West Harlem Piers Last Tuesday

Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers

There’s a Fairways grocery right next to this pier, so when we go there to shop we like to walk out on the pier and look around for a while. The view is amazing! The Fairways there is pretty cool too, by the way. They have a huge room that is completely refrigerated. It’s odd because it’s like walking down a normal grocery store aisle, but there’s yogurt and butter sitting on the shelf.

Downtown-facing View from West Harlem Piers
Downtown-facing View from West Harlem Piers

Anyway, there’s a great view of the New Jersey side of the river from the pier. The view of downtown isn’t as good as what you see from Riverbank State Park on 138th – 137th Street, and it’s certainly not as good as the view from the middle of the George Washington Bridge, but it’s nice. The breeze is nice, especially on the pier over the water, and there are shaded benches to sit down on.

Chinese man flying a homemade kite.
Chinese man flying a homemade kite.

 

While we were there we saw two guys boxing. Some people were reading. Others were just passing through, like us. One really interesting old man was putting together a homemade kite using disposable wooden chopsticks (like from take-out) and a plastic take-out bag with the smiley face on it. It seemed to be working for him; he just couldn’t catch the breeze before we left to go to Fairways.

People sitting on the West Harlem Piers
People sitting on the West Harlem Piers

I love how the city is installing these small parks all along the waterfront. Last year this section was closed off. You see, it’s part of the Hudson River Greenway, a long running and biking track that will eventually encircle the entire island of Manhattan and link up with bridge paths leading to other cycling and running trails in other boroughs. I also thought the historical information presented on plaques mounted on the railing of the northern pier was a nice touch. It gives a brief history of the area and how it was used as a market. I didn’t really understand the short phrases on what looked like chopped up road signs in the greenery right across the street from Fairways though. There’s not enough context.

Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers
Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers

I’d really like to get bicycles for myself and my wife so we can spend an afternoon cycling around Manhattan, literally. Maybe next year. Summer is drawing to a close. We didn’t do as much as we wanted, but we did enough and we had fun, relaxed, and recharged.

Classes start again on Thursday. My first class of the semester is Friday, and then there’s a long weekend.

Background Noise

A few days ago I was standing on the train, looking around. Sometimes I like to just look at the other people on the subway and wonder what their lives are like, what they do, think, or believe in. How do they view reality?  It makes me think about the way that I view and interact with other people. In a place like New York City, there are just so many people that invariably some of them fade into the background and just become noise or static at the edge of the story of my life.

That’s sort of sad to think about. Some people are a brief hello, or a shape in the hallway, or a flash of color against the snow. But it isn’t really possible to form longterm and meaningful relationships with everyone we meet. I read a study one time that said it’s only possible for people to have about 250 relationships in total. By that, the report meant meaningful relationships where we actually know about other people and keep up with them. After that, our minds just can’t keep the story straight anymore. That’s probably pushing it too. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, because I move so often, but I don’t know that I’d be able to, or even want to have, more than two dozen people at a maximum that I keep up with regularly, outside of family. Maybe it’s laziness, or maybe I’m just interested in developing a few relationships that matter, instead of a lot of relationships that don’t.

Anyway, I like to try to put myself in the shoes of the people around me, or to imagine the world the way they might be seeing it. Sometimes it helps me to remember to be a better person, in terms of common courtesy, and it helps me to remember that the world doesn’t revolve around my life. There are other people with needs and concerns just as real and crucial as my own. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that, and easy to forget to be good to the people around me. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying to improve myself.

Are We There Yet? When is Spring Coming?

This winter has been really long and unpleasant. Every time the snow on the ground is about to melt, we get hit with another snowstorm. This morning, I was excited that the weather was warming up. Today it got up to 54 (a heat wave!) and tomorrow it will be 53, but then I saw that next week the temperature is going to drop down close to freezing again.

I just wish we could get a good solid rainstorm to get rid of the snow and all the filth that’s covering everything. On all of the exposed concrete there is a layer of grime that looks almost like dirty, blended newspapers and mud. It’s most noticeable on the stairs leading down into the subway stations. It gets on everything.

If it has to be cold, can’t it at least be clean? Snow is only pretty for a few minutes in New York City.

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone is having a great New Year’s Eve!

My wife and I are staying home. We had a nice meal, we’re watching the live stream Chromecasted to our television and we’re going to enjoy a nice bottle of wine. Most importantly, we’re staying warm. It is extremely cold outside, and I can’t imagine standing in Times Square for hours waiting on a ball to drop in this weather. People usually start showing up to claim spots around noon.

Speaking of the live stream, so much of the show is in Spanish it’s almost not worth watching. I was also disappointed when the old guy that was on stage with his daughter turned the event into a political platform by demanding the legalization of the status of illegal immigrants in the United States.  The United States is the land of freedom and opportunity, but that doesn’t mean you can just sneak across the border, show up at a government office and demand a portion of the American Dream. You have to get it legally. Every country has laws. This one does too. Immigrate legally. If a person can’t respect the most basic law of a country, then why should they be rewarded? I feel like the only reason some politicians are pushing for legalization of illegals is so they can increase the number of taxpayers and further fatten the government’s already over-bloated coffers.

Anyway, the way things are going, I might as well just learn Spanish. This will be a majority Spanish-speaking country before the end of my life. Most jobs in New York City already require a person to be fluent in Spanish. I imagine the same applies for most cities in southern California and the southwest, though that makes more sense since that area is closer to Mexico.

It’s sort of ironic, really. My great-grandmother immigrated to this country (legally) and only spoke only Spanish. My family acculturated and I speak only English. Now I’m going to have to learn Spanish to keep my economic options open.

Anyhow, there is less than an hour to go until midnight. Time to stop ranting about politics and start enjoying the evening.

Happy New Year!