Thursday, September 03, 2009

Small-Town Friendliness (in the city)

This is turning out to be a rather unproductive week. I don't feel like I'm getting much done, but then I have to remind myself that I'm in brainstorming mode, so it's harder to track when I'm "working" because it's running constantly in my subconscious. Still, I'm not exactly focusing, and I have had a lot of non-writing work to do. Sometimes the administrative/business stuff just has to be dealt with. I think I could also have some lingering tiredness/stress from being out of town two weeks in a row, with back-to-back trips.

There is a holiday weekend coming up, but I will probably still be doing brainstorming. That's work that doesn't really feel like "work," and I will allow myself some rest time, as well. The one thing on the calendar is that I have to sing for a funeral on Saturday. It's for the husband of a choir member, so the choir is singing, and it's also my time to be a good Southern Church Lady and bring food for after the service, though they just want dessert, which is right up my alley. I'll have to think of what to bake.

It's funny, I was so eager to get away from a small town, and I've found myself right back in that environment. I officially live in a rather large city, but my neighborhood is on the edge of the city and somewhat isolated from the rest of that city, so it's more a part of the adjacent small town, and even in the school district of that small town. That town is where I go to church, take ballet and even do a lot of my shopping. Mind you, this "small" town is more than ten times the size my hometown was when I lived there, so it feels like a metropolis in comparison, and I think I'm getting the positive aspects of small-town life with the convenience of a big city.

Speaking of small-town things like friendliness, I don't know if it was my Southern Belle aura, the weather, the economy or the fact that all the grumps went out of town, but I found New Yorkers to be almost alarmingly friendly last week. Not that I've ever really found them to be as rude as the general popular image would have them be, but I had far more small-town-like encounters on this trip than ever before, like strangers just suddenly starting to chat. I ended up chatting with the guy at the table next to mine at a restaurant, walking for a while and chatting with a lady in the park, having brief conversations with people on the street, etc. Meanwhile, I guess my invisible "Need Help? Ask Me!" sign was working. I helped someone at the airport figure out the train system for getting into the city, helped someone on the train figure out how to get to the subway, helped someone else in the train station find the right subway line, helped a blind woman across the street, helped lots of people find various landmarks in Central Park, and even was approached by someone asking directions in Spanish. Now, I do speak Spanish (more or less), but I don't think I really look like the person you'd approach in a crowd and expect to be able to understand Spanish. The one thing I wasn't asked to do that I'm usually asked to do was take a picture of someone in front of some landmark. I guess I blend in well enough as a local that people assume I know where things are and how things work, but I still come across as friendly and approachable. In the case of the blind woman, I guess she must have just got a vibe that someone nice who wouldn't mug her was nearby (and I even have experience escorting the blind because I volunteered for blind student services in college. Mostly that meant I read textbooks on tape, but sometimes I had to administer exams by reading questions out loud, and then the students would usually get me to escort them to their next classes afterward).

While I was enjoying myself wandering around in the rain, it occurred to me that as much as I love rainy days and especially rainy days in the city, I don't think I've written very many. The only one in the Enchanted, Inc. series that I can think of was the freezing rain/sleet/snowstorm in Once Upon Stilettos. And I think it was a kind of grey day at the end of Damsel Under Stress. Otherwise, it seems to be a perpetually sunny day in my head. Even in the book I'm brainstorming, I keep seeing everything happening in the sun. That may be smart because while I think of rainy days as happy, not a lot of people do, so if I want the scene to be happy, I need to go with the kind of imagery normal people associate with happiness. There's a different kind of mood associated with rain imagery. I suppose I could make it a character quirk that one of my characters is happier on rainy days and use it that way, but in general, if I want to show a day where everything's going right, it probably would need to be sunny to get the right mood across.

Now, though, I hope the forecasts are accurate and we get those rainy days they're forecasting for the weekend.

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