The adventure is in the details

So, here are some of the details from the New York trip. The picture function on this blogging system is not as simple as the one from Someday Satori, so the pictures are not as organized as I would like. Most are from the MOMA, the NY Public Library, or Central Park (HB is in the third to last picture, with the Rodin statue):

HB and I went straight to bed after arriving at JG’s house on Wednesday since we knew we had to be up at 5am for our flight. The two of us really are well-behaved angels when we’re together, and nary a peep could be heard from us, as we drifted off to sleep with visions of Johnson and Milton dancing in our heads.

It felt as if we’d been asleep for only four hours when we were given our wake up call the next morning. On the plane ride to NY, JG distanced herself from HB and I by sitting in a fancy seat in business class. We found out afterward that sitting in business class does not necessarily mean complete comfort, as there was a loud gum chewer seated behind her, and his chewing was making JG a little bananas. HB and I were seated next to a guy who was entertaining enough, though she and I were not in a very talkative mood. He must have sensed it as he spent most of the flight standing in the back of the plane, flirting with the flight attendants. Had we known this was his plan, we would have moved into his seat so we could make ourselves more comfortable, but instead we spent the time looking over our shoulders at him, wondering whether he would return to his seat just as we were getting comfortable. He didn’t return until the attendants announced everyone had to return to their seats in preparation for landing. When he sat back down with us, he and HB dreamed up a new show or new SNL skit called Bill’s Back, which would follow Bill Clinton in his role as “First Lady” (assuming Hillary were to win the election). It was quite a funny conversation, and by the end of it our seat mate, who claimed he had no intention of voting for Hillary, said he may vote for her just to see Bill in the roll of First Lady.

We landed with no problem, picked up JG’s friend, V, and took a cab to the city. HB and I, along with two others, were staying at the cheapest hotel I could find, which was a Best Western on 38th street. The old saying You Get What You Pay For certainly applies in this situation. Not that the hotel was that bad. I’ve certainly stayed in worse hotels, and with four of us sharing a room, it came to $130 apiece for the entire weekend. But when we pulled on to 38th street, we saw the hotel was the only building still standing in the neighborhood, as every building around it was under construction. We got out of the cab, grabbed our bags, and while walking inside, some aggressive guy tried to hand us a flyer for something while the doorman to the hotel tried to usher us in. At the time, I didn’t know what the guy with the flyer was doing, but I knew he was being a complete asshole. I would have taken a flyer, simply because it never hurts to take one and sometimes they’re interesting, but I didn’t have a free hand since I was lugging my bags into the hotel. Anyone with eyeballs could see that I couldn’t take his damn flyer if I wanted to, unless I asked him to shove it in my pocket, or some nonsense, so I just kept on walking. HB was in a similar situation as she followed me to the hotel. As we were walking in the asshole-flyer guy said “Hey, Miss, you dropped something,” and when HB glanced over her shoulder to see what he was referring to he said, “your conscious.” Clever, eh? It actually became quite funny (in my opinion) as we used the line randomly for the rest of the weekend. It turns out that the guys were union supporters and were protesting the hotel because they had tried to unionize there and were fired. Now, I must admit, this makes me feel like an asshole because I am a union supporter, but I didn’t know about it when I was in Florida making reservations.

From there we went to the AWP conference to check-in and go to some panels. The first one I went to was shockingly dull and completely useless to me; it definitely did not live up to its description in the conference book. It was packed and as the panel progressed, people were leaving in droves. I think everyone had been duped by the description in the conference book. However, the day was saved by another panel I went to that dealt with audio poetry archives. DP and I went together because the conference book said Kenneth Goldsmith was going to be a presenter. We’re both familiar with Goldsmith thanks to a poetry workshop we took together in the fall. However, as we were sitting there looking at the presenters, we realized we didn’t recognize anyone who looked like Goldsmith. We soon learned KG was not there. I was thoroughly disappointed….until the moderator announced that taking KG’s place was Christian Bök! eep! I quickly scribbled a note to DP with Christian Bök’s name on it and a big heart underneath it. DP didn’t know Bök, but I wanted him to know this was a very good thing (hence the big heart). The panel lasted from 4:30pm-6:15pm and I enjoyed every minute of it. Ubuweb, the audio archive Bök talked about, it such a great place to be when you’re on the web.

After that we met up with some more people and went out to dinner at a restaurant called the Playwright. They had several references to Joyce, which I thought was interesting, considering he wrote only one play (from what I recall), and is not someone I would refer to as a playwright. Particularly when combined with the likes of Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde. From there we decided to return to the hotel. I was exhausted and planned to go to sleep, while my roommates were making plans to buy liquor and drink in the hotel lobby. We took a cab back to the Best Western. MD went downstairs to smoke, HB quickly followed suit, and DP followed soon after. They were going to go look for a liquor store. A little over an hour later, just as I’m lying down to sleep, MD comes in. Any luck finding some bourbon? I ask and he said he didn’t know. He had not met up with HB and DP after all, and they were the ones looking for the liquor. I tried to go to sleep, but found myself unable to do so. After several hours of trying to sleep and not succeeding, I text(ed) DP to see if he and HB were downstairs. Sure enough, they were. I threw on my shoes and joined them in the lobby at 2am, where they were kind enough to share their bourbon and ginger with me (this drink possibly surpassing vodka/cran as my favorite). They filled me in on their adventure of looking for a liquor store. We had taken a cab from the Playwright restaurant to the hotel to save time and energy, but the two of them ended up walking all the way back to the restaurant when looking for the liquor store (and they walked back to the hotel after buying the goods). Had they known the liquor store was so close to the restaurant, they could have bought it after dinner, and save the wear and tear on their feet.

The next morning, HB, DP, and I decided to go to the New York Public Library to see the Kerouac exhibit. It was raining. Like, cold, nonstop, blowing rain. As we were chatting with the doorman about whether we should get a cab or not (we were loathe to spend money on a cab when we could walk, yet didn’t want to walk in the rain), I asked him where was the closest place to find an umbrella. “You won’t be able to find an umbrella for less than $20 today,” he said. Nothing like supply and demand and jacking the prices when demand is high. However, he was wrong, wrong, wrong! We took a cab to Times Square, grabbed some hot liquid at Starbucks, walked to the subway terminal (the library was just blocks away, but the rain and wind was too much to take with no umbrella), and while walking into the subway terminal, found a guy selling umbrellas for $3! $3! HB bought one for each of us, and as we were leaving, one of the guys there said to HB “Excuse me Miss, you dropped something.” This time it wasn’t her conscious, but her glove.

The Kerouac exhibit was outstanding. Much bigger than I anticipated; I could have stayed there for hours. After the Kerouac show, we went to the MOMA. Also quite terrific, though by the time I got to the fifth floor, I was utterly exhausted. All of this was followed by a delicious meal at an Indian restaurant (I don’t recall the name). The meal was followed by drinks in one of the rooms at the Hilton, where some of our friends were staying, followed by more drinks at the AWP dance (free drinks for an hour), followed by more drinks at a pub.

On Saturday I went to another terrific panel on Latino writers speaking out on immigration. Very good stuff, and I introduced myself to one of the writers who 
presented, which is quite an accomplishment for me. I’m learning I’m not very good at schmoozing; I would go so far as to  say I’m completely uninterested in it. However, this writer was a student in an MFA program in Pittsburgh, who writes  nonfiction and writes about immigration, so it seemed absurd not to speak with her. This was followed by hours in Central Park, dinner at Astros (I love this diner), an Obama rally in Times Square, and drinks in Greenich Village. The evening was capped with more bourbon and ginger in the lobby of the Best Western; the conversation revolved around our lack of interest in schmoozing at conferences.

Good times.Obama rally, Times Square 2008


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