#3MonthsLeft: Even Lawyers Can Be Artists

Written by Rucha Desai, Columnist

I am not an artist. In my high school ceramics class, I made a vase without a bottom, and my mother, after seeing nothing could be put inside of it, confirmed that art (all art—the breadth of her conclusion was wide) was not my calling.

In New York City, however, anyone can be an artist, and all proclaim themselves to be.

This week, toting a subpar vegetarian sandwich from Potbelly, some leftover white wine from Valentine’s Day, and two Groupons, my little sister and I went to a class at the Painting Lounge.

Once again, we were assured that we had not foregone our true callings for other livelihoods.

It was my first night of Spring Break. With that euphoric, fleeting liberation that comes only with the beginning of a school vacation, I skipped over to Chelsea, the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc clinking in my bright yellow, dirtied, and otherwise empty backpack.

As my sister and I waited for class to begin, we watched the rest of the group stream in: a big, rowdy group celebrating a 40th birthday; a quieter family of women (mothers, sisters, daughters); two young girls—foils to my sister and me—who sat in front of us and ultimately scored highest (in a grading system born from the dark, competitive crevices of my mind); and one lone woman, enjoying her art and her Chardonnay and her solitude.

As if a caricature of a starving artist, the instructor was a professional dancer and singer and actress, and, evidently, was also very talented in acrylic painting. Step-by-step, with patience and kindness, she taught us how to imitate a work by Graham Gercken, one of the few artists celebrated by the Painting Lounge who is still alive (he sells his work on Etsy). Unlike the binary of gifted/ungifted on which I was raised, the instructor told us she was merely giving us guidance, that everyone had their own interpretations and their own visions, and that it was up to each of us to create something from the blank canvas. All of our pieces, she said, were beautiful.

I didn’t buy it. I’m too old to be soft. I’m almost done with law school, so I knew that while the piece was subject to a multiplicity of interpretations, only one would prevail. Only 10% of us could get that evasive, determinative A. There is no empathy in law school.

After the first five minutes of explanation of dashes and splotches and double dipping paints, I became immersed. I stopped sipping on wine, threw the sandwich back in my sister’s face, and began concentrating on perfection. I would be the next Graham Gercken.

Of course, my piece was not at all similar to Graham Gercken’s. I painted my yellow backpack red out of frustration. I guess there can be only one Graham Gercken.

We walked home, our paintings and backpacks and all, to drop off our stuff before venturing out for our second dinner. We discovered El Camion, likely one of the few Mexican restaurants in New York City with better food than drinks. We winced slightly at the margaritas, but rapidly and silently shoveled the fresh, wholesome tostadas and fajitas into our mouths.

After watching an episode of The Wire and listening to my roommates loudly bash Donald Trump in the hallway, we passed out. We slept sweetly and soundly, with paint on our hands and nothing heavy in our hearts. Our polymath instructor was right—we had but a blank canvas, upon which we created a lovely, memorable Wednesday night in New York City.

#3MonthsLeft: Third Year Soliloquy

Written by Rucha Desai, Columnist

There are 90 days left until graduation. For some, that means only 90 more days of searching for old outlines, of posting political tirades on Coases, and of running late to class because the Monday schedule is arbitrarily moved up ten minutes. For others, it means only 90 days of ignoring the loud Mamoun’s consumption in the library and racing to The Cave for a spot on the couch.

For me, this means there are only 90 days left to be a student. That is, 90 days of discoveries and rediscoveries, of expected unemployment and unexpected audacity, of embracing and cherishing and being energized by this beautiful city. There are 90 days of unbilled, unmeasured time in a race against the clock.

So, instead of #3LOL, I am #3MonthsLeft. I will chronicle one experience—old or new—every week, for three months, to uncover the little treasures this city has to offer (outside of Vanderbilt Hall).

Last Saturday, I discovered wintertime Hamptons. To celebrate my friend’s 30th birthday, we took a party bus tour of the Hamptons through First Glass Wine Tours. The bus was stocked with water bottles, ice buckets, and red solo cups filled with nostalgia. We unapologetically blasted Justin Bieber’s new album on a loop as we rode from Midtown East to our first stop, Raphael. The winery had a wooden, warm tasting room with high ceilings, live music, and a view of untouched, snow-covered vineyards that reached the horizon. For $11, I tasted four Long Island wines, ate a thick grilled cheese sandwich with hot tomato soup, and took selfies against the immaculate terrain (after aggressively judging girls who take selfies).

Everything was clean, white, and simple.

Excitement levels heightened, our next stop was Baiting Hollow, where older blond women were dancing in celebration of each other and the winery’s live band played 90s pop covers. In the midst of a fierce debate about boy bands (Backstreet Boys versus *NSYNC), we had one bottle of Riesling and one bottle of cabernet franc, with a creamy spinach artichoke dip that was grossly lacking in salt. We finished our bus tour at LIV – not the club in Miami, but the distillery on Long Island. For $10, we tasted potato vodkas infused with sweet fruits, with espresso, and with nothing. We swished, we clinked, and we sipped.

And the clock struck midnight (6 p.m.), so we had to run back to our coach (mini party bus) before it turned back into a pumpkin (charged us a penalty).

Our souvenir tasting glasses in our pockets, we climbed back onto the bus. Disco lights blaring, we rode back into Manhattan, playing aggressive rounds of Heads Up and eating the complimentary cheese from Raphael that we stuffed into take-out containers. We reached Manhattan, and the crew dispersed – to the DL, to Caliente Cab, and to respective studios, where the jubilance and freshness of the day’s events allowed a deep, untroubled sleep. A familiar dread about Sunday’s activities began to creep over me—the antitrust reading, the dishwashing, the weight training—but I was able to fend it off for just a few more hours, nibbling on my last bits of cheese and swiping through my selfies against that untouched, white, immaculate terrain.