Monday, March 26, 2007

kosher coke

Tom discovered something that is hard to find, even in New York: kosher Coca-Cola. It has sugar in it (no fructose whatever it's called), for observant Jews during Passover. He found it on the West Side and brought home a 2-litre bottle. (You know it's kosher from the yellow cap.) He tried to find cans, to no avail. We opened it the other night to try it: it's very sweet and thick. The aftertaste reminds me of diet pop. But I discovered a few minutes ago it has a side-benefit (beyond the purity with God): it keeps the fizz long after it's opened. We drank from it on Friday, and it has been sitting in the fridge since then. The fizz factor has always been a downside to buying a large bottle of pop. We just don't drink enough to get it consumed before the carbonation leaves! I'm wondering how it does it. Maybe it's the sugar, maybe it's the Lord--who knows?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

sing along in new york

Last night after a long afternoon of grading quizzes and essays, I went to a little Karaoke party on 3rd and 27th. It was a good deal: you get an endless supply of beer, wine or sake; sushi and other appetizers for a fixed price and two hours of Karaoke-ing in a private room. The sake was watered down (which explained why they set a whole liter on the table), but it was fairly decent as was the sushi. I had never done Karaoke before (other than once in high school when a friend had some VHS tape that played maybe five songs), and its a little unnerving at first, singing your favorite tunes to bad music and weird background settings, but the more sake you drink, the more fun it gets. It was so fun, we paid for another hour--and there were some votes for another after that, but those who were slightly more sober than everyone else said no, though sadly.

It was one of those night when I fell in love with New York again. I suppose you can do this in millions of other places in the States, but something about doing it in Manhattan on a rainy Saturday night just seems more special than anywhere else.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

coffee houses and buses

Note: I wrote this blog some time ago. I don't know why I never posted it.

I've spent almost six hours in the last two days in two different coffee houses. (I spent yesterday grading 30 finals and today calculating the final grades.) One on Irving called 71 and the other on 14th St called Gregory's Coffee. You sit by real imbeciles, by and large. Yesterday, I got what is usually a primo spot in 71: this little window seat table in the corner. I very rarely have scored this place. But, the two people next to me were rather annoying. They were both in their early to mid thirties, and they were talking about the "next big thing" they were going to do with their lives. I don't think they were very well acquainted. There was a lot of blase flirting going on, and in true Sex and the City fashion, exchanged business cards. When I first sat down, the woman was going on and on about how she loved music, but she didn't want to work in the music world; she was afraid it would make her hate it. The guy talked about how he might turn out to be a guy who owned a drug store or something.

I know that just whatever it is I'll do will be great, he said. He did not say this in a facetious manner.

Then they talked about MySpace. It's so dangerous, she said, in all seriousness. I think relationships should be face to face.

They finally left. Soon a different pair showed up: a NYU student and her Upper West Side mother. The chick was complaining about how she didn't have any money so she couldn't see movies, and the mom was telling her about the pros and cons of the movies she'd seen. I could tell the mom was one of those women who used to be a total cheerleader type. Just the way she talked and was so positive about the minutest things--not to mention the bleached hair and "trying to be young again" makeup. AND THEN, the rather fat father (obviously some kind of Wall St. person) came in and wrote the poor NYU chick a nice fat little check so she could pay her credit card bill.

On the bus I saw a man who looked like an older version of Michael Douglas in the movie, "Wonderboys." He was obviously going to a peace meeting--he had all the paraphernalia: ragged backpack covered in pins shouting for various peace struggles, a pair of high water pants, Birkenstocks and a well-worn stocking cap. My guess was correct, because he talked to some guy about being late to a meeting (he certainly wasn't going to a corporate meeting) and got off on 3rd and 1st. The Catholic Worker house is there. That and the War Resister's League on Lexington are the center of the universe for peace work in New York.

is this irony?

After my rather snobby bit about cars vs. public transportation, I was hit by a rather annoying story as far as public transportation goes:

I left for work, as usual, at 9:30 a.m. I don't have class until 11:30 but you never know when you'll get to Flushing because the 7 (the only way there, unless you take a bus) is notoriously slow, so I leave two hours before every day. I got to Times Square and all was dandy until we were under the river between Manhattan and Queens. The train stopped. Which wasn't entirely unusual, so I didn't think anything of it. But several minutes passed. Finally the conductor said there was some kind of trouble, he didn't know what, was up ahead. Eventually we moved but were stopped again and again. After a while, the conductor said there was a huge amount of debris on the tracks at 82nd Street (the 7 is an elevated train through most of Queens and the wind was atrocious yesterday). All trains were stopping at 61st-Woodside (about 50 blocks from where I needed to be). By the time we reached that stop it was 10:45. I called the school and explained my predicament, and they were cool with it, but my students were going to make presentations so I really needed to be there. When we reached the last stop, we were told we could get on Long Island Railroad for free or take buses to Flushing. I tried to take the train, but got on the wrong side and saw it leave from afar. Then I tried the bus but the buses were packed and destined to be slow. There were car service cars, but a lot of them were price gouging because of the incident. I managed to find a car that only charged 4 bucks, so I snatched that one up. Actually, the car found me. I was an obvious target, wandering around cars, peeking into the windows of black Sedans. The driver was very nice. What should have been a 10-15 minute drive turned into nearly half an hour because of the traffic and Con Ed doing construction everywhere. I got to school around 11:45.

It all worked out, and it makes me laugh now, but it was very annoying then.

As a side note, a woman was snorting dope or something beside me on the train the entire time. What makes me laugh about that was that she was mean to everyone else in the car but me. She turned to me at one point and said, I'm really sorry. I said, Sorry about what? She said, About what I'm doing. She indicated the little bag clutched in her hands and the straw she was using like a spoon to bring it to her nose. It's alright, I said. Don't worry about it.

Monday, March 05, 2007

hiatus of sorts

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she chided me for not updating this blog since late January. I feel bad about this, but it couldn't be helped. My life has been crazy these last few weeks. I went from having no employment to teaching three language classes because other teachers left mid-semester. I hate taking over classes, especially since I'm doing it rather blindly. I've only gotten previous grades, etc. from ONE of the teachers, plus I've never taught one of the classes once taught by someone who left under slightly murky circumstances.

But, anyway, enough griping.

Tom and I went down to Virginia this weekend to see his parents who live in a suburban yet rural part of the state. It was good to walk around in the woods (I found this little tiny creek that ran into a bog. It was very restful to listen to the chatter of the creek and feel the silence that surrounded it), see the lunar eclipse and just sleep, but we were both glad to return to the city and not have to drive a car.

You really are isolated in most parts of the US if you don't drive. But in New York City, for the most part, you can get anywhere in the city with a bus or a subway ride. It may take longer to get places (which can be a pain--it takes an hour and a half for me to go 10 miles to work) but it gives you a freedom you wouldn't have if you were sans car.
This has been a boring post. I'll do better next time...