~ Thursday, August 14, 2003 ~
Bleah. With renter after renter I come up against the same difficulty: "Well, Miriam, you seem like a really nice person, but I just can't rent to someone I've never met face to face." I suppose I really do have to move out a bit earlier and perhaps crash at a friend's place (I love you, Elita!!!) while going around hunting for apartments in person. I really didn't want to have to do this, but I don't know how else to handle it, short of living in a hotel for a while...and this seems tacky, but I'd rather not have to pay for a hotel...sure, it would certainly motivate me to find a place quickly, but that kind of desperation I can do without. So crashing it is. *sigh*
Hurrah for Expedia--the flight is booked. For less than $300, even. I leave on Wednesday, the 27th of August, at *gag* 6 am, and I'll return on Thursday, the 18th of December, at 9:30ish pm. All those of you who want to schedule a big surprise party to see me off or welcome me home, now you know when to do it. :)
This seems like as good a place to mention it as any: I think planes are really neat. Not just planes, even. Airports too. The whole experience of flying. Trains, too. I really like riding in trains. Maybe it's just my infatuation with the whole experience of mass transportation. (I suppose I ought to put boats in here too, but I haven't had much experience with boats. I've often not been on boats.) There's something a little frightening and wonderful about boarding a plane, or a train, and travelling at breathtaking speeds through unknown territory, and knowing that, at least in a very immediate sense, everyone who's on the vehicle with you has come from the same place and is going to the same place. It's the same little tickle of excitement I would get while heading to the subway station each morning in July, and realizing that everyone I saw hurrying around was almost certainly hurrying off to a subway station, probably to the same one as I was, and more than half of them were probably going downtown, just like me. I know, I hear you groaning. Whatever, you say. Big deal. But there's something romantic about travelling. There's even something romantic about the subways, with all their noise and heat and stagnant water and rats. Maybe it's just that they're so old--they have all the romance of a dilapidated mansion, only they're still entirely full of speed and vitality and large banner ads for Budweiser and Princeton Review. Old on the outside, new and slick on the inside.
[Warning! Digression coming up in 5...4...3...2...1...]
One of my favorite things about the stations is that they're all different. Each one has its own individually designed nameplate, or whatever the signs that display the station names are called. My favorite one (that I've seen) is at 66th St. on the 1/2/3/9 line--it has a tile mosaic depicting a sorceress-type woman, dressed in a gold robe, only there are like 8 incarnations of the same woman, and in each subsequent depiction she's in a slightly different pose and accompanied by slightly different contortionist/angel-type figures, so that as you look at her from your window on the train, you get this zoetrope-like effect in which you can almost see the illusion of her raising and lowering her arms as would a sorceress casting a spell. I'm sure this is old hat to all the New Yorkers who ride to or from or past 66th St. every day, but when I realized how all these pictures were meant to be experienced as one smooth motion by passengers as the train sped by, I felt as if the 66th St. station and I shared a private joke. I fancied I was the only one to ever notice it. And to be quite honest, I still do...speaking of fancy, my other favorite subway station is the 50th St. station, also on the 1/2/3/9 line, because all the walls there are decorated with silhouetted scenes from Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass. It's quite charming. I also liked what they did with the 81st St. station on the ACE line: it's exactly underneath the Museum of Natural History, so it's adorned with all sorts of interesting animals in tile on the walls. I loved how whimsically the designers let their animals live in their surroundings--there was, for example, a parrot depicted in perch position on the wall near the exit, and its talons (claws?) were wrapped around the handrail of the stairway. That's a much too sudden way to end a paragraph, so I'm ending it with this instead.
When I arrived in JFK Airport at the end of June, the first thing I did after getting off the airport shuttle was board the subway train that goes from Queens through Brooklyn into Manhattan. This happened to be the A line. That's right--the first thing I did after arriving in New York was to take the A train. New York is like the canon of books you have to read in high school--all the Shakespeare, Plato, and King James--not because it's the best literature there is, although it quite possibly is, but because if you're going to understand any subsequent literary works, you have to know the classics. All the modern authors had read the same canon, and were constantly referring back to them. It's the same with New York City. New York is where Tiffany's Cafe (as in Breakfast at), 42nd Street, the A train, Park Avenue, Delancey St., and all the other places that have been immortalized in idiomatic phrases or songs are suddenly demysticized--there they are, solid and real, and you, walking around, seeing them, and interacting with them, don't know whether these giant concepts you have in your head have miraculously come down to materialize on your own completely mundane plane of reality, or whether you've merged somehow with this immortalized canon and have switched onto a higher plane of existence in which you yourself become the stuff of myth. That was sort of what it was like to walk around New York for me. [End of Digression]
Buses, however, hold no interest for me whatsoever. I find them completely unappealing.
~ prattled by Miriam at 2:34 a.m. [+]
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