Tuesday, December 20, 2005

New York Report Two

Say over and over again: The Bronx is Up, The Battery’s Down. We’ll not be going to either, in all likelihood. The subway strike is up, and the subways are down. We walked everywhere, which is fun, what we’d planned to do anyway, and what greatly inconvenienced New Yorkers had to do.

The chief assistant to the assistant-chief-housekeeper at our hotel had to start out at four in the morning. Up until eleven in the morning cabs must have four passengers. Folks have been pretty kind to one another, though—we saw a driver stop to pick up a woman who was waving futilely for a cab.

We had a tasty Starbucks coffee to start our day, but the only available seats were in the dormitory. I had to move a street guy over, chair and all, to make room at a counter. Street guy opened one eye and then went back to sleep. A woman came in, put a small pillow on the counter, put her head down and went beddy-bye. It was bitterly cold and windy outside. Can’t say I blamed ‘em, and the Starbucks people paid ‘em no mind.

My laptop is five years old, which means that in addition to being heavier than a new one, it’s incredibly slow to boot up. The strategy is to press "go" and then make a pot of coffee, or take a shower, or bake a loaf of bread and then when you get back old reliable is up and running.

There is no wireless in our hotel. They have free cable instead, but I have no way of plugging the cable jack into the computer. I’m using a Juno dial-up, which is annoying beyond measure. But what the hell, "Toujour Gai" as Mehitable used to say. Dial-up used to be great.

We walked a lot in crowds that were muffled up to the ears. Because of the transit strike Sixth Avenue turned into a very long parking lot, and the sidewalks were even more crowded than usual…or what I expect would be usual. All of us, out-of-towners and New Yorkers, did a terrific job of charging forward at the stream of people passing in the opposite direction and never touching. The opposing streams of people simply melted together to make a continuos stream moving in two directions at once, as if a river were flowing both upstream and down.

Best part of the day: A serendipitous discovery of an exhibit of illustrated manuscripts at the New York Public library. Fascinating.

The cold weather and general exhaustion have saddled Katherine with what promises to be a lalapalooza cold. Tomorrow we’ll take a walk with the cold to breathe contagion on a little grand-niece and grand-nephew who live about 30 blocks north of our hotel.

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