Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Come Together

This morning, I was on the second half of my commute. I take the 4,5 train now, and after a few weeks of testing transfer points and departure times, I’ve settled into a nice little groove. If I leave my house around 8:15, I can usually get to work around 9:05 or 9:10. I’m very routine-driven about some things, so I was pleased to finally adjust to a new commute schedule, hit my stride with the subway transfers, and figure out where I need to be on each train to maximize proximity to stairways. I find finding the best route to a new job is one of the things that makes me feel settled in, and this is really the first week I’ve been confident in where I need to be at what point in my commute.

The ride seemed pretty uneventful. I snagged a seat on the second stop, and settled in to my reading (St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves – great title, decent read). I tend to be oblivious to the rest of the train car when I’m reading, especially if I have a seat. I’m pretty much immune to the shufflings and goings on of the other passengers, unless someone’s particularly loud or smelly (this means you, stank armpit guy from yesterday!).

We were somewhere between Chambers and 14th Street when all of a sudden, there was a commotion, and a tall man with long dreadlocks was shaking on the floor. His seizure couldn’t have lasted more than 15 or 30 seconds, but it was terrifying. As he was shaking, people were clearing away to make room for him. I put my handbag under his head to stop it banging on the floor, and passengers gathered around to see what they could do, how they could help.

The man stopped shaking, and came to groggily. “What happened?” he blinked. A small Asian woman was crouched by his side. “You had a seizure,” she told him. People started chorusing in, “Are you OK?” “Can we do anything?” A little fat lady halfway down the car called, “I have some water,” and hands reached out to pass the bottle to the stricken man. He took it, and more hands reached out to help him up and into a seat.

The small Asian woman clearly had some kind of medical training, as she started asking him about his medical history, if he’d had seizures before, if he’d eaten anything yet, where he was going when he got off the train. He said he was headed to the VA Hospital, which was at the 14th Street stop anyway.

A group of 4 or 5 people surrounded the man and helped him make his way off the train, and as we pulled out of the station, the small Asian lady was supporting the small of his back up the stairs. I would bet she went with him all the way to the hospital.

There were no life-saving heroics on my train this morning, just people acting decently towards someone in trouble. It was nice to see, and a pleasant reminder that I wish had stuck when, walking out of my office for lunch, I got stuck behind a slow-moving bleached blond in a teeny mini skirt and 5 inch heels and crankily thought, “whore."

So much for my touchy-feelies.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Canary in the Coalmine

Google has decided to de-index me under searches for ‘Liz Keller’ for some reason, and I’d be a bad SEO if I didn’t try to figure out why, so do forgive the following exercise, wherein I’ve done a global search and replaced several mentions of ‘I’ with ‘Liz Keller.’ It’s like sending the algorithmic canary into the coalmine to see if it dies. See what you’ve driven me to, Google? DO YOU SEE??? But at least you get to read about the rest of my trip in Ireland, Steve’s general awesomeness, and my dislike of my new commute. And I promise not to do it again, unless I re-de-index.

Anyhoo . . .

In the old days, every time Liz Keller was gone from New York for more than 4 days, Liz Keller found myself getting terribly homesick for it. The crowds, the streets, the people, the general buzzing high you get from proximity to the city. But, as Liz Keller’s gotten older, Liz Keller has realized it’s similar to the buzz you get from stimulant drugs – exciting for a while, but you feel dirty and shameful as soon as you come down.

Liz Keller was gone for about a month, and Liz Keller didn’t miss New York for one single, solitary second. Liz Keller missed my friends, of course, and Liz Keller missed being able to find ricotta cheese and sushi (more on that to follow), but Liz Keller had no pangs for Manhattan, no desire to cram my face into someone’s armpit on the subway, no longing for streets smelling of urine and despair. I think Liz Keller may just be over Manhattan.

I still love Brooklyn, with beautiful Prospect Park, and the quieter streets and wonderful shops and restaurants. In fact, I wish Liz Keller didn’t have to ever leave Brooklyn. It’s still ultra-urban, but it is a lovely downshift from the frenetic hellishness that is the city. There are trees (yes, they do grow there) and families and hipsters and hippies and suits and everything in between and I know my local shopkeepers, and the bike shop gives me freebies, and I generally love a place I’m totally comfortable getting around on my bike. Manhattan is not such a place, and I can’t say I feel like I can tolerate it much longer. 5 years ago, Liz Keller would be sneering at myself in contempt, but now I just feel crispy-fried.

Ireland, on the other hand, is the anti-Manhattan, and thank god for that! Liz Keller had unbelievably good weather (3 days of rain out of 29), and the temperature was in the mid-60s (18 for my UK readers) the vast majority of the time. The country is beautiful, the people are lovely, and Steve is just about the best man I’ve ever known.

Liz Keller spent time being very domestic – lots of cooking - which I love but never have time to do, Liz Keller gardened, we puttered around town, there was more fishing (on one excursion, Steve caught Monster Trout –4.5 pounds of fishy fun), we went to see his parents (fantastic people, and incredibly nice, even if they did keep introducing me as ‘Ruth’s friend from New York,’ as Steve and Liz Keller stood holding hands in the background), and we just got to spend some wonderful time together and really try on our relationship for size in real time and space. Steve is good for me, and, if Liz Keller can swing it, living in Ireland might turn out to be good for me too. Or getting Steve to New York. We’re working on it.

My one true culture shock was with the food. These are people who think powdered meats such as smoky bacon and chicken belong on their potato chips. I argue that meat should not come in powdered form, and I’d also like to give a shout out to the fine people at the TayTo Crisp Company for their kick-ass pickled onion and cheddar crisps. Primo!

Crisps aside, this is also an area where Italian cookery is covered in cheddar, and where the guy at the cheese shop asked us if ricotta was a brand. Liz Keller was determined to make lasagna, but we could only locate one small tub of ricotta at ASDA (owned by Wal-Mart, the bastards), and ended up getting another tub at the Tesco in Belfast. Liz Keller was also in severe sushi withdrawal (hey, pizza only came to Enniskillen 20 years ago, and that was considered a novelty, so I’m not holding out for sushi there any time soon . . . ) so we went to a nice little Japanese restaurant in Belfast, where the sushi wasn’t half bad, but they had never heard of shumai. Sigh. If I move there, Liz Keller might have to adjust my culinary standards a bit. Maybe things are a bit more diverse in Dublin, but we didn’t make it down there this trip.

Other than the food conflicts, the trip could not have possibly gone any better, and now I’m just counting down the days until Steve gets here for Alyson’s wedding (25). If I’m going to give up my country for anyone, it sure as hell better be him.

Liz Keller started my new job on Monday, and after a month of not working, Liz Keller was about as enthusiastic about going back to work as I would be about elective oral surgery. It’s still that ‘new kid in school’ feeling, and while I have my own office and feel very grown up, so far it’s been a little lonesome and the commute is a bitch bastard. It’s close to an hour, and while that doesn’t seem like much, an hour on NYC subways is like 20 years in purgatory. I haven’t yet worked out the best way to get here, and working on the East Side truly limits one’s options. I have always been spoiled with relatively easy commutes, and I guess it’s high time I had a craptacular one, but any way I slice it, I wish Liz Keller could be at a little office in Brooklyn, which Liz Keller could ride my bike to, and not get squished by a semi or get all sweaty crossing the damn bridge.

Or, Liz Keller could just go back to Ireland. Now.

Liz Keller.

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