Saturday, October 18, 2008

To and Fro

Passenger trains are a phenomenon. I wish we had them in Tennessee connecting all the suburbs and little towns to the hub-cities. It’s such a scenic and relaxing way to get around, and I would certainly love looking out my window passing through the farmland and mountains. The window views on my commute to work aren’t too shabby, however. I pass by the Statue of Liberty twice a day and the New York City skyline coming into Newport and Hoboken is breathtaking, but my favorite things to look at are the Light Rail Depot, where all the trains are kept and cleaned when not in use, the gutted and fire-damaged power building in Jersey City (which looks like an old train depot itself), all the little houses that run alongside the tracks and of course, the roads and toll-booths that lead back into Pennsylvania and eventually on down to Tennessee. The trains are quiet. No one speaks unless they’re traveling with a companion and even then they speak at a respectable volume. No one makes eye-contact either. Each passenger is in their own private world, most of them reading a book or newspaper or listening to an iPod and staring out the window. There is a tremendous respect for privacy and personal space, even on the crowded rush hour PATH trains where it’s standing room only and passengers are pressed together (exactly like you’d see in a movie). I try to check out the other people without being obvious about it. Friday on the commute home, I watched an elegantly dressed African American man going through ballet positions step by step as he waited for the train doors to open. That same trip I also saw an elderly woman with plastic eyeglass frames the size of drink coasters. She had red curly hair, dry red lips and fingernails (also red) so long they curled over the tips of her fingers. There are countless mamas and babies going to and fro; this always makes me miss my little guy. I think I enjoy the commute to and from work more than I enjoy work itself and maybe even more than I enjoy the city. This may simply be because my job and the city are both so new to me, and I’m not yet comfortable with either.

I get an hour lunch break, during which time I always take a walk around the neighborhood. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I feel very fortunate to be working in one of the most beautiful parts of NYC. Each day I try to search out new streets and new landmarks. I try to walk to all the places I can see from the view at my desk. My co-workers are quite nice. There are four men, one around my age who is a librarian, one a decade or so older than me who is also a librarian, one who I suspect looks much younger than he actually is and is not a librarian, but is nonetheless the director of the digital reserves library. The other man is a student worker who can’t be older than 21, a very pleasant and poised man with a eloquent way of speaking. There is also a female student worker I’ve yet to meet as she was out this past week. Two of the men have sons. This makes for nice conversation since their sons are 2 and 4, and both men seem to be very involved and caring fathers. I like to hear of the things I have to look forward to with Seamus. We all share one big workroom, although the two librarians and director have their own offices, and they travel back and forth between workspaces. One of the librarians listens to NPR most of the day, and I love to listen in while I’m working. I’ve been told I can listen to my iPod while I work, but I’ve not tried this yet. I want to be sure I’ve got the hang of things before I start adding distractions. For the most part my co-workers are fairly quiet. Sometimes it feels like being on the train. We’re all in the same room, but each person is involved in their own pursuits. I think this is a New York thing and maybe also a cataloging thing. Creating and editing bib info takes some amount of concentration, and it’s easy to mess something up. It’s also usually easy to fix. I don’t know that cataloging is for me. I’ve only worked two days, and while I enjoy the quiet and the mornings to myself, after about five hours of digitizing and cataloging I’m longing for a human interaction. I have a lengthy work history in customer service, and as much as I used to complain about dealing with the public all the time, I kind of miss it. I don’t have a lot of time around adults. I rarely see T, and when he’s home he’s usually exhausted and taking a nap. I miss the daily chit-chat around the Circulation desk and seeing my regular patrons.

After work, I usually have about two hours with Seamus before bedtime. I try to make all of that time quality time. We read a lot. I give bear rides on my back. We go to the Bay or the playground. Last night I let him take a bath with a rock he found outside. He loved this. I’m more patient with him now since I’m not around him all day. This weekend he developed a love for the story Peter Rabbit. I’ve noticed him enjoying much longer stories lately, but this one is really long for a toddler. He gets very excited when Peter jumps in the water bucket and he loves seeing Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail picking blackberries.


Rickety Rosie said...

Your people observations are going to be great fodder for stories. This is an always-to-be-remembered time in your life, Lydia. Document as much as possible.

Lydia Gwyn said...

I don't know how it's possible since I have so little time, but I've been writing so much lately. I think keeping a blog somehow helped unlock the flood gates.

Kitten DeClaude said...

Sydney told me the other day that a girl in a magazine was "wearing her Lydia costume". It was Katie Holmes. Syd misses you. Don't tell her Seamus gets to bathe with rocks, she has to abandon hers at the door. I have one of these blog things, too. Craftitude. I am keeping up with it more and more lately.

Rebecca said...

oh i wish we had passenger trains, too. i'd much prefer riding one of those than driving myself around the region.

i envy your quit workplace... all for the npr which i love listening to as well. my dept is chatty and everyone in my dept likes to stop and chat with the woman whose cubby is across from my office. often i shut my door--and am grateful to have a door.

i love the peter rabbit stories and am thrilled that seamus loves them too!

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