Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Boats, Subways, Buses.
[Last night: slept on the couch at my friend Michelle’s apartment on Grand street]
4:45 AM: Wake up, catch car service to LaGuardia Marine Terminal.
6:00 AM: Delta Shuttle to Boston
7:00 AM: Shuttle bus to Water Taxi
7:20 AM: Water Taxi boat ride across Boston’s Inner Harbor
7:35 AM: Boston T Blue line from Aquarium to State
7:40 AM: Boston T Orange line from State to Back Bay
[Meetings with Bridgespan in Boston]
2:17 PM: Acela Express from Back Bay to New York
5:45 PM: 1 train to 116th street and Broadway
[Columbia CTA class]
9:30 PM: Rental car from NYC to Philadelphia
[8:00 AM tomorrow: close on our house!]
Month: April 2002
Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Boats, Subways, Buses.
Apaches at the stockade fence; post-apocalyptic renegades in the engine room?
I was sitting in a borrowed conference room at the Bridgespan Group in Boston last Thursday, and was just getting ready for 90 minutes of frantic pre-meeting HTML tweaking, when a forest of IMs popped up on my screen: all my office-mates were let go that morning. I was on the phone with Kate as they started coming in, and she describes my reaction as a kind of frantic Ned Flanders shriek: “Oh, my, GOD!” (waving tongue and squirrelly hands included.) Hearing about it on IM was eerie; like getting bulletins from a beleaugered stockade on the frontier as the Apaches force a breach in the picket. MawPlunkett: Keep firing, paw! This-here cabin’s our last holdout! And the powder and shot ain’t a-gonna last!
Everyone’s going to be fine; in fact, some profess to be ecstatic at the change. And it’s not unexpected; after three rounds of layoffs, anyone whose billability is low for several weeks running can see the black clouds on the horizon. It’s sad, though, and spooky, and I find myself wishing for a world in which everyone has happy, stable jobs that they don’t have to worry about keeping.
Between the layoffs, having been in Boston and Philly for a week, and not having a place to live, I’m feeling disjointed right now. Amtrak seems to agree with me; we’re stuck behind a derailed train right now, creeping from Newark into New York at five miles an hour with no lights or air conditioning. When I walked forward to the cafe car, I saw a Hassidic man bowing and praying with a scripture box bound to his forehead. Another man had an actual hand loom set up in his seat, and was weaving a patterned blanket from twenty strings of yarn coming from a messenger bag under his seat. Maybe civilization is collapsing, and the train is being run by a Mad Max punk with a mohawk, a coral necklace, and chunks of motorcycle tires riveted to his shoulders.
Should I stop learning Java and start learning how to throw a sharp steel boomerang?
Remember, Jesus is with you always. And his merchandising sucks.
Essay question for the day: Why is Christian graphic design so crappy and derivative? I mean, come on! When I was a full-time Christian in college, I remember getting badgered to listen to Christian bands, which meant buying Petra CDs and not pulling my hair out by the roots when someone put Amy Grant on the church van radio. No freakin’ way! I used to carry around an emergency Nina Hagen tape at all times to burn away the debilitating effects of Rich Mullins’ “Our God is an Awesome God“. Why do Christians have to imitate corporate culture, with “Lifesaviours” T-shirts and “God’s Gym”, and bands that are supposed to rock real hard, but end up sucking even harder?
Buddhists have cool graphic design. Hindu stuff kicks ass. What’s with the horrible Christian derivative merchandising? Latest culprit: the small, white oval European-country-acronym sticker. “FRG”? Nope. “SPI”, for South Padre Island? Not even that level of wretched, pissing-calvin fratboy humor. No, only now have the Christians caught up with their own entry: “JC”. Ugh.
This is a picture that I took the other day on the Amtrak train, because the guy in the suspenders was so frowny. A couple of people have told me it looks like it’s from an Amtrak brochure. Look! Rust-brown decor! Frowny guys in suspenders! Gleeful geeks with wireless connections taking surreptitious pictures and posting them to the Internet! My next site: “Sleeping Commuters From Harrisburg, Drooling on the Armrests.” Real-time!
Sorry to join the B&T set? Not hardly.
On Sunday, I rolled up my tent, packed my sleeping bag, and walked out of my apartment, leaving the keys in the mailbox before I closed the vestibule door. Yep, I moved out of the city — and for the next ten days, until Kate and I close on our house, I’m a Man Without a State, like all the expatriate dignitaries in a Krister Stendahl book. Well, maybe not just like the stateless dignitaries in a Krister Stendahl book.
Anyhow, when I walked from Penn Station to [My employer] today, I felt like I had cut the rubber band that connected me to New York — for me, now, like for umpteen million others, New York is the dirty place I go to during the day to make money. Which I seem to be fine with. I was always envious, as a kid, of my parent’s New York Years — my dad, living in a loft above a motorcycle shop and working at Look magazine, and my mom, living in the west village and going to see Charles Mingus in jazz clubs — but I feel like I’ve had a good run in New York, too, and I’m ready to move on. [later addition:] After all, how’s this for a New York Coolness high water mark? I walked into Vice UK, the hipster brit-shirt store around the corner, and they had filled the shelves with Defend Brooklyn merchandise since my last visit. The small, dirty Brit ravers gathered around to hear my stories about the origins of the shirt. (“Look! He has communed with the Mighty One! He knows about the origins of The Shirt!”)
There were birds singing outside Kate’s apartment window this morning, and all the cherry and dogwood trees are in early bloom, and the grass smelled of fresh rain. And there are tennis courts you don’t have to fight a stockbroker to use, and if you go down a flight of stairs in West Chester, it’s okay to touch the railing. And Amtrak runs between New York and Exton every day. I always knew that I’d move out of New York someday, and I was always afraid that I’d feel really sad about it, and always regret moving. Nope, didn’t happen: frankly, I feel almost like it’s the first day of summer vacation. And, if I miss it, Kate and I can just get rich and have a pied-a-terre (so that our teenage kids will have somewhere to go raid the liquor cabinet. Ha! I’ll show them: alum in the gin!)