Nichole must have spent most of the night at her sewing machine. I still heard her sew when I went to bed and tried to finish reading my Gatsby chapter – but fell asleep. When I got up in the morning a load of bags was piled on the dinner table. I guessed she had some kind of event or presentation going on. She is designing clothes in Manhattan.
After breakfast I cleaned my room, so it got pretty late til I got out. Long Island City was to get it’s weekday chance today. Nichole had told me how to get onto Pulaski Bridge: “Just follow Clay Street, then turn left at the bridge until you see a staircase. You can’t miss it”. She was right I could not have missed it – if I had turned left instead of right…
Indeed it is just a short walk over to LIC. And indeed on a weekday the neighborhood shows a different face. Just because there are people on the streets and shops and bars are open. Nichole had been frowning when I had asked her if Long Island City had something like a city center. She decided that it did not. It’s just spread out. Micah agreed. So during breakfast I had checked my resources about LIC – Time Out and the Big Apple Greeter Neighborhood Profile. Most interesting places they showed are around Jackson Avenue and some on Vernon Boulevard. So I walked along Jackson Avenue to Court Square, where the stylish, old-fashioned Court Square Diner offers 24h service, where the Court House is standing and 5Pointz, the graffiti building. This corner might be called something like a city center, just without shopping opportunities.
I followed the El tracks on 44th Drive – they have streets, avenues, roads and drives in LIC, what is a bit confusing – and found Hunter’s Point Historic District. Just two streets of brick row houses like in Greenwich Village, Chelsea or Brooklyn Heights. Part of the Long Island City chaos.
From there I walked over to Vernon Boulevard to find a shop called “Just Things”. It was called a Vintage Store in one of my resources. What I found was a little shop with just trash. Books for 1 $ each but nothing interesting. Two women were sitting in the back, quarrelling. The older one with a worn out face and a very deep and smoky voice was talking calmly. The younger one was loudly complaining about some problem with her cellphone. In fact she was shouting and there were two “fuck its” in every sentence she uttered. Her behavior did not really match the sign at the door, saying “Only nice people shop here”.
The southern part of Vernon Boulevard is quite nice as well and offers plenty of lunch places and a church. I found the Deli again where I had the tasty wrap last Saturday and got me a box with three kinds of turkey wrap slices and a Snapple. How shall I ever get along without Snapple’s again? Snapples are natural fruit drinks and iced teas with or without sugar. Really tasty and in some Delis cheaper than mineral water.
I took my food over to Gantry Plaza close by, found one of these wooden easy chairs in the shadow, facing Midtown Manhattan and had a nice lunch break there, extended by reading a short story from my Fiction Gallery book – not without having checked Gotham’s teaching hints for that story on my smartphone. I’m reading this not just for fun. It’s kind of class preparation.
Having finished the story, I thought about what to do. On my schedule for the late afternoon was a visit to what I had decided could become my regular neighborhood café. It is Just across Manhattan Avenue, has lots of shelves filled with real books, and has a garden and people sit there with their laptops. I thought that is exactly my place. Why sit in my room to write? I won’t meet people there, just cats. But it was too early to go there now.
So I decided to add a short trip to Astoria, to check out 46th street where I might want to spend my 5th month. It was not easy to get there. I had to change trains at Queensboro Plaza and Queens Plaza. In fact it is the same part of a major street – definitely not what I would call a Plaza. Queensboro Plaza station is huge and elevated. Queens Plaza Station is an underground station at the other end of Queens Plaza. And nothing directs you from one to the other. I got out at the corner of Broadway and 46th street in Astoria – suitable to spend a month – and walked along busy Broadway to Broadway station, from where I took the train (three trains in fact) home. On my way to Clay Street I picked up another Bagel from the Polish bakery – again no poppy seeds – and found an aloe soft drink in a Deli which instantly became my favorite, when I had it on a glass of ice cubes.
I went to the café at half past five, what I thought was a good time for an afternoon drink. There was live music going on inside. Three young people offered Irish style folk songs. One girl with very long brown hair played the violin, the other two, a guy and another girl, having beaming red hair, played guitar. The girl as well had an Irish flute. It was really good. But all the tables that were not occupied by laptop people were already laid out for dinner. I looked around and finally sat down at one of the tables, waiting to be chased off. But no one chased me off and no one asked me what I wanted to drink. Two waitresses and a waiter were running around between the back garden and the street – all of them simply ignoring me. The band stopped playing at six. Some people left then. I got up, addressed one of the waitresses asking where I could sit for just having a drink. She offered the bar and yes I could use my laptop there as well. She gave me the drinks menu, written on an airmail envelope and I chose a glass of Pinot Grigio. It was served in a proper wineglass and was even good. The waitress, now wearing a pair of nerd glasses, told me that they might need to relocate me at seven, when a poetry reading would start. I thought about it for a while but decided not to join a poetry reading. So after I had finished my wine I went home again to get rid of my laptop and go out again to find out where to eat.
After strolling through meanwhile well-known Greenpoint streets for a while I ended up in the Mexican Place on Manhattan Avenue. It was pretty crowded and pretty noisy but Nichole and Micah had recommended the food. All waiters and waitresses except mine were extremely tattooed. She from ear to ankle, he all over arms and legs. My waiter wore a thick black beard and looked pretty relaxed. I got a frozen Margarita and chose Chicken Mole, chicken in a hot chocolate sauce. It came with rice, black beans, salad and tortillas, wrapped in a sheet of paper. I had no idea what to do with them.
At the table next to mine a funny party of ten was sitting. They were dominated by a young woman in a tight red dress and extremely long earrings. She somehow must be connected to the restaurant because she used the cash terminal to produce a stack of checks for the party. Next to her a nerd guy was sitting, then a cowboy, a young version of Woody Allen, a woman with extremely frizzy hair but blond and white, an Asian with a baseball cap and a face heavily marked by acne scars. The others I could not see properly. I was wondering what they had to do with each other and with the red woman. Possible material for a story.
PS: My keyboard’s “a” is on strike. So if one is missing this is not due to alcohol!