Friday, March 25, 2005

New Haven break: the other side of whatever

At Atticus books, they claim that March is “umbrella month.” Makes sense. Tends to be wet now. The window display pulls together books with umbrellas on covers.

Which month is railroad track month? I’m on the Metro North now and so I cannot Google this important question, but I am curious.

This morning, I walked over to Wooster Square, which is on the other side of the tracks from Yale. I am interested in things that are “on the other side” – of oceans, tracks – it has implications about how you regard yourself.

Wooster Square is the Italian enclave of New Haven (see photos below). Yalies cross the tracks for a slice of Pepe’s (that’s right, Mr. know-all-about-pizza, it’s Pepe’s, not Sally’s). I cross the tracks for the cookies and the houses (Pepe’s lines are so long!).

The cookie store was closed this morning. My images of tiny Italian confections had to be pushed aside (replaced by a cake slice from Claire’s – see photo below). The streets were empty and no one was buying the Easter bunnies casually displayed in front of a store.

But there is something very reassuring about crossing these New Haven tracks and placing yourself in a neighborhood where eateries and shops have signs indicating a long, if not always prosperous, existence. You leave behind a university-focused set of blocks and enter a neighborhood. Crossing railroad tracks (and oceans) can displace you or place you. They are like oceans, only a hell of a lot more narrow.
There's no argument: the best thin crust pie is at Pepe's Posted by Hello
bunnies for sale Posted by Hello
very red white and green Posted by Hello
a Wooster house Posted by Hello
from Claire's: a delicious alternative (blueberry pound cake) Posted by Hello

New Haven break: Bright college years with pleasure rife, the shortest, gladdest years of life…

Parents have a way of labeling their children, weighing them down with the burden of their own impressions – ones that you either cannot live up to or are desperate to get rid of. I had both. Their “sunshine” thing was just plain wrong and I proceeded to spend much of my adolescence trying to disprove it. Unfortunately, my parents hardly noticed, being themselves then firmly ensconced in an anti-sunshine phase of life.

The other one – “meet our daughter, she is the perpetual student!” was a blatant apology for my academic indecisiveness. They were not saying – meet Nina, always the learner. They were saying – meet Nina she will never get out of the classroom, ever ever; we’ve basically given up on the idea that she would actually be done with pursuing an academic degree of some sort.

I thought that was unfair for reasons I do not want to go into now. Ocean has long renounced the label of “a blog where one relives one’s grievances against one’s parents.”

But there was a grain of truth in both labels: I was (am) (on the surface) as cheerful as they come. And I do seem addicted to adding fields of interest. I don’t drop them so much as I add on others. A friend told me yesterday about a dissertation being written on the topic of Venetian art and I thought – now that sounds like something I would like to write, even though my knowledge of Venetian art is limited to what I read in guide books. Not worthy of dissertator status, of that I am sure.

In part, I do admit, I simply love universities. I pass Hunter College (part of the NY City College system) almost daily when I am in New York and I get a thrill seeing students pile into the urban halls, plastered with notices of lectures, events, apartments to sublet. The Jagiellonian in Krakow is equally wondrous. I could do the Copernicus tour each time I am in Krakow and each time I will be awed. Yale – say no more. I choke at their alma mater song and it’s not even my song (see lyrics in title of post).

I’m in New Haven for one more day (Brooklyn visit has been moved to another day – keep checking!), as a chance meeting with a law prof forced an extended further meeting today. But I am secretly glad I am part of campus life for just a few more hours.

True, this morning, as I walked up and down New Haven, looking at the beautiful play of a morning sun on the towers that dot the campus, I was very much alone. What academic gets up at dawn these days? But it was a lovely walk, invigorating and inspiring, so that I indeed could imagine myself as a happy student again. This, in turn, lead me to conclude that my parents, in their infinite ignorance about their kids, nonetheless did recognize within me these two strands that are always threatening to disturb my firmly engrained Eastern European angst: I can wake up buoyed by a sunny day and I am indeed deeply in love with the unreal world of academia.
window whimsy at Yale Law School Posted by Hello
in the earliest light... Posted by Hello
A student at Starbucks, at dawn: pulling an all-nighter or leading the life of a secret blogger? Posted by Hello