so i am home. i didnt get a chance to post again the rest of the time i was in baltimore, so this is going to be a mega post. a warning, it was a really eventful week, and one of the best of my life.
after talking to the local knitters, i’d decided on where i needed to go to do some shopping, and it meant catching a bus out of town a bit. so i wandered up into downtown baltimore, which was kind of deserted on a sunday (reminding me of sydney in the old days before the new mega malls went in).
a nice young african american gentleman at the bus stop asked me if i wanted to go to the movies with him, but i told him i was from out of town and needed to go do some shopping and he was real sweet about it. so eventually the bus comes and i get on and i swear to god i am the only white person on that whole entire full bus. i felt perfectly ok though, no one looked twice at me, but my point is do white people not catch public transport in baltimore? i have to admit, after what i saw on that 40 minute bus ride, im not surprised. we drove up through north baltimore through suburbs called greenmount and waverly, and there was street after street of boarded up row houses (as they call those beautiful red brick terraces). there was rubbish everywhere, burnt out cars, decrepit strip malls, little grocery stores with bars on the windows, people sitting on stoops, drugs deals in full view at the bus stop, and at one stop im pretty sure bubbles got on. there was a guy on the phone the whole time talking to someone about the continued oppression of the black man in america and the corruption of the black woman by the white man and he said all that just like he was malcolm x. it was WILD!!
finally we got to the mall, and it was a little weird, but i got what i wanted – all the things
and some new runners and a backpack
and then i got lost. honest, i couldnt find my way out.
it was freaky. also, i caved and caught a taxi back to the hotel. how sad am i?! that night at the hotel i had crab cakes from room service and they were really fantastic, not bready at all,
followed by key lime pie and then i watched true blood live on HBO and knitted in bed
before the conference started the next day. and yes, i did go to the conference, i went to lots of it actually
when i wasnt being distracted by this terrific view out the window
i heard some really great stuff and it was terrific to be there with so many of my work mates. i think we were one of the biggest international contingents and we started to make quite an impression! monday night we all went out for dinner together, my boss’ taxi driver had recommended a place called the abbey burger bistro so we set off on foot to federal hill,
which was a really pretty area, again lots of classic red brick row houses, and the abbey didnt disappoint. the staff were great, the local beer was good (apparently) and we got to design our own burgers.
they had all sorts of crazy meat, like new zealand red deer and bison and crocodile (not alligator) and i had the (market price) kobe beef with applewood bacon, pepperjack cheese, onions, coleslaw and salsa.
it was really really good! we also had buffalo wings and waffle nachos for entrees, and i had proper american lemonade, it was really great, the best meal of the trip. then we all walked back to the hotel and crashed.
tuesday i was up early for my presentations, one was at 815 and the other at 1145, and i was really super pleased with how they went. i know the material from both of them really well now so i tried to ab lib as much as i could and i got lots of good questions and feedback and my boss told me later he had lots of international interest including a request to collaborate with a very big whig from the UK. so that was all great.
tuesday night was the conference dinner and this is where things start to get very interesting. initially i had not been going to go to the dinner. i had booked tuesday night in new york city and was just going to skive off from the conference. but i was having such a good time with my work mates on monday that i changed the booking around and stayed in town. as i was headed down to the foyer to meet up with everyone, this guy outside the lift started talking to me (im starting to wonder if i was wearing an Available sign this trip!). to cut a long story short, he asked me to come see him after the dinner for a drink and then he was gone. i thought about this mystery man every so often during the dinner which was boring, despite being at the aquarium
with a great view
but the food was terrible, and as we came out into the warm night
my colleagues teased me about the guy who they’d seen me talking to in the foyer, and my boss’ wife kept telling me how cute he was, which he was, and that i should go knock on his door. except i didnt know exactly what door. lucky for me, he was the clever one, and he left a note for me.
discretion being the better part of valour, im not going to say much more, except that i had a great time, maybe even the best night of my life, and it was kind of hard to leave. seriously, these kinds of things dont happen to me. i’ve never done that before, and i took a chance and it paid off.
but i had places to be, and so did he (he’s from NY but he was in baltimore for work), and wednesday morning, when the heat wave came, i was on a train to new york city.
the heat was almost palpable, it hung like a thick yellow haze the whole way across the country, through delaware
and philadelphia, and it hit me in the face when i came out of penn station at madison square garden.
being in new york for the second time was in some ways better than the first. i could relax, i knew how things worked, i knew how to get around, i didnt need to panic. i went straight to my hotel on east 47th street (i chose midtown rather than the village this time just to be close to everything) and they let me check in early, and then i put my walking shoes on and headed down to union square. there is a fantastic book store there called strand books, i managed to pick up some nursing history stuff! then i walked down broadway
to the village tannery where i was determined to buy a new bag (i did. its perfect), and then ducked into starbucks for a brain freeze.
good lord it was hot. 35, 36 degrees, with a hot wind blowing. from here i just headed straight down to broome street to purl soho where i pulled out my lists and managed to fill two baskets full of yarn. i’ll show you the spoils shortly, but its enough to say i spent over $500 (not all for me!) on Loft and Spud & Chloe, and then i had to get that all the way back uptown! i crashed out pretty well straight away, it didnt get below 27 that night and i didnt even bother going out for dinner (something about not having slept the night before).
thursday morning was still hot, i showered, packed up and left my bags downstairs before heading out onto the street, this time in sandals and a short skirt and tshirt. it was 33 by 10am. lucky the air conditioning is good. i basically just walked up 5th avenue
to sephora again
then in and out of tiffany and bergdorffs, and then FAO Schwarz to buy stuff for kids back home. i love doing this, their teddy bears are just so cute! then i wandered through central park for a while, it was cool in here and they had lots of sprinklers and fountains on.
i sat opposite the pond for a while,
and marvelled at the way those apartment buildings just towered over everything,
and i lay under a tree and just thought about….things…then i wandered down 5th avenue again, and into the rockefeller centre.
it was so nice and cool in here, and i grabbed a roast beef sandwich in dean and deluca before heading back down to east 47th, shoving more stuff in my bags, and grabbing a cab out to JFK. thankfully my cab was air conditioned, because it was bumper to bumper on the van wyck (they say no one’s ever beaten the van wyck) but i got there in plenty of time. i was a bit worried about my ticket because i’d cancelled part of it, but they let me through. then we were 45 minutes late boarding because the bus bringing the crew broke down in the heat, and then we sat on the tarmac for an hour because they changed the flight path, but that meant i got to see the amazing red hot fire of a sunset.
we flew into that sunset for 5 hours to LA (i had no one next to me that leg, bliss!) then a 1.5 hour stop over in LA, then off to again to sydney, where the sun caught up with us again 15 hours later. the flight wasnt too bad, its just so long, but i had a nice seat companion again, and got some sleep at least. it was lovely to feel sydney ground beneath my feet, but it was a bit bittersweet to be flying so far away so soon after meeting someone so lovely, and to feel like everything had shifted just a little bit.
its taken me a while to get back into the swing of things, im sure whatever that chicken was they gave us out of LA made me sick, and im still incredibly tired (like, i could go to bed now). but im back at work tomorrow and it shouldnt be too bad. plus, i got lots of really good stuff!
and i have some pretty excellent memories, and who knows about the future? this time, i really loved america, i felt a little bit at home even. but i dont ever want to smell auntieanne’s pretzels ever again.