Cat Carcass

On Sunday Jon and I had a very domestic day. We took the Bx10 to Kingsbridge to eat in a diner, visit T.J. Maxx and Aldi. This was in contrast to the night before when we went to the lower east side to watch Anomalisa at Sunshine Cinema, and had a the length of a wooden bridge's worth of sushi and sashimi (it was the platter they used) at a place called Hana.

What stood out about that weekend though was the sight that greeted us when we walked out of his apartment to take the bus on Sunday. Sitting on the asphalt lay an erie sight: a stripped, still red, mammalian carcass. We stood right in front of it, gaping for a few moments while someone throwing away their trash eyed us across the street. What struck me as weirder than the fact that I'd never seen such fresh-looking skeletal remains so near to me before, was the fact that the person who was throwing the trash away seemed to be more curious about Jon and I looking at the remains more than the remains itself. As if it was completely normal to see such large skeletons hanging about the streets in the Bronx.

Well, what do we know.

It was really gross. We guessed it was probably a cat. It looked cat-sized. We speculated that the raccoons had probably stripped it. We wondered how long the carcass had lain there, perhaps it had been hidden under a vehicle.

When we came back from our jaunt in Kingsbridge, the carcass lay half covered under a jeep.

SPSS: 2005 - 2015

I decided to run SPSS on the descriptive statistics of my blog posts:
It appears for some reason that I tend to write the most in April, and the least in July, and the difference over ten and a half years equates to almost a hundred instances. The next month with the least number of posts in August, so maybe something should be said about how the Summer months promote laziness.

I'm not sure what other tricks I can do with SPSS. 

Value(s)

When I was younger, I used to tie ideas of my self-worth according to things like how I looked, how well I was liked by my peers, and how well I performed in tests and examinations. Now I realise I tie my self-worth to working, and feeling like I have a productive role in society. Which also explains why I've not been feeling too good lately, as I wait and wait for responses to the internship applications that I've sent in (and receive one or two rejections). I feel anchor-less, and the idea of working on my thesis, (which seemed like such a valuable piece of knowledge building for society at large!) no longer as captivating. I need to find my self-worth again.

News News

Was reading the news on my phone this morning after Jonathan left for work, and learnt of the disturbing news of the Mass Sexual Assaults in Cologne, which saddens me to no end. For starters, it's no stretch to imagine that this is part of the refugee migration crisis that dominated most of the news of 2015 (and the news seem to hint at such, alongside allegations that the major news outlets are trying to quash the story because it's un-PC), and secondly it's terrible to imagine such terrible things happening to women who should otherwise be able to feel safe outdoors. For me, learning about such news makes me feel like two things that I feel most passionately about are at odds with each other, and this troubles me to the depths of my being.
I once experienced something similar to those reported mobs in Cologne while walking with my friends around the crowded square of Djemaa El-Fna in Marrakesh, Morocco. The square was really crowded, and I briefly got separated from my friend by a surge of people although I could still see them about a metre away. Suddenly I realised I was surrounded by a group of male Moroccan youths, and they started grabbing at my hair, pulling it and touching it. I was really shocked and didn't know how to react, and just as I was about to scream for one of my friends to help, the group dispersed and melted back into the heady sea of people. I later noticed that the bottom pocket of my backpack was unzipped, although whether this was done by the same group of boys remains unknown. Either way, I felt quite shaken by my experience, knowing that it could've been a lot worse. 
What felt immensely worrisome to me about this experience was that it flew in the face of ideas that people traditionally have when it comes to women's safety: be in a public area with lots of people around, be with friends, be vigilant, be conservatively dressed. I fulfilled all of this criteria and yet I was this assaulted (although thankfully not sexually). I still wonder to this day though, if I acted as some sort of practice for those boys. That they have now (some 4 years later) moved on to further targets and with more horrendous goals. 
That womens right's are now threatened in the Western world, that we can no longer ignore all the sexual assaults that happens in the other areas of the world. That we must at the same time walk a fine line between the universal human rights to a safe home and free practice of religion, while also fighting for the quashing of barbaric cultural practices (like FGM) that have been erroneously intertwined with religious ideas. That we must also fight against people who share similar views as us, but who choose to write off an entire culture or adherents of a religion.
Dear World, we have a formidable problem ahead of us. But it's one worth fighting for.

An Attempt At Summing Up 2015

Today is the second last day of the year and I should write something pithy to sum up the year, but feel little inspiration to do so. I swear I had a very tiny list somewhere on my computer about books that I found striking this year, but I can't find that list now. Not helped is that fact that when I think about things, I'm reading far less intensively this year compared to when I was younger (circa before I started working in 2012), so that list wouldn't be as extensive anyway.

This year I visited Mexico, Myanmar and San Francisco. I had visited Mexico before apparently as a child (a nip over some sort of Californian border), which I didn't know until I asked my parents about it, so I'm not sure if that quite counts as having been there before 2015. Either way, by visiting Mexico (twice!) I managed to achieve one of my new years resolutions from last year, haha. Myanmar was another sort-of-nice trip with my parents, scorching heat and food poisoning aside. Visiting the country right before the elections made the news filtering out of the country all the more visceral. It also makes Brunei the only other ASEAN country I have left to visit, though I heard that there's really not much to see there.

This year I also finished all my classes at Columbia, and possibly all academic classes for the rest of my life. When I graduated from LSE, I knew that I would definitely return to an academic setting for a Masters degree. This time however I'm not sure if I want to do a PhD, although my interests definitely lie in that realm, practicalities and my ability to become bored with lots of things easily very important things to consider. That and I really do enjoy working and feeling like I'm doing something concrete outside of myself and my mind.

This year I met Jonathan, explored the Bronx, and learned how to drive. I tried cooking belachan for the first time, driving my dormmates half mad with the smell. I attended my first conference in Washington D.C., lived (and still live) with a roommate from a completely different cultural background, and navigated the New York housing rental market. I had to deal with medium-scale (as opposed to small and large-scale) family discord for the first time ever, missed a flight and had to catch an 8 hour coach ride to Mexico D.F. + stay overnight in order to fly out, and learned how to use the MTA bus system.

It'll be interesting to see what 2016 brings.

A Week in Review

I realised today that this week marks the last week I have as a student attending classes in TC. As such, some sort of documentation is surely warranted, no matter how simple.

Sunday 13/12/15
Was Jonathan's birthday, so we spent it having lunch with his parents at The Buffet in Flushing. They very nicely came to pick us up from the Bronx, and we went to BJ's first because it was a little early. Then they dropped us back and Jonathan and I ended up watching documentaries before munching on spaghetti that his mum had made and frozen for supper.

Monday 14/12/15
Woke up with Jonathan at 5:30am for him to get ready for work, went back to sleep at 7am. Can't remember when I woke up again, but reached back to my place around 11am to find an excited Marina telling me that my new Moto X 2nd Gen phone had just been dropped off by the FedEx man. Spent the next few minutes trying to put the protective film on and accidentally turned on the Accessibility Assistant which drove me nuts while I was trying to set up the phone. Googled and realised that apparently turning it on accidentally was a very common problem, and lots of people had been frustrated by it. I think I also started colouring the adult colouring books I had bought.

For the rest of the afternoon, I practiced statistics problems in the dining room. Around 5:45pm, I left to go print things in school, grab a slice of cheese pizza, and prep for the class presentation I was doing with Sarah, my partner. The presentation - more like example teaching a class and leading a graduate discussion - was on Japan in WW2. Overall things went better than I expected, and I felt very happy afterwards.

After getting home and hanging out with Marina for a bit, I called my Mama.

Tuesday 15/12/15
Did laundry together with Marina at the laundromat, and followed her to Staples because she had to run errands. Succeeded in distracting myself sufficiently from the spectre of The Statistic Exam, because I figured there was little point to cramming or panicking hours before a mathematical exam. Coloured for a bit, then headed to class and bought a cup of hot breakfast tea.

Walked out of the statistics exam feeling very WTF, mainly because things felt kinda overwhelming. Then ran into Midah outside the Everett Lounge while I waited for Tom to appear. Went to Saiguette for dinner with Tom, and coincidentally met Garam, Kendra and Sheila there. Ordered the lemongrass pork bun cha, and felt supremely happy with the world. Walked back to 116th with Tom, and then caught the subway home.

Wednesday 16/12/15
Ran some postal related errands in the afternoon before taking the A train downtown to see my psych. Then somehow meandered my way back uptown, stopping at Old Navy to return a dress that I had bought on impulse, before meeting Hope Leichter at 5:30pm. I ended up leaving her room at 7:05pm after leaving for a bit to run to the library to print out multiple copies of a Certificate of Equivalency (where I ran into Chime, who calmed me down slightly) because we both stressed each other out about visa issues, with Mike coming in half way to join the stress fest.

Ended up running from Hope Leichter's room in Grace Dodge Hall to the main foyer of Zankel Hall where I knew Jonathan had been waiting for a bit. Then we walked through the main Columbia campus, because I wanted to show him the fairy light-strung trees, and headed to Thai Market. Thai Market was crowded as usual, and I kept eyeing all the Thai Iced Teas around me, but refrained cause I wanted to be able to sleep. We then headed back to the Bronx before going to bed around 10pm.

Thursday 17/12/15
Woke up with Jonathan around 5:30am. Went back to sleep at 7am. Did not want to get up when my phone alarm rang around 9am. Somehow got up and half got ready to head back to North Manhattan, because I had to go home and prep for another internship interview. Was a rainy and drippy day. This time I felt so chilled out about the interview that I almost forgot to re-read the cover letter I had sent the organisation, oops. Left an hour and a half early to make the trek down to the Dumbo on the A and F trains respectively, and ended up walking around the area in the rain because I didn't want to appear at the office too early. When I got there, I realised that I was supposed to wait at a common lobby for all the businesses in the building anyway, and could've gone there to wait straight without getting so damp. Earlier on the subway ride I had mused about the weird evolution of my feelings towards interviews, and I wondered if my Mum had undergone a similar experience with her recent spate of interviews. The first one is incredibly nerve wracking, because one is so out of practice, but with every additional one the nerves get calmer and calmer.

Anyway, the common lobby smelt extremely funky and not-very-nice. Kind of reminded me of the kitty litter smell that Jonathan's lobby had when a cat had taken residence by some radiators under the staircase. Read a little from the book of Stevie Smith's poetry that I had brought along for the train ride while I waited for my interviewer to appear. The interview seemed pleasant enough, and the interviewer even brought me along upstairs to meet another member of the staff (is that a good sign?) and asked me to submit a 2 paragraph writing sample.

On the way back uptown from Brooklyn, I stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up some bread and avocados, along with other nonsense that caught my eye (I swear I've been going to Trader Joe's for 3 weeks in a row or something). I then walked to Barnes and Noble on 82nd street because I had been looking for a 2016 monthly planner and had yet to find a satisfactory one. I ended up getting a simple light green one for about $10, after tax.

I reached home, sorted things out, and then jumped on the subway again to head to Jonathan's place. I took the Bx1 as usual from 231st, and shortly after sitting down with my things noticed a young afro-latino boy of around 5 playing with a Captain America action figure, pretending he was flying around and all (but Captain American doesn't fly!). His mum was standing a distance away, and looked real tired trying to get his younger sister to sit down, and spanked her on her bum when she kept squirming. Meaning the boy was kneeling on the sideways facing seats, looking out the window and making his figurine fly.

Somewhere during the middle of the ride however, the bus suddenly jerked and I saw the boy fall back (almost in slow motion, especially since I was seat on the chairs facing him), and an almighty THUNK was heard as the back of his head hit the hard armrests of the chairs. The kid sort of got up a little bit, was visibly stunned, and then started crying. I looked at the mother in dismay, and MAN, she looked really pissed at the little boy. She said "I told you to sit down!", while trying to get her two other kids to stay put, while the little boy just stood in the middle of the bus aisle and continued to cry.

Unsure of what to do in the situation I grabbed the kid, lest he fall down again, and started soothing him. I thought the moment the bus ride got a little smoother, he'd return to his mother. Instead he decided to stay with me, as I tried to support him and prevent him from falling over again with my legs and arms, and as I said "Shh, shh, it's okay". I started to feel kind of awkward because he decided he didn't want to run back to his mum, while my mind raced with thoughts like "Shit, how do you say 'Go back to Mummy' in Spanish?!". Instead I just pointed at his mum and said "¿Madre?", hoping it was some sort of jab at effective communication, but instead he just nodded and said "Si". Thanks 3 months of Spanish lessons.

When they got off around Sedgewick Ave, the mum said "Thanks Miss!" to me. I started thinking about how crazy stressful dealing with 3 young children on public transport must be, and how I really really would not want to be in that situation, but that I definitely had the luxury of making that choice.

Friday 18/12/15
Same wake up at 5:30am, go back to sleep at 7am. Except this time I woke up at 5am with a nightmare that invisible aliens (I know, I know!) had been grabbing me, leaving serious bruising all over my arms, and I screamed myself awake (although Jonathan said it sounded more like a yelp). Never did that before. Decided I wasn't going to take melatonin anymore, and that I was going to be extra judicious with kicking the comforters off.

Headed back to North Manhattan around noon because I had forgotten to bring my medication, and ended up bumming around, cleaning up a little and packing for a trip to NJ over the Christmas period. Then I headed back to the Bronx, to work on the writing sample for the interview I had done the previous day. When Jonathan came home, I was still working on the writing sample, but managed to finish it by about 5:40pm, giving me adequate time to get ready for the dinner we were going to have with his brother and sister-in-law.

The restaurant, Enzo's was located in the Bronx Little Italy area, and was really nice. While we were eating the bread, a group of carollers dressed up in 1800s style dress came in, and they were really good. When they came to our table either Jonathan's brother or sister-in-law requested the 'Happy Birthday' song, and they sang it for us in English, with the leader of the carollers singing a second version in Spanish.

After dinner they dropped us home, and somewhere between then and bedtime, I ended up manually transferring numbers from my old phone to my new phone.

Saturday 19/12/15
Jonathan up at 5:30am for work as usual. I ate a bunch of Apple Jacks while he had breakfast. I went back to sleep after he left and I had faffed around on the internet. I ended up getting up pretty late because I felt so reluctant to get out of bed. I did a quick wash up, finished watching an episode of Criminal Minds that I had started a few days ago, and headed out to go to the Columbia gym. Today was actually cold, and so I hid behind the glass panel at the Bx1 bus shelter. The guy standing sort of next to me, but outside the bound of the bus shelter actually had his cap blown off his head. Just as the Bx1 was about to pull up, I saw him run behind the shelter after his cap, picking it up and giving me a smile when he saw that I was watching him.

At the 231st station I witnessed a fight between the dad of an afro-latino teenager and a white guy. The kid had been swinging his baseball bat around near the exit door, fooling around and almost hitting people, and the white guy got angry after the kid kept doing it. He started shouting really loudly, the kid stopped and grinned back, and then the kid's dad appeared asking what the problem was. Basically the white guy was super angry and kind of overboard, but then the dad joined in and started yelling back. I was watching this and thinking about all the racial overtones. Then I noticed a guy next to me flinging little red peppers and corn kernels from the salad he was eating all over the subway platform and wished the two guys would join in and yell at salad flinging guy instead. The dad and his son got onto my subway carriage, and the dad started talking to some random latino bystanders, and I got the impression from little bits of Spanish conversation that the dad seemed to be concerned about police or something. The song also banged his baseball bat on the floor of the carriage a few times, which really annoyed me because hadn't this little fucker stirred up enough grief for the day?

At the gym I managed to run at 5.7mph for 26 and a half minutes. I even selected one of those funny video runs on the screens, which shows you a video of actual running routes, making it seem like you're actually running in some other part of the earth. I felt very pleased with my accomplishment. Then I headed to get my eyebrows done, and walked past TC where the thought about not having to actually go to campus several times a week anymore popped into my headed. After I got my eyebrows done, I wandered into some stores in Harlem while I fought the urge to have some fried chicken.

On the way back to Mosholu Parkway, I saw a churro seller on the platform at 161st, and bought some churros. When I reached back to Mosholu, I caved in and went to Popeyes, where I had a weird exchange with the Pakistani/Bangladeshi cashier, because I seemed to misunderstand everything he was saying. Then I came back and had two pieces of the chicken while watching another episode of Criminal Minds and drinking a small 90 calorie can of coke. I'm pretty sure that undid all of the running I had done (400 calories worth, according to the treadmill), but OH WELL.

I'm now really bloated from all the oily food I've had.

Hummus Farmer

I was just zoning out while munching on hummus and pretzel chips when a question suddenly popped into my mind (mainly because I was hyper-aware that I hadn't yet consumed a substantial amount of fruit and veg today): "Is hummus a vegetable?"

And the answer is no: hummus is not a vegetable because it consists of protein more than anything else. Boo.

-----

Will be leaving for another internship interview in a bit, this time in the Dumbo area in Brooklyn. Quite a trek. But then again, one needs all the experience that one can get. 

Workspace 2015


Was going over my stats work this afternoon in the living area when I got up to answer the door (it was the UPS man). When I returned, I realised that my work space had been laid out kind of nicely, and that this could well be the last time I ever prepare for an examination or test again.

While one might be tempted to wax lyrical about such an aspect of one's life ending, never to repeated again, I realise I don't care enough for the whole idea of examinations to be nostalgic. So there.

The Weather


It's mid-Dec here in NYC, and the weather is worryingly warm. It has barely dropped below freezing, whereas from the end of October last year the weather dropped near to freezing. This feels very unnatural, and hence unpleasant, and one really wonders if this is what they have meant definitively all along by "climate change". 
Last night I was talking to Rufus while in the Morton William's Supermarket across from the main Columbia campus about how it was crazily unlikely that there'd be a white Christmas this year, or if it would even snow at all this year (the PA system was playing I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas), when a nearby store worker said "Thank God! I hope not!" Although I know what she meant, the idea of it not snowing at all sent shivers of fear down my spine - surely all of this erratic weather is not a good thing.

Internship Season

It's internship seasons and I've sent out 6 different applications. I went for an interview tomorrow, and looks like I have 2 more scheduled with two different other organisations. What kind of bugs me though is how all the emails have spelt my name with a -y instead of an -ie. GAH.

Immunisations

As of today (although I need to go back for additional booster shots), I am immunised against:

1) Tetanus, diphtheria and petrussis
2) Typhoid
3) Hepatitis A
4) Chicken pox (they need to check my blood work just to be sure though)
5) Cervical cancer
6) Meningitis
7) Measles, mumps and rubella
8) Polio
9) Hepatitis B
10) Influenza

I've also been jabbed 4 times within an hour today with the various vaccines and blood drawing(s), which must surely be some sort of record in my life. Fun stuff.

In other news I've also finally gone and cut my hair, because I have an interview for an internship tomorrow and I don't want to look unkempt. My hair now feels very strangely short, and to my chagrin I feel like I look more younger to boot. Ho boy.


 

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