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: