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We just got back from a weekend in Staten Island with Georg's family. I must say, the people of Staten Island have an impressive level of devotion to holiday lighting. In Durham people put lights shaped like candles in the windows, and strings of lights around doors and hanging from the eaves. But Staten Island puts the holiday decorators of Durham to shame. Maybe it's just because the houses are so close together, but it seemed at times like every single square inch of the borough was covered with christmas lights. Some of the yards were so elaborately decorated, they looked like holiday displays at a shopping mall.

We only got into Manhattan briefly, to have brunch with a friend of Georg's. Georg's friend works for Borders and he said that his store (in Kip's Bay, near the NYU medical center) has already ordered two copies of our deck. Wow! I didn't realize that stores would start ordering it already. I wonder if that's true of all Borders, or just that one? Maybe there'e a big new age community in that neighborhood so they get their orders in early on tarot decks? At this point I was going to encourage anyone who lives in New York to go to the Borders at Kip's Bay and say hi to our friend. But on reflection, that might be a little weird for him, so I won't print his name here.

Anyway. I had the chance for a little sightseeing in Manhattan after all, because we drove from brunch straight to the Newark airport, and Georg chose a route that took us right through town. He sweated midtown traffic, and I got to see the city as we drove right past Macy's (too fast to see the window displays, but slow enough to be surrounded by a hundred holiday shoppers crossing the street), the Empire State building (I'd never seen it right close before!), a fantastic Chinese restaurant called Baby Buddha that I was pleased to see still there, and even past the closed roads leading to "ground zero." Which I hear is called simply "the site" in New York. We saw cranes in the distance but we couldn't tell if they were part of "the site" or ordinary construction.

Speaking of which, Georg and his friend both mentioned an odd thing: the absence of the World Trade Center was a gaping hole in the skyline, but each of them had trouble identifying where exactly it should have been. Even Georg's friend, who not only lives in NY but worked in the building, for crying out loud. (No, he wasn't there when they collapsed.) Maybe it's because the WTC was the landmark that people used to find other things. They never used the other buildings to locate the WTC. I wonder if other New Yorkers have the same experience?

Just as it's impossible to write about a trip to New York without mentioning the World Trade Center, it's also impossible to discuss air travel without mentioning security. So I will say that security at RDU is much calmer than the last time I flew. This time there was no lady with a wand who needed convincing that my underwire bra is not a weapon hidden under my bosom. They're also fairly lax at RDU: I forgot to remove the pocket knife from my keychain, and sailed right through security with it in my purse. I didn't discover my mistake until just before we landed in Newark.

I left the knife with Georg's brother, who promised to mail it to me, and good thing too. The people manning security in Newark were much more alert. It took a lot longer; people had to put all jackets, sweaters, belts, even shoes sometimes through the x-ray machine. With my unerring ability to make myself late, I chose the slowest line of the three for us. I know, you're probably thinking that every line seems the slowest when you're in it. That's true, but this line really was slower. About three times as slow as one right next to us. I watched people move through that line quickly as we stood still, occasionally shuffling forward a bit.

The bright side of waiting so long was that we got to watch the x-ray operator for the next line. The image was multi-colored & he must have been able to do different types of scans, because every time he came to something suspicious he would press a button & the screen would flash different colors. We saw digital cameras, computers, a single spoon in one bag, and a bunch of things I couldn't identify. At one point he confiscated a pair of nail scissors. The kind with a 1/4" blade that come in a manicure kit. Good thing I left my pocket knife behind.

I have a problem with mispronouncing Newark. The one in New Jersey, that is. They pronounce it NEWerk, with the stress on the first syllable. But I come from Delaware, where we also have a town called Newark. We pronounce it newARK, with the stress on the second syllable, which rhymes with "park." In New Jersey the second syllable rhymes with "work," or another word I would mention if I were inclined to make jokes at the expense of New Jersey. Anyway, I'm sure I sound like a dumb yokel when I say "newARK" up there. I try to remember but it's impossible not to slip from time to time.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah published on December 17, 2001 11:43 AM.

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