It’s been another busy week capped off by a comparatively lazy weekend and now I’m fighting the sleepies in a late night cafe writing to you. Perhaps it’s because my weeks have been so packed of late, but I am suffering from a serious bout of tiredness and laziness and the thought of dragging my lazy self into work tomorrow morning is making my duvet seems shockingly near to heaven. I blame February.
But let’s leave the whining and get down to business. Monday was a night of relative indolence in which I caught a last minute aesthetician appointment and tried very had to convince myself to go to Taj. The need for sleep won out on that one which was probably for the best as I faced down the next few days.
I spent Tuesday in a flurry of activity that went something like wake, work, start-up classes, errands, music, crash. It was entirely worth it if only for the penultimate item. After spending a bit too long and far too much money on a trip to the Body Shop for conditioner—they get me with their sales every time!—I made my way up to the Lincoln Center for a touch of Tchaikovsky. The New York Philharmonic is just reaching the end of a three week Tchaikovsky festival and I had managed to snag cheap box seats for both the second and third programs in the series. This was the second.
It was delicious. They opened with the Piano Concerto No. 1 and honestly they could have stopped right there and I would have felt my $30 well spent. It is such a beautiful lyrical(?) piece of music with such fripperies and embellishments and an almost schizoid tendency to leap from theme to theme. It flies along, a blend of gentle, intricate bits of melody with crashing outbursts of emotionality and I love it. I think perhaps though I had only ever paid attention to the first movement in the past as I was marvellously caught off guard by the impact and sheer power of the final movement. I would like to someday build the knowledge and vocabulary required to tell you more about the music without making even more a fool of myself before the actual musicians in my life, but suffice to say I was spell bound. And that was only the first piece.
After a short intermission, they returned with the Manfred Symphony which was another typically-Tchaikovskian journey through passionate emotions and evocative scenes. It’s programmatic music which was/is apparently somewhat looked down upon, but it made melee things and it painted the most beautiful pictures so I don’t give a hoot as to whether or not it was exactly the most progressive or impressive piece in the minds of the critics.
The next day, with a bit of music still drifting around in my veins, I made my way through another day of work and then raced off through the chaos of commuters to catch an “FAA Issues” talk hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineerings. I’m not sure whether I missed the memo or they just didn’t deign to post it, but it was not at all what I expected. I was hoping to learn more about FAA operations and getting permission for flights in the New York area (it’s relevant to work, I swear), but instead we learned all about the funding, contracting, and tender processes for the New York State airport projects. It appeared to mostly a talk about how best to manage your federal/state funding for runway building. I’d hate to say I was disappointed but I do feel it fair to point out that they didn’t even have good catering. I might have felt a small bit deceived, but I hadn’t a moment to contemplate the emotion before I hurried back to a train to make my way to the East Village for an acupuncture appointment.
Thus far I have been enjoying my appointments. This was not one of those appointments. They are clearly running a promotion that includes cupping and they poor therapist was run off his feet with additionally demanding procedures. I suppose that’s why my procedure started 10 minutes late, it’s certainly why I spent the whole time listening to the clatter of glass cups and the untrained (lack of) whispering from the new patients while the employees rushed about noisily trying to look after everyone. There’s something rather helpless feeling when you are stuck full of pins and your heels begin to hurt from pressing on the bed and you can tell that you are going to be late to your next engagement on account of it all but you can’t even grab your phone because you are, oh yes, stuck full of pins. Fun fact, if you try to shift so your heels will stop hurting, you might just be nearly knocked out by a wash of awfulness as the pins respond not at all well to your attempt to change position. I *narrowly* avoided a panic attack and fled without booking my next appointment.
My next activity was pizza with a dance friend but I was not to be so lucky as to have the acupuncture provide the most distress of my evening. No, as I was less than a block from the pizza place there was a crossing point in the pedestrian traffic so I paused for a moment, let a man by, and then started up again only to be hit in the arm and chest by the raised forearm of a random man on the street. He then sort of bodychecked/shoved me and then turned a sharp 90 degrees and headed off down the perpendicular street. Maybe he was trying to make me drop my phone or my bag or maybe he was just insane but I have never been so glad to be in a busy well lit area like the streets near Penn, and I was even more glad to find a trusted friend in the pizza place across the street who provided a hug and a safe space for my adrenalin levels to float back down to more reasonable levels. Wednesdays, eh?
Once my heart rate was a more sensible tempo, we ate pizza, chatted, and headed off to dance. We were at Pizza Suprema which is apparently some of the best pizza in New York. I will give it the credit for the mushroom pizza but the eggplant was definitely an unexpected take on the vegetable. I had anticipated thinly sliced aubergine spread thickly between cheese, sauce, and maybe even a touch of meat on a gorgeous thin crust. Instead it was some strange derivative of eggplant parm with the eggplant breaded, fried, and then nestled into the sauce and the cheese. Next time I will look more closely before I leap.
Though it was still very mild when I headed home from dance, I had already received the emergency notification from NYU indicating that Thursday’s promised storm had resulted in a snow day! Yes, my very first snow day that actually excused me from what I would normally have had to do! I was delighted.
I did do a bit of work in the morning and the evening but I spent the bulk of Thursday lazing in bed watching the world turn white and listening to the shouted Spanish of the fellows out in the cold shovelling away every hour or so of snow. There are definitely worse ways to spend a Thursday. Sometime around late afternoon I decided that I should probably brave the world and maybe find some food—my woefully empty fridge offered only bread, eggs, and pickles. So I set off to test out the local delights with an obliging friend. I had it in my head that I needed to try chicken and waffles and blessedly, the local joint (Sweet Chick) was open despite the snow and the, as we would soon find out, absolutely frigid wind. We ate very rich mac and cheese and a gorgeous pecan waffle with juicy fried chicken, three flavours of butter, and of course maple syrup. It was an unexpectedly delicious combination of sweet and savoury, crispy and tender and I now understand the appeal of chicken and waffles. I am also now starting to understand why everyone is so envious of my location, there really are an awful lot of awesome spots less than 10 minutes walk away and fool that I am, I’ve been passing them up for more expensive and honestly less awesome spots in the East Village or Midtown as suits the friends I happen to be meeting. I may have to start dragging everyone down to my neck of the woods.
And then it was back to the regular M-F grind with an unusually draining Friday at work. I was tempted to head home immediately after work and fit in a little nap, but then there was a hackathon at work and the poor students were few and far between on account of the snow so I decided I ought to stay and support. There is nothing quite to stimulating as watching students and senior academics duel for the most defensive response to a comment. It’s nice to know that we’re all a little guilty no matter how smart, secure, and mature we ostensibly are.
Having acquired food at the hackathon and sat through the presentations, I then excused myself to find a train up to the Lincoln Center for the second Tchaikovsky concert of my week. The planned conductor was ill so the assistant conductor stepped in. Though it did mean shortening the program, I was deeply impressed by the power and conviction with which he lead the orchestra through Francesca da Rimini and the Pathetiques. The first is a frenetic dive into Dante’s Inferno, and the second is a richly nuanced journey through all the dark and light of the end of life (or at least that was the impression I got from the lecture I attended). Yes, that lecture I attended a few weeks ago came very much in handy as I was sitting in the third tier nearly breathless with the intensity of the penultimate movement of the Pathetiques. It ends with such a crash! The whole house was applauding as if it were the end, but not me. No, I remembered the tip from the talk where they mentioned the hilarious conundrum of a piece that appeared so convincingly to end before the final movement even began and I sat in smug stillness waiting for the actual end. And what an ending it was. The conductor held us on tenterhooks in the final breath of bass and silence for what felt like a small eternity but which could have only been a matter of seconds. It was auditory ecstasy with a whole hall of people convulsively holding their breath until he released us from his spell and we all fell to the warmest, most appreciative applause. There is certainly something to be said for properly brilliant orchestral music and the people who make it.
The next morning I woke up to my usual adventures in house cleaning, bread making, and avoiding doing laundry. I love the city, I love my apartment, I love my neighbourhood, I loathe my lack of laundry facilities in house. I am tempted to say that my next flat will be chosen by the presence or absence of laundry, but let’s be honest, I love Manhattan and my budget is far too small for in-suite laundry unless I look far outside of this wonderfully busy, bustling island.
Sometime around the middle of the day, I made my way past one of the myriad protests in the city and found my way to Mamoun’s for tasty falafel and shwarma with a friend. There’s no place to sit in Mamoun’s so we sat on benches at the street side and listened to the world go by and the protestors chant while we filled our stomachs. Once fed, we set off for the NYU library to get some work done. I had letters to write and reading to do, and my partner in crime had a few delightful academic chores to attend to, so we made our way to the second floor and claimed a table.
The second floor of the NYU library is a strange place. It’s the quickest way to find a seat to work, but it is also the most unnatural library space I have ever been to. The entire floor is filled with shelves but nary a book to be seen. Every item of furniture looks at least a decade past it’s best before date and the entire thing seems somehow lost outside of the glossy main floor and lobby with their slick tiles and glossy black benches. But it’s quiet, and it’s empty, and there is a great big table near one of the windows which is where we sat. I would make several journeys back and forth tending to bread, during one of which I stopped to grab study snacks in the form of ridiculously decadent chocolates from Jacques Torres Chocolaterie near the university.
By dinner time we’d wrangled another westie into the fold and were headed up into Midtown to eat Korean fried chicken in a painfully trendy little bar with legitimately delicious chicken. With tummies full of chicken (and in my case a delicious pear cider) we headed to dance where we would spend the ensuing hours gossiping in windowsills, chatting on couches, and at least occasionally dancing. It was a good evening.
And now finally we’ve made it to today where the train situation in my neighbourhood (neither of my usual trains is running at all this weekend — and the next best option starts with a 15 minute walk or a messy transfer) has provided ample excuse to do all of nothing. I suppose I could have gone into the city for things, but it was raining and I hate getting soaked before dance on the exciting journey to an alternate train station where I may or may not get the train that I want. Laziness is what Sundays are made for.
Following my day of utter indolence, I had another opportunity to explore my neighbourhood with a friend with a sushi craving. Utterly unbeknownst to me, I have been living less than half a block from a phenomenal sushi place with far more reasonable prices than most places in this city can claim. We are now in a late night cafe with the coolest vibe and plenty of places to work, only 6 minutes or so from my apartment. Have I mentioned that I managed to fall head first into an amazing neighbourhood? Yeah. I feel very privileged and also rather concerned as to how my expenses might end up as I find more and more amazing places to trade cash for calories within a 10 minute walk of my flat. Stay tuned for increasingly frequent foodie adventures in the inimitable Lower East Side!
Not ready for Monday,
The Salsa Girl