Modern Hieroglyphs

Deep in the bowels of a public parking structure I discovered this modern equivalent of a cave painting:

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Can you guess what it is? This is a quiz without an answer key, because I dunno. My guess: this is the glue that remains after a sign fell or got removed.

I was in the hospital recently (hip replacement surgery), where one sleeps – or doesn’t – at odd hours. This is what my bed controls looked like at 3 am:

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The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is Converge.

Subterranean Fear and Wonder

The New York City subway system is awesome.

Awesome (adjective), causing feelings of fear and wonder – Merriam Webster Online.

I love the New York subway. Sure, it can be noisy and crowded and dirty. Subway cleaning crews are as rare as baby pigeons and they seem to keep missing cesspools like this one:

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On the other hand, sometimes on the platforms there are musicians – damn good ones! – who improve your day with their music, whether or not you toss them any money. And the stations have a grimy beauty, thanks to many generations of tile art:

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When I tell you I’m a writer, I also admit to being a voyeur and a snoop. The subway is a great place to eavesdrop and observe (although it never takes long for input overload to occur). I look at all the people around me – well, one doesn’t look directly, one glances and senses – and I try to figure out who they are, what they care about, what their lives are like. Trains go by, more people framed in the windows, like sideways-advancing filmstrips.

2014-10-07 08.55.30As a novice rider, I took great pride in decoding the station and route map, negotiating the turns and turnstiles and signs — in actually getting where I intended to go. Now that I’ve had some practice, most of my trips are successful, and on brave days I try tricky transfers. Nonetheless, each visit to New York brings at least one time when my target station flashes past, the train doesn’t stop and I realize, oops, I’m on an express train. I get out my subway map app to determine how far out of my way the train is taking me. On the map, white dots show stations where express trains stop.

I have always appreciated the subway, but my current interest falls between preoccupation and obsession. This began on the day I glanced out a train window and saw another train that was at eye level, until suddenly it descended. Or my train ascended. Or both. How many levels are there down here below ground? I wondered, and I still don’t know the answer. When I went to the Transit Museum (yes, I went to the Transit Museum), I asked the bookstore guy if they had any 3D models of the system. He thought that was a cool idea for a future product and passed it along to his boss. In other words, nope, no 3D model.

Use of public infrastructure requires trust and perhaps ignorance. The transit museum exhibits confirmed the engineering brilliance of the system – and showed me the decrepit-looking control box that ran the system until way too recently. When I step into electrical gadgetry that shoots me around underground, I don’t want steampunk involved, thanks.

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At the Transit Museum I learned that New York’s millions of buildings and people are suspended above antique cavities that were tunneled long ago, through stone and under water, by methods crude and jury-rigged. Well, I guess if it were going to collapse it would have happened by now.

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(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge topic is Achievement.)

Was There Something They Failed to Tell Me?

The first time I saw a sign like this, I jumped to an easy conclusion. Typo – need to add an s, guys!

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Then I saw a second, similar sign, and my outsider complex kicked in. Had my English teachers withheld a critical piece of information?

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Or does one local signmaker get a lot of work, despite gaps in grammar education? Anybody else seen signs like this?

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is Signs.)

A Sign It Didn’t Go Well

By the time I got to the beach, the flowers had already started to shed petals into the sea. I don’t know what went down before I arrived, but a lovely bouquet in the surf can’t be a good sign.

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Too bold on the first date?

Thanks for the birthday flowers, shame my birthday was last week?

Flowers can’t buy forgiveness, you @#$%^?

Graduation celebration run amuck?

Miss Runner-Up?

Or… ?

What do you think happened?

 

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is Signs.)

Easy Glitter

2014-09-28 21.05.15Can you guess what this is? (To learn whether you guessed right, keep reading.)

Nighttime has always been my special time. For years, I complained that I was a night owl trapped in an early-bird world, until I got tired of hearing myself complain about it. My natural clock wants me up until 3a every night, but that never jived with the schedules of my jobs or my kids’ schools, and over the years I’ve been ruined by those demands. Given half a chance, I still stay up way too late – but I am now incapable of sleeping past 7a, no matter how late I go to sleep. No fair.

Actually, nowadays I get up at 4a, to work on the sequel to Nica of Los Angeles before I go to exercise class and start trying to outrun the steamroller that is my day. I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to this horrific new alarm clock time, and how much I love writing that early in the morning. Then it hit me – getting up at 4a is almost as good as staying up until then! Maybe better, because I’m fresher to enjoy the spooky magic of darkness.

One thing I like about nighttime is how often it lets me take cool photographs in dim light, provided all I want to shoot are the lights themselves…

I love this shot across the East River from Manhattan to Queens, as seen through the rooftop bar of a skyscraper. The cluster of lights at bottom are the candle at my table, reflected in the window.

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This next shot makes me think of water in moonlight. But it – like the teaser photo at the top of the post (did you guess right?) – are reflections of lights on a glass table on my patio:

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The table was reflecting these lights. (For the reality mongers out there, it was the camera and not my patio that was tilted.):

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(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge topic is Nighttime.)