Pizza Beach and a 10K in the Park

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend. Mine has been lovely thus far in spite of the bar exam prep that looms in the back of my mind no matter what I’m doing… In fact, I’ll have to attend to that later today. But only because I’ve been having such fun, going from dinner at a new restaurant in my neighborhood last night to a 10K in the park this morning. Pizza Beach and a 10K in the park is a pretty great start to the weekend!

 

Pizza Beach

 

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Marveling at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is majestic. It is one of the most famous and foot-trafficked museums in the world, and it commands a position of respect among art connoisseurs, scholars, visitors from around the globe, and the New Yorkers who pop in every day (and who might just be the hardest to please of all those!) The Met is a place that can be many different things to each individual who strides up its steps, dashes through its doors, and lingers in its halls. Some come because it is an encyclopedic collection of art history, and they thirst for knowledge. Others come to take in the beauty of the works within. As for me? My Met is a place of reflection.

 

Moonlight, Wood Island Light, Winslow Homer 1894)

Moonlight, Wood Island Light, Winslow Homer (1894)

I’ve always loved art. Several members of my family have more than an amateur interest in art, and my parents made sure that my brother and I would value it by filling our home with objects of visual art. They would take us along to galleries during vacations on Cape Cod and in Maine, and march us through museums in Europe. When I was very young, good behavior on those gallery trips was rewarded with ice cream (in Rome, the tactics were the same, except that the treat was gelato). Somewhere along the way, it was as if a spark ignited in my mind, and instead of being taken to museums and galleries, I was getting to go. It was a privilege.

 

Growing up in the orbit of New York City, the Met was the marquee museum. I cannot say that the Met is my favorite museum of all those I’ve visited, because I cannot say that of any museum. I love the Frick Collection for its intimacy and the fact that my artistic taste aligns so closely with that of its founders and curators. For a historian intrigued by people who collect, the Barnes in Philadelphia is an overflowing fountain. Seeing Starry Night at the Musee d’Orsay or Wivenhoe Park at the National Gallery in London are magical experiences. But what I can say about the Met is that somewhere in its vast environs, there is a place for each individual who passes through to come and reflect. No matter how many eyes have lain on any given work, if you choose to make it your work, your place to come and look and listen, it becomes a part of you, and you a part of it.

 

As I wander the halls of the Met as a young adult, all sorts of memories come to mind of childhood and the first time I saw each work that I love. I walk quietly upstairs and into the galleries of nineteenth-century European paintings, and lose myself in the works by Monet, Sisley, and Cezanne. And I remember that no matter how difficult life has seemed, taking a step back, really looking at a painting, drinking in the details and willing myself to wholly engage in examination – that’s what has brought me clarity and perspective.

 

Alpine Pool, John Singer Sargent (1907)

Alpine Pool, John Singer Sargent (1907)

I’ve said that running outdoors is what allows me to mentally detach, and that is true. But before I started running, art was the only thing that brought me such peace. Now, I am blessed to draw on both sources of comfort. There is nothing quite like being out in the fresh air, the only sounds coming from nature and the pounding of my feet on the trail. But the feeling of stillness that washes over me when I am alone in the Horowitz Galleries in the American Wing, standing before my favorite Winslow Homer or John Singer Sargent, is divine in its own right.

 

 

I am fortunate to have this place to come where I can take stock of my life and reflect on what it has brought me thus far. I am even luckier to be part of the Apollo Circle, a group of young members of the museum treated to special curatorial talks and social events after-hours, because it has brought me not only knowledge but the ability to stand in the Petrie Court and gaze upon the stained glass and lampposts with few other souls around to break the silence. But the Met is open to all who wish to enter, and though nothing can replace the experience of visiting in person, it has become even more accessible online. I only hope that more people gain the opportunity to experience what I have.

 

Ive celebrated three birthdays isince 21 on the Met rooftop and had countless other fun times within its walls

I’ve celebrated three birthdays (each since 21) on the Met rooftop and had countless other fun times within its walls

 

 

To those who think that art is nice, but not really a priority, or think it’s frivolous to cherish and protect when there are so many problems in this world, I would say that art is a part of our human civilization that makes it worth preserving. We are all put on this earth for a reason, and who is to say that the creation of beauty is not that reason? Art is at the pinnacle of what the human race has been able to accomplish, just like technology and math and medicine. Ignore it, and we lose a part of our history and our selves. Embrace and admire it, and we may just find the answers we are looking for.

 

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This is my Thinking out Loud Thursday with Running With Spoons. What do you think about the place of art in our society? Do you have a favorite work of art or museum?

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

‘Tis the Season

I’m often asked what the best time of year is to be in New York City. The answer, without a doubt, is the holiday season. The month from Thanksgiving to New Year’s can be cold and wet, but even so it is the time the city puts its best face forward to the world. There is nothing more magical than being out on Park Avenue in a residential area in the evening as a light snow begins to fall, blanketing the surrounding streets in white as the twinkling lights strung around the trees on the median sparkle, reflecting the whiteness and making the shadows dance. I admit that come morning, that blanket of white will be a messy puddle of gray making the commute most unpleasant, but your commute will probably be unpleasant if it’s hot and muggy in July or sheets of sleet are coming down in February, and during the holidays you at least get some decorations to make up for it!

 

Decorations on Park Avenue

Decorations on Park Avenue

The lights on East End Avenue

The lights on East End Avenue

Many of the avenues are set aglow with sparkling white lights. Of course, everyone wants to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, but I think it’s just as wonderful to have a little holiday cheer spread around the rest of the city’s neighborhoods.

 

 

 

 

 

The halls of all the city’s grandest buildings are decked to the fullest, as well as the pathways that lead to them.

 

Trees light up College Walk at Columbia University

Trees light up College Walk at Columbia University

 

Even the smaller green areas boast decorated trees. The one below is my favorite because it reminds me of the Christmas tree I spent the most time up close with as a child, the tree in the Nutcracker (although this one doesn’t magically grow as Marie battles giant mice onstage!)

Carl Schurz Park in Yorkville

Carl Schurz Park in Yorkville

 

Sometimes there are surprises to be found in regular buildings, whether shops, schools, synagogues and churches, or museums. Candles, presents, menorahs and dreidels – I’ve seen it all!

 

Gifts hidden in a staircase

Gifts hidden in a staircase

 

And like I said, even in the city, the most breathtaking decoration can be Nature’s – especially because it’s unexpected!

 

Snowfall in Riverside Park

Snowfall in Riverside Park

 

 

© 2014 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

‘And I recall, Central Park in fall’

Oh, Central Park…one of my favorite places in New York City. No matter the time of year or the weather, summer or winter, rain or shine, the paths in the park are open to all for running, walking, cycling, and generally taking in the glorious surroundings. I’m a nature girl at heart, and it’s hard to find a place to escape it all in the city. Manhattan can definitely feel claustrophobic, with street after street of multistory buildings and a transportation system that, while efficient, makes the traveler feel a bit like a sardine. Don’t get me wrong, I love my native city, and I think the subway is perhaps the greatest invention ever to hit the five boroughs in terms of moving people from Point A to Point B – but it’s wonderful to have one place to go to find some serenity in the city that never sleeps.

It’s great for a walker like me – if I’m going from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side or back again, I’ll usually walk across the park instead of dealing with the bus. I’ve been known to make the four-mile trek to school in Morningside Heights on foot across the park, rather than deal with public transport. What can I say…I walk like a New Yorker!

Looking downtown towards Central Park South

Looking downtown towards Central Park South

 

On the pathway at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

The park is also the best place to run. There are paths along the rivers, and some fearless folk take to the streets – but I can’t imagine running anywhere else. It gets crowded, especially on summer Saturday mornings, when it seems as if millions of Manhattanites have descended upon the park paths – but if you go early in the morning like me, it’s a wonderfully calm start to the day! It also doesn’t hurt to know a few of the ins and outs of the running trails. The path around the reservoir (at right) is gorgeous but also insanely popular for family strolls, casual joggers, runners training for marathons, and tourists alike…

 

…so, I often head down the bridle path (it’s dirt and gravel instead of pavement, easier on the poor knees of a 23-year-old!) An added bonus is the lower level of congestion and ability to serpentine a longer path around the park, stretching the usual 6-mile/10K loop if it’s a long run day.

On the bridle path near West 96th Street

On the bridle path near West 96th Street

 

Plus, you never know what you’ll run into if you veer off the beaten path – I’ve bumped into friends, fellow law students, and even happened upon a wedding!

"Surprise" wedding in Strawberry Fields

“Surprise” wedding in Strawberry Fields

 

 

 

 

© 2014 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Time for Tea

As an undergraduate in England, I didn’t affect an accent or give up celebrating Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July – my favorite holidays happen to be the most patriotic ones! But I did acquire the quintessentially British tea habit. I didn’t stop for “elevenses” tea and biscuits, but every day around five o’ clock my friends would gather together to shoot the breeze over a cup of tea. Even now, I find myself offering to put the kettle on whenever a soothing beverage is called for, if a friend is in distress or if it’s simply ghastly weather!

An Alice's Teapot

An Alice’s Teapot

 

I often go to meet friends for tea instead of grabbing a cup of coffee – it just feels so much more relaxing! I frequent a few neighborhood haunts. My go-to is Alice’s Tea Cup, whimsical and with a vast selection of teas, from the traditional to the exotic! My favorites are the rooibos teas – especially the red vanilla.

 

 

A wonderful birthday gift from a dear friend

A wonderful birthday gift from a dear friend

 

For a more casual stop-by, Chatime has great iced teas (and bubble tea if you’re into that sort of thing!) and of course, Teavana and David’s Tea. In fact, my friends know me so well that they stopped by the latter to pick up a birthday gift over the summer…my very own kettle with birthday balloons!

 

 

 

Of course, one of my best friends also picked up a few teacup shot glasses...23 should be dignified, after all!

Of course, one of my best friends also picked up a few teacup shot glasses…23 should be dignified, after all!

For more tips on tea in NYC, feel free to post in the comments! And special thanks to Emmeline Plews for beginning my teatime tradition five years ago.

© 2014 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.