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Awesome every day

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Something genuinely awesome happened every day last week. These things, by themselves, might have been the highlights of their respective days, but, together, combined into some kind of multiplying effect of Awesome the likes of which I have not felt in a long while.

Let's review:

Saturday (1/24)

I went into the city in the afternoon and met up with my wonderful friends Dan & Emily for Mexican and a pitcher of margaritas at El Cantinero. I am probably in the minority of people for whom El Cantinero is some kind of heaven, but they seemed to like it too. It was fantastic to see them - I really do have the greatest friends.

Sunday (1/25)

In swimming, I made a jump in intervals from 150 meters to 200. Since then, this has become my new standard, and it feels really right. It's a small increase, but I can seriously feel my body working in the last 50 of a 200, and as I do more of them, I'm finding muscles I forgot I had. I'll resist the psychological implications, but I really enjoy beating my body up and seeing the way it changes in response. I'm resolved to work a lot harder at it from here forward.

I did domestic things all afternoon, including making a very tasty Apple Almond Tea Cake, for which my parents and I actually set aside time for afternoon tea.

I really love baking, even if it runs completely counter-intuitive to fitness resolutions. My friend / labmate Penelope has an apron she bought her father that said something like "Baking: It's Chemistry You Can Eat!" So very true.

Monday (1/26)

We already talked about how awesome Monday was, and on reflection, it seems even better.

Tuesday (1/27)

I drove into Brookyln for a gallery opening, which might ordinarily be a negative and frustrating experience. This time, traffic was minimal, the weather was perfect, I had nice things to think about, my car was handling really really well, and I had an excellent mix of songs playing.

When I learned to sing in church choir, I remember the director saying you'll know when you're at the right pitch because you'll feel it in your ears and jaw, a kind of vibration that makes you happy as the sound you're making matches the sound around you. I have no idea if that is accurate or not, but it is pretty intensely wonderful to sing at the top of one's lungs for several hours.

Wednesday (1/28)

Wednesday runs in strong contention with Monday for the best day of the year so far. My mother and I took the train into the city together to see a phenomenal production of Orfeo ed Euridice at the Met. The story is very simple and could be told in about 5 sentences, but the emotion and profundity of the music is heart-wrenchingly wonderful.

This particular staging was fairly minimal, and instead of elaborate sets, most of the stage geometry was occupied with wonderful dance by the chorus. I don't usually enjoy dance in opera at all (it tends to suck), but this was more modern than ballet style, and it was very playful and clever. The costumes were done by Isaac Mizrahi, and it's clear he had a lot of fun with it.

Because it is set mostly in Hades, there was a (fantastic) chorus of nearly 100 deceased figures from history, which I found terribly amusing. During one of the opening numbers, I was looking at all of them through my binoculars and actually laughed out loud when I saw Babe Ruth, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Mark Twain, and Princess Di. There were many others, all of which are listed on the Met's website.

Stephanie Blythe sang the part of Orpheus, and I kind of forgot to tell my mother that this is a soprano role. See, these parts were written for castrati, so they are very high and typically have a lot of vocal gymnastics (though Gluck's score is subdued and poignant). In contemporary performances, they're typically played by women (the Met has only had one male performer of Orpheus), which requires some suspension of disbelief. Blythe, however, captured the emotion and intensity beautifully, and her voice is out of this world incredible. Her performance of "Che faro senza Euridice?" was astounding.

On par with the opera was a phenomenal dinner at Il Melograno beforehand. It is, without question, the best Italian food I've had outside of Italy (and this includes my own cooking), and it was so reasonably priced we kept doing double takes. We shared a delicate and beautifully prepared Caprese salad over arugula. I had homemade gnocchi with pancetta and apples in a swoon-worthy cream sauce. My mother had penne ai quattro formaggi with walnuts and pear, and the bite I tried really did bring tears to my eyes. I am going back there as soon as I can.

Our whole evening was one of sensory delights and great fun. The air was crisp and sharp, the city smelled fresh and damp from rain and ice, and my mother was of course fantastic company. It was a lovely, lovely evening, and we've agreed there will be many more opera dates in our future.

Thursday (1/29)

The sun was shining brilliantly, and there was a warmth to the light that I hadn't seen in days. I spent almost the whole day painting, working especially long on this one, which is still in progress:

There are more detail photos and notes on my new studio blog. (That site still needs a lot of work, so please don't judge too harshly.)

In the evening I did a lot of fascinating reading about upcoming work projects and the theory behind them. I think that the more I read about science, the more excited I get about art. The summer when I was reading Stephen Hawking is still one of my creative high points, so it's a very good thing to immerse myself in this kind of stuff again.

Friday (1/30)

One of my labmates and I call our Friday morning chemistry class Bitchin' Friday because we both love it so much (and we spend all day together usually). Something clicked during the morning's lecture because I finally, finally understand NMR now. This is huge for me - I've been struggling with it conceptually for months, and it's the basis of all our research.

After class, we had lunch at the Pratt Coffee Shop, where I had a pastrami reuben (which I've been craving for months, ever since I watched a TV show about delis and deli foods, which made them so irresistable I felt like taking my pants off). This sandwich was everything I dreamed of, and it was fun catching up with my labmates.

In the afternoon, we worked out a lot of future plans for the semester, and we even survived the sort of devastating news that our summer program in Italy is not approved for this year (argh, it still hurts). We set up the lab, and in a spontaneous moment, I got trained on the NMR-MOUSE. Also huge because yknow, it will be a lot easier to design experiments now that I can use the machine.

In the evening, I went out with my same two labmates, who I really should just call friends, to Chez Oskar, where we shared a fabulous bottle of Pouilly Fumé. This wine went beautifully with the mussels my labmate had and the lobster crepes I had (yum). We all got dessert, and I was secretly thrilled that both girls have adopted the habit of photographing their food, having mocked me for it in the past. I had a delicate, rich coconut creme caramel, which I stupidly resisted documenting (whyyy?).

Saturday (1/31)

After a particularly invigorating swim in the morning (I think the chlorine somehow neutralizes the wine toxins I'm sweating), I spent the afternoon obsessing over music, then got ready for another wonderful evening in the city.

I met up with a friend whom I haven't seen in maybe five years, to see Slumdog Millionaireat the Angelika. I've never been to the Angelika before, and it was cool. The movie was exceptional, and the more I think about it, the more I enjoy it. It's stayed on my mind a lot, which makes it a really satisfying experience.

Before the movie, we had what was the third excellent Italian dinner I've had this week. This was at a place where Charlie Chaplin and then Andy Warhol apparently hung out, and it was just lovely. I had tagliatelle bolognese and he had their putanesca which he said was incredible. I didn't try it because I really hate olives and can barely stand capers, so that kind of rules out a dish full of both.

I had to rush home to catch the last train to New Jersey, and I was lamenting how much time I have to spend on the train and subway if I want to see people and do things. (Especially when these people make me desperately wish I had teleportation abilities.)

All that notwithstanding, by the time I crashed asleep that night, I was more peaceful and content than I have been in years.

This week has been so amazing and fun, and I am completely energized by all the wonderful people I've been around and the great fun I've had. I can only hope that February rises to the occasion the way that January did, and I'm optimistic things will just keep on getting better.

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This page contains a single entry by Vicki published on February 2, 2009 11:56 PM.

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