Monday, October 11, 2004

Wanderings

Oh. I like being by myself, sometimes.

That can be hard to remember.

I got over feeling disappointed that I did not get to go to Boston this weekend. I got over feeling bored. And best of all, I got over most of the head cold that kept me here in New York and on my couch Friday and Saturday.

So I spent a day by myself and had small adventures. I forgot for a few weeks that I am learning to live with myself, to calm down all the anxiety and restlessness and realize that being and working and doing things on my own gives me good time to think and can be fun.

I went to Astor Place for a haircut. I've tried the expensive salon haircut, and it was lovely, they really pampered me. But I got more or less the same haircut that I always do. So this time I went the other extreme, paid $25 and got the same haircut that I always do, no pampering, quick and dirty, so to speak. No one is going to notice, anyway!

Then, to improve my science teacher credentials, I went to the NY Hall of Science for the first time. It's a lot like the Exploratorium and even has many exhibits that I believe were made to order by the Exploratorium. But they also have a large exhibit on atoms and molecules that I have never seen before -- with a giant model of a glucose molecule suspended above the exhibit floor -- and a terrific exhibit on microbes which I am planning to bring my students to see.

The museum itself was pretty quiet for a weekend afternoon, except for one absolutely adorable birthday party. The kids were beside me in an exhibit where you looked at the shadows cast by spinning objects and then covered one eye with a filter, and the shadows would appear to pop out at you and change the direction they were spinning. The explainer told the kids what to do and they went absolutely wild. They jumped up and down. "It's popping out, it's popping out!"

From there, I explored Corona, Queens a bit before getting back on the train to Manhattan. I don't know much about that neighborhood, but I liked the feel of it. Lots of people were out, relaxed, doing their weekend errands. It was very diverse, but I was pretty much the only white person. I got a Coke and a pastry from a Dominican (?) bakery.

I had an errand to do at Whole Foods, so I continued up to the new shopping center at Columbus Circle. It's posh. It has a Benetton for kids. Shopping in New York is seductive. I spent some time looking in all the fancy stores. Part of the seduction, I think, and also good marketing strategy for all concerned, is the inclusion of stores like J. Crew--the most upscale J. Crew I've ever seen, mind you--along with the more expensive stores. You think, oh, J. Crew, I can shop there. And the next thing you know you're looking at cashmere overalls for your four year old. Or something. The Borders Books & Music cafe is Dean & Deluca. I love it. I hate it.

And then I got back on the train to my neighborhood. The day had become cloudy and cold. Someone stopped me on East 8th Street to ask where he could buy a wool cap, so I pointed him a few blocks farther west to St. Mark's, and decided to go there myself to visit the sock store and to see if I could find any cheap, glittery jewelry because glittery jewelry seems to be the thing but who has the money for vintage brooches, anyway? And pretty soon I was near Urban Outfitters, and I said before that shopping in NY is seductive, and it is, and I wasn't ready to go home yet, so I went in. One t-shirt, one sweater, both cute, and a free CD to sample the music they play.

Fall. It's still warm enough for a light jacket. It's cold enough for my favorite boots and jeans. Night is coming earlier and blue-gray, and when the lights come on the insides of apartments and stores look welcoming, sheltering. The clouds and buildings make the city feel small, the edges close.

At home, I made soup from potatoes, onions, and greens, and watched All About Eve, which is by far the best movie I've seen in a while. The writing is so smart. It makes me want to watch more old movies. I talked to my roommate about how something will not interest you for years and years, and suddenly something changes and you are ready for that thing, ready to learn more, and it's all you want to do. I am in a documentary phase of life and I may be about to enter an old movie phase. I am also entering a travel phase, but that's another post! The people behind the free school movement are right when they say that people learn most and best when they pursue the things that interest them at that moment; I have been watching myself move from one interest to another, exploring each with different levels of passion and depth.

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