Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Museum and Goodbye NYC

Our last day in NYC began with a fancy brunch beneath where Sherry works (Credit Suisse). It's called 11 Madison and seems like the kinda place "Sex in the City" would be filmed. Here is a beautiful floral arrangement at their doorway. White roses galore! Peter and I shared delicious Pecan Praline Pancakes with golden raisins and a rum sauce. Ellis and Sherry both had the frittata and I got to taste :). Of course the service was impeccable and I felt a bit out of place but it was fun being there regardless!Pretty rose floral arrangement at 11 Madison.

After brunch, Ellis, Peter and I headed to the Columbus Circle shops. We browsed around a bit and then took the Metro to the Museum of Natural History. Once there, Ellis again scored us free tix and we really enjoyed the space, animal exhibits. It was a great way to spend 3 hours and I even took a nap in the fish/water mammal room underneath a life size replica of a blue whale. Truly cool!
Me and Betsy ( a prehistoric dino creature).
In the dinosaur/early mammal exhibit.

We were pretty tired after walking the museum for awhile so we grabbed an early dinner of paninis at a nearby cafe. We then had a "Napoleon" which is like a cake version of a creme puff for dessert. SOOO GOOD!
As we waited for the Chinatown bus in Chinatown, we ducked into a warm asian bakery and I ordered a green tea egg tart. It was a bit liquidy but the flavor was not bad. I also got a little Chrysanthemum tea juice box, my new addiction.
My green tea egg tart! Kinda freaky looking.
Peter, very tired after a long day and ready to head back to Boston on the bus.

Honestly, Fungwah was better than Greyhound. The seats were more comfy and it was half the price. I'd highly recommend it!

Some Art and Laughs :)

Our second day in NYC began at a fancy Mexican brunch place. Dos..Camiros? I forget the name. Anyways the food was amazing, thanks to Sherry and Ellis for joining us and suggesting the place. We started off with ordering their famous guacumole and chips. I got the Mexican eggs benedict which was a sunny side up egg on a japaleno and cheddar biscuit with potatoes and salsa on the side. And if that wasn't enough we got a complimentary with our meals and I got to glow with my fruity frozen prickly pear drink (pink and smooth).
With full stomachs we set to explore more of NYC with Sherry and Ellis. The shopping mood hit us so we went to SoHo (South of Houston) to window shop and browse furniture stores. I really like "CB2" a fancy ikea type place.
Next we went to the Guggenheim Museum near Central Park. Thanks to Ellis for scoring us free tix because of his company. Unfortunatley the museum was nearly 75% under renovation/installation so we only saw like 3 small rooms. I wasn't that impressed overall but the new exhibit (invovling 99 lifesized wolves) looked uber cool.

Peter and I in the Guggenheim. Behind us was closed but you can see the 99 wolves being set up.
The infamous duo.
Before we knew it the sun had set and dinner time was upon us. Time for a new restaurant and adventure! Sherry suggested an Italian place called "Don Geovani's (spelling?)" that is supposedly a chain in NYC? Anyways we met Sherry and Rani (her little) in the restaurant. It was kind like Vinny T's and a bit more upscale than most chains with candle lit dinners and a homey atmosphere. Peter and I shared a "Californian pizza" with artichokes, feta, peppers and more! how fitting for the Californian Ellis- Peter duo.
After dinner we wondered around the nearby Times Square, reading for news on the Democratic primaries in South Carolina. To Peter's deligh Obama won by a landslide and all was right again.
Peter and I then got cheap tickets to the local comedy club "The Laugh Factory". The line up was pretty good, I thought 2 of the guys were genuinely funny! The room was packed and I started glowing a bit after my "2 drink minimum" (most comedy clubs have this). But no fear, I finished up with a Shirley Temple. :D The show lasted about 2 hours and there were 4 performers.

First Comedian in line up at Laugh Factory.
The night was filled with humor and we were nearby our hotel so we didn't have to walk too far. Good for our tired feet!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Trip to NYC!

After sleeping in too late, Peter and I missed our reserved bus seats to NYC, but no fear we made it to South Station and picked up some quick Greyhound tickets. Trip from Boston to New York only took 3.5 hours which was great and we were dropped off pretty close to our hotel. Chelsea Star Hotel was in a good part of town, very subway accessible, has a certain unique decoration to each room. Peter and I ended up with the "Wizard of Oz" room which looked like it was painted by a five year old- Dorothy was hideous as was the warped yellow brick road. Painting aside, things were nice and clean in our room as well as the shared bathroom.
We arrived around 3pm so we decided to stroll 5th avenue before dinner. We window shopped, walked a lot (NYC was colddd), and took some fun pictures.

Peter, Stitch's dinner.
My pile of Stitches!! Courtesy of the Disney store.
Humungous Spider man blow up crawling down a building.

We were lucky to arrive in the middle of NYC's two restaurant weeks. We booked a reservation at the Indian restaurant "Amma's". It was in a quaint neighborhood (Midtown East) and we got several tastes of more eclectic Indian food. Soup, two appetisers, an entree, and dessert were flavorful and artfully presented. The restaurant atmosphere was very dim, romantic, and orange... :). There was also copious staff to replace all our utensils and swipe off our crumbs after each course. This wasn't service I was used to in Boston! So I began the meal with a tomatoe fennel light soup followed by potatoe cakes, toasted okra, and a stuffed phoori shell. My entree was red beet dumplings in peanut sauce served with jackfruit biyriani and a deliciously roasted cauliflower. We also got naan and raita (yogurt). I had a sweet and juicy gulab jamen for dessert and Peter had rice pudding. A great culinary experience to start off our trip!
Peter and I with our main course at Amma's.

After dinner we hunted NYC for a decent movie theater (not that easy to find). When we arrived, they had sparse movie times and I ended up seeing Juno again. It was well worth it and Peter liked the movie too. Afterwards we found a Starbucks (not too hard) and just chilled out there until we felt like going back to our hotel. Because its so cold our days are pretty much spent looking for cafes and sitting in them. hehe.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Teaching Chemistry and Engineering Week!

This Sunday I subbed for my friend and taught 3 hours of Chem AP to local high school kids. It's great the MIT offers this option since not many high schools have all the APs. I taught them all about Solids and Liquids, Phase Diagrams etc. They were really smart, asked lots of questions, and participated wonderfully. I got chalk all over me but had fun.

This week is also "Engineering Week" at the Margaret Fuller House. I helped a teacher plan the activites for this week which involved building straw towers and designing aluminum foil boats. The towers were hard to construct given the materials weren't ideal, but some of the kids got really into it. However, aluminum boats were a resounding success with some boats holding up 40 beads before sinking! I was really impressed by the kids even if we were left with lots of water to clean up!

Building straw towers with paper clips.
Great tower!
Proud of her precariously standing structure :).
Kids crowding around to test their aluminum foil boats.
Some of the designs were really ..simple. For instance..this is a crumpled ball of foil and it held quite a lot!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

lots of events!

Jan 3rd was the 3rd anniversery for Peter and I being together! We decided to celebrate (a couple of weeks late) at the restaurat where we had out first date. "Chili Duck" is an AMAZING thai restaurant. I didn't realize curry had that many differences, but they make it ridiculous wonderful here. I'm still dreaming about my green curry. And (suspiciously) our food came in 2 minutes. Well I guess we can't complain about that!

Peter and I :) after a yummy dinner.

Tuesday afternoon was the Great Humus Taste-off sponsored by MIT Hillel. Humus is basically the butter of my life. I eat it for lunch, for snack, all the time. It's filling, vegetarian, and soo tasty! I got to blind taste test 4 different humuses. Humus lovers filled the room and there were humus companies giving away free samples (heaven). I enjoyed Sabra's spicy pepper humus most. Delish!!
Sacred Humus Tasting Table.
This was also the week for movie promotions and celebrities!!! To promote his new movie "Jumper", Hayden Christiansen was at our physics lecture hall! It was a hugggee event, since the press was there and we had physics professors talking about the likelihood of teleportation (which is what "Jumper" is about). I think 1000 showed up and everyone was in good spirits, though a bit dorky and excited. (I had a row of Darth Vader masked kids sitting behind me, so funny!). We had a 15 minute or so sneak peak of the movie, then a teleportation physics lecture, and then Q & A with the director, Hayden, and two MIT physics profs.
The director of "Jumper" and Hayden Christiansen!!!
Power point presentation made by physics professors illustrating ways that Hayden could teleport.

It was a truly fun middle of the week. On Thursday, Christina and I watched the moving film "Hotel Rwanda" on the Rwandan genocide that occured in the early 90s. It was so well done. After the film a survivor of the genocide was there to speak about their experience.

Work at the Margaret Fuller House is going well. Exhausting week, with the theme being Civil Rights in honor of MLK.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Weekend Fun

On Sunday, I visited Angi at our sorority house to make use of the well-stocked kitchen and make blueberry and banana pancakes. They turned out wonderfully and my stomach was definetly beaming with them and some orange juice. Angi also made some delicious banana chocolate chip cake that I sneaked a piece of. shhh.

After our fun brunch, we took the T to the MFA and used our student IDs to gain free admission to the new exhibit they have there "Walk this Way". It's a unique idea of placing about 30 pairs of historical/radical shoes among ALL the exhibits so that you walk through the whole museum to learn about the history of the shoes and why they're relevant to the exhibit that their in. Totally a fun afternoon and I got to see a whole lot more of the MFA than I have in a while.

Beautiful couture shoes, based on Indian design. I want.
There were also a lot of artsy chairs designed as pieces themselves. Here's Angi with one of our favorites.
My favorite ballet shoes. In the same room as Monets and Degas'.

After our exhausting museum tour (my shoes were cute, but PAINFUL) we headed to the Prudential to window shop and enjoy some tea. We went to Teavana which is a great way to get a cheap, health beverage. I got a "Sweet Fruit Dreams" with honey and ice. Lots dried fruits and yummy flavors, and a deep red pretty color. :)

I also checked out a popular premed book "Body of Work" from the MIT library. (I'm really trying to utilize school resourced before I graduate). It's written by a medical school student and is about her reflections on mortality from her experiences in the anatomy lab. I find it well written and historically interesting so far.

Monday is a big snow day. Which means all Cambridge Public Schools are canceled. Which means Jessica has a day off!!! yay.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

IAP- time for fun and learning

I am so excited for MIT's Independent Activities Period, our month of "break" that most people use to work, learn, play, or pursue internships.

Before I begin gushing about my last (*tear*) and 4th IAP experiences, a quick update on what I've been able to do with my MIT winter break since frosh year:

My first IAP was spent taking MIT's EMT course and learning how to provide emergency medicine. Since then, I've been active with MIT EMS and incredibly enjoyed my experiences riding and working on the ambulance in both Boston and Cambridge.
Working with other MIT-EMS EMTs at the Boston Marathon. Mile 22, working hard to keep runners hydrated, cramp-free, and alive.

My second IAP was spent pursuing my research work in a Chemistry lab, the Lippard Lab. It was intense- long hours and tedious work but I learned a lot about the science and why a Phd isn't the degree for me :).
My very own desk in my Chem Lab. It's about 2am, and I'm waiting for an experiment to finish up. MIT is a campus that never sleeps, sigh.
My third IAP was spent doing development and engineering work in the beautiful African country of Zambia. Because I was able to participate in the MIT class, Developement Laboratory, I learned the basics of what problems plague developing countries, why certain innovations work in those areas, and what I could do to help. MIT funded my trip to Zambia, and I spent 20 wonderful days exploring both rural and urban Zambia, meeting NGO heads and the Chieftaness of Mwape (so that we could transfer our water purification technologies and equipment to them).
Us with our partnering UNZA (University of Zambia) students. Such great people, a wonderful country, and a memorable MIT/Harvard Team.

Soo...you must wonder, how can I top all that? I decided to spend my final IAP doing something to give back to the community of Cambridge, a community I had little time to get to know while at MIT. While this city houses the brilliant institutions of MIT and Harvard, there's a whole other side to the city.
I am an assistant teacher doing a work/study volunteer job at the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House Inc. I was referred to this amazing place (just a mere 10 minute walk away) by MIT's Work/Study Coordinator and my first day was fun and comfortable. I work from 1:30pm to about 6pm providing a wholesome after school environment for underprivileged and largely colored children. We play a lot of brain games with them, serve a yummy snack, encourage fitness, and also tutor them for certain subjects and teach them tricks to become better at things like math.
This job has really brought back my memories of being a summer camp counselor. It's incredibly trying at times to gain respect and attention from 25 energetic kids, but it's also very refreshing to think of ways to make addition easier for them or pronoun understanding even! The other teachers have been so welcoming and warm, there's about a 5 teacher staff for the 25 kids, and even then it sometimes seem overwhelming! This week was fitness week, and the kids spent time playing outdoors (gorgeous Boston weather), learning about the food pyramid, and learning tai kwan do and dancing through video.
The kids doing an after-school activity. They range in age from 5-12.

On top of my job, I like to take part of the copious free and entertaining classes that are offered during this time by MIT staff, faculty, and students. So this winter I decided to pursue the art of Middle Eastern Belly Dancing (there are numerous different styles). I dance twice a week, an hour each and boy it's a work out for the abs. However, some of the most famous belly dancers actually have some heft on their stomachs so there's hope for me yet! We're learning all the basics and slowly incorporating them into a dance routine. I'm generally frustrated at my inability to isolate my abs from my hips and it really is a hard dance form to master. Thing I want to tackle by the end of the month- shimmies. :)

This Saturday I also got to take part in a Palmistry class, so I could learn how to read people's palm lines, palm shapes etc. It was actually really scientific and I got several hand outs on how to read hands. And yes, I got my own palm read by one of MIT's most talented. Lots of interesting things in my future including big recognition early on (at 24 apparently), a need to loosen up a bit, and also a broad and deep love for learning that'll last me a lifetime.

It being my first week back, I got together with some friends and ate out at Harvard Square's Takemura, a Japanese sushi restaurant. We a good time catching up, and the red bean/ green tea icecream duo is to die for.

The guys :).

Peter and I, and our delicious ice cream.

Being ever the social girl (to make up for the past semester), after dinner I hit the movies with Aline and Erin to watch "Juno". I LOVED LOVED LOVED it. See it! It's witty and emotional at the same time. All the characters are soo endearing.