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May 12, 2007

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Kristin

Northern light is the traditionally favored by artists, though. The shadows don't change as much as the sun moves across the sky. Of course, it's not like you're painting a still life.

Heh, and so now I know why you were at O'Nieal's so early when we met on Wednesday! I guess there's good paper shopping in the area!

Lee

I think for my purposes, a good steady flood of it from any direction would be good, though I do love that late afternoon sun, as that's when I tend to be working. I'm not awake enough to be handling sharp objects in the morning.
D'oh! Ya caught me. I actually would have spent more time in Kate's and less in the bar, but Kate's had been pretty well cleaned out by the time I got there. Usually, I can spend at least an hour wandering around feeling up the paper and looking at doodads, but the paper wall was gone and the rest of the store was pretty empty too. So it was off to the bookstore and then to O'Nieal's to meet you.
And a very pleasant ending to the day that was, too. How as Richard Powers?

Kristin

Richard Powers read very well, and the discussion afterward was very engaging, too, although as you know I wasn't really able to focus as well as I'd have liked. I'll have to ask if there will be a transcript.

I wandered around a bit the following day before heading back to the airport. Thought about going to MOMA, but again, I didn't want to blow $20 to wander around in a daze and not look at the art. But it was nice to be away from home, too. I'd like to return to NY when I'm more in the mood to appreciate its many cultural offerings.

You know, one thing that did strike me about NYC in my first visit in seven years is how much friendlier and cleaner it's gotten than when I first set foot there in 1986, about a week before I was due to be dropped off for my freshman year at Princeton. My dad sometimes had to travel from Chicago to New York for business, and perhaps it's because he grew up in St. Louis, but he always shuddered at the thought of NYC and its rudeness. And my first impression bore this out: after my dad and I landed at LaGuardia, we went to rent a car. At the rental counter was this obnoxious Puerto Rican woman who found out that my dad was dropping me off at college and started mouthing off like, "Oh, you gonna crybaby, daddy gonna leave you!" It was totally uncalled-for and not at all something that would pass muster with customer feedback now, but for me she provided the illustration of how obnoxious New Yorkers were as per my dad's stories. (I also witnessed other similar callousness coming through customs at JFK after international flights when I was in college.)

But on this visit, when I took the AirTrain from JFK to the subway line, I was a little confused as to which route I should take to get into midtown Manhattan. And so there were people standing there by the ticket machines to help figure out what quantity to buy, and by golly, they were POLITE and HELPFUL! It was the exact diametric opposite of that rental car lady from 21 years ago. I mean, people were nice enough that they could have been from the Midwest! What is up with that? New York is losing its edge in having its sharp edges, I think.

Lee

I know what you mean about NYC's blunted edge. I moved here in 1986 and it was a very different place then, you're right. Although I also found it extraordinarily welcoming. My first day here, I saw a woman get hit by a taxi and half a dozen people run into the street to help her. That's what New Yorkers are really like: they mind their own business until you need them. I think it's also related to how safe people feel in the city. The less street crime there is, the less suspicious and hard-edged people have to be and the less that carries over into daily life. I toughened up a lot here in those first years, which wasn't such a bad thing. And we're still rude to dawdling pedestrian tourists. :^)

Don't let those Midwesterners fool you, either. Speaking from experience, there's a dark underbelly out there that you don't want to know about. It's no coincidence that so many serial killers are from Flyover Land.

Kristin

No kidding. John Wayne Gacy was just a couple of towns over from the town I lived. I remember when that story broke when I was in the fifth grade, and seeing images of the ordinary Des Plaines houses on the TV. This was when I learned what a crawlspace was...still can't say that word without a shiver.

And one of my fellow Americans abroad when I had my year in Cambridge back in '90-'91 was from Wisconsin, which most Brits had no idea where it was. Then the Jeffrey Dahmer story broke not long before we left, and suddenly everyone was asking my friend, "Hey, didn't you say *you* from Wisconsin?"

Yeah, there's a darker side to Midwestern nice. I saw "Fargo" like everyone else.

Roger

Ann, it is my opinion that most people tend to fill up whatever space they have. Since Ron passed, I have been gradually trying to get rid of "stuff" so that eventually I can downsize my living space. After all, what do I need with a 2-story 1500 sq. ft. house by myself?!

However, these days I seem to bring more stuff home than I take out. Minimalism...hmmmm. That is what I had when I moved into my first apartment. Good luck with all your projects. Sounds as if you have plenty to keep you busy.

Lee

Roger, I think you're probably right about expanding to fit the available room. It's certainly the rule with women's purses. When I first moved in here, I'd gotten rid of a lot of stuff before the move and everything was pretty minimalist (at least for me). Now I'm back to the cluttered look. Some of it (though very little, actually) is stuff from my parents' house, but the vast majority is just stuff or art stuff. And the books! It's a sickness. My local library loves to see me coming because I always come in with a big bag of books to give them.

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