Monday, October 15, 2012

Hey there! Remember me?

I've been spending far too much time at the office - a situation that is HOPEFULLY coming to a draw-down soon. Instead of 12-13 hour days, I'm hoping for 8-10 (11?). However, the daylight hours are getting shorter, so I don't know if that means I will be tramping through the streets in the evening to get to the train station.

On the mornings when I am coherent enough, (or actually, still too bleary-eyed to focus on words in print), I stare out the window or flip through my iTouch. In doing the latter, I found a few things that I thought might illustrate some of the last month for me.

If you remember to look up from your book, Nook, paper or iPod, you might see thing like:

Ghostly graffiti
We paused in the Bronx one day under this overpass and I looked up to find this symbol about 4 inches from my face. I wasn't quick enough on the ball to get the camera out (or awake), so I keep trying to get a good shot, but the train has never stopped in exactly the right spot since then. It's so different from all the other tags I've seen on the East Coast. I will have to look up the symbolism. I think it's a protection/warding symbol and it doesn't seem disturbing to me, but it needs more research. It's unusual to see a First Nations tag out here - but maybe one of the People is visiting and trying to get protection from the great Iron Horses stampeding through the Bronx.

I had to work on September 11th this year. It was another beautiful day, and if you hadn't realized the date, the sudden appearance of many dress-uniformed FDNY on the platforms and trains would have given something away. They aren't "regulars" so they don't have the same "shuffle," "stare," "stance," or present the same commuter pass that we die-hards do.

Once on the train and engrossed in The New York Times, I happened to glance up to see the conductor checking passes and tickets. As we got to my neighbor here, he stopped, examined the one-day ticket, and quietly just handed it back to the fireman - unpunched- with no comment, but a quick hand on the shoulder--an unspoken recognition of the day.  It's THOSE moments that you want to be in tune enough to witness. On behalf of all of those on the train, thank you to the FDNY and our other first responders, and kudos to that conductor. He didn't know anyone else noticed that moment, but I did and good for you.

On the other hand, if you look quickly at this little vignette, it seems to say: "I don't care if you are man's best friend, I need to see your ticket too, Mr. K-9. I know it's ruff." I joke. Dogs do ride free. Also, this conductor may not have appreciated me trying to take the picture. One of the others shows a scowl in my direction.
  
Once you get off the train at Grand Central and start the dodge-and-weave that is part and parcel for the course to get to your egress, you also have to keep your eyes open. You never know when you are going to see some adorableness. Like the crowds parting and a vision of a teeny weeny ballerina in her tutu off to the Big City with her mama. It's hard to walk and shoot with an iTouch. The picture qualities of all of these are unfiltered and only 1 or 2 is cropped.
Once you FINALLY get on your subway, it's also interesting to see what New Yorkers haul around with them. I've seen arm chairs (seriously), trees (really), dogs of all shapes and sizes, same with bicycles and strollers; contractors bring their tools of the trade - and it's a good thing (???) that we don't have metal detectors or arms checks because some "tools" are deadly-looking. Amateur athletes of all kinds bring golf clubs, golf bags, rackets, hockey gear, pads, etc. etc. etc. However this petite lady caught my eye because of the juxtaposition of her bat and the title of her book.

Don't mock this woman for reading The Buddha in the Attic by J.Otsuka on the subway-or else she'll take a swing at you.

Once you get to work ... you have to find the things that get you through the day/week: 

Things like subtly rebelling one day, and using your "lunch hour" to get your first pedicure since Christmas. I feel "blue" so I matched my polish to my flip-flops
Medication: Carbs, caffeine, and chemicals - not shown: the rest of the pharmacy in my desk drawers
If you don't have time for a real lunch, find all the  reception/working lunch meeting leftovers you can find. Horde them. They will be lunch, dinner, snacks, for however long they hold out. Have no shame. Grab as much as you can. (What? "It's for the 'work-study' student." -- and sometimes it really is.) Also, if you must forage at the vending machine and can't find vegetables, at least make sure your junk food is green. That totally counts.

If your Dilbert-cube/office setting doesn't get you exposure to a window/natural light, create your own portal to nature. Make your own little altar. (They are everywhere.) I have sunny things, water views, sea shells and worry stones, stress balls, and the faces of some of my favorite little ones, as well as my girls to keep me from totally succumbing to the greys -- and the stabby-es. (The stress balls are also good as projectiles. Not that I would throw things at my colleagues -- NOOOOOO. Not me.)

Of course, after being cooped up in a building for 10-12 hours, you just want to fly the coop. Even if that means using another "lunch-hour" to run down to 34th street and back to pay a bill in person. If it's a $2.00 bill to hold a Macy's account open, why write a check and use a stamp? Plus if that means it will won't be late - go down there and use 1 crumbled up $1 bill and 10 dimes. Sadly, I didn't have a $2 bill to PAY my $2.00 bill. I looked.
Arts for Transit at 34th/Penn. Station
If you feel like you are trapped and have been in the airless build for too long, guess what? You aren't alone! At least your office isn't underground, and it's not a black-box rehearsal room, or windowless practice room.

This sign was taped up by the elevators for most of the summer, to direct the summer institute people on how best to exit the building. Someone else got "editorial" with it over the last few months - before it was removed last week. (Glad I snapped it when I did.) Perhaps it was a rebellious statement from someone locked into a practice room for as long as I was locked into my desk? To quote Braveheart:

"...they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM! "

Even though your real work starts after 5 p.m. when the office FINALLY quiet and you can FINALLY get some work done, you have to remember that the rush hour subways and trains don't run as frequently as during the morning and evening rush. It's important to make sure you leave plenty of time to catch the late trains and to check the clock to make sure you still have time to dash (sometimes barefoot - no exaggeration - I've done this a few times in the last month) across the halls of Grand Central. If you miss one by, say 30 seconds (again me, last week), sometimes you still can do some Christmas shopping or get some "real" food. But after 9? No such luck. Despite all that, it's important to pay attention, you never know who you'll see. Remember the bride? In addition to the National Guard, MTA Police, NYPD, and Metro-North authorities, you also catch a glimpse of superheroes.
Apparently even the Cap takes Metro-North home from Comic Con.
  
Oh my Captain, my Captain!

Once you stumble off the train at your stop, it's still important to pay attention to your surroundings. 

At this time of year, Halloween looms. Take this night - with eerie orbs in the sky
 Is it an Invasion of the iPod people? 
Night of the Living Dead?
or
Nope. Just another late hazy humid night walking home from the train.
Once home: Get what sleep you can. Whether with NyQuil, 4 Advil, and/or meditation/relaxation techniques.  Reset your brain as much as possible. Reboot the neurons. Close the eyelids at the very least.

Even if it doesn't come out literally, remember -- the sun will come out tomorrow (thanks Annie!).

After the storm, there's a promise of a bright new day.

You just have to hunker down and wait the storm out.

Stay tuned. I hope to return to more regular blogging soon. I'm super back-logged. More Island Hopping, Retroblogging, Auntie Nettie's Attic entries, ... not to mention
The Shushing Librarian has things to say.
When doesn't she?

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