i have a hard time waking up when it's still dark. it feels scary early. i take it for granted that when i wake up for work in the morning, it's already daylight outside. most people don't have that luxury. most people wake up and get ready for work while it's still dark (at least during the winter, when days are shorter). i was still tired (went to bed at 1:30am, woke up at 6:30am), my body felt a little sore, and for some reason i was nursing a mild headache. i got dressed and headed out the door. it was cold. i hoped it'd be warmer down in new york city.

there was a couple of people waiting at porter square station. most of them were carrying large backpacks or suitcases. together we shared a bond of early morning travel. i tried to read if they were going down to new york city like i was. i arrived at south station, walking towards the bus terminal where i was meeting mandy. for a split second i saw a train, a bus, and a plane. mandy, whom i thought would be late, was already waiting for me, along with her large traveling dufflebag and her ibook. we walked down to chinatown and got in line for the bus. i didn't think it'd be crowded, but a full bus already left when we got there, with many more still waiting in line. a girl in front of us was trying to argue that the fungwah ticket she bought back in december was still valid. "you know, remember the snowstorm?" she said to the fungwah guy in a condenscending manner. "sorry, i can't help you," he told her. so she had to buy another ticket, crying "this is so unfair!" while she dug out $10 from her purse. on the bus, another troublesome girl sat in front of us. even though the bus was to capacity, for some reason she would give up the seat next to her. finally the bus driver had to come back and ask if what was going on. "fine! take it!" as she angrily moved her bag, all the while craddling a cellphone to her ear. i stared a psychic lobotomy hole at the back of her head.

it was great riding the fungwah with mandy, my chaperona. there wasn't any of that awkwardness you might get when you sit next to a stranger. we chatted, then the driver played a movie for us on those tiny bus monitors. the movie? 28 days later, perhaps one of the most violent and scariest films of 2003, perhaps a little bit inappropriate for the audience, some of whom were just absolutely shocked. you never know what you're going to get when you ride the chinatown bus! i fell asleep at some point, and when we pulled over at a rest stop i got off to use the bathroom. the trip was pretty fast, we made it to the new york city chinatown in a little bit over 3 hours.

once we set foot in new york, we made a beeline to the nearest subway station (canal street). mandy went one way and took the train to brooklyn (to her new apartment) while i went the other way uptown, to the whitney museum. two things i wanted to do in the city: go to eliza's party and to see the john currin exhibit. i read about him in a recent issue of newsweek, he paints in a combination of classical styles (think "renaissance") mixed with modern day themes, often time very provocative, like anorexic senior citizen socialite models or big chested girls with kewpie doll faces. i got my ticket ($12), left my bag away in the coat room, and walked around the museum for a few hours. besides the currin exhibit, there was also an arshile gorky drawings restrospective (yawn) and lucas samaras self-portraits (sort of interesting in an egomaniacal frenzied creative kind of way). i also saw the calder circus maximus pieces, which a while back julie told me was one of her favorites. i got a talking-to by a security guard when i was talking with mandy on my cellphone (apparently you can't use cellphones in the gallery space). i didn't have anything to eat, my stomach my growling, and there were a few times when i thought i was going to pass out from hunger.

i had several hours to kill before 6pm (the time mandy and i decided we would meet), so i walked down to the metropolitan museum of art. along the way i finally got something to eat, a hot dog from a street vendor. i thought he asked me if i wanted honey with my hot dog. "um, yeah, sure, the works," i said. but turns out he was asking me, "where's your honey?" "oh, my honey? i don't have a honey. i'm from boston actually," i told him. he thought about a little bit smiled, "you have a honey in boston?" are all hot dog vendors so curious about other people's love life, or lack thereof? "no, no honeys," i confessed. there was a heavy police presence in front of the museum. i thought i'd try to get in with a dollar admission (since the ticket price is "suggested" anyway), but at the last minute i changed my mind and paid for a $7 student ticket (which is still a lie, since i'm not a student).

there's always something new to see at the met. i went to check out the olmec stuff first, which are my favorites, but i forgot that the really cool mesoamerican stuff isn't at this museum but at the natural history museum on the other side of central park. the place was crowded and i got lost, i just basically wandered around, whatever looked interesting i'd stop and check it out. after a few hours i was all museumed out. i took a break at the temple of dendur, where i got yelled at for the second time today by museum security for using my cellphone. when did i become annoying cellphone guy? i contacted mandy and decided to go back to her place in brooklyn first before heading back out for dinner then the party.

i took the 6 train from 77th avenue, but it only got me as far as city hall-brooklyn bridge. i had to wait for a 4 train which finally got me to nevins street, mandy's stop. by then it was getting dark and starting to snow a little bit. i found mandy's apartment and she came down to let me in. mandy lives in what i describe as an artist commune. the place is a little bit runned down but the rent is cheap. in the elevator there were all these taped notices about how the city is planning to condemn the building and turn it into an office space and what the tenants can do about it to fight back. a loft space with three bedrooms, i met both her roommates, chet, a merchant marine/metal sculptor, and ross, a holistic healer type who can only be described as "intense." he said something about "being in the woods" which i thought was some new york city euphemism for not having sex in a long time, but turns out he really was in the woods, at some retreat where he camped out in the cold and learned to bend fire and move rocks with his mind (i was frightened but played along). i went to use the bathroom, which was scary (most guy bathrooms in apartments usually are), but they have a really nice kitchen, like you could do a cooking show with plenty of counter space. a northern facing window overlooks a 5th story view of a busy intersection and a parking lot.

we left the apartment around 6:30pm, got the 4 train to city hall, then a 6 train to bleecker street. we walked in the direction of the east village, keeping our eyes open for a suitable place to have dinner. finally we decided to go japanese and stopped at kura sushi (67 1st avenue). mandy went with the tempura, i had the box lunch special with a combination of pork cutlet, salmon, and fried oysters. i helped mandy finish a bottle of warm sake (which i thought tasted like mouthwash, except none of that minty flavoring).

mandy and i headed to B3 afterwards. the occasion: eliza was hosting a party along with her friends leigh and lock, the three of them all turning 30 this month. originally the party was supposed to be at the slipper room but the location was changed very last minute, which made no difference to me, considering there was still live music and an open bar. when i first received the evite i had no intentions of going and even wrote eliza a very long e-mail listing all the reasons why i wouldn't and shouldn't go. but because mandy just happened to be moving back to new york this weekend, and i really want to see the john currin exhibit, the party was just something extra.

it was held in the basement of a restaurant, and it was already crowded by the time mandy and i got there. we threw our jackets onto a chair (the coat room was already full) and went to find the hostess, probably the only person we knew. for those who don't, or just need a refresher, mandy, eliza, and i used to all work together at SRM, that's how we all know each other, designer, producer, and programmer respectively (heck, if we had a manager and a marketing person we could form our own startup). eliza wore a red dress (scandalous, although since it's sort of her birthday, i guess it's her right), and after we said hi, mandy and i hovered by the bar, she got a gin and tonic, i got a straight coke. later in the evening, while mandy was in the bathroom, i ordered us a pair of rum and coke, my first experience with said concoction (bitter, the coke flavor is ruined), i loved it so much i took a sip and left it by the counter, which mandy greedily poured into her own cup. it was crowded, and became more so as the evening wore on. i stood with my arm pressed against my body holding my beverage, occasionally brushing naughty bits with strangers in this cramp quarter. apart from the crowd noise, there was also the swing band, which made it hard to hear conversations, so there was a lot of leaning over and shouting into people's ears (my body gets tingly whenever somebody does that though). at least i knew some other people besides eliza, including her parents, her brother (i think that was her brother, i'll have to ask her about that), her roommate dave, and some of eliza's boston friends like jerica ("don't write anything bad, tony!" she said) and erin. we were also introduced to her friend lock (who's name i've heard many times before, but i always pictured him as this viking type), and i think we also met leigh (though nobody introduced us to her). mandy was my safety net, without her i would've been completely lost, and wouldn't have anyone to gossip with about who we thought was gay or what people were wearing. we stayed for about 2 hours, or only as long as the bar was open. we pressed through the mass of people to find our jackets, and decided not to go back into the crowd, even to say good bye to eliza (hoping she'd understand).

outside in the fresh cold new york city air, standing with the handful of smokers savoring expensive smokes, mandy was inspired and lit one of her italian cigarettes from her purse, a present to a friend whom she said would understand if he received the pack minus one cigarette. we started walking in no particular direction, in search of a subway station. it seemed we got a little lost, but i was confident mandy would navigate our way out of it, and if we really needed to, i had a map in my bag. we came across a place called rice to riches (37 spring street), this little shop that sold all sorts of rice pudding. something about the place seemed very attractive, the fact that it was brightly lit, clean, and futuristic, certainly had something to do with it. while mandy used the bathroom, i got a bowl of mango rice pudding, served in a pretty plastic bowl, eaten with a spoon shaped like a shoe horn.

eventually we found a subway station after walking by john's old neighbor, taking the train back to brooklyn.

it was close to midnight and mandy's roommate ross was still awake, working on his computer in his bedroom, listening to soft music. he was wearing a skirt (he called it something, i forgot the name, i thought he had wrapped himself in a bedsheet) and told us he had just taken a bath. the three of us talked for a little bit, dabbling in some political chatter. i asked about his family, how he's originally from ohio but has lived in NYC for almost 8 years now. ross let me borrow one of his yoga books, "journey into power" by baron baptiste, said it would inspire me and was a good read. when it was time for bed, i curled up on the sofa in the living room, using mandy's grandmother's knitted blanket as a comforter. earlier i noticed ross keeps the apartment at 60 degrees (which is what i keep my place when i'm not home). it didn't seem that cold (i slept in my clothes) but in the middle of the night i had to wear my hoodie because it got pretty chilly. it felt good to fall asleep, finally getting some rest after a long day.