The Strand & Cafe Khufu

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Alright! Well, on a first and unrelated note, I got my ears pierced! I got little steel hoops and am hoping that there are no complications this time (as there have been when I tried to pierce them in the past); we went to New York Adorned, which I find a really comfortable and interesting piercing and tattoo shop downtown. I had to hold on to Nina's hand during the piercing, but it went quick and I realized that it's the same with all needles for me - my anticipation of the pain is worse than the pain itself!

Bonus this week! We got to go to two different places and I had the chance to write in both of them - this time, since I had finished writing my fiction class story, I started in on something pertaining to our surroundings. I started writing about The Strand when I was in it, from the perspective of two different people. Maybe that will pan out, who knows?
Anyway, here are my reviews:
The Strand -
Always a great place to buy books and spend hours in just looking at the stacks and stacks available for purchase. As I walked around with pen in hand, furiously scribbling on every flat surface I could see, I realized that, although it was the perfect place for books, it was not the perfect place for writing.
There were people everywhere, which was to be imagined. They would jostle you, move around you, hit you with their bags, and when you finally got to the lower or upper floors to get some air away from them all, you got lost in the darkest little corridors of the shop. The books were interesting and inspiring nearly every way you turned, but it made me feel self-conscious to be stopping and writing in the middle of what could potentially be a thoroughfare for hungry bibliophiles waiting to get at their blessed pages. I was careful to listen for the creak of shoes on the wooden floors.
My verdict: a place of great inspiration, but not one of great writing.

Cafe Khufu -
Though this is a hookah bar, no one requires you to smoke. And so that's just what I did, sat around with a big group of friends and enjoyed casual banter in the low-lit, loud music corner where the soft couches and warm air preserve you from the winter cold outside. It's an interesting escape downtown and I thought it wouldn't be the best place to write (since it does have such low lights and such loud music), but when I finally sat down and pulled out my pen, I found the words were coming much easier and that I could see by the bare light of the chandelier above us. Plus, the chai is excellent.
Perhaps from the inspiration of the day walking around The Strand and parts of downtown, perhaps from the thrill of the great conversation going on around me, and perhaps because I was feeling relaxed after an adventure-filled day, writing in Cafe Khufu became a luxury. Though it may not be the typical place to sit and write for hours on end, I definitely will return there from time to time.

The pictures this week are 3 from The Strand (yes, there's a skeleton in the medicine section, if you've never seen it) and one from Cafe Khufu (the flash makes everyone's hands look like ghosts...) Enjoy!

Read more of my writing in strange places reviews.
And check out some more posts featuring my photography.

Butler Library (alt. My Life In Pictures)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Although it is sort of a cop-out, this week's location was Butler Library!
I always find that Butler is a really nice place to go do work in because everyone is there for the same thing. Every head is bent over a computer screen or a notebook, the pages are being filled or read through, there is a communal silence that people take on in the library...
So it was really interesting to spend the time working on (at least partially) my story for fiction class. We (meaning Liberty and I) snagged a really great little corner table with an outlet and just fidgeted and worked/wrote in the time. It was very calming, actually.
My only caveat is that the place has no signal to the outside world. So if you're wanting to get a snack or if you want to move locations or if you want to grab a friend, you have to go around the library to get signal or out into the front door. I know that is for a reason (considering that people are studying and you don't want to bother them) but sometimes it gets really frustrating not to be able to text when you want someone to meet you in a certain section. Plus, leaving your things with strangers can be good or bad depending on your choice of person.
Overall, I really liked the academic atmosphere, so I think I would go back when I wanted to seriously focus and not just put some words down on the page.

Also, I need to put up pictures! I've been taking photographs of some things that characterize my life right now, so there are three sample ones (the first one being Butler's main entrance, the second was the Mother Tongue Day celebration in the middle of the night at the U.N. and finally there is a replica of The Thinker in the snow - which I think is my most favorite picture of all)

Read more of my writing in strange places reviews.
And check out some more posts featuring my photography.

The Hungarian Pastry Shop

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Today was the big V-day, both Valentine's and Vagina Day (or Single Awareness Day, if you feel so inclined) A time of "love" and expensive gifts - as I heard someone behind me remark, it never lives up to the classic expectation.
But, although this day should perhaps be treated like any other, I must admit that I quite enjoyed the calm fabric of this February 14th. It was the day I embarked on another of my adventures.
My newest adventure is to go to "literary places," basically, to write in cafes and other areas around the city so that I can explore and give myself some time to write. Perhaps it has been done before, but it seems that was how the greats got their work going, so I thought I might try it. At least it gets me out of the house.
Anyway, this first endeavor I took occurred today - at the Hungarian Pastry Shop. The following is a literary description of this fantastic place:
After celebrating our vaginas by listening to the the Vagina Monologues performed at Columbia's Roone Arledge Auditorium, reading trashy articles about what V-day gifts "really" mean, and exercising monetary frivolity in the purchase of another hard-backed legal pad, Liberty and I set out on a journey to this quaint little cafe on 111th and Amsterdam.
A short post-dinner walk later, in the brisk cold of Upper West Side Manhattan, we arrived at the doorstep of a smallish cafe that had many beautiful bohemian wall things, low mood lighting, and a stretch of college students munching on delicate cookies and rich pastries. They read their books and made notes, proving that this was still, after all, the Columbia neighborhood. As we approached the counter, two ladies with black curly hair looked up at us with a polite stare, rather than a smile. They were busy, we could see. I stared into the pastry case and was dazzled by the different choices - cookies, tiramisu, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate - and finally decided on an amalgamation of two hazelnut cookies and chocolate mousse. With milk.
I was shocked to find that they delivered it to our table, where Liberty and I were cautiously commenting on the atmosphere and taking out our books to read and write. I found myself lapsing into the balmy atmosphere of the place, listening in on the academic chatter that swirled around us. I was transfixed by the bathroom, with swirling graffitti plastering the walls - all the people who had ever come before. I pumped out a few paragraphs and found that it was a place to return to, perhaps in the daylight with a cup of hot chocolate centered between two palms.
Liberty finished her book and we rose to go, paying at the counter before we left. As a spot for eking out ideas or studying the pages of a book, this place was awfully calming. I will come again.

Read more of my writing in strange places reviews.

Snow Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This was the first blizzard of the year and Barnard didn't close until the afternoon. When everything else was closed early in the morning. Ugh! But once they did close, I was thankful because I got to get all my work done and now I am no longer panicking as I am wont to do.
It was really beautiful, the outdoors today. I woke up in a lethargy and went to work in the mail room where there was - consequently - no mail! The mailmen don't work according to their credo (through hail or sleet or driving snow, etc) anymore... it was snowing and their doors were firmly shut.
You know, there is something peculiar to me or maybe to college. I get overwhelmed and burnt out sometimes, while still enjoying what I'm working on. Maybe that's the good thing about reading challenging books and exciting novels - at the same time, there is a lot of reading to be done! I know that I've said it before, but whenever I feel backed up, I start to get worried (even, sometimes, when I'm right on track!) I just can't imagine putting things off for very long...
Anyway, that's what got me to scheduling. Every time I get overwhelmed, I make a schedule and a to-do list. Therefore, I now have a plan!

Enough of those idle simple thoughts. Now on to the good stuff.
I have been contemplating, through my lists, how to go about getting a summer internship. I wasn't thinking about it a lot before, but then I had this dream. This dream that I was in a video game that I designed (yes, I know that sounds lame, but hang in there with me). The dream made me realize that there are people who aren't programmers working on video games. Why I did not realize this before, I do not know. But it just so happens that by digging around the internet, there are A LOT of indie game studios in Seattle. And that's where I'll be for summer. So if I can land an internship there, I can start looking into how to contract write the storylines for video games. How cool is that?!
And after that, I started to think big. Plans leading to more plans and more and more again, I guess. I started thinking about where I want to do my study abroad. I have always wanted to use my French skills, but I just thought I would end up in France. But with their new laws concerning the burqa, I have been none too happy with the country's conduct. So I started thinking of other francophone countries and up comes... Morocco! Yes, and we do have a program that is related to Morocco. So, therefore, my plans for junior year are going to be involved with trying to go to that North African country for a duration of time. Huzzah! Life plans!
So, those are the two big notions I have been thinking about lately. Aside from that, there is short story and biography writing to do, papers to be written, books to be read, clothes to be worn and shed... all of these works that coalesce into my fabulous life.

Enjoy the beautiful snow everyone, and an early Happy Valentine's Day too!

Oh, how things change. Read more about my ever-changing college experiences.

Work Week

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I have long since given up my maxim "never start a book at night."
There are just so many books to read! Both for class and for pleasure, late into the night we are glued to the pages of text. But that makes me feel great sometimes because it is an accomplishment to finish each little stretch of reading - it's probably something I'll never have to do again after my college years. Anyway...
This week, I embarked on the first week of my new job! I got a job in the mail room and it's pretty good so far. I also got a second job at the library, which is ideal for me, being a book nerd as mentioned above. Now I can actually afford to eat meals! I can't wait till I can finally pay my dad back something... but my goal right now is to just make sure that my expenses at the end of the month add up to the amount I make from these two jobs. We'll see how it goes.
I have been starting to work out when I get stressed or unable to do schoolwork any longer. I literally skid out of my Decolonization class thinking "I need to go swimming." At least it's something that's good for my body but, as I've been saying literally every time I get out of the pool, I feel like an old person. I just haven't worked out in a long while and it's taking some time for my body to adjust; not to the soreness, but just to the regular exercise. Hopefully that changes when I get massively toned abs and arms (ha, not). It's another one of my gentle introduction things - so far it is paying off.
I sense that the weeks to come will be more interesting than the weeks that have passed; I have been carrying all these grand ideas in my head lately but haven't been able yet to write them down, so I think my next gentle introduction will be into writing a little on the weekends so that it comes out (yay, fiction class!) as well as going to a lot of campus events again. It's just been too cold to do anything else. There is no snow, even though they said there was going to be a lot but the wind has been bone-chilling so I have just been waiting it out in my dorm room, venturing out into the world only to eat, work, go to class, and exercise. Hmm, that should probably change.