Monday, August 31, 2009

Back from New York

I'm back from New York, and am in my usual exhausted state after a trip like that. However, I'm mentally all revved up to work. The blister I got the day before the trip was a bad omen because I ended up with even worse blisters by the end of the first day, thanks to the fact that one pair of shoes hurt my heels, but then the other hurt my toes, so I just couldn't win. I think I may try what I've heard is a Boy Scout trick and wrap the most blister-prone parts of my feet with duct tape BEFORE I get blisters. That's supposed to prevent blisters because it means there's no rubbing on the skin. The worst of the blisters have shrunk today, but shoes still aren't my favorite thing.

But other than that, I had a great trip. The first day was absolutely lovely, with warm temperatures and sunny skies. The rest of the time it was a different kind of lovely (to me) -- nice, rainy days that give the city a certain feel that's almost otherworldly. It also makes stepping into cozy basement restaurants even nicer.

I can't talk in much detail about what I did, since it was research for a book and I don't like to talk in specifics about unwritten (or unpublished) books, but I did do a lot of wandering in Central Park, I returned to my favorite tea shop for breakfast (and hot tea and scones on a rainy morning is a treat) and I found a perfect Italian restaurant that was romantic enough that I actually found myself wishing I could go there on a date.

After seeing a sign in a real estate office window, I got the bright idea of checking on open houses to get into an apartment building, but they didn't have any open houses while I was there. However, they did have a lot of photos with listings posted in the windows, and my hotel room window looked down on the roofs and backs of the buildings in the next block, which gave me a better sense of the building layouts. It looks like in those older buildings that just about any layout goes, since some of them were originally built as single-family homes or maybe two-family homes or apartments that took up entire floors, and they've since been cut up into smaller apartments in various ways. So I think I can make up what works for the story, and it won't be utterly unrealistic. Based on an overheard conversation, I think I can also make just about anything financially feasible, since there are apparently people who inherited apartments from family members who bought them decades ago when prices weren't so high, so the larger old apartments are totally paid for and all the current residents have to pay is maintenance and taxes.

I also figured out from this real estate research that no matter how much I enjoy visiting, I probably won't ever decide to live there (unless I reach JK Rowling levels), considering I'd have to pay more than double my current mortgage payment to live in an apartment smaller than my current living room. I can travel there instead, especially now that I've found the perfect hotel. It's so perfect that part of me wants to spread the word about it, but part of me wants to keep it a secret so it won't become too popular (not that I have that much influence). It's very cheap by New York standards, but absolutely lovely, a well-preserved old building right behind the Museum of Natural History and a block from Central Park. The rooms are really small, and the bathroom was pretty much microscopic, but it was still nice and comfortable, with a good bed, LCD TV and CD player in the room. I think I have my new New York headquarters.

Because of the foot problems and general weariness, I didn't do anything nightlife-related. I ate early dinners and was back in my room, collapsed with my feet up, by 7, so my evening tourism amounted to watching syndicated reruns of CSI: New York. I got to play the "hey, I was there today!" game, only I didn't find any dead bodies or severed heads in those places. The early nights meant I discovered the time when the City that Doesn't Sleep sleeps: Saturday mornings when it's rainy. I had the city almost to myself when I headed out for breakfast.

I have photos, and I think I'll post the ones not related to the book as Friday's Virtual Vicarious Vacation. But now I have to get to work and catch up on a lot of stuff.

Tomorrow: My airplane books for the trip.

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