OK, it’s time for a more traditional post.  This entry is about dogs.  Every day on my walks to and from work, I see scores of people walking their dogs.  A lot of times they’re walking two dogs.  I look at dogs with a fond eye.  They seem so loving and enthusiastic about life.

I like watching two people walking dogs who let their dogs greet one another while standing by holding leashes and not interacting with one another or commenting on the activity of the dogs.

Sometimes I don’t like it when a dogwalker keeps walking ahead of me then falls behind because of the dog, then walks ahead of me again.  I feel they’re crowding up my segment of sidewalk.

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There’s a white, middle-aged homeless woman who warbles and screeches across from the post office on 9th avenue, on the block with the PBS building.  She’s always really bundled up and usually has a male companion and sometimes she sounds like she’s on death’s door.

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America is fully of mediocre restaurants. Paris is full of mediocre ones too, but they’re not usually as mediocre as the American ones. But for some reason the first thing I wanted to do when I got to Pittsburgh was eat some greasy, fatty American food. And I had some, too. A giant tuna melt and BBQ chips from the bagel store and fries and banana cream pie from Houlihans….

The fries were great, so was the tuna sandwich. The pie wasn’t so great, but the white chocolate shavings on it were spectacular. The prices were also spectacular, which I really appreciated.

Today it’s off to the mall so I can get my SAD lamp! I’m also going to try to find Target so I can stock up on shredded wheat and microwavable popcorn.

I don’t feel the desire to see the city….I competed yesterday and just want to shop today and tomorrow, if places are open. I heard this is a pretty interesting place, though. Apparently there are a fair amount of artists.. . I like the feel of the downtown, too. It’s like I would have imagined it to be 100 years ago. A train that runs along the river, restaurants and bars in between the river and a mountain (which has a church on the top). And people a milling around outside of Macys waiting for the bus.

I stayed at the Westin for two night and tonight I’m moving to the Omi, a beautiful hotel that looks like the lobby of a really, really classy hotel. There is a 30 foot Christmas tree, a grand piano, multiple bars and lounges and smartly dressed people.

Public transportation is anarchic in and around  Nassau, but I think it is one of the best features of life.  When they eventually standardize it (as I am certain they must, sooner or later) I will be sad.  This entry is in homage to the buses here, called jitneys.

I love trains, metro-lines, trams, streetcars. When I first went to NYC as a young adult, I had been warned by a lot of island people that the city was dangerous, that I would be mugged in Times Square, that I should avoid making eye-contact on the subway because I would get mugged and most important, that the city was disorienting, crazy, too busy. I was never mugged, and I never found the city disorienting, because Manhattan in built like a grid, and if you can get to a subway, the city becomes even more known along the very fixed underground routes of the metro. Now in this list of public transportation, you note that I have left out buses. I hate American buses. I associate them with tiring six hour drives through central NY state,  a smell of exhaust and formaldehyde that nauseates me, being crammed in too tight with too many sweating bodies, depressing bus terminals, too much herky jerky stopping and starting, too much anxiety over the bus schedule and too many hours walking blocks and blocks from the bus route to this or that house in suburban NJ, depending on where my sister is living.

But the point of all this is that I love Bahamian buses. They are cheap (1.25 per ride, no matter the distance). They drop you off anywhere on the route, (you just yell out “Bus Stop!” when you want to stop).  They are fast (most of the drivers are speed demon young men) and they are interesting (they are filled with a cast of characters it is hard to imagine, they just have to be believed).

The last jitney I was on had a very loud, crass woman who made funny running commentary on everyone who entered and exited the bus. On seeing a pregnant girl leave, she shouted out “Did yall see that girl? Walk it out girl! Show your belly! You so neat and cute! Go girl” and then when another pregnant woman exited, she shouted out “Y’all see how big that woman is? Her man, he done do her right in; she could only be carrying twins in there! He put all his backbone into that, all of his spine-juice! Y’all see what this rainy weather causes? Horniness! Pregnancy! Damn, I’m horny right now, I have to go home for me and my man to work it out!” Things went along in this vein until she reached her stop and bounced off.

Faaaaaaaaade into you.

So last night I participated in an event that made me feel like I was on that show I saw over Thanksgiving–speed dating.  This was definitely a fun way to meet people although as one speed datee and I concluded, it felt basically the same as any social event with tons of people you don’t know and for me, it ended as those do, huddled in a corner with friends, complaining about life and admiring Battlestar Galactica.

The event took place at a bar decorated with birch trees in the west village.  Since Rita moved I don’t really go down to the West Village.  It was cool to be back, though the rain put a “damper” on things.  Here are some interesting things I learned while speed dating:

1) shrooms were banned in Amsterdam because a French guy jumped out of a building and killed himself while high (or “tripping.”)

2) Limewire employees don’t illegally download.

3)headhunters are really bored at their jobs.

4) A curlyhaired Frenchman agreed with Maya L. about strikes, not liking to work, but disagreed about cheating.

5) DT is extremely picky, but I will give anyone a second chance while also secure in the knowledge a third chance is highly unlikely.

6) The choice of Lee in a business suit for a BSG calendar was a bad one!

I attended trivia night at 1020 bar. This is near Columbia. There were a lot of bearded men in the bar. I guess you would say this was a dive bar. It was dark and the questions were read aloud by a jokey man. You wrote your answers down on a page with three columns of lines. There were three categories of questions. When you were done writing them down, you scored another team’s sheet which provided a great opportunity to see where you’d gone wrong.

We tied for third then lost the tiebreaker. One of the people I was playing with had a lot of tattoos on his forearms, but I was unable to figure out what they meant, although of course I immediately asked, “Do you have literary tattoos?”

Afterwards I had a pleasant walk home with a friend. I’ve actually made this walk a number of times now (Columbia to Hell’s Kitchen.) I can’t say the change of scenery is that exciting, but at least there’s room on the sidewalk.

Anyway this was my first city trivia night and as games for adults go, I thought it was orderly, well-run, and fun, and it was nice to sit side by side with other human beings. Also even though I didn’t get much trivia, I didn’t feel it was difficult, made-me-feel-dumb trivia, so I recommend it on that account alone.

Tomorrow, I am going to the American Embassy. It is one of the few places that can always manage to fill me with anxiety, because I feel like everything I can do there is wrong, and I will never be allowed to leave this country again, at least to go to America. I hope all goes well there.

The Embassy is tucked away on Queen St. behind a huge McDonald’s downtown ( I kid you not) and is across from the major downtown hotel, the British Colonial. Whoever decided to put the Embassy there (and/or the McDonald’s) clearly had a sense of humor and a rich appreciation for symbolic geography.

Once upon a time, people would camp out in front of the Embassy at 3,4am in the morning just to ensure a spot in the visa processing line, but now the Embassy gives out appointments, and you go at a special time. The Embassy tried to say that this shift was because the consular workers were distressed by the sea of humanity waiting outside in all types of weather, with no assurances of being seen that day, but we all know that the people were really a huge security risk, and after 9/11 they had to find a way of keeping things orderly.

OK, I know I’m deviating from the original mission of the blog but I must say this weekend, after ska and eating out, I just decided to stay in. I cleaned my apartment, made an awesome collage, devoured leftovers, and put in a lot of time with Youtube. I also finished the writing assignment which I’ve had a deadline for each of these past three weeks. All in all, it was the perfect weekend. I debated methods of informing the world about my joy—twitter, FB, gchat status update? I employed all these methods.

At the same time, I did not accomplish a lot of things. I did not write my grandfather. I did not finish reading some splendid manuscripts. I did not finish writing a splendid manuscript.

One things certain: life led me to intersect with a terrific movie on Sunday. The Proposal. Starring a very lean Sandra Bullock and this guy, Ryan Reynolds, I only saw the first half of the movie but I could see, this, was a great romantic comedy, a genre I find myself more and more accepting of, as long as the comedy is kept to a maximum and the couple is separated for as long as possible.

I never really understood why people thought Ryan Reynolds was attractive. But he was funny, and then in one scene, he took his shirt off. What a month it’s been for shirtless men. And this one wasn’t born in 1992! He also had a “quirky” charm that contrasted nicely with his mainstream physical attractiveness.

I watched with my neighborhood friend which is a great way to segue into how wonderful it is to have a neighborhood friend, especially one who has a TV and dvds like The Proposal. This enabled me to watch the Proposal but then almost immediately be back in my apartment, staring at the computer and googling random things for the article. Also I bought blue Terra chips and Snapple on my travels from my apartment to hers and back again. Sometimes I get tired of sitting on the subway, observing people on long trips to Brooklyn, then dealing with the inevitable disorientation at getting out at those stops, frantically looking for the skyline. Sometimes I just want to mingle with the loud hordes of tourists/barhoppers/pretheaterdiners on 9th Ave.

Also, I forgot to mention I found a dollar the other day. I never find bills. It was on the street. Everyone was crossing. I made a show of pretending I really wanted to figure out who dropped the dollar and give it back to them. But it was clear to everyone watching that this would be impossible to figure out.

Just another day in the city.

I mean, Pret A Manger.

Yesterday I had lunch with three friends at Cosi and Pret A Manger.  That’s right we went to two very similar places.  Both restaurants are located on a row on 42nd btwn 5th and 6th.  A lot of times people want to meet in this area because it’s close to Grand Central but eating around there is a pain. I’m not sure why, but it has something to do with it being “midtown.”  Afterwards I went to the library with Shayla and peacefully drew lines on blank white paper.  I could have done this forever, but eventually I had to leave and made my way through the holiday crowds (not hard.)

Sushi West is one of my favorite restaurants in Paris. It’s not authentic sushi, but more like nouveau-sushi. It’s also Kosher, which makes things interesting. Their food is really chic looking and tastes great. The only problem is that they have a booming take-out business and that sometimes makes them forget that there are people they need to serve in the restaurant. But I always forgive them for their mediocre service because they food is so original and so yummy! Check out some pictures below of their crazy good stuff below. And thanks Ibby for the treat!

I saw ska being performed last night.  Maya L. told me I should get my backpack out.  I learned however that there are many different facets to the ska scene, not all of it is teeny boppers.

Afterwards I took the L back into Manhattan.  I was at the Montrose stop and this agitated, younger white guy was pacing. It’s interesting how crazy people always want to talk.  He said, “This is the Manhattan side, right?”  “Yes,” I said.  I looked right where a bunch of women were sitting together on a wooden bench then left, where further down were empty seats.  I sat in the empty seats and took out Anna Karenina and read about how great it was to mow lawns.  Then I saw a movement out of the corner of my left eye.

That’s right.  There was a rat on the platform.  I got up quickly and rushed down to the other end.  The crazy guy saw me and said, “Do you know when the train is coming, there’s no countdown.”  “No,” I said.

The train came and I got into Manhattan.  Rebecca and Alex told me I needed to stop taking the L to the blue line and take it to the yellow line instead because the yellow trains came more often.  I sat waiting for a yellow train for about ten minutes next to a lady whose homelessness I could not determine.  She was sleeping and when the train came I wondered if I should wake her up.  Of course I said nothing.  Times Square was really empty again.  People are still out of town.