Anyway, here's the report for . . .
Location: New York
We started the day at the Empire State building, which was full of lines. The line for security started on the sidewalk, a good distance from the entrance. After a while, we reached security.
Security at the Empire State Building amazed me because it was incredibly lax. It looked like standard airport-style security, so I started "taking myself apart"--taking the half-dozen or so suspicious-looking items off my body. But the guard waved them back on, putting my CD player and phone in a plastic tray, which he then passed alongside the metal detector (not through the X-ray machine). I walked through with my watch on, but the detector didn't go off. I retrieved my CD player and phone and put them away.
My brother was next. His belt buckle triggered the metal detector. Crap, I thought, this'll take ten minutes to clear up. But the security guard said "It's just his belt buckle--keep moving." The others passed through the checkpoint without incident, and we moved on to the next line.
This was the line for the ticket window. It took perhaps half an hour to go through. I listened to music, mostly, and mused about carrying a fake bomb through security to demonstrate how shitty it was. (The computer security industry has the concept of a "tiger team"--a group that tests security by trying to breach it. I'm told that the military uses tiger teams extensively, leaving a note reading "bomb" in the middle of a hangar, or a post-it with "your codebooks have been stolen" in a safe; legend has it that, were their exploits declassified, they would be counted as some of the greatest physical "hacks" of all time.) I'd started the CD (my forty-five-minute Evanescence miscellaneous-crap disk) while riding the subway, and stopped it when we got out of the subway; I finished it while waiting in this line. We finally got to the front of the line and bought our tickets.
Then we went up an escalator to the second story, and got in another line for an elevator. This one was actually pretty short-we got on the third or fourth elevator. The elevator went up eighty stories; the observation deck is on the eighty-sixth floor.
We got off at eighty and were greeted with another line, one that seemed to exist only to give "Tony's Audio Tours" one last chance to plug their product. My brother and sister opted to climb the stairs to the observation deck, but Mom, Dad and I decided to wait and catch an elevator. Five or ten minutes later, we reached the front of the line and climbed into an elevator to get to the top floor.
Amazingly, there weren't lines once we reached the observation deck, although we did have to jostle for space at the railing. The view was nice, but not really that impressive. We spent perhaps fifteen minutes up there.
There were short lines for the first elevator down--I think we got on the second one. That dropped us into a line that existed to sell us a commemorative photo of ourselves in front of a matte-painted Empire State Building. We declined to shell out $15 for something that we could get for fifteen seconds of camera battery time and a half-megabyte of compact-flash card space. Finally, we reached the second elevator down.
WoK-chan, you might want to skip the next couple paragraphs. If you choose not to, please don't anvil me.
We got into the second elevator. It wasn't a squeeze at all--until an incredibly fat man wedged himself in. Now there was no free space in the elevator.
And some random blonde woman's ass was pressing into my groin.
As you can imagine, this was rather difficult for me to handle. I couldn't back up--I was already pinned against the elevator's railing. She squirmed a bit to try to find a couple spare millimeters, which didn't help at all. Leaving me to spend eighty floors trying desperately to think about anything but the position I was in. Somehow I managed to avoid anything . . . embarrassing . . . happening, and emerged on the ground floor unscathed.
Welcome back, WoK.
We left the Empire State building and decided to walk to the Plaza Hotel.
On the way we had lunch and stopped in a bookstore. I picked up Inu-Yasha #3, but saved it for the drive to DC. Mom revealed why she was so hesitant about buying these things for me--it wasn't because I finished them so quickly (less than an hour for the first reading) or because she thought it was a bad influence or anything like that (not that she would)--it was because they were $9 and she was sure she could get them cheaper on Half.com if I'd only be more patient. That's a relief, I suppose.
Typical Jewish mother . . .
'Course, that's not going to stop me from checking the next bookstore for #4. It's not like I'm just buying them and saving them for home, after all.
Anyway, after we left the bookstore, we walked to the Plaza. It was pretty much what I'd expected, but then, Home Alone 2 had once been my favorite movie. (Hold your fire--this was long before I'd discovered science fiction.) Partly because I needed it, but also because I was curious how fancy they were, I stopped in the bathroom. It was pretty normal, except that the person I thought was a janitor was actually an attendant who turned the water on and off for you, handed you a paper towel, and wiped up the water you left around the sink. I didn't realize until I'd left the bathroom that I probably ought to tip the guy . . . oh well.
The nearest subway station was a ways away, so we decided to walk through Central Park to get to it. Central Park is very nice, and nothing like I imagined it. I'd always imagined a big, grassy field, with perhaps a few lakes and scattered trees, but my walk took me across a bridge, down a path, across a road for horses, past a carousel, and near a baseball diamond. Trees were everywhere, and in some places it wasn't difficult to forget you were in the middle of America's largest city.
Once we reached the subway, we went back to the hotel room to rest for an hour. That's when I posted last night.
We just got to the hotel; I'll finish this later.
It's night now. We went to Georgetown to walk around and get dinner. I'm not sure if today was worth writing an entry about-it was mostly driving, after all. I'm listening to Men in Black, which my siblings are watching.
Anyway, back to the story . . .
My mother, as it turns out, has family in New York-a cousin named Wendy. We arranged to have dinner with her. So at six-thirty or so, we left our hotel and got on the subway to Greenwich Village.
She lives with her husband in a three bedroom apartment on the eleventh floor of an apartment building. The apartment has a balcony, from which you can see the Empire State Building (with tourists' flashes visible at night), the Chrysler Building, and much of Manhattan.
She noticed a group of people behind the building, and herded us into her bedroom to see the "witches". Apparently a group of Wiccans (sp?) meets in a small park behind the building. Most of my family watched interestedly, but I barely looked--I don't really know why it is, but I have a thing about gawking at people like they're animals.
Anyway, after a tour of the apartment we went to dinner. It was at an Italian place, and was pretty good. We then walked around Greenwich Village. I spotted a newspaper vending machine with free dead-tree copies of The Onion, and grabbed one and started reading. I'm keeping it as a souvenir.
Okay, so I do keep souvenirs. But only free ones.
I read the headlines for a while, but the light kept me from reading most of the body text, so I only read the horoscopes. They were funny, as usual. Eventually, when I'd read all the headlines, I just carried it around, walking numbly along, not really paying attention to what people were saying. I do that sometimes.
I retreated further into that catatonic state when we reached a shopping area; see my entry last night for the story of what happened there. After that, I was lost in thought instead of numb, composing that entry in my head.
We eventually ended up at a dessert place near her house. The first thing I thought of when I went inside was Magical Cake--it seemed like the same sort of place. I had some gelato, which was excellent, in a hard chocolate shell, which was too rich for me to eat more than half of.
We walked back to her apartment and dropped her off, then stopped outside the building to argue.
By now, it was 11:30 or so. My brother had said earlier that he wanted to see Times Square, but my sister and I both wanted to go back to the room. Mom and Dad wanted us to see Times Square; my brother was indifferent. We eventually decided to go back to the room--which was probably a good decision, since our one-day subway passes would probably have expired at midnight, forcing us to pay for the extra subway ride.
All in all, it was an interesting day. I left New York feeling like I'd finished--there was still plenty to see there, of course, but I didn't feel a desire to stay and see it all.
Well, not yet. I'll come back one day, but that day is not today. Or this month. Or any summer month.