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the subway life

I have decided that one of my favorite things about living in New York is taking the subway. There is the obvious reason that it is an extremely fast and relatively reliable way to get where I want to go but there are a ton of other not so obvious reasons that I love my subway rides.

1. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I am pretty sure that my subway conductor is Bill Clinton. His voice is such a soothing (and slightly comic) way to start my day.

2. The subway is prime for people watching. I always got into trouble for staring at people when I was younger but this is one place that I will not be reprimanded for watching people. Most of the time the train is too packed for anyone to notice anyway. I especially like to watch people eat breakfast.

3. There is absolutely no obligation to socialize even when you are packed into the car like a sardine. No one expects anything from you and you don’t have to feel rude for not saying ‘hi.’

4. Making timely transfers is like a little game I get to play with myself.

5. Knitting on the subway is the greatest. So many great conversations have started because I was knitting during my train ride. I have talked to a famous rapper, a few interesting men, and one sweet little girl who exclaimed to her mother that my project was “soooo beautiful!” Instant ego boost…

6. Flirting with strangers is so fun. Especially when you get off the train and make eye contact with that person and watch them ride away.

7. You can learn all sorts of new things. Like what a crack pipe looks like…

8. They run all night which means no more calling roommates when I miss the last bus.

9. It is so much cheaper than owning a car, which is the best part of the subway in my opinion.

Just so I can say that i have put my two cents in I am going to say a little bit about Occupy Wall Street. Before I start I should say that I don’t know if I have a super cohesive argument or position to take on the whole thing. Still, I will start this post off with full disclosure: I completely support the protesters and their cause. What is more, I admire what they are doing and I wish I had the guts to be out there doing my part.

Other than that quick statement of disclosure I am going to use the words of others to communicate my thoughts today.

First, let’s have a look at some of the statistics on the state of we are in.

click the picture for more

Yeah, it doesn’t look very good to me either. If you are interested in a some more facts and statistics visit “Here’s what the wall street protesters are so angry about”, I found it particularly insightful.

Next I will direct you to a couple pictures that have been circulating the web over the past week or so. You have doubtless already seen them but I think that they are still relevant to this post.

What troubles me about the picture on the right is that it completely ignores the complexities of privilege and assumes that everyone has the same ability to “succeed” in our country. This is simply not the case today and I for one can attest to the fact that finding money for college is hard. My senior year in college I was financially independent, worked four jobs, had two academic grants, a half-tuition scholarship and still had to take out loans for my tuition. (If I really wanted to show this person up I would also mention that I graduated with a 3.88 GPA and got into a Masters program at Columbia University, but I won’t…) My point is that not everyone can make it today and even those of us who work out asses off often cannot make it without a little assistance (which, I would argue isn’t too much to ask). So, I would like to send a huge shout out to Cylinsier for your wonderful depiction of what it feels like to be a college student in the 99%.

Next, I would like to direct you to some of the supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, just to prove that it isn’t just a bunch of pot-smoking hippies with no clue what they’re talking about. The New Yorker put out this article on Monday citing the top ten unlikely supporters of the movement. In a recent Time interview, George Clooney extended his support for the movement (even saying that he supports higher tax rates for the rich). MomsRising, a group working for family rights in the U.S. supports the movement (sign their open letter by clicking on the link, it is easy and you don’t actually have to be a mom!). Colleges across the US are becoming occupied and there is even a group of occupied writers who are composing original works just for the occasion. Lastly, the guy who took the following picture is a supporter of Occupy Wall Street (oh yeah, and he works there and he is not crazy… I know because I talked to him).

I am the 99% and I am not ashamed to admit it because I did nothing to end up here. Neither did anyone else. The system we have is not sustainable and I dare say that it is not helping anyone. I apologize for the length and rant-like format of this post; if I were a better graduate student I would have drawn some great parallels to Marx and Weber but I am tired and I don’t want to do that right now. Instead I will leave you with the words of Lemony Snicket (one of my favorite young adult authors).

99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.

Check out all 13 of his unfortunate observations here.

That’s all I’ve got for now, back to making good use of my loans.

Last Friday marked two months of living in New York. It is amazing that the two weeks went by so fast and yet so much has happened that it feels like I have been here much longer than that. I have already quit one job, left the state twice, read 6 books, written three papers, finished 5 knitted objects, and explored a great portion of the city.

I feel like I am settling in to the school routine pretty well. A couple of weeks ago I did not feel like this at all but I think I have finally found my groove. I in the past two weeks I was offered both a Teaching Assistantship and a Research Assistantship. So when I am not reading for my own classes I am either grading freshman sociology papers or compiling a database for a political science professor (and when I am not doing any of these things I am feeling guilty for my lack of commitment to my academic endeavors). Such is the life of a graduate student.

Tomorrow I am baking a birthday cake to celebrate a dual birthday with my roommate. It should be a fun night (we are even attempting a flashmob).

I am including a picture of my desk just to prove that I actually do work, it is actually quite clean at the moment but this is not normally the case…

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Take note of the books above on the shelf, I have already read half of them. Also, I am tired.

remembering together

There are not many days I remember quite like this day. I still remember exactly what I was doing 10 years ago. I remember the conversations I had and the tears that I shed. Living on the West coast it was easy to set that memory aside until the anniversary rolled around each year. In New York, it is hard to not remember that day. Every subway car has a poster relating to 9/11, food carts have special certifications to prove that they are legitimate businesses and not covers for another attack, the skyline is incomplete, with a partially constructed tower surrounded by cranes, walking down by the site brings immediate tears to my eyes and I wasn’t even here on the day of the attack. I don’t want to say that everyone lives in a complete state of fear in NYC but the city has certainly been changed forever because of 9/11. In this respect, I sometimes feel like I understand what it is like to be a New Yorker but mostly I just feel like a voyeur, looking in to someone’s sorrow.

Today I would like to invite some voices from New York to tell part of the story that the city is remembering today.

Always a Family from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

John and Joe from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

it has been a while

It has been a while since my last blog post and I;m not sure what I want to share today.

Last week was full of orientation activities and I am super excited to start class on Wednesday. The department orientation on Thursday was especially good. I got to chance to meet all of my fellow Master’s students and some of the professors. I also bought books for one of my classes and I am a bit scared but excited to tackle it. Really, the class can’t be too bad if we are spending a large portion of our time with Durkheim and Marx. In short, I am feeling good about this first week of classes, I think I’m ready.

An interesting adjustment that I was not expecting has to do with rodents. I have discovered that New York city actually is full of rodents. I don’t think I believed that it would be this bad. My first run in with rodents came on Friday when I woke up to a trash can full of maggots. Apparently this is normal for this time of year but I still don’t think I will get used to it. I bathed the trashcan in bleach on Friday night and caught 28 fruit flies in a plate full of honey in the kitchen. Warning: if you are a fruit fly, do not live in my apartment.

My second run-in came today when I discovered an interesting smell coming from my closet. Thinking it was my laundry I took the laundry out of the closet. When I woke up, the smell was worse so I cleaned my closet out and doused it with baking soda only to find that the smell had moved to the hall closet where I had stashed my shoes. Naturally, I began to smell all my shoes to see which pair had turned rancid. Alas, it was my running shoes. They were not smelly from use however, but smelly from a dead and rotting mouse that had made it’s home in my shoes. I want to die… The shoes are downstairs in the dumpster right now and I am thinking of ways to plug the mouse-hole in my closet. If anyone has any suggestions I will gladly accept them.

Other than that, life is pretty normal. I paid way too much money for a skein of yarn on Saturday and I am starting yoga classes tomorrow so really there is nothing to complain about other than the rodent problem. Next time I will officially be taking classes so I might be a bit more stressed. Only time will tell…

Here is a synopsis of my weekend… eat, cook, eat, read, knit, eat, read, watch movie, cook, eat, watch tv show, eat–all from the same spot on the couch in my living room. I would feel guilty about doing so much lazing around if it weren’t for the fact that it was hurricaning outside and public transit was suspended (still is actually). Just in case there was any confusion, I survived my first hurricane. Now we are just waiting for the subways to get up and running.

Other than the hurricane, life here has been pretty uneventful, it is amazing how quickly you settle into a routine in a new place. Work is good, I like where I am for now but I am going to keep my eyes out for something that will give me more relevant experience. Both of my roommates came home last weekend and it is so good to have people around again. I am also getting more settled in my apartment. Here are some pictures to prove it!

The thing above my bed is my attempt at artsy using flashcards of influential authors (a gift my dad gave me when I was in middle school), I am pretty proud of it.

The last little bit of information that I would like to share about my life is that I miss home and everyone who is still there soooooo much. Every picture I see of someone or something gives my heart a little pinch of sadness and I have been extremely nostalgic for home lately. Some events that I have been absent from lately include:

an orca whale pod in Elliot Bay
the last family boating trip of the summer
my brother’s 21st birthday

Besides missing out on these awesome happenings, I have just missed seeing familiar places and faces everywhere. The good news is that someone at work called me AIDS the other day. That was a nice little taste of home. The following song is from the newest Little Brutes album. It is called “Where I Used to Be” and it conveys my nostalgic feelings very well. Enjoy and check out more of their music here.

Last things last… I am going to be starting a knitting blog. As if I wasn’t obsessed already. Also, school starts in a week and I am getting more nervous everyday. I hope I have what this is going to take… only time will tell at this point. Happy Sunday everyone!

update on life in nyc

Yikes, this week has been a whirlwind. I have been attending job interviews galore and exploring like non-other. There is good news though… I got a job! I am now an Executive/program assistant for a nonprofit called Community Impact. We do job training, college counseling, GED/ESL classes, programs for healthy living, and plethora of other things. You can find more information about us here if you are really interested. I started work today which was a little crazy but I am so glad I will have a couple of weeks to settle in with work before I start classes. Employment feels soooo good!

Also, I bought a lamp for my room! This is a very exciting thing for me as I spent the greater part of the past week scouring second-hand shops in search of a lamp for my bedside table. The only sad thing is that after all that searching, I bought my lamp on Etsy… I love it though so I guess everything is okay. I also found my inspiration for my new bedding. I will be creating it myself so we will see how it ends up. Here is a sneak peak (of the inspiration, not my actual bedding)!

I found the pattern (which I will not be following) on a knitting blog called Nocturnal Knits. I am attending a social knitting group tomorrow night at what I think will be my local yarn shop and I am going to start investigating yarn options (color suggestions are welcome, my sheets are gray).

The other awesome thing that I did this week was go to church. I know this might not sound like the most spectacular thing but just being in the presence of people willing to engage me in conversation was amazing! Having the house to myself for the past week hasn’t been awful but human interaction feels super awesome. After the service, I had four different people come up to me to introduce themselves and I really felt super welcome. I talked with the administrative assistant for the church after the service and was so excited to hear that she lives in my building. She even brought me brownies last night which was awesome! I was also invited to a Thai food lunch by a great little group of people. In short, I don’t think it is going to be hard to fit in here. I have been invited to so many things already–it really is amazing how friendly people are on the east coast.

There are a million other things I could talk about but I think it will suffice to say that I am finding my groove here. As time goes by it will be exciting to see what other surprises life holds but I am happy for now.

I am reluctant to end this blog post because it means I have to face the thunderstorm outside as I shop for groceries and make my way home. Don’t worry, I am equipped with a raincoat this today.