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A small link in a very big chain

Climate strike at Battery Park

Today, I reached a milestone as a college Freshmen at a liberal arts school: I attended a political protest. I “joined the conversation” and “participated in the political process” by going to the climate change rally at Battery Park. Mostly, I just felt like the hippie parents from “Family Ties,” but since this was a movement I actually cared about, and I was in close proximity to the lion’s den of political protests, I decided to venture into the city in order to show up and show out. I showed up late to the assembly because my literature class fell right in the middle of it. I understood that the point of a strike is to either ditch school or work so as to have a show of force, but with it being the second week of school I thought that it might not be the best idea to play hookie just yet. 

By the time I got to Battery Park, people were funneling into the subway as I was filing out. I just barely missed seeing Greta Thunberg, who I consider to be our lord and savior, deliver her speech, but got to see a Native American tribal woman deliver hers. Shortly thereafter the crowds started thinning but I got to see all kinds of crazy-ass signs and a person dressed like a tree. Most of them consisting of catchy slogans such as “quit denying our earth is dying” and “burn down the plantation, not the planet.”

Not knowing how to protest, I thought that I might need to pack a-climate-strike-starter-set. I struggle with mindfulness, but with this being the hill that I was willing to die on, I wanted to do this right, so I jotted down a checklist to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I packed a protein bar in case I got hungry, a portable charger in case my phone died, a cord for said portable charger also in case my phone died, sunglasses in case it was bright, a hair tie in case it was windy, gloves in case it got cold and Great Expectations in case I wanted some light reading. Shockingly enough, I never got around to reading Great Expectations on my ride up there, mostly because I forced some friends along. 

I ended up becoming the hero of the day with my phone charger. The hair tie and sunglasses came in handy, but not so much the gloves. It never even ended up getting slightly chilly. In fact, while Greta was speaking, two people in the crowd apparently fainted from being overheated (ironic). I assumed that the dress code was a sassy t-shirt, so I wore a shirt that says “make our planet great again.” I neglected to make a sign but saw some killer signs wherever I went. 

I thought that there was potential for getting arrested for protesting, which does not sound like a bad deal and would make for an excellent story. Getting arrested for protesting makes you look like a stone-cold, disestablishmentarianism down-ass bitch, who is not afraid of the joint, the same way that you’re not afraid of standing beside your convictions. I was kinda hoping for this Hermoine Granger type of attitude where I study really hard but still break the rules and oppose the government, but that seems to be much easier when you’re actually a wizard. I was in that weird stage where I kind of wanted to get arrested because I wanted to get wrecked for the cause but I knew I couldn’t because I had homework due later that week. 

Friday was a perfect day, for no better reason than the fact that I was a very small link in a very big chain. Next year, I will make signs, pack lightly, force myself to be on time to see Greta, and embody Hermoine Granger in all of her majestic glory. This climate strike marks the first of many protests I want to join in on and I will be more than ready for the next one. 

A Day at the Met

Photos by Jaclyn Pedoty

In April, my mom and I took a train from Bronxville, New York into Grand Central Station and from there we walked forty blocks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Along the way we cut across St. Patrick’s Cathedral as Sunday mass was letting out, walked down Fifth Avenue, admired the Harry Winston and Tiffany diamonds that we can’t afford, I flipped off Trump Tower and then we strolled through the park. While in the park, we grabbed ice cream and petted every dog that crossed our path before making it to the steps of the Met. We passed through the exhibits with ease, having nobody to rush us, and when we got hungry we ate lunch on the steps of the Met; courtesy of the hot dog vendors. Whenever we got tired, we sat down and relaxed in front of all of the art. 

My mother has always believed that the Met, in particular the Temple of Dendur, was her happy place, which is why she was so adamant that we spend the day there. When my mother and I were there, we spent about as much time inspecting the people there, as we did inspecting the art. My mother thinks herself to be an expert people watcher and commented on everybody from the Park to the Met. In particular, she commented on how many people at the Met were clearly on a date. Once she pointed that out to me, I noticed all of the couples milling around, dressed in upscale casual attire and turning to the artwork as a reliable source for ample conversation. 

It struck me that taking a trip to the Met was an ingenious idea for a first date. By seeing how someone reacts to being in one of the greatest art museums in the world, you could tell right away what they care about. Maybe they’re superficial and vapid or maybe they’re genuinely fascinated by art and history. It also just seemed like a refreshingly different sort of date. No one there had the  intention of a bland “let’s go see a movie” type of approach. 

When I first moved to New York, I decided that I was going to befriend a stranger and we would recreate the outing by walking to the Met. That is exactly what I did with my roommate Jackie, who also happens to be an art lover. We walked to the train station and once we were in the city we walked all the way to the Met. By the time I reached the steps of the Met, I was not much more than a ball of sweat and sore feet. We both immediately ate lunch, which happened to be lamb gyros from a street cart, and then we perused the museum. We both were particularly excited to see “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” since it was the last day of the exhibit. 

The line to get inside the exhibit felt like a subway platform at rush hour and we were shuffled in and out of it as if they were trying to evacuate the building, but the glimpses of outrageously priced haute couture made it all worth it. The first part of the exhibit can only be described as a colorful hallway, filled with ensembles throughout history, funneling into a back room with even more fashion. The back room had stark neon colored walls that made the mod sixties look like Speilberg’s Schindler’s list. 

While some of the outfits looked like something that should only be worn to a party at Jay Gatsby’s house, some looked more like the bedazzled t-shirts I used to buy at Justice when I was twelve. The campiest outfit that I found in there can only be described as a big bird-looking, explosion of fuzz, but I would strut down a runway with it on if Anna Wintour asked me to. Jackie and I spent ages getting lost in the Met, since it is the type of place you can wander aimlessly through and still end up somewhere cool. Naturally, my phone died at the worst possible moment so I could not take as many pictures as I wanted to, but if phones never died then I would have photographed the entire building.

I will always love the Met because of events like these, yet it isn’t just the place itself that makes me happy. When I went on the trip with my mother, the day was not just about combing through the museum. We spoke to one another for our entire 45 minute train commute and then briefly enjoyed the underappreciated ambience of Grand Central Station. We laughed our entire way to the Met, regardless of where we were in our trip and then kept that same energy up for the remainder of the day. We had no set structure, so if we wanted to walk through St. Patrick’s or spontaneously get ice cream or sit and pet dogs atop a large rock in the park or judge Harry Winston’s, then that’s exactly what we did. That sort of careless bliss always makes for a great outing. 

Being awkward: an art form

Photo by Mary Catherine Burns

While I do not suffer from uncomfortable silences or chronic foot-in-the-mouth syndrome, people can expect some weird mumbling, bizarre sleep patterns and child like antics followed by long periods of hibernation from me. These wonderful traits are some of the many things that have made me the foul-mouthed, anti-social little weirdo that everybody has come to know and love.

Being awkward is a burden I have had to bear for so long that I now look at it almost like a bonafide talent. A prime example of my skill set can be observed through the events of my day. You see, at my college, whenever you sign up for classes, you instead sign up for an interview with the professor and decide from there if you still want to pursue it. The process is flawless, yet my execution was not the best. 

I showed up to the wrong place for my first interview and then on my way to finding the right location, I stopped at an ice cream truck and treated myself to some soft serve chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles that I then had to scarf down before the meeting. That interview went fine, but the next one could have gone better.

To be fair, I think that very little of this could have been avoided. I went to go and sign up for a class that I was interested in. However, when I went to sign up for the class, I discovered that I did not bring a pen; the one thing that you actually need when you go to sign up for something. I therefore borrowed one from the man next door who was not wearing shoes (not an important detail). He loaned me a pen and when I leaned against the door to sign my name, I fell into the room that a good-looking professor was actually occupying. He asked me if I had an interview scheduled for that very moment and when I told him no I did not he said that it was fine and I could interview with the girl whose time it was. 

I then found myself sitting opposite a girl who was super prepared for her interview, while I was trying to not look like I was on drugs. I would have been super composed during the interview had it not been for one small detail. I was as hot as a supernova the entire time.

Despite growing up in the deep south, about twenty minutes above Florida, I was sweating like a post-menopausal woman. I can probably blame this on the lovely ensemble I had on. In order to beat the heat, I decided to wear the thin shirt that I slept in the last few nights, but did not think through the solid black, skin-tight skinny jeans I put on, which seemed to cancel out the thin t-shirt. There also is no A/C here and the day was so humid it felt like I was swimming. All I could think about was how sticky I was becoming and how my two functioning brain cells were desperately groping for a coherent sentence. 

After the interview was over, I returned the pen to the barefoot man next door, who looked at me like I was a leper, and then scampered off. I decided that the reason I did not feel well, aside from catching the heat stroke that has been going around, was the fact that I needed food. I then treated myself to a well-balanced meal of chicken tenders, french fries and mozzarella sticks. I did not actually eat the french fries, but instead brought them to my next interview, thinking that the teacher would want them. I didn’t exactly intend to bribe her, but thought that maybe she had been working hard all day and wanted to nibble on my friendship fries. 

I went to see my next professor, who waved me in while another girl finished up her interview and neither of them wanted my friendship fries. I shamelessly asked several questions, though it was abundantly clear that perhaps I did not know what I was talking about. After making a definite impression, I walked back to my dorm room and offered most of the people that I passed some of my pity fries. Nobody wanted them and sadly they ended up in the trash. 

The moral of this story is: do not care if you sweat all over people, ask for a pen if you forget yours, eat soft serve ice cream in front of them, ask them dumb questions or generously offer them fries, even in the face of rejection. My day still rocked, despite all of the awkwardness.