beppo_astrid (beppo_astrid) wrote,
beppo_astrid
beppo_astrid

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Beppo's Mad New York Train Trip (with cameos by Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman)

Well, I guess this means I'll have to post more, at least for the next two months, eh? Not a problem at the moment, actually: I need to talk about AFP, and I have a story and possibly some pics to post. So, that'll be good for a few days, at least.

My grand New York adventure started very early Saturday morning. It was at that time that I stumbled out of bed, pulled on some plastic pants, got my fedora, grabbed my bag, and caught a ride to the train station.

The train itself was something of a relief: it was better than both an airplane AND the DC Metro, which are both varying degrees of terrible, depending upon whether or not one is me. But in a train, the seats are roomy, the electrical outlets are aplenty, and the bathrooms are certainly large enough for shenanigans, if one so desires. Also, if you are a rather questionable-looking person wearing plastic pants and a fedora, you do not have to share your seat, which is an added bonus.

Strangely, the train goes one way until it hits Philly, and then goes the other way up to New York. Which meant I travelled backward for 2 hours, stopped at Philly, and then travelled forward the rest of the way. Odd and unnecessary, but this is why I am not an adviser for the train system.

After very little fuss, I found myself in Newark. (conductor: "Why on earth do you want to go to Newark?" Me: "I...I really don't know.") This led to an awkward moment of standing on the train platform, wondering how one gets into the train station proper. (Answer: go in the little area with the benches, and then go down the stairs. Try not to look like a spazz.)

And then I drifted with interest around the train station, until Jackie found me. At which point we went outside, greeted her father and dog, sent my bag back with them, and went back into the station to catch yet another train, this one local and much less accommodating. Subways followed this, at some point, and then somehow we found ourselves on the Upper West Side, me with no clue at all as to how we had arrived.

We put our name in at Alice's Tea Shop, which is adorable but has very long waits, and then trotted off to have soup dumplings (dumplings! Full of soup! Soup inside of dumplings, like magic!) at a Chinese place. Halfway through our miracle dumplings, Alice's called, and by the time we got back, they had given away our table. We put our names on the list again.

There were thoughts of cream puffs to occur at this point, but unfortunately the cream puff eatery was closed, and so instead we wandered in and out of various ridiculously expensive shops. (Point of interest: I was carrying my black and hot pink Betseyville bag. It got a truly unprecidented number of compliments from sales assistants, and about how none of them had ever seen one like it. This includes the girl at the Betsey Johnson store, who also commented that we were "very well accessorized." So, um...go us!)

At any rate, we missed the call from Alice's again, and then got to walk back to Alice's in the rain, put ourselves on the waiting list for the third time, and then drift down to the Lush store a few blocks away. We naturally picked out ridiculous things at Lush, which we always do, and stood around having bizarre conversations with the sales assistants for waaay too long (another Betseyville bag compliment! Bizarre!), and Then The Phone Rang. From's Alice's. So we thrust our baskets of stuff at the Lush employees, promised to come back for it, and then found ourselves running down the street in the rain.

Fortunately, we got a table. We then proceeded to order food. Mint chocolate black tea, mysterious multi-flavoured rooibos tea, scones in coconut-lemon, strawberry-banana, and raspberry-chocolate, sandwiches in salmon and chicken-apple-goat cheese, and mocha cake. Wow. Yes. Very, very good. The sandwiches, in particular, were spectacular.

After which, we wandered back to Lush to actually buy the things we had been carrying around before. And it was lovely.

Somehow, during this time, it seems to have turned into evening. So we caught multiple subways to Brooklyn (why were so many of the subways not running?? Why??), found a B&N to wander into briefly, and went looking for Re-Dress, which had (!) decided to close early that day. Having run out of things to do and also beginning to run short on time before the show, we went looking for a subway station.

Unfortunately, the closest one was closed. We therefore tramped off to find another subway station.

We got to where we were going, but it seriously took like four subways. Jackie developed a habit of peering intently at her Pre at a subway map, and then helpfully showing it to me. "Hello," said the map, "would you like a plate of colorful spaghetti?" I was intensely mystified each time.

The Music Hall of Williamsburg, where Amanda Palmer was playing, turned out to be in a mildly sketchy area of Brooklyn, which made sense, as it is a rather sketchy sort of building. We arrived soon after nine, confirmed that Nervous Cabaret, the opening act, was still playing, and then promptly went out to the vestibule to buy merchandise, at which time Beth (Amanda's assistant) commented that she liked my outfit, which made me feel rather quietly overwhelmed.

Nervous Cabaret were quite good, and then they hung around to be Amanda's band as well, which was fantastic. It was a very, very good show, with singing and stories and question-answering and song-lyric-forgetting and Thoughts About Twittering. It was fantastic, and finally wrapped up around 12:30.

Amanda, though, was sticking around to sign autographs, and we decided that it would certainly be worth our time to acquire said autograph. Also, Neil Gaiman was in attendance, which meant a chance to get his autograph as well, which was nearly enough to throw us both into a violent swoon.

(Meanwhile, I availed myself of another bottle of Magical Water. See, I had been feeling somewhat dehydrated and faint at around 11:00 or so, having been up for 17 or so hours at that point, and went to the bathroom, only to discover half a case of Poland Springs in the last stall. I accordingly helped myself to one, and then went back after the show for another. It was something of a miracle.)

And finally, after a bit of a wait (probably. Time was starting to slip off its cracker by that point), we got up to Neil and Amanda. And got their autographs, and got to chat for a minute. I got to ask Amanda why she had YES written across her ("general affirmation", apparently), and Jackie got her name written in her book by Neil, which was also quite fantastic. And then we wibbled our way outside, and began the long, footsore hike back to a subway station.

Subways are surprisingly crowded at 2:00 AM, I learned, with my nose in a Russian man's jacket and some mysterious stranger having more full-body contact with me than I've probably ever allowed anyone. This was about hour 20 of my day, though, and so I was pretty well out of it.

I have very vague recollections of getting back to Jackie's house. At one point, there was a shouting crazy man on a subway, and I remember uncharitably thinking, "Your daughter's a whore," in response to something he was saying, and I remember another time where there was a big bronze ear (?) fastened to a support pillar down on one of the subway platforms. I don't remember taking the local train back to Newark, but I must have, because then somehow I ended up in the car, Jackie's dad having arrived to pick us up. There was then a conversation about (drug-sniffing?) goats, I think, although we were nearing hour 22 of my day, and my recording apparatus was malfunctioning significantly.

At some point, I put on my pajamas and brushed my teeth, which seemed to take FOREVER. And then I plunked down on the couch and waited to fall asleep. At 5:00 AM, I was still waiting, and feeling notably grumpy about it. Seriously. Who's up for 23 hours and THEN can't fall asleep?

I did, finally, for a few hours, although the dog kept trying to stare at my face and steal my pillow, which made for an odd night. Also, the problem with using one's phone as a flashlight is that the light goes off after ten seconds, stranding you in someone else's bathroom in the dark in the middle of the night, which makes for some awkward.

And then, much too early, we woke up and wibbled a bit more about how cool Neil and Amanda were. And then, because we hadn't slept and hadn't eaten for about 16 hours, we went out for sushi. In retrospect, this was a rather questionable choice, but it did seem sound at the time.

We ate and found ourselves briefly at a bookstore (I think I know where the manga section is in about 12 different Borders in PA and NJ. It's sort of a sickness), because that is something that happens to us with stunning regularity. And then we went back to Jackie's house to pick up my things, and off I went to the Newark train station, again.

I had to share a seat, unfortunately, and therefore had to feign unconsciousness until Trenton, when somebody left and managed to snag their seat.

Remember: at this point, I had gotten very little sleep, hadn't showered, was wearing a rumbled blazer, and was motion-sick. I therefore sprawled out on my two seats, put my fedora over my face, and proceeded to 70% pass out until I got to the train station.

I got off the train around 7:00, and was torn between the desires to eat, throw up, take a shower, or go to sleep. I don't actually remember much about that evening. Like, anything, really.

And then the next day (Monday) was my birthday, and I worked at 10:30, although I didn't actually wake up until about 2:00. I vaguely remember one of my co-workers wishing me a happy birthday and laughing hysterically.

Good times, good times. Definitely a fun trip. But also very, very odd.

Pictures will, hopefully, be forthcoming.
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