Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New York City: The Center of the Universe

"Strange, Patrick thought. He, Patrick Mulvaney, was this young woman's brother: they'd been brother-and-sister through all of their conscious lives: each was more closely related to the other genetically than either was to either of their parents. Yet he believed he scarcely knew Marianne at all. He loved her, but scarcely knew her. Members of a family who've lived together in the heated intensity of family life scarcely know one another. Life is too head-on, too close-up. That was the paradox. That was the bent, perplexing thing. Exactly the opposite of what you'd expect. For of course you never give such relationships a thought, living them. To give a thought—to take thought—is a function of disassociation, distance. You can't exercise memory until you've removed yourself from memory's source."

A vacation dispatch:
  • Being home and being in my old apartment are strange after having been gone for so long. So much is exactly the same (right down to the colors on what was once my side of the room in Washington Heights), and so much is so different (me, for one).
  • Things I love about Long Island: You can buy a chicken soup produce package that has all the vegetables you need for chicken soup.
  • Scrabble with a 7-year-old? Not the most challenging experience ever, but that kid sure does know how to make me do whatever he wants.
  • I missed New York City terribly. I did not miss the cold. My seemingly permanently numb toes are beginning to appreciate L.A. (which is good because my friend gave me a package of presents with different directions—"Open when you have a lot to do in a little bit of time": "Open to negate shoe lust"; "Open when you are stressed"—and one of them is "Open when you start liking L.A.," which seemed to be in real danger never happening.
  • Today, I jaywalked in front of a whole posse of cops. And I did not get a ticket. I love New York.
  • Spending time with family and friends is fantastic but exhausting. Next time around, I'm going to one central place, and everyone can come find me there if they so desire.
  • New Year's resolution: I am going to try to be a little more laid-back with apartment things. It will be good for me and for my roommates. I hope.
  • Google Wave. I'm not sure what to do with it.
  • Movie reviews. Don't trust them.
  • Seasonal candy. I have so much of it. (But you can never have enough.) The next week and a half may include a permanent sugar high since my bag was overweight coming here (mind you, when I moved to L.A., neither of my bags was overweight), so taking it back with me may not be an option. (I already have to deal with shipping the books I bought at a fabulous used book sale to L.A. since they won't fit in my bag.)
That's it for now. Tomorrow, I am going to try to find foot warmers, which apparently no one sells in this city, and I will try to convince my bank that I am me and that they should let me continue using my account even if the cell phone company accidentally charged me four times for the same thing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Overheard at Krispy Kreme

Woman to Cashier/Donut Provider: Excuse me, can I ask you a question? Is there a Dunkin' Donuts around here?

(Also, Krispy Kremes! Next on the list: Holiday Popems.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

There's Reason to Believe

And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California
I think you should

And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last

I have officially finished the semester. And it's 2 a.m., and I can't sleep. I have no idea what my grades will look like, but I do know that I worked crazy hard (grad school is hard). I have one day to pack and breathe and answer the e-mails I've been ignoring for the past two weeks (sorry 'bout that, all), to maybe go on a celebratory shopping trip, to clean up my room, and to fit in one last trip to Coffee Bean. And then it's off to the better coast. To see pretty much everyone I care about (with a few notable exceptions) in one fell swoop. If all goes as planned, I will hit D.C., Baltimore, then the entire tri-state area (well, at least all three states).

I still feel like I'm missing all the good important things that are happening on the East Coast and all the times my friends need me, too. L.A. is still ... lonely, and I still haven't found anyone to make color meals with, but I get immense pleasure from wearing flip-flops outside in December. I am still not enamored with my roommates (one of whom seems to be doing a science experiment with some glasses of milk in the kitchen), but I should have known I could never replace my old roommates (of the dance parties and the fish and Billy). I seem to have found an L.A.-based Trivial Pursuit buddy and located fabulous frozen yogurt and I really like my fellow Ph.D. students. I am not terrified every time I get in my car, but I am still looking forward to taking the subway.

In short, L.A. is not New York. And I miss New York, though mostly I miss the people I love. But I am slowly adjusting. I have had great visitors and am looking forward to some more coming up (insert guilt trip here if that does not include you). Winter break will be fantastic, if frigid, And hopefully I'll come back to a place I call home with Trader Joe's pizza dough in my luggage, happy to be sleeping in my own bed and wearing flip-flops again, ready for a new semester of late nights and lots of reading (but no statistics!).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lessons in Being דן לכף זכות

Clearly, this is a sign that I should be less judgmental of my roommates. It is totally possible that some random person who is living in our ceiling spit that gum out on the stove top. I should learn to be more trusting. Also, I should learn how not to procrastinate (though, you, dear blog readers, are certainly benefiting from this endless procrastination). Twenty-five pages in four days. Go!

People Who Do Not Belong in Coffee Bean

An exterminator and his client. Shockingly, I do not want to hear about fumigating termites as I enjoy my pumpkin latte and try (mostly unsuccessfully) to write a paper. Overheard from that table: "If we were to pump that gas into this structure right now, you and I wouldn't be able to smell it or see it. We would just die." Time to move back to the Ph.D. dungeon, where the only annoying people are undergrads trying to suck up to their TAs.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Deep Thoughts: The I Don't Want to Write This Paper Edition

  • Dear roommate, guess what I found on the stove top tonight when I went to cook dinner? Guess! A wad of chewed gum, which must have been yours unless someone broke into our apartment to spit their gum out on our stove top, which seems ... unlikely. Is it too much to ask for you to deposit your gum in the trash?
  • Coolest thing ever, which I am clearly going back to Walgreen's to get: A mug that plugs into your car to keep your coffee hot.
  • Voice mail is not an appropriate venue to tell someone you'd rather not go out with them again. I guess I should be glad it wasn't a text message. BASTRAT.
  • Why would my father start sleeping with his cell phone next to his bed right before his birthday, when I called at 1:45 a.m., his time, to wish him a happy birthday?
  • Three-way iChat is amazing. It meant I could have a dance party with two friends in different cities over my computer. My roommates may think I am insane, but that's OK.
  • It's hard to be far away when the people you love are going through hard things. I can't wait to be closer to them next week. All that stands in my way is a 25-page paper and a take-home final. About that 25-page paper ...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Lesson Learned: How to Avoid L.A. Traffic

If I wake up at 5:30 in the morning, which is too early to daven, then all I need to do is get dressed before leaving my apartment, so I can be out pretty early, I get to see the beginning of sunrise on the highway, I beat the traffic (because normal people are still sleeping) ... and I make it to school by 6:30. At which point all I want to do is go back to sleep.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Courage by Anne Sexton

An excerpt from one of my favorite poems for a not-so-awesome day with hopes that tomorrow will be better:

It is in the small things we see it.
The child's first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

It's Official

You're not a real shidduch dater until you go on a date in a hotel lobby. And you're not really a student at a given university until you have risked your laptop and all the other possessions in your bag to sneak coffee into the library.

Well, let's just say, mission accomplished.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Strike That, Reverse It

Someone I know, when asked if he was going to replace his roommate who was moving out, said, "No, my next roommate is going to be female and permanent." He was a guy, so, y'know, I'd change the gender of the quote accordingly before applying it to myself, but for now my approach is that my next roommate, no matter how long it takes, is going to be male and permanent. And he will be expected to not leave his used earplugs on the kitchen table. Is that really so much to ask? (Also, if there were three used earplugs left on the table, I am not really sure how the third one was used. And I'm not sure I want to.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Things I Have Started Saying

  • "Home" to mean, essentially, the entire East Coast between Washington and New York.
  • "The next time I move cross-country."
  • "When I move back to New York."
  • "It's cold." When it's anything under 75.