So I have definitely lived here too long to get away with not posting about my apartment. But where oh where to begin?? Bugs spring to mind, since one just flew into my face. New York is not immune to the common mosquito and I am delicious, so naturally I’m covered in angry red bites. Thanks for that New York, would it kill you to give a girl some bug netting in her windows? Heat also springs to mind since there were highs of about 90 today and we don’t have air-conditioning. I have been parked in front of a fan since 8 this morning except for a four hour stint in class. Things went the other way on the way back from class though as a thunderstorm broke over my head and I got completely soaked! The weather here is mental. But I’ll let you in on a secret. I love it!
A braggy history PhD called me snooty last night. (The jury is still out if he was trying to hit on me, my roommate thinks he was??) Because I’ve been prattling on about all the whacky things that are different here. But that’s the beauty of it. The things that are different are the ones that thrill me! The way all the packaging on food here has a slightly muted colour scheme. What would be red in the UK is usually maroon here. There’s lots of shades of golden brown and dark blue. To my UK eyes it looks a little dated, close to 50’s packaging back home. Plus for any one product there are about 70 variations. For example: one with sugar, one with no sugar, one with 40% less sodium, one in peanut butter flavour, one in maple flavour, one in french vanilla, one in cinnamon, one in chipotle or jalapeno, or both, one fat free and one zero calorie which is apparently different from fat free. Also the rules on what you can put in the food here are so lax, there could be anything in it at all, likely candidates include but are not limited to unpronounceable chemicals and substances derived from cows feet. Also there’s corn syrup in everything. Even my sweet tooth is struggling to keep up. Mine!
The thing with the sales tax has caught me out a lot and I have to smile through my embarrassment as I search wildly for an extra dollar. I’m considering moving to a state that doesn’t have sales tax! The trains are insane as well! I think I’ve got a vague grip on it, except the other day I was in class and Alex was telling me that sometimes the train can change while you’re actually on it and the only warning you get is an announcement telling you the next stop will be Schenectady and you better get off sharpish. So now I’ve lost all my confidence.
The Columbia neighbourhood is a people-watching nirvana. There’s a guy in the building across who wears dungarees and the kind of flat cap that steam engine drivers wear in American westerns… every day. I feel a bit bad because I just assume he’s in the fine arts programme, which is academic profiling. My building is full of characters too. There’s a very nice gentleman across the hall who laments on my behalf that my apartment doesn’t have air conditioning. Across the air shaft there used to be a Chinese couple with four cats that used to watch me while I boogied around the kitchen making soup. But I woke up two days ago and they’d cleared out. Just gone. Such is New York I suspect.
The main thing I can’t get over is the food! The library cafe has sushi. Really good sushi. And lunch the other day was a spicy chicken wrap the size of my upper arm. Although the people are pretty fascinating too, assuming you mean fascinating in the way that say… a glow in the dark goat would be fascinating. A little bit familiar and a little bit totally alien. Get a load of the following conversation. This a 100% true story as overheard by my own disbelieving ears.
“She was like hahahaha
And he was like uuuuh
And she was like, well I forget what happened after that but it was SO funny.”
It’s a glorious festival of human craziness here. Take for example the guardian at the gate of the GSAS office.
He’s a little turtle of a man, shiny of pate, with a hunch to his shoulders and a dip to his neck that makes his back look like a shell. He’s got a broad smile but his glasses pinch his nose so he breathes through his mouth, which he leaves slightly ajar for the purpose. This gives his dry lips, so he often pauses mid-sentence to lick them. Overall he’s a very ponderous creature. One of his hips hurts him and some cruel collegiate deity has bequeathed him an obstacle course of a desk. Every time he needs to fetch a file or a form he has to grip the desk and hoist himself to his feet. Then its a half circle around the chair, an angled squeeze past the bin, round an outcrop of desk and at last to freedom. Then the whole process in reverse to get back. While I was waiting for my meeting, this lengthy performance unfolded before me and the man shuffled off out of sight. In his absence a woman walked into the office, looked at the empty station, at me, around the office, back at me. Gesturing at the desk she half-whispered “Is there…?” I just nodded. She settled to wait.
A moment later the Keeper of Forms shuffled back, with a slice of pizza the size of a shovel in his fist. Her eyes bugged out. She looked to me for help, but I was too busy wondering how the assault course would be managed with only one hand. I was disappointed. He balanced the slab of pizza on a pile of student IDs before attempting the maneuver. Once settled he recommenced the slice and peered up at the woman, who had risen uneasily to her feet. She held out a form. I tuned out of the conversation and watched the pizza. It was replaced on top of the IDs. The hand that had held it briefly and ineffectually visited a napkin, then offered to take the form. The woman handed it over, upper lip curling a little. He signed on the dotted line and returned the form to her, quickly retrieving the pizza and talking through a mouthful of it as he gave her directions to the office she need to drop the form off at. She retreated, a signature and a smear of marinara the richer for her visit.
I’ve got to run. The pizza story made me hungry! See you next time, I have a librarian anecdote ready and waiting.