Time for the two-week recap.
Get to know all the interns living in the house? Check.
Learn the subway system (well enough to get to work and back)? Check.
Not get lost? Check…oh no wait…
Learn how to navigate our neighborhood? Check.
Discover every pastry shop within walking distance? Check.
Start work at BDC? Check.
Start dance classes at BDC? Check.
Overall, it’s been a banging two weeks. I’ve already learned a lot from moving here. It’s a totally new experience. The culture, the people, the travel, the city…everything is new to me and it’s been overwhelming trying to absorb it all, but I’ve done my best.
The hardest thing to adapt to is probably sticking out so badly. The neighborhood is very ethnically diverse. Albanians, Italians, Mexicans, Dominicans, we’re a regular melting pot here in the Bronx. Walking around the neighborhood on my own, I stick out enough, but when all twelve interns venture out together it’s like there’s a spotlight on us. When we travel on the local bus we look like we’re lost. I realized just how much we don’t fit in when, one morning when we were walking to the bus stop together, a man on the street greeted us by saying “Good morning, white people!”
I have to admit I probably don’t have it as bad as some of the other interns. I am Italian so walking down Arthur Ave I actually don’t feel so out of place. But some of the girls with blonde hair have talked about the men who openly stare at them and make comments about their hair when they go out. “It’s as if they’ve never seen blonde hair before!” one of the girls said. I also do not need to dress up for work as we’re pretty casual, but it’d probably be a little weird getting on the local 12 bus in professional business attire.
There is an advantage to being so obviously an outsider: many local shops assume that we are students at the college nearby (which, technically, we are) and often inform us that they offer discounts to students with IDs. I saved a few dollars in Subway and am pretty much a regular at Polambo’s because of that discount!
One of the interns here told us that on her first day of work, her supervisor just came out and asked, “So, how do you feel about being the only white person here?” and went on to ask “What do you know about black people?” The intern was obviously unsure how to answer either of those questions and it’s just another example of what a different world the Bronx is than the private, catholic college we all left behind.
The past few days I’ve had some great experiences worth sharing. The first is my painting class, which met for the second time on Thursday night. Painting is not my forte. Let me revise that…anything involving brushes, a canvas, or sketching is not my forte. But when my advisor told me to pick a fun elective, I decided to go for it.
$200 later (since when are art supplies so expensive?!) I was ready to tackle our first project: the geometric still life. Cubes, I figure. Or pyramids. Something easy to start us off.
This is sort of what the geometric figures that we had to draw looked like. Only bigger, and with more sides, and all white, no colors. I didn’t know what they were called, so this was the best I could find Googling “3D paper sphere.” So, not off to a good start in painting class.
About halfway through my pathetic attempt to sketch these figures, the professor stops to give us a quick clarification in which she says (in a deeply pensive voice) “I want you…to draw the forms…as though…they were…invisible.”
I’m sorry, what?
Wouldn’t that be a blank piece of sketch paper? As I bit my tongue I looked around the rest of the class, expecting someone else to find this as amusing as I did. To my horror, everyone was nodding as though they totally understood.
Next week we actually paint….
In other exciting news, my dad was coming through NYC on his way to New Jersey so he stopped to see me on Sunday! As it happened, there was an Italian festival going on down Arthur Ave that day. The festival was really cool. Even though it was raining, there were still tons of people, tons of food (the smell was tantalizing), and tons of sights to take in. All down the street there were vendors selling t-shirts, flags, olive oil, zeppoli, ravioli, gelato, Italian ice and everything and anything Italian. There was even a vendor that was roasting two whole pigs! It was kind of gross to see them rotating over the flame though. Poor piggies.
My dad and I went to Pasquale’s Rigoletto which was amazing. We got a huge hunk of Italian bread, Caprese salad, Ravioli with meatballs and sausage, and Chicken Parmesan. The restaurant was packed with Italians, laughing and joking; it felt as if everyone knew each other! In the side room a man belted out songs in Italian the whole restaurant could hear. The service was wonderful and the leftovers, which I ate tonight, were way better than the mac and cheese I would’ve had!
We also stopped in Palombo’s bakery (winner of my bakery extravaganza) and ordered the bigger version of the strawberry shortcake that Joey and I shared last weekend. The cake was a wonderful treat for the house! Thanks, Dad! We all dug in during the VMA’s later that night (which were lame).
My first day of classes at BDC was today! I started off the morning with Beth Goheen’s ballet class which was great. She gave really great feedback and I’m looking forward to taking her class again Friday. I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t too rusty when it came to ballet, but still nowhere near some of the really talented dancers who were there. After four hours of work (nothing special, just office stuff), it was back into the studio for Sheila Barker’s jazz class. Sheila is full of energy. Her class left me totally wiped out but very happy. I loved everything about her class from the warm up to across the floor work to the combination. She definitely motivated me to work hard even though I was famished (I definitely need to bring more food tomorrow).
When I left the studio for the night I was actually relieved it was raining. There’s nothing worse than having put on jeans when you’re sweaty, so the rain felt nice. After a few minutes when the novelty was starting to wear off, a man walking along next to me was nice enough to share his umbrella! New Yorkers have a reputation of being cold and indifferent, but from my experiences everyone is actually really friendly and helpful.
And now I realize how obnoxiously long this post is. And only one picture. I’m slacking. Sorry for the long post but there is just so much worth sharing! Keep reading, and I’ll keep writing! 🙂