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Urban Autumn Fun & Frustrations

Monday, November 7th, 2005

I’m at the Donnell Library Center on W. 53rd Street in Manhattan trying desperately to stay awake and get work done. I’m failing miserably on both counts. For some reason the publishing software for Gadling is not working well, so I haven’t been able to get more than three posts completed this afternoon. To make matters worse, I’m going on about 4 hours sleep, and it has now hit me hard.

Besides this late day sluggishness, I’ve had an incredible 48 hours in the city. Before I give up for good and go outside to grab a coffee, here is a rundown of what I’ve done since I arrived in Manhattan on Saturday evening:

– Took Rockland Coaches bus from Pearl River to Port Authority at 41st St., then took subway to 59th St.
– Had dinner at La Pizza Fresca and drinks at Vig 27 with my friend K, then stayed at her place off Columbus Circle.

– Walked across Central Park South to Lex and caught the subway uptown to East 96th Steet.
– Had a yummy NY bagel breakfast with my friend A, her husband and their new baby boy
– Walked from 94th to 85th and met up with friends at Molly Pitcher’s Ale House to prep for marathon watching. My friend E ran in the race and we spent the entire afternoon walking around town to cheer and support her. We saw her first at 85th and 1st, then again at 92nd right before entering Central Park. Afterwards, we all met back at the bar for free beers and snacks. It was so fun to watch the marathon — there is a great camaraderie and spirit that flows through this global event. I did not bring my camera to the city, but here is one shot from my phone. The costumes worn by both spectators and runners provided many laughs throughout the day:


– After the race, I met my friend C further east on 85th around 6 pm and cabbed it to midtown to have dinner with her boyfriend at The Mercury Bar on 3rd. We then headed to The Joshua Tree where the night took an unexpected turn and I wound up staying out till 3 am. We watched the Sunday night NFL game, danced to 80’s music and drank maybe one too many Red Bull and Vodkas. But it was a much-needed one night party, with no hangover headache today, so I’m not complaining.

-I left C’s place and walked down Lex like a zombie, hopped on the subway for a short bit, then walked back across CPS and down Broadway to 53rd, where I cut over to head to the library. I grabbed some pizza about noon and have been in the free wifi reference room ever since.

Next up: Meeting my friend N around 6 pm and taking a subway downtown to her East Village apartment. We’ll grab dinner with her hubbie, and I’ll crash on the couch. Tomorrow I may try and find another free wifi hotpot downtown where I can attempt to be more productive before heading back to PR in the afternoon.

Despite feeling sleepy this afternoon, I’m having a blast enjoying Manhattan during this mild weather spell. The colors in Central Park are glorious and their is an energizing buzz floating over everything that happens in this city. It feels really good to be here.

Changing Perspective

Friday, November 4th, 2005

If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

~ Henry Miller

[photo by Luminous Lens]

Oh boy. Today is my last day of work, and then I am off to NY for a week — a few days with friends in NYC and the rest with my folks in the ‘burbs. And I’ll get to see both my bros this week too. This will be 7+ days on the go — full of planning, packing, decision-making, budgeting, writing, and hopefully a little relaxing too. A good trial-run for what’s to come next year. Let the adventures begin…

Juror #9

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

After living in Baltimore City for seven years, I was unsure why I’d never been called for jury duty. Probably because I lived at four different city addresses in that time. But they finally caught up with me, right before getting ready to leave town, and I was summoned to report today.

It was an interesting experience — I had flashbacks to my college polisci days, and got a much-needed refresher on our judicial system. Before doing roll call in the morning, they show a video with Perry Mason clips and a timeline outlining the history of judicial procedure, beginning with ancient Greece, and then European “trial by ordeal” practices like this: tie a man’s hands with rope and put him in the water — if he drowns, he is guilty. Done.

Things have gotten a bit more complicated since then…It was a loooooooong day.

My summons number was 265, and right before lunch I got called to a jury selection. I had a feeling I was going to get picked. I was right. After lunch, and numerous rounds of questioning with the judge, I was one of the first to go up in front of the attorneys, for a murder trial. I was selected as juror #9. My heart was racing for some reason, excited/nervous/worried that I really had to be at work tomorrow. But then, after all 12 jurors were picked, the judge asked the attorneys if they were satisfied with the final jury before them, and the lawyer for the defendant replied, “No your honor, strike juror #9.”

Just like that, he axed me and I was asked to step down. Someone suggested that maybe there were already too many white females on the jury — there were two others with me, but why was I the one they didn’t want anymore? Who knows, no biggie, but it was fascinating to watch it all unfold. As much as I was curious to see what would happen next, I really couldn’t afford to miss work tomorrow. But I am glad I was able to fulfill my civic duty before leaving town.

I was shocked that they give each juror $15 (!!) for lunch/transportation, I thought that was a nice amount, maybe too much? I did get to finish a book today, one I had started back in early September, so that was a major accomplishment. It was nice to be away from email/cell phone for an entire day, and a pleasant surprise to be able to eat lunch outside too.

Farewell Family

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

My colleagues threw me a farewell party this evening. Great food, wine, a really nice gathering. They gave me a beautiful Hopkins desk clock and a cool Bawlmer Hon tee.

So yes, I teared up, when my boss said that “family is important to me.” It is, and as much as I joke about moving home, I can’t wait to curl up on the couch at my parents, cook dinner for them, watch movies, just veg out and be there with them for the holidays…and not have to worry about traffic on 95 and the long drive back after holiday breaks.

The tears will really flow on Friday, I know it. They are welling up right now actually, as I write this. I’m truly lucky and blessed for the good folks I’ve met and great lessons I’ve learned the past four years working here. It is absolutely the right time for me to make a change, to follow my heart, but I know that going home to one family in New York, I am leaving several others here in Baltimore.

Oh, and the word is out — Some folks at the office have found the blog, and more will discover it soon. It’s okay, I’m not hiding anything…I just figured I’d wait till my last day to send everyone the link and fill them in on my part-time writing gigs. I didn’t think anyone would really be Googling my name, but silly me! Where I work, we all make a living Googling people’s names, so it was bound to happen eventually. If you are visiting from Hopkins, say hi, don’t be shy…