So, after a grueling 38-hour drive from Florida (a far worse trip for the two cats than for the two humans), with a stop to load as much of my belongings as possible, I'm now in New York City
, a city
so nice, they named a state after it. Much of my time has been spent riding the subway, often the very same 5 train that took me back-and-forth between the Bronx
during childhood and early adulthood.
My first ride this week, a morning rush-hour trip from the Lower East Side to my aunt's house in the Bronx (temporary pingouin World HQ), to get showered and dressed for a couple of job interviews, had an "I heart NY" quality to it; as that uptown train emerged from underground, into the open air and the long-forgotten sights of the elevated South Bronx tracks, I thought, I'm lovin' this shit! The hustle and bustle of people going to work in the Big Apple, people reading the sports or gossip sections of the Daily News or the dreaded/dreadful Post, the overhead view of the Bronx, always under construction, always decaying and beautiful, just made me gush for a second or two.
I'm a bit less in "I heart NY" mode now, but it's still a good feeling to be here permanently, after having been a crasher, vacationer, runaway truant, or tourist since the first time I left the city as a kid. The slog of the subway rides - it takes 11% of a day to make the round trip from the Lower East Side to my aunt's house - and the discomforts of that contrived, often superficial process of the job interview, have added some sobriety to my disposition.
I'm still getting things done in spurts; Monday night and part of Tuesday were given over to catching up on lost sleep and doing a bit of unpacking. I write this now while my aunt runs her various errands, including one at her bank, which gives me the opportunity to open an account. She has CD101.9 on her car radio, smooth jazz mixed with a little "quiet storm" for extra salability. My aunt is 71 years old, and this choice of radio station further reinforces my view that smooth jazz is nothing more than muzak, bass, and drums. The "beautiful music" elevator music stations (like the old WPAT-FM here) are long gone, replaced by dreck like this.
I brought an iBook with me, for I had wanted this move to be as spartan and minimalist as possible. I failed, struggling to fit my "minimal" stuff into what space remained in my moving partner's car. I was too tired, still only halfway through the Florida-to-New York journey, to tarball and transfer the last of my various source code, text, and HTML files from my PC to the iBook. I'm missing some needed code right now, and need to write out a detailed set of instructions for my mother (a computerphobe, and the Keeper of Mine Puter) to start up the PC, log into Linux, do a set of arcane Unix commands, make floppiable tarballs (of some Java, Python, and XML files), and shut down. A daunting task.
So I'm one of those guinea pigs (or masochists) installing Linux on an iBook. I blindly ordered an external USB hard drive, not knowing really if Yellow Dog and this drive (and drivers) will make nice with each other. Nor do I know if the current kernel knows what to make of the internal modem and sound. Complicating things further was the iBook's choking on a home-burned install disk yesterday - there was a little gunk on the CD at first, but, even cleaned, the choking and sputtering continued for several minutes before the CD would be recognized by MacOS as a CD-ROM. After getting that far, I had to leave; I'll try to commence a for-real install later today. I miss Linux, and haven't really gotten adjusted to using MacOS for anything more than websurfing and e-mail fetching.
Cigarette prices here, while not quite the sticker shock of Canadian prices before the taxes were cut (IIRC), are still pretty bad, about twice the price of North Carolina. It's a longstanding family tradition to never leave NC without buying a carton or three, and I have done that this time, as I had done, in years past, for trips across that great long undefended border, back in the days when cigarette-smuggling was front-page news. I'm down to half a carton, having originally left the state nine days ago with one carton, so it will soon be time to make the rounds in search of generic non-filtered cigs.
One thing I've noticed in this neighborhood, where I briefly lived during childhood (this is where doo doo boy took place), is that most of the houses and apartments have bars on all the windows and exterior doors. While the North Bronx wasn't the sort of place where you could leave your door unlocked at night (an unwise but generally safe thing to do in the parts of NC where I've lived), you didn't need bars. My aunt even has The Club fastened to the steering wheel of her late-model Pontiac coupe.
As has been the case since birth, there are assorted relatives spread over this small radius of the North Bronx, a different mix, as some of the elders have passed away or moved upstate, and The Next Generation(s) has spawned families and The Nexter Generation(s). I've seen a few relatives thus far, some only briefly, some whose names I've not yet learned, but it's nice to be here again, and will soon be able to remember all the names of the young'uns.
The subway highlights of the day: as I was riding the near-empty post-rush 5 train back to the Bronx, a bunch of wonderfully wild, noisy elementary-school students (with adult supervision) from Saint Luke's School bounded into my car. They got off at East Tremont, after the train was briefly slowed by track traffic, and, soon afterward, the train came to a complete halt at 180th Street, a few stops before mine.
It turns out that after rush hour, there's construction going on for this portion of the subway system, and I would have to wait for a shuttle to take me the rest of the way. A would-be fellow passenger, transferring from the 2 to the 5, a landscaper on his way to do some work not far from me, dressed in a cool sleeveless Air Jordan t-shirt and shorts, his face a mixture or young and old, with lines in his face from all that time spent in the sun, went off at the delay - there was no way, as we waited and waited for the shuttle, and more and more stranded 5-train riders arrived on the platform, that he could make it to his destination by his scheduled 11 AM time. And the notion of doing construction during business hours, rather than the wee small hours late at night, only infuriated him further. I was treated to Genuine Irate New Yorker for several minutes, but he was also Genuine New York Nice after he blew off some steam at The Man. These construction hours are, I'm told, a point of controversy around here, and Election Day (and Primary Day, I suppose) aren't all that far off.
I need a nap.