summer in new york

This has been my first summer in New York, and wow it’s hot. The temperatures have been in the 90s except for a few days of rain, and it’s not really the temperature that gets you, it’s the humidity. It’s not to the point where I’m going to embarrass myself as a Texan by overly complaining about it, but I must say, this lack of central air-conditioning is annoying. Otherwise, it’s kind of nice. No school, work only two days a week, and a lovely ceiling fan spinning overhead.

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To me, summer in New York means:

  1. Broken fire hydrants and flooded streets.
  2. Brunch every weekend. (Bad for the wallet, good for the soul.)
  3. Hot trash smell.
  4. “The Entertainer” on repeat from that ice cream truck that seems to circle my block.
  5. The extreme temperature difference between waiting for the subway (that steaming concrete hell that is the underground airless platform) and entering the air-conditioned car.
  6. Aguas frescas on the street. Watermelon, hibiscus, tamarind, horchata, oh my!
  7. All those damn tourists who walk slowly, crowd the museums, talk obnoxiously loud on the subway, and make my life just that much more miserable.

sheesh it’s burning up in here

New York, ah how I love thee. It’s great that heating is covered by the landlord and there are guidelines in place so they don’t skimp, but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, PLEASE TURN IT OFF ALREADY. It’s the latter part of May, the outside temp is about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. AND THE HEATER IS STILL ON. At this point it’s just wasteful because I have to have the fan on to combat the heater.

Last year my room had an overactive heater, but it was only really crazy during the winter, so it was just mildly uncomfortable with the windows open. I switched apartments and the heater here worked fine during the winter, but now it’s basically summer so having the heater on is just absurd. My room is not actually 97 degrees, it’s just that I keep my thermometer on top of the radiator. Regardless, it’s REALLY HOT IN HERE.

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united states botanic garden

The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is located in DC on the Mall by the Capitol. It’s a good walk … and it’s free! … and hot! Ya know, because I’m poor. And, ya know, because it’s chilly outside. Apparently there are three parts: the Conservatory, the National Garden, and Bartholdi Park. Saw the first two, but didn’t venture to the park because I didn’t know it existed until I checked Wikipedia later. Whups.

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The Conservatory (the enclosed building aka greenhouse aka what you probably think of when you picture the USBG) was built in 1933 by Lord & Burnham, and I gotta say I love the keystones on the entrance façade. Each keystone has a different face and I just love those little flourishes of detailed ornament on solid Neoclassical architecture. It’s the little things that get me.

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The main central space (which is called the Jungle) has an upper-level walkway, which provides a nice change of perspective … but be prepared to get a bit misted when they spray the plants. Oh, and if you have a coat, scarf, hat, and mittens (as you should if you’re in DC in the winter), be prepared to carry them through the gardens – because it’s a bit steamy in there!

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To be honest, I don’t know much about plants and I don’t really care all that much about learning about plants. But it sure is fun to look at ’em (well, some of them – some are just boring to look at). The USBG is much bigger than I thought it would be when I approached, since the Conservatory is fairly deep and has many different sections, and there’s also the entire outdoor garden (National Garden) adjacent to the conservatory. Unfortunately the National Garden isn’t heated and a lot of the plants looked a bit … lacking life. Nice way to kill some time and be reminded that the world isn’t all concrete and steel. Plants – THEY’RE ALIVE!

the color yellow … how i detest thee

Are there any colors you just absolutely despise? I, personally, hate the color yellow. Granted, I might occasionally make exceptions, but for the most part, I just don’t like it. I own one yellow item – a short-sleeved sweater – which was an impulse buy, but nice for spring (I’ve worn it once). Because it’s the summer, it’s bright yellow everywhere. But I think it’s annoying. When it’s boiling hot and humid, the last thing I want to see is yellow. I just want air-conditioning.

I used to hate orange as well, but since my college colors were burnt orange and white, the hue grew on me. I also hate red, but I might compromise with darker, richer, or earthier reds. Does that sound incredibly picky of me? Quite possibly. I guess that’s why I stick to a lot of neutrals. Yellow is too sunshine-y and it often comes across as ‘fake smile’ happiness. I sound like the Grinch of summer. Oh well. The color just annoys me.

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sheesh it’s warm in here

When I call my room a sauna, I jest not. Current outside temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In my room, 84 degrees. Well, now it’s at 82, which I guess is better. Because of New York rental guidelines, the landlord has to provide heat during the winter season and when it’s below 55 degrees outside during the day, the heater must be 68 degrees. The rest of the apartment is probably around that temperature. Why my room is so much warmer than the rest of the apartment is a mystery. Good thing I’m from Texas and I kinda like the heat, eh?

I think the warm sauna-like nature of my room is probably bad for my paper writing. I still have lots of stuff to do and I need to hunker down, but it’s just so darned comfy in here. I’ve also been sleeping a ridiculous amount, around ten hours (or more) a night. Even when I wake up early, I end up going back to sleep, which is quite unusual for me. Usually once I wake up, I might be really drowsy and non-responsive for a while, but I’m up for the rest of the day. I think I’ve been sleeping so much lately because it’s so cozy I just want to hibernate and not wake up. Hm … I guess I could leave. But I really like it in here.

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a week of 45 celsius

I haven’t posted in quite a long time. And I have a really good reason why. Odd how I always say that, eh? Anyway, if you just peek at the below picture, I think you can guess the reason why I haven’t posted in a while. I went to INDIA. Wow. I can hardly believe that I actually went.

I was there for about a week, and the highlight of the trip was definitely the Taj Mahal. Because … it’s the Taj Mahal, people! Oddly enough, it was smaller than I had envisioned. Still very cool.

It was around 45 C (115 F) the entire week, but it actually wasn’t too bad. Almost every meal was curry, which at the beginning was a bit nauseating, but I really grew to like it, even vegetarian curry (which is pretty big for a Texan carnivore). Plus, butter naan is delicious carb-heavy goodness. When I got back to Shanghai, things felt really weird. I had this jam-packed week-long adventure in India and then came back to routine. Same school, same work, same people, same food. Sigh. It is nice to be back in Shanghai, where things are clean and I have all my stuff, but I kind of miss the excitement and spice of India.

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saturday again

Today is Saturday, yet again. I don’t have any new pictures because I’ve been rather lazy. It’s still hot as heck around here, but I’m getting used to it. Okay, so here’s one thing that’s oh so Chinese: They lie about the temperature. Apparently if it’s over 40C outside, people have to get paid more and people who work outside get the day off or some perks like that. So instead, the “official” temperature never goes beyond 40C … the record temperature is always 39.6C. That’s a load of crock, eh? These past few days have been listed at 37-39C, but supposedly the temperature’s actually been over 40C because I guess it would get too obvious if the temperature for the entire month was listed as 39.6C.

Anyway, today I’m staying in the whole day where it’s nice and air-conditioned. Just doing some laundry, tidying up my room, scanning my laptop for viruses, et cetera. Nothing too exciting. Last night went to a wine bar called Cuvée, a nice classy place owned by an expat (I think British). There’s another place I’d been going to called Malone’s, more of an American bar/restaurant. It’s all fun.

Getting to see more of the city, just by going out with friends and shopping. Rather easy to explore Shanghai because the metro system is quite convenient and oh so clean in comparison to New York. Though my one complaint still remains – way too many people. Little by little I’ll be able to explore this city fully. There are so many buildings around here I need to see (and document via pictures) like the Pearl Tower and bottle opener building (thanks KPF) … because they’re just too funny. Architecture in Shanghai is a bit of a mess. Some of it a nice mess, but still a mess.