Sunday, December 13, 2009


"Down there they are dubious and askance; there nobody thinks as I,
But mind-chains do not clank where ones next neighbour is the sky."
-from "Wessex Heights" (1896), Thomas Hardy.

I've always thought that the sky is so much bigger here; wider.

"Welcome to New York
The Empire State."

I've been theorizing about what my Amelie character introduction would sound like, having watched it through last night for the first time, and so far a definite inclusion in the 'dislikes' would be "the wave of nausea and discomfort that reaches you on remembering that you have to wake up early to catch a train or bus or plane"; that's really awful.

I really need to keep my camera on me at all times; we just drove past a random, living tree by the side of the tracks that some festive soul has adorned with impromptu winter decorations; "little signs of human goodness that make my soul smile" I think can go into the 'likes' category, this being a beautiful example.

To paint the backdrop, I was up at around 2:20 this morning to catch a taxi to Kingston bus station, where I caught the 3:45 bus to Montreal. I then picked up a taxi from Montreal bus depot to Montreal train station, where I picked up my ticket for the 9:30am Amtrak from Montreal to Penn Station, New York, on which I am now sat. Having watched the miles of Canada drift past in a blizzard of whiteness, we're now just across the border and into New York state; it's just started sporadically to rain white here too, and, once customs have given us the go, the landscapes of upstate will be printing across my window as I chug down the country towards the city I am once again calling home.

(pause while customs & border protection make their rounds) wouldn't believe the difference in reception going into these United States with an American passport; the only time I've used my British one (on a school trip), I wasn't even quite sixteen yet, and I remember being treated with enough hostility to leave me genuinely hurt as I left the airport, although, this was probably exacerbated by how accustomed I had been to the usual friendly smiles and "welcome home". The latter wasn't the precise phrase used by the customs officer when I flew into JFK at the end of last month, but "welcome back, hun" was sufficient still to bring that smile and sigh of being home. This officer that's just finished checking our carriage was particularly kind also, and a reminder (as if I needed any more) of why I feel so deeply that I belong here, despite having been born and almost entirely raised in England. I generally put this down to the combination of countless Christmases and Summers in New York, and having been raised by an entirely American mother, but really the origin of my sense of belonging and patriotism isn't all that relevant to me; I just love this big crazy country and feel so blessed to be able to call myself a citizen when so many would give so much for the privilege which I was born with.

Ok, we're moving again and I'm falling into America The Beautiful goo again, so I'm gonna go back to listening to mixed tapes and consuming Pfeffernusse and Twinning's gunpowder green tea and write again when something interests or inspires (of course, as usual).

"Well, Penny, like anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method."-Karen Eiffel, Stranger Than Fiction :)

"Like a little spider, I'm climbing the insurmountable, but I never hold myself accountable."-from KT Tunstall's 'Drastic Fantastic'

I know and love so many people who would just adore this ride, these views. It really is so unbearably beautiful, I can't put the Flip down, even though I know it won't do justice to the colors and vastness of life here...(watch this space for a most likely long and dull video of passing upstate landscapes out of a train window haha).

Sign by the railway crossing: "Please drive safely, we <3 our children."

No more lakes now, but there's a big strong river running alongside us whose rocks look like big marshmallows because of the snow.

Ooh, more lakes :) (just outside Port Henry)

I'm getting increasingly curious about these orange "POSTED" signs that I keep seeing stuck to trees.

Slightly concerned that the live No Doubt performance I'm watching may look, to the glance of a passerby, like porn. Hahah...oh my. If I could ever achieve even ten percent of Gwen's stage presence as a frontman, even for one song of one gig, I will be beyond content.

Shoot, I just wanted something to watch, but it's set me onto the ND now. "do it right now, do it right now," maaaan I love Beacon St.; nothing more keeps you hovering longer when you're on a high than old skanky No Doubt. Not that it's their best work; it actually kind of frustrates me when "hardcore", purist fans go on about how they like their earliest work better than the newest just for the sake of letting everyone know that they're such a devoted listener blah blah. Isn't it kind of a little insulting to an artist to be asserting that they haven't made any decent music in years? Ok, rant over haha. My favorite album so far is Return Of Saturn, but I have high hopes for the stuff that's in the writing as we speak/I type. I mean, I would consider myself a pretty hardcore fan, except for the fact that I haven't seen them live yet, but I really haven't had the opportunity. One of many travesties I can blame on my year of birth (just missing the eighties, never seeing Queen live, never seeing Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl on broadway, missing the Mac's "glory days", as t'were, being a little too young to marry Stevie Nicks...)

Another like: "when telegraph poles (/other objects) pass the window in time with the music I'm listening to".

Ok, I was just semi in a daze and moved my head to look away from the window, and because the glass is warped it makes it look like your view's gone like wavy...and for a split second I swear to god I thought I was going into a flashback or a dream sequence or something...hahah signs you're overtired?

Wow, phonecall frenzy. Ma and Shell :) all of which is good except that I can never tell how loudly I'm talking, so I always worry that I'm being really inconsiderately loud when I get a call on public transport. I'll just have to gauge it by how scornful my fellow travelers' glances are.

We are now stopped at Albany-Rensselaer for like a half hour 'cause we're ahead of schedule, and some oldish lady just walked past the window wearing what I can only describe as some kind of little white bonnet thing. Also I'm pretty sure I can hear Christmas music playing on the platform (Y).

Dislikes: "when arm or foot rests aren't at a comfortable height".

Wow, beard alert.

Ohh no I keep drifting asleep, no no no. If I fall asleep now I'll never wake up again.

Ok I'm managing to stay awake, and I'm gonna go get something from the cafe cart thing once we start moving again to keep me alive for the last leg. Due into Penn station in just under two and a half hours, then subway to the ferry dock, hopefully catch the nine o'clock ferry, then train from St. George back to Beth's. THEN tomorrow *morning* we are driving down to Grandma's in May's Landing. And all of this following the drive, ferry, subway into Manhattan and then two buses (13 hours & 3 hours) to get up to Kingston four or five days ago...a journey which I managed to drag myself through only five days after flying to New York from London. I should get some kind of medal or award or something for this. Oh no wait, I did. I'm living in New York, I got to spend four days with Shell, and I'm gonna get to see Grandma.

While I hope I remember to exclude this from whatever I actually post of this rambling stream of consciousness, it has just occurred to me that by the time we get into the city, I will have spent more time with the people in this carriage with me today than I have ever spent with the person that I may well be falling in love with. How crazy :)

It's now 7:03pm, and I'm going to let Clodia rest for the last little while. So, we shall end as we began:

"The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in."
-from "Snow In The Suburbs", Thomas Hardy.

It's been a joy :)


Shell said...

It's been a joy,
The kind you find in the space
around smiling eyes.

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Anonymous said...

nice article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you hear that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.

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The eighties was a great and wonderful era to have grown up in or lived in!
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