Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rooster Crows

The rooster crows here. My cats as expected were tangled in my bed. I heard birds out my open windows, fresh air pouring in. Again, the sunlight tricked me into thinking it was much later than it is, but it's only 6:13 AM in New Hampshire. I am equally happy to wake here than I am to wake in Brooklyn where I could sit on the stoop and see the same sky and soft light from the rising sun.

Today I drive to buy car doors in Springfield, MA and then get my haircut. I might golf in the afternoon and I play in the Temple Band tonight. The moon is full and the night air is crisp so I'm tempted to climb Mount Watatic tonight. If I were in New York City, I would take the Staten Island Ferry to see the moon cast its light on the Statue of Liberty.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Arggh! Untracked

I'm in New Hampshire and in a foul mood. I woke at 4:00 in Brooklyn, left at 4:30 AM, and returned home to an empty house at 8:30 AM. I mowed the lawn. Used the Internet. Took three calls. Talked to my parents about using their truck tomorrow to pick up the car doors.

Some of my blueberries are ripe. I have tons of radishes to eat. My peas are growing nicely. The raspberries are full, but unripe. The potatoes are fine. The beans are growing nicely. The chickens are bigger now and seem to be maturing. And my cat, my beautiful darling cats, decided to urinate in a plastic box. At least they used the box?

I am starting a blog and I may move my diary exclusively this format. Being out of work is the pits. I'm not happy.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thunder and Lightning

Thunder and lightning lulled me to sleep. I heard one or two people in the neighborhood scream at the loud thunderclaps. Cool air flowed in through the window over my cot so I slept. This morning, I thought it was 9:00 because out of the window, I saw bright blue skies. I looked at the clock and it was only 5:55 AM.

So now it's 6:30 and I feel lazy, sleepy, and unmotivated. But I think the drywall mud is dry now so I can sand that down and prime the newly mudded spots. Then I'll look outside to see what I might do for paint scraping on the porch. And lastly, consider walking to Prospect Park to refute the doubters. Never challenge a crazy Finn, huh?

It was good to talk to Jim yesterday afternoon, but it makes me a little homesick. I think at the moment, the pollution down here bothers me the most. My hives are flaring up and making things quite uncomfortable.

Until later...

I go home in four hours or so and I think that I'm excited. All of my things are packed except for the computer. I went to sleep before 8:00 PM and now I am awake after using the bathroom, trying to figure out what to do.

I finished painting the first floor, front room ceiling and despite my overly critical eye, I think that things turned out well. I rearranged things in the living room (I still need to damp mop the floor) and I really like how things look. When I return, the porch is the next big project and I wrote to Cathy about possibly rebuilding the bulkhead door in the back.

Waiting for paint to dry is boring as many old sayings indicate. I sat on the stoop reading a book and two young Hispanic boys approached the house. The shorter one held a soccer ball, the taller one tailed after him. I saw adults up near the corner watching the young men.

The boys stopped at my car. The shorter boy yelled angrily in Spanish and leaned against my car. His facial expressions conveyed a much older, mature argument and I speculate that he was aping an adults lack of emotional control. Telling a story, maybe, of what his reality is. The taller boy had a deaf ear and took the yelling without reacting. The short boy yelled.

Eventually, the taller boy sat on my car hood, swinging his feet, unaffected. He eventually moved closer and sat on my passenger door mirror. At this point, I looked intently at the boys. The short boys eyes widened, he stopped. I shook my head side to side, NO, and I pointed to my sitting posture. The short boy asked with his eyes, 'Your car?' I replied and pointed to my chest, nodding, YES, and I made a steering wheel motion.

The short boy changed his tune and yelled the message to the tall boy, 'Don't sit on that man's car!' The tall boy's eyes locked into mine. I looked at him and repeated my gestures. They both moved away from the car, eyes wide, looking at me. I mouthed 'Gracias, thank you.' And shortly the boys awkwardly returned to the corner where the adults were.

In a few minutes, they returned. The short boy took the soccer ball on a folding chair and he parked his chair on the sidewalk near my car, looking at me from time to time. I didn't react. Eventually, the boys tired of waiting for a reaction so they returned to the corner.

After I ate, I went to the park, but they boys scattered by that time. I sat on a wall in the park, overlooking the rivers and I saw New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty in the hazy background. A stiff wind that brings cooler, dryer temperatures blew briskly in my face. I watched lazily hundreds of people move about the park playing soccer, pushing baby strollers, talking, laughing, and just enjoying the moment.

Playing in the Fountain at Sunset Park 1

I walked home to beat the impending rain. I moved some pieces of wood to my trunk and made eye contact with the Asian man of the house next to me. It looked as though he worked all week and his expression showed that he wanted to make friends with me.

Packing was easy as I have natural motivation to return home. I like it here. It's exciting and my thoughts are to ask my cousin to move here for a year with me. But I miss home. I'd like to sleep not on this cot, but on my own bed with my cats tangled about the bed at my feet.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sweating While Eating Oatmeal

It's stiflingly hot and humid at 5:20 AM.

I did a load of laundry at a local laundromat and I need to measure my car door to see if I can pick that door up in Springfield. Call for a haircut, and call my family in Wisconsin.

The mud from yesterday isn't dry yet so I don't plan to do much work in the front room today. The heat and humidity are just too high for the mud to dry. I might take a look at finishing the scraping job at the porch, but more likely, I'll take the train to Manhattan and go to TD Banknorth to get cash. Then maybe I'll take the ferry to Staten Island and explore there for a while.

I guess today is my slack day, but knowing me, I'll find a way to get spun up and intensely busy with something or the other.

To give you an idea of how hot and humid it is here, I broke out into a sweat while sitting here eating oatmeal and reading my diary. Sheesh.

I scraped paint for an hour or two and now I think that I'm going to sight see in Manhattan. I need to get cash and it would be good to have my camera out for a while. Maybe I'll head to Staten Island and look around there, too.

The drywall mud still isn't drying so I have to wait. I'm sick of scraping paint. Why not sightsee? I see little reason against it.

I called Jim from Staten Island and he says simply, 'So you're past the angry phase and now resigned to having no job.' He's right. It's ok to not work and figure out ways to waste my time.

Yesterday when I used the Internet, I saw two TD Banknorth ATM machines in New York City so I went to the one in the financial district. I got a bit mixed up with the address, but I found it eventually on Broad Street. And yes, I laughed at myself thinking that a $4 subway ride to avoid a $1.50 service charge for using a non-member ATM.

Afterwards, I rode the ferry to Staten Island and I wandered about. Cargo ships passing were enormous and I photographed a touching 9/11 memorial.

A Cargo Ship Passes Staten Island 1

Staten Island 9 11 Memorial 1

Staten Island 9 11 Memorial 2

I called Jim from Staten Island and he reported that someone called me regarding a gallery in July or August. I thought it was Tracy at first, but it was Lisa from Santos Dumont. I went to a public library to use the Internet and I got the Santos Dumont phone number and I hope to get my photos into the gallery there. In fact, I might bring the rest of my photos to the frame shop to get nice frames so I can charge $75.00 per displayed print.

I thought about eating in Staten Island, but I didn't see many appealing restaurants so I took the ferry back to Manhattan.

A Young Couple Rides the Staten Island Ferry 1

I walked through the financial district and I chuckled to see all the suits walking briskly with their slicked back hair, intense looks, high salaries, and undoubtedly high stress levels.

Finally, I chose a simple diner and I flirted with the waitress and tipped her generously. The meal was nice and the atmosphere was comfortable for its homey feeling.

The 3 train to Brooklyn was packed, so I chose a fairly empty car. It was a low-grade sauna and everyone, myself included, wiped sweat as we rode. No wonder the car was empty. I got off chuckling at the poor suckers who were boarding the train and I see a huddle of firefighters and blood on the subway station floor. A man lay bleeding and the paramedics were back boarding him. A cop directed everyone away from the man.

After using an alternate stairway and returning to the same level, I saw the paramedics and firefighters carry the man, barefoot, with a large, bloody welt over his right eye. Someone said softly, 'Why would anyone ever do that?' They walked past and later I heard sirens at the street level.

Funny how the elecrician across the street replied yesterday when I said 'Homeless guys who die on the subway and ride the train back and forth, back and forth.' He replied, 'We get numb to it and it's sad really.' So I walked past bloodshed, numb. The whole New York City thing is sinking in quicker than I expected.

Sounds like Jim and Tristan will be here the weekend after next and Jim is interested in targetted sight-seeing to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Wall Street and some ethnic restaurants. I'm looking forward to their arrival and maybe we can even have song services to satisfy the requirement that we have services here to maintain our church status.

I'm home now, tired. I will pick up the sanding and painting projects tomorrow. I'm also debating whether I should walk to Prospect Park. Annabelle and Lilly were incredulous that I would even think of it, but I walked much farther in Manhattan in ~sandals!~ so I don't see why I don't give it a try.

I also have to figure out my finances because I might be burning through money. Soon it will be a priority to make some money. Soon. But like Jim said, 'You'll think that it's cool to be out of work for five weeks or so and then you'll hit the - crap I need a job - stage.' He's likely right.

I close. Brooklyn bound, doing well, signing off.

Brooklyn Swelters

The humidity, as predicted, is here. No dead bugs.

Sleep wasn't easy last night due to in part, I think, the caffeine in my decaf coffee from Starbucks. The humidity doesn't help either nor my loneliness. Soon I will go to the church to retrieve my photos and then I'll start my little driving tour to Home Depot, the Ford Dealer, and the frame shop.

I think today I'll rest more than I did yesterday.

(written on 06/27/07) So much for rest. I began preparing the first floor, front room to paint the ceiling and I found that the cracks and flakes are filled with regular drywall mud and luckily, I have a lot of experience with that. I mudded the first coat and then I went into Brooklyn Heights to use the Internet and had a nice Turkish dinner.

While using the Internet, I wrote to someone about the T-Bird door handle and hte guy called me from Springfield, MA and I'll buy a whole door from him for $50 and I have to make arrangements today. This is an unexpected surprise in light of the dealer telling me that the part is discontinued. Der.

And I arranged to have five frames made for my photos at $25/frame. I was happy with the price, but I had to spend my last $20 and now I have to get more cash money today because I am down to a dollar.

I'll sand the mud today, add a second coat, and maybe scrape more paint off the porch. I keep thinking to myself that the writer's life should be full of deep thoughts, but sitting around doing nothing doesn't seem like a great cauldron for thought so I'd rather be painting or doing something while I wait for inspiration.

I have to use the bathroom so I'll close.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sore and I Miss My Cats

Today I rest. It is 6:39 AM.

I have a short list of things in mind that I should do. My car door handle is a priority, starting to paint the porch a lesser priority, talking to the Italians, and generally taking it easy today. I feel the effects of the weekend yet.


John and Cathy left me a note, trash bags, recycling information, and pesticide. My order of importance was note, recycling information, trash bags, and pesticides. Until tonight. I didn't do the dishes before I left for Manhattan and when I returned, I saw four roaches, two bugs, and some other stuff creeping and crawling.

Impulsively, I took an aerosol can of bug killer and I hosed down two roaches, trapped another one under a pot lid (and I think that I hosed it down, but I'm not sure - heat of the action thing, you know), and took a vigorous interest in the pesticides left for me.

There are two glue traps. I set one of them. And then I used a big bottle of boric acid with which I concocted a sugar, water, and boric acid stew for my little friends to consume and bring back to their nests. It works great for ants and I hope to see all sorts of little dead buggers tomorrow and for days to come.

Welcome to city life, I guess.

Once again, I don't feel like writing. I walked a long way today in search of a door handle for my car, but I didn't find one. The consistent advice is to go to the dealer which is on 3rd Ave which turns into 65th Street in south Brooklyn.

I also talked to a frame person who quoted me $25/each to nicely frame my 8x10 photos and she gave me advice on how to approach gallery owners. Lastly, I bought painting supplies to start on the porch. Tomorrow morning I have to move my car for the street sweeper so I will take a driving tour to the dealer, the frame shop, and to Home Depot. Before I go, I need to get my photos from the church to bring them to be framed.

Also today, I talked to Edwin, John, and Betsey. John was glad to hear from me and he gave me instructions for painting as I knew he would. With the porch housing, I decided to scrape down to the wood (rather than just paint over which is what I think John would do) and I realized that heat works wonders for scraping paint. For the early afternoon, I worked in the shadow and then when in direct sunlight, the sun-heated paint peeled nicely with my razor blade tool.

Due to the heat, loneliness, and general fatigue, I impulsively went to Manhattan tonight to find a Starbucks so I could escape into Internet use. I'm jumpy so I didn't relax and I acted like the country bumpkin that I am. I paid for a 24-hour T-Mobile Hot Spot Internet pass and the intermittent connection frustrated me. But I had a chance to chat with Naomi and Betsey, I checked my financials, e-mail, and read some sports stories.

I couldn't interpret whether the Starbucks was closing so I bolted and talked to Betsey on the walk back to 4th St station. I could have used an earlier train station, but I felt like talking. The nightlife was incredible and again, I felt like a country bumpkin, wide-eyed staring at the beautiful people roaming the streets. I thought as I often do, why are they comfortable when I'm strung out and unsure?

I rode the train back to Brooklyn, feeling strung out. I talked to some poor girl who took the express train to Brooklyn by accident and had to back track to Delancey in Manhattan. I compared my experience to how I am in Boston. In Boston, I'm unafraid. I know the landscape and the people. I have a sense of danger and safety. Here I am just unsure, I guess. And I'm learning. Talking to my friend in Greenville sort of set me up for fear and his words, 'You're gonna get mugged.' ring in my thoughts. There is no need to carry his paranoia as my own. But I still need to be cautious, careful.

I walked warily from the 9th Ave stop to 820 42nd Street. On the steps, I unlocked the door and looked around at the lights and buildings. The familiar tingle of excitement to be here flowed through me.

So I have a mixture of wanting New Hampshire and wanting to stay. I miss my cats, I guess.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ten Mile Walk (no kidding)

It's 4:23 AM and I feel like I am on a hunting or fishing trip. Due to the train schedule and need to take a shower, I think that I missed the sunrise at Coney Island, but there should still be enough interesting things to photograph. My wireless buddy isn't turned on so I can't verify the sunrise time, but I think that it is shortly after 5:00 AM.

Time to prepare and wander.

Wander indeed. I logged upwards of 10 miles on foot today, while wearing sandals, plus being in the hot sun and not eating as much I could (or should) have, I'm beat. It's not even 7:30 PM and I'm ready to sleep. Again, I'd rather not write, but I'm distracted by 60 Minutes on the television so I'll wait for a while.

After trying to watch TV and playing a game on my cellphone, nothing changes my opinion that television is retarded.

I'm still tired and sore and I'm not in the greatest of moods. It would be good to teleport home for an hour or so to relax in my easy chair with my cats nestled at my ankles. But I'm here and things are still ok.

This morning at sunrise, the heaps of smelly garbage struck me immediately at Coney Island. People scattered grimy refuse everywhere along the streets at the Mermaid Parade yesterday and I thought of making some photos, but I pressed on to the water. Later, an angry young man yells at me, 'Take photos of the garbage!' and he continued on a profanity laced tirade about how awful Coney Island is.

When I approach the water I saw fishermen and beachcombers with their metal detectors. I walked up and down the beach snapping photos of the fishermen and I occasionally asked if they caught anything today. An Asian man explained that they are fishing for striped bass that are apparently running on their northward migration. But not today.

Fisherman Casting Off Coney Island 1

The Russian contingent was strong and many Russians were out exercising at daybreak. I was too shy to try my few Russian phrases. On my return, I talked to Captain Bob the tour guide and we had a pleasant exchange. Eventually, I boarded the train to Manhattan where I was going to look for B&H Photo by taking a guess as to where I thought it was.

Russian Exercises at Coney Island 1

The train to Manhattan stopped at 4th Street due to construction and from the day before, I knew that the Gay Pride parade would be congregating there. Rather than immerse myself in that awkward scene again, I back tracked to Houston street in the lower east side. When I emerged, I went into a Whole Foods store and was shocked at the produce pricing. Sheesh. Nearly $2.99 pound for Fuji apples. But a customer service clerk gave me the address to B&H Photo - 420 9th Avenue. I knew how to get there - or so I thought.

Because I feel stingy, I budgeted three subway rides today and I walked from the East Side to the West Side to get to B&H. My thinking is that the store was at 4th Street W and 9th Avenue. Easy. Until I approached the address and a friendly traffic patrol lady asked me how I was doing. Since she broke the ice, I asked her for the address and another woman explained that B&H Photo is at 34th Street and 9th Avenue. Yowsa! That is more than 30 blocks away.

They pointed me to the subway, but I said that I was hungry so I would eat first (B&H wasn't open yet anyway). I asked for a diner reference, and the lady scoffed at me when I said that I was a tourist, wanted a local diner, but went into McDonald's where I purchased a breakfast meal of sausage, eggs, muffin, and hash browns. I drank water that I brought from the apartment.

Then I began my trek.

I did my best to skirt the Gay Pride parade and I walked. And walked. Finally, I approached Madison Square Garden and by the address, I knew that I was close to B&H Photo. As I approached the store, I ran my checklist again and again. Must buy items are a camera strap (that doesn't advertise my expensive camera with the Nikon D200 label) and a blower brush to clean my lens and camera body. Nice to buy items would be more memory and an extra battery.

The crossing guards earlier gave me a clue that B&H would be busy.

I walk in and a security guard kindly points me to bag check for my shoulder bag and backpack. I walk past a few people handing out catalogs which I do not need, but a clerk hand me a guide for buying a digital camera and directs me to the camera straps. He later says that men with green vests answer technical questions. Here's where the fun starts.

The green vest guy who catches my attention is an Orthodox Jew complete with the temple curls. I only write that because I see them around and about the city, but I keep thinking of Amish, but they're clearly not. The technical clerk calls up my D200 order and asks me what I am looking for: camera strap, air blower/brush, the same memory that I bought with the kit, and an extra battery.

He types away in the database, calls up my order, my name, and walks away wordlessly for a moment. Confused, I stay put because I sense a flow or something. He walks back with two blower brushes (I choose the smaller one and thank him for the advice on not touching the CCD with the brush) and we wait. For two minutes or less. And the remaining products are handed to him from pickers that emerge from the crowd.

The clerk says simply, 'The line is long so I did this. The memory is slightly different than the one that you bought because it has a free software offer.' (Paint Shop Pro X that I plan to download.)

I pull out my credit card, 'Do I pay here?' 'No, you pay up there.' I didn't exactly see where, but I noticed one of the pickers took my four selections and carried them briskly to a green bin. I look at the Cashier sign and move towards another line. I get a glimpse of the cashiers all in a row in bankteller-like cubbies, but before I look intently, I see staff pouring free glasses of soda. So I grab a cola, put the cola back and take a clear drink instead.

A man directs me into the credit card line and before I know it, I'm standing with credit card in front of a very Jewish lady who asks, 'How are you today?' I reply, 'Very well, thank you. And you?' She smile wryly, 'No, how will you pay today?' I offer my credit card and voila, I sign for the purchase.

She smiles to end it and I move to the pick up area where I hand my receipt and someone hands me my products in a B&H bag. Boom. Done. Then I walk to the claim check, get my bags, blink instead of tip (debating whether I should have would be for naught in this lightning pace). I stuff my products, receipt, rebate slip from the cashier (they even covered this!) and I walk outside to lean against the building to catch my breath.

'Wow.' I say softly under my breath. 'That was fun. Now what?'

I decide to go to Central Park, but I keep myself to the three subway ride limit so I walk first to Madison Square Garden and then to 7th Avenue to keep with skirting the Gay Pride parade. And I trek north the remaining 30+ blocks from 4th Street to Central Park.

The pedestrian traffic around 42nd Street and Broadway annoyed me. There were American tourists of every accent moving randomly and I yearned for the cultural richness of Brooklyn. I saw street vendors selling framed photos and the prices were inexpensive. But the same display marked each block so I think one person oversees all the framed tourist photos on the streets.

And I walk. I buy those great candy covered peanuts for a buck. Finally, I enter Central Park and find a tree to rest against so that I can unwrap my purchases. I call my sister to talk for a while, eat an apple and finish my water. My legs lost their dull throb so I wander Central Park.

A Cello Thunders at Central park

I've been to Central Park enough to recognize general areas so I watched the softball games for a while and I see a beach volleyball game so I go there and start snapping photos. An Asian man, Bing Chen, asks me if I would send some of the photos to him so I concentrate on taking photos of him while he plays. Later when I show him he asks if I am a professional. I stammered something and then I say, 'No, but I need to make something.' He surprises me, 'Name your price and send me an e-mail.'

Volleyball in Central Park 2

My interest perks up so I walk about the park for a while, but I return to size up Bing and his volleyball playing friends, taking numerous photos. It seems like it's a wealthy crowd, pure New York City, of young men and their hot volleyball playing girlfriends. So I decide to send Bing thumbnails of my best photos and propose a deal of $10/copy of each high-res photo. And I'm open to taking more photos if he would like after I briefly explained my situation.

This wound down my day so I was a bit frustrated as I left Central park when I found that I walked to 72nd street! (Like I needed to walk more!) So I returned to 60-ish street and borded the N train followed by the D train that took me to 9th Avenue in Brooklyn.

I talked to Vinnie near the church and I was thankful for the brief dialog. I watched a kid graffiti a lamp pole base in broad daylight and I followed him and his partner up 41st Street. Thugs here all seem like juvenile delinquents to me and maybe the older, hardened ones are all in jail or something. I made eye contact with the two kids and I regretted that because I really want to be invisible and not attract any attention. Yet something inside of me wanted to confront the kids and teach them a lesson.

Even when I sat near the window listening to the neighborhood bravado tonight, I realize that this is much bigger than I. Live in peace.

I made rice for dinner and I decided that the garbage bag is not full enough for me to put out today. So I'll do that on Wednesday night. I felt a little less cranky after dinner, but I guess that I am a bit numb.

Tomorrow I sleep in and rest. I want to start scraping the old paint off the porch which requires getting tools together which are mostly at the church, I think. So I'll defer my photography effort until Tuesday and maybe Bing or Sammy will contact me with more photography work.

My thinking for Bing is some money for my time ($50 or $100, for example) and then per photo price. And as a bonus, he signs the rights over to me. I also suspect that some type of job offer may result from knowing Bing, but that's an over-tired musing.

I should shower before I sleep, but I think that I'll just sign off and lay down.

Another full day Brooklyn bound.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Brooklyn Baby Boom

The sun is rising. I'm eating breakfast. My wireless network doesn't detect the unsecure network that I used yesterday.

My plan is to wander and take photos. I'd like to see the sunrise at Coney Island or from Battery Park, but I do not think that I will do that today. I need to figure out the subway system schedule at sunrise.

I hear the Brooklyn pulse. I'm wondering if this is the fans in the heating and cooling systems in the vicinity. Tis not a romantic notion, but a practical one.

As I was waking, I dreamed about my last job. The dream was disjointed, but vaguely accurate as the remaining writer took the office of one laid off. The walls were gone and grass was scattered on the floor. For some reason, all of the writers were back and we were laughing and making snide comments.

Time to close and prepare for my wanderings.


I have often thought about living a truly spartan lifestyle of one fork, one spoon, one plate, etc. and I am pretty close to that here. I finished my tomato, onion, garlic sauce with scrambled eggs and boiled potatoes. I like the combination better than I expected, but that could be due to the liberal salt. I eat, wash the dishes that I used, repeat.

I called B&H Photo today, but they were closed due to the Jewish Sabbath so I rode to Manhattan anyway with the vague thought that I would see a Finnish movie at the IFC Movie Theater at 1:20. It was only 9:30 so I had plenty of time to kill so I got off at 4th Street because famous people live in that area.

My plan was to walk north to Central Park, sit and rest, and return for the Finnish movie. Due to serendipity, the subway exit was just below the IFC Movie Theater. Lucky.

Halfway to Central Park, I stopped at a park near Herald Square to rest my legs. I logged several miles at that point and I wanted a break. I watched some homeless people loudly opine on anything and nothing juxtaposed against an Asian television crew. The anchor froze, but vamped in the brisk breeze. Her hair didn't move.

After rest, I walked northward to Central Park and I started to see people in costume, police barriers lined 6th Avenue. A parade! I pulled my camera from concealment and snapped photos for the next two hours. The International Immigration Association was sponsoring the parade for various cultures that are well represented in the New York City fabric.

International Immigrants Foundation Parade in NYC 1

The parade started at noontime so the participants warmed up gleefully to loud drumming and dance routines. Children played happily. Each culture had colors beyond belief and during the parade I stood near a British (I think) couple who marveled as I did at the parade.

Girls Using the Drums at the Immigrants Parade 1

The Chinese are making great inroads into Brooklyn and I marvelled that the Chinese contingent in the parade proudly bore American and Chinese flags. What a strange political combination to see symbols of democracy and communism converge in the streets of New York.

Chinese Men in the Sun Under White Hats Immigrants Parade 1

Mid-parade, I tired. I was hungry and my back was sore from standing. The Chinese section of the parade was nothing compared to the flamboyant and provocative Albanian and Bolivian contingent. I looked at my clock and decided to go to the Finnish movie. I took one last look and snickered to myself to think of what the Finns might do in their time during the International Immigration parade. I thought the Chinese were dull. The Finns would be a sleeping aid.

Bolivian Girl Helping Another Prepare for the Immigrants Parade 1 Bolivian Girls Primping for the Camera at the Immigrants Parade 1 Immigrants Parade NYC 1

I took the subway to the movie, bought my ticket, and wandered into the theater. There were two others there. And then another and a fifth person and maybe a sixth. The movie was spare and depressing as the plot was revealed in quiet, clear scenes one after another. A socially misfit, loyal Finnish security guard was manipulated by an attractive woman who was the companion of an evil businessman. True love was portrayed in gut wrenching scenes only detected, perhaps, by Finns and American Finns like myself. I liked the movie.

Afterwards, I returned to Brooklyn, downloaded my photos, hijacked some Internet time, and did the honorable thing by buying Internet time at a local Internet cafe. I caught up with Internet-related stuff which was comforting and I chatted with Naomi. I couldn't upload my photos because I don't have a USB memory stick and I learned that I can securely browse in the cafe when the owner will reboot the machine that I am using.

I enjoyed the Internet cafe. There were maybe 30 to 40 teenage kids in there mostly huddled behind the glowing screens of the computers, playing online games. Next to me, some kids were attracted to the boy for some reason and one thing led to the other before they started making noise. The owner immediately stopped them by fair discipline. This warmed my heart, too, because there is a baby boom in Brooklyn. There's a great energy here.

Wouldn't that be crazy if Johnny's dream comes true that I'll fall in love, find a job, and raise a family in Brooklyn?

After I left the cafe, I returned to the apartment where I prepared food, said hi to the Chinese neighbors while I watered my meager garden and I noticed that something rooted around the garden and disturbed the seeds.

While I cooked food, I noticed eyes growing from the potatoes so I wonder if I should plant a potato patch next week.

My plan for tomorrow is to wake before sunrise and take the subway to Coney Island. Brooklyn bound and doing well.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Brooklyn Bound

8:30 PM on the 22nd (yesterday's entry was at 12:20 AM).

I don't feel like writing, but as I learned from school and from other writers: when you don't feel like writing, write anyway. So here goes...

I woke first at 5:30 AM, but I lingered in bed until 7:15 AM so that I could rest a little bit. My plan is to go slowly, but I'm straining as always to go fast. From my experience in Minnesota, slowly acclimating to a new environment is best. But yet, I strain.

Today went well. I bought groceries, cooked three meals, did the dishes after two (I have yet to wash dishes after dinner of awful pancakes which I'm eating now), and I was out and about quite often. I could have gone into Manhattan tonight, but I chose not to and I am glad because I have a touch of diarheah and I'm sore. Again, the key is to go slowly.

The Italians were warm and receptive today and I greeted Annabelle on her arrival and departure. My patterns are random yet, but I do need to communicate and I'm thankful for the Italians.

Most of today involved finding Internet access and I walked by a new Internet cafe three or four times before I finally realized what it was. The first Internet cafe that I tried had the feel of an opium house with dingy, dirty hallways, cramped rooms with zombie-like teens and adults all staring at the lumniscent screens.

Later after I returned from the latter cafe, I found an unsecured wireless network from the apartment so I covertly logged in and retrieved and sent my e-mail. From e-mail, I learned that John and Cathy returned to Minnesota safely and I hope that John gets the medical attention that needs. The dear Italians all ask how John is and describe how ill he was. I'll be happy to report tomorrow that he's home and getting medical attention (whatever that may be).

The Italians also referred me to a now closed junkyard where I was going to ask for a car door handle. My handle is ready to fall off and I won't be able to unlock my car if the handle breaks completely. I should bite the bullet and buy new door locks, but I'm afraid to learn the cost.

But learning a wider area was fun during my wanderings to the grocery store, the Internet cafe, and McDonald's and the non-existent junkyard. The cashiers in the grocery store were stereotypical Brooklynites. The slender woman gossiped with the other cashiers during the entire time that she checked out my purchases. Inside I grinned from ear to ear.

One of the Italians, Alfie, mentioned watching soccer on TV and that spawned a great conversation because in his day, Alfie played a lot of soccer. I explained that I have my spikes and soccer ball and he referred me to the TV channels that carry the games and pointed out a few places that I could find a game.

The heat, the exercise, and the overwhelming newness of everything caught up with me in the late afternoon so I lay down and slept. When I woke, I wasn't hungry so I decided to make a little garden in the backyard. I carved out a 2x3 foot patch of dirt and shook out the weeds. I planted basil and green beans.

After this, I contemplated various activities for the evening. I was recluctant to go into the City so I decided to take my camera and sit at sunset park until dusk. I walked past the Finn's house in case she saw me and wanted to talk (I don't have her number yet), but I didn't rouse her attention.

When I entered the park, I saw hundreds of people playing games, sitting, walking, talking and laughing. There were so many children that I felt safe. Funny how safety for children indicates safety for all. The parental urge is such a strong, reliable bond.

There is basketball in the park, but what struck me was the soccer. Numerous games sprung out of the community in uneven, often dusty fields. I Watched for 45 minutes or longer a playful bunch of Mexicans play soccer and laughed and smiled at the hijinx of their game. The Italian's earlier words of, 'Just show up and you'll start to fit into their games.' Rang in my ears and I think that eventually, I'll join their games. Playing tonight was problematic because I had a tripod, my digital camera, and wallet that I couldn't secure so it was good to watch and occasionally return a stray ball to the game.

While watching the game, I felt fear for the first time when a man who did not look healthy nor happy walked up to sit on benches facing away from the field. He had two people in tow and used winks, whistles, and smiles to attract others to him. However, we met eyes a few times, blankly-neutral, and he ended up watching the game and laughing along with the small crowd. But his unhealthy aura made me uneasy. The first of many, I'm sure.

So tonight I returned to the apartment, made these awful, thick pancakes, a cup of tea, a glass of tap water and I write. The air was cool and crisp today in the 60s and now the temperatures fell to the 40s and 50s. A window is open because of a smoky mishap while cooking pancakes, so I feel occasional puffs of cool air on my bare feet.

I'm getting sleepy so I think that I'll turn in soon and wake before sunrise to explore and take photos of Brooklyn waking up. Tomorrow I will venture into Manhattan and go to B&H Photo super store and find a better camera strap and a lens and camera cleaning tool. And I nearly forgot that I stopped at Sammy's and he's apparently going to call me tomorrow to see if I can get some work as a photographer.

Brooklyn bound and signing off.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Arrival in Brooklyn

It's the 22nd now, but I'm writing for yesterday.

I arrived. Kids goofing off on the sidewalk made me smile. I met Annabelle who is going to sweep when I am not here. I met Lilly. I talked to Vinnie and his daughter. I met my brother Chris in Stamford for dinner and ice cream. I'm back to the apartment, home, and I'm ready to sleep. It's time to go real slow and settle in tomorrow and the next day. The situation here is pace, not sprint.

Then I have to figure out Internet access so that I can stay plugged in. Make a list of things that I need to do. Maybe even jot down some of the emotions of being here.

Outside in the street, I hear the pulse of the city. Last night, while watching fireflies outside of my picture window at home, I thought that Brooklyn would have a pulse. Now I hear it and feel it.

Time for a quick see if I can hijack Internet access and then sleep.