I notice I haven't posted in two weeks and I wonder where the time has gone...mainly spread between working manically, trying to finish a paper or two, being a bit sociable, and monitoring little girl scouts as they sell cookies.
The latter has been both a pain and an interesting experience, like so many things to do with my troop. It was not particularly fun to spend two chunks of my weekend standing about in the cold in central Princeton watching the girls peddle the cookies to the masses - though I have to say that the masses were hardly reluctant to receive them, we shifted almost 200 boxes over last weekend, and people are mostly really nice and nostalgic and kind when they come up to us. But it is anthropologically interesting to observe the girls dealing with this task, coming up with songs and rhymes to chant out to draw people's attention, little dances too, quirky things to say about the cookies (which may or may not be entirely true), and also what they notice about the other people - like they excuses they give for not buying any cookies, or a particular comment someone might make. I am constantly surprised by them, by the way they will suddenly say something really insightful, or deal with a difficult issue with a smile. But do these 'awww' moments outnumber the 'omg you are such a brat' moments? Have I suddenly become enamoured of all child-kind? If you're reading this, you probably know me well enough to know the answer :-)
But the blog title refers to my recent forays into the urban havens that so conveniently surround Princeton - I seriously think I would implode if I wasn't able to run off to a city every few weeks and listen to cars honking and watch steam escape from manholes and gaze upon lit skyscrapers (note to self: easy access to London probably essential trait of future dwelling-place).
On Thursday night, I met up with Wilco in NYC, his current stop on this amazing tour that he and H have undertaken on behalf of the university - it's always fun to see an old friend in a random setting, so that was nice. I was a little early to the meeting place (because NJ Transit did not let me down with the amazing 4.40 train that gets into the city in 59 minutes and may well be my favouritest train in the world - or maybe second favourite, the favourite being any train that takes me to or from an airport thus hastening my reuniting with Nick [apologies for the soppy moment there!])and had a wander round the High Line, which you may remember had me enthused this summer. Except this time it was 6pm in January, freezing with a wind chill factor of freezing^2, and of course I decide that wandering round an elevated and exposed structure is the best plan. I was basically the only person there and it was...fantastic. I caught the tail-end of the sunset (conveniently, it faces west), the bit where the sky is almost all dark but there is a glowing reddish hue towards the bottom and it was so beautiful, I looked down at the end-of-the-day traffic, looked around at the skyscrapers and the water towers (which I adore for some bizarre reason) and just felt incredibly happy. So that is my zen moment of the week.
On Friday night I headed over to Philadelphia to meet up with Lara, whom I hadn't managed to see since the summer. I hadn't been to Philadelphia for anything other than gigs since I was there with Naomi last spring so I had sort of forgotten what a nice place it is, especially the neighbourhood where Lara lives, with lots of funky cafes and chilled places to have brunch, lunch, coffee, and whatever else you might need. We had dinner and drinks on Friday, including an attempt to learn something about US whiskies (we ended up with a rather nice one whose name now of course escapes me), chatted lots (much appreciated, much needed), and looked at cool stuff on Saturday, in between the polar temperatures - the Philadelphia Museum of Art was very amazing, with lots of reconstructed environments such as Indian and Japanese temples (best not wonder too much about how this all came about) and Chinese governmental offices and also a large amount of American art and objects - very enlightening in trying to get a sense of what life was like in the first decades of this country, and what was considered art-worthy. We also went to the Magic Gardens, a truly incredible place which I can't really describe - follow the link to see photos - imagine a mural/mosaic consisting of bottles and ceramic tiles and glass and mirror shards and terracotta figures, spread over 3000 square feet...you could probably spend days there trying to take everything in and appreciating all the different images. I have never seen anything like it.
So there you have it - my life seems to be lurching between the innocence of girl scout cookies and the debauchedness of copious imbibing, propped up by looming deadlines at every corner. I guess the next logical step is to make some sort of girl scout cookie-based cocktail, no?