New York, Day 1.5

I'm writing this from a grotto table in the back of Mud Coffee bar, downing an oversize mug latte and waiting for a breakfast involving bacon. I'm in the odd, in-between day of polar-earth position time zone change where, like Byron said, morning has come and went and come and brought no day. Or at least, no sleep. The journey here was two flights racing the sun across the Pacific, split by a strange dash through the bowels of LAX, necessitated by the rules of US Customs which decrees that to fly on anywhere else, we all must queue, clear customs (a labyrinth of crowd control lines), collect our bags, queue, drop our bags back, queue some more, clear security again, and then re-board the same plane, just in a different seat.

The ensuing delay of all passengers making the onward trip to New York (for all other connections, leaving later than us, were given express cards but we were not) meant we were rather badly delayed. We thus missed whatever slender airspace window had been allotted to us and spent a good deal of time circling JFK, touched down late, and then spent some more time waiting on the runway.

By this stage, the pilot was announcing the "annoying delays" in increasingly bewildered tone. After that came another hour or so on trains and subways before I finally put my bag down. However, as I'd re-watched Gravity during the first flight during a patch of turbulence, I should be grateful for the safe arrival, however late. Watching space stations and satellites smash themselves to pieces around Sandra Bullock as she tries to make it back to Earth is a rather special experience while you yourself are ten clicks off the surface of said earth in a shaking aluminium and composite can. I can recommend it to everyone.

I elected this time to stay at an Airbnb apartment, reasoning that staying with a local would be a different and hopefully positive experience. My mistake was apparent soon after arriving, not because of my host (who is lovely, if erring on the strict size of house rules), but because it's New York, which means a tiny tiny apartment with one tiny tiny bathroom (I shall never complain about the size of my workers' cottage at home again). In a hotel, I never worry about how many times I might need to visit the bathroom because I sank two pints of soda water while waiting at a nearby bar for my host to arrive. I also don't worry too much about old and narrow sewerage pipes and how much toilet paper one might be able to use before it becomes a plunger issue.

Then there's the emerging First Rule of Airbnb, which is, We Don't Talk about Airbnb. That is, should anyone ask, I'm staying with "a friend", and though I intensely resent having to tiptoe around the clandestine subletting issue after having paid via a legit website every single time, I of course will not say anything about it. Except to the bartender across the street before said prohibition from mentioning Airbnb was made clear to me at this place. Ooops.

Let's say I survived the night, though much of it was spent not sleeping but listening to Story Club podcasts (and the comic stylings of David Cunningham), flicking through several hundred blocked TV channels, and fretting about what I could wear for the 31 degree heat when I'd packed for a Brisbane winter. When the sun did come up, the view out of the window of the fire escape stairs put me in mind of Vivian's apartment in Pretty Woman. Sadly, no Richard Gere in a limousine was waiting down the four flights of stairs. Probably because, a) I'm in the wrong city for the metaphor, and b) my loved ones are on the other side of the globe. So I walked several blocks to this café.

Mud breakfast.jpg

This degree of sleep dep makes me feel woozy. Hence the industrial mug of latte, though all the coffee in the world will not make up for having been too cheap to buy roaming (or local) data, and having left the comforting radius of the apartment wi-fi without confirming directions to the right subway stop for my trip downtown. That one I'm going to have to wing. I know I have to walk west. Really, what could go wrong?

Next time, I'm going to post about meeting my New York publisher, and adventures in New York bookshops. Stay tuned. For now, breakfast is here. :)