Manhattan 2005, part 2By Wade Kwon
So freakinâ€™ humid
Folks around here tell me itâ€™s August weather, a mix of drizzle and heat and severe humidity. Itâ€™s miserable, and Iâ€™m used to it.
Iâ€™m out on Fifth Avenue to hit the library. Iâ€™m also out for the real purpose of my trip, this Fossil watch. But, itâ€™s barely readable, so I skip it. Always try before you buy. Sigh.
The main branch of the library is closed (on a Monday!), so I skip across the intersection to the smaller branch. Itâ€™s bustling with patrons, and libraries are the new hot spots, thanks to Net access.
Even here, trying to read up on the Times, itâ€™s not much better, comfort wise.
By the time I reach the office to have lunch with my patron, Iâ€™m soaked with sweat, drizzle and probably five kinds of I donâ€™t wanna know.
Returning to the office for my evening shift, Iâ€™m in full suit and tie, and sweating. Not from nerves, from the walk and the weather. I immediately doff my jacket and roll up my sleeves. Iâ€™m not ready to go to work. Iâ€™m ready to melt.
I get the nickel tour, and itâ€™s like most newsrooms Iâ€™ve visited, only larger. But you still have the stained rugs, the cubicles lined with odd photos and clippings, the funny-but-only-to-those-who-work-here postings, etc. The 11th floor has a long winding hallway lined with framed tributes to Pulitzer winners, most of whom I have little or no knowledge of. Luckily, there is no quiz.
As I settle in for editing, itâ€™s all too familiar. The copy editors and loud and weird and somewhat miffed. â€œI gotta get this story back. Shakespeareâ€™s got it tied up fixing it.â€ â€œWeâ€™re never gonna close these pages!â€
But then, during the tour earlier, we pause a couple of times, once at the desk of reporter Judy Miller, whoâ€™s going to be on Page One tomorrow, not for one of her stories — because she is the story. Thanks to the Supreme Court decision, sheâ€™s likely going to jail to protect a source, even though she never wrote a story.
In the Foreign section, a framed photo serves as a reminder of a stringer in China jailed since November, for doing his job.
Those two examples are far more impressive than all the Pulitzers put together.
Bright lights, small city
Close to 11, I call it a day. No sense in agonizing over these two tryout stories any longer.
Times Square is rainier now, and the lights donâ€™t command as much attention with visitors keeping their eyes down and dry. Iâ€™m still the best-dressed hick on Broadway.
Still a bit peckish, I wander past the apartment building to CitÃ© Grille for something to take with me, a portabella, arugula, goat cheese on focaccia. Naturally, restaurants are open to all hours in Manhattan.
A handful are at the bar, and the servers amuse themselves with a shiny sleek digital camera. I let slip a â€œyâ€™allâ€ in ordering, unusual for me.
A few minutes later, I get my to-go order, complete with bonus mystery jar that the server is snickering about. â€œThe chef included this for you,â€ he says.
Back in my place, the sandwich does the trick. And the mystery jar turns out to be little pickles and carrots in brine or some preservative. Nope, still donâ€™t get it.
It sits on my small kitchen table, a strange souvenir in a stranger land.