Having Been Human
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Sat May 26 22:53:49 2012

Today I visited Staten Island, having a rather different trip than I envisioned. It didn't start off too promisingly; I first tried boarding an express bus to the ferry, not knowing that the unlimited pass doesn't work on those (only the regular busses, I guess); took the subway instead, walked around a movie being filmed, and finally made it to the ferry station. The station was kind of unconfortable; way too many people, and the zombie-surge as we entered the boat was very unpleasant, although once we were on board it was pleasant and roomy.

It was great being on board a boat; much more lifting than I thought it was going to be. Governor's Island was pleasant to see, and the smell of the water and the wind were great. The boat was pretty cool too; huge and weird. I like that it runs all night; if I ever get restless and don't decide to go to Yaffa, taking the ferry back and forth seems like something to do.

After I got off the boat, I took the rail to Stapleton to hang out at the coffeeshop I selected before I made the trip: Full Cup. This was pretty cool; Staten Island is hilly and the houses way up on a hill reminded me of Pittsburgh's SouthSide neighbourhood. The area felt a bit economically depressed, also like big parts of Pittsburgh (except moreso, I think). Full Cup was pretty cool, but unfortunately they're also under renovation for the next two months so only the stage area in the back is open; I liked what I saw but wasn't able to get any tea/coffee and sit. Sigh.

I walked around Stapleton for a bit trying to find another place to sit and code, but all the other coffeeshops were closed, and the neighbourhood reeked of neglect. Wandered back to the rail station and waited a bit (alongside mostly colourful teens) to take it deeper south.

Hopped off the train at Hugenot, mainly because I like the historical reference; I was shocked that the station and the entire area smelled great. This might be the nicest-smelling part of NYC; there were plenty of trees about and it was a kind of soulless suburban area, but it seemed pleasant enough for what it was. Noplace to sit (apart from Dunkin' Donuts, and I was not *that* desperate), so I returned to the station to go further south.

While waiting, I overheard a conversation between two other guys waiting for the train, mainly talking about their lives of drug overdose and how hot it was; eventually asked them if they knew of any good coffeeshops and they named a place; their speech was kind of slurred and accented so I couldn't tell if they were talking about a train stop near the south of the island or a somewhat-similar-sounding stop near the north (and the ferry). Decided to ride the train south anyhow; eventually conversed a bit with the guy and was kind of weirded out that he said that the waitress of the cool coffeeshop he was telling about mainly went for "better guys" like me... I do see myself as being more intellectual and refined, sure, but it seems too easy for him to assume I have a great life and so on; right now I feel my life is intellectually enriching-as-always but generally terrible-in-quality because of social difficulties and lonliness... but I didn't express that too much; reached the actual end of the line in Tottenville, which looked semi-rural and depressed, but not-too-bad; maybe some slums-near-Akron kind of feel.

I sat on the beach near the train station for awhile. There were two boats racing, other boats sitting there, birds, and other things worth seeing, and some nice little solitude. I then wandered back up to the train just in time to hop on for its return journey across the island.

Hopped off at the Tomkinsville stop, which was not terribly far from the Stapleton stop I tried first, but significantly less depressed-feeling; made my way to EverythingGoes Cafe/Bookstore, which looked cool but due to a live music event there was no seating so I didn't stay. Tried to hop back on the train, but ... well, when I *left* the Tomkinsville stop, I noticed how weird it was that it was pay-as-you-leave. Unfortunately, that doesn't work well with an unlimited transit pass (which is what I have) because they won't let you swipe your card at the same location for half an hour (or an hour?) after you swipe it, and this station was also pay-as-you-enter. So I walked back up to the ferry stop, which was a great idea anyhow because I passed by some nice buildings that reminded me of universities. Maybe not quite as good; they're government buildings, but close enough. I get twitchy when I'm away from things that look like a University for too long; a kind of despair-for-humanity sinks in when I'm not reminded that people are studying and doing science nearby.

Apart from a long wait for the return ferry (weekend times are a bit scarcer and I arrived 10 minutes after an houry), the return trip was unmemorable. Even found some outlets on the ferry to recharge my phone/laptop.

The people of Staten Island were a bit weird; mostly really young people living in poverty and abusing drugs/alcohol in some parts, and suburbanites in other parts. The art and alternative lifestyles scenes look to be pretty great. There were also unfortunately a number of nastyfat people there, but oh well.

I might head back to Staten sometime, either to check out the hip Coffeeshop/bookstore, to check out the coffeeshop I meant to visit (once renovation completes), or to get some solitude either near the southern tip of the island where I was or in one of the many large parks that I didn't see (would have to take a bus for those).

I meant to get some sit-down-at-cafe time in today, but the adventures were pretty nice too.

One of the things I was thinking about on the trip is how I tended to stifle myself in relationships when it comes to spontinaety; when I'm doing something on a whim, if something goes wrong or I spot another possibility I'll change my plans/mind on a dime. I'm happy with that generally. I get the feeling that a lot of the time other people don't work that way; they like plans, and they don't keep their lives as unstructured as I do, so in relationships I traditionally have struck with plans long after I would've changed them had I been on my own, or felt embarassed if a whim-plan didn't work because maybe my partner would've placed much more importance on it than I would. I'm not sure what to think about that, although in general I think I tend to give up way too much in relationships in many ways.