Sunday, December 14, 2008

Things Grad Students Love, Part 1 (edited)

First installation of Things Grad Students Love:

Free shit.

I recently had an old friend from California come to stay with me in the city for five days. This friend is only two years older than myself, but already has a stable job, lives in his own apartment, owns a car, and is somehow able to use all of his free time traveling the world; no kidding, this guy's been almost everywhere one could want to go in Europe including several places in the UK three or four times, been to about three times as many states as myself, and in March is planning a trip to Tokyo with his girlfriend. I, on the other hand, am unemployed, live in an apartment that I by no means can afford that is paid for with money that isn't mine (loans, loans, loans), cook almost every meal at home on a food budget of $50/week, and sometimes can't even afford the $4 round-trip fare to get to Midtown, let alone any where else in this state. Needless to say, his life of comfort is far and beyond anything I experienced this semester.

Back to Jason's visit: By the time day five rolled around, Jason couldn't help but point out my free shit radar that I've keenly developed over the past few months.

At the Parson's Grad Program Open Studio night, to almost everyone I walked past: "So, I heard there was going to be free wine here or something?"

While trying to think of something fun to do: "I know how much you hate galleries but there's a space in Chelsea that's giving out free wine from 6 to 9 tonight."

At the Mixed Messages film show for my department: "Yeah, I know we just ate dinner but in the other room is the reception with free wine and snacks!"

While hyping Crocodile Lounge: "...AND you get a free pizza with every drink you order!"

After stepping inside the 3rd Ward Holiday Craft Sale in Brooklyn: "Ooooohhh, swag in a screen-printed canvas bag! And check out the other room, free coffee! I mean, I don't even like coffee but maybe you want some?"

Now that I lay it out here, grad students really like free consumptive items, usually in the form of
1) food
2) beverage (preferably alcoholic)

Of course, the bag of free stuff was pretty cool too: business cards, gift ideas, a magazine called "Heeb" that I'm sure was catering to the Jewish community ("Featuring the First Ever Jewish Swimsuit Calendar!"). Being a New School student gets me into the MoMA for free. I have several friends in the creative writing MFA program, so there is an abundance of high-quality poetry and fiction readings that also tend to have free booze and snacks; The New School just loves to get their students liquored up.

A good resource for all cheap-living Manhattanites:, the site where I found out about the Chelsea gallery and where I find oh so much more every week. These locales are usually floundering bars that are looking to ramp up their traffic flow by offering free well drinks or two-for-one specials, artists offering free wine to whoever is willing to visit their space and look at their work, or liquor companies trying to get their names out by offering free scotch/vodka/gin/rum within a one hour window. I subscribe to their email list; you should do the same. There's one for San Fran and LA for all my West Coast pals, too.

Oh goodness! And let's not underestimate the always reliable Stuy Town trash and sidewalks. Myself and other friends have found several treasures there, including but not limited to:
1) About 10 classical vinyls
2) 80 or so VHS tapes, ranging in quality from 2001 to Shark Attack 3.
3) My apartment's current table cloth
4) A combo VCR/DVD player
5) A lamp
6) Four red and white chairs which now reside in our living room
7) A mosaic end table
8) Four Shakespeare plays in varying conditions
9) Several hilarious children's books
10) A totally amazing old lady skirt
11) This blue dress, to which I've added two belts and rolled up the sleeves:

And don't worry, none of this stuff was in a literal trash can; most of these items were found in bags on the ground. And of course, I've washed all the fabrics.

Craigslist is also a good resource: We obtained our couch and our bookshelf for free. Quite finds, these items. I've recently dubbed myself a freetarian. Much more fulfilling than being vegetarian, let me tell you.


n/a said...

I saw at least two other items in this blog that didn't quite make it into list form:

-a subbullet under free items: admission. preferably to something art/museum related or awesome related like the Daily Show.

- Of course, loan, loans, loans!


Katharine Relth said...

The items included in the list were things that I picked up with my free shit radar while Jason was here. We didn't really get in anywhere for free (except maybe Bricker's studio space and the video show, but those go without saying) and I definitely didn't take out any loans...

Anonymous said...

That looks just like a dress I made in high school! I'd wonder if it *was* mine except nah, man, your boobage could never fit into one of my dresses.