Veronique had some models coming this morning for what they call a 'go see'. That's when the modelling agency sends girls to 'go see' what a photographer thinks of them. I tried to organize myself early to get out of the apartment before the girls turned up, but I just kept getting delayed! The four girls; one white, two black, and one the colour of sweet milk coffee, were all five foot nine or taller, of course stunningly beautiful and all in dire need of a decent meal. After the girls' visit, it felt a little stuffy inside so I stepped out onto the balcony. Across the street, there was a queue of people waiting to be part of the studio audience for a recording of Rikki Lake. I'm not sure why I mentioned that; it just seemed interesting at the time.
Today was another unproductive day of random wandering. The parcel I'd sent forward to myself from California was there at General Delivery, but the business cards I was waiting for from CouchSurfing Casey, were not there. The post office staff said the envelope had probably been sent back, and they gave me a lecture about the proper use of General Delivery blah blah blah....
Virgin Atlantic Airlines must have a couple of offices here in Manhattan, so I thought. Nobody that I asked seemed to be able to point me in the right direction, but everyone was surprisingly friendly and helpful. Finally, when I managed to get through to Virgin on the hone, I was informed that their only office is at JFK airport. Crap. I'm not hoofin' it all the way to the airport. Forget about it. I returned to Veronique's.
Veronique was busy at the computer, editing photos. She handed me a long cable and I set my laptop up on the floor of her office. There were some great emails waiting from friends, but one disturbing message from my mate at home- a bill from my webhost had announced that my credit card had been debited with an extra ninety-nine dollars last month, due to this website exceeding its allocated monthly bandwidth! Now, I don't pretend to understand what that means, but I'm smart enough to know that it's very very bad. Apparently, the more people who visit my site, the more it costs me!! So here I am; my site is becoming more and more popular, and I'm gonna have to shut it down before the end of the year. My credit card has taken a battering, in spite of every attempt to keep expenses to a minimum. Unless I find work real soon, or my readers really start to dig deep and support the project, I can't afford to go much further.
So on that gloomy note, I farewelled Veronique and walked to my next host, a Chinese guy called Ming. Ming lives about eighteen blocks away in funky Greenwich Village. His apartment is tiny compared to Veronique's but he loves it there, just above a lively street, lined with bars and cafes. He was just about to prepare noodles for dinner, and while he was cooking, I asked him about his travels, how he came to immigrate to America, and of course where he was on September the eleventh, 2001.
As he carefully deleafed the Chinese vegetables, he told of coming to America as a young student and then getting a job and staying here. He now works in Manhattan as a database administrator *I hope I remembered that title correctly* He recounted his recent travels across Russia on the Trans-Siberian railway, and his sunsequent love affir with that country. I guess you know that the Trans-Siberian railway is on my itinerary for this trip, so I appreciated his stories as much as he enjoyed reliving his adventures. Ming is a tiny man with a huge smile, and he smiles almost all the time, especially while talking. But his smile faded more and more as he talked about the World Trade Centre attack. That's because he was right there at the twin towers that morning, close enough to see, hear and feel the horrible things that we saw on television. Close enough that he was thrown to the ground by the shock wave from the second plane's impact. Close enough that he could see physical details of the people who jumped to their death. In fact I think he still sees them. He talked at length about what he saw, what things he had turned his head away from, and how it had affected him afterwards and still to this day. Ming certainly wasn't enjoying telling this story, but I hadn't pressed him for details; it was as if he needed to get it off his chest.
The conversation returned to happier subjects, and Ming dished up a delicious bowl of Chinese noodles and vegetables. He said that Greenwich Village is the part of New York that gives the "City that never sleeps" its title, so after dinner we took a walk around the neighbourhood. The place was bustling with all types of characters, strolling and shopping and partying. Bright lights advertised tattoo parlours and sex shops, and imitation log fires beckoned from the windows of swish restaurants. Outside every bar, a crowd gathered to smoke their cigarettes, no longer able to enjoy their habit in the comfort of their local watering hole. We walked as far as the waterfront, from where you look across at New Jersey. The night air was icy, forecast to drop to just a few degrees above freezing. I guess winter is just around the corner, and here I am heading further north!