Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I'm having a mental freak out. It's a compulsion. It's paralyzing me. I can't think of anything else. And I don't know what to do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sad. Sort of.

When I come home
I get depressed.
I feel fat.
And lonely
And torn between
Family and laziness.

My bed is so comfortable
And the weather
So beautiful.

I am at home
Yet a stranger.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's 22 degrees today...

...And I'm not riding my bike.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hobbes is waiting...

I love BBC. I can always count on a great front page headline, such as, "Man killed for 'hogging karaoke.'" When I am stressed to the max and worried about how the hell I'm going to get through 100 pages of Hobbes in the next hour, I can always count on a good laugh coming from my news feed.

In other news, yes I have to read 100 pages of Hobbes in the next hour. I've also got hundreds of pages of sustainable development surrounding me right now, but less pressure to have a knowledgeable discussion about it in 3 hours, 50 minutes, plus an hour an a half of riding to do at some point before that.

My training plan is, quite plainly, kicking me in the ass. If it would be more appropriate to use a euphamism, I might think about it, but I think the full-fledged description is suitable for the amount of time I'm putting in. I worry about it constantly, it's always a question of upholding my training responsibilities, vs my Spec responsibilities, vs school work. It's always hard because the final one is technically the most important, but for the most part, not as immediately pressing as the first two. My scales are off-balance. Then there is the constantly pressing threat of "life after college." What I decide I want to do heavily influences the amount of effort I put into certain things. If I am serious about being a journalist, lower grades and more Spec responsibilities and bylines are probably not a bad idea. However, if I'm applying to Harvard Law, the reverse is probably true. At some point, I should probably figure out my life.

However, the majority of this is just meaningless drivel. Most likely, I should allow what I enjoy now lead me to what I want to do later, not the other way around. Either way, I will end up doing something, and if I follow passions rather than dreams I might have a better shot at ultimate contentedness. But I just don't want to let doors close prematurely. The more I realize I cannot do everything, the more I want to do it all.

And, after all that complaing, Hobbes still lays in the grass, waiting, waiting...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reflection weekend

Since I think Thanksgiving is somewhat of a perverted holiday (what can I say, I am a flaming liberal), I couldn't just go and publish this on the day of, but I have taken the time to do some reflection on what I am thankful for. With an idea partially borrowed from Bwog, and spurred on by laziness, I present my thanks giving, in list form:

- The Internet
- Google
- Gmail
- Butler
- Columbia architecture
- Public transportation
- M2M and ready-to-go Korean food
- $1.25 Diet Snapple inside Uris
- Diana and her family
- Courseworks' E-Reserves
- My bike
- My new tires that don't get flats every week
- Central Park, not crowded at 10 AM
- 9W, all the time
- My stash of Peet's at home
- My coffee grinder
- Black nail polish
- Vegetable and leftover turkey soup
- Fresh vegetables
- Lip gloss
- The New Yorker
- Rufus Wainwright on Ruckus
- Coffee of all kinds
- Good coffee
- Black leggings
- Tasti
- Having a laundry room in my building
- The smell of baked apples
- Christmas music season
- Metrocard
- YouTube
- The West Wing
- USA Network
- 5 gum
- Pristine sheets of paper
- Mechanical pencils
- Reporters' Notebooks
- Medicated chap stick
- Graphing calculators
- Literature
- Artistotle
- Netflix
- Fine art
- NYC tap water
- Radio France Internationale, online
- My foam roller
- Ciao Bella chocolate sorbetto

To be continued as I think of more...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thoughts for the day, in the absence of rambling

Things I've thought about today:

- I shouldn't have put those jeans in the wash...

- Would I have come to Calc class if my professor wasn't so good-looking?

- I kind of like Columbia half-empty

- I definitely like my suite mostly-empty

- Why exactly do we celebrate Thanksgiving? It seems like such a politically un-correct holiday, yet is as American as apple pie. Now that I am okay with telling people that I am an American again, do I have to participate in blind patriotism?

- I think I am ready to embrace Spec again. Actually, I think I am excited about it.

- The thought of going to celebrate with someone else's crazy family makes me miss my crazy family --> (corollary) I can't wait until Christmas

- All I really want to do is bake something right now, and those 5 lbs. of sweet potatoes in my cupboard are calling my name

- Crap I've got a lot of homework this weekend.

- I get to interview John Fraser this weekend!!!!

- 7 AM tomorrow morning, really?

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's a Friday night, I'm all dressed up, and...

There are times when I just feel at home at Columbia--things that tell me that I belong. These aren't the times when I am overwhelmed by coursework or feeling idiotic about something that I have said in discussion section, but times like right now, when I'm sitting in the student center at 11 p.m. on a Friday night reading Machiavelli for the fun of it. Sure, it's an assignment and I need to fill up some time before I go out, but the point is that I'm enjoying myself.

The best part? I'm not the only one here...

Today's other event which made me reflect deeply on my life at Columbia and it's meaning: Today I saw Hawkmadinejad perched regally atop Alexander Hamilton's head. It just made me smile.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I hereby rescind my status as a Californian

It's somewhere in the realm of 3 am. I'm exhausted. But this is so worth it. I feel that it is my patriotic duty to record my ecstasy tonight, going to be knowing, for the first time in 8 years, that I feel comfortable with the direction in which America is going. For the first time in 8 years, I am proud to be an American. I'm not really in any state to attempt a coherent argument for why Obama is a great candidate, and what this moment means for Americans, but it is enough to record that tonight I just really feel good.

That being said, I am extremely disappointed in the California electorate. As the country takes a step in the right direction, California takes three giant leaps backwards. I knew there was a reason I got out when I did. I'm proud to be a New Yorker, now and forevermore.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not even concentrating enough to finish this

I really don't like school breaks very much. In a way, I am glad for the opportunity to relax and not worry about school for a couple of days, but somehow they always end up making me depressed. I always feel alone and end up bored. I feel like there are too many options and I cannot decide what to do. As much as I would like to blow everything off in the name of "break," the truth of the matter is I have a lot of homework to do, and can't just leave it sitting on my desk until tomorrow afternoon.

I feel removed from everything--my trip to Nebraska getting canceled took most of the political fervor out of me. I couldn't even argue my point well last night when I went to dinner with Diana and her parents. I no longer have any ambitions to do anything politcally-minded in the next couple of days. I can't bring myself to step that foot forward, even though I know that it will probably make me feel better.

I feel paralyzed sitting here at my desk, semi-staring into space at my computer, with my Calc book open, and my French book, my CC readings, and my Anthro coursepacks all staring at me from my shelf above. There are no distractions here to keep me from them. Except for the absent-minded braiding of my hair that I've been doing all morning.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Unfinished thought, inturrupted by paying attention to class

Oh, Jeff Sachs. I still haven't figured out which side of the fence I'm on when it comes to him. As the semester goes on, however, I am coming to appreciate him more. Almost every day that he lectures he takes a good 20 minutes to explain what is going on in the financial world (read: shitshow). He also slipped in the word "uterus" today in class, which made me smile.

Sachs is such a polarizing figure. my idealist friends worship him, my realist friends despise him. I feel that the overall Columbia mentality, while very liberal on social issues, is fairly conservative when it comes to economics. There certainly are enough economics majors running around here (now looking like they've just lost their entire future. Perhaps they have).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stupidest Move Ever?

I. am. such. an. idiot. I'm currently standing in the lobby of my building, sans shoes, with a headache and a pit in my stomach. Bored and broken-hearted, I rushed out of my room when I heard voices in the hallway to extend an invitation to the people next door to our Halloween party tomorrow night (we aren't yet friends on Facebook, and I was THAT bored). All I was wearing was my long sweater (doing its job as an acceptable outfit that's mega comfortable for laying around. What I didn't have on was pants, socks, or shoes.

Sure enough, in my hurry to catch them before they caught the elevator, my keys went the way of my shoes. Or, rather, they didn't go anywhere and I did. It should be mentioned that the reason I am so bored is all my suitemates are gone, most of them far downtown just beginning their posh dinner, not to return for hours. So now I am stranded in the lobby, hacking away at the public computer while I wait for my rescuer from Hartley to show up with a spare key. I feel like more of an idiot now than I did when my plan for the evening was the last episode of House on my Netflix DVD and then sleep.

Hormones and stress. Seriously. Grr.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The answer!

I've found the answer to my becoming an adult question.

xkcd, I heart you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Is it really only 9 AM?

This morning:

3:40 AM - Wake up. Remember the Red Sox lost last night. Bummed.

3:55 AM - Kiss dad goodbye, head downstairs, sit in the Double Tree Club Boston lobby waiting for the airport shuttle to leave.

4:00 AM - Kiss mom goodbye, get on the shuttle.

4:15 AM - Arrive at airport, wonder why the cab to the hotel on Saturday night took 3 times as long (and went around the city rather than through it).

4:20 AM - Sit at a table in the airport and try to finish Calc homework. Wonder why I didn't take the 5 AM shuttle

5:10 AM - Go through security. Wonder why I wore heavy boots through an airport security line.

5:15 AM - Get Starbucks, smell and smile.

5:20 AM - Sit and eat a banana, wait for plane to board.

5:30 AM - Board plane. Almost take out several people trying to get my insane amount of carry on luggage on the plane. Notice many people around me rolling eyes (wish that I could blame them).

5:35 AM - Attempt to finish my French homework before I'm told to put my tray table up.

6:00 AM - Take off. Finish French and switch back to Calculus.

7:00 AM - Depart plane. Head to Air Train.

7:15 AM - Board Air Train. Switch to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

7:20 AM - Depart Air Train. Head to LIRR.

7:23 AM - Get lucky in that the express train to Penn Station arrived as my ticket was printing. Immediately board and depart for Manhattan.

7:40 AM - Arrive at Penn Station. Head to subway.

7:43 AM - Stand on the express platform. Watch 3 local trains come and go before the 3 train arrives.

7:55 AM - Pack in the expresss train.

8:05 AM - Switch to the local train.

8:10 AM - Arrive at 116th St.

8:15 AM - Arrive at 47 Claremont, about 40 hours after leaving. Put down bags, grab an apple, complain to Kyle about having to go to class, change clothes (of course).

8:35 AM - Leave for class.

8:40 AM - Arrive, IAB, 5 minutes early for class, exactly 5 hours after getting up.

...and, still to come:

More coffee
French class
Finally finish my Calc homework
Turn in Calc Homework
Edit Spec article
Send in Spec article
Attend Calc lecture?
Polish Africa paper
Print Africa paper
Turn in Africa paper
Attend Africa lecture?
1st day of training plan
Dinner with Matt?
Track down Eye article
Check in Eye article
Go to Eye meeting

It's really funny the things that are necessary and the things that are optional on that list...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

OMG, so cuilinarily excited.

This afternoon, I succeeded in making sushi. All this in the hour between French and Calculus. And I still made it to class before my professor

Lost Girl

I was walking down Claremont to 116th the other day and I realized how comfortable I am with my life at the moment. It's an odd sensation of knowing where I am and having a rough idea of where I am going. Last year was a period of transition, and I was somewhat comfortable with my discomfort. There were troubled periods, but perfectly acceptable, expected troubles for a fresh-faced freshman in the big city.

Now that I am no longer that girl--more comfortable in my life here, daring anyone on the street to deny me the title of a genuine New Yorker, more accepting of college as a way of life--I grow uncomfortable in my comfort. I am quickly running out of reasons to deny adulthood. I wonder if that is even a valid fear. I guess there is the Peter Pan complex; and if Disney made a movie about it, it certainly must be true. On the other hand, do adults ever really grow up? Or do they just get better at hiding it?

Monday, October 6, 2008


I can't believe it's been a month already--life is moving so quickly. The leaves are beginning to change, though not nearly as brilliantly here in the city as when I was upstate last weekend. I love that brilliant rainbow colors accompany the wonderful sweater weather that defines October here. The changing of the seasons means that there is always something relatively new and exciting to talk about. "Talking about the weather" actually has a little bit of meaning to me now. That is, there might actually be some significant change to talk about.

In addition to the weather, October also means midterms. I've already made it through a Calc midterm and one of many French exams. As academic stresses mount, however, I find it difficult to balance the many extra curricular responsibilities that I have taken on. Some days I'm not sure if I am going to make it through.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A personal philisophical discourse on the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle

This is a clear rip-off of my Contemporary Civilization response paper, but I feel that it somewhat accurately represents my emotions of the moment, which I don't have ample time to discuss beyond what I have already written as an assignment.

I have been reading Aristotle for a few days now, and continuously throughout those few days I have come back to the question, "Am I happy?" In a large scope, the answer is yes, but the question is so involved that I cannot help thinking about it, over and over, through the many different facets of my own existence. As base and immature as it may be, the happiness question of Book I tugs at me much more than morality, virtue, or choice (and all of them seem to come back to happiness).

I wonder what exactly it means to be “happy.” It seems similar to one of Plato’s “ideas” or forms, although I cannot be sure that happiness has a direct relationship to the chair. The second stage of happiness is not a carpenter’s interpretation of it, but rather a person’s own feelings, which are not tangible. They are noticeable, but not in the concrete way that wood can be seen and touched. In the same way that an artists depiction of the chair is the third level from the true form, so is a smile an expression of a person who seems to feel happy. However, a smile does not necessarily mean that one is happy; smiles can be forced, so the interpretation can be read falsely more easily than a picture or a drawing of a chair. It is much more difficult to pinpoint happiness. Aristotle says, “For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.”

On the large scale, I can feel that I am happy, even though at this particular moment I am stressed over my paper and my never-ending Spectator responsibilities and all of the reading I have to do and whether or not I am going to be able to get in a cycling training session today. With all the buzz in my head, I feel strained—it shows on my face and in my posture—yet on a deeper level I know that I brought all of this responsibility upon myself because it makes me happy. Not a smile kind of happy, but a fullness within myself that I cannot even begin to explain, yet something without which I would feel empty.

In high school I read a book called How Full Is Your Bucket?, which theorized that each person’s soul (not the exact phrasing of the book, but in Platonic vocabulary that is the meaning) is like a bucket and a dipper. Each interaction that a person has either fills or empties their bucket corresponding to the gravity of the encounter, from the smallest smile as you walk past someone (drop in the bucket) to someone making hateful remarks about you (a whole cupful out of the bucket). Your happiness is essentially determined by the amount in your bucket. The book itself is rather corny—yet, the theory has stuck with me, and it helps me to understand how each small step in the day contributes to the overarching emotion that lays under the surface of my varied emotional responses.

I wonder, however, if my overall quest towards ultimate happiness is actually any good for me. At the beginning of Book I, Aristotle states, “…things are evident to us in two ways—some to us, others without qualification." For the first few paragraphs of this paper I have assumed that my happiness falls in the later of these two categories. That assumption assumes not only itself, but stands on the assumption that happiness is a “thing” which is “evident to us.” My claims, and the entire life system by which I base my decisions on a daily basis assumes that I make choices accordingly because I know what makes me happy. What if I am entirely wrong? It is certainly possible that I am completely in the dark about true fulfillment; in a sense, my bucket could be maxing out at half-full and I am only a discovery away from needing to change the entirety of my being and actions.

Thinking about this presents major problems for me. First and foremost, I devote so much time, energy, and ambition to the activities which I have made commitments to, that to think that they may be holding me back from fulfilling my potential happiness is daunting—paralyzing even. Thoughts like these seem to me a slippery slope into darkness, a spiral of unhappy thoughts that would simply drain my happiness due to the scope of the question, whether it is true or not. For this reason, I refuse to consider it. Not only does it not matter if I am not at the pinnacle of happiness (because to spend time pondering the magnitude of such a thing would essentially prevent me from ever getting there), but I fundamentally disagree with Aristotle’s claim that, “Happiness, then, is something final and self-sufficient, and is the end of action.”

I truly believe that happiness is more malleable than that. The definition of it, and the means by which it can be achieved by each individual, not only changes from person to person, but changes through individual growth within the person. The action that will make me happy this year may not come close to fulfilling my needs a decade from now. Currently, studying, soaking up every word that I can out of professors and peers is my prerogative. Learning from my surroundings is the source of my contentment. However, at some point I expect that this unquenchable thirst for knowledge will be at least partially shared by the desire to have a family, or rule the world, depending on which part of myself I let take over after graduation.

I will never have all of the knowledge in the world, or perfectly conform to the being I strive to be. I doubt that my quest for more will ever be finished, therefore meaning that I can never be truly happy until I am dead (if then) should this “happiness is the end of action” hypothesis be true. I refuse to believe that. Parts of me become even more content in the assurance that I never will have all of the knowledge in the world—if I come to terms with that now, I cease the need to strive for such a lofty goal. I can be happy with learning as the process, rather than the end. And that—knowing that I am in the process of learning—is enough to make me get out of bed every morning.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's a Spectacle!

I'm busy! I'm busy! I'm busy! But blogging keeps tugging at me. Soon enough, I'll write a real post. Until then, http://spectacle.specblogs.com/.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to be a future head of state

Sitting and having a cup of coffee and reading a little Sachs in the SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs) cafe between classes, I am struck by the demographics of the place. I'm pretty sure that I outweigh almost every single person in here. In order to be a graduate student of IR, you apparently have to be skinny and beautiful, not to mention foreign and exotic. All of these women are studious but gorgeous, and well-accessorized. They also ALL eat yogurt. Of the 5 women I am observing, 4 of them have eaten a yogurt sometime in the past half hour.

The SIPA diet:

- Water
- Coffee
- Yogurt
- Thick and foreboding coursepack

Oh, Facebook.

This is probably the proudest I've ever been of an article written in an hour.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Frustration Day

Currently having a bit of a mental freak out. I'm sitting in my makeshift little room looking at all of my crap that I somehow have to get up to Columbia, but can't because I don't have a key to my room because Columbia is stupid. I'm looking on my computer at all of the loose ends that I need to wrap up for work, which I SO don't want to go to because it's on the exact opposite side of Manhattan as Columbia, where I really need to get today.

I've approached this summer with the mentality of the problem solver. I knew going into it that I would have experiences that were new and challenging, and every time I come up against something that is unfamiliar or sticky, I slow down, take a breath, and take a moment to think of some possible solutions. Basically, I've had a lot of practice being an adult. As the summer draws to a close, however, I am growing weary of solving my own problems and stepping outside of the box. All I really want to do right now is crawl back inside my little box and go back to school, to the land of half-adults who never really have to emerge into the real world. I want to go back to comfortable problems, have somewhere to call home again, and think about something more in depth than how to induce PR people into sending me pictures when I ask for them.

I also want to stop complaining. but I am in such a limbo position right now that I'm not sure what else to do. I'm itching to finish everything up (literally and figuratively after getting attacked by mosquitos two nights ago), and I am so frustrated that I am having to live by someone else's schedule right now.

---- UPDATE, 6 Hours Later ----

I stopped complaining and problem-solved. And my problem is solved. I've got one more load worth of stuff to take up to Columbia on move-in day and I should be set.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Summer Outpouring of Thoughts

Someone asked me a few days ago, "what is your philosphy on life?" It's been itching at me ever since. This morning, in my element on a Sunday morning at my computer next to a good cup of joe, I took it on.

"All the world 's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts" - William Shakespeare, As You Like It

I spent a good while of my ride to Tenafly yesterday thinking about this. What do I believe in? For the most part, my philosophy on life is something of a "live and let live" situation. I believe in balance and respect. The only thing that is the end of the world is the actual end of the world, or for the individual, death. Other setbacks are simply that, setbacks, and the human being is fantastically elastic if determined enough. Personally, I believe that every experience is to be learned from; everything from getting lost (or, getting to know a place you have not previously acquainted yourself with) to getting hurt (I'll only wrestle next to a metal table once!), to losing a competition (I lost the position of Political Science Student Association Freshman rep to Sara, and then decided to explore Urban Studies), to trying something you are new to or afraid to do (showing up at 5 in the AM to the corner of 114th and Broadway knowing absolutely no one for my first bike race, and becoming obsessed for months thereafter).

Not only do I allow myself to try the unexpected, I seek it out because as far as I am concerned, I have no idea what the potential of my person is, and therefore I should not confine myself to my comfort zone and stunt the possibilities. That's why I moved to New York. For the first 18 years of my life my goal was to get into college, and at a young enough age I realized that once I got into college I had no idea what I wanted to do in life, so I wanted to be in a place that was diverse enough to teach me some things and provide some opportunities that I had no idea existed at home. The idea of a restaurant critic was some vague idea that I had really never even thought of in suburbia.

I live life for new experiences and new takes on life. That is what this summer is about; more about finding out what I DON'T want to do with my life (I knew I didn't want to work in media before I took my internships this summer), that what I do. Now I know WHY I don't want to do this, because it is a farce and requires little to no brain power. Now that I have that out of the way, I can more accurately whittle down what I DO want to do with my life, and spend the next couple of summers really honing in on what it is I actually like.

For a less self-centered look at life, though, I turn to the word respect. I don't believe that there is a right opinion, which is why the word "opinion" exists in itself. While I certainly have my personal take on things, I respect every single person's ability to formulate their own opinions based upon their own experiences. Even the people I most vehemently disagree with I believe have a right to their own thoughts and feelings. I think this is why I like Pres Bo so much, he is so pro-free speech. I guess I would say that I believe every person has the right to their own little bit of personal space on Earth, mentally, physically, vocally. Everyone has a right to express their opinions, however biased or plain awful that they may be.

If everyone though like me the world would be so boring (another reason I showed up on Columbia's doorstep). When I was at home, no one ever contradicted me, with the exception of a few favorite high school teachers, and occasionally my family. I got to Columbia, and all of the sudden I was greeted with all of these different lifestyles and views on life. Some of my best friends became those that questioned me on a fundamental level. It drove me crazy at first, but then I realized that for the first time in my life I was having genuine intellectual conversation, and now I feel on it. More than anything in the world, I believe success in life depends not upon the answers that you give but the questions that you ask. Why is this the way it is? Can it be changed? My favorite question to ask myself is "Can I..." If I can come up with no legitimate reason not to do something, then I go for it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Musings of a nomadic writer obsessed with exercise

I've had writers' block for a while now, not really able to get the words that I feel down on the page. I have a peculiar internet situation--I live on it at work, literally, and then go home and don't have access, and don't feel like walking to someplace where I can get access because I've been staring at it all day long. It's a roller coaster of overexposure/underexposure, and it's terrible for my blogging habits. Today, though, my mind is flowing better than it has been in the past.

My Monday through Wednesday job can be mind numbing, and Monday is always the worst. Today I feel much better. Tuesday is usually the day I decide to take initiative and invent something for myself to do. I usually come up with something fairly cool on Tuesday, show it to my boss, and then get some sort of direction for what to do on Wednesday. If I had more than one more week here I might figure out how to break this cycle and move it up a day, but for now I'll deal.

I have just realized that I have half-undressed in my office today. Normally, I sit under the air conditioner and it is on full blast, so I have to have a sweater. Today, however, it seems to be a little bit warmer and I have no need for the sweater. I've also taken off my scarf and my belt because I was walking for the entirety of my lunch hour, and came back a bit sweaty and hot. And then there are the shoes, which as flats just beg to be taken off when I sit down. While I am certainly not indecent, and can look quite put together in just a minute or so, I realize that i have more articles of clothing strewn about me than I do on my body.

I went to BerryWild for lunch today. I've got it figured out--1.1 miles there, net 2.2 miles. Takes just about an hour, burns just about as many calories as the fro yo, and I get to explore Murray Hill and Kips Bay. Beautiful lunch hour.

Monday through Wednesday it can be really difficult to figure out when to get in my exercise, the kind that keeps my mind functioning normally. I don't get home until 7 or so, and by that time I'm so tired from sitting around all day that I just want to sit around a little bit more. Other days I have somewhere to be after work and don't get home until 8 or 9.

Last night I meant to go running when I got home, then plopped on the couch to savor the last of my Murray's cheese instead. After the cheese, I thought that running wasn't such a good idea, could be painful. After a few excruciating minutes of not knowing what to do with myself, I decided that it was a beautiful evening and I really needed to get out, so I went for a walk instead. I headed to McCarren park, just in case I was feeling up to a run by the time I got to the track, but ended up taking a left, checking for Top Cheftestants milling about 20 Bayard (yes, Season 5 lives half a mile from me and are currently filming!), and ended up following my nose down streets I'd never walked down before. It ended up being a Tour de Williamsburg of a few miles. I found a few new places that I didn't know existed, and the location of a few that have been on my list. I ended up running the last 3/4 of a mile or so, too, because I wanted to make it home before House, which is my new favorite show, and the only one that I actually watch on a regular basis. Of course, when I got home at 5 to 9, some stupid awards show was on. So I watched One Tree Hill, which was awful. When did it become cool to marry out of high school and have lots of kids? Then I went to bed early...

...and I actually dragged my butt out of bed this morning pre-7 AM so that I could get a little real exercise in. I was planning on running, but the urge to get on my bike overcame me, so I went for a lap in Central Park. I found that I feel much better this morning after riding than I usually do after my regular, sedentary morning ritual. I knew that once I settled into my schedule I'd be more up for exercising in the mornings, but now my summer is almost over!

I think I am really going to miss Brooklyn. Everything is so convenient, yet homey and non-Manhattany. I am even starting to get used to the 6 mile ride into the city. the Queensboro Bridge is usually the largest hill of the day, and it's a great warm up.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Red Leather Shoes

Today is a lazy day--but a lazy day with a mission, and a few obstacles. I was out of reading material, and completely unwilling to sit around my apartment and watch television, so I set out for Manhattan in my red leather flats. While my choice of shoes does not normally make it onto this blog, today I felt as if they added something to my story.

I have told several people in the last few days that it is supposed to rain today. It was cloudy when I woke up, as the minutes wore on the day seemed to be getting darker. And yet I left my house in red leather flats, you know, the ones with the designs cut into them. Sure enough, as I made my way down the stairs to the L train, I felt the first drops of doom fall upon me, but I kept walking. Somewhere between buying Truman Capote and buying an American Apparel t-shirt to stencil at the Obama Summerfest in Central Park tomorrow came the downpour. A true, humid-weather, New York summer downpour, complete with thunder and rain drops the size of dogs. Really, I think I saw an H2O imitation of Coal somewhere out there this afternoon.

Alas, other than the wet shoes, I made it through the rain without melting. It has let up now, as I sit in a Columbia computer lab waiting for my shoes to dry after picking up my mail.

I have this weird craving for a soda. I have given up soda, maybe for real this time. Well, kind of. I let myself drink it when I go drinking and don't want alcohol. Aspartame is my vice. My general cravings for diet soda have almost disappeared, except for right now. I think it is something about being in Lerner at Columbia. Next door to the computer lab that I am in is one of my favorite soda machines on campus. It ALWAYS has Coke Zero. I guess it's a good thing that it's card swiper has been disabled, or I would probably be drinking one right now...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sastre wins the Tour, but I was too busy riding my bike to watch the final stage.

Friday was a long day, following a long week; I wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep through the weekend. It's Monday and do I feel refreshed? I had some issues getting up the subway stairs this morning.

There is something about this city that just will not let me relax. There is endless walking and riding my bike, and the occasional run in order to experience the full character of my surroundings. Certain places call for certain exertions. When I found myself at 86th and Central Park West, for example, there was nothing I could do to stop myself from taking a lap around the resevoir. It just had to be done. Like an old friend, I bonded with the spectacular 360 skyline enjoyed by the jogger around the water. And on a Sunday, I had to ride up to Columbia, had to stretch my legs out to New Jersey, make sure the trees were still green and the shoulder was still wide along 9W. When I got back from my ride, with no plans for the day, the streets of Manhattan were calling to me. Calling to be walked, explored. Flipping through New York mag on the train, I came across Berrywild, their interpretation of the best fro yo in the city. "Shane who loves bad boys and fro yo" simply couldn't pass that up. So I walked there, because that's all you can do when you are heading towards a fro yo craving, walk it off before you get there. And then Paragon was just 15 blocks away, so I walked again. Then to Whole Foods, then to Murray's. Pretty soon, I had passed 4 hours on foot, I went home, and I collapsed.

And now here I am, ready to start a tired Monday, because it just can't be helped.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's raining, it's pouring...

It's raining. I haven't exercised in at least 72 straight hours, and I am going a little crazy. Oh well, I am trying this new thing called letting go and going with the flow. I gave up my exercise time yesterday to go see a Broadway show (poor me, I know). And the day is far from over. My lack of run this morning could be replaced by a nice one this afternoon. I thought about going out in the rain this morning, then I decided that I'm a little run down by my 2.5 jobs anyway, and why don't I just go back into the apartment and relax for a little while instead? It takes a conscious effort for me not to be going 24/7 all the time. There are just so many options in New York that I can't stand to be still for a minute. But this morning I decided to bring my laptop to the coffeeshop around the corner and do whatever I wanted for a while instead. Life will go on, I believe.

Chicago last night was great. And of course it was raining, because it was Broadway. I don't know what Broadway is without rain. Literally, I have seen 4 Broadway shows in my life, all in different seasons, and every single time it has been raining either before or after the show. I always come home from Broadway with wet shoes. At least I can count on consistency, and have attuned myself to always bring an umbrella.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Deutsch und Food

Ich passe Le Tour auf Deutche auf weil le Tour auf Englisch ist nicht eingeschalten werden...Sometimes I miss taking German a little bit. It's a lot of fun to speak. The cadence is fabulous, and while it's not as pretty to listen to as French or Spanish, it is rather easier for me to imitate. At some point in my life I think I need to go back and revisit it.

This thought comes about as I am listening to the Tour in German (for those that didn't understand the first sentence, either because it is in German, or because it is in very badly translated German), because for some reason the English channel on Justin.tv is having all sorts of problems. This is actually a good thing because, while it takes me back to my year of Germanness, it also relieves me of having to listen to the annoying announcers in English--I actually prefer the ones that I can't understand--I just get excited about certain words that I recognize and don't have to worry about what sort of stupid things they might be saying.

In other news, I went to this cute little restaurant in Chelsea last night called Trestle on Tenth. It was really out of the way, way up on 24th and Tenth Ave. At first it was a little disappointing, but by the end of the night I was very pleased. I had heard that it was Swiss food, which confused me a little bit--Swiss cuisine is not normally recognized as being particularly fabulous (or cohesive). It turns out that the menu is not strictly Swiss (no fondue), but just has a few Swiss-inspired dishes. I had this deep green snap pea soup that was delicious, and my favorite dessert: chocolate ice cream! Nearly as good as Lab de Gelato...seriously, made with Valrhona chocolate.

After dinner, the chef came out to talk to us, and I was proud of myself to recognize his Swiss German accent (thanks Carola!). We talked a little about the food, a little more about the place (dates to 1893 when it was an old house in Chelsea commons), and a lot about Le Tour. He revealed himself to be somewhat of a "weekend warrior" when it comes to cycling, and shared his disbelief and disappointment in the recent Tour scandals. Tears were shed over Ricco. Okay, so maybe I was the only one sad about Ricco, but what's a girl to do? He was my favorite bad boy, but EPO is just a little too bad for me.

The romantic restaurant research continues this morning. Ressies in an hour at One If By Land, Two If By Sea...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Excuse my explicatives.

It's fucking hot. That's all I have to say. Really, that's all that I can say. I am currently avoiding my apartment like the plague because of its non-air conditionedness. Why anyone in their right mind would go out for a long ride today, I cannot tell you. Why I did it? Mostly because I would feel guilty if I didn't. Couple having to ride all the way across Manhattan, in blazing heat and humidity, with some fairly fierce winds, however, and it doesn't make for a very happy morning.

But such is the price that I pay for seeing the skyline every morning and having four free restaurant meals scheduled for the next week. Pocket Change is awesome--too awesome to be true, in fact--so awesome that I don't actually get paid to work there. However, I do get some fancy press credentials (semi-legitimate), a cool work environment, a chance to explore the Lower East Side, and, at the end of the rainbow, I get to interview Nikki Cascone from Top Chef!

Right now, though, I get to go get my laundry.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Getting in the Groove

It's been a while. I work a lot, I don't have internet at my apartment. After staring at the computer for 8 hours during the day, I usually don't really want to type out my thoughts when I get home. I want to get out and see the sun. My schedule's mostly been running like this: wake up before 7, shower and breakfast, catch the L to the N or the F, have some coffee for a half hour or so while checking personal email in Bryant Park, work until 12 or 12:30, get out, walk around, maybe catch something cool and free in the park (Michael Ian Black yesterday!), go back to work until 6, train home, run/bike, eat something, crash. By Wednesday, I'm sick of it.

Thursdays are much better. I'm more relaxed. I got up at the same time this morning, but had time for a ride because I don't have to be at Pocket Change until 10. I feel better when I get my workout out of the way in the morning. Now I can actually do something when I get off of work other than go home to change and sweat. Like finally get my watch fixed.

I am starting to fill up my "fun" schedule, though. Went out to dinner with Dylan last night. Hung out with a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters at the empty McCarren Park pool to see The Virgin Suicides on Tuesday, I'm going to a concert tomorrow night, I'm getting two free meals because of Pocket Change this weekend, and getting my haircut on Monday! That's more than I did the entire time I was in Ventucky. And I'm determined to fit workouts in there most days. How could I live anywhere else?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Posts from the times I lacked internet (anytime I'm not at work, mostly)

From July 10 - 8 AM:

So far, this week has been both similar and completely different than what I expected. It has been similar to what I expected in that things come at me that are unexpected and new. It is tough, it's hot, there are long hours, but I am rolling with what is thrown at me because my conscious mind knew that such is the life of a New York work-a-holic. I am challenged mentally, emotionally, and socially, and even physically if you count lugging around my shit from airport to my apartment from Diana's apartment to my apartment, my bike up the stairs, etc. I haven't started crying yet, which tells me that subconsciously, I am at least somewhat prepared for this.

I kind of like my new little box of a room. Once I got my stuff from the Greenwald's apartment, I was much more adept at organizing, and I have managed to make everything fit in a small space. It excites me that I am making this work. It also excites me that even in my 8x8 space, I still can stretch my legs out on my full sized bed at night. Having such a small space also means that I MUST keep it organized. When it is organized it looks like a masterpiece; a few little things here and there out of place makes it look like someone's junk closet. So, I keep it organized.

The hardest part for me is the exercise factor. Last night I tried to go riding after work, attempting to navigate the not-so-well-planned East River Park to Central Park. An hour after leaving, after nearly getting killed on the Williamsburg Bridge by crazy fixed-gearers, reaching several dead-end where I missed turns, and riding through about 40 blocks of rush hour traffic including the entrance to the Tunnel, I finally made it to the park, and realized that if I didn't turn around and get home very soon, it would both get dark and rain on me. I was finally in a comfortable riding environment, and the natural environment was kicking me out. I took the much more well designed Hudson River Park path on the West side downtown, crossing at 14th to cut off as much time as possible. At 14th and 6th Ave., in the middle of crazy Meatpacking traffic, 8:30 at night and stormy, I gave up. I did the unthinkable and took my white, carbon-soled beauties down to the subway tube, and comfortably sat on the L for 15 minutes, emerging in the middle of a thunderstorm at Graham Ave., a block and a half from my apartment.

My two hour ordeal gained me a grand total of 14 miles and 14 tons of frustration. On the bright side, now I know how and when NOT to get to Central Park. I think I am going to have to give up trying to ride after work. I am either going to have to get up early, or switch to running during the week. Not exercising is, of course, not an option. Working in a place without windows makes me crazy enough, doing it without a daily endorphin boost would kill me (actually, kill the people who have to talk to the bitch that I will become).

11 PM:

Tonight, I stood out on the stoop. I just stared down the street, taking in my view, from the stoop. Today I rode my bike through Greenpoint, Long Island City, and Roosevelt Island, all places that I have never been. I successfully navigated the Queensboro Bridge. I started my second internship, and I loved it. I went to the Laundromat and did my laundry. While walking back, I did a second round of stooping with a bunch of neighbors that live two houses over. It's almost like I am a New Yorker.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Box in a Brownstone in Brooklyn. Hooray for alliteration.

I live in a glorified box. In a brownstone, in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And I am kind of digging it. I might even like it better than living in my dorm room last year. I have a full-sized bed, which gives it mucho props in my book. Other than the fact that I don't have any room for my clothes, everything has it's little nook and it is working for me. I can't have tons of shit because I don't have any room for it. My bed is loft-style, so my desk and most of my room is underneath it.

To me, it doesn't really matter how small it is considering that anything I could ever need is right outside my door. I took the L into Manhattan last night and walked around the East Village for a while, ending up at Think coffee on Mercer (my intended destination, since it was the closest place I knew of that had free wireless while my home connection still hadn't been set up). I've seen more diversity in the last 24 hours than I did the entire month that I was in Ventura.

This morning, I set off for Columbia on my bike. I left way early for the group ride at 9, since I didn't quite know where I was going. It ended up taking me less than an hour, with only a few less-than-than-graceful moves along the way. Once I met up with the team, I already had a good 10 miles under my belt. I only ended up going about 15 miles with them before turning around at state line, partially because of the long haul back to Brooklyn, partially because I don't want to be completely shot when I have to get up for work in the morning, and partially because I am a wimp and I didn't want to descend the hill after state line because then I would have to turn right around and climb it again. Even just to state line put me over 50 miles for the day. Not bad for my first 18 hours of being back in the city.

Tomorrow I start working. Fingers crossed that I don't get lost or something.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My 4th of July post, posted on the 5th of July

Sometimes I wonder if I am a horrible person for not being patriotic. 4th of July does not excite me all that much. I am nearly ambivalent to the waving of flags, and don't expect me to try to defend my Americanism to a foreigner.

I am getting a little better now, I at least appreciate what it means to be an American. But sometimes I just want to get away, fade, and tell people that I am Canadian. I have never been very interested in all the flag-waving bull shit. When I see the flag, not only do I see the world around me, but also the world that was destroyed in the process of getting here. From the Native Americans to slavery to the Civil War to Japanese internment camps during WWII. I see Vietnam and coffins coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. All in the name of patriotism and heroism. Obviously, there are certain situations that simply cannot be cured through diplomacy. But America cannot rule the world, either. We are in this weird transition period post-Cold War where we are the only super power left--but how long can we expect that to last? What if we weren't the strongest anymore? Would that be so awful?

There are certain things that America has achieved in the last 200 years that are extraordinary, hands down, but with every rise there also comes a fall. Just when we start to recognize a golden age is when it is on the way out. As an American living under the George W. Bush presidency, I feel trapped. I do not agree with the politics of my country. But does that mean that I should not be patriotic? I think it runs deeper than that. It is more the hubris that most people assume in being patriotic. Yet I think the French are endearing for the same thing.

There is so much about the United States that I dislike. The entire state of Texas, for example. Ignorance, obesity, a general lack of regard for the world around us. But what about the things that I do like? New York City, diversity, soul food, jazz, the layout of Washington, D.C., idols like Jefferson, Madison, Hammie, Lincoln, FDR, JFK, and Madeline Albright. These things are all uniquely American (save for Maddie Albright, who is actually European, and the Founding Fathers, who were actually British). I love the beaches of California, the wilderness of the Northwest, and Starbucks. As I think of these things, I am realizing that I am more patriotic than I realize.

But do I have to wave the flag?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Packing yet again

I am sitting on my bed, laying really, surfing the net, thoroughly enjoying an activity that was driving me up the wall just a few days ago. It is amazing what the simple fact that I CAN get up and leave if I so desire will do for my mentality. I do love sitting her comfortably, enjoying the cool California breeze that is blowing through my window. In two days that breeze will be banished from my life for a good four months or so, until the first breaths of winter start to drift in off the river through my Claremont St. window.

But, save for the weather, how I am looking forward to returning to New York. It is a weird emotion that I am feeling. Living in Brooklyn is going to be terribly exciting, work sounds like it should be fun (fingers crossed), and I have so many friends to go back to. At this point, I can't really figure out if I am leaving home or going home. I am leaving family and the comfort of being completely secure in Ventura, but this summer has been a wake-up call for how much I no longer fit in around here. I haven't been to the skating rink but once, my first day back. I barely have any friends left here. I don't have a job or a purpose for being here, other than to kill some time and enjoy the sun. I am fabulously relaxed heading back to the city, but it has been more like a very familiar vacation. I have made myself happy by having a comfortable bed, my own room and privacy, peace and quiet, biking on the beach, and BodyPump at the gym. But my life has gone nowhere in the last month. I have learned some things, but I am so programed to learn that five minutes sitting by myself in a plain white room could teach me something. Much of it is just a renewal of what I already know.

In the process of leaving and coming back and leaving again, I am slowly learning to be slightly nomadic. I can live out of whatever happens to fit in my suitcase (plus my bike).

I have also learned that boys in Ventura let me down. Always. Without fail. No male in Ventura has so far been worth it. Not that I have much better luck in New York, but at least there is more potential there. Oddly enough, New York brings out the optimist in me. My cynicism stems from a deep-rooted disdain for Ventura's stifling nature.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just a little bit dreary.

Do I want to be in agony or sedated? This is the dilemma that I have wrestled with all day. The day from hell. Now I sit at home in the silence, and the pain only gets worse. All I wanted two months ago was a little time to myself. Now I am at home, on the couch, alone, and I just wish that there was someone here with me. Why is it that I always want what I can't have?

I guess it is not exactly that I want what I can't have, but I want something in the middle, and I keep getting extremes. No privacy vs. being alone all the time. New York vs. Ventucky, I guess. the pain in my jaw won't go away and it won't let me concentrate. The noise and the pictures from the television focuses me on something else. I hate television. But I can't read, the pain just gets worse.

I am trying so hard to stop complaining. I finally got on my bike today. Yesterday was the trainer, today I graduated to real road under my tires. Until I got a flat and my tires became my mom's tires. But the beach was perfect. It was overcast, but not overly cold or windy. After my ride I was sitting in my car up on the overlook over Emma Wood watching the surfers when I realized that it was my perfect beach day. The sunset was peeking through the clouds on the horizon, but the majority of the sky was gray. It was just a little bit dreary, but that's Ventura. A sunny, crowded beach isn't home. That's the movies.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rant against the throbbing.

Ugh. Why does this have to be the worst at night? Sitting alone in my room, staring up at my ceiling, listening to the left side of my jaw throbbing. I am determined to wean myself off of pain killers, but I just would love for the deep tissue throbbing to stop for a while. This is the worst it has been all day, the day without vicodin (the day without vomit), but as the numbers on my clock reveal a new day, the pain only gets worse.

At least my typing is back to normal. I no longer am typing like I am drunk, meaning I am probably not high on opiates anymore. Hopefully that means that I am good to go for tomorrow: driving and riding and living like a half-normal person. All this home alone business has been getting under my skin. Not only home alone, but home alone in a sedated state, not really able to concentrate on much, worthless trying to read, vegged out in front of a computer or television, if not fast asleep.

Why is the throbbing getting worse? Can this really be from the five minutes I tried to pretend it was going to be okay for me to sleep on my side like normal tonight? True, it is better than last night, but still. Advil....start working!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A day's ride in pictures

Bitches and hos. Surgery. The worst part of it is (well, besides not being able to go riding for ANOTHER three to five days) that I don't even have a good story. I got my wisdom teeth out, big deal. The last couple of times that I have had to deal with copious bleeding I at least had a good story to tell. Like when I had minor oral surgery on the inside of my lip, itself not exciting, but I did refuse to be put out and watched a scalpel come right for my eyes and root around in my mouth for twenty minutes.

And the time before that, I got to get staples in my head for the benefit of amusing Mr. Gray while he was enduring a much worse hospital experience.

Now all I've got is the fact that the nurse who called to check up on me was confused by my female voice and asked if Shane Ferro was there and how he was doing. Since I didn't correct her, it took her a while to get it. Fun stuff.

In other news, I made sure to celebrate my one good day of cycling for the week by taking some pictures along my ride. I was planning some awesome shots at Emma Wood and maybe even some out past Solimar, but unfortunately I got a flat right before getting to PCH, mile 32 at that point, and packed it in once I got dirty after changing the tube.

An oak tree just before Foster Park. The place where you do all of your breathing through your mouth because of the horses and the manure, but then you regret it because of all the flies. So then you just go faster.

Lake Casitas, where you stop to rest for a second if you feel like you are going to die after making it up the hill. Or you take some water and push on to the downhill.

The opposite side of the river bed from the lake, the view of Oak View back country from the Trail.

Looks like a bombed out Star Wars set to me. The beginning of the oil fields, and the Avenue ghetto tagging.

My beach picture when I got my flat and decided the actual beach pictures just weren't going to happen. I went back to the car, changed my shoes, and ran some jetties on the beach instead.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scenes from New Orleans

It's got to be a mint julep in the South. In honor of Faulkner, of course.

Kens in drag. The way I like my Ken dolls.

Hard at work with power tools.
We built that porch with nothing but labor, lumber, and a few power tools.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thoughts on bitchiness

This whole thing is really getting to me. I am putting way too much pressure on myself. I came a couple of realizations this morning. One is that I am not responding well to pressure right now, physical or emotional. Two is that when I can't figure out what is bothering me and I am going through things in my head and I hit a word and then I feel like I want to burst into tears, that is probably what is bothering me.

Even when I was at home "relaxing" I felt like I was under pressure. Pressure to be the perfect daughter, pressure to find something to do, pressure to find people to do it with. Then came the hard reality that very few people actually wanted to do anything with me. I got blown off six times in six days, once so somebody could go get arrested. No one came to Piesta. And now I feel like a bitch for thinking all of these things. Someone did want to hang out with me all the time last week. That's not fair. Why am I so focused on the negative rather than the positive? Because the negative is easier to write about, I guess. And I don't need word therapy for the positive.

While I am here, all I can think about is how spoiled I am. It makes me feel like kind of a bitch, and that just makes me bitchy to the people that I am around.

I am going to try harder today. To be nice, that is.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tales from the bayou

After five days in Louisiana and 2 volunteering with Habitat, I am beat, sunburnt, and maybe a little bit better person. Maybe. Le Vieux Carré is almost the same as I remember it. The first night that I was here I reveled in the literary beauty of the Quarter, and while in the Jazz Emporium opted for a mint julep to bring me that much closer to Faulkner. Eventually, I bought As I Lay Dying from the Faulkner House Bookstore, just because that is what you have to do when you are in New Orleans. I also had to partake in a café au lait per day, or two per day, as it happened, from Café du Monde.

Thinking back on that bit of wild fun, I almost forget the last two days, which have been hours and hours of dirt and sweat. We are out in the St. Bernard parish, about half hour outside of the city, at Camp Hope. A converted middle school, Camp Hope is home base for Habitat for Humanity and Americorps volunteers post Katrina. Yesterday was 8 hours of house painting in 100 degree, 60% humidity weather. Today, bestie Hillary and I built a porch. Actually, we built major parts of two different porches. I am not a contstruction-type person. I am not a heat-type person. I would almost prefer to be taking finals.

Does this make me selfish? Half of me is really proud of myself, and I really want to help the people here. Driving through the deserted towns is worse than looking out the back of the car when I was in Nicaragua. At least there was some shoddy bit of an eonomy in Nicaragua. Here, there is nothing. Nothing but people living in a food/retail desert without half of their homes or their neighbors. I want to help them. I want to make this look like America again.

But I hate construction.

Maybe I should take over FEMA, so should something like this happen in the future, so many volunteers won’t be needed three years later.

I am a terrible person. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t finish Miss Edna’s porch.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dear God, It's Me, Shane

I am slowly proceeding through the ten steps of readjusting to suburban life. First, there was relief to be home and sleep in my own room and make myself a salad. Then there was appreciation for the conveniences of life here. Then came annoyance, boredom, frustration, depression, and I am now back at appreciation. If I didn't cringe at the thought of life here, I could never love New York. And if there weren't a few things to come back to (the beach, my family), then I would be stuck in New York indefinitely without perspective. I am glad to be in Ventura for a while. And I am glad that I am leaving.

During my frustration period a couple of days ago, I sat at Peet's and composed a short list of some of the things that I despise most about living in the suburbs. It is far from finished, but I hope to begin to make the case from which I put myself on my little metropolitan pedestal.

Did my hatred of the suburbs spawn my love of the city, or does my love for the city create my abhorrence for the suburbs? It is hard to tell. The major problems I have with the suburbs are as follows:

  • There are no public gathering places. Sure there are a few parks, but the lack of walkability to the parks means that people must go out of their way to go there, therefore needing a specific reason to make their way there. There is no reason to just wander into a park in the suburbs, and if you do, there is not much taking place, because wandering there is not common among people.
  • There are too many cars. People drive everywhere because of urban sprawl creating traffic and congestion. As a form of transportation, cars are the least social, most polluting. With everyone in their own cars, not only are there more emissions, but the community doesn't have a shared sense of space. Everyone has their own space in their own cars with no necessary reason to get along. Even though people don't talk in the subway, and barely even look at each other, there is the sense that everyone has to share the same space, the same air. For the few minutes that you are underground, you have to get along with the people around you, even if you don't become best friends.
  • The suburbs do not promote a healthy lifestyle for young adults. The biggest complaint among my peer group is that there is nothing to do. After the sun goes down there is absolutely nothing to do. This goes back to both public space and transportation issues, but the basic consequence of the matter is that it promotes finding places to experiment with illicit substances. It is not that people in the city don't do it too, but the more distractions there are the less it gets done. Bars promote drinking, but paying $5 a drink significantly lessens the volume of alcohol consumed, compared to the suburban house party, which usually costs and attendant nothing to get completely wasted. The social aspect of the suburbs promotes major over consumption.
  • Have I mentioned that there is nothing to do in the suburbs?
  • The suburbs promote a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle. People go from sitting at the office to sitting in their cars to sitting on the couch, get up, and do it again the next day. Additionally, air quality is not always the best in the suburbs, either. Pollution may come from the city, but what happens when the wind blows? The smog travels from the city to the outlying suburbs.
  • Driving and finding something to do promotes getting a DUI

Although, I have to say, this view isn't bad, either...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Invocation of the Muses

I went to the Getty Villa today. I have wanted to go forever (theoretically) and have just never gotten around to it. I am glad that I waited--Lit Hum made the experience so awesome. There was a whole room dedicated to ancient Greeks mythology, mostly the Iliad and the Odyssey(!!!). The room actually had copies of the epics there for you to read before viewing the stories portrayed in art. I got so excited when I walked into the room that I almost crashed into the WT (white trash) lady telling her fake blonde/boobed friend how the movie was great, and just so much better than trying the books (which are so...long). I thought that my head was going to explode. This was the point at which I made a very dramatic leap towards the copy of the Iliad sitting on the bench and proceeded to thumb my way through the entire first book before deciding my time might be better spent looking at the art that couldn't be found in any bookstore in the western world as the Iliad most likely can be.

It was then I thought, what movie could she possibly be talking about? Troy presumably, but there are so many things wrong with that movie that had I heard the entire conversation I probably would have actually bitten her head off after that comment (like a Scylla).

Other highlights of the museum included the basilica room holding five different Muse statues ("Tell me, Muse..." I thought to myself), numerous phalli in the Theater collection, where i hearkened back to Aristophanes, and the statue of Leda, who was raped by Zeus when he turned into a swan, which produced Helen, who was the woman that launched a thousand ships, beginning the Trojan war.

It's nice to know that the Columbia bill has at least instilled in me self-worth for a few secluded hours in a fancy museum at the base of the hill in Malibu, and an entire car-ride worth of thoughts for the way home.

I bought a copy of the History of the Peloponnesian War for myself, since I either left mine in New York or I sold it back for a whole $.05. Is it sad that the one book that I feel that I can't live without is Thucydides? What if I am in dire need of conquering someone in the next month or so? It may be sad, but I read "Pericles Funeral Oration" on the way home, and I remembered why I liked reading this so much last semester, when everyone else hated it, save a few hardcore Poli Sci nerds like me.

Other than the fact that I don't think that our President's speech writers are this good, I wouldn't be surprised if I got a copy of the speech and was told it came from some sort of political or military rally in the United States within the last 5 years. There are so many freedom and security- based talking points that could be applied to the United States' current situation that I am moved, even though I don't necessarily agree with the politics. My appreciation for Thucydides definitely springs from the American Foreign Policy class that I took. I am in awe of the pure realism of the Greek generals, and the incredible rhetoric that Thucydides employs to sway his audience.

"The strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.
" I like this quote for its simplicity, even though it scares the shit out of me. I have this little monster inside of me debating between realism and liberalism. I would like to be an idealist. I love the idea of the United Nations, but I fear that states are driven by power, and that international cooperation is going to be fine and dandy until somebody either accidentally or accidentally-on-purpose hits the red button, a nuke goes flying, and all hell breaks loose. Or until oil really becomes a problem, and we don't have a solution except for more anger at the Middle East.

These are the things that I am afraid of. I am afraid of ignorance in the world, I am afraid of the shifting balance of power, I am afraid of stagflation and a crumbling economy because of fuel prices. I am afraid of a global food crisis, mass famine, drought, and war and disease because of it. I am afraid that these things are all going to happen in my lifetime--and yet, I am also excited because if they do happen in my lifetime, they are my problems to fix. It is somewhat exciting to think of how my generation is going to rise to the occasion, what we are going to come up with, what frontiers we are going to break through. What I do know is that I will not sit on the sidelines. I'll do what I have the power to do. And I will do it well.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Intellectual and emotional frustrations taken out in meanacing diction

Grrr. I am pissed at life. I am pissed at the suburbs and living in the middle of nowhere and stagflation caused by rising oil prices. I want to be able to step outside my doorstep and take a walk down a busy street, people watch, and generally entertain myself rather than sitting on my ass, bored, not wanting to drive anywhere, hating myself for my ridiculous fear of the phone.

I am tired of people flaking on me. I feel like I have no friends since I got home; at least none that can actually do anything. I am a little bit of a hypocrite on that front, but still it empties my bucket when everyone has something to do and I don't. So I end up doing nothing but errands for other people. This is leaving out the numerous hours of bike riding that I have been doing--but still, the rest of my day seems so mindless.

Two days ago I still wasn't quite bored. I was still relishing the wonderful idea of not having to do much. Now I am bored. I wish I had a job, or a purpose. It is not like it was last summer. Everyone has dispersed, or just plain ditched me for younger, hotter, easier girls.

I miss having someone to talk to (surprise?). I miss Diana. I miss not having any time to watch television. I miss the subway and new streets to explore and new people to meet.

I am so cynical. I know as soon as I go to New York I am going to miss my family and my house and be tired of working all the time with no time to ride my bike. But right now I just want a schedule. I miss my Google calendar, and actually having to look at it to remember all of the things that I had to get done.

God, I am so awkward. Hawkward. Awkward fucking terradactyl.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The New York Times this morning: "PARIS — Serge Hefez, a practicing psychiatrist, has identified a new mental illness among the French: obsessive Sarkosis, an unhealthy fascination with the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy."

I can, sadly, relate to this form of adoration. I, too, suffer from some form of Sarkosis. I love name-dropping him, or Cecelia, or even Carla Bruni. They are just so much fun.

Besides my odd obsession with a president that isn't even mine (because, after all, who would have an odd obsession with George Bush?), I've been attempting to develop some more healthy habits, which may or may not actually be so healthy when all is said and done. Like riding my bicycle.

Being bored at home the last week, all I can focus on is my bicycle, both updating it and riding it. I'm in the process of getting new pedals, new shoes, hopefully a new saddle. I finally fixed my handlebar tape so that it isn't held together with white sports tape. And then I did a bad thing. I got on my mom's bike and realized how much lighter it is than mine, and got really disappointed. My spirits both dipped lower and then rose a little as I tried to ride her bke and realized that her shoes don't fit me, so even with all her fanciness I am still better on my bike than I am on hers.

My lack of ability to kick ass on her bike yesterday may also have had something to do with the fact that I have been training hard for five days in a row and I was completely burned out. Between overtraining, tight shoes, and rain, I ended my ride yesterday at just under 15 miles. That still was enough to push me over 130 miles for the week, however, assuming that I am good and can stay off my bike today. I have designated a recovery day for myself, but sitting here on my butt right now just isn't quite doing it for me.

I slept in today. 8 am. I am taking this as a sign that I might just have gotten over my jet lag/decompression. Decompression is how I refer to that first week back where I couldn't figure out what to do with myself not having a million academic things to do every day. I think I may have relaxed just the slightest bit. And I read! I am coming up on finishing my second book for pleasure since I got back, and it is a rather amazing feeling.

Sadly, as I check the weather forecast I realize that the weather in New York is just slightly better than it is here. I slept with 5 blankets and a sweatshirt last night. There has been a 40 degree shift in the weather since I got home. I think I brought weather back with me from New York. Luckily, as I glance out the window over the ocean I see the sun peeking through the clouds. Since when is it warmer and nicer at the beach than it is at my house??

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Time to ride, no time to write

I can't wait until I have time to do things like write down my own thoughts. I wish I had time for my own thoughts. In other news, I used the slight lull in my finals schedule today to get up at the crack of dawn and ride with a few people from the team. The view of Manhattan from the GW bridge at sunrise is unparalleled. Better than sunset, definitely.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Too Tired to be Interesting

Whenever I am riding my bike, I have these fabulous ideas for blog topics. My mind runs wild for a while, then by the time I get back, shower, change my clothes, and re-enter the real world, I forget about all the cool/interesting/snotty things that I was thinking about when I was riding, and it never makes it to the blog. It's kind of like dreaming while I'm on my bike, I guess. That's the kind of state that I'm in.

Today while I was riding I decided to listen to the last two Frontiers lectures that I was only paying attention to about 15% the first time around. This time, I found, I retained about 75% of what I had missed! Had I discovered this two months ago, I could have saved myself a lot of stress on Monday mornings and stopped going to lecture. I wish that I could learn everything while on my bike. I would be in a lot better shape, and probably be better learned. Oh well, c'est la vie, and now is not the time for learning, but rather the time for reviewing.

I don't know how I am going to make it through a week of finals. I am burned out already. And I'm tired. Perhaps I shouldn't have chosen decaf. Then again, maybe I should be going to bed.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I should be reading. I meant to be reading.

I'm definitely in love with this whole cycling thing. This is a good thing on many levels, including my lack of love(r). On other levels, however, I'm afraid I might be going quite insane.

I've got that feeling in my legs where they are completely drained out, with broken-down muscle struggling to rebuild itself (helped along by some turkey jerky and a chicken burrito for dinner tonight). I love that feeling.

I rode for three hours today, a little farther than I rode last time, including a little more hilly terrain, to get just a little bit stronger. Since I decided to do Bear Mountain (yesterday), I can no longer be lazy and stop seriously biking. Which is perhaps why I decided to do Bear Mountain. It has nothing to do, of course, with the fact that the ridiculous Frontiers of Science final is scheduled for that Sunday (Mothers' Day of all days), and I am morally opposed to taking finals on a Sunday.

Probably the worst thing about my new obsession is my inability to function like a normal college student. The problem is even worse than before. It's before 11 on a Thursday and I am willing to do nothing but sit on my bed and think about the tingling in my legs and how tired I am. This is completely healthy.

Miraculously, I have not forgotten that I have other responsibilities, much as I may play up cycling. I'm up to date on my work, surviving the semester as well as I was before cycling. Still, the only reason that any of my work doesn't get done is because of Spec, not because of riding.

I've spun two bylines out of nowhere this week, and somehow managed to write half of a third article, do original research, spend 7 hours doing associate duty last night, and not kill myself. In other news, I have a 5 page Lit Hum paper due Monday. Don't know where that one is coming from.

It's really time for me to go to bed. But instead of going to bed I counted the number of bylines I have for the semester. 20. Which is 2 more than I had last semester (which means I topped last semester this week). I can't decide if I'm proud of that or if I wish that I had more. Could I have written more this semester? Should I have? I'm pretty sure I pushed myself to the limit, but there is always the "What if..." Since I have two more articles to spin out of nowhere for next week, my goal for next semester has to be 23. No--25.

It's pretty funny to go under my name and look at the list of Senate/food/Senate/food articles, with a side of TV and cool events. I seem a little disjointed, methinks.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Technology, Plus Dartmouth

I totally figured out how to map my routes (and post them on my blog). Though, I give myself credit for already knowing how to edit my blog in html. This is the road race from yesterday. It's not quite as pretty on a map.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Miss Fix-It

I'm becoming a little more handy. Last night, after riding in the park I noticed that my tires were feeling a little low, so I decided to take out my nifty pump (that I bought and dragged through the subway from Union Square at rush hour with the kid with the bass), and give myself some air. Unfortunately, after I removed the pump from my back tire, I heard a slight hissing sound. Assuming a snake didn't somehow crawl onto the 12th floor, I deduced that the sound was probably coming from that back tire that I had just pumped up. Shit. The back tire, again.

Maybe I didn't tighten it enough after I pumped it up. So I screwed the screw a little tighter. Then I left, ate, went to a concert, and took care of some of the usually stressful Spec-related business. By the time I came back to my bike three hours later, the back tire was decidedly more deflated. Shit times two. Actually--not shit--now was the time to prove that I actually had some handy-woman skills. So I picked up Roxie, walked her into the hallway, and then went to get a towel as to not get grease everywhere (didn't work).

I then successfully derailed my back wheel from my chain and derailleur (no sweat, I'm actually getting better at this). I then set Roxie aside and started work on my wheel. I got the tire out of the wheel frame, took out the tube, inspected it, made sure one more time that there wasn't something left over in the tire from my flat last week, and took out a new tube. Even though I couldn't find anything wrong with the tube that was in there, I figured I better just change the tube than spend an hour trying to figure out what was going on (I'm not that handy yet).

I put a little air in the tube, got it into the tire, got the tire fixed back on the wheel, and used my handy air pump one more time to get myself up to 120psi (okay, 110). And then I reattached the wheel without a hitch. Not only was I totally proud of myself, but I also had dirty hands, which made me even more proud.

To top of the evening, Sara was in the shower, so I couldn't wash my hands in my sink, and had to go ask Ben to use his, therefore being able to tell my story and look really cool for being all greasy. Ben told me he was proud of me.

And then I went and finished my homework, feeling like a big girl.


I felt like even more of a big girl when I went out and made it forty miles this morning with no tire problems. Therefore, my awesome handywoman work last night actually worked. And now, all I want to do is take a nap.

I went to Ferris today after my ride, finally ready to try the new smoothie bar. Blended watermelon, pineapple, and ice turns out to be a little bit more juice than smoothie, but delicious all the same. And then, it was time for the splurge--as I stared at the pizza, determining if it actually looked good enough to waste calories on, this guy with a bright smile and almost annoyingly peppy attitude came up to let me know that he would make me a custom one if I wanted. My toppings, fresh from the oven. I was sold. Thin crust, tomato sauce, light goat cheese, caramelized onions, bell peppers, and chicken. So delicious that I ate the whole thing. Now I'm pretty glad I went 40 miles today. But seriously--pizza heaven.