Thursday, March 31, 2005

Good morning!

This has probably got to be the earliest post I've ever put up. Woke up at 7am (willingly and without going back to sleep a couple of times no less...) to catch up on work and it's actually a pretty good feeling. Spring's finally here in Ann Arbor and it's gorgeous! The sun is shining resplendently and the breeze is lovely. The thing about being in the American Midwest is that you *really* appreciate Spring. If you were here the last two days, you'd thought that Summer was here already. In 45 degree weather, people were out reading/ lying/ drinking/ chatting/ frolicking (choose all that apply) in the grass, rolling-blading and jogging bare-bodied, the mobile hot-dog people were back from Southern California (or wherever they go for the five months they're not here) and Starbucks was beginning to sell more than just two Mocha Frappuccinos a day. Everyone was decidedly chirpier, chattier, cheerier- as if we had all been comatose for a long while and suddenly decided to wake up and live again. In California, a 45 degree-day would send people ducking indoors and/or under hats and coats for warmth; here, 40 degrees is an immediate license to whip out those bare-arms, flip-flops, and smiles. It's wonderful...

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook

Since Easter as a religious celebration of repentance, resurrection and redemption has somehow become what one of our friends calls a pagan holiday in worship of a rabbit, what better way to commemorate its closing two hours than to recommend the new book by one of my favorite children's writers, Shel Silverstein- The Runny Babbit. I have almost all his books- both poetry and stories- and they are, simply put, wonderful. Don't let the simplicity of the illustrations or themes fool you- there's more depth to his pirouetting alphabets and skip-rope jumping rhinocerouses than a 748-page Harry Potter novel (my Rowling-worshipping cousins are never going to talk to me again I know, but guys, remember, I love you very much!...). The last play Jude and I produced with the Drama Club was inspired by Silverstein's The Giving Tree and until today, I still think it's one of the best things we've ever done. I love all the poems in Where the Sidewalk Ends (There are audio clips on this site). The book was actually banned in some school districts because it was thought to undermine religious and parental authority- excuse me?? (I'm sure these are the same people who believe that the Teletubbies are gay and that Cabbage Patch Dolls are demon-possessed... Were their childhoods so sad and joyless as to deprive today's children of theirs??). And The Missing Piece Meets the Big O has a very special place in this girl's heart.

His new book, The Runny Babbit is a playful, hilarious carnival of words. There is Toe Jurtle, Skertie Gunk, Rirty Dat, Dungry Hog, Snerry Jake, and many others who speak a topsy-turvy language all their own. In the What's New section of the Silverstein site, you can see an animated excerpt of the book (as well all his other books), and if you don't run straight out to go buy the book after, I don't think I want to talk to a grouch like you... okok, I will, but only reluctantly... ;)

So if you say, "Let's bead a rook
That's billy as can se,"
You're talkin' Runny Babbit talk,
Just like mim and he.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Favorite movie lines

So-- I have tons of work to do- numbers to crunch, assignments to grade, two papers to think about and a basket of laundry to load in the washer. What do I do? Think about favorites lines from movies. I'm almost past caring; I need my sanity more than good grades and positive evaluations, and if that means going easy on myself on a Friday night, I'm not going to stress out over a couple of hours lost in cyberspace and my celluloid past. Multiple regression analysis will always be there but if Serene Koh doesn't take a break RIGHT NOW, she's going to *snap, crackle and pop*

Anyways, like I said, favorite movie lines. First a caveat: since this is an attempt at stress relief, I bear no aesthetic or intellectual responsibility for choices that may seem flaky, cheesy, sappy, or all of the above. Besides, at my core (and only those who know and love me dearly can agree- the rest of you are supposed to politely demur, tell me that I'm way more profound than that and go on believing that any unfortunate choices are NOT due to an innate lack of taste but momentary folly resulting from sleep and caffeine deprivation), I might just be nothing more than a flaky, cheesy confection.

Ladies and gentlemen, my list of 15:

Say Anything (1989)
Lloyd: I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.

Notting Hill (1998)
Anna: I can't believe you have that picture on your wall.
William: You like Chagall?
Anna: I do. It feels like how being in love should be. Floating through a dark blue sky.
William: With a goat playing the violin.
Anna: Yes - happiness isn't happiness without a violin-playing goat.

Almost Famous (2001)
Elaine: This is not some apron-wearing mother you're talking to. I know about your Valhalla of Decadence, and I shouldn't have let him go. He is not ready for your world of compromised values, and diminished brain cells that you throw away like confetti. Am I speaking clearly to you?
Russell: Yes, ma'am.
Elaine: If you break his spirit, harm him in any way, keep him from his chosen profession--which is law, something you may not value but I do--you will meet the voice on the other end of this telephone. And it will not be pretty. Do we understand each other?
Russell: Yes... yes...
Elaine: I didn't ask for this role, but I'll play it. Now go do your best. "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aide!" Goethe said that. It's not too late for you to be a person of substance. Get my son home safe. I'm glad we spoke.

Bill Durham (1988)
Crash: Besides, uh, I don't believe in quantum physics when it comes to matters of the heart.
Annie: What do you believe in, then?
Crash: Well, I believe in the soul... the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days... Goodnight.
Annie: Oh my. Crash...
Ebby: Hey, Annie, what's all this molecule stuff?

Sideways (2004)
Miles: Hemingway, Sexton, Plath, Woolf — you can't commit suicide until you're published.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1993)
Charles: Ehm, look. Sorry, sorry. I just, ehm, well, this is a very stupid question and... , particularly in view of our recent shopping excursion, but I just wondered, by any chance, ehm, eh, I mean obviously not because I guess I've only slept with 9 people, but-but I-I just wondered... ehh. I really feel, ehh, in short, to recap it slightly in a clearer version, eh, the words of David Cassidy in fact, eh, while he was still with the Partridge family, eh, "I think I love you," and eh, I-I just wondered by any chance you wouldn't like to... Eh... Eh... No, no, no of course not... I'm an idiot, he's not... Excellent, excellent, fantastic, eh, I was gonna say lovely to see you, sorry to disturb... Better get on...
Carrie: That was very romantic.
Charles: Well, I thought it over a lot, you know, I wanted to get it just right.

American Beauty (2000)
Lester: Lose it? I didn't lose it. It's not like, "Whoops! Where'd my job go?" I QUIT. Someone pass me the asparagus.

The Village (2004)
Ivy Walker: When we are married, will you dance with me? I find dancing very agreeable. Why can you not say what is in your head?
Lucius Hunt: Why can you not stop saying what is in yours? Why must you lead, when I want to lead? If I want to dance I will ask you to dance. If I want to speak I will open my mouth and speak. Everyone is forever plaguing me to speak further. Why? What good is it to tell you you are in my every thought from the time I wake? What good can come from my saying that I sometimes cannot think clearly or do my work properly? What gain can rise of my telling you the only time I feel fear as others do is when I think of you in harm? That is why I am on this porch, Ivy Walker. I fear for your safety before all others. And yes, I will dance with you on our wedding night.

Good Will Hunting (1997)
Will: I gotta see about a girl.

You've Got Mail (1998)
Joe: The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.

The Hours (2002)
Virginia Woolf: Dear Leonard, To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face, and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it, for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard, always the years between us, always the years, always the love, always... the hours...

I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Dawn: There's glass between us. You can't deal with my infinite nature can you?
Brad: That is so not true. Wait, what does that even mean?

The Professional (1994)
Mathilda: Leon, I think I'm falling in love with you. It's the first time for me, you know?
Léon: How do you know it's love if you've never been in love before?
Mathilda: 'Cause I feel it.
Léon: Where?
Mathilda: In my stomach. It's all warm. I always had a knot there and now... it's gone.
Léon: Mathilda, I'm glad you don't have a stomach ache any more. I don't think it means anything

Toy Story 2 (1999)
Tour Guide Barbie: I'm Tour Guide Barbie. Please keep your arms in the car at all times, and no flash photography. Thank you.
Mr. Potato Head: I'm a married spud, I'm a married spud...

L.O.T.R- Two Towers (2002)
Frodo: I can't do this Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

My Perfect Offering

It's 3.51am on a Thursday morning but it feels as if the week should have been over days ago. It's been an excruciating week- long, difficult and full of things I don't even want to begin to describe. My nerves are frayed, my beliefs have been tried, and my faith affirmed, tested, and affirmed again. I'm tired.

There's much more in this Leonard Cohen song than is my life as it is right now for sure but there's also alot in it that resonates with me as I write in this nebulous state between night and day, sleep and wakefulness, winter and spring, faith and doubt...

There's this much of me I can give to the imperfect world, as imperfect as I am myself. Maybe in the end, that's all it can ask of us all... and maybe, it should be enough.

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

- Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

Sunday, March 20, 2005

When Love Comes To Town

Ladies and gentlemen, you are now looking at (well technically not *looking*) the proud owner of two tickets to see U2 in concert when they come to Michigan in October!! The tickets went on sale online yesterday at 10am and guess who was sitting by the computer at 9.58am even though she had to teach at 10.10am? The next 6 minutes flew by in a blur as I went through the whole choosing-seats-yes-I-agree-to-the-terms-of-agreement-secret-word-credit-card-address routine. Two center-stage floor tickets (standing only- as if we would be sitting down at all anyway...) on the day before my birthday! I don't care what anyone else says, Bono's singing just to me, for me.

U2 would never play in Singapore because of our dubious human rights record (see this report from Amnesty International) and we know how Mr. Paul Hewson and company feel about that. We still practice the death penalty and our Internal Security Act allows for the detention of political prisoners without trial, so to be able to see them at all in our llifetime is a treat I cannot even begin to describe. Some have said that watching U2 live is akin to a religious experience. I'll let you know how true that is after October 25.

I'm happy- come my 29th birthday, I would have fulfilled two of the thirty things I most wish for- getting Jude the iPod (plus one for myself as a bonus) and now catching U2 in concert. Not bad for a one year period- who knows, by the time I'm 75, I might just really be able to do everything I said I want to. But for now, I'm dreaming of Irish rock gods and ultraviolet dreamscapes...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

My first students Part II

You guys are too sweet- that was very nice. Thank you!
- jude and serene

Friday, March 18, 2005

My first students

They were the very first class of students I was assigned to teach. I was 24, fresh out of teacher training and petrified to death of what to expect in a real school; they were 17, eager, wonderful and till today, the students I have the fondest memories of. The class of 2A11, 2001.

By some quirk of fate, Jude and I ended up chatting online with a couple of them over the weekend and in a matter of minutes (I kid you not), I think half the class had our blog address (you can see for yourselves on the tag-board) and our Messenger contacts as well. And that's the thing I love most about this group of students (no, not that they all have stalker tendencies...), that though it's been four years since they've graduated from junior college, and some of them are actually studying in Perth, a group of them are as close as ever- they host blogs together, plan trips together, hang out all the time together- basically continue to revolve their lives around the friends they made those wonderful four years ago. And in some small way, during the two years they were in junior college, they let me into that circle. We celebrated birthdays, had dinners, played bridge (ok, THEY tried to teach ME to play bridge), exchanged presents, confided secrets, plotted diabolical schemes to overthrow the school administration, watched each other fall in love, fall out of love, stay in love (you know who you are...), and all the mindless but meaningful things you only do with people you trust and love. I wasn't just their teacher, I was also someone with whom they celebrated their youth, exuberance, infectious good humor and cheer.

They were also there when Jude and I first started going out. Oh they were very perceptive, and very very clever. They were no nuclear physicists but they were teenagers- biologically programmed to sniff out a budding romance (both their own and someone else's) a mile away. Jude taught them Shakespeare and I was their General Paper teacher, and it wasn't too long before they collectively cornered us in school and interrogated Jude on his intentions to make an honest woman out of me. Two years later, we invited them to our wedding. And they came. Even the ones in Perth made special arrangements to fly back early for the ceremony.

These kids will always have a special place in my heart. They made me believe I could be a good teacher. I hope I was a good teacher to them. And a good friend too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Observatory is opening for Tortoise



Surprise, surprise, 2 Judeposts in a day!!! I wanted to give a shout out to my guys, the Observatory who are about to have the gig of their lives this Thursday opening for Tortoise. This show comes as a surprise to me given the very cautious nature and outlook of our local music scene. I remember a time when they posted policemen at rock concerts to prevent dancing and any undue 'western' influences. I also remember a time when"public entertainment permits" and a $2000 security deposit were required in order to put up a show. The people who brought in Fugazi to perform (at a community center no less) were hauled to the police station and had their security deposit confiscated because the kids in the hall started to stage dive and crowd surf. Pearl Jam's concert in Singapore was almost a no-show, because the kids at the capacity filled venue starting removing the seats up front in order to create room to move in front of the stage. Hell, they even turned away the Rolling Stones in the 1960s because they had long hair. Things have changed quite a bit since those times, but Tortoise playing in Singapore is still a big deal. While there are a smattering of interesting acts that come into the country every once in a while, it is perhaps even more significant that a local band has been given the privilege of opening the show. So kudos to the Observatory! Have fun at the show guys, break a leg & I wish that I was there :)

NYC FoodLog

This is one of those 'rare' judeposts. I know that I have mentioned this to some people and that I have only now just gotten around to it. Here is the blow-by-blow (or mouthful-by-mouthful) account of how we ate our way across the Big Apple :)

DAY 1
- Sapporo Jap Rest. (On the corner of 50th & 7th Ave.)
In Jude Yew's "American Odyssey-esque" oral history, this was the very first place that I ate at when I first set foot in America. The place really looks the same as it did when I first came in 1993. For some reason, I keep coming back everytime I go to New York. It isn't the finest Japanese restaurant around, definitely of the "ghetto" variety, but man does that ramen warm you up on a cold day. Something that Ann Arbor sorely lacks - a good noodle bar. There's a review and the menu at this link.

- Cafe Muse (Korea Way)
Yong wanted to show us around Korea Town and we ended up in this cafe. Sorta like an upscale Eastern Accents but with more variety in terms of pastries.

- Windfall Bar
Site of the SI alumni event. Nothing much to say about it.

- Serendipity 3 (Between 2nd & 3rd Aves on 60th)
This place is something else!!! It is a truly charming little dessert place that is tucked way up on 60th street. Have to try their frozen hot chocolate and a good place to people/celebrity watch.

DAY 2
- Cafe Metro (Next to our hotel on Lexington & 51st)
This was a surprisingly good cafe that seems to be always packed. It's right next to the subway and our hotel. Great selection of soups and foccacias. There's a menu here.

- Shanghai Dim Sum (that's the actual name of the restaurant just south of Canal St.)
This was some place we stumbled upon. Not an upscale dim sum restaurant though. However, it was refreshing to have a Northern Chinese take on dim sum once in a while.

- Ferrera (Chinatown on Grand St.)
With its wood panelled walls and ornate interior decor, this place really does bring make me think of a place where the mob used to hang out. Check out this article which talks about mob activity in the area's not so distant past. Now if only I had space for one more cannolli ;)

- Russiya (you have to click on this link!!!)
This never happened. We ate instead at another Russian restaurant next to the Brighton Beach train station. Who would have thought that there would be a sizable Russian community in Brooklyn?

- The Rodeo Bar on 28th (Dave almost got into a fight here, so ...)

DAY 3
- Gus' Gyros (street vendor on Park Ave & 51st)
Claims to have been at the same street corner since the 1970s. But man did that gyro hit the spot that morning.

- Beard Papa
Never heard of Beard Papa? Check this link out then!!!

- Nyonya Restaurant (194 Grand Street between Mulberry & Mott)
Excellent Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant that never fails to draw the crowds. While we were dining, there was a queue that snaked out of the restaurant onto the street. And it was cold that day too!!! You can check out the menu here!

- Sugar
This bar sure made me feel my age!!! I couldn't relate to the music that they were playing or the after-work singles social scene that was unfolding before my eyes. Here's a review anyways.

DAY 4
- Cafe Vesuvio (160 Prince Street)
Charming old bakery right in the heart of Soho. Definitely worth a visit. Had a panini with proscuitto ham, goat's cheese and olive spread.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

If you don't know me by now

It's all my best friend's fault. She sends me one of those on-line quizzes that test how much you know your friend and I did terribly. Awful. I'd understand if she decides she will no longer name her first child after me. Maybe I should name my first child after her to make amends. I'm sorry, but honestly, how on earth am I supposed to know that you would rather... oops ok, I shan't say anymore before you won't even dignify my presence with a Christmas card this year...

So now I'm wondering if my friends really know *me*. If I can't even get 70% of the questions on my best friend's quiz right, how will my friends score on mine? So here's the one I came up with- The Quiz. Some questions may seem simple, but unlike what my husband seems to believe, I like to think of myself as less predictable than some people give me credit for...

[Oh, and I finally found a place where we can upload all our photos without a storage limit so it'll be on the sidebar from now on.]

Monday, March 14, 2005

Children's Letters to God

I'm reading White Teacher by Vivian Paley right now for the class I'm teaching. It's about her experiences as a kindergarten teacher in an intergrated school within a predominantly white middle-class neighborhood. I guess what strikes me most about the book apart from the honesty and candor with which she talks about her teaching, is the genuine and guileness nature of children. Paley peppers the narrative with vignettes of her experiences and they're at times exasperating, others joyful, but always so real.

This reminded me of a book I bought my sister so very long ago- Children's Letters to God- when she was just a little mite asking for impossible things for the Big Man (bigger feet so she could wear my mother's shoes...) I found excerpts of it off the web- knock yourselves out! you might just want to have one of your own after this, or decide to return the one you have wherever it came from... ;)

Dear God,
Did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?
Norma

Dear God,
I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay?
Neil

Dear God,
Thank you for my baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.
Joyce

Dear God,
It rained for our whole vacation and is my father mad! He said some things about you that people are not supposed to say, but I hope you will not hurt him anyway.
Your friend (but I am not going to tell you who I am)

Dear God,
I want to be just like my daddy when I get big, but not with so much hair all over.
Sam

Dear God,
I think the stapler is one of your greatest inventions.
Ruth

Dear GOD,
If you give me a genie like Aladdin, I will give You anything You want, except my money or my chess set.
Raphael

Dear GOD,
My brother is a rat. You should give him a tail.
Ha Ha, Danny

Dear God,
My brother told me about being born, but it doesn't sound right. They are just kidding, aren't they?
Marsha

Dear God,
If you watch me in church Sunday, I'll show you my new shoes.
Mickey

Dear GOD,
Did You really mean "do unto others as they do unto you"? Because if You did, then I'm going to fix my brother.
Darla

Dear God,
I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday. That was cool!
Eugene

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Things I learnt in New York

We've actually been back for four days but I've been sick for two and had a mid-term over the other two (don't ask- a 33-page report in 48 hours is not something I would wish on my worst enemy...). But it was a good trip. New York is *The City* afterall and it does give you a whole new perspective on things after being in this little town in the middle of nowhere.

So some things I learnt in those 84 short hours:
1) The Gates exhibition is over-rated. I guess it was meant to incalcate some kind of civic engagement between the city and her people but up close, they really do look like just pieces of well-sewn saffron cloth- *very* expensive pieces of cloth, but pieces of cloth nonetheless. In fact, the parody of it is much more interesting...

2) Eating is great! Ok, so I didn't have to go to New York to learn a fact I've pretty much known all my life, but truly, food in New York is phenomenal. Heedlessly, we had slurpalicious ramen (49th Street, between 6th and 7th), drop-dead out-of-this-world dessert at Serendipity 3, cheap but so very very good street food (shish kebab, gyro, etc.), tim sum and Asian pastries in Chinatown, Russian food in Brooklyn, Singaporean/ Malaysian food in Little Italy, I could go on... Ann Arbor has pretty good food too (if you know where to go, and depending on how deep your pockets are) but in NY, it's everywhere!

3) New Yorkers are rude. Unless you tip them. And even then they still behave like a cross between the Grinch and Ebeneezer Scrooge before he met the three ghosts. We're talking the lady at the subway station booth who couldn't spare me 20 seconds of her time to tell me how to get to the Upper West Side; a sales assistant at H & M who obviously thought that the color of her co-workers new sweater was more important than me getting a pair of pants in the right size; the man at MOMA who was barking orders at visitors on how to deposit their bags and coats- must have been a West Point reject; and some waitress in Chinatown whose service philosophy I'm convinced is informed by a tutelage under the soup Nazi. And these are just those I can remember. I'm sure there're rude people everywhere but there's got to be something in the water there...

4) I like Lower Manhattan. Soho was really nice and I wish I spent more time there. Jude was actually there on Saturday morning when the vendors were all out peddling their wares- craft, street art, hand-made jewellry. There's a wonderful bookstore, The Strand on Broadway where I just went bersek and bought more books than I think I'll be able to read in the next year. 18 miles of every book you can imagine- it was a bibliophile's heaven, my heaven :) Jude also got me a really cheery orange laptop case from Pylones on Lexington. It's one of those shops selling mundane everyday things made to look like anything but mundane everyday things- feather-dusters in the shape of peacocks, Mao-inspired bowls, nail-clippers masquerading as pretty lady-bugs, etc. Reminds me of some of the Alessi stuff, but more whimsical.

I don't know, at the end of the day, I'm not sure if I could live in New York though; yes, it's teeming with life, vibrant, diverse, rich in so many ways, has everything I love- books, food, shopping, art, music- it is Life encapsulated (good, bad, young old, struggling, successful) and then some more. But living in such a huge city can also be a very alienating experience I suspect, depressing even. It's the lonely crowd syndrome I guess. Well, I won't really know until we do but till then, I'm quite happy to be back in little Ann Arbor where I know where everything is and where I can get away with throwing a jacket over my PJs and going to the store for milk at 2am in the morning...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

NYC

A million people — manners free and superb — open voices — hospitality — the most courageous and friendly young men,
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!
-- "Mannahatta," Walt Whitman

I deserve this break. It's not a need, it's not a want- I deserve it. Period. Of all the vacations I've ever had, I honestly have to say that this is one of the few I believe I've earned. So if it means me coming home a few hundred dollars poorer and more than several pounds heavier, so be it. I DESERVE THIS, remember?

We leave for New York on Wednesday and I'm so ready (in fact, I've been ready for the past four weeks..). Thankfully, a good friend helped us get a deal at the Doubletree Metropolitan on the East side of town so we don't have to clutch our bags and hearts in fear of dank and sleazy rooms. It's close to just about everywhere so that's great. No slushy jostling on the subway with prickly New Yorkers. Jude & I had hoped that we would make it to the city in time for The Gates displays in Central Park but that ended yesterday. I spent the last 2 weeks reading about those stunning saffron cloths- it would have been wonderful to be able to get a picture or just stand beneath them. Oh well, on the bright side there ARE seven hundred and thirty-two other things to do in three and a half days in New York...

Just a few on our list:
1) The museums. The three-month old newly opened MOMA is top priority followed by The Met. There's just something about museums that I find very alluring. I'm no consummate art maven; I might appreciate it a little more than the average person, but I don't think I could hold an intelligent conversation about composition, tone and aesthetics for more than an hour. But just to be in the presence of great art is an awesome experience and I think that's what it is about museums which give me that rush. The prospect of being able to see the Matisses, Picassos, Chagalls, Klimts and Rothkos in their entirety alone is worth this journey. Jude's also looking forward to catching the Bill Viola exhibit at the Whitney. He's idolized the man since his theatre days so this is going to be a real treat.

2) The food. Duh... No. 1 on our list is Nonya, a Singaporean restaurant some people say is even more authentic than it is back home. Beef rendang, chicken rice, mee goreng... I feel my stomach clenching already. Help... someone... please... And something Jude and I have been dying to have for the longest time is a decent bowl of ramen. I'm not referring to those dried squares of egg noodles with MSG-laden packs of seasoning- you know that right? We're talking the authentic Japanese deal here in its rich resplendent glory... Nothing warms the cockles of this girl's heart like a steaming bowl of noodles. Well, there's always a steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee, but you know that already...

3) The shopping, although I doubt I'm going to have time to do as much of this as I would like. There's Chinatown and Canal Street for those genuine kate spade and Coach knock-offs (grad students+ shoppping= cheap), and since we're on the theme of cheap, we'll probably be heading for the city's largest flea market on 6th and 26th Aves just before we leave. I've always loved flea markets (any open-air markets for that matter)- the people, the little trinkets and gems you end up finding for ridiculously low prices. I like...

There's clearly a whole bunch of other things we want to do (and hopefully might just be able to find time to, e.g. Arto Lindsay at Tonic for some experimental bossa) but we do only have 84 hours. Jude and I have decided that it's a good thing we didn't end up doing our PhDs in NY- we'd never graduate (because we would have squandered all our time and money on the very things we're going to squander our time and money on on this trip). So yes, the ironic blessing of a Midwestern college town...