Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Semester II, a bit late

I have been lax with blogging of late. However, I have been having a lot of thoughts on life, just normally when I am doing something else, like school work or something (damn stuff gets in the way). It has been Restaurant Week in the city, so may spare time not taken up with going to class, Spectator, or doing work usually involves me gathering a group of friends and going out -- see previous post: meeting Bobbly Flay. Last night I went to this place called Fig & Olive, which is in the Meatpacking District, which is one of my favorite quirky gentrified neighborhoods in Manhattan. It is on the waterfront, west of the West Village, and an odd mix of trash, ugly, factory-like buildings, and high end restaurants/clubs. I went with my friend Pierre last night and had a ton of fun completely extricating myself from the scholarly life and looking myself in the ambiance of a fancy restaurant for a slow meal. The first course was an olive oil tasting (I had olives in my first course and figs in my dessert last night, so the name is fairly appropriate). We got a tray with a sweet, buttery olive oil from Spain, an "herbacious" olive oil from Austraila, and tart, appley olive oil that won some sort of award to sop up with uniteresting bread while we waited a half hour for our appetizers to arrive. Seriously, the waiter used the term "herbacious" in a completely serious manner. And I will now use it satirically every time I see Pierre. Despite the hilariosity of the description, the olive oil was amazing. I ended up buying a bottle with my frivolity fund as we left. Hopefully this weekend I am going to get some good bread from Silver Moon, cheese from Westside, and wine from somewhere and throw Sara a fancy party. In our incredibly high-class dorm room.

In other news, classes have begun. I am taking the second part of Lit Hum (LIterature Humanities, or theHistory of Western Literature, depending on how many words you want to use). We are reading the Aeneid, but I am more excited for Montaigne, Bocaccio, Crime and Punishment, and Maus to come. That's right, the last book we read is a graphic novel. I am also taking Frontiers of Science, which is a sciencesurvey course which I will wait to judge until at least next week, French II, which is fairly straighforwardly French, Principles of Economics with a cute little Italian lady, and Inro to Urban Sociology, which I am fairly sure I am going to fall in love with. It is about the makeup of a city, people on a larger scale. Why is there poverty and unemployment and dirt in a city? Why do people of the same background live together? What makes up a neighborhood? Ask me in a few months.

I also found this on YouTube. Enjoy while I go to Econ lecture.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Iron chef!!!!

Almost the best birthday present ever. Met him, right before an amazing meal at Mesa Grill. Could only be topped by Paris. 19 is going to be a good year.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Once again, caught in my own mind.

I have decided that I am done trying to see everyone in the world before I leave. I'll be back. If they really wanted to see me that badly they should have called me. The stress of trying to keep up appearances is what is causing my anxiety attacks, I think. I really just want to stay at home and come out of my cave daily to go to the gym and to Peet's, and perhaps do a little bike riding. Stop making me feel like I need to hang out with you, people. Come over if you want to see me. I need to clean my room.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Anxiety of the Present

Can you be stressed and bored at the same time? Is it perhaps that the lack of anything particularly important to do is stressing me out? I think I feel a ton of pressure to visit every person I possibly can while I am at home, as well as make as many exercise classes, as well as spend as much time as I can with my family, as well as ride my new bike as much as possible, as well as get all of my Spectator work done, as well as plan to leave and go to Sara's in a few days. Oh, and read, and watch television, and catch up on movies, and troll food blogs so I will be up to date when I get back and have to start working. Wait--it already feels like I am working.

I was so stressed today that I actually had the thought that I didn't want to go back to school. It is rather ridiculous, and I realized that I will probably be less stressed once I get back to school, but it was a scary thought all the same. I am also terribly afraid of my current cynicism. I am cynical about men and love and relationships. I feel like I lose confidence by the hour. I am more and more aware of decisions and statements and how they effect me, and I don't necessarily know that it is such a good thing. I think I need someone to light a fire under my ass, give me a schedule, yell at me to make me cry, kiss me, something. I look back over that sentence and realize that what I lack is passion. Not even that I lack passion, but that nothing is very passionate back.

I had a dream I was raped last night. It scared the crap out of me. I need a dream interpreter. As well as a massage and a cup of tea, methinkgs. The online dream interpreter tells me that I am full of fear and anxiety and feel that I am out of options. Sounds to me like I need to give up a few Spectator responsibilities. Crap.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm Home

And I am not quite sick of it yet. I find that there is more than a week's worth of stuff to do, which is what I had predicted. Coming back after four months has made me very appreciative of both my old and my new homes. For one thing, I am very glad that I did not come home before now. I was away long enough that I have adjusted to life on my own in New York. I can appreciate how long and short four months is. It was long enough to push me out on my own, but not long enough for anything in Ventura to change. The same people work at the skating rink. They still know my order at Peet's. My friends going to community college are still in school. That was mean. I'm still a bitch.

But my life has changed. Being back in Ventura, where the same old thing is going on, highlights for me how much I have developed as a person, both the good and the bad. I am more abrasive and more elitist. But I also know a little bit more about the world, and have opened my eyes to the fact that I don't know enough about the world. I can say "my friend from Australia does this," "kids from Jersey say that." I no longer think that the best place in Vegas to eat is at the buffet. In the dining section I went straight to Daniel and Mesa Grill. But then, the fact that I am home with my family and old friends brings me back down to Earth. We are going to the $9.99 dinner buffet, and kids from Ventura can be just as cool as the ones from Nigeria and New Zealand.

The thing I miss the most about Ventura, aside from my house and my family, is the coffee. I miss going to coffee with my mom, sister, and grandma at Peet's. I miss the foam that I get, and the delicious, fresh-brewed Special Blend that I would drink black. No one makes coffee like my local Peet's does, and I just can't get over it. I won't go even a day without going there and ordering my Café au Lait while I am home.

The thing I miss the second most is the gym. I would give my pinky finger to have Body Pump, RPM, and Spin with me in New York. Not to mention Bradi, Jamie, Molly and Brenda. I just want to pick up the whole gym and bring it with me.


The earliest memory that I have of Las Vegas is a panoramic picture. There were 8 of us crammed in the 7 passenger Ford Club Wagon. I would venture to guess I was about 8 and squished between two teenagers and my younger sister in the back bench seat. The sun was setting behind us as we crossed state line, and as our car rumbled over the last hill, the night was upon the city. Its lights sprawled out before my eyes, dancing with the magic of gaudy consumerism tapped by Steve Wynn and other Disney-like purveyors of the Strip. Since then, the gargantuan signs outside each Casino and the twinkling suburbs that stretch out to the bases of the mountains beyond have lost most of their magic, but the city has not lost its ability to captivate me on each and every visit.

I have had quite the relationship with Las Vegas. I know it more intimately than the closer but less enticing Los Angeles directly to the south of me. My flirtation with Sin City began at seven, back when I lived for roller skating, and came to visit every year for the invitational competition every Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The first couple of times we stayed at the themed casinos that bombarded the newest part of the strip: Treasure Island, Circus Circus, New York, New York. If there was a roller coaster to be ridden, we had to have a room there. As time went on, the fake-realness of the Strip gave way to cheaper Henderson hotels closer to the skating rink, and eventually to motor home parks where we could park our house on wheels and enjoy the desert ghetto without the semen-soaked sheets of a hotel bed. The convertible couch and sleeping bag bed were quite frankly nicer than sticky economy sheets anyway. When my dad realized that he got Hilton Points from his credit card and the roller skating rink became less of a destination, the Strip once again became our regular destination.

Today the view is hazy, as smog chokes the Stratosphere needle and the abundant, cultural black hole that it reigns over. Rather than captivating lights, I first notice the odd suburban tracts that have chased us since we left our beach town 6 hours ago. I notice the cranes, the scaffolds, as the endless construction on the desert oasis continues. The sun is setting as we approach the first rows of hotel-condos. I look back at the red rock mountains behind us. The grey clouds are silhouetted by the descending light. The inner geologist cultivated slowly by eighteen years of living with my mother springs to life in a moment of weakness. I am looking forward to the long bike ride tomorrow that brought us here. Sweat, nature, and family are anathema to some, but all in a day's ride for me.

"Where are we staying?" my mother asks. I glare at her turned back (I am still in the back seat of the '94 Club Wagon, though I have graduated to having my own seat). It is the same glare that she gave me yesterday upon my asking her the same question. Nowadays, we always stay at the same place. The Flamingo Hilton is center-strip, $60 per night, and equip with waterslides, swim-up bar, excellent spa, and plenty of blue-haired old ladies wearing sequined sneakers affixed to an oxygen tank, a cigarette, and a slot machine.

This is my Las Vegas.

Sure enough, as we walk in, there is no shortage of too-high hair, bad yeans, socks and sandals, and scruffy beards as the parade of rednecks, hicks, hipsters, gangsters, suburbanites, and businessmen stroll past my café table while I wait for my mom to return with the room keys. Everyone comes to vacation in Vegas: the whole family, from emphysema auntie to uptight I-banker cousin. Sweetie McFaye just walked by me with a feathered hat, a feathered skirt, and zebra stretch shirt pulled just tight over her high, 65-year-old tits. A giant pink flower pin finished of her rhinestone- trimmed-jacket. Everyone comes to Vegas. The man behind me yells loudly in Mandarin as the couple in Wranglers marvels at the café setup in the middle of the hallway to the casino ("What is this, with coffee and pastries and small tables?"). Well-put-together face and collared shirt gives himself away with baggy bluejeans and New Balance sneakers. So Midwest. Overweight family walks by ostentatiously discussing the buffet. "Nah, that don't go nowhere" is a direct quote. One son's shirt says, "3 can keep a secret if 2 are dead." Gun control, baby. I just saw a mullet. On a woman. With an apparent husband. Seriously. Everyone comes to Vegas. Obvious Florida retirees walk by in snow jackets. A gaggle of twenty-something guys walks by swinging their beers, probably the same type they have been nursing since noon. Artist/photographer swaggers by, carrying his rolling suitcase in his hand, his unkempt mane flowing in the wind as he scopes the scene. Any heels that walk by have a diameter of less than half and inch and are mostly of the type I like to refer to as "stripper heels." You can't imagine the number of pairs of ugly, dirty white sneakers I see walk past, on both men and women, who obviously do not use them for their intended purpose of exercise. Ballet flats and boots, my autumn/winter staples as few and far between. Fat Abercrombie ass just walked by in Uggs next to a girl in thongs. They might be able to use that pair of sneakers that just sauntered by on the refrigerator box with legs. Chic white crop jacket and matching white flat-heeled boots just paraded by into Bijoux Turner, where all items are $10. And the parentals have returned-it's time to go up to the room and crash.

This isn't quite the America that I get in Morningside Heights or Midtown, but it is America all the same. I can't say that I am proud of what I see walking by, but I do appreciate the diversity and the acceptance. You may not see haute couture walking by, but neither do you really see attitude. People are who they are, and they seem to be okay with it.

Friday, January 4, 2008