Cooper Chronicles: I.10

(An ongoing series for the month of January, these are letters written to my family and friends during my college years in New York, when I discovered my love of writing.  Introduction here.)

my roommate sara and i have a weekly ritual: each sunday, after i return from church, i sit down in front of her computer and tappity-tappity-tap for the next two hours or so.  she sits on her bed and studies, and i try to remember everything strange, funny, or meaningful that occurred in the past week - often asking for her help in recalling the exact circumstances.  every once in awhile i’ll laugh out loud in remembrance of some odd character we met on the street, or an unintentionally humorous comment made by one of our professors.  usually our “work” disintegrates into chatter and giggling, and it takes about twice as long to accomplish.  that’s the fun part, though.

some of my friends know about my weekly letters, and they express surprise that i haven’t “missed one” yet.  i guess it *is* a little unusual for an architecture student to have even one regularity in her weekly schedule.  what keeps me faithful to my “ritual” is a combination of stubbornness (refusal to let my more cynical acquaintances sneer “i told you so”) and sheer delight in doing it.  i love collecting the scraps of paper i’ve scribbled on throughout the week, assembling them into a semi-coherent form, and sending them out to 82 different addresses all over the country — something about that instant connection still fascinates me, even though e-mail has been around for so long now.  and, of course, i would have lost most of my motivation by now if you, my angelic readers, weren’t being so thoughtful and writing to check up on me during the week. 

today i’m nibbling on mommy’s oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookie — the very last one in my very first batch of college-care-package goodies.  my joy upon receiving the little slice of home life was translated, perhaps, into over-generosity; i shared liberally and was soon faced with an empty tin.  (d’oh!)  happiness is expecting winter garments in the box and receiving homemade baked goods.

“jello,” the resident deep-thinkers club, had its first open-mike night on monday at a BAR two doors down from the dormitory.  it was late afternoon / early evening, so most of the “pierced, dyed and PO’d” crowd hadn’t shown up yet.  we saw a pair of incredible breakdancers, another pair of just-as-amazing swing dancers, stand-up, some very scary singing (started out with nice bluesy guitar chords and ended up in a screamfest — yikes!) and the inevitable abtstract “theatric poetry,” which everyone applauded loudly in an effort to convince themselves that they understood it.  actually, the best part of the meeting was the free mediterranean cuisine (spoken like a true cheapskate cooper kid.  )

i continue to visit the met weekly to sketch rodin’s “burghers at calais,” and my pile of multicolored “M” admission buttons is slowly growing.  i relish giving them a “donation” and getting the required receipt, which probably costs more to print than the penny i contribute.  i used to pay the full “suggested donation,” which is $4.00 for students.  then my drawing teacher gave us a lecture one week: “unless you kids have money to burn, please don’t give them more than a penny.  trust me.  they don’t need it.”  she went on to explain that the museum was supported through taxes and donations of rich benefactors, and they certainly weren’t hurting for funds.  my friend penley added that, as if that weren’t enough, they treat their employees like dirt (speaking from personal experience; he worked there for a year.)  it’s funny to see the reaction on the attendant’s face when i drop the single copper into their palm; some roll their eyes in disgust, and others give you the slightest hint of a smile, as if at some kind of shared joke.  it’s always an adventure (as is life in general here.)

my feet have recovered from last week’s beating, but my left arm still experiences pain often from a bad nurse’s blood test.  i went to get some bloodwork done at a lab last week and, apparently, the temp worker who was drawing blood that day hadn’t been too well-schooled in how to take a blood sample.  she inserted the needle into my arm *first* and searched for the vein *second*, and in the process punctured a nerve in my left forearm.  OUCH.  i still feel a shooting pain when i bend to touch my toes, and raquel’s mother (a physician) said it could take months to heal completely. 

i’m making a concerted effort to do more cultured things with my spare time, as opposed to just going to Smoothie King every friday night. so, on tuesday, i went with dave to “rio days, rio nights,” a brazilian music concert starring floutist paula robison.  it was entertaining to watch her prance about onstage (not only was she an amazing musician, but she never kept still while playing, and if she missed a note, i sure didn’t catch it!)  the whole show was made sweeter with the knowledge that i got in free, thanks to dave’s newspaper-staff status (i became a journalist for an hour, and took copious notes for the upcoming article.) 

then, last friday, i went to “six blind men and the moon,” a dance / vocal performance in whom my friend beth knew the choreographer, and most of the performers.  our tickets were student-discounted, and we enjoyed the crowded, cozy atmosphere of the tiny theater.  the music was good — mom, he was working with something called “just intonation” that he partially explained, but i didn’t understand completely.  it involved a lot of drastically different parts which sounded cacophonous at some points, but meltingly beautiful at others.  the odd thing was that in between these innovative and pretty pieces, he stuck long, melodramatic ballads in which *he* was the sole singer (and, i might add, i wasn’t too fond of his prima-donna voice — somewhat akin to “i am a tenor!  my voice is marvelous!”).  the dancers were the only interesting part about these pieces; they performed with somewhat minimalist, pedestrian moves that would have been even better to watch without the soundtrack of his bellowing.  oh well — it gave us something to giggle about on the way home.

“maintenance crew” is becoming an increasingly vile term here; there are untold little things that need fixing, from the leaking kitchen sink to the dusty air filter to the shower, which is still puckered from the leak in the first week of school.  the elevators are rarely both working, and on friday when beth came to pick me up she was told that neither was in service and she would have to take the stairs 14 flights up to my apartment.  (thankfully, i had started down already, and met her halfway there.)  then after the concert, we were suddenly evacuated from the building and had to stand outside the dorm in the freezing cold while the fire trucks poured in to inspect the building and make sure it was just a malfunction in the system.  i suppose it could be worse; at the NYU dorm across the street, this happens almost daily.  it’s completely normal to look out the window and see masses of them spilling onto the street, grumbling.

my literature class is continuing on its rollercoaster course.  after handing in a paper that i thought was well-revised, i got it back with a whole host of new problems — and no grade.  confused, i e-mailed the professor, and haven’t heard back from her yet.  i was a little disappointed by her comments.  one in particular aggravated me — she suggested that i get a tutor to help me improve my logic.  the fact that i shouldn’t even have to be *taking* this class is adding to my disgruntledness.  well, chalk it up to experience.  i’m working twice as hard on the next paper, due tomorrow. 

our art-history lectures are becoming more and more interesting.  we’re focusing on a particular set of Giotto frescoes that are much more “symbolic,” in my opinion, than Rodchenko’s “two-circle painting” (which is just that — two black circles on a white canvas.  ooooooh.)  that, coupled with my architecture-history classes’ study of ancient Greece, is making my european-traveling itch grow worse and worse.  my second-, third- and fourth-year friends tell me tantalizing stories of living on meager budgets, staying in youth hostels and seeing the sights of england, spain and italy for much less than one would think possible.  STOP!!  i have at least two years before i can think of taking a semester abroad.  (or do i … ? :)

saturday brought yet another trip to the union square greenmarket — we’re going an average of twice a week now.  it’s so wonderful to take a brisk walk and see the vendors selling fresh bread, cider, vegetables, herbs and flowers, and the people of new york city flocking in all their colorful diversity to buy this weeks’ produce.  sara and i spent most of the day doing homework, and then in the evening fixed a romantic dinner for two — except it turned into four when we took pity on our friends ben and milos, RA’s who were on duty for the night and couldn’t leave the building.  then we got a foreign film and stayed up talking until late, talking full advantage of our extra daylight-savings hour. people here have this refreshingly unconcerned attitude; they think nothing of walking into your apartment and saying hi, even if they’ve never met you before.  they’re so much fun to hang out with - and it doesn’t have to involve an expensive evening on the town, just the mutual ability to chill.

i’m still well, functioning, and missing you guys.  i’ll be visiting in two weeks - that’s no time at all, when i consider that i’ve been here for nine already.  (has it been two months?  it doesn’t seem possible. )