Friday, June 26, 2009

Big Apple

I’ve been writing a lot more recently and I’ve really enjoyed that. I have continued to journal since coming back to the US, but it hasn’t taken up the same amount of my time and energy that it did before. My blog, and this is one reason for the resurrection, suffered the most and until yesterdays post hadn’t been touched since April, 2008. This misses my trip to Cambodia and my return home not to mention the past year. Again, this is what I’m trying to remedy the next month or so.

My first morning in NY was uneventful. I spent the morning taking care of business and catching up on sleep. My meeting was at 12 uptown at Columbia so I made sure to give myself plenty of time to get there. I grabbed my copy of Rolling Stone magazine and grabbed a seat on the subway and was on my way. I arrive with plenty of time to spare and so I found a quaint little coffee shop nearby and indulged in a croissant and a cup-a-joe. The wondrous thing that is summer vacation is often enjoyed most in these simple moments. The moments between “planned” events. The time that otherwise would have been spent fretting over things undone or things needing your attention. Rarely is the simple fact that you are early and have nothing to do mean it is time to grab a coffee and read. Unencumbered by the stress of life and work, I enjoyed that coffee and damned if it wasn’t a great cup.

Once the clock stuck twelve I was sitting outside the office of the School for International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. I sat down with the program director and spent about an hour chatting with her before I headed over to one of their classrooms and sat in on a class. The program is intense. It’s a three semester program and is very rigorous. It’s designed to prepare the students for careers in public policy and is focused on environmental policy. In many ways the program is a great fit – it combines environmental science with economics and international studies. My background and interests seems to dovetail perfectly with the program and the director herself said that I’m am ideal candidate. But I have my hesitations. I sat in on the class and one of the students was a prick. Very arrogant and cocky, he told me off as I explained to the girl he was sitting next to who I was and what it was I was doing. The professor, on the other hand, was very nice. The material was, while being a bit mundane and not very challenging, was interesting. The class focused on memo writing at first and ended with a look at a case study examining the emergence of environmental policy and coordinated governmental action to address environmental problems in the Pacific Northwest. So, while I’m glad I went, I think that visit left me with more questions than answers. While I was there I also went to the School of Journalism and spoke with them briefly about their dual degree program in Journalism and Environmental Science. I hadn’t thought about going this route, but think that it could be interesting.

After grabbing something to eat from a street vendor, I headed to the Guggenheim. I had never been and was excited to simply see the building. As I walked in I noticed that the exhibit was a showcase of Frank Lloyd Wright and his work, who, if you didn’t know, designed the Guggenheim itself. I’ve always loved his work and have several books of his work. The exhibit was fantastic as was the building. The spiral concept was evident in several of his earlier works, none of which actually ever came to fruition. He had this great design which played off of his love of the automobile which was essentially a ramp up and a ramp down spiraling around a half sphere which was an planetarium. It was such a cool concept. The Guggenheim is essential this inverted and for people not cars. There were also the “great” works there. There were some paintings by Picasso, Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet etc. I looked, but with the exception of some of the more contemporary stuff, was more interesting in the Wright designs.

I then began the trek back to the hotel. I walked from 86th all the way down to 42nd via Rockefeller Center. It was a great walk – stimulating, great for people watching, and cool (rain clouds were moving in). I saluted Liz Lemon as I passed by 30 Rock and headed off to grab a beer and do some writing. Now, there is nothing much of note to speak of, save the fact that after six years and all my laptop and I have been through, I finally split something on it. I was sitting at the table and had just taken the first sip of my beer and sure enough I knocked the table and a good bit of beer splashed onto the keyboard. I sopped it up and did my best to clean it up and for all my efforts I was rewarded. The computer still works. The only residual effect is that the keys in that corner are a bit sticky underneath. All’s well that ends well.

And then the fun started. I ended up meeting my good friend Alex later that night and went out to drinks just around the corner from the hotel. It was great to see him and chat. It’s interesting to think that there are quite a few people out there who are in similar positions in life to me. We had a great heart-to-heart over a few beers. One fun fact though – he works in DUMBO. Now, this is an actual place and is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Coolest thing ever. I wish I worked in DUMBO.

The following day I went to the Museum of Natural History and wasn’t even able to see all of the first floor. They had a great exhibit on trees, more specifically tree rings and age, which included information about the reasons rings grew faster or slower. And I know that Peter is shaking his head and calling me an ecologist now, and while I’m okay with that, this was a really cool exhibit. I also ended up spending a good bit of time in the section on gems and minerals, fascinated by the crystals and the structure of the exhibit. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how to change up my curriculum and think themes are the way to go and I got the feeling that crystals could provide a neat theme for one of my thematic units. I took notes on the exhibit. It was cool. I’m cool. And then I hoped the bus to New Jersey. Over and out.

1 comment:

  1. so Ryan, every time I go hiking now with someone and I see a pine tree I always comment something along the lines of "this is a(n) [evergreen] tree, too bad my friend Ryan isn't here to tell us about it...." Two items merit this post--one: you are on another current journey so I expect at least one blog update. This one is dated is now 011 ;). Two: what is your vote...Friday I start my residency and I'm toying with the idea of rebooting my ramblings. Blog or journal? Leaning towards journal for time/editing issues but that's not nearly as fun.... Happy travels!