Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things I Don't Understand

1) Decorative Cabbages

Now, why on earth would anyone want one of those in their front yard? I have so much trouble believing that anyone can look at a flower patch and think: You know what this needs? A decorative cabbage.

And it you do, well then you just have shit landscaping taste.

2) Girls Who Say "That's Funny" with Dead Eyes Instead of Just Laughing

Seriously, these girls scare me. What's so wrong with laughing if someone makes a joke? And why do they feel the need to alert the joke-maker that yes, they recognize the statement as a joke, and that it was indeed funny? Once again, wouldn't laughing serve that purpose?

3) Fishing

Yeah, I understand that this may be attributable to gender differences. But going and sitting on a boat or wet ground for hours in the mist and rain (because that's the best time to catch fish, according to my dad) in order to skewer fish in the mouths with pointy hooks just to throw them back into the pond just doesn't sound like a good time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Go Wild

Yesterday, my roommate found out that someone had gotten ahold of her credit card, and racked up charges of $800 and $300 at Target and Payless Shoes, respectively.

Aim high, criminals. Aim high.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quick Life Update

So I'm sitting here, trying not to gag or be asphyxiated by the fumes from the anti-roach spray I just liberally sprayed in every corner and inside most of the kitchen cabinets, unsure whether to be totally grossed out or to just be a Grown Up and come to terms with the fact that everyone in New York has cockroaches, and to count my blessings that at least they're the small kind*, and that we really don't have a total infestation.

But seriously, cockroaches are pretty horrendous. They're small, fast, and after you see a couple you start to think you see them everywhere. And feel like they're on you at all times, until you start hitting yourself like a tourette's sufferer and then feel stupid because what you actually felt on your neck was your hair. But what really gets to me is that no matter how neurotic I am about keeping the kitchen clean, there's always that crumb that fell out of the toaster in the closet, or a smear of grease on the stovetop that I didn't notice and they always, always seem to find it.

So I've been forced to become quite creative when it comes to killing them. Since I've always been bad at smushing bugs (I always made my dad come and deal with spiders, and I always cringe when my mom makes me kill ants), I've had to figure out alternatives. Not only do I have traps and baits and kill-on-contact spray, but I have so far:

- Dropped books on them (first covering it with a napkin so it won't run away/smear on my Celtic Music textbook)
- Lit them on fire (there was one on the stove that I tried to smush while on the phone, but didn't press hard enough because, as I said, I find smushing things revolting. I didn't see where it went, so I just turned on all the burners, and turned them off about 30 seconds later. I lifted up my cast-iron pan and sure enough, it was all curled up and dead. So I picked it up with a spoon and flushed it down the toilet. I then boiled the spoon.)
- Covered them with soap (apparently they breath through their skin, so the soap means they can't get oxygen)
- Drowned them (I chased one all around this morning until I finally got it into the sink, and shoved it down the drain.)

Now, I'm the first one to call someone out about hurting animals. After all, inflicting pain on small creatures is a sure-fire indicator of sociopathic tendencies, aka serial killer-ness. But I don't think I'm a sociopath. After all, I don't want to hurt or torture the roaches. I just want them to die. Quickly. And to kill all the rest of their ilk.

And really, can serial killers make distinctions like that?

*Once, when my mother was still in graduate school and I was about eight years old, I came along to her biology class because my father had to work/mom couldn't find a babysitter/whatever. The teacher had this entire set of large tropical bugs in an aquarium thing. One was one of those millipedes the size of a large snake, and the other was a massive, rainforest cockroaches roughly the size of a small rat. Since I was a child, and since those bugs were actually harmless, the teacher thought she'd be cute and have me hold them. Now, I HATE bugs. I have always hated bugs. In fact, if all bugs except possibly fireflys and ladybugs disappeared, I would drop to my knees and thank God for finally revealing itself to me. But for some god-awful reason, that teacher (who I think might have been a nun) made me hold that cockroach and touch the millipede's legs, and to this day I have nightmares about oversized bugs. Just thought that anecdote might be entertaining.

Thursday, October 29, 2009



I have a confession to make: I don't particularly like Halloween.

It's certainly not my least favorite holiday, a designation that would better fall on Columbus Day, or Labor Day, or President's Day, or any of the other meaningless national holidays that often pass without notice (I still regularly mix up Memorial Day and Labor Day). But for some reason, Halloween seems to have lost most of its appeal. And it's a particularly strange phenomenon, given that Halloween really does have everything going for it. It's in autumn, by far my favorite season, and is usually accompanied by crisp, refreshing weather. The color palate of orange, black, with changing-leaf shades thrown in is perfect for decorating, and my apartment is currently strewn with pumpkins and pipe-cleaner spiders that I made back in elementary school, much to the amusement of my roommate, who has never decorated for a holiday before. And Halloween involves candy! Who doesn't love a holiday where one of the main recreations is to get a sugar high?

But despite all of these things, I can't get nearly as into Halloween as Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or even Easter (which are my favorite holidays, respectively). And I can't totally put my finger on exactly why I no longer really like Halloween. But I think the change came when the focus became less on collecting and devouring fun sized candy bars (though I always was, and still am, partial to nerds) to dressing like a fetish hooker and bar-hopping.

Not that there's anything wrong with bar-hopping (or dressing like a fetish hooker, sometimes. Everything in moderation, kids!). I think what gets to me is the forced merriment. Maybe it's the Irish in me, but holidays bring out the worst of my skeptical and contradictory side. But it's the same message as I got on my 21st birthday: Go out and Have Fun! Lots of Fun! And Drink! Because that's how you Have Fun! Well, if anything is guaranteed to make me not have a good time, it's pressure to Have Fun. Being forced to Have Fun generally makes me want to curl up under a blanket and watch like, Gangs of New York while every one else goes out and gets obliterated. I truly enjoy going out spontaneously (more so, in fact, than I have in years. It probably has something to do with not having to constantly worry someone is going to call Bullshit on my id, and having finally conquered the majority of my body insecurities), but a night where I have to go out makes me far too stressed out.

But I will make the best of this Halloween, getting dressed up and going to a party. I have a psychedelic yellow outfit that my grandmother used to wear during the 60s, and it's big enough to show lots of midriff while not big enough to fall off or trip me (if I fold up the skirt significantly). I'm going to learn how to make a daisy crown for my hair. All in all, it's a better costume than I've had in years, despite the fact that my haircut is not at all hippie-ish. I just need to come up with a personality, and I'll be set.

***By the way, this is not at all the way I feel about Halloween. I'm a liberal! I'm all about handouts for tricksters and liars. I just thought it was funny.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What to Do on a Rainy Sunday

What should you do when you wake up to cold, rain, and lots of homework?

Why, make baked apples, of course!

Yesterday my mother came to visit, bringing with her a bag of apples roughly the weight of a small child. So acting on her advice to eat them as quickly as possible, I made these baked apples, filled with oats, honey, lemon peel, butter, and ginger. Next time I think I'll leave out the butter and add more honey, because I like my desserts sweet. Very sweet.

Next up, some sort of apple chutney! Or a crumble! Advice?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inspirational Words, from Unlikely Sources

Yesterday as I left my apartment carrying my massive book bag and my violin, when a homeless man looked at me, and promptly yelled

"You're looking down! Keep your head up and be proud!!!"

At first, I was really alarmed that this small homeless man was yelling at me, but then what he actually said registered and I smiled at him and kept on walking.

I would love to say that his words of wisdom inspired me to walk Straight and Strong all day, but to be completely honest, I have to keep my head down when I walk. I'm one of the least graceful people on the planet, and if I'm not staring at the ground in front of me I end up tripping on a crack in the sidewalk, falling off the curb, or stepping in dog shit. None of which are pleasant when carrying a massive book bag and a violin.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Autumn: Of Brussels Sprouts and Head Colds.

Wow, can you believe it's almost October? September went by so fast! Actually, for me, September went by fairly slow. Mostly due to the fact that four our of seven days a week I have nothing to do. With no classes Thursdays or Fridays, I pretty much spend the majority of my week being bored. Which, consequently leads to time moving a lot slower. I applied for a bunch of jobs at NYU, but I either didn't get them and they didn't bother to ever let me know, or they're waiting until sometime in November to actually interview. This is endlessly frustrating for me, mostly because I actually do need the money, but also because I'm SO BORED. But maybe now that the semester is actually gathering steam and I actually have work to do having so much time off will be a blessing. We'll see.

Anyways, I'm actually thrilled that tomorrow is the first day of October. I think that October is my favorite month of the year, give or take a week or two in November. The time when the leaves start to change and the wind begins to have a chilly edge and best of all, fall produce begins to show up at the farmers markets. After a summer of fresh tasting, light vegetables I really start to crave heartier, stronger tasting produce. Cue the brussels sprouts, the butternut squash, the apples! The figs, oozing their honey-like filling! (Yesterday's lunch: saute one onion, sliced, with one apple, cubed, and a bag of brussels sprouts, halved, until they begin to brown. Add thyme, salt, pepper, and a half cup of water, and cover. Cook until the brussels sprouts are soft and water evaporates. Deglaze pan with apple juice or cider, and stir in some dijon mustard. If you can still say you don't like brussels sprouts after all that, we are no longer friends). And come the cooler weather, turning the oven on isn't so intimidating. Which means I can indulge in my favorite way of cooking anything at all - Roasting. Roasting EVERYTHING, from vegetables to chickpeas to fruit and even to meat (though I think I've eaten meat twice since I've gotten here...I become a vegetarian by default whenever I leave my parents' house. I think it's because nary a day goes by during the summer when my father doesn't demand some variation on steak/potatoes and by the end of summer I'm so sick of meat tofu and black beans sound like the Nectar of the Gods). There's something infinitely comforting about the act of preheating the oven, preparing whatever is to be roasted, then sitting around doing other things while the apartment fills with wonderful, appetite stimulating scents that make me have to consciously restrain myself from opening up the oven and sticking my head inside. Not in a Sylvia Plath way, however. More a Giada de Laurentis kind of way.

Though October does have its downside. More specifically, October is when I am most likely to get sick. And it has happened again this year. I felt something coming for about a week now, but for the majority of the time I fooled myself into believing that it was just fall allergies. Unfortunately, that was but a dream, and my "allergies" have turned into a full-fledged head cold. I'm really terrible at being sick. In general I have the immune system of an ox (I'm not entirely sure that analogy actually work. The phrase is "strong like an ox" so I assume oxen don't get sick - they're strong! - but that may be just faulty logic on my part). In fact, I think I can count the amount of times I had to miss more than one day of school on one hand. The consequence of this is, unfortunately, that whenever I actually do get sick I can't help but feel like my body is betraying me. As in, who are YOU, body, to dictate whether or not I should go to the gym? Yes, I know that trying to use the elliptical machine when I can't breathe through my nose and I'm coughing every thirty seconds or so (the cough isn't painful, so at least I don't have H1N1 yet. I've heard a painful cough is the first symptom) is a bit of an exercise in futility. But why should my body tell me what to do? F You, body, my mind thinks. But then it remembers that pushing until collapse probably will just make me feel worse, and the best thing to do is the smart, logical thing. Don't work out, rest, avoid dairy, and drink gallons upon gallons of tea. Then I can get better quickly, and return, once again, to bossing my strong, sickness-free body around.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On Living, and Eating, Alone.

Well, it's been about two weeks since I moved into the new apartment. It's now fully furnished, aside from some paintings that I still can't decide where to hang, and is really beginning to feel like home. And I must say, getting back to New York always feels like a large weight is lifted off my shoulders. Which I realize is rather strange, as many people feel the exact opposite. Leaving New York is what makes that weight go away, the calm of the suburbs a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. But the hustle and bustle is what I love about this place, as long as I can choose when to retreat to my own personal space. This apartment, in a quiet part of town facing all of the back yards of the brownstones on 31st and 32nd street far, far more than adequately serves that purpose.

It was a bit of a challenge, however, to get into the swing of things this year. Last semester in Italy I lived with seven of the best people I have ever met, and I took advantage of it, spending every moment in someone else's company. Then this summer I spent the majority of my time working, and when I wasn't working I was with my parents, particularly my mother. I really don't think I spent more than a few hours by myself the entire eight or so months. So when I moved in and was forced to spend several days alone before my roommate moved in, it was a very difficult change with which to cope.

But slowly, I've been coming to realize, or perhaps re-realize that I actually do enjoy being alone. My roommate is a sweetheart, but she's been going home on weekends (sickness, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur), and during the week she's often busy with sorority events until late at night. So for the majority of the time, I have the apartment to myself.

And I like it. There's something nice about coming home from a long day of class and having the complete freedom to do whatever I want. Usually, since I get back from class after six most nights of the week, that means tying on my apron (it's adorable, with fun print and bows on the pockets) and cooking dinner. My roommate doesn't cook, either, so the kitchen definitely feels like my domain, I can choose to cook what I call Real Food, ie, something sophisticated that usually involves a recipe clipped from the New York Times or from one of my various cookbooks. For instance, two nights ago I made sauteed leeks with chickpeas (saute pancetta [or turkey bacon. Don't judge, it's what was in my refrigerator] in oil until it turns brown, add cleaned leeks and three tablespoons of water, cover and cook for a half hour. Add drained can of chickpeas, cook for another ten minutes. Serve, and enjoy the most surprisingly delicious [and healthy!] meal ever.) Or I can completely disregard the idea of meals for a day, like I did yesterday, and eat sardines on bread with loads of spicy brown mustard somewhere in the evening and call it dinner. There's no one to judge me, to ask me the nutritional value of something, or remind me that meringues and low carb/low sugar chocolate do not a filling meal make.

I think that I love cooking and eating alone as much as I like cooking for other people. Don't get me wrong, I love feeding people. I love sweating in the kitchen for hours preparing complicated dishes well beyond my experience level for huge groups. But cooking and eating alone is a very special experience. It gives me something to think about. In the morning, I pick a recipe (if I decide to try something new), or survey the contents of my pantry and cobble something together in my mind. I then run to the grocery store if I have to, but usually I only make meals I already have the ingredients for. There's no need to create extra work for myself. Then I come home, prep, chop, and ta-da! And hour later I have a beautiful meal, on a beautiful anthropologie plate. I sit down at my table with a book, listen to the jazz filtering in from my landlord's restaurant's garden seating, and enjoy. It makes me happy, content with my own company. And that's important.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's Time (I Guess) To Move On?

I've had a countdown on my dashboard called "New Yorkkkkk" since, oh, the week after I came home from Florence. And right now it says '6 Days.' And for as excited as I've been for so long to get back to the city that I have truly come to think of as my home, I've begun to develop cold feet.

It started with the apartment. My lovely roommate and I found one last week that we completely fell in love with. It's in Murray Hill, an area that I honestly never thought I'd live in. Now I can't seem to figure out why. It's really quite wonderful. There's a great mix of families, young professionals, and students. Our landlords are the most adorable older Italian couple who own the restaurant a few doors down. They remind me of my grandparents, and it made me smile when I overheard the wife assure my mother that she would watch over us. Our bedroom overlooks the restaurant's garden and a ton of ritzy brownstone patios, and the rent is such that I can (at least) afford to finish out the lease after I graduate.

But knowing that I have a real, actual, honest-to-god apartment terrifies me, in a way. I took the books off of my desk shelves in my bedroom yesterday, stowing them in the closet, because I need the desk in my apartment. All of a sudden, the picture of an empty corner in my bedroom appeared in my mind, surrounded in neon lights with an amplifier screaming "YOU'RE MOVING OUT! THIS IS YOUR LAST SUMMER HOME! GET READY FOR THE FUTURE!"

And although I'm ready, and I've known I'm ready for several years now, the future still scares me. Because, as obvious as it sounds, I don't have any idea what it brings. I was talking to an old friend from high school who relocated to the west coast a while back, and I was shocked and impressed at how neatly he had planned out the rest of his life, down to what he will do to keep busy when he retires. And I realized that I can't even plan out next year yet. Grad school? I'd love to, but not unless I get a full ride, because I sure as hell can't afford to saddle myself with more student loans. A job? Once again, I'd love to, but I'd also love if the job market was slightly more welcoming at the moment. And I need to get a good job. It would be wonderful to take a year off and join the Peacecorps or backback around Europe or work for a not-for-profit, but somehow I doubt Sallie Mae would be all "Oh, well now that we know you're doing something enriching with your life, we'll defer and/or forgive your copious amounts of student loans!" I need a plan, and a plan that Pays Well.

But the one thing I do know is that this plan will hopefully involve New York. I love that city more than any of the others that I've seen, although London and Paris come in at close seconds. I'm going to stay in New York for as long as I can manage it, unless I get a job offer that I truly can't refuse somewhere else. And I guess, as far as my plan goes, that's all I can ask to start out with.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why I Could Never Live Alone

So the summer is drawing to a close. I can't say I'm too upset, really. I don't really consider the last three months summer at all. It wasn't warm up until this week, and I barely saw any of my friends. It was more like an extended weekend during the school year when I just happened to come home to visit my parents.

But I noticed a slightly disturbing trend this summer. And it all has to do with me. I spend so much time alone when I'm not working, that when an opportunity to actually leave my house and do something arises, my first inclination is to say no. And it makes no sense, none at all. Because I loathe sitting around my house doing nothing. I don't watch television anymore, I don't cook, I don't do much of anything. I work, I eat dinner, I read for a bit, then I sleep. But not even because I'm tired. I'm just so, so bored. And yet for some reason I turn down invitations to do things that I really want to do, telling myself I shouldn't go, I'll be too tired to be any fun, I'll be too tired tomorrow. And then I get angry at myself when I realize that I actually did want to go out and socialize and be fun. It's like there's a little part of me that's trying it's hardest to sabotage all my efforts to be happy.

But I think this is why I love living with people my own age. If I lived alone, I honestly don't know if I would ever leave. And I would be miserable. But when I live with people, they force me to get up and get out, and I (almost) always have a good time. And even if we don't go out, then I have people to be around. Human contact is what keeps me sane.

So moral of this story is, when I say no to an invitation, it has nothing to do with you. In fact, I'm always scared that I'll say no one too many times and then people will just stop inviting me places. I'd love it if people would start making it a habit to ask two or three times if I'm sure I don't want to come. Usually that makes me rethink things. And I hope that when I'm actually around other sentient beings (my computer does not count) that I'm fun, because I usually am enjoying myself.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Home, or Now the Shit Hits the Fan

I've always hated the phrase 'when the shit hits the fan.' It's so graphic. Have you ever actually thought about what would happen if shit actually did hit the fan? Really, really contemplated it? Gross, man.

Anyways, my week in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area was really fun. I got to see Minnesota family, who I very rarely get to see otherwise. We went to the Walker Museum, where I once again realized how few people like postmodern art as much as I do (Mom: "I don't get it," Me: "You're not supposed to!" Mom: "Then why see it?"). But I loved it, the crazy building, sculpture garden, and particularly the George Brecht Event Scores, which were little pieces of paper that "involve simple actions, ideas, and objects from everyday life recontexualized as performance" (some website). So fun.

We went to the Arboretum, something the adults enjoyed that I did too, because I am an old woman at heart. It was really quite interesting to learn how they've been working on genetically engineering plants that have evolved in warmer climates to survive the (very) harsh Minnesota winters.

We also saw a play about Ella Fitzgerald at the Guthrie Theater, which, despite having great music (Ella Fitzgerald, you know), had a pretty boring plotline, mostly because Ella had a fairly boring life.

On the way home, we got delayed in the Atlanta airport for about three hours, getting home much later than we thought we would. Lesson learned: never, ever fly Airtran. It's cheap for a reason.

But now I'm home, and I have to actually start Getting Shit Done. First order of business: Get a place to live. I have a date with the girl I know from Florence with whom I will be rooming with on Tuesday to go look at apartments, mostly in the Gramercy area. The whole apartment situation has been probably the hardest thing for me to deal with emotionally, I've felt so guilty and upset for the past three months. I think this is why I've been having stress dreams, all of which somehow involve Final Battles along the lines of Return of the King. I wander through these battle preparations not really knowing where I should be, or with which party I should be fighting. I wake up feeling ridiculously stressed, and frustrated too. Because I like Lord of the Rings, and I really, really want to know how the battle ends.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Long Time, No Blog?

So um, greetings.
Haven't written in a while.
Hasn't been a whole lot to say, actually.
In short, I work. I come home. I sleep. A lot. I've read quite a few books. Work doesn't suck quite as much this year as it usually does. Mostly because I don't really do anything except read and sit and read. I see a good amount of Jessica Smith.
Being at home is kind of like an extended waiting period for school to start up again. Except it alternates with serious anxiety about where I'm living next year (still not a clue, but at least I have a roommate lined up. Mini steps) and what I'm doing after college (NYU Wagner doesn't require the GREs! Now if only I could afford it...).
I'm in Minnesota this week. Mom and I came out to visit family. I like Minneapolis/St. Paul, and I'm pretty sure Mom is hoping I'll decide to move out here as soon as college is over or something. Unfortunately, I plan on staying in New York until I run out of money, get deathly ill, die, etc. Maybe that's slightly extreme, and I'm sure eventually I (might) be forced to eat my words. Well. We'll see.
But I really have been having a good time. My cousins are great, and they've been taking me around. Gina took me out last night, which might be contributing to my current down mood (the fact that I'm tired, that is. Not the fact that she took me out. That was a lot of fun).
I fit in my jeans (comfortably!) again! We'll see if I still do at the end of this week.
Question: How many days left in the summer?
Answer: Blessed few.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Floods Cometh

I like rain. I always have. I like when it really RAINS, when it comes down steadily for a few hours. None of the off-and-on scattered showers shit, when you're never sure how to dress or whether you need an umbrella or if you should bother flat-ironing your hair in the morning or just hide it under a bandana. I want rain to be straightforward. I do not, however want said rain to last for longer than three hours. Just long enough for me to curl up with a hot cup of tea or coffee and a book or a movie, and emerge from the house to sun peaking through the clouds and the delicious smell of freshly-rained-upon Suburbia.

We have not been having that kind of rain lately. We have been having moody, cloudy, cold, vindictive rain. The kind of rain that comes down without the slightest bit of wind to make you think that it might blow away. The kind that keeps you trapped in the house, doing absolutely nothing and staring blankly out the window alternating with wanting to bathe in hopes that the sticky, humidity-caused film on your entire body will wash away. Unfortunately, it won't. You get out of the shower and just never completely dry.

I do not like this weather. I do not like the fact that I have no idea where I'm living next year. I do not like that I still haven't heard from Financial Aid, so I don't know if I will even be living in New York next year or commuting. I especially do not like that I have worked for a month now and have not gotten paid. I do not like having to hit my parents up for gas money.

I do like the fact that I have lost two pounds. I like the two live Iron and Wine cds I downloaded. I liked the Moroccan meal I made last night. I loved the book Beautiful Children. I liked the season premiere of Trueblood and that Eric the Vampire had foil in his hair when he ripped some dude's arm off. I like that Dead Like Me is on netflix instant-request, but am sad that it only ran for two seasons. I really like the new Phoenix album.

Did you know that you can find detailed directions of how to build an ark on the interwebs? No? Well, you can. And I shall post the link. Here you go:

Hop to it, kiddies.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Of Lubricious, Alacrity, and Perspicacious

I've decided that this summer is going to be one of Self Improvement. If I'm going to be stuck in a random office/both/hut for the entire summer, I might as well make good use of my time. So a few days ago, I went out and bought a GRE review book ($40. Yeah. My account balance then read: $4.46), and went through, circled the words I didn't recognize, and made flashcards. And disturbingly, there were quite a few. Enough, in fact, to fill an entire pack of index cards. My hand hurt like a bitch after writing all that shit out.

Why is this so disturbing? Vocab is just memorization, right? Well, yes. Yes it is. But it's rather humbling for me to realize that there are, indeed, words I do not know. I read all the time, and I don't think I'm flattering myself when I say that I have a damn good vocabulary. But good lord, some of these words are just nuts.

The book started out with lists of words that seemed a lot like SAT words. Things like obfuscate, salubrious, etc. Words I know. As the lists went on, however, I realized I was circling a higher and higher percentage. Suddenly, I would come across words like Extirpate (verb: to destroy, exterminate, cut out, exscind), Asseverate (verb: to aver, allege, assert), and my personal favorite, Jejune (adjective: vapid, uninteresting, nugatory). And that's not even counting the seemingly simple words that have obscure, mostly unknown second meanings. Like, did you know that the word 'Guy' doesn't just mean that dude down the hall? It also means A rope, cord, or cable attached to something as a brace or guide. Now, if you're scaling a mountain and your rope breaks, you can scream "Fucking Guy!" as you plummet to your death hundreds of feet below.

I'm on a mission to use at least ten of these words in one sentence. 'It is salubrious to not commit lubricious acts or wear meretricious outfits for fear of appearing minatory and descending to the nadir of your life obstreperously and plangently." That's seven. I'm working up to ten, slowly but surely.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Apology and a Summation

So um. I'm kind of embarrassed about my blog post from yesterday morning. It was yet another one written in the midst of a panic attack. And I realize that losing weight takes time. I have to force myself to not to wish I could lose weight as fast as I did in freshman year, because that was anorexia and not a diet. The last thing I want is to have it control my life again. I don't want to be afraid of leaving the house because I'm afraid I'll be pressured into eating, I don't want my hair to start falling out in clumps again, and I don't want to stop getting my period for months.

So enough of that. Work actually hasn't been terrible yet. I've been mostly sitting around in various locations around the Park, whether it's the office, the beach booth, or the camping booth. I haven't had to wash too many bathrooms, and they finally stopped making me pick up garbage. I can't lift that shit.

I even really enjoy working the camping booth. It's a horrible shift, for sure, 12:45-9:15 on a saturday. But I like being alone in the camping booth with a book, some crossword puzzles, and my music. I like getting to sign in and talk to campers and see where they are all from. One hipster from Brooklyn offered to buy my old Fahnestock shirts, and I instantly regretted throwing them all out at the end of last summer. But at least now I know to sell them to Buffalo Exchange at the end of this season.

Last night, mom and I took a walk on the Dutchess Rail Trail. It reminded me a lot of the bike trail on the Cape. So this morning I came back for a run, and I was surprised at how I managed to run the majority of the distance. I only had to walk for a little less than a quarter of the time. Go me!

Monday, June 15, 2009


So after seriously, seriously strict dieting since the day I got home (cutting down to 18 points a day, which is something around 1600 calories) I finally got the nerve to weigh myself. And I have gained two pounds. I don't understand. Why am I bothering to diet if I'm just going to gain weight? Now I'm up to ten pounds heavier than when I left for Italy. I thought that by coming home and just not eating gelato and pasta every day would help me lose weight. Nope, apparently cutting calories and working out every day actually makes you gain weight! Surprise!

Fuck this shit. I'm getting my thyroid checked. Maybe there's something wrong with me. It does run in the family, after all. And for now I'm eating 12 points a day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fahnestock Chronicles Entry no. 3: In Which She Finds Out That She Does, After All, Like Being Busy

There were just three of us Seasonals (as we call ourselves) on today. The campground is still deserted except for some through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail, which means that it stays (fairly) clean. Usually, this time of year means that we sit in the office doing absolutely nothing until late June, and although that means I get a lot of reading done, it also means that I start to feel like my soul is sinking into this abyss of Nothingness. But today we had several tasks to complete. Three actually. It was like a fairy tale, where the heroes have to complete three tasks of increasing difficulty before earning the reward. Except in our case, the tasks weren't things like "spin all of the straw into gold," but "rake all of the mulch that is piled up outside the playground onto the playground" and the reward wasn't the hand of the princess but the ability to go home.

So our first task was the daily one: clean bathrooms. It was by far the easiest, because as I said earlier, no one camps this time of year. Our next was the aforementioned raking. This was slightly more difficult. The playground is small. Tiny, in fact. It's hard to really consider it a playground. But they ordered 200 feet of mulch, which, piled up outside of the playground probably reached higher than the slide. Even I, who can't back up a car, who tries to put circular containers inside square ones, and who constantly has bruises on my hips because I can't tell where my body ends and door frames begin realized that this was a little off. There was just far too much mulch for that little space. But we did our best, shoveling and raking until our hands hurt (and sides. I did enjoy knowing that I was getting a core workout, because I haven't been to the gym since last thursday) and the mulch was overlapping the slide and ladders. Yes, it still spilled over the sides. But no one will EVER get hurt on that playground now. Our third task was to paint the women's bathrooms at the beach. Although I haven't painted much, I discovered that I'm quite good at it. Painting works well with my perfectionism.

I realized that although I still haven't finished my book, I enjoy being busy far more than not. It makes the day go faster and I really feel like I do something at my job, instead of wasting my life. And I'm off tomorrow and friday! I'm going into the city overnight to see Sonia and Maddy and get dinner with my Firenze Friends. I'm so excited. Knowing that I'm going to the place that I really do consider my other home makes me so happy.

Also, I've totally been MIA over the past week. It takes a lot for me to want to leave the house after work. Usually I'm tired and numb and all I want to do is sleep. But force me to, please. I won't do it on my own.

And in other, totally unrelated news, everyone should run and listen to something written by Osvaldo Golijov. He's this Russian-Jewish-Mexican composer who writes glorious Latin music that even non-classical people would like. Listen to St. Marks Passion. It's life changing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fahnessotck Chronicles no. 2: Oh the Things That You'll Find

This time of year is slow at the Park. Neither the beach nor the boat rentals are open on weekdays yet, there aren't many people in the campground, and there honestly just isn't much for us to do most days. However, today our Esteemed Assistant Manager decided that it was an excellent day to send the three summer-job kids (including me) to this trailhead on Route 9-D which apparently had a lot of garbage to be cleaned up. However, he didn't mention that this garbage must have been there for years. It was to the point where the bags were buried under the ground. In fact, there were several bags that I couldn't even get to because the roots of a tree had grown right over them. The weather wasn't bad, though, and the garbage was so old that anything able to decompose had already, so nothing smelled. In fact, it became kind of interesting to keep track of what we were finding, like the buried treasure of Things People Throw Away. Among these, we found:

- A computer keyboard from the Windows 95 era or earlier
- A sneaker
- A bag of bones (animal, and clean, so they'd been there a while)
- A bedframe
- A sandal
- Tires
- A bottle that looked like a soda bottle but with thicker walls and a child-proof top. It was filled with liquid, which made me wonder if perhaps it was toxic, hence the Top of Death
- A very large vertebra

I'm not sure what makes people decide to dump their trash by the side of the road instead of giving it to the garbage collector or driving it to the dump. It's not difficult, nor is it terribly expensive or far away.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fahnestock Chronicles Entry no. 1: Prehistoric Man Walks Among Us

Yesterday, someone demanded to know what his state taxes were doing if not paying for the beach parking fee. Which is $7. He looked like the former Army-man type, early to mid 30s, clean-shaven, muscular, with one of those square, flat topped haircuts made famous by every 1950s sitcom bully or gone-to-seed gym teacher who calls the unathletic kids 'faggots.' I felt like responding "bailing out Citibank," or "well, no one is making you come to the beach," but naturally I chickened out and just shrugged and raised an eyebrow, trying to hide my probably obvious dislike (my face shows all of my emotions as I feel them, but dislike and incredulity show particularly well). But really? You're going to complain about a $7 parking fee? Most state parks require and entrance fee plus a parking fee. And he continued to ask me after I said I didn't know!

Prehistoric Man: "But seriously, where do they go?!?"
Prehistoric Man's Wife: "Come on, honey, she doesn't know that"
Prehistoric Man: "But I want to know!"

What did he honestly expect me to do? Say, 'Oh, just one second, let me get Governor Patterson on his cell. In fact, we can conference call him right from the beach booth! Then you can tell him all of your issues with having to pay that hefty, wallet-lightening $7 parking fee. I'm sure he will be sympathetic. In fact, he might make EVERYTHING free for you! Groceries! Your (poor, poor) child's college education! Governor Patterson surely won't think you should pay for anything!"

Friday, May 22, 2009

What. On. Earth.

Today, while cleaning out my closets (parts of which I haven't touched in at least 10 years) I found an old Keepsake Box, aka an Old Cardboard Tea Box That I Filled With Random Crap. Inside, among old plastic necklaces, that black stationary designed for those terrible Milky pens that always stopped working in the middle of writing something important, and imitation Revolutionary War coins, dice, and pencils (I was SUCH a Revolutionary War geek back in elementary school), was a small tin heart shaped box. I remembered that box very well, and I remembered putting something in it when I was really little. So I opened it up. Suddenly, there was brown powder all over my bedspread, and the smell of old, stale coffee grounds filled my nose.

I was the strangest child EVER.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Random and Perfunctory Thoughts

I'm still waking up at 6:15 every day. The time change messed up my body clock, I think. Since I already get up early, coming back to the US just made my body want to get up earlier. Although I've always been rather fond of being awake during the daytime hours, it's getting slightly ridiculous. I have nothing to do with my time this early in the morning. The gym isn't open yet, my friends aren't awake (and soon won't be here at all), and it's too early to blast music and clean shit.

Last night Lauren had her barbeque, which devolved from a traditional "cook burgers and hot dogs and eat on the deck then maybe make s'mores in front of the fire pit" to "the boys are mixing keystone, vodka, lemonade concentrate, red bull, and pineapple juice to make 'The Force,' getting really shitty and talking about rugby." Rather entertaining, until the Rugby Talk began and I decided to go home. This is a shout out to Mitch, who told me to go home and write Witty Things about him. Ummm....Witty Things, Mitch, Witty Things.

So most of my friends are abandoning me beginning this weekend, going off to do Meaningful Things with their lives in various parts of the country while I stay home and work at Fahnestock, and in my spare time making bread that I won't eat. I've decided that when work starts, this blog is going to take on an alternate personality called "The Fahnestock Chronicles," where I entertain my wide, wide audience with tales of my work day. "The Fahnestock Chronicles" sounds so mysterious and full of adventure, like The Chronicles of Narnia or the Spiderwick Chronicles or Whatever-Ripoff-Of-LOTR/Chronicles of Narnia/Harry Potter-Lazy-Authors-Are-Writing-These-Days-To-Capitalize-On-A-Trend-Without-Making-Any-Significant-Impact-On-Good-Children's-Literature. Unfortunately, The Fahnestock Chronicles (I'm tired of typing quotation marks, and if that bothers y'all you can go suck it) will probably veer off in very non-mysterious, non-adventurous directions. I'll try my best to be all David Sedaris in Holidays on Ice about it though. Things like "Today, someone shat on the picnic table on campsite 28," or "We found a hypodermic needle in the back bathroom this morning," or "A crazy Appalachian Trail hiker tickled my foot today while I was reading Anna Karenina in the beach booth" do offer good possibilities. It'll be my masterwork.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last night my friends and I took a night off from sitting around Mitch's living room doing crossword puzzles and watching Family Guy marathons to go to the movies. I had been wanting to see Star Trek since I first saw the trailer, not because I know anything at all about Star Trek but because I had read good reviews and just really needed to get out of the house. I didn't really know what to expect. But it was really good! Surprisingly good! I mean, it was a bit annoying when a new character would be introduced and the entire audience would be all aflutter with "Ohmigosh that's So-and-So!!!!!" and I would just be like "hey, that guy has funny hair." But still, I got the general gist. But what I got out of the movie even more was a new crush on a fictional character. And no, it wasn't on Captain James Tiberius Kirk, that chiseled pretty boy with a devil-may-care attitude. It wasn't that doctor whose name I can't remember with funny hair (that's the one!). Nope, I'm all about the Spock.

Come on, tell me you wouldn't hit that. I mean, that's how I like my men, apparently; cerebral to the point of autistic, outwardly emotionless but inside churning, but still able to kick your ass. So my new goal in life is to find one of my own. In human form. Real life would be good too. Sorry Rahm Emmanuel. I'm moving on.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Right Boulanger!

See my bread-making skillz? Jk jk, I'm far better than this.

In the copious amounts of spare time I've had in the past week (haven't even heard from work yet about when I'm supposed to start. That doesn't bother me too much, since no one else, including the adults, have heard from our boss), I've taken up baking bread. I LOVE bread. It's the one thing I tried everywhere I went in Europe (well, along with chocolate, pastries, ice cream, etc. I like sweets too). The best bread I came across (suprise!) was in France. There were the knots of bread filled with olives, or ham and cheese, or tuna and cheese, or pistou in Nice and baguettes in Paris (I feel like I should write something in parenthesis just to keep the one-pair-of-parenthesis-a-sentence trend going). And now that I'm home, and despite the fact that bread in the US is actually quite a bit better than the no-salt-sawdust Tuscan bread, I really want to learn to recreate the wonderfully starchy, glutiny, carby things I ate.

So I made dinner rolls. Cornstalk dinner rolls. They really looked like cornstalks, meaning that you had to rip each "ear" of bread off yourself. And they were delicious. Success! Then came the no-knead bread. It had to rise overnight, then be shaped and cooked in a large cast-iron pot. Didn't have one of those so I used a stainless steel pot, which worked even though the crust was rather thinner and softer than it should have been. But it was also good! Success no. 2! Thennn I attempted a baguette. I definitely let it rise too long, because I wanted to go to the gym. And nothing is more important than my yoga. And I also had no idea how to shape it into a long loaf thing. So as it cooked it spread out instead of up. It didn't form a crust. And when you bit into it, it tasted like pizza dough. As it cooled, it became the texture and hardness of a baseball bat. Sooo baguette fail! Oh well, I guess it's how you learn. Dinner rolls are on the menu for Lauren's barbeque tomorrow. Buttermilk fantails and Parmesan pull-aparts! Oh yeah.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Might be a Masochist

So I'm actually totes excited that the MET is doing Wagner's the Ring Cycle this season. Even though it's four nights of Wagner. Heavy, trumpet-y, thick, angry Wagner. Each night being like 5 hours long. But come on. Going to see The Ring Cycle is like a badge of honor. Like living through 'Nam or an episode of 90210 while holding on to your sanity. And I'll be ready. I'll train, man. I'll listen to 20 minutes of Wagner every day until I can take it. Oh yeah. Wagner, here I come.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Welcome Home

So hey. I'm um, home. Yeah.

Nothing has changed, really. Well, there are new curtains in my bedroom. I finally cleaned out my closets, and now I have no clothes. And I don't want to shop for any until I lose Italy weight, all 8 pounds worth. And I think since I lost a ton of weight before, it makes me even more impatient for this to come off. Every time I start to get a panic attack or start to think I have a double chin I sit down, breathe deeply, and repeat "At least it wasn't ten at least it wasn't ten." Maybe it's not the healthiest mantra, but it helps.

I've pretty much resigned myself to going back to Fahnestock. I'll just read the entire Random House List of the 100 Best Works of Fiction of the 20th Century. I don't want to commute an hour to work, and I want the scholarship. I've decided to put it towards a week or two in Paris after I graduate as a gift to myself.

I don't miss Italy really. I just miss being busy and having 8 people around all the time who I like. One thing that last semester taught me for sure is that I can't live alone. I like being alone for an hour, or an afternoon. But too much alone time makes me depressed.

Mreh. I guess I should like, wash the bathroom or go to the gym or something.

Yay for seeing Jessica and yay for everyone who is actually coming home this summer coming home soon! And yay for having enough money for a train ticket sometime in the near future.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What are you doing to me, Florence?

A perfect sunset over San Lorenzo, which I never went in because it costs 4 Euro to enter a damn church.

I should have known this would happen. Florence is sneaky. It riles you up and makes you angry with its disorganization, its casual relationship with things like "opening times," and its suicidal moped drivers. It makes you feel so, so ready to go back to the United States, where things are open 24/7 (because there is always the chance that someone might need chocolate chips and beer at 3:00 AM), there is no language barrier (unless you go to Spanish Harlem), and a stop light really means Stop, not stop-if-your-feeling-like-it-but-if-you're-not-then-mreh. But the last few days have been the most beautiful that we've had all semester, with crystal clear blue skies juxtaposed with the bright yellow of the buildings. And the people! I have no explanation for this, but suddenly they're being nice. Really nice. A really imposingly elegant old man with a frown that seemed to be plastered onto his face smiled and winked at me when I reached in front of him to press the Stop button when on the bus yesterday. And when Jen and I wandered around getting gifts, we stopped to get chocolates for our parents at Vestri, my favorite chocolate store in the city (their basil-chocolates are divine, weird but really really wonderful), the man behind the counter gave us free samples and THEN free gelato!

Pistachio, Praline, Blueberry. Exactly the flavors I would have picked myself. HOW DID YOU KNOW, VESTRI?

And now, I don't feel prepared to leave. I was all set, ready and even excited to leave Italy. But with this weather and the Florentines finally not acting like they have a collective stick up their asses all the time (excuse my bluntness), I really would like to stay a while longer. There are places I didn't get to go, like Calabria and Sicily and Abruzzo. There are places I would have liked to eat, pastries to buy, cooking classes to take. NYU should have given us a few days to relax before kicking us out of housing, to do all the things in Florence that we haven't had time to do with work and then finals (which went really well, to keep y'all updated). But they don't. And I will have to content myself with yesterday afternoon, when I wandered around with Jen for hours, without any real goal after buying chocolates, and took pictures that I never took because God Forbid the Italians Think I'm a Tourist. A few pictures from my travels yesterday:

Oh Via Micheli, I will miss you so much.

The best window ever, and I will recreate it in Brooklyn. Yeah. Maybe.

The architecture building of University of Florence was always my favorite.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Final Countdown

4 Days until I leave for home! 5 Days until I get there.

Please let them go quickly.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Things I'm Currently Obsessed With

1) The Hazards of Love by the Decemberists

I haven't loved an album quite as much as this in a long time. Considering their penchant for writing songs about cranes that turn into women, family feuds, and ghosts who haunt the barrows, it's surprising that it took them this long to write a prog-rock opera. And it's amazing. A little heavy on the death-metal guitar riffs, the complex plot line totally makes up for it. There's a maiden who finds a hurt faun that turns into a man when the sun falls, a crazy queen who found the man when he was a child and turned him into a faun to save him from the human race and hates the maiden for taking him away, a sociopath father who murders his three children then abducts the maiden, and the three ghost children who come back for revenge. Like you would expect from a Decemberists album, shit goes down and doesn't end happily. But it's so amazing, I can't stop listening to it. And the instrumentation! is! great! They totally use harpsichord at one point.

2) Trattoria Cibreo

Cibreo is widely acknowledged as the best restaurant in Firenze. It is, however, mad expensive and completely out of my reach. Not so for the small trattoria next door, which shares the same kitchen as Cibreo and a lot of the same menu. On thursday, Nicole, Jen, and I walked over, keeping our fingers crossed that they'd have a table (they don't accept reservations). And they did! Plenty, actually. The waiter was the nicest old man ever. He helped us with the menu, and seemed sincerely happy that we attempted to communicate in Italian. Cibreo only serves tradition Tuscan food (read: no pasta), so Jen and I split a plate of polenta for a primi. I got salsiccia e fagioli for a secondi, the traditional sausage in black eyed peas. It was amazing, really simple but hearty and good.

Then for dessert I got their famous flourless chocolate cake. It was incredible, and tasted a lot like dark chocolate fudge. We sat there talking for a long time, and then the waiter came over, winked at us, and put another dessert on the table. It was the nicest I've ever been treated by an Italian. This entire semester. And I know he was being paid for it, but whatever.

3) Astology

Last night we had some people over for dinner, and our friend Chris started talking about astrology. He's really into it, to the point where he used to ask people their sign before even asking them their name. But anyways, he was explaining our signs to us and what all the different signs and planets mean, and then he gave us this website that will calculate our chart for us. And oh, my, god, how true it is. I'm such a virgo. Apparently each person has three main signs. Your Rising Sign is the side of you that you show to the world, basically how people see you. My Rising Sign is Sagittarius, meaning that You are known for being open, frank, outgoing and honest. At times, though, you are also blunt and quite indiscreet...You appreciate living your life in a straightforward and simple manner -- you dislike social niceties and consider them to be hindrances to real communication. Which is to a certain extent true. Your Sun Sign is the side of you that is inside, the way you really are. I'm totally a virgo. Extremely careful and cautious by nature, you value neatness and order above all else. You rigorously practice very high standards of living and conduct and you demand the same of everyone with whom you come into contact. At times, you are so supercritical that you are merely nit-picky. You are very good at practical skills and quite handy with tools of all kinds. You are also greatly concerned with hygiene, cleanliness and personal health problems. Very likely your health is much better than you think it is -- don't worry so much! Extremely methodical and analytical, you are a perfectionist -- this makes you the perfect person to carry out highly detailed, precise operations. But, at times, you pay so much attention to details that you lose sight of the larger issues. Creepy, right? Then your last really important sign is your Moon Sign, which is the way you act in emotional, high stress situations. Once again, eerily accurate. You tend to be serious-minded but cheerful for the most part. You need tasks that engage both your mind and your hands. A careful worker, you enjoy making things. You are neat and orderly, and are very concerned with good health habits. Fastidious to the extreme, you cannot tolerate messes and will immediately clean them up. Reserved, shy, and very self-critical, you tend to be very hard on yourself. You usually will go out of your way to be helpful and useful to others. Practical, reliable, efficient and conservative, at times you are a bit of a prude. You are known to lead a simple, uncomplicated, frugal, methodical and unemotional lifestyle. You are devoted and caring to those you love. The the kicker is, it even echoes my taste in men down to a T. Here's my Venus sign, the love sign. You have a striking, regal appearance and demeanor that attracts others to you. Your friendship is highly sought and you tend to take friendships quite seriously -- you remain loyal and true to those to whom you are attached. For you, love is mixed with pride and respect. Relationships are over when you lose respect for your partner. Be careful of a tendency to relate only to those who make you look good -- the powerful, important and influential. This can lead to arrogance and selfishness, and neither of these qualities becomes you. I mean, ignoring the whole thing about the regal appearance (I'm 5'1''), THIS TOTALLY EXPLAINS MY LOVE FOR RAHM EMMANUEL.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rome: The Eternal City or Damn that Shit is OLD

Roman Ruins + Baroque Architecture + Modern Technology = ROME

Last weekend, Lauren and I finally took our long-overdue weekend trip to Rome. I had considered skipping Rome earlier on in the semester to go to Palermo instead, but after a lot of people yelling at me for that choice (and the fact that tickets to Palermo got prohibitively expensive overnight), I finally decided that Rome was the better decision. After all, if you're going to a country, you really have to see its capitol, especially if it is as grand as Rome.

When we got to Rome on Friday, we went and checked into the hotel, which was perfectly adequate with really nice people at the front desk (we accidentally booked the wrong days, and they fixed it up for us with no problem). Since it was beautiful out, we decided to wander down to the old, ruin-y section of town. It turns out that since it was cultural week, all of the national sites were free. So we got into the Colloseum for free! And the Forum! Woo! (Except for the fact that in the long run we didn't save any money because we had to pay extra for Friday night in the hotel...ah well).

So, the Colosseum was definitely worth the trip. It was incredible. HUGE. And fun fact: the reason it's higher on one side than the other is because during the 1500s, a bunch of rich people pillaged the stones and took them to use on other building projects, namely St. Peter's basilica. Which totally. blows. my. mind. Like, it's as if someone decided to knock down the pyramids to build their house. Who does that?

Afterwards, we walked through the Forum. We hitched on to a free tour offered by this young Historical-Theology grad. Turns out he is from Louisiana, and is the only tour guide recommended by name by the New York Times. So, that was lucky. On nice days, he gives free tours to drum up attendance for his other tours, including one of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, which we decided to go on.


The Vatican museum was also pretty incredible, and the tour was really interesting. But after walking clear across Rome to get to Vatican City, it was (unsurprisingly) pretty difficult to get into the different Greek Sculpture styles that influenced Michelangelo. But the tour was so interesting that I forced myself to pay attention anyway, and all for the better. I now can tell you exactly which frescos were inspired by Greek Classical style v. Greek Terrible um...go me! More useless knowledge to take up space in my head that could otherwise have been filled with something practical like, oh I don't know, how to balance a checkbook? The Sistine Chapel was pretty much everything it was cracked up to be. And when we went into St. Peter's, I honestly considered converting on the spot. The entire Statue of Liberty, laid on its side, could fit in St. Peter's! There are types of marble that are no longer find-able anywhere! There was a choir! Yes please.

We decided to take Sunday easy, considering that we basically walked the Boston Marathon the day before. We took the metro down to Trastavere and walked around looking at the real people (read: Not Tourists) in their sunday church clothes. We found an open pasticceria where I got my only real sfolliatella this semester (they make them filled with pastry cream up here...down south they're made correctly with ricotta and candied orange). It was heavenly. We then walked over to the ghetto to look at the small streets that sprung up when the Pope basically decreed that the Jews had to be put in pens. The synagogue was beautiful, but I wasn't feeling paying the entrance fee so we only saw the outside. After getting a fried artichoke, we decided that we should go back to the hotel or risk our legs falling off from exhaustion. So we went on the computer until it was time to go home.

All in all, quite a good weekend. Rome is one of my favorite places ever. In fact, I decided on my five favorite cities a few days ago. Here it is!
1) New York
Surprise! The reasons are kind of self-explanatory.
2) Paris
The only city that impressed me as much as New York. In fact, the only reason it isn't number one is because I was a) only there for three days and b) New York is my home.
3) London
Basically New York with (debatably) better accents.
4) Barcelona
The city with a better youth culture than any others I've been to. Yes, that was a terrible sentence.
5) Rome
The juxtaposition of the New, Old, Really Old, and REALLY REALLY DAMN OLD makes up for the things that suck about it, like terrible table service at restaurants and suicidal drivers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Alessandra, Un Po di Passione!

I've been playing a piece called Baal Shem in lessons this semester. It's honestly not going as fast as I would like, partly because Simone and I spend half the lesson trying to figure out what the other is saying, and partly because it's actually really damn hard. But the other problem is one that reoccurs every year, with pretty much every teacher I've had. They try so, so hard to get me to be expressive, and I just can't do it.

Yesterday I was playing the end of the Nigun (Contrition, so you get the picture of what it sounds like) movement, and when I was done, Simone just looked at me and said, "Alessandra, un po di passione!" He asked me how old I was, and was like, you should have so many emotions! Sing! Play as if you are singing! Don't you have passions?

And I realized:

Maybe I don't.

Well, it's not that I don't have passions. But I'm not really a passionate person. I love people, and I love books, and I love music. But when it comes down to it, I have no idea how to channel that kind of feeling into my violin. Maybe it's because nothing passion-inducing has ever happened to me. I hate to think that the way I play is the way I will live the rest of my life, being technically proficient but completely soulless. I often think I'm playing with emotion, but no one else seems to agree. It's so frustrating, because I know it's the only thing holding me back from actually being good. I don't Joshua Bell good, but a good amateur violinist.

Ah well, maybe it's something that will come with age? With life experience (of which I admit I have very, very little)? Maybe this summer?

Because I've decided, in order to keep my sanity and to stop hurting the feelings of the people I love, I've decided to treat this summer as a Coming of Age summer, a la a Noah Baumbach movie. So, expect awkward hijinks and emotional growth! Maybe by the end of the summer I'll be able to write my own quirky memoirs, tinged with sadness, but at the end satisfying and heartwarmingly bittersweet.

And let me say something. I've apparently hurt a few people with things I've written, or not written on my blog. I've been treating it too much like a livejournal, spilling out what I'm really feeling without thinking about the fact that oh, hey, people are going to read it. So I've deleted any entries that are too mean spirited or self-indulgent, and I'm not going to write about the way I'm feeling again. That's best left inside my head, because it's usually written in the heat of the moment, and whatever I'm feeling passes fairly quickly, leaving very little of the original sentiments behind. And please, please, please, a lot of what I've written was intended to be sarcastic and funny. I don't really intend to develop a cocaine habit this summer, or begin cutting myself, or off myself in the beach booth or the park office. I don't really hate myself. Please never take me seriously.

And I actually am not as sad to come home as I might seem from everything I've written. I love my parents, and I love spending time with my mother. I'm looking forward to cooking and going to yoga with her, and going to the Rhinebeck craftfair, and working in the garden. I'm glad some of my friends will be home, because I miss them so, so much and they are the people that keep me sane. I know the people will be enough to keep me entertained this summer, and they are worth coming home for. So, home I go! I'm not going to be too sorry to leave Italy. It's beautiful, but a semester was just enough for me. I'm no ex-pat candidate (except maybe if I can learn French - I'll move to Paris in a heartbeat). I'm excited to speak to shopkeepers in english, to understand conversations going on around me, and to eat enough Vietnamese food and sushi to make me want to vomit. And get soft serve at Joe's with my friends, and have a picnic at the Vanderbilt mansion. I'm not far from the city, so I can go in and visit Maddy and Sonia and my friends here and maybe stay over sometimes (Jen has already told me I have full claim to her pull-out couch), and if people have time they can come visit me in Fishkill and we can, I don't know, frolic in a field or go to the mall or hang out in a parking lot or some shit. The summer is not going to be terrible.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Belated Mommy Post

So this is rather belated, but what do I do when I'm not writing self-indulgent posts on this blog (which should be all gone, as I said, I'm turning over a new leaf!)? Why, go to Venice with my mother, of course!

Mom came to visit about two weeks ago, and it was lovely. She arrived on Saturday night, and stayed until the following Sunday, Easter. During the week, we wandered around Firenze, eating gelato and seeing all the sights that she remembered from the last time she was here. I really had a great time. It was wonderful to have someone to eat lunch with after class, and to wander around with having an excuse to do touristy things like go see the David again, with someone who could actually explain Renaissance Art. We went to Fiesole and Bologna, and climbed up to see the view, wandered around the Oltarno, and ate really good food. It was the kind of week I love when I'm at home. And it was great just to have here there, even when we were just hanging out in the apartment being tortured by allergens.

Then on Thursday, we went off to Venice. I honestly didn't expect to like Venice very much. It must be so overhyped, I thought. Everyone goes to Venice! Tourists everywhere! Ugh! But when I got there, I realized that well, sometimes things really are all they are cracked up to be.

This really is what it looked like. The light is different in Venice. It's golden, fresh, and smells like the sea without any air pollution due to car exhaust (except when you're standing near the vaporetti).

I loved the basilica. Byzantine Architecture is my favorite ever, and the basilica was straight out of my mosaic-and-icon filled dreams. The Byzantine Architecture was pretty much the only reason I had wanted to go to Palermo so badly (other than the fact that it's probably the closest I could get to the Middle East any time soon).

Gondolas exist. Well, only for tourists. But they were still beautiful, and watching them float down the canals was like stepping back in time.

Other than wandering around, we went to the Peggy Guggenheim collection, and I got my bi-monthly modern art fix. The museum had some really really great Miro paintings and Pollocks, and a few of my favorite Klees. It was really great, and small, which is just the way art museums should be. We went to Santa Maria della Salute, which I loved. We also went to Murano, and looked at the glass. Mom bought a beautiful necklace.

So, that was the week. I miss my mom a lot now. But tomorrow I'm off to Roma with Lauren! We have a hotel, our train tickets, and sandwiches. Now if only the weekend wouldn't be rainy....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Aren't they Polite?

Someone did this on the wall to the botanical garden sometime over the past few days. Let me translate: "Pacifism? No thank you. Revolt!" i just love it. In the US, if you ever see political graffiti, it's shit like "Fuck Bush!" Leave it to the Italians to class up political vandalism.

In other news, last night when I was trying to get into the ridiculously high closet that Ikea so kindly provided for me (I have to stand on my tiptoes while standing on my chair to hang things up), the entire hanging pole thing fell down, taking all of my clothes with it. Now it's impossible to put it back up, because oh hey, I can't reach, and no one in my apartment is above 5'3".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yesterday, I watched the Youtube clip of Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent or whatever that show is called, and proceeded to cry hysterically for about 20 minutes. Why am I such an emotional nutcase?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Glorious, Exhausting, and Ultimately Sickness-Producing Weekend in Paris

Let me preface this entry by saying that, no matter how cliche it may sound, Paris is truly everything that it is cracked up to be. Even in the cold and the rain, even when you only have two days to (unsuccessfully) try to do and see everything, even when once again everyone you are traveling with runs out of credit on their phones and subsequently gets cranky and hard to get along with, even then Paris works its magic. It truly is one of the most beautiful, romantic, and enchanting places that I have ever been.

Day One
We managed to get the plane out of Pisa on Thursday despite Ryanair being the ridiculous excuse for an airline that it is and charging us all 25 euro (!!!) for not checking in online (despite the fact that when we bought tickets the website clearly said that only EU citizens could do so, then changed the rules a week before we left to include non-EU citizens and didn't deign to let anyone know). Our flight was pretty uneventful, and we landed in Paris-Beauvois only to realize that we had to take a shuttle bus to Paris proper because Beauvois is oh, 90 miles or so outside of Paris. So moral of this story is, next time use a real airline. Ryanair really isn't a deal when you factor in surprise fees/shuttle buses/years taken off your life because of stress.

We found our hotel, which actually wasn't a letdown. It was clean, and in a really charming residential neighborhood somewhere near the Champs-Elysees. The next morning we woke up at 7:00, determined to milk every second of our two days in Paris. After getting pastries fresh out of the oven from a pastry shop (the pain au chocolate burned my mouth!) we set of for Musee l'Orangerie, home of Monet's waterlillies. I know it sounds trite, but that was the one thing I wanted to see above all else in Paris. I honestly couldn't stop smiling, and I definitely started crying more than once. The rest of the museum was lovely, but nothing compares to seeing the waterlillies in real life.

After we finished at l'Orangerie, we headed over to Ile de la Cite to go to Sainte Chapelle. It ended up being closed, so we got lunch instead. Then, since we had some more time before Sainte Chapelle opened up again after lunch, I convinced everyone to take a detour with me to Pierre Herme and Laudree, beginning my Great Macaron Hunt. Anyone who knows me can vouch that macarons are some of my favorite foods on the planet, and I'd been reading about Laudree and Pierre Herme macarons for ages. We got to Laudree first, and I bought one chocolate macaron and one salted caramel macaron. The salted caramel macaron was ridiculously good, but the chocolate one was a little dry. But the shop itself was so lovely, so pastel and filled with beautiful pastries that it made me feel like I was living in Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. But onward! To Pierre Herme, where the macarons were smaller which totally justified me buying six and spending 10 euro. But heavens to Betsy, they were SO GOOD. And I made friends with the guy behind the counter after he teased me about my god-awful French accent. But I actually got pictures of the macarons! And I can tell you what they are! Even though I know no one will get nearly as excited about this as I am!

So from the upper left going clockwise, they were: Arabesque (Apricot and pistachio), Olive Oil (didn't like that one too much. It basically tasted like sweet, coagulated olive oil. I gave it to Jen, who liked it way more than I did), Chocolate Passionfruit (my favorite), Delicieux (wasabi and grapefruit), Coffee, and Americano Pamplemousse (Grapefruit and Campari). MMMMM.

After basically inducing diabetic shock, we wandered back up towards Ile de la Cite to go to Notre Dame. Notre Dame was big, and crowded, and people were wandering around despite the fact that there was a service going on, which confused me a little. They definitely close down the Duomo when services are going on. But anyways, it was very impressive, and just affirmed what I already knew: I much prefer medieval art and architecture to Renaissance. Sucks that I'm in Florence, I guess.

Soooooo after we finished wandering around Notre Dame we went on to the Louvre, which has free entrance for people under 26 on Friday nights. Now, let me clarify, in case you didn't know: The Louvre is Big. Massive even. Think Met Massive. Then think filled to capacity with adolescents. Running. And taking pictures of themselves holding their respective countries' flags in front of the Mona Lisa. Yeah. It was slightly overwhelming. But anyway, Jen and I went in knowing that we wanted to see the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Vermeer's The Lacepicker. We also knew that the one thing we didn't want to see was Renaissance Art. So naturally, we got lost on the way to the Mona Lisa and ended up wandering around the Grand Neverending Hall of Everything Renaissance for a good 45 minutes. It was a Special Kind of Hell. And then we got to where the Vermeer was supposed to be and found that it wasn't there. Discouraged and feeling like our brains might explode from culture overload, we retreated to the lobby to chose a restaurant for dinner.

Luckily, Nicole showed up and invited us to get dinner with her and her friend who was studying at the American University in Paris. We went to this amazing bistro, and after dinner went up to Au Lapin Agile, a cabaret that had been around since the 1920s, where Edith Piaf used to perform and intellectuals used to hang out. It was really fun, but I was so tired that I had to leave earlier than everybody else for fear of falling asleep in my cognac. I took the metro home and didn't freak out or get lost or anything, and I felt so proud of being a Big Girl. I then passed out.

So, if you have gotten all the way through this entry, props to you. I'd go into to the next day's adventures, but I have an Italian quiz tomorrow that I have yet to study for. So! I will continue tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

(A Belated) Overview of Spring Break

So I now I've been back from Spring break for two weeks now, but I honestly haven't had time/been in the mood to update and let ya'll know how it went. Well, if you're still interested, here goes:

Nice was absolutely heavenly. For some reason, I went into Nice thinking it was going to be cool but a little seedy, like a French Coney Island or Viareggio. But man, I was wrong. It was really lovely, with the the bluest ocean ever on one side and hills on the other. The buildings were all pastel and had terraces, the streets were cobblestoned and the sidewalks wide. We went to the Matisse Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum (where I might have been the only one actually enjoyed myself...oh Contemporary Art. Thou art not for the masses).

We also spent a ton of time on the beach, lying out and eating French bread and brie. And pastries. OH GOD THE PASTRIES, I MISS THEM.

After Nice, we went on to Barcelona, via Dublin. Yeah, it makes no sense why a ticket to Dublin then to Barcelona cost less than a train to Barcelona...


But Barcelona was wonderful, in a completely different way from Nice. It has a long history, and a beautiful old section. But at the same time, it expanded and modernized, allowing it to stay relevant on a world-wide level. That's my main complaint about's beautiful and had a fantastic and illustrious Renaissance. But name one important thing that has happened since. Hence why I could live in Barcelona, but definitely not in Florence.

We went to Sagrada Familia, the famous cathedral that Gaudi started and is still being built 100 years later, Park Guell, the Picasso Museum, the Chocolate Museum (by which time I was definitely going through diabetic shock and couldn't eat any more sugar), Santa Maria del Mar, La Boqueria, and the Miro Museum.

We ate chocolate, tapas, strange tropical fruit from La Boqueria, Catalan food, some of the best macarons outside of Paris, drank absinthe with Hemmingway's ghost, and ate bad paella.

Best of all, it was WARM and sunny and smelled nice. Really, I loved Barcelona so much. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Someone Figure Out My Life For Me

Or at least my summer plans.

Being here, and my beyond-shitty winter break made me realize that there is no way I can go home this summer. Fishkill is deadening, emotionally speaking. There's nothing to do, a lot of my friends will be elsewhere, and honestly, I just don't think I could make it through one more summer at home without taking anti-depressants. So a few days ago, when Sonia imed me and asked if I wanted to sign a lease in East Williamsburg starting in May, my reaction was essentially "YESYESYESYES." Being in New York in summer is so romantic. Even being poor in New York. There are free things to do everywhere, free concerts in Central Park, free movies, free afternoons at the museum. I don't care if it's hot and gross and smelly and I walk around everywhere with running makeup and sweaty clothes. No matter what, it beats another summer in Fishkill. And New York is the only thing I miss about the United States, except for the people and light whole wheat english muffins.

So I'm determined to make it happen. The only thing is, I have no idea how I'm going to do it. My parents will let me go to the city this summer, but they won't pay for my rent until classes start. I remember my friend Kendall telling me that it was less expensive for her to live in Brooklyn for the entire year than to live in NYU housing for nine months. But I totally understand that me taking care of my own rent this summer would save them money, and with the economy as it is I guess that's best. So rent is on me. I'm not too worried about making enough money for books next year. This semester I didn't spend anything on books, relying on reading them in the library. So if worse comes to worse I could do that next year. And if the schedule that I want works out, then I will have thursdays and fridays off next semester. So I can have enough time to both waitress or get a desk job and do my research for my honors thesis.

Now all I need to do is figure out how to get a job for this summer. Or several jobs. Paying internships seem to be out of the question right now, and the sociology department doesn't exactly help you get any internships at all (they expect you to do research and go on to grad school, which right now is the path I prefer). I'm not interested in doing another arts administration internship. Working at IMG made me realize that private arts administration isn't really the sector I want to go into. I'm more interested in the public policy/social policy thing right now, but I don't really know how to get an internship in something like that. I'm considering not getting an internship at all and just working, so that I can afford to be in New York.

Am I making a mistake? Should I stay home and commute? My parents say that they will cover the cost of commuting, which might end up being $300-$400 a month (only $200 less than living in Brooklyn, I might add). Should a get an unpaid internship and a waitressing job and a babysitting job and live in New York? Should I just work? Should I use the money my Nonno left me in for the rent on my first apartment this summer instead of when I graduate? How are other people going to swing this?