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

Breakdown/Homesick/Pensive

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

Foliage

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.