Think

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Today marks 16 years since I stood and watched on live TV the World change forever.

Looking up from this screen, to the apex of the roof of the room I type in, there are three pictures I took on my first trip to New York in the 1990’s. I saw the Towers but never went up them: Mr Alt is afraid of heights, and it was a trip too much back then. When we returned to New York last year and saw the Memorial, I cried for some time. It is a beautiful piece of art, which serves a useful purpose and not simply as reminder. The flowing water, at least for me, is the prompt that life moves on regardless of your perception. Then I saw the roses, left by the name of each victim who would be celebrating a birthday when we visited. Sometimes, when your life has been given in tragedy, there is no moving forward.

You will forever be known as a victim, and this breaks my heart.

With all the chaos in the world, events like 9/11 are normally only recalled to public consciousness in anniversary multiples of ten or twenty-five. I understand that this allows a measure of closure for some. However, knowing that so many people who died on that day have never been found because bodies were effectively incinerated to nothing is not an image that ever truly leaves. The trail of death in the last sixteen years across the planet is numbing: refugees in the Mediterranean, hurricane victims, Grenfell Tower… a constant reminder that death is part of life, yes, but when man’s own anger, greed and stupidity is at fault? You should #neverforget any of this. Don’t let it own your existence, yes, allow it instead to temper reaction and response.

Become better by learning from the anger and fear it creates.

This week I am determined to be better than those who feel they have nothing to learn. I will listen when spoken to and try to be calm and relaxed. I will reconnect with body via Mindfulness. This will be a week of progress, by understanding that the past has a great deal to teach us about how to live in the present.

Then, I will look to the future.

Big Man on Mulberry Street

And as if by magic, it’s the working week again, and I’m back from a holiday that seems all the more dreamlike than California did last year. I went for a long walk around my neighbourhood last night and was immediately struck by just how quiet this place is, how little goes on when compared to the 24/7 full on noise and smell that New York shoves at you. I think that is why I prefer it to the West Coast, on reflection: there’s no hiding how shabby and unkempt NY can be, despite numerous attempts to cover it up. It’s that mate you have that never shows up to formal events looking immaculate, and you love them all the more for their refusal to play to situation. My daughter found the town genuinely frightening, and I can now understand why. For me, it’s a lot closer to my personality than I’d casually care to admit.

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I’ve not mentioned the apartment we stayed in, which was found via AirBNB and proved to be the master stroke for the ten days away. Apart from spotty WiFi there was pretty much nothing wrong with the place: huge, comfortable and allowing us not to have to play to a Hotel’s schedule or menu. It gave ten days where we could find a haven amongst what was often a chaotic city, quiet reflection in often debilitating heat and humidity. Most importantly however we could wash clothes, cook meals and eat pizza as if the place was ours. It gave the kids their own rooms too, which if we’d had to pay for the privilege in a hotel would have effectively doubled the price of the Holiday. I can fully understand why the Leisure Industry sees such a threat in private rentals, as the NY Yellow Cabs view Uber as threatening their livelihood. The Yellow Cabs may have an app now, but if you won’t let us specify a large car to take our bags to the Airport? You’re no use to us. There’s a lot of lessons to be learnt as the concept of ‘holiday’ changes, and not all of them will be learnt.

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I need to document a few last things: the experiences at Ground Zero are still quite fresh and raw, and with 15 years coming up next month, I think I might hold back on that until the correct time. The number of Space Shuttles I’ve seen now is two: we ‘did’ the USS Intrepid as our last day (and the Enterprise by definition), with the evening on Mulberry Street so I could cross ‘eat Cannoli in Little Italy’ off my Bucket List. Of all the things I did in the ten days it will be the Egyptian collection at the Met that sticks most in the memory, but the evening walks that struck at me most deeply. The city is its most seductive at night, and I am a sucker for a romantic gesture.

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I’ve got a lot of new stuff planned, which I’ll clue you in on starting when School does next month. For now however I am content to keep plugging away at the various strands of life already being worked on. That means I’ll be doing PT later today, editing Bond before lunch, and generally attempting to make sense of the mess that is my life in between. At least now I can be confident I’ve found a part of the US I’d not grow tired of living in. All that’s left now is to fill in some of the gaps in between.

 

All Time High

It was inevitable I’d get behind, but in reality that’s not as big a deal as I’d make it out. The last couple of days have gravitated around Macy’s: my daughter and son have both saved spending money to buy clothing here, and even I took the plunge and have picked up a pile of cheap sportswear: even with the Brexit state of currency, I saved money, and it is entirely worth the effort to drag myself around sale racks. Plus, with Macy’s free wifi, I’ve managed to get almost to L19 at Pokemon Go, and as this is my only gaming fix right now? Very much required and needed.

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Monday was the Yankees (who won 1-0, in a game that at times was pretty average) and yesterday was the Empire State, which was beautifully queue free. My husband has a fear of heights, and I have to say I was proud of him going up as far as he did. Adults have been managing on two meals a day and yesterday’s Diner (Andrews) gave us top food, smoothies and Olympic coverage. In fact, as far as food goes so far, I think this beat the hipster vibe of Harlem. It was honest, decent and very delicious, and I even sneaked in a slice of Red Velvet to boot. All in all, a fabulous couple of days.

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There was a plan to do the USS Intrepid today, but I’m not sure that will come to pass: we only have two more days here so what now gets done is dictated by enthusiasm and not desire. I’ve visited everywhere I’ve wanted to, kids seem quite happy with what has transpired, so now it’s down to what else we can do in the time available. Mostly, I’m keeping out of discussions and having a shower, and hopefully by the time I’m done there’ll be a consensus.

Bring on the day :D

Hard Knock Life

Yesterday, we walked down Broadway from Harlem to Central Park.

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One of the reasons I wanted to do this was to swing past Columbia University, which notably (in my head) features in the original version of Ghostbusters. I’ll make no bones about my love of scoping out places that have appeared in films, and that there’s a certain measure of satisfaction putting myself into places which have a cinematic resonance. It was a grey and oppressively humid morning, and the kids wanted to stop anyway, and the gravitas of the place inside the city made this somehow significant.

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It rained a lot in New York yesterday: I know because we walked eight miles in it, though a Central Park that still remained oppressively warm. I realise the weather is against us here, and things are only going to get worse as the next few days wear on, but I still have an obligation to be fit. That means finding ways and means that won’t wear everyone out. Our reward for all the walking came in Greenwich Village, in a tiny place called Tea and Sympathy, which was next to a fish and chip shop. Yes, we dragged our kids thousands of miles to have the main meal of the day in an English restaurant. For the bacon sandwich alone it was UTTERLY worth the trip.

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After that, the Subway got us back, even though I would happily have walked both ways. The evening saw me pick up a book for the first time in fuck knows when, and get so engrossed (and angry) that I was awake until the wee small hours. It’s also pretty hard to sleep in this heat, and I now understand just how much of a godsend air conditioning is in a town that retains heat like summat that’s extremely heat efficient.

Today, there will be MOMA, possibly some faffing around the Hudson, and the chance to meet a friend I’ve been looking forward to actually having contact with since the first time we spoke online. I love this town, that much is already obvious, but today, that’s going to just be the backdrop to just more extraordinary things.

Most importantly of all, however? Bought a decent mug.

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