Friday, May 16, 2008

Grad school on five meals a day

If you're in law school, and someone asks you what you plan on doing after you graduate, if you answer that you want to be a lawyer, you will be thought a sensible person. If you're in a doctoral program and asked the same question, if you say you plan to be a professor, you are showing a certain degree of over-confidence, if not outright arrogance. It's professional school, but if you enter 100% sure of the professional outcome, you might be in for a disappointment. Any sentence beginning, 'When I have my degree,' is already pushing it. However, if you're open to various possibilities, all of which are helped along by your (eventual) degree, you're probably fine (she says, with her fingers crossed, all the while knocking on wood).

I think it would be pretty great to be a professor. It would also be quite fabulous, I bet, to work at the New York Public Library's Jewish Division. This is my new favorite place in the city. OK, so checking stuff before entering is always a drag, but I've found that getting a chocolate croissant at the Pain Quotidien on 40th before a visit and getting sushi and brown rice tea at Chiyoda on 41st after makes the whole thing go more smoothly, and makes me not even wish I could bring, say, a coffee and a Twix into the reading room.

One slight problem with Chiyoda: it's also a bar. This can happen. A coffee shop I like near NYU, Think, becomes a bar at some point in the evening. Right when I'm getting into some work, the lights go dim and the wine glasses appear. Nothing gets loud, but I do feel like I might be interrupting someone's date with my typing. Chiyoda's bar is just part of its take-out area, which is a bit odd. All of a sudden, in the late afternoon, four young-professional-types arrived, talking loudly about how drunk they planned on getting. They spent a good 10 minutes explaining to the bartender what a "sake bomb" is and how to make one--I could be wrong, but I suspect this is not an authentic Japanese cocktail. Then it was "bombs away," and I overheard part of what was probably a more interesting conversation for the tipsy people involved, about someone liking some rapper's early stuff only. My workday wasn't over then, isn't over now, and isn't likely to end until I've read everything everyone French has ever had to say about les mariages mixtes.

Digression aside, my love-hate relationship with the NYPL is all love. Everyone who works there is extremely helpful, and, if you avoid the main reading room, the never-showered set is easily ignored. If only I could make it so that it didn't rain every single time I go to that library...

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