An excellent experience!
COMPLETELY shifting gears from the previous post showcasing work and toil at YDS, this post is about a fantastic and relaxing end to my 2011 spent in New Haven – going to see the opera Faust at the New York Metropolitan Opera House with my friend from DC, Mark. He is an aficionado of opera, and has been working and participating in that field for a bunch of years, so I was rather excited at the opportunity to go see a story I find fascinating with some expert advice on the performance itself. The performance was Gounod‘s Faust, as slightly reimagined and produced for a more modern, post-atomic age audience. As one can imagine, it made for an excellent evening filled with music and relaxation – though that said, there was actually a big accident when part of the set broke, causing one of the leads to fall a full 8 feet down, making the production pause for 30 minutes while they assessed her health and the state of the set. As the photos show, I got a lightning quick tour of Times Square on the way over towards Lincoln Center. Mark and I ate at a little Mexican restaurant called Jalapeño, which was delicious (albeit a very cramped space). We got to the Met and enjoyed the exterior and interior decorations, and then made our way up to our box, near the front and top of the performance hall. They were less expensive tickets (by my request, as a starving graduate student), but honestly, the height of our seats gave us a view of only ~2/3 of the stage, in return for surprisingly fantastic acoustics of the performance while also removing us from the majority of audience members, many of whom apparently decided they had come to the opera house in order to cough all night long. The performance has been stuck in my head since I saw it, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
As a brief mention, I have to compliment Metro North (the commuter rail system out of NYC) for being so completely on-time. That said, the show got out late because of the extra 30 minute intermission due to the injury, and so I was absolutely frantic to try and get a cab: running outside at 12:35am, with a 1:12am train departure makes for a stressed Mike. I don’t know what the non-taxi rides for hire in NYC are called, nor do I actually know if they are a safe (or even completely legal/legitimate) method of transportation, but they were the only people stopping to offer to drive people, as the cabs kept on zooming past. I took one of those back to Grand Central station and asked him to make it a speedy get-away: unfortunately for my peace of mind, Saturday night in New York City so close to Christmas makes for a traffic-filled environ, Even so, my daring driver denied the doleful drivers doing their darnedest to defeat my disembarkation details of 1:12am – he got me to Grand Central at 1:05 and 45 seconds or so. I sprinted inside, asked an employee which platform was to New Haven (as a New Yorker, he didn’t disappoint: he looked mad that I asked him to do his job, then was clearly mad in his gruff response. You stay classy, New York City.), was pointed in the proper direction, and did a little more sprinting. I boarded the train at maybe 1:10, and that train closed its doors and shot out of the station no more than 1.75 minutes later. A photo finish, but I eventually got home to my bed in New Haven, thoroughly pleased with my end-of-semester operatic experience.
Closing shop at the New Haven house
As a brief close to this post, I wanted to quickly sum up the last handful of days I spent in New Haven. First, as many of you may have heard directly or indirectly from my housemate Ryan and I: our house is very old, leaks air like a leaky sieve, and heating costs are high anyways, so we usually run life without the heat on. Even accepting that it is not that cold of a winter thus far, I can honestly say that when the thermostat in the living room reads 40 degrees, you can reasonably expect to freeze before the first marker. An unexpected potential side effect of this: when I finally got around to doing a VERY-overdue cleaning and water change for my saltwater reef, I didn’t realize until it was too late that the 8 gallons of distilled water I had just poured into the tank were a frigid 40 degrees F (whereas the tank runs at a constant 79 degrees) – I am really hoping I don’t return in January to a watery necropolis lazily demonstrating that my lack of focus when it comes to thermodynamics simply isn’t going to cut it. Completely unrelated to the reef, I finally got the chance to sit down and chat with Professor Carolyn Sharp on topics ranging from academics vs faith vs experience, to the problem of whether her Labrador retriever or my saltwater reef is a more relaxing, less work-intensive way of reducing stress (we agreed to disagree, in the end). Finally, after doing a bunch of work around the house to shut it down and prepare it for the future, one other house-related update. Our housemate Shannon, who works as a cosmetologist for Sephora, got promoted earlier this fall and thus moved to a different store for her daily job. All told, it turns out to be much cheaper for her to commute from elsewhere in CT, so she decided to move out of the house at the end of December in order to save herself a whole bunch of money; exciting that she is moving up the ladder at that job, and I definitely wish her the best of luck! Our landlord Whitney in the interim found us a new third housemate: a guy named Shawn, who is doing a Master of Music at Yale for violin performance. I got the chance to meet him while he moved stuff in, and he seems like a really cool guy: perhaps best of all, he saw my shelf full of board games and a Star Wars t-shirt on a chair in my room, got a huge grin, and our friendship was thus instantly forged. The spring should be excellent 😀