Tuesday, March 17, 2009

my st. patrick's day

let me preface the story of today by saying that last night did not go too well for me. i took the bus to cranford new jersey to hear karen's dad (and it turned out brother) play in their irish band, the tipsy rovers. i really felt out of place among the locals at the riverside inn, and i was not much fun to be around. i realized that my life story and current situation, the kind of things you talk about when you're meeting someone or catching up with them after ten years, strike other people as rather strange. and maybe that would be all right if i didn't essentially agree. 

anyway after a brief argument over the national provenance of the (English!) song "Dirty Old Town", an efficient 90-minute trip home, and around the usual amount of sleep, i woke up this morning and went to the downtown brooklyn elco (early local census office) to observe a training. my boss wants us to observe some field operations, to broader our perspectives. i used to work in operations in 1999 so i kind of already know the score, but he sent me anyway. i was going to walk but was running late, so i took the bus and got there on time. except it became clear that i was in the wrong place, so i took another bus way into bed-stuy to this little political office covered in retrospectively interesting posters like "Spitzer '98 for Attorney General" and "Vote for Al Vann in the Democratic Primary, Tuesday, September 11, 2001".

i basically had a shitty time at the training and was either bored or actually falling asleep for most of the time i was there. i only animated a little bit when borrowing and checking out one of the trainees' handheld computers, which are pretty cool. i arrived late and left early (for my haircut! see below). but i did have short conversations with two of the trainees, both essentially against my will but i ended up enjoying them anyway.

first, at lunch i had gotten some collard greens and then went to mcdonald's to get a sweet tea. in the line i ran into one of the trainees, then i went to sit and hoped he would not sit at the same table - my stomach was bothering me so i was perhaps grouchier than usual - but he did. kok was a jolly asian guy about my age. when i asked how he got into census work, he told me he had worked in the IT department at lehman brothers for ten years, ever since graduating from college. he said "everybody i knew lost their jobs", and when the stock price went down to 20 cents, everybody lost a lot of their savings as well. the census job he has now, unlike mine, doesn't come with health insurance. it sounded like he didn't have any health insurance. and then i found out he had two kids.

so that was like the face of the recession for me. kok also made the great observation that there were about three hair salons or more on every block of fulton. (of course, i had an appointment at a very different kind of salon at 5 pm.)

on second thought, the other trainee conversation isn't really worth reporting on. i'm sort of running out of steam on this post, so let me just do quick highlights of the rest of the day.

waiting for the c at kingston-throop

taking the c to the a at nostrand

listening to a guy hawk bootleg dvds in three languages

predicting how long it would take to get to w 4th street and only being off by 5 minutes

running down 3rd street, being out of breath and having to stop (see previous post)

getting to the building of takamichi hair and thinking i was too late and it was closed

eventually getting buzzed in and then escorted up to the 7th floor in an old fashioned elevator

waiting a while just staring into space and being glad i hadn't been on time

getting one of the longest and most careful (and i think best) haircuts i can remember

everyone assuming that i found the place in best of new york magazine, which was true

having some kind of flirtation with the receptionist

leaving and getting cash and coming back with the tip and probably overdoing it with the receptionist

leaving again while being shown how to operate the elevator

imagining how nice it's going to be in new york when it gets warm and really liking the vibe and the architecture around great jones street

imagining that i had asked out the receptionist (although even in my fantasy, she said no)

buying an actual suit of clothes - my first since 7th grade - black wool with white speckles

enjoyable but fruitless shoe shopping including incredible live bob marley album playing in shoe mania

wishing i was in the next subway car where i could see through the end of the cars that a mariachi band had started playing

having popeye's red beans and rice (which still reminds me of 5/29/08) on the way home, then trader joe's spanish bean thingy, at home

meeting virgil, the ugliest slaveriest bulldog whose gums look like ground beef in her mouth so it actually makes me nauseous, who is living - and breathing! if you can call its constant heavy panting breathing - with us for the next few weeks

chatting with maryam


waiting for sophie to go downstairs so i can steal some of her turkey hill iced tea


  1. How could a night in Cranford, NJ be anything but thrilling?!

  2. I love this blog, it's great.