Friday, November 16, 2007

NYC for the NWP National Conference

When I got to NYC for the National Writing Project’s national conference, I got sort of a contact high from being in “the City.” I got to my hotel room, after a few minor hiccups caused my lack of attention to detail (Luckily I was not in any hurry and so I never felt like I was rushed. When there is no particular reason to hurry, why do so?). I got to my room and made the calls I needed to make to let people know I was here and safe. Then I had to get out and go walking. My hotel, The Americana Inn, is on 38th Street, just off of The Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave). That put me a few blocks from several NYC landmarks.

I walked toward Rockefeller Center, passing Bryant Park on the way. I had no idea where I was eventually going to wind up, and I didn’t care. I was walking around in NYC at night, and it felt totally safe. I don’t know why that surprises me. I felt safe in all the other big cities the NWP has visited in the past, but I was a little anxious before I got here.

I walked from 38th Street down to 47th and then farther. I passed by the Radio City Music Hall. I looked at the tree (not decorated, still scaffolded) at Rockefeller Center. Looking in, I saw that the ice skating rink there had been set up. Then I got to 5th Avenue and took a left. Soon I was passing by St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is beautiful. I can’t imagine the amount of skill it took for the stone masons in the early 1800’s to build that.

I kept walking a while and pretty soon ended up at Central Park. Not feeling that I wanted to tempt fate, I didn’t actually enter the park. In fact within a couple of blocks I was turned around and headed back the way I came. By this time I was hungry and tried to spot some sort of a little diner to grab a nosh in. Two burger places I passed were already closed. But I did get to see the mass schedule at St. Patrick’s and decided to get there Sunday morning, if possible. I am not exactly sure when my plane is leaving. But with the first mass at 7:00, I ought to make it.

I passed by the NBC News building. Passed by Fox Noise, as well. Actually, the building doesn’t look evil from the outside. As I was headed back to my room, I saw a TGI Friday’s, and earlier I had passed a Mickey D’s, but I was damned if I was going to travel 1200 miles and somewhere I could at home. So I bought a hot dog, a pretzel, and a bottle of water from a street cart. I felt so New York.

Then it was back to the room, try to calm down and let the adrenaline rush level off. But when CSI: New York came on I was rejazzed. The main crime took place in Times Square, which is about a half mile or so from where I am staying.

I am not getting a wireless connection in the hotel, and I didn’t really expect one. I was annoyed that the phone won’t make outgoing calls without a $50 deposit. And then I’d be charged 85 cents a minute. No way! It took a couple of days, but I am now at a branch of the NY Public Library next to Bryant Park. And it was just a few blocks from my room.

I’ll write updates on my subsequent days soon. It has been packed.

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