nice to remember what it is like to live in civilization. Actually, my dorm is really not that bad. I am becoming better friends with a lot of the people that live on my floor, and I have started utilizing the kitchen in the basement a lot more. On Thursday, I made gingerbread cookies and chocolate cupcakes for our holiday secret "solstice" (Santa) party, which made me quite happy. I forgot how much fun it is to cook. I am hoping to use some more of the ingredients that I have left over and make chocolate chip tomorrow.

I have decided to be productive and go back to studying.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spec dinner and FOOD!

I have a Lit Hum final in two days, which I really need to study for. So I am going to go to SoHo this afternoon and do a restaurant review, instead. In my defense, I happen to do my best reading on the train, and SoHo affords me quite a few stops with which to do this. It is all part of the life of the food editor, which makes me oh-so-excited. I was at Spec dinner last night with all 200 or so staffers of the Spectator, and I just couldn't stop gushing, in between my staunch defenses that, "I'm NOT leaving news!!"

Being Spectator food and drink editor means that I am in charge of making sure the paper is put together and edited one of the 5 nights of the week, as well as making sure that there is content for the food section 3-4 times a week. I have to come up with ideas and edit all of the stories that run for food. I am also going to start running an article in our Thursday magazine every other week. Basically, now that I have risen up in the food chain (haha, just got that joke after I already wrote it), I have more delegation duties than writing duties. Hooray for all the ASB I did in high school!

And hooray for Spec dinner (and not quite knowing how to use the flash on my camera in that last picture)!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Broadway and Sugar

Somehow, between turkeyshoot (Spec editorship selection process), term papers, and finals, I am finding some way to find some fun in life. The cute school children are my little Peace by Peace kids, who I teach conflict resolution to on Fridays in Harlem. Last night, I snuck out of the library for a few hours to go to Avenue Q, which gave me some much needed comedic relief. The best relief, however, came while I was walking through Times Square in the rain in my heels without an unbrella: I got the call that I am the new Food Editor for the Arts section of the Spectator!!!!! If I had any time left before class I might take the time to explain that. I'll save it for later though.
The last pictures is Sugar Cafe, which along with being "Sugar," served me one of the most amazing salads I have ever had today for lunch. pached pear, goat cheese, tomatos, and rasbery vinegrette. I was in heaven. More on food later...

Monday, December 3, 2007

First (Real) Snow

I woke up to a flurry of snowflakes this morning. I will have to say that it was a little bit magical. I had to walk from 72nd to 59th street because of the never-ending weekend service changes on the 1 train, and my need (desire) to get to holiday treats decorating class at Williams-Sonoma in Columbus Circle. It was a bit nipply, but the fresh snow on the ground made for a beautiful city scene for 13 blocks. Espeically around the tree in Lincoln Center and down around Central Park. It also made going inside even better. :)

After learning how to use royal icing in about 50 different ways, I headed outside to the Christmas market across the street. The scene was truly a movie moment, as it had started snowing again, everything in the market was decorated Christmas-like, and there were people walking around with hot apple cider and gingerbread men. That experience pretty much made my day (all of which, from that point on, was spent doing spec and/or work).

All of the holiday cheer and general excitement around the city still gives me a pang or two of homesickness now and then, but I am really enjoying my experience. I have found my Spec niche as far as Turkeyshoot goes, so though I am busy, I am happier, and in some miraculous turn of events, I actually studied quite a lot this weekend and am feeling fairly prepared to go to class tomorrow. My preparation tonight gives me time to go check out the markets again tomorrow for the article on Holiday food in the city that I am running later in the week.

I think I hear sleigh bells ringing...ting-ting-tingiling-too...wait, that is just a cab honking.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Brighter Horizons (as the fog rolls in for winter)

I am feeling better today. This afternoon I got a couple of overwhelming feelings, but I think that it could be attributed to PMS as much as anything. I can actually claim that now, which I don't know if I am proud of or sad about, but moving on.

I finished my writing proposal for Spec earlier today, and came up with a lot of good ideas about the Food section. Writing it made me realize just how passionately I want the job. I really do like Arts writing, and culinary writing especially. I have so much fun describing food, analyzing trends, and coming up with new ideas, it is really exciting. As much as I would like to gush about my culinary love, I have a Bible to read.

I leave with some highlights from the weekend. I look at them and I realize why I love this place so much. It is a part of me now.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I am completely breaking down under all the pressure. Not even the pressure, the simple stress of being in a new place on my own is finally catching up to me. With my whole family here this weekend, I fell back into my old routine, I was completely comfortable again, without any worries. Now I am back at school, with tons of work to do and Spectator deadlines to reach. And all I can think about is how much I miss my family. I admit it: I finally caved and got homesick.

But at the same time, it is not really homesick. I don't miss Ventura all that much. It is a craving for being comfortable. It is not something that I can just go back to. Even were I to go back it wouldn't be the same. I loved how relaxed and carefree that I could be over Thanksgiving, in a lonely little cabin, warm, relaxed on the couch with my family. I don't have anywhere to relax here, nor anyone to cry to (not that I really had that at home).

The pressure of making friends has seemed subordinate to things like schoolwork, and more recently, Spec work. But now my mental barriers are slowly dissolving away in salt water, and I don't know where to go. I feel trapped. I don't know what I would do if Sara were here. I don't feel like I can cry in front of her. For some reason I feel like I have to keep this "nerves of steel" persona around her, which I realize is utterly ridiculous, but I think it has to do with her being so physically close to me that I don't want to show my weakness. This is a problem that I frequently have: I don't want people that live with me to think I am weak. It is weird, and I need to get over it.

I am just having issues. I realized as I was walking from my dorm across campus (because I realized that I needed to get out of my lonely room), that I only cry when I am stressed. I only cry when I am REALLY stressed. Therefore, I am crying over something that is not that big of a deal, at a random time, not because of the actual even, but because I am so stressed out that all of my emotions are flowing out of me through the one medium that set off the chain reaction.

This leads me to believe that I need to 1) organize my life a little bit better, 2) not take on so much Spec stuff, and 3) finish my proposal and get over it. If I get a position, I get a position. If not, I have a whole host of other things that I could do. I also need to hang out with people more and forget what my mind thinks that they might think of me. And I need to open up to people more. And forget about things that happened in the past (or perhaps not take the same approach as I did previously).

But first, I just need to suck it up and finish my homework for tonight. Then maybe watch a little bit of law and order to make myself feel better (somehow others' rape and murder always lifts my spirits right up--the irony does not escape me).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pictures and Thankfulness and stuff

It is thanksgiving, and I have enumerated many things that I am thankful for somewhere on my computer. In the spirit of the quiet evening (which I got to spend with my family!!!), I decided to have the first decent jaunt though the depths of Facebook that I have had in a long time. I found a bunch of pictures of me that I didn't even know existed, and a few that I did and wish did not. It gave me some perspective, however. It made me thankful for Peter and Joie, and the incessant picture-taking all summer. I have so many great memories that are all enumerated in image format so that I never have to forget them (who could really forget who won the last pool game, though...). I am also thankful for my new friends, my new school, and my new life. I realized how little of it I have documented on camera. I only have events that I deem important enough to remember my camera for, which is completely insincere to the true meaning of my life in New York. It is so much more, and so many more, than is shown through the lens of my little black Sony.

I am the only person alive in the house right now. I am up because I have just taken a nap, in front of the television (that has been on all day) because of the turkey that I ate (after I brined, then cooked it to perfection) in the presence of my family (which just makes me incredibly happy). I feel bad for those people that were not beside themselves with excitement to see their families during the holiday. I was so excited that I could barely concentrate on anything else for the last three days before they got here (I apologize to those that I was supposed to be paying attention to, especially in the Spec office). And they have yet to disappoint. It is as it always was: my mom has chisme to talk about with me, my dad wants a hug, my sister wants to be left alone until she feels the need to step in with a snarky, off-hand remark. There is friendly bickering, road rage, ill-fated bicycle rides, and of course, a U turn or two. I seriously could not ask for more than to be stuck in upstate New York wilderness with these three people that I hold most dearly-- seriously, NO more, because if it were more than two days I might be ready to kill them.

Tomorrow is sightseeing, and it should be a blast. Good, old fashioned, Ferro-family fun. rest assured, the Santa hats will be coming out at some point.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Internal Monologue (Forgive Me)

I am at a workstation at the East Asian Library in Kent. Nowhere else to go. My parents are stuck somewhere in the outer borough abyss between here and JFK. I have class in 25 minutes. And I am slightly depressed.

In the last week or so I have realized just how competitive life is around here. And it is not necessarily about what you know, but who you know (or simply how you say it). I can't help but feel overwhelmed by the competition, yet the normalcy of the people that already have the positions that I am vying for. I hate that I am spending so much time at Spec, really whoring myself out there, and I don't even know what the end result will be. People are so nice this week, but what about next week? If I don't end up getting an editorship, who is going to care?

Sara makes me feel completely inadequate sometimes. She knows everyone, then talks about it. I don't have the opportunity to call up Barbara Boxer and ask her for a favor. I don't know the guy that wont eh Rhodes scholarship because I am not on PSSA because she beat me for the job because of all the cool people she knows and the amazing opportunities that she has had. And she complains about being unhappy here. It drives me crazy.

Grr...what really irks me is that I am so competitive. This isn't what this experience is supposed to be about. College is supposed to be about drunken nights and loads of fun, and maybe a few books in the cannon. I feel like that is slipping away a little bit as I let myself get caught up in the process of thyinking about internships and networking opportunities and meeting the next president, or being the next Maureen Dowd, or whatever I think I am striving after. There are numerous means to get to an end, and I feel like I am losing sight of what I really enjoy because of mass amounts of ambition inherently inside of me.

On top of that I feel fat. What a girl thing to say. I am trying so hard not to let myself sink into the whirlwind of negative body image and self doubt and anorexia.

I have issues. Period. I need to deal with them. This growing up thing sure is hard.

The most important part of this, though, is that I realize that these are all growing pains. They are things that I have to deal with and overcome myself because that is life. I need to make a Spec decision. I need to not let what other people say get to me. I need to stop worrying that I need a killer internship the first summer of college in order to go anywhere in life. And I just need to relax and have some fun this weekend. And not get fat. No pie.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

Me-- "OH MY GOD! Sara-- it's snowing!"

Sara (half-asleep)-- "F*$k"

Me-- "Oh my gosh, I'm so California"

Sara-- "My sister is in a bikini and it is snowing here"

I decided to wake up the whole building by yelling about how it was snowing. The novelty hasn't worn off yet. But it isn't cold enough for it to stay on the ground, so all those people complaining about dirty snow should just shut up and enjoy it today, be a California girl.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thoughts Before (and After) Rushing to the Spec Office

I believe I have learned the purpose of the so-called "Turkeyshoot." It is like a huge nutcracker (hte quirrel one that is on display at Pinkberry, to be exact). The higher-ups at the Spectator just keep pushing it farther and farther down, waiting to see who cracks first. I have come to the conlusion that the winners will simply be those who last. It is a game of survival to weed out the overly ambitous from the determined and the passionate.

My problem is that I have not quite figured out what I am yet. I don't quite know what I want, so I keep going, testing the waters in more areas than I can feasibly handle. But I still don't know what to give up. The intensity and excitement of News? Or the culture and creativity (and free food!) of A&E? Beyond that, what about the beats that I am shadowing? I like them all, but can I keep up enough to get two articles written for each of them, while shadowing for two editorial positions? Will I take on too much and not end up getting anything because I chose quantity over quality? AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On the other hand, it helps me not need to concentrate on my numerous boy issues. Or I could just forget everything all together and do my school work.

Update: I have spent a good part of my day at the Spec office, and plan to be here for the rest of the night. I am a little bit pissy because I have not worked out all day. After doing mock-editing for two and a half hours this morning, then taking an hour for lunch and coming back for a News meeting, I have yet to leave because I only had an hour before needing to be here for editing shadowing this evening.

I am not sure if I am more upset by the fact that I have spent my entire Sunday here, or the fact that I have nothing better to do on a Sunday than spend my entire day at the Spec office.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving: Part I

This beautiful display of acorn squash looks delictably delicious. That is because it is from Food Network, and not John Jay dining hall. Walking into dining hall Thanksgiving last night, I was expecting much less hooplah about the display and much more hooplah about food quality. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that they had hired servers for every table to bring out the food and that we would bnot be subjected to buffet style. However, the situation soon turned sour as I realized that our server was completely incompetent and the food, because it was sitting on the table and not in a warmer, was stone cold. No one likes cold bread. The only edible dish was the salad bowl, perhaps because of its inherent property of being room-temperature. Beyond that, the green beans were oil-soaked and tasteless, the bread was nearly stale, the stuffing was nothing but onion, and the turkey was left in the oven WAY too long. Our server brought us one dish at a time (stuffing, five minutes later potatoes, ten minutes later turkey, you get the picture). It became like a 7 course dinner. On top of it all, the server made it clear that he had never carved a turkey before and had no idea how to. So when I got my turkey shavings I just shut up and dealt. I skipped the apple dumplings in favor of the bad poetry contest, and I am told it was the correct decision to make.

Oh, John Jay.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chocolate Show Fun (the glories of the press pass)

It's kinda like Gold Skate with limitless funds on chocolate steroids.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I went for a run in Central Park today. It was warmer than yesterday and I actually got my Lit Hum paper done with a few hours to spare, so I took off in the direction of the Jackie Kennedy Onasis Resevoir. As I came over the hill onto the path, a sudden thought struck me: this is what I have been missing in my life. The Manhattan skyline rose high above the span of calm water and beautiful, changing fall trees. It is in the high 40's out today, overcast, and perfect. Now that I have seen it I don't know that I can ever leave. I am very much in love; who needs a husband when they have Manhattan?

On another, colder note, it was about 35 outside last night as we played our last soccer game of the season. I froze my ass off and it was a blast, though we lost (surprise!) in overtime. I don't know that I prefer 35 degree games to 60 degree games, but they sure to make coming back into the dorm a whole lot more appreciated.

Class? Now? Crap.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hunger Strike: NOON

Seriously, that is painted in chalk outside my building. How do you have a hunger strike at a specific time? Also, how do you have a hunger strike about the Core, the Manhattanville expansion, hate crimes, and race inequality? And then remain nameless and faceless so no one even knows who you are? This does not make sense to me, but what do I know? Maybe I should counterprotest it, since that seems to be popular here. Should I binge on Jay food?

I have learned as much about protest and counterprotest here than I have about Homer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It is Election Day!

And I voted for the first time ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, as exciting as my participation in the political process is, sadly it did not take place on November 6, 2007, but more like October 30 when I received my absentee ballot in the mail. Instead of voting in a designated polling place, I filled in my arrows while sitting in American Foreign Policy class (and still paying attention to the lecture, mind you). My ascension into adulthood consisted of a grand total of two choices for one election, as I am (un)lucky enough to live outside of city boundaries and was only eligible to vote for the school board. But it warmed my heart to know that shit still goes down the same way and Carol Dean Williams was running for the school board. Sometimes I just love the way that the American political process can cater to our fantasies, but not actually do much in reality.

I have my first restaurant review today for Spec. I am really excited, though I can't say that it will actually even end up getting published. I took it because it was offered to me, but it is all the way on the Lower East Side, which is fairly far from being relevant to the Upper West Side. All the same, it promises to be a learning (and eating) experience. The restaurant is called Chickpea, and its focus is on Mediterranean food that is baked and not fried. Yes, I have found baked falafel! How it is going to taste I don't know, but that is what today is for, no?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Sugar Has Updated, and So Should You!

The month-long stress-fest known as "midterms" (which may fall anywhere around the middle point of the semester, or three times during the semester if you happen to be taking a math or science course) is finally drawing to a close. I had two, and got B's on boths. For my foreign policy class, I am fairly happy with my standing. With the curve, I came out pretty much in the middle, which is admirable considering most in the class are not freshman.

As far as my Lit Hum midterm goes, I came out of it feeling a lot worse than a B. 60% of our test were quote identifications, which I am absolutely horrible at. The thing that struck me coming out of that test, which is more or less true for both the grades that I got, is that I am not really that worried about it. I came out of my test feeling really crappy about the way I had done, but I was completely fine with that. I am not sure if it is because I am in college or because I am at Columbia, but having the perfect 4.0 is no longer a goal for me; I am not worried about it. In high school I had a specific goal: I was going to be valedictorian. I decided that one when I gave the middle school prize up because of some stupid behavioral grade in the seventh grade. I didn't talk about it much, but being the best was what I was striving for in high school. Now the pressure is off, and a 3.5 GPA is perfectly respectable. I won't settle for a C, but a B here and there is just a product of my choosing to put myself in the most challenging academic situation that I could be in.

Life right now is about balance and diversification. There is a lot that I am looking to learn in college that has absolutely nothing to do with any lecture or calculus problem set. I place just as much value in the practical lessons of life that I am learning here, the friends that I am making, the events that I have the opportunity to participate in, and the simple fact that I am a young adult living in the City. That is actually one of the things that I have learned here. College is not just about the grades. I have a few friends currently in the job-seeking process, plenty of people that just want to talk to me about it generally, and even know a few people who actually have jobs in the city. The consensus is that the undergrad experience is all about making yourself a desireable person a 3.5 with the ability to schmooze a client is worth much more than the recluse valedictorian. So these days I work on myself every once in a while, too.

This is not to say that my $50,000/year education is going down the tubes. I study my ass off. For my American Foreign Policy midterm, I successfully completeld the courseload of nearly 1,600 pages of reading (in just about two months). That does not include any of my Homer, Herodotuse, or Greek tragedy reading for Lit Hum. I am already well on my way to being able to say that I have actually read and studied all of the poets, writers, and philosophers carved along the top of our library. Give me an essay and I will tell you all about ancient Greek literature (just don't give me three lines and expect me to tell you exactly who is speaking and to whom). I could tell you a hell of a lot about balance of power structures in modern and historical international relations, though.

Enough of my school crap. I went to the Halloween parade in the Village on Wednesday night (practical learning, no?). When people do Halloween around here, they REALLY do Halloween. The giant mob of freaks and geeks and drunks was just such a spectacle that I would have walked around looking at people for hours had there been anywhere to walk. Since I was having trouble getting past a two block strip, I only ended up being there for about an hour. On my way out, though, I ducked into a Westside Market to escape the crowd and was taken for a real French person! My costume included a beret, lots of black, and a pin of the Eiffel Tower. These French guys eating chesse by the window stopped me and started rattling away in French, and I gave myself away before I had time to relax and try to bullshit my way through a real conversation in French. I was so startled, though, I freaked out and my brain never caught on to what they were saying. Anyway, once they realized it was a costume and I wasn't a real Parisian, they offered me some cheese and I headed off towards the subway. That was the lesson of the night: when hot foreign guys start talking to you and want to give you national specialties, just relax and go with it.

This coming weekend (which would have started by now if I wasn't a poor freshman taking elementary language classes, which are the ONLY classes that meet on Fridays)is our official "Fall Break"/Election Day holiday. I have five days ahead of me to cruise the city and wind down from the stress of finals. Most people are going home, so it should be pretty quiet. I plan to catch up on some reading, work on the three Spec articles that I still have in my inbox, go to fancy dinner with my friend Diana and her family tonight, take a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma, take a walking tour of Revolutionary New York, and actually try to get a bit of sleep. Oh, and the marathon! The New York marathon is on Sunday! And my friend Yipeng is running in it, so I plan to go out to support him on Sunday, as well. Should be a blast.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I have been doing some serious thinking lately. Being in college, I have the opportunity to do such quite a bit, but this is a little different. More like in-depth psycho analysis, the best that I can having never studied psychology before (damn me for dropping my 6th period class last year).

Nothing here is easy. This is my love/hate relationship with the place. Well, in truth, it is about 80% love/20% frustration. My subconscious and conscious minds are finally catching up with one another and comparing notes, and I think that is where all this extra emotion is coming from. It has just come to me in the past week or two, to the point where I can express it clearly, just how different everything is. It is not necessarily the obvious things, either. The city does not bother me, nor the weather. Those are two of the things that I am most enjoying. It is the smaller things that have been slowly creeping into my psyche and wreaking havoc with my emotions. That being said, I would not call myself unhappy, or even unstable. Obviously, after having gone back and read my last post, I would think I was depressed as hell. But the thing is that I write to purge my brain of my worst thoughts, and once I get them out I feel ten times better. I write them down so that I do not have to burden other people with them in normal social situations. Writing is my cure.

Once I get things out, they seem less important, less bothersome, and all the more manageable. I can be my own shrink if I can figure out what is actually bothering me, which is why I write them down. I have always found that by sitting and writing, I can find out so much more about myself than days of hard thinking.

Things that are beginning to bother me (consciously) that I am now just realizing that I took for granted while at home:

1. Lack of personal space. At home I had my room and my car to go to whenever I damn well pleased, listen to my music, and relax with my own thoughts. With a roommate, this becomes infinitely more difficult. Sharing a room with another person and a city with 8 million other people is definitely a change. Now that I think about it, I didn't even really spend that much alone time in my room at home. It was mostly the car. Ten minutes of alone time from one place to another really allowed me to gather my thoughts.

Before the comments come pouring in about me being the one that chose this, I am not arguing that I should be living elsewhere. I am acknowledging that a lack of personal space bothers me, but I am getting used to it. I could have had a single room, but there would be so much that I missed out on. As certain things about having a roommate are driving me crazy, I love Sara to death. I am happy that I am forcing myself into the box that I am in because I don't assume that I will be able to get out of it very soon. The sooner that I can learn to live with other people, the sooner I will actually be prepared for life. I would love to live in a lovely little apartment all by myself, but I really don't think that is safe, healthy, or economically practical in any of the places in the world that I plan on spending extended periods of time.

2. Lack of acceptance of my ideas. I chose to come to one of the most diverse, politically motivated, ambitious colleges in the world, which means I am not longer simply accepted for who I am, what I am, how smart I am. Everyone is smart here, everyone has good ideas here (however radically different), and the most popular question is "why?" Why, why why. I have never had to have so much evidence and background for my simple opinions in my life. The most basic observations like "Things are different here" bring on counter statements, "why? how? really?" Sometimes I just want to scream, "yes, really! Don't you understand me!?!? I have never lived in a city, without anyone I know, in a room with someone else, not in control of anything that goes on in my life!!" But instead, I just state "yes" and enumerate the things in my life that have changed since August (everything). It is frustrating to have everything I say challenged by friends, peers, teachers, and random people that I barely know. But at the same time, it makes me think carefully about what I say. I try to make sure that I know what I am talking about. I gain perspectives on life that I never knew existed.

3. Lack of support net. I miss my parents and my family. I have been getting a little homesick the past week or so, probably because Sara has been talking to her family so much because of the fires and such. Also, when I was here during midterms last year I remember a girl telling me that this was the time that everyone sort of realizes that they are really away from home for good. The novelty has worn off, and the real transition has begun. I have kept this in the back of my mind for an entire year, fighting it so hard. I was so determined to make it past this point without getting homesick that I think I psyched myself into it. Now that I realize that, however, I know that it is something that will pass. Thanksgiving is almost upon us. The stress of midterms shall pass soon. I don't see this as being a long-standing problem, just a fleeting feeling telling me that I cannot do a 180 degree transition in life without ever thinking to the past. I am not the kind of homesick that really wants to go home or is going to sit and cry about it at night. I am just coming to terms with my new life, wondering where I am going, thinking about where I came from (and also missing Peet's bad. This damn coffee here is terrible, and there are no vegan gingers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Now, after that, I feel so much better. I shall post it, and probably go back and read it later today or tomorrow and realize how utterly ridiculous I sound. How many times did I use the phrase, "I realize that..."?? Sure I have come to a lot of realizations, but surely I could find a better synonym? Alas, I cannot sit here and reminisce all day. I actualy have work to do. Although I believe I am learning just as much through the above as I am in class, I am at Columbia for a reason. The overachiever in me will not be silenced. That is one part of me that has not changed a lick.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I keep trying to be optimistic. I keep trying to hide that I am freaking out because I so much don't want it to be true. But then things happen like trying to get 12 blocks into Harlem and after 2 looking down to find everything in your bag swimming in soda. And that is when I just want to cry. Everyone is having problems, so I don't want to make a big deal about my issues, because they are more or less comparable to what everyone else is dealing with. Why can't I get it together? I need somewhere to rant.

I think a lot of my agitation comes from my weight obsession. I am completely obsessed with the fact that I am gaining weight, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I can't really tell if I have actually gained weight or not, but I do know that I am trying to fight the freshman 15, the birth control 10, and the I-can't-work-out-the-way-I-want-to 5. That is 30 lbs. that I am trying to stave off at one time, all the while living without a kitchen in the most culinarily divine city in America. I happen to be trying very hard to stick to three smallish meals a day with two to three light snacks. I haven't eaten any cupcakes since I have been here, and only a pastry or two in over two months. I try to stick to fruits and vegetables and egg whites and chicken in the dining hall, but sometimes I just break down and have bread or something ridiculous like 5 apples in a day.

And it totally freaks me out that I can't exercise the way that I want to. I have been getting in 5-6 days a week doing something, but I am dying on the vine without spinning and bodypump. my once-hardened muscles are softening, and I just do not have the time or the energy to keep it up on my own, and run, and keep up with all of my reading. And my boobs just keep getting bigger. It freaks me out. I know it is the hormones and I can't help it, but I hate it. I liked not having to worry about who I was hitting in the face. It bothers me more than I would like that my bras almost don't fit.

I can't seem to keep my room clean. There is crap all over my floor, which by the way looks like crap anyway because of our wrinkled rug. I could stay here and clean it, but I also have 200 pages to read this weekend, a midterm to study for on monday, and a paper to finish. Plus I need to get the heck out of here and have fun. And I need to run. I feel better after I work out. If I don't do it every day I get antsy.

The worst part about this is I don't know who to talk to. My roommate has her own issues. Other people are studying. I don't want people to think that I am such a pessimistic person, because really I am not. I have just been so overwhelmed lately with things that are out of my control. But really, things aren't so bad. I talked to the food editor of Spec yesterday about running for her job in the next month or so, and she was really supportive. I went to this cool haunted house in Chelsea last night. I am still working on my chocolate article, and have research left to do.

What would I do if this was last year? I would be in Mrs. Duston's office or Captain's room or Mr. Gray's living room, and everything would be okay, and they would make me think about funny things, or things that could be worse, or how I could use it to make ASB so much better...

But above it all, even though I love it here and would never think about being anywhere else, sometimes I would just love to go downstairs and lay in my parents' bed and hug them. I haven't talked to either of them for more than a couple of minutes at a time since my mom was here a month ago. I want to see my sister, and go to coffee with my mom and lunch with my dad. And I want to use an oven and make chicken and cupcakes. And I want to stop crying.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fun with Parent in a Vest and Tie

Currently sitting in room 402 in the International Affair Building, otherwise known as le grand-pu-pu politically lecture hall, listening to the grand-pu-pu himself, Joe Parent, professor of (barnard...) American Foreign Policy. As this is my favorite class, I thought I might put a few of the gems, and shout outs to Minnesotans, that get said in this class.

"some well-intentioned people do bad things because they suck."

"Everyone loves the Nazis for ethical problems"

"shark attacks no longer with us, Britney Spears- still with us"

"here's the thing right, she kind of reminds me of do you do so well for so long in the public sphere?"

Ted keeps piping up. he's ridiculously neo-con and annoying.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rupert Murdoch with some Pumpkin Flavor

My weekly Sunday walk took me to the northwest corner of SoHo this morning, to Once Upon a Tart on Sullivan near Houston for an excellent pumpkin praline muffin, a mediocre cafe au lait, and some relaxing time with Euripedes' "Medea." I was a little earlier than I have been the past couple of weeks, so I let my feet take me a few avenues over to the Chelsea markets, which I have been meaning to check out since orientation week. Had I not already indulged in a muffin at Tart, I would have been hard-pressed to choose what kind of delicious creation I wanted from one of the six or so bakeries and specialty food stores that I drifted into. On the plus side, most places had tiny samples that I didn't feel too bad about partaking in.

On another note (more or less exciting I know not), I have been researching intellectual property, Web 2.0, and the You Generation for my University Writing paper and have come up with some REALLY interesting stuff. It is crazy how much control Rupert Murdoch has over the world. He could slander my MySpace page if he really came upon the desire. It is ridiculous how much wealth is concentrated in the supposedly free creative outlets of the internet these days. Google is sickeningly rich, and not looking to slow down anytime soon (actually, because I love calculus, their accelertaion is slowing a little, but that is simply because of the sheer amount of wealth that they have accumulated, it is hard to keep a percentage revenue up for too long...the velocity that they are making money will continue to skyrocket into the unforseeable future).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thank you Nike Air Plus!

I went to the gym this morning and invariably had to "sign up" for a cardio machine (because that is how accomodating and awesome our gym is). I ended up with an elliptical, which of course, pooped out on me after 20 minutes, deciding to only go up in resistence no matter which button I pushed. After trying to reset it twice, I gave up and headed for the exciting little indoor track (10 laps to a mile!) and gave myself a little mile test. 6:53!!!! Best mile ever, blowing my last best mile ever out of the water by over a minute! Granted, the last time I timed myself was when I raced cross country in 10th grade, but still, I was so excited.

I then proceeded to spend the rest of my day banging my head against the wall/studying American Foreign Policy. I did go with my roommate, study-partner Brandon, and his roommate to Columbia Cottage for steamed chinese vegetables and complimentary wine. Yummy. Now, on an exciting Saturday night in New York City, I'm blogging in Pierre's room thinking about opening a book. Not that I don't love, Pierre. That is why I am here and not in my room.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I love YouTube sometimes.

tonight I have watched Spice World, the TES movie, and this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I love when my life comes together and the pieces all fit into place like those 500 piece puzzles that I hated as a child. Ahmadinejad was on the front page of the Times again this morning, along with Vladamir Putin, who I just talked about last night with my foreign Policy prof. at his office hours as he explained to me how the world works (or, rather, told me what has happened in the world and then asked me if I knew how the world works). So, the big picture of the two leaders' profiles splattered across the front page prompted me to flip to A6, where the real story was (Putin went to Iran, not much more happened). The subsequent picture, as pictured on the right made my day oh so happy as I read the caption, "Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran followed in the footsteps of Persian soldiers Tuesday." Persian soldiers. Like from the Persian wars. From Herodotus. Which we just read for Lit Hum. Now, if only I had read this in Le Monde this morning, it would have incorporated my attempt to learn French and my life would be complete. Instead, I just caught up on the goss. from the inner workings of Sarkozy's marriage (which incidentally I first found out about in the Times yesterday...there were some really good headlines in the Times yesterday). Here in French, and here from yesterday's Times. If you are really interested, they actually covered him doing real things this morning, despite his lack of booty, life goes on in the EU.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lerner--4th Floor

I have had some irrational musings lately, many of which I wish not to elaborate on, both because of time constraints and personal constraints. Full disclosure is not something that I as a blogger am bound by thankfully. Some points that I would like to touch on, however, as a break from Oedipus, tragedy, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  • Last weekend, while walking down 8th Ave. between 14th and 15th streets I discovered a new phenomenon (less so as just a really odd anomaly): the Mexican Diner. Not Mexican restaurant, not family diner, but MEXICAN DINER. Full booths, coffee bar, tacos, and menu written in Spanish. Only in New York.
  • I frequently go to the fourth floor of Lerner to sit on the comfy chairs and read (and also consume Tasti), and for some reason, every time I am there I overhear some sort of relationship conflict. They are fairly juicy, sometimes on the phone, sometimes (like tonight) in person. "Now, this is the point in which I feel the need to get involved…" and as not to cause a jelly incident, I usually extricate myself from the situation, snickering to myself as I do. If only I was a screenwriter, I would have an abundance of material in which to pull from. Alas, I only have the time to briefly touch on it here in the world of blog.
  • I went skating in Central Park today. Nothing too notable happened, save for being informed that there is a DJ around the 72 St. transverse every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and a lot of people go there to skate. The best part of the day was definitely when I was attempting to skate TO Central Park, down hills and over uneven pavement on my Carreras with Mustang wheels on them…not exactly my most graceful of moments, but amusing all the same.
  • In other news, I finally found out what happened at the end of the Cold War (in other words, history did not cease to happen when I was born! The revelation!)
  • Kurt stole my American Foreign Policy notebook, which pisses me off.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bored (aka distracted) in Butler

The girl next to me is chewing her gum so loud that I can hear it with my music on full volume through my headphones. I am a total hypocrite; I chew gum when I am stressed out (so, every time I sit down to do homework), but it is one of my biggest pet peeves. I absolutely cannot stand the sound of smacking gum, it drives me insane. When my roommate gets out the gum I either have to put in earplugs or leave the room. Since I know that I am a culprit of this very same deed (though I know how to keep my mouth shut, unlike miss flytrap over on the right here), I feel like I cannot complain. Instead, I go on random blog rants. Let's see if I can't find something more productive to rant about...

So this is Manny Ramirez on Saturday night...and if you see the lady to his left in the red scarf, I am sitting about 10 rows up from her. After the Homecoming game on Saturday, I flew with my roommate Sara and her family to Boston specifically for the purpose of spend 5 hours at Fenway Park, having a little clam chowda, and talking to the drunk condom manufacturer next to us. It was a roaring good time (until the 11th inning, that is).

Note that I somehow got a picture in before I turned completely into Rudolph. 40 degree weather was a small price to pay for the Sox, though.

Check out the craziness of Fenway. It outdoes Dodger Stadium in a few ways, one of my favorite being in the 9th inning when I watched the lady in cheetah gloves give the bird to the guy behind her, be asked to leave by the security guard, and then proceed to pour her beer on him before stomping off the premises. Another notable find of the night: the slightly awkward Carackerjack kid, Nathaniel, who happens to be the kid that told me for two straight weeks in the summer of 2004 (at Brown) that "this is the Red Sox' year...we're finally going to win it" causing me to root for them all through the World Series and be amazed when they did, in fact, win it all. Imagine seeing him randomly three years later, in Fenway Park (and he remembered me!).

In other news, I have two papers due today. One is finished, the other is awaiting a conclusion (after I am done brain-lapsing here). my latest foray into the world of Spectator is researching for a food article I am doing on the best chocolate in New York City. So far I am less than half done, and more than half in heaven. if ever in SoHo, be sure to head to Broome Street for some amazing Aztec hot chocolate or cute little painted ganache (in 27 different and exotic flavors).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tons of tomatos

Life has been buzzing with Greek tragedy, the Cold War, and French compositions, and thoughts about intellectual property. This is only my work in addition to Spec stuff. And running for the Political Science Students' Association freshman rep (which I lost to my roommate to no surprise). The week is beginning to come together, however, as can be seen here. The weather has been ungodly hot, but it finally rained last night and promises to cool of for the rest of the week. Perhaps I can go running without fear of coming back looking like this:

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Sum of my Life on a Coffeetable

I spent a portion of my morning at Joe's Cafe in the Village. This is widely recognized as one of the best coffeeshops in the City, and I just had to try it. Note that there are two cups of coffee in front of me. Not only is this symbolic of my love/need for coffee as a college student, but also warrented. Joe himself was making lattes this morning, and put a free one up on the bar that he messed up. It was too pretty to pass up, so I swiped it, mostly to test out if he really is one of the best in the city (paper cup is just plain coffee because I'm still a college student and cheap). It was an excellent latte.

This picture more or less sums up my life. I spend my time drinink coffee, reading classics, going to random places I have heard about in the city, and listening to my iPod (Bono's Red campaign special edition, fyi), and running with my Nike+, which goes along with the ipod. Pierre was nice enough to point out that I even have my french represented in there, since the pencil is a Bic. I really love this picture.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dem Debates

Kucinich just said that the drinking age should be lowered to 18 and the voting age should be 16...too bad he looks like such a cartoon character.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow

In all the Ahmadinejadmania, I have not been able to get a personal word in (to anyone, really). I have been so swamped with Spectator stakeouts and writing articles and, oh yeah, that homework thing that is an unfortunately byproduct of going to college. Above and beyond the Ahmadinejad hoopla, which was very exciting in itself, I also covered the keynote address by the president of Turkmenistan on Monday morning. While somewhat less controversial, he still had some quirks about him. Turkmenistani politics are probably the best discovery I have made since coming here (other than maybe the curry station in Lerner). I have read 10 books of the Odyssey in the past two days, and have four more to go before 6.10, so I'll have to leave most of my thoughts until later. However, the previous sentence more or less sums up my life the past few days, so no one is really missing much.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What happens in Vegas…

Stays in Vegas for a very long time. I love that flipping through the television brought me to no less than 4 news stations ALL talking about the "breaking news" that O.J. has once again been arrested on charges of armed robbery. I am so glad that we are so concerned with this. No one cares that Israel bombed Syria after following a shipment of nuclear weapons from North Korea, but O.J. is big news. Leave it to O.J...


Reading…and some more reading.

The week has set in, and it is time for me to get to work. I have ridiculous amounts of reading to do, about 150 pages today, which is more or less the norm throughout the Sunday-Wednesday night serious-work period. I nabbed an excellent spot in the library where I can see out the window, almost directly across from Low Library. It is a beautiful day outside, just chilly enough for a light sweater, but nice and warm in the sun. I am feeling very productive, having already completed a 5.5 mile run this morning with my new (AWESOME) Nike+, gone to French class, and rewritten and edited the capsule I wrote for Columbia's daily newspaper, The Spectator (Spec). Classes are great, the weather is great, my friends are great, all of which puts me in a generally great mood.


I had a little bit of catching up to do on my reading since I spent all weekend my with my mom, but it was well worth it. Last weekend, I sampled about 5 different cuisines from different parts of the world, ventured into places I had never been in the city, rode bikes through Central Park, had more Starbucks than I have had in a month, introduced my new friends to my mom, went shopping, received my sweaters (a true highlight as the air became a bit nipply), and just had an awesome time with my mom. Last Friday we did a museum super-set: she did the Met in the morning while I was in class, then we went to the Cloisters, and we ended up at MoMA for Free Fridays.


I am still in la-la-land over how amazing my life is at the moment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It Rains

It pours, as everyone snores. Being a morning person around here is rather lonely. Only the sports kids keep me company, and for the most part they are out sporting, and I have got the world to myself until my French class starts at 10. The real world starts around 10ish…But I like my quite mornings. "Morning person" has been redefined for college life, even for me; I get up between 7:30 and 8:30 most mornings, sometimes go for a run, have cereal, yogurt, and an apple, do a little reading, a little emailing, a little trolling of the internet. Sometimes I write in the blog. I then gather my stuff, head downstairs, grab a NY Times and catch up with the day's headlines over a $1 coffee refill or tea I have made in my room. The more I hammer out the morning sequence, the more I enjoy it. I have learned things like Lerner Hall doesn't have Splenda, and the chairs in Butler Library coffee lounge are quite comfortable and conducive to morning reading. And with that, so my day begins.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Another Amazing Day in the Neighborhood

I finally found my way over to New Jersey yesterday to see about a job at a gym in Ridgefield that has Les Mills programs. I took a bus over (under, actually, since the route is through the Lincoln tunnel), attended a BodyPump class for the first time in three weeks, and talked to the owner about teaching there. I could not believe how accommodating they were with my schedule and offering me a job. I have a tentative Friday class that I will be teaching, and possibly a front desk job for a few hours around the time that I will be teaching. After taking class yesterday I realized how much I missed it. Les Mills is crazy addicting. It made me feel comfortable to be doing the same moves that I did at home, listening to the same format that I always have. While I am excited because of the job opportunity that this opens up, most of my excitement comes simply from knowing that the gym is a place where I feel comfortable, where I can find a refuge from the stress of school and the city when I need to get away.


After I got back from Jersey yesterday I met Pierre in the park, intending to stand in line for tickets to one of the last performances of Shakespeare in the Park for the summer season. Unfortunately we were about 5 hours to late to be getting in line, and there was no way we would have gotten tickets. Instead, we met his friend Alex and spent a good portion of the day hanging around the city with him. We went to lunch ; I was the only one who ate, which I am told is a casualty of hanging out with lightweight crew boys, and was not actually as uncomfortable as I had originally expected it to be. Somehow, they made two glasses of iced coffee last for an hour and a half, which is more or less the coolest thing ever. Trѐs bon. Then we walked from the Upper West Side restaurant on 88th to Alex's Midtown apartment on 52nd. I love walking through the city, and was glad to be with company that shared my grand affinity for walking. 35 blocks is not a bad little jaunt. The whole day seemed to be about conversation and quirkiness, which made me generally very happy. I could spend all day walking and talking around the city, and just might have to, if I did not have so much darn reading to do.


Classes have begun in full, and on my plate I have a good 300 pages of reading to do, two papers, and a French chapter to study. And then I have to find time to work out, and culturally diversify myself, and keep myself from socially alienating myself. The latter problem has worked itself out so far by the fact that everyone more or less has some sort of workload, so I can go to the library and still feel social, because other people are there, too. I love the reading rooms on the sixth floor (the rare manuscript rooms: African American, East Asian, and Islamic studies), sitting and reading by myself or with Pierre, writing notes, and feeling both accomplished and connected.


My worst problem to date has been my shoe problem. I continually get blisters on my feet from all of my shoes. I have come to realize that I walk here about tenfold what I did at home, and cheap shoes do not necessarily cut it when you go from points A to B to C to D like they do when you only go from point A to point PT. Even my running shoes are giving me problems as they wear down. My sock pokes up from the top of my shoe. I have resolved with Pierre to go shoe shopping, and am currently in the market for some funky red athletic shoes. I have decided that for once in my life I might actually need function over fashion (more like quality over quantity), so some of my cultural fund might need to be invested in footwear that will actually allow me to roam around the city enjoying the culture.


Today I will attempt to get some of my work done while absorbing the culture. I am heading downtown, hoping to end up at either MoMA or ICP to plant myself down on a bench and absorb the Iliad, the modern art, and the people sharing the space. I am also going to try to sneak around Bryant park and see if I can peep around fashion week. It will be a day of hipster watching in Midtown and anorexic-watching in Bryant Park. Plus, I will finally get some batteries for my camera and have some pictures to put up. And so begins my day…


Other recent events of interest:

  • Roaming around Union Square, trolling for samples in various food stores, ending up at Trader Joe's and getting enough food to make my own dinner in the lounge while doing my laundry
  • Buying fresh produce at the Farmer's Market in Union Square
  • Signing up for Model UN, Culinary Club, Dance Marathon, Rock Climbing Club, various advocacy groups, and a lot of other organizations that I don't even remember at the activities fair.
  • Sweating out more water than comes out of the shower in the humidity

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Midnight in Butler

It is midnight and I sit here in the ground floor reading room of Butler library, surrounded by other student and some of the most famous literary works of all time, reading away for my history of International Order Since 1815 class tomorrow afternoon. I just finished my reading for American Foreign Policy. Surprisingly, I have had too much caffeine today, and would probably be up whether or not I needed to study tonight.


Classes kicked off with a bang the past two days; I have already been overwhelmed with syllabi, French workbook pages, "outline the class" lectures, professors attempting to make a joke or two, and an immense amount of reading requirements. So far, I am in love. While I have spent a good 5 hours in the past two days doing reading/outlining, another two on French, and about 9 hours in class, everything I have been doing has been interesting. I am in college now! Finally! I am taking a history class that goes over the concepts and formations of international organizations throughout the world, which basically covers all of my intellectual obsessions, while also covering my British professor accent requirement for the semester. Then I have a no-nonsense American Foreign Policy lecturer that will do well to cover my dark humor requirement.


I had my two Core classes today, both taught by grad students. They are young, asked us to call them Rachel and Todd, and best of all, they know their shit. Lit Hum professors are somewhat luck-of-the-draw, since there is about 80 sections of that class and almost all professors on campus have to teach it. My grad student just so happens to have studied in the Classics department for 6 years and spent the majority of our first class telling us the entire Trojan Cycle, just for background knowledge.


I think the best part of the week is realizing that I can be intellectually elitist and be perfectly acceptable in my community. Also, knowing that people around here STILL come to me for common sense questions makes me rather happy. I have friends who come to me to talk about things, people that I go to lunch with, and best of all, a community that loves school as much as I do, who stresses out about things as much (or more) than I do, and a community that really just wants to do cartwheels in the hall before going to the library to study.


I climbed thirteen flights of stairs to my floor four times today (plus six to get up to the African Studies room in the library earlier this morning). Mega props for myself. I also attended a Model UN meeting, solved the study/television in the lounge problem for my floor to the best of my ability, and used my Tide-to-go pen to get a coffee stain off my bed when I accidentally put my backpack with my mug haphazardly down on my bed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Day of Classes

Mom, this one is for you...I have since lost the shoes because they hurt, but the rest of the outfit persists through the day. My suitemate Jenny took it for me! xoxo.
So far I have had French and lunch. And sit around for an hour reading the New York Times. But next is International World Order Since 1815!!

New York City

After a week here, I am already beginning to feel like I am home. It is so weird how living in such close confines with people can make you bond so quickly. It has only been a week (almost two for the COBOP people), but already I feel like I could trust some of these people with my life. I am closer to some of them that I was to 95% of the people that I grew up with in Ventura. Sure, I might go over a little on my cell phone bill (rollover…right? :) ) but I really feel like I connect with these people.

Everyone has a quirk. There is something about each of the individuals that I have met that makes them stand out. They might run marathons, or play the viola, or have traveled to every continent on the globe, excluding Antarctica. Everyone is smart; I don't feel uncomfortable talking about classes, Harry Potter, or even the Iliad. I feel liberated that I am no longer self-conscious about my thoughts. Being nerdy is completely and totally embraced.

Beyond the walls of Carmen Hall, I am connecting with the city. I ventured into Queens again today for more tennis. Andy Roddick once again disappointed me by only allowing me to see him play one set before having his opponent retire (twice in one week!). Yesterday, I went to the Whitney Museum of American Art to see the tail end of the "Summer of Love" exhibit, which is only in town for two more weeks. It was two floors of crazy psychedelic art from the late 60's originating from San Fransisco, New York, and London. The best part is that it was FREE!! My Columbia University ID card is my new best friend. From there, I proceeded to the largest department store in the world, Macy's in Herald Square, and bought my ritualistic first day of school outfit.

If I had any energy whatsoever, I would continue my flushing out of my fabulous adventures, but since I do not, I shall leave a few thousand words to be said by these pictures:

Friday, August 31, 2007

I’m Made for This

I feel obliged to let the world know what is going on in my life. However, the time that it would take me to elaborate on the amazing adventures of orientation week in New York City would simply be a waste of my time left of orientation week in New York City. Hence, I feel the need to be extremely brief and general in my descriptions. Since arriving in the city I have:


  • Not had a night earlier than 2 AM
  • Not had a morning later than 9:30 AM (and usually it is before 8)
  • Gone running every day in Riverside park, Central Park, and the tiny indoor Dodge Fitness Center track
  • Been grocery shopping 18 blocks from my dorm room, then had to lug heavy bags all the way back
  • Attended a party exclusively for CU class of 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new Greek and Roman collection (free)
  • Attended a party exclusively for CU class of 2011 on Ellis Island (free)
  • Spent 10 hours at Arthur Ashe Stadium watching the likes of Andy Roddick, the Bryan twins, Maria Sharapova, and an epic James Blake match, all while sitting comfortably in the corporate suite of SFX Media, who represent both Roddick and the Bryan twins. (free)
  • Walked through Chinatown and Little Italy, having dinner at a fancy, guidebook suggested restaurant with Pierre while enjoying excellent conversation and company
  • Been recruited for the CU cycling team
  • Registered for classes including Literature Humanities, University Writing, French I, From the Congress of Vienna to The United Nations: Ideas of International Order since 1815, and American Foreign Policy
  • Attended my first college lecture, along with my entire Columbia College class of around 800
  • Made friends with dozens of people with accomplishments that blow my mind
  • Become friends with people who actually do crew
  • Not met any water polo players
  • Learned the school fight song, and pledged to attend at least one football game
  • Watched a Yankee-Red Sox game in a room with several actual Yankee and Red Sox fans
  • Discussed what I wanted to do with my life, and been encouraged to be even more open-minded and cosmopolitan than I already am
  • Lived without purchasing a cup of coffee once
  • Become an expert at finding events with free food (and therefore have avoided using any of my dining dollars just yet)
  • Registered for a New York Public Library Card (the largest public library collection in the world!)
  • Done laundry
  • Gone to many required orientation activities
  • Skipped many required orientation activities in favor of exploring New York City
  • Given directions on the subway without looking at a map
  • Spent more time talking to real people than on facebook
  • Been on the 20th floor in a crowded dorm room when the fire alarm went off
  • Climbed up to my 12th floor (really, 13 since there is a mezzanine level) dorm room any time the elevator is more than 4 floors away, or there is more than 3 people in line for it.. This ends up being most of the time, and at least 3 times a day.
  • Learned to take the service elevator when I really want to take the elevator


Overall, it has been a good week, and still continues…stay tuned!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hey There Delilah


I love the bittersweet

emotion that this song

evokes in me. Oh . . . it's what you do to me!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Childish Thoughts

So lately I have been thinking. I nearly always think, but recently I have been pondering specifically about my current psychological state as it applies to the aging process, and coming to terms with the fact that I am slowly but surely growing into a full blown adult. It has been almost more of a dreaming than a thinking, where I begin to imagine my life beyond Ventura (basically my life beyond the next 18 days). Some of it is easy to imagine: taking New York by storm, assimilating into the urban chic culture, and studying my brains out at one of the foremost intellectual institutions in the world. Beyond that, however, is where I get caught up. My mind naturally continues beyond New York, seeing myself studying in Paris, law school in some other exotic land (Oxford, perhaps, or maybe Washington or Boston). I fantasy continues; I see myself joining Lawyers without Borders, moving to Paris (or maybe the Hague), spending extended amounts of time in Africa, the Middle East, or Latin America. My ambitions are endless, stopping only when I become the Secretary of State (during the Senning administration, naturally, where there may or may not be some personal attachment/larger story to be told). Even after that I know that I will have to write my memoirs, which is why I must continue to hone my personal composition skills.


This dreamland of mine is quite fine and dandy. I am content to stay there in the clouds all day, until someone knocks me fervently from my high pedestal by mentioning something about marriage or children. This just baffles me. More than one person has mentioned to me that I would make a great wife (read: primary breadwinner), and some have even gone so far as to mention parenthood. An unnamed source has gone into uncharted territory by hinting at upwards of 6 children. I am unsure if I am the only one that noticed, but my little aforementioned plan included only moi (overlooking the slight foray into the fantasy Senning administration rendezvous). Whenever I have seriously considered my romantic life of the future, I have always either seen brief stints of love broken up by long periods of grand distances, or a man who is artistically and creatively inclined to follow me around the globe. Perhaps a filmmaker, novelist, journalist, or another humanitarianly-minded lawyer. Even a sexy corporate lawyer content to be absorbed in his work when I spend weeks away from our swanky, but small and cozy urban apartment. I do not so much imagine myself to have a lack of romantic life, but one secondary to the true love of my life, cosmopolitan, intellectual humanitarianism.


I have never seriously considered having children. Ever since I discovered the process by which a child is removed from the womb, I have had absolutely zero interest in ever experiencing such a thing. I am not sure if I am too much or not quite enough self absorbed to wish that a large part of my life be dedicated to raising offspring of my own. I question whether I am more interested in the world according to Shane or in saving the world, but either extreme leaves no room for me to be popping out babies like June Cleaver or Carol Brady. No way, no how. I absolutely despise the thought of being preggers, getting fat, stretching out, having my emotions run rampant, and then at the end having to push a whole living baby out from that little hole down there. Need I even mention the fact that the world is far past the point of overpopulation, with plenty of children out there in need of parents.


I have, of course, had the thought periodically that I might simply be psychologically unfit to consider children at this point in my life. Young adulthood is a largely independent state, and as I age and grow out of this, I might find myself more willing to settle down. Coming out of my current self and looking past the next few years and ambitions, assuming I do find someone to follow me around the world, I still am unable to see myself wanting to have a kid. Realistically, I do think I would like to adopt (Angelina style, but not so gaudy as Madonna's publicity stunt). If I were to find myself in the right situation, and find the right little person, I can see myself as a mother of a child or two. From my experience with only children, I would never subject a child of mine to such an abhorrent life, so I guess I am stuck at two. Two is my limit, however. More than two is about as damaging as only one, not to mention would drive me crazy.


Now that I have gotten this futuristic rant out of my system and logically organized in a way that never would have been pieced together sans written words, I guess I should start putting the word out: looking for an ambitious, confident, attractive male willing to travel the world with me, okay with not passing on his family lineage, and preferably fluent in two or more languages. Knowledge of mechanics, world affairs, music, literature, and/or basic fashion also earns points. Turn offs include, but are not necessarily limited to: desire to be in any way suburban, any sort of lasting affinity towards frozen/fried foods, obsessions with network reality shows, having a pathetically boring family, or any isolationist tendencies whatsoever. Adding to the pluses category: I would not mind dating a chef. Sometimes I think it would be cool to be the gorgey SVU lawyer married to Bobby Flay. She's got her shit together.