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.
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little bits of life

So I was just thinking: Lots has happened, and while individually each little thing doesn’t warrant its own post, together I think they do. Here are some of the little things.

My retainer broke, so I’m going to have to get a new one made once I get back to the States. This weekend I’m going to get new glasses (finally). The ones I have are almost three years old and they’re ridiculously scratched up. This evening after work I stopped by a bar near where I live called “I Love Shanghai.” It was ladies’ night so I had a free gin and tonic. I downed it and left … all in less than five minutes. My former boss asked me to do more teaching work, but I politely declined. I’ve been listening to a lot of country music lately. I bought two small mangos from the fruit stand across the street. I’ve been eating A LOT of chocolate. The night before last I made myself some macaroni and cheese and then proceeded to feel really horrible – but it was worth it. The weather’s getting warmer. Recently I’ve been taking taxis to school, and the cost of that is adding up fast. I’ve been planning my trip back home, which is making me kind of homesick.

Whew, that was interesting, eh? The below picture is a ceiling detail from Agra Fort … a fort in Agra, India.

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mycenae makes me smile

Been over a week since my last post, mostly because things are getting more hectic. Yay! School is in full swing and oh goodness gracious it’s requiring a lot more input from me than last semester. I have no job, but I’m looking for one. Not too seriously, but it’d be nice to work a few hours a week. I’ve also started to do a language exchange, so hopefully that’ll help my speaking improve. Oh, and I’m going to New York! For graduate school! … Somewhere! Basically there are no firm plans and I’ve managed to decide on the city but not the school. Still waiting for a few replies and all.

Oh, and Shenzhen guy has stopped calling. Yay! Unfortunately I haven’t received any calls from prospective employers either. Sigh … c’est la vie. Below is from Shenzhen’s Window of the World park, and depicts the glory that is the Lion Gate at Mycenae at 1:1 scale. I was completely amazed that they even included it because how many people have ever heard of the Lion Gate? Probably explains why there was no one else there versus the crowds around the Arc de Triomphe. Anyway, I am particularly fond of ancient Greece (architecture, mythology, literature), so yeah … I did a little happy dance when I saw it and kept prancing back and forth through the gate. It was much smaller than I would’ve expected. Still very cool.

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emotions

Eating peanut butter out of the jar: Happy.
Eating Nutella out of the jar: Yum. Very happy.
Finishing off my chocolate stash: Sadness.
Sitting under the heater wrapped in a blanket: Comfy.
Trying to figure out SSAT work stuff: Confused. Unmotivated.
Preparing for final exam on Thursday: Stressed. Overwhelmed.
Wearing my retainer for the first time in a long time: Ow. Pain. Pain. @#%&.

sunday monday

This fine Sunday morning I went to class. I had class on a Sunday. Sunday, I woke up early and went to class. It’s still blowing my mind. This Wednesday is the Mid-Autumn Festival aka Moon Festival, so I don’t have school Wednesday through Friday. And in China, when there’s a holiday, you make up for it on the weekend. THE WEEKEND. So, I went to class today, which is a Sunday. I woke up at 6:30 AM on a Sunday. I can’t remember the last time I woke up that early on a Sunday. Therefore, it feels like a Monday because it’s essentially the beginning of the school week. It’s weird. And if you’re a bit confused, this is a national thing. People go to school or work today – it’s considered an actual business day. Now that’s just confusing. It’s technically the weekend, but what’s the weekend if business days occur during the weekend?

ch-ch-changes

Registration for the new semester of school? Check. Only took me three and a half hours. Get a part-time job to avoid boredom? Check. Now I need to refresh my very rusty vocab skills. Starting Monday, I’ll be on a regular schedule of classes. Then we’ll see how much work I end up getting. And I might have a language partner lined up as well. And I need to visit the grocery store. And … you get the idea.

About grocery shopping, I’ve been to many a foreign grocery store (Freshmart, Carrefour, and City Shop) and the small street-side fruit markets, but not Lianhua, which is the standard Chinese grocery store around here. I need to buy flour and baking powder. Because I want pancakes. Still battling with myself about whether to buy cheese or not. On the one hand, I would really like to make a grilled cheese sandwich. On the other hand, including the price of bread and butter (both rather expensive), a single grilled cheese sandwich will end up costing about 2 USD. Hm … decisions, decisions.

Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the Moon Festival) takes place September 22. What does that mean? MOONCAKES! Some of my favorite things in the world. Below is a picture of mooncakes that have meat inside and a flaky pastry outside. These are delicious. We also have the more common kind of mooncake here, my favorite being the lotus seed paste with an egg yolk. YUM. So much variety!

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now what?

Classes are done! At least for the next two weeks. The summer session has ended, and I have two weeks before the fall semester starts. And apparently we register a few days before classes start and everything sounds like a bit of a headache. What else? Oh, I might have a job for a few hours a week. We’ll see, it seems rather fluid and uncertain at the moment.

Saw some giant order Ionic pilasters on a building yesterday. Made me realize that one of these days I have to go to Rome. It’s hilarious to me when I see classical columns in Shanghai. It’s just so wrong.

Other random things I have noticed: Grapes here are annoying. There are no seedless grapes, so they all have seeds. And moreover, they all have to be peeled. Well, you could eat the peel, but it’s tougher than in the US and even if you wash them really well, they’re still not really really clean (especially since the water here isn’t that great). The elevators skip a heck of a lot of floors. The number 4 is considered unlucky because when pronounced in Chinese it sounds a lot like the word for death. Therefore, elevators (at least the ones in my building) skip every floor ending in 4 and the number 13, like in Western countries. It confuses me every time when I see it skip from 12 to 15. Weird, eh?

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.

updates

  • I’ll jump on the bandwagon and say that I do not like LeBron James. Miami was a smart move, the ESPN event was not.
  • No more architecture interning! Over two weeks I only ever spoke to five people and never saw the boss. And they barely looked at the precedents I spent DAYS researching. Not worth the trouble.
  • Went to the theater and watched “Toy Story 3.” Saw it in 3D, but also in Chinese. Er … entertaining, but dialogue would’ve been nice.
  • Even nice restaurants use Ikea glasses. And play Sarah Brightman. I’m also slightly disappointed in myself that I recognized the Sarah Brightman.
  • My Chinese class starts on Monday.
  • Tudou.com is AMAZING. It’s basically the Chinese version of YouTube, but it also has full television programs and films.
  • Tortillas are not to be found in this city. I don’t know if I can survive.

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Building with the spire is the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, formerly known as the Sino-Soviet Friendship Building.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]

day’s recap

  • The Boston Celtics lost. It was very sad.
  • Watched old people “dance” to Asian club music. Hilarity.
  • I’m bad at dancing. I always forget which foot I’m supposed to use and I have no sense of rhythm. The freakin’ waltz gave me trouble.
  • Ate wonton made by the maid (good but not quite mommy’s) and bought Chinese ramen. Yay for food I can make myself.
  • Still don’t know what my cell phone number is. Must figure that out.
  • Watched “Remember the Titans” for the first time in years and cried like a baby. I love the English-language channel.
  • My birthday is coming up soon. I don’t know when I was born, but it was Eastern time, so I’ll have to wait until noon for it to be my birthday.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]