Cooper Chronicles: I.17

(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.)

“i have a new motto,” sara announced brightly as she flopped onto the bed beside me.  i looked up from my to-do list, which was growing depressingly long.  “what is it?”

“no fun until work is done,” she said with mock seriousness.  i looked at her strangely for a minute, and then we both burst out laughing.  “no fun until work is done,” i repeated.  “i like it.”  we bothe wrote it on the little dry-erase boards on our bedroom doors.  mine stood out from the white background in bold purple letters: “NO FUN UNTIL WORK IS DONE.”  i left it up there to remind me.

in a school like Cooper Union, full to the brim with overachievers, almost everyone has a list like the one i titled “plan of attack on the next week.”  especially now, with the end of the semester dangerously close at hand.  it makes me feel a little better to know that i’m not the only one who can’t function without a list, even though it is a known property of to-do lists that you can NEVER accomplish everything on the list, no matter how simple it is. (penley claims the solution to this is to put twice as many things as you *want* to get done on the list, and then you’ll be able to do everything.  i’m not so sure destiny can be tempted that way. )

so, this week has been completely boring.  work all day, chill for an hour or two (if i’m lucky) in the evening, work all night, sleep all morning, repeat.  i’m having to tie up loose ends that have been hanging over my head for weeks.  we don’t have final exams at cooper union, except for in our humanities classes — so i have a take-home exam for architecture history and an in-class one in literature.  then there’s the lit paper, the descriptive geometry lattice and portfolio, and the drawing portfolio and final assignment.  oh, and the king of all-nighters, the architectonics pinup on thursday before vacation.  i actually got about 85% of yesterday’s stuff done, and am hoping to finish it — plus today’s stuff — this afternoon.  but you know how these things are.

our architectonics project is still my favorite.  we’re still dealing with the idea of floating bodies in motion, so raquel and i took pictures, twice, of ourselves in different positions.  then we cut the pictures out with an exact-o knife.  now they would make excellent refrigerator magnets — with all the odd contortions and motions we were going through to get the pictures, it’s tempting to put them in strange positions and laugh hard instead of working hard.  our teachers have liked them so far, but one can’t be too sure about holding their approval for long. 

also, as part of an experiment with light, shadow, time and the trajectory of the sun, we set up a camera on a tripod in the lobby of the studio.  we were planning to stay all night and take a picture every hour, but then i discovered the wonders of interval shooting and we just left it on all night.  the next morning i got off the elevator and was greeted (not literally, thank God) by a naked man standing about four feet away from me, in the middle of the cube.  the saturday-program students were drawing him.  i sighed piteously and prepared to remove the camera and wait for a time when people would not be so plentiful, but then the director of the program approached me and told me the entire process was moving every hour when the timer started to go off, so that we would have clear pictures of what the light was doing every hour.  i was moved almost to tears by that display of kindness (well, that and i was really tired.)

last night sara and i took a two-hour break and went shopping all over this beautiful city, even more beautiful this time of year.  despite the crushing crowds and commercial / materialist atmosphere, you can’t beat it for old-fashioned Christmas spirit.  we visited fish’s eddy, our favorite home-decor store that buys dishes from diners across the U.S. and sells them dirt-cheap.  we also saw quite a few unhappy dogs that were being walked (or dragged) against their will with ugly doggie-sweaters on them.  maybe we should ask the Petition Lady to take up their cause — if anyone could help, she could.

maybe i’ll take a nap really quick.  i was so tired this morning that i almost fell asleep in church WHILE standing, singing and sightreading music i was seeing for the first time.  that might be a sign that i need some sleep. what a short letter this has been!  a refreshing break for you all, i’m sure.  sorry i don’t have time or energy to go into more detail.  i apologize also for not having written to anyone in the past couple of weeks — when this is over and finished with, i’ll have time to chat.  no fun until work is done.