When you get caught between the moon and New York City

I got sent this week to New York City for three days of training for a new job.* I’d had more time than I expected between roles, so I had plenty of time to get well rested, ready, tanned, relaxed etc. By the time it was actually time to get onto the Acela and head south, I was READY TO WORK ALREADY. I really like taking the train (well, the Acela especially). It’s like air travel in not having to worry about anything, but unlike air travel it’s not a complete pain in the rear. You can even do things like stand up and move around and feel your feet.

We passed New London, home to my alma mater, just as the sun set.

Looking downstream on the Thames. Conn is upstream.
Looking downstream on the Thames. Conn is upstream.

But by the time I hit New York any thoughts of walking from Penn Station had fled. When the taxi pulled up to my hotel I told him I was looking for a HOTEL not a night club. “This is it!” he said. (He was, tragically, correct.) I walked into a lobby that was my antithesis. Loud music. Shockingly stylish, young people. The hipsterish of hipster beards. A freaking bouncer at whose “discretion” you would or would not be permitted into the on premesis night clubs. (Hint: I would pass pretty much zero nightclub bouncer tests. Ever.) There was a second floor pool – open air – that had a clear bottom so from the lobby you could see the perfectly toned figure of the incredibly courageous swimmers above.

You know how people say things like, “This is a no judgement zone”? I’d inadvertently stumbled into what could only be described as a Judgement Zone. I talked myself into this being a place for the testing and competition of difficult and hard won skills (fashion being both of those). That’s fine and all, but I’m not going to sign up for beginning tennis lessons in sight of the Wimbleton crowd, and so I didn’t really want to walk the gauntlet of carefully studied loveliness in order to hit the sheets.

I slinked (slunk?) up to my room, and proceeded to be – ahem – entertained by my neighbors for several hours.

The morning shone brighter, I’m happy to say. The beautiful people were all apparently hung over. The hotel is apparently near the YouTube studios. There was a cloud of young girls near the doors pretty much every afternoon. I stumbled upon them just as the objects of their affection emerged – bad skin and bodyguards – to watch them collectively lose their cool and take 10000001 selfies. Rumor has it that said object was actually a YouTube star. WHO KNEW. I don’t think it was Stampy Longhead who is my son’s YouTube hero.

Tuesday I got sprung from training a bit early. I’d thought we were going to have a mixer that evening (I was wrong) so I found myself with a night in New York, at liberty! It was too late to get to the Cloisters in time. I thought about the Museum of Fine Art, but it was honestly a really long walk and a few of us were meeting for drinks later in the evening. I would have ditched them to go catch an opera at the Met, but I hadn’t packed a gown – or even a dress. So instead I went walking and found the entrance to the High Line. I walked the full length of it (twice, since I went there and back again).

Given to me by a saffron-robed Tibetan monk wearing stylish sneakers. Apparently he had a vision of the donation I would give him in return. He was slightly wrong.
Given to me by a saffron-robed Tibetan monk wearing stylish sneakers on the High Line. Apparently he had a vision of the donation I would give him in return. He was slightly wrong.

I think it says a lot about me and my affinity for cities that the minute you put me in one of the world’s great metropolises I’m looking for the grass and flowers. I believe this is an unfathomable position for many of the folks I found myself with, but I really don’t love cities. New York, center of fashion that it is, I like even less than your average city. I’ll confess that I’m rather fond of both Boston and Seattle, which are more people-sized cities and in which I feel less conspicuously Not From Here.

I’m back on the train tonight**, Atlantic shore in sunset on my right instead of left. It will probably be full dark when I cross the mighty Thames, as the gloaming is already well advanced. Tomorrow I get to try my commute for the first time, find my desk, meet my team. I anticipate a bit of a challenging period for me, blog-wise, while my creative and mental energies are full of a new role, new company, new industry and less full of noticing the small life moments that are usually the _thrilling_ fodder for my blog. I’m sure we’ll muddle through, you and I!

The only time I didn't have "When you get caught between the Moon and NYC" stuck in my head was when I was walking on Bleeker Street.
The only time I didn’t have “When you get caught between the Moon and NYC” stuck in my head was when I was walking on Bleeker Street.

*This is pretty much all I’ll be saying about the new job, as has generally been the case with my employers. In the event I need to refer to it in the future, I will probably creatively call it something like New Job, or Job. If you happen to know what it is, I appreciate you failing to mention that here. But you can rest assured it represents a really good thing for me and my family.
**Reminder that I often write my posts ahead of time and schedule them!

Camp Gramp 2013 – #3

Wednesday was a quiet day — or as quiet as Camp Gramp gets. There is a new Camp Gramp enterprise going — the making of Fluffy figures — on paper. They will be wealthy soon because they are making these figures to sell. Chu Chu appears to be a cat with diagonal stripes. Octo is an octopus. They also watched TV and played games. The Legos purchased at Legoland were constructed!

Editor’s Note: AHHH! They made a blog! You can see it here: http://productionsoffluff.blogspot.com/

Then, in the evening, Matthew purchased tickets for All’s Well at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare whatever. It was at this awesome site on the shore of the Hudson across from West Point. Wonderful. It was a great evening. In addition to this gift given for our anniversary, he took care of Camp Gramp for the evening. Wow!

Thursday was New York day. In deference to his legs and occasional tendency to sit down and refuse to move, Papapa stayed home and kept Thane. They went out to lunch and got some Legos and a puzzle. It seemed to be a good day.

The remaining five of the Camp Grampers went with Uncle Matt for a day in New York City. He is an awesome tour guide. We parked the car uptown and took the Subway wayyyyy down town. The advertised air condition cars were not. The weather was perfect outside and hot inside, but we rode to South Beach (I think). We took the Staton Island Ferry across and back for a nice view of the Statue of Liberty. When we saw the line snaking all around the island, we thought our decision not to go to the island was a good one.

Then we walked to the 9-11 site. Line adverse, we got a great view from a neighboring walkway and avoided all the people who wanted to sell us the ultimate guide to the 9-11-01 event.

Then we caught the subway (with considerable trouble because you can only use a credit care twice in the system and only 4 people can use one card and other things we didn’t know. We went to Time Square, then to the Empire State building, then to the Nintendo store where CG allowances were spent. After that we walked down 5th avenue (I was so under dressed I couldn’t breathe). We ended in Central Park where we found the place the pigeon lady stood and walked through the park for about 45 minutes. The children climbed on rocks. We saw cool fields and experienced the magic of the country in the city.

A walk through Morningside park brought us to the car — a miracle since I would never have found it.

Uncle Matt was the hero of the day. I can’t believe how much of the city we saw.

The children were always heroes. They walked miles without complaining. They did a great job!

Today we will be recovering. The enterprise continues. They have decided that original copies will cost more than photo copies. Thane is going to be the advertising executive. ‘

Pictures. Well, I thought I posted pictures from the first part of CG, but discovered that they didn’t post. So after lunch, I will be posting pictures, I hope!

The dawn is breaking, it’s early morn

The Acela express in New London

I was up at 4:45 this morning, in the wee small hours of the morning, to get ready to leave my family for a few days. When I went to the bathroom, the heated tile floor was frigid in its mid-night settings, and the house was cold and still and dark. No trace of morning touched the Eastern sky, and no sounds emerged from the rooms where my morning-glory sons slept. Now I am sitting on the Acela Express, just entering Providence as the gray glimmers of dawn give way to sunless light.

My brother wrote recently about the contemplative and communicative nature of traveling. And I feel it too. But traveling for business is odd. So often, when you travel for work, you are going to a place but you will never see it. You are most likely to be exchanging one faceless conference room for another faceless conference room. You’re lucky if there are windows. Your personal comfort and desires are set carefully to the side. Perhaps your work-hosts will take good care of you and ensure you have water and food throughout the day (and, God willing, coffee). Or perhaps not. If not, you must be tough and not complain until later.

I don’t think of myself as someone who travels a lot for work. I have high standards to compare myself to, I suppose. I had one boss who flew over 100,000 miles in a year. My friend John travels 100 days of the year. But, gazing out the window, as I thought of my past trips, I have traveled for work. Let’s see… I have gone to New York for conferences (twice), DC to give a report to a client (that project reported to congress – exciting!), Las Vegas for another conference (my entire company went and we spent about 3 hours at the conference and the rest of the time “teambuilding” which I never would have done on my own but thoroughly enjoyed). I’ve visited clients in Dayton Ohio. I did training in Chicago. I implemented a client in Oregon, traveling there five or six times while pregnant with Thane, and extending my trips to weekends so I could spend some time with my folks. I went to San Diego, and drove past road blocks near the border to our offices in Temecula. The very best trip I have taken for business was a week long trip to Amsterdam and the Alsace region of France. The food on that trip was unbelievable, and I loved the gentle hills and ancient airs of the border towns.

And I have a hunch I’m forgetting a trip or two in there.

There are two layers of clouds in the sky now. The bottom layer is printed in grayscale, a lumpy tissued dressing protecting the sky from the ground. But in the narrow gaps I can see above to pinked clouds and blue sky, past the blight of the storage facilities and junkyards surrounding the tracks.

I have not often taken the train. The ability to (comfortably) blog while traveling is a rather enjoyable novelty. I have traveled this stretch of road many times, and to see what usually takes me about and hour and a half fly by in 18 minutes gives a sense of surreality. In a few moments, we’ll whirr past the fading city where my alma mater sits high on the hill. Then on to New York – the city I only go to when other people are paying for my hotel rooms. (Seriously. Ugh.) Once there, I will find my colleagues, travel to the client, and attend hours of meetings in yet another nameless conference room, ignoring the miracles of time, place and travel required to get me there.

Do you travel for work? Do you like it or hate it? What places have you glimpsed out of conference room windows that you wish you could walk in your real skin? What was the best work trip you have taken? What the worst?