Sunday, September 28, 2008

Apple Muffins

I know I said I would write stories to accompany Natural History Museum dioramas. I know maybe this would have provided you with more entertaining reading than everyday details. I understand. After all, where else would you get to learn about the African grasslands people? Or about Armenian wedding ceremonies?

However, a more important issue has come up recently. That of grocery stores. This summer I read The United States of Arugula, a book about the development of restaurants in the US that led me to believe that New York would have gourmet food on every corner. All those convenience stores, located side by side, would be bursting at the seams with exotic vegetables, fruits, spices, and lots and lots of nutty, thick breads with crunch crusts. However, I got here and the grocery stores seemed to me to be like deserts. Here and there a few straggly tomatoes dotted the horizon, some overpriced cereal boxes shading their yellowed leaves, and bad spaghetti packets standing at attention.

On Saturday, Mary Kate, Jennie, and I went to an art show at Red Hook. The kind where you stand around and look pretentious. But if that's what it takes to get around the city, so be it. It's a small price to pay. After about an hour, however, although we had filled our souls with beautiful art, we still found ourselves desirous of more substantial fare than weird installation art and lots of watercolor panels with one syllable titles.

Jennie, Mary Kate, and I wandered across the street where we had seen large signs advertising a market. We delightedly examined the fruits and vegetables we found outside, deciding this was strictly a vegetable sort of place. We went inside the first room, where we continued to stroke and caress the ever-expanding selection of fruits and vegetables we encountered. (Yes, going to the grocery store is a very sensual experience for me). Then we rounded a corner, and lo and behold, paradise opened up before our eyes. It was Trader Joes on steroids. I have never seen such a selection of good food, far better than Costco or Whole Foods or any of those stores that call themselves superstores or whatever. I don't even properly remember their names anymore. This store put them all to shame. Such cheeses! Such huge sides of beef! Such preserves!

We left Brooklyn completely overwhelmed, which probably doesn't happen too often among real New Yorkers. I can see how one would be overwhelmed leaving Manhattan. The colors of this island no longer seem so bright, nor as beckoning. I left my heart in Brooklyn, in the olive oil aisle of that warehouse of a grocery store.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I'm Hungry!

In every place I've worked before this, bugs have always been a BIG DEAL. The ants, the long ones that crawl in peoples' ears at night, the small ones that sort of just meander from dark corner to dark corner, if anyone ever saw one of those, it was akin to the apocalypse. Exterminators were called in, food was eradicated, every single crumb on the ground was lasered into nothingness, and no one could eat for 5 hours before entering the workplace. One of the most noticeable differences I've experienced this week at my new job is that there are bugs. There are also tons of plants littering every nook and cranny, and then when I walk up the stairs to the 4th floor, I am greeted by a sky-blue colored sheep, and a small model of a humpback whale in a forest of greenery.

Wednesday, after arriving in to Islip late at night and after a full day of spiriting over boxes to Fedex to have them shipped out Tuesday night, I started my job at the American Museum of Natural History. While I can't securely pass judgment yet about every aspect of my job, I do love where I work. Since it was my first week at work, I could spend quite a bit of time wandering through the museum and the different displays.

My favorite African mammal: the bongo.

And my least favorite part about the museum: all the cultural displays with the different ethnicity mannequins. They all look so sad. And unattractive. And so infernally bored with their surroundings that I would sit in front of the cases and just wonder "What did you DO in your past life for someone to design you so miserable and bored? So completely disconnected from your fishing/wedding/bread breaking?"

And so, what the readers can look forward to each week, I hope, is a different display case with my narration accompanying it.

I am really, really hungry now. I'm going to go look for a bite to eat.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Filling in gaps

After the most harrowing experience I've had in a while, far worse than that time I was going to New Orleans and barely made it, almost as bad as that night when I had to write a 20 page paper in 12 hours and then do my hieroglyphs midterm, my friend Sara and I found an apartment in Hell's Kitchen. I never imagined I would live in a place called this, I always figured I'd end up there after I died, the maître pâtissier in a huge kitchen where lava bubbles underfoot and the faucets spew fire, barking orders at my lizard and dragon helpers, making sure the slugs are massaging the dough well enough and the rats are grinding the walnuts fine enough. Instead, here I am right out of college, starting life in Hell's Kitchen in a city I never though I'd ever inhabit.

In a fitting turn of events, I rediscovered my livejournal in the recent past. The one I kept in high school. The one where I started every blessed entry with something self-derogatory or negative. Behold:

05 April 2004 12:33 AM: this entry is very watery.
21 Mar 2004 09:10 PM: Look! Something more boring than reading my livejournal! (I proceed to provide the reader with pictures)
22 Feb 2004 12:02 AM: hello, one (or all). The week was remarkably unremarkable.
11 Jan 2004 09:50AM: I hate sunday mornings.

There is plenty more where that came from, not only restricted to the opening of every entry. In fact, at one point in my chronicling, I seem to realize that all I ever do is complain, decide I should fix that, and then go right back on complaining. It's like watching an accident happen. I cannot imagine how I did not get bored of wallowing in self-pity and low self-confidence. On an up note, though, even though my mother might not agree with me, she really could have done worse with a teenage daughter. If she was ever wondering where I was on a Friday or Saturday night, without fail I could have been found in Barnes and Noble, apparently. Or playing board games with the neighbors.

Oh, or updating livejournal.

I would be embarrassed if I didn't know that all that angst is just a natural part of growing up, evidently. I was tame compared to scores of other soul-searching entries written by kids the same age as I was, and I am happy that I can read at this and laugh now. Sometimes I worried that coming to college didn't change me an awful lot, that I still predominantly recognized the 15 year old me more often than some sort of a young lady who graduated college with a degree having read Adam Smith and Derrida. However, luckily, this is not the case. I no longer think I am the most awkward or unaccomplished person in the world, and no matter how many doubts I may have about what my skills are, I know I can learn what I do not know just as well as anyone else.

I'm sure if I ever come back to this entry in 5 years, I'll laugh. I'll most likely think that at this point in my life I thought I knew something, and that I did not know what was in store for me. That I never saw what was coming next. This is true, I don't know what's coming next at all, but I just want to write to my 28 year old self that at this point in my life, at 1:03 AM, September 1st, 2008, I am happy with something I have accomplished.

She also needs to know that she should do a better job packing next time around.