Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strike Day Three and Last Day

It's over! I was feeling particularly cranky and irritated like every other New Yorker. Tired, sore and sick of bundling up self for another alternative trek to work. I promised myself that if the strike continued into Friday, then fk work, let my aching body relax, do some cleaning before taking the Amtrak upstate for the weekend. BUT - I wondered what today would bring.

I overslept this morning, I hit the snooze button for over an hour. My blackberry has this annoying blasting vibrate so I m always quick to grab it, tap in the PW and click on snooze. I could barely feel the pager blasting away under my pillow. I slept a little more then finally noticed the time. Ooh. My aching body protested as I pushed myself out of my cocoon. I needed to frame few pictures, one a Christmas/Chanukah gift so I thought, why not walk by the frame store in the neighborhood, drop them off and pick them up later today or tomorrow. I also had a UPS package to pick up (another xmas gift).

The store wasn't slated to open til 11 am and I couldn't wait long enough as I had to meet a colleague in the Lower East Side at noon. You know you see those frame stores every few blocks or so. So I decided to take my chances. I walked down Broadway and nothing. It was a lovely morning though, less cold and I had a lighter coat on. I took in the scene on Broadway, the Times Square, and then Herald Square carrying two small prints and one LARGE print already dry mounted. I took the PATH to 9th street and 5th avenue. Still quite a hike to the LES. I paged my co worker asking to go on line to find any frame stores nearby.. she sent me a few.. some were out of the way and others, after losing 30 minutes, were either shut down or no longer existed. Deciding that I'd had enough exercise I walked to the other of my offices.

It was around then that I was informed that the state mediator announced the transit workers would be allowed to return to work while the final negotiations went on. But the timetables for service to resume weren't set. I hoped at least a bus or train line would be running on the west side before I finished work. Then it was announced that it'd be 10-18 hours before even limited service would be run. Thousands and thousands of buses and train cars were left in lots unused so the MTA had to check engines, ensure that the oil didn't congeal in the cold weather, update the fare boxes and check the subway rails for dust. Turned out that the managers (nonunion, naturally) had empty cars running along the tracks the last three days to prevent the rails from rusting. I'm no student of maintenance so I'm not sure how the rails would rust in few days. But it makes sense for equipment that's been used practically daily for the last 25 years since the previous strike. From what I understand the train tunnels and safety conditions have seen little improvement since 1904. So the transit union is a remnant of the long gone days of industrial revolution.

A co worker offered me a ride to midtown to pick up her husband and I took it. The traffic from downtown to midtown was an absolute bitch, bumper to bumper. I was ruefully thinking that with the train, I'd be home long ago. Eventually we reached our destination point 46 blocks and half hour later. I thanked the co worker and set off to the west side from the east. Bit of bumping into pedestrians because of my cumbersome dry mounted poster and the winds were starting to pick up. The poster was like a rudder out of control. Perfect timing because I hadn't seen much wind (winds in winter time are something fierce. maybe mother nature took pity on us) since the transit strike began. I arrived at the frame store made some arrangements, then walked to the UPS store which was a ways off my route home. But - trains and buses would be back in service tomorrow and might as well grease my pumped up leg muscles with a final long walk. I then discovered that my package was somewhere on a conveyor (I called the previous night arranging to pick up the package) and they couldn't locate it. Huh? He gave me the office phone number to call a guy who 'deals' with package like mine (as in missing??)I ranted a sentence or two, saying this has never happened before and I am leaving town the next day. There's a Christmas gift in there. The UPS guy gave me a look and shrug that plainly said "it's-your-fault-that-you-ordered-a-xmas-gift-late". I knew he was right and scowled at him as a New Yorker would at this inconvenience. Oh well - least my sister can enjoy an extended Christmas.

So -it's been a real good experience and I've appreciated this city even more. I walked through some neighborhoods for the first time ever or first time in quite a long time. I am so looking forward to Rural to get away from this steel and concrete city with tiny apartments and delicate transportation.

Will post a note soon about thoughts on union. I know my dad will relish in calling me a pinko again - been a while since my grad school days since he's called me that.

Transit Strike Day Two

Wednesday Morning, second day of the transit strikes. Once again, I set off wearing warm clothes and trotted down 11th Avenue. I left bit later than usual cos I was 1)sore and 2) tired - I paged my superiors notifying them that I'd be half an hour late.

As I approached the MTA bus depot in the upper 30s, I spotted a crowd of strikers - a good couple dozen union members or so. They were marching around in a circle, few carrying signs and some chanting something. Few policemen were standing nearby on hand to assist if a grouchy pedestrian came by and try to start something stupid. Half of my face was concealed from the cold so it passed somewhat as a grimace when I tried to make eye contact and a slight smile to assure them that they're not hated on my book. Most of them refused to look at me, staring straight ahead, marching away pretending I did not exist. Two caught my eye and smiled at me in thanks. I think.

When I hit 33rd street, I was starting to enjoy the lovely morning walk.. It didn't seem so bad. The soreness in my legs eased up some now that I was "exercising". A minivan pulled up beside me and I glanced at it hopefully, a cute driver. No. It was a suburban soccer mom. "Do you need a ride? Where are you going?" she beckoned for me to hop in. Why not? Maybe we'll become lifelong friends.

Once I got in, I wasn't sure if she was one of those chatty drivers (the Irish cab drivers - boy do they chat! Especially if their ears prick up at the slightest American accent) so I used my speech therapy trained voice and told her that I am hard of hearing. She seemed to take it okay and relaxed some more around me. She didn't mouth words or talk loudly. The driver spoke clearly and steadily. I told her I was going to the West Village and she was on her way out to New Jersey. Perfect. We zoomed down the West End and I hopped off at the nearest destination to work. 10 minutes drive as opposed to hour and half walk. She was very nice and we cordially wished each other a very happy holiday.

I got into work an hour early thanks to the ride. Some staffers came in at 4 or 5 am to beat the city regulated time for 4 people per car rule. Even if I had a car, living in the other boroughs I would still NOT come in that early. I convinced Surdus to meet me at a bar after work for a pint of beer to warm up before we hoofed home. The bar was established in 1817 by the river so an excellent bar/restaurant atmosphere to it, especially the framed newspaper clippings of steamers and clippers from days of yore. It was 5 pm ( let out early again for the long nonsubway commute home). Surdus was kind enough to show me the nearest PATH stop - it ain't NYC transit but helped cut down walking time. The PATH isn't a nightmare like Penn and Grand Central. A typical subway scene if you will which happened today in a New Jersey commuter line. I got off at the last stop, 33rd street near Herald Square. I spotted Brookstone and I was able to complete the last shopping item. Whee! I then proceeded to walk 25 blocks home. Not bad. More variety.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

2005 Deaf Bloggers

Oh! I've just discovered my blog is nominated for Best Deaf Blog.. I'm up against some heavyweights.. thanks to whomever for the nom. Give 'em something to sweat *jabs a right hook*

Transit Strike. Day One

20 blocks = 1 mile. From my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen to work near TriBeCa area = just over 60 blocks. According to (a great transit link for walking, trains, bus) I’ve walked 5.68 miles round trip today. 2.84 miles one way. 1 hour and 17 minutes. Pretty much how long it took me to walk down the West End Highway. I’m a bit sore – that was one real exercise. My thighs, calves and feet are sore, but not complaining much. Least I can still move, walk without groaning. My back hurts but not as bad as I thought it would.

Bundled up with my yoga pants under my cotton pants, a long sleeved shirt under an (old navy fakey) angora sweater, warm socks, LLBean sneakers, a H&M (now I’m starting to advert here..) goose down coat, a woolen cap (played hell with my hair – static, oy!), my coat hood up, and a thick pink yarn scarf knitted by a consumer of mine, wrapped around the lower half of my face; I had a mission to go from Point A to Point B without means of transport aside from my feet. I was all warm and no place for the cold air to penetrate through the swaddled bod of mine. Only two things I had to contend with; a runny nose and leaky eyes. Not bad. After an hour and half, both my pagers slowed down from the 21 degree weather this morning. My sturdy and resilient wyndtell shut down several times once I arrived into the warm environs, and now it’s almost next to good as new.

I was the one of the few people who were hoofing it down the west end. Most of the people, which were not many, rode bikes or skated. After a mile in, I began to almost distinguish those who were regular bikers and skaters and those who used the mode of transport as an alternative. One guy who obviously have the build of a hockey player glided smoothly down the bike path and another man skated awkwardly especially over a curb. Saw few people like that in varying degrees. Same goes for the bikers. The stop time was 9:03 am. Not too shabby eh? Left home around 7:45.

We were let out of work early to allow time to travel home.. I trudged up the island and by the time I reached the lower 30s I was exhausted. My legs were buzzing from friction and my head, a bit woozy. Stopped for some munchies with OJ, get some calories back in. I eventually made it home, 20 minutes longer. I made a couple pit stops and walked up 9th and 10th avenues. It was nice in the morning at the West End looking at the Hudson and the lovely Jersey shores but it became quite monotonous especially with the highway and boring modern buildings. Give me a rustic riverfront or an European style riverfront (those were the days before the automobile.*sigh*).

This was a good day. I hope the strike ends tonight. Thursday is really pushing it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Movie Mumblings

Damn. Hate it when this happens. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas arrived yesterday in mail the other day. I popped the DVD in this morning and eagerly awaited for drug and booze addled Johnny Depp and Beninco del Toro to say something. I'd read the book back in college after I dabbled with acid and mushrooms. Briefly, because I was a wimp - an overactive imagination and no taste for danger of acquiring some, 4-8 hours of trips was no easy feat for me, but good memories nonetheless. For instance, walking in the parking garage under the Hanson Plaza with the feeling that the cement ceiling and parking lot would squash me into a flat looney-tunes puddle. And my overly hyperactive brain neurons projecting caption images in my head when I watched Star Wars. We eventually realized that the captions weren't on and we followed the well worn story from memory.

back to the point... The captions weren't on. I had read the book but it was too long ago. Half the book was in gibberish, somewhat chronicling the adventures inside a Las Vegas hotel with people who looked like lizards and bats attacking them. But still, it's a movie. The DVD menu offered no subtitle information, only audio and color bar (whut?) .. I went online and checked for the caption/subtitle status on netflix. The movie indeed had subtitles and CC. I went through all the menu options, assuring myself that I wasn't losing my mind. I was not, thank goodness. I sent an e mail to netflix asking for another DVD copy with subtitles or another movie on the queue at no cost.. Still awaiting for the personalized reply as promised by the automated reply I received.

I'm watching parts of The Sound of Music on ABC. Charming movie really, but it becomes rather depressing and melodramatic with the Nazis nipping at the Von Trapp Family's heels. Fraulein Maria is persuaded by the evil baroness that she is receiving improper attention from her employer Captain Von Trapp. She retreats to the nunnery. Realizes her love blah blah blah...

When I first saw the movie, I immediately recognized Christopher Plummer as a dashing young widower of seven children which he so admirably portrayed. Dragnet was my first movie with him in it as a pill pushing drug freak cult leader who liked to feed virgins to a huge water snake for a ritual. One of Tom Hanks and Dan Akroyd's better days..

commercial break - oooo - ABC/Disney has a new movie/musical out for the holidays on Sunday night.. "Once Upon a Mattress" at 7pm before "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy". Looks like a nice and promising mind numbing TV evening. From what I can surmise, "Mattress" is based on the nursery story called "The Princess and the Pea" with the delightfully mean Carol Burnett (Annie) and Tracey Ullman in it. I'm intrigued. I used to watch The Carol Burnett Show when I was little and I couldn't follow the material. I only liked her because of her loud red lipstick and slapstick outside Annie.

Aw. The captain is now professing his love and attraction to Maria. Later, poor Liesl would be betrayed to the Nazis by Rolfe. The world continues to turn and spin on its wobbly axis.

Ding, dong! The Castle Bells!
Farewell, my mother
Bury me in the churchyard
Beside my eldest brother
My coffin shall be black
Six angels at my back
Two to sing, two to pray
and two to carry my soul away!

found this in one of James Joyce's short stories some years ago.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Walk the Line and few others...

Saw "Walk the Line" with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon tonight. *sniffle* very lovely love story and you can *see* the chemistry between the two as Johnny Cash and June Carter. The way Joaquin basked in Reese's presence and literally drank her in.. wow. goosebumps.

Sin City - I do have limits for violence.. Not since "City of Gods" have I been this dazed and wheeling from redundant violent scenes showing 40 different ways of this and that. ooh. I finally finished the movie with only about 20 minutes left the other night. My brother who read Frank Miller's comic books felt the movie was a faithful interpretation. I can definitely see the comic book elements and it worked.

Bride and Prejudice - a Bollywood version based on Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". Very nice movie.. the chemistry is not as intense as "walk the line" but a great story and how the original elements of the story is woven into an international scene. The lead character that we know as Elizabeth is a middle class Indian young woman and D'arcy, an American heir to a hotel empire. It's a great rental - highly recommended.

Kinsey - good good movie... a great reminder that communication is essential for sex.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - good movie except for the dragon scene. I appreciate that it's difficult to bring material from the book onto the movie screen and I think thus far, the third movie is the best film adaptation of all four books.

"arsenic and lace" is next... can't wait to see it...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Feeling Rural at the moment... We were enroute to our hometown upstate on 145 on Thanksgiving Day.. This picture is about 30 miles in (about 120 miles north of NYC) to home. The valley you see in the background compromises part of Schoharie Valley. Wish I got the Creek... would've made a stunning picture.. Each time we drive on 145 after getting off route 23 I know we're almost home...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ode to the PMS

Everything is nice and sunny
until the black buzzard lands on your chest glaring at you in your face.

"Piss off" you tell the buzzard.. It momentarily falls off, flapping its skanky wings
allowing some sunny and optimistic rays through.

the buzzard flaps back on and digs its back spur inside your chest
the black cloud rolls in overhead. fack.

little things seem to take tremendous time to finish even when you're sitting and observing the task you'd undergo..

with a happy image that would conjure a Patronus, the dark clouds diminish into grey but with a lightning friction.

The buzzard loosens its chest crushing hold but does not move.

Then with the buzzard gripping your chest, you're on a roller coaster going up, down, left, right,
you're able to smile at people who you know do not deserve the buzzard-PMS induced wrath and you save it for those who you have the least respect for or someone-who's-taller-than-you-hogging-the-floor-to-ceiling-pole-in-the-subway where you're -too-short-to-grasp-an-overhead-pole to maintain balance in a NYC subway..

Then to your happy surprise when you're opening Fresh Direct boxes, you discover that Saint Alleviator of Moods is watching over you when you forget that you've ordered Jello Chocolate Pudding...