I can't eat small apples anymore.
I just spent two glorious days in the city so nice, they named it twice. I have kind of fallen in love with the city, from its wide spacious sidewalks to the insane variety of random people you see on the streets, in the subways, and everywhere else. There's always so many things to see and so many things to do, it'd take a lifetime to know the city and its people.
Times Square is so much more than I expected it to be. It's filled with all the bright billboards and overwhelming lights and crass commercialism that is so famous, but when I was walking around at night I realised that it's not as loud as I imagined it to be. It's overwhelming if you don't like the lights and the advertisements, but it's actually a pretty quiet city. There weren't cacophonies of car horns or stampeding horses, and the buzz of a million people actually disperses up into the acoustics of the skyscrapers, so I never felt claustrophobic sound-wise.
I can happily cross another thing off my bucket list: Watch a musical on Broadway. Thanks to some extraordinary luck on the part of the Yale-NUS Random Number Generator, I scored free tickets to the showing of Wicked: A New Musical on. Freaking. BROADWAY. AND IT WAS AMAZING. I HAVE NO WORDS AS TO HOW AWESOME IT WAS. EXCEPT THESE WORDS RIGHT HERE. I've heard the songs before, but without the story, so I've had to piece together that plot and who exactly was singing what. So seeing it on stage, with the actors and the singers and costumes and the amazing props, backdrops and scenery, was FANTABULASTIC. I totally get all the songs now, and I loved listening to my favourites being played live. I had shivers at the climax of For Good, the part where both of them harmonized a high note in the third chorus. If I had anything to complain about, I'd say I walked out of the theatre with my mind blown. I was sitting next to Aleithia, who had not watched a musical before, and she was quite stunned as she walked out as well.
I got to talk a lot with Molly, one of the Dean's Fellows, as we roamed the streets of New Haven before going to the musical. She's a lot older and more mature than she first appears. I think living by yourself for four years grows you up a lot. She's really nice, and I like her. (Hi Nessa, if you're reading this, don't worry, I like you too!)
Dinner was organized by food expert Austin Shiner, and Austin Shiner never disappoints when it comes to food. We trained out to Harlem to try authentic African-American soul food, which was a whole set of delicious good food for the soul. Fried chicken and barbeque ribs and spiced rice, oh my. And delicious banana pudding with ice cream as well. I loved the food, and being surrounded by international students swearing in Hokkien as an excuse to learn Singlish really added to the atmosphere.
After dinner, we went to this awesome improv comedy show found by Chris Tee. It's at the National Comedy Theatre on 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenue. I have never watched improv performed live before, and I was completely floored by how incredibly brilliant the performers were. I was laughing my head off almost every minute, at almost every line that they said. I can't imagine how far I still have to go to even get near that level. It was also really nice to see female performers, because there are so many stereotypes about women in comedy and how it's like their driving. But our host, Jen I think her name was, was really energetic and a really good host, and I would like to see her actually perform instead. We tried to chat with them a bit after the show, but I think they were more keen to clean up and clear out, so we didn't get the chance.
Wandering around Wall Street and the Financial District was not as interesting, but we got to see much of the city and the architecture that you wouldn't normally see, I guess. We saw the huge bull, and I was very amused how anatomically-correct they cast it. Also, the subway system is way too complex and convoluted for my liking, but at least you can read the station names, unlike in Japan.
I also visited the Museum of Natural History, and though it was big I didn't get a chance to explore it all. But I do urge anyone who is visiting to PAY FOR THE PLANETARIUM AND GO IN, DAMMIT. You see things on television and movies, but nothing throws you into the vast nothingness of space than a huge dome with special visual effects that make you feel like you can just reach up and pluck a planet from the sky. The show hurtles you through the wonderful beauty of space, and just amazes you with its astonishing majesty, through starfields and sun flares, past satellites and solar systems, all simply spectacular. I think I spent the whole thirty minutes watching it with my jaw open. Literally.
And that was my trip to New York. I'll be back next week, and hopefully it'll top this week, but I don't expect it to.
Empire Building State of Mind,
The Edna Man