Thursday, February 21, 2008

Everything I Didn't Need To Know I Learned in Sixth Grade

There's a headline in the New York Times today (which I have become addicted to because it's a less pathetic way to procrastinate than Facebook) that reads:

Protesters Attack U.S. Embassy in Belgrade

And I thought, "Belgrade is the capital of Yugoslavia."

And I was quite satisfied with myself. It's amazing how things you learn in sixth grade geography stick with you, for better or for worse.

Oh Carmen Sandiego! Yugoslavia no longer exists, and hasn't for between five and 17 years, depending on who you ask.

Brussels is the capital of Belgium. Budapest is the capital of Hungary. Belgrade is the capital of Yugoslavia.

No, Belgrade is the capital of Serbia. So what's the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina? Croatia? Macedonia? Montenegro? Slovenia?

Back in my day, we only had to learn one south Slavic country, and we liked it that way.

We Had A Guest Speaker In Class Today. And he was hot. Normally this would not be notable enough to be announced to my roommate as soon as I get home, much less be mentioned on my blog. But the sad truth is that I don't see enough attractive men on a regular basis. My program in school is perhaps 90 percent women. I rarely leave campus, especially in the last two weeks after a virus knocked me flat on my back.

There's a void in my life and it's in the shape of eye candy.

New Year's Resolution Monitoring and Evaluation. As many people know, my New Year's resolution was to have a life outside of school. So, I gathered a couple friends and got student tickets to a show at Carnegie Hall. Student tickets, let me just say, are God's gift to grad school students. He likes when your seats are so high in the upper balcony that you can almost touch his face.

Carnegie Hall is everything you've heard. We saw the National Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin conducting Ravel's orchestration of Pictures At An Exhibition. Most classical pieces are not that interesting to see performed live, unless you have a special appreciation for the hypnotic redundancy of sawing strings. But Pictures requires a pretty elaborate collection of instruments, and combined with the dynamic, dramatic musical score, becomes a riveting performance for people like me who claim to love the symphony but usually find themselves wondering why they didn't just stay home and listen to the CD.

So, the subtext to this story is that I am also beginning to hate New York less. There's certainly a lot of stuff to do, and some of it is even affordable. The legendary Carnegie Deli (not affordable) has a lot to be legendary about, including the two pounds of corned beef and pastrami they put in each $20 sandwich.

But this town still feels like a sprawling asphalt prison that purposefully separates me from everything that's natural and green and sky and sunflowers.

I said as much to Jesse today, and he replied in his deliberate, thoughtful, deadpan way, "So, if, I'm, hearing, you, correctly. Your, feelings, about, New, York, are. About, the, same, as, mine."

These are the things that keep me sane. People who understand why I will never find New York as great as everyone says it's supposed to be. People who itch to get off the island because it feels confining. People who are counting down the days until it gets warm enough to go climbing and camping. And people who at the same time dread the planning and car renting that will have to take place to make that happen, because no one successfully escapes from prison without a good plan.