grey marble

August 25, 2008

Long beach clam hunt

Sunday, Diana invited me to her friend's house on Long Beach. She said we'd take the train out from Brooklyn. She said we'd rent boats and find a private beach on which to lay. She said we'd dig for clams and bring them back to her friend's house for dinner. She asked me to come. I said I'd love to.

We met underground, buying our tickets from a kiosk before boarding the Long Island rail road. We sat in a new car that reminded me of an EPCOT ride. At Jamaica we transferred to a crowded train and found ourselves standing in the vestibule. The train lumbered its way east.

At Long Beach, we walked from the station to the house. After changing into swimwear, we drove to the marina, where Athony picked us up in a small motorboat. He drove us across the channel and around a slip of land to a spit of land where a table and umbrellas had been set up. We were welcomed with margaritas. A few hundred feet offshore, a couple of people were waist deep in water, already searching for clams.

Once we had all been ferried to the island, Roger showed us how find clams. He taught us how to use rakes, but told us we could also find them with our feet. he told us we could dig our toes just below the surface. He said they'd feel like rocks. It took me a while but I was finally able to contribute to the take.

Soon it was time to go back. The boat rentals were due back at the marina at four and we had already gone over. I was among the first group ferried back, and I hung out at the marina with a few friends. We ate chips and watched the sun turn the afternoon golden.

Back at the house we spent some more time at the beach. The sand was incredibly soft, and the surf was up. In the distance two kite surfers surfed back and forth along the beach.

We didn't stay long at the beach. We were hungry, and the wind had picked up. We walked the two blocks back to the house and snacked and drank while the clams steamed and the linguine boiled.

We ate in the back yard. We put two long tables head to head and set chairs along them. The food came out in huge metal bowls: linguine with clams, a fresh salad with tomatos from their garden, garlic bread. We grabbed utensils and filled our plates and sat where we could find a seat. We ate and drank waved at the motion sensor to keep the lights on. And then it was time to go. We raced to catch the train back to the city, our bellies full, our bodies tired. As I settled into my seat, I caught myself drifing to sleep, lulled by the voice caling out station stops.
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August 18, 2008

Travel planning

I'm in the process of finalizing my fall travel plans. Today I called a travel agent to help with my visa application. She read the rates and I asked if I could pay with a credit card. She said yes, but only with American Express. I asked her what other options there were. She said I could pay with a check. Could I pay with cash? I asked. She laughed and said yes, cash is ok. Who doesn't like cash?
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August 3, 2008

Past advice for the future

Recently I fell into conversation with a friend about some sound advice she had given me in the past. I told her that only now do I feel I'm starting to carry through on that advice. Or to put it another way, only now do I feel I'm capable of following it. When I recounted what it was she wrote back how funny it was to think back on it, and how she feels that the advice she is wont to give has changed over the years. I replied that it would seem to signify personal growth.

It reminded me, too, of the high school assignment some teachers give to write a letter to yourself 10 years from now. I can't remember if I was actually assigned that, or if hearing about it so much has led me to believe I was. If it was assigned to me, I'm not sure my teacher ever sent the letter to me though maybe the postage just got to be too expensive.
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August 1, 2008

An afternoon in Central Park

Yesterday afternoon I took the train to Central Park. A company had set up a hot air balloon near 72nd street and was offering rides. I've never ridden a hot air balloon and decided to see how long the lines were. They were non-existent.

A number of television crews had set up in front of the teathered balloon. Pedicabs rode around searching for fares. They asked each person walking by if they'd like a ride. I walked up to a table where two women sat under a tent, sunglasses masking their eyes. I asked about the rides.

They told me that the rides were cancelled due to wind conditions and told me to come back tomorrow. Then they paused. "Are you a native New Yorker?" one asked. I replied in the affirmative. "Come back Monday morning at 6:45am," she told me. "We're telling everyone else to come back tomorrow, and they'll all be tourists. Then the weekend is really busy." I thanked her for her advice and calculated what time I would have to rise from bed to make it to the park at that hour. Then I debated with myself whether I could wake up so early.

I walked to a hill overlooking the balloon and set down my blanket. I ate a sandwich and pulled a book out of my bag. A photographer set up in front of me, trailing a model. An entourage trailed him. He set up some shots and began shooting before they broke for lunch. Now and again tourists would ask to step into his shot in order to balance on a rock he was using as a backdrop to take their own photos. I took some photos of the photographer and his crew.

Clouds came and went. A few stray drops fell. After a few hours I got up to leave. The photographer and his crew had moved a few hundred feet away. The model had changed, and they were setting up another shot. I walked to Conservatory Water and watched the model boats glide along the surface of the pool, then turned north, and headed towards class.
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