Week of 27 December, 2009
Sunday, December 27
The Lakeshore Limited stops at 6:54AM in Erie, PA. I heard a voice behind me ask a passenger “are you a US citizen?” And a moment later a warning that they have to carry their I-20 at all times or it is a $100 fine. I had been through a few checkpoints in Europe, and it seemed wrong to me that we were now at a “border crossing” within the US. I figured when they asked for my ID I would first ask for their ID. They asked the guy next to me.
“He’s sleeping,” I offered. He took the coat off his head and rummaged through his papers. He was born in New York, but he is a Mexican citizen, and he immigrated through one point, no, another. The conversation switched to Spanish. They wanted his permicion, and the agent flashed him a sample consular ID that in the dark looked to me like a Hawaii driver’s license.
“You came in as a tourist?”
“Tourist Visa’s only good for a year. Or six months.”
“Vamos con nosotros.”
The man gathered up his belongings. After a rough night sleeping on the train, he was off to a detention center, and then probably to Mexico. I told my neighbor, “I’m sorry.”
“I only asked him for the truth,” the agent replied.
“This is America?” asked the passenger behind me.
Having caught someone, they stopped checking IDs, and didn’t ask anything of me. On my way to the dining car the conductor announced that due to this last stop we were now running ten minutes behind, and would not make it up for some hours, but thanks to good weather and light traffic we would probably be in New York on time.
Monday, December 28
It is our week off together, and we decided to be tourists in New York City. Today we went to the New York Botanic Gardens in the Bronx, which is not all that interesting in the cold of winter, but I was keen on seeing their train show. This was neat: trains running through the conservatory on trestles built from wood and fashioned to resemble New York’s famous bridges, passing houses and architectural landmarks like the old Penn Station, built from plant materials.
Worth seeing once. The gardens are probably a better trip on a Summer day.
Afterwards we caught Avatar, which is definately a mind blowingly wonderful science fiction movie that will be remembered for its innovative effects. I really enjoyed it and if anyone is asking I say go ahead and spend the few bucks extra to see it in 3D and yes get there early because the first theater was sold out and we got a good place in line at the second theater because we showed up 40 minutes early.
On a Monday.
Tuesday, December 29
We got dressed up and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I enjoyed the European realist paintings, then Mei was agog at the Samurai stuff which seemed to me like an awful lot of impressive blades that didn’t quite captivate me. Mei was enchanted that bunny ears are part of the Samurai style, since rabbits symbolize longevity and cunning.
After that we wandered through the Chinese calligraphy, the writer’s garden which got me thinking that some ferns and hanging plants could really spruce up the home office, then on through the American stuff, which was mostly colonial furniture and some excellent Tiffany mosaics. It seemed interesting to me that the Samurai exhibition had a lot of Japanese tourists, the Chinese calligraphy attracted Chinese people, and there was a group of Indians checking out the Jain temple.
And America is represented by Tiffany mosaics.
Afterwards Mei treated me to a meal at Dean and Delucca, where she grabbed some cupcakes to bring home.
Wednesday, December 30
In the morning we hit up Ikea for a bed frame, and once that was wedged into the car, we took the long way around Brooklyn to the Bed Bath and Beyond so Mei could purchase a food processor. We stopped along the way at a place that Google thought was called VCS Hobbies but turned out to be a storefront for Restaurant Point-of-Sale computer systems. They buzzed me in to their office and I asked if this was supposed to be a hobby shop. Another lady came forward and asked which scale, and then explained that they were pretty much sold out of anything except N, due to the holidays, but they could take my information.
Not much for browsing, I guess. It seemed like a nimble, family run enterprise keen to make money any way they could, and really, there’d probably a lot more money in restaurant POS systems. Still, it is weird for a hobby shop to be on the down-low.
Thursday, December 31
New Years Eve! We watched the ball drop in Times Square from our sofa in Brooklyn. Instead of standing like cattle for hours in the cold without access to restrooms, I made Mei some hot chocolate.
Friday, January 1
We brunched at a French place over on That Street Where I Bought the Bike. Pain Perdu, oh la la!
We bought food, and Mei made a double batch of chicken chili.
Saturday, January 2
Mei baked cookies, and I helped get the place together, trekking out for veggies to go with the cheese plate and alcohol. In the evening, some neighbors and friends who braved the really cold outside came by and there was much noshing on chicken chili, hot apple cider, chocolate chip cookies, ginger snaps, cheese and veggies. It was a smallish gathering but our very first Brooklyn party worked out well.