Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm sitting in an Amtrak train, running through swampland near the Connecticut-Massachusetts border, with a little country road across the forest to the left, listening to Brandi Carlile, which seems like incredibly appropriate music for a swamp train.

Amtrak has a serious IT problem. I don't know what the deal is, but it's not working out. Their web site doesn't work in Safari, Firefox or MSIE, which is really quite an impressive trifecta, considering that it's non-workingness is blatant, not subtle. And the ticketing system was down today - when we called for directions to the station, they couldn't answer the phone and asked people not traveling today to just hang up. I hate to see this sort of thing. And yet, with all the lameness, and the crappy track, it's still really nice to be on a train in New England, running south to Manhattan. The weeds alongside the track remind me of my childhood.

Pulling into New Haven station to the sounds of Evanescence's goth metal riff on the lacrymosa from Mozart's Requiem (or is it the C minor mass? I really need to figure that out - I haven't listened to either work in way too long). New Haven is the first time you really feel like you're in a railyard rather than out on a rural spur line. This is where we switch from diesel-electric to an electric-only locomotive. So we'll be sitting here for a while. In fact, I'm on batteries right now (the horror!).

Because it's a railyard more than it is a train station, no effort is made to make it pretty, so you have these giant spidery steel structures holding up the electrification lines, and they're all covered with a patina of dust and rust. I find this really welcoming - it reminds me of New York, and also brings to mind the ancient (once modern and flashy) Victorian steel edifices of the Age of steam trains.

I have noticed that everyone in this train car who has a laptop out (there are three of us) is using some kind of Mac. Dunno what that means, if anything. Andrea called me an Apple fanboy this morning. Clearly my disguise is slipping. I have to say, this way of getting to New York (starting from Springfield) is completely failing to suck. I wish the service were this good as far north as Brattleboro, but unfortunately the Vermont train doesn't have such direct track support.

I don't know if the tracks from Springfield to Brattleboro were ripped out one day in a paroxysm of ill-considered modernization, or if you just went through Boston to get to Burlington (which was a major rail center) back in the day. It's kind of unfortunate that so much of the passenger rail system in the U.S. is essentially a nostalgia trip, but it is - the system was laid out over a hundred years ago, and I doubt any new lines have been added since the forties, if not earlier. Hm, Fanfare for the Common Man. Does this relate?

It's starting to hit me that I'm actually going to be in New York in an hour and twenty minutes. It's been far too long. Really looking forward to the ride on the 2/3. I hope it's working okay today.

Imogen Heap: Just For Now. Really nice waking-up-to-a-morning-in-the-city music. Not really morning anymore, but who's counting. I certainly feel refreshed. It's a good song. Passed the Rye station just now, so we're actually in New York State. Are you bored yet? This is kind of a rambling travelogue, but I'm kind of enjoying writing it, so hopefully it's not too bad. Oh, the track is good down here, so we're hauling ass. Yay! Mamaroneck - what a name for a town...

If everything comes from karma, then every pleasant moment we ever experience, we earned. There's no reason at all to feel a debt over it. The trick to being fortunate is to not let it kill your generosity. Too often people have enough, and then they lose their charity even for themselves, and then can't enjoy the happy moments that come to them with an open heart. Enjoyment becomes this constricted, controlled thing that really doesn't even deserve the name, although they might call it that. They meaning me, sometimes - there's no question that I'm very fortunate.

Stopped cold in New Rochelle - no clue why. Oh, it's a station stop. Wow. Bizarre. I guess as the "Regional" train it makes sense to stop here. Oh groovy, it's raining and I didn't bring an umbrella. Sigh. Not very hard, though. I guess we'll see how it goes.

U2. It's a Beautiful Day. I'm in New York, the sacred shrine of our better hopes, the center of the Mandala, a place of terror, love, and beauty. Roses are blooming in the backyards of tenement houses.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing a travelogue that's as romantic as if it were written about Europe. And nostalgic for me too, of course. (Except the joy over New York bit. :)


Monday, August 27, 2007 7:06:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

Yay! A happy reader! What more can a humble blogger hope for. After I wrote that last bit, it seemed a bit over the top, but it really was expressing how I was feeling at the moment, so I left it. I don't think we should censor our own exuberance.

Monday, August 27, 2007 7:44:00 AM  

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