Two Days in New York

I had an interview for a job in New York on Wednesday, and most of the past week has been consumed with the interview and the related preparations. The interview occasioned the purchase of my first suit – not a particularly fun undertaking. There seems to be some kind of rule that suit pants should look terrible on women. After exhausting the suit options at Benetton and Ann Taylor, I was beginning to think I was going to have to buy a suit that had a skirt. Fortunately, Banana Republic came through – I really should have trusted my instincts and gone there first: the clothes fit, they carry a petite line (no pant shortening necessary), and their pants are acceptable. Better than that, they had a fantastic sale, and combined with a discount with my Gap card and a $10 coupon, I got the whole suit (jacket, pants, white shirt, and knee high stockings) for around $150. I’ve since learned it’s possible to buy a lightly used suit on eBay (and presumably craigslist) for even less, but I’m glad I tried suits on before I bought them. Besides, I was running out of time – it would have been difficult to buy the suit online and get it by Wednesday.

In any case, I now own a suit. It’s very conservative (black), but it fits, and it looks OK. I mean, I’d hire me. :-) As much as I complain about my stuffy high school, it did leave me comfortable wearing a suit.

I took the train down to New York on Wednesday morning (someone else was paying) and returned to Boston on the bus on Thursday evening (I was paying). The trip was mainly for work – an interview and a meeting with collaborators (both went well, I think) – but I managed to fit in a little fun as well.

The trip down on the train was very pleasant, as it almost always is. I put on my noise canceling headphones, listened to music, and then worked a little on polishing my job talk, before settling in to knit. I finished one sock and started another – so altogether a very productive train ride.

After the interview I hung out in a  coffee shop until Oliva (a high school friend who now lives in New York with her husband, Jon) finished and work and came and met me. We returned to her apartment, got changed (my interview involved the purchase of my first suit), and headed out to a Mexican restaurant (noisy web page!) where we met Jon for dinner. Olivia’s apartment has a wonderful New York view that’s constantly changing as the sun moves across the sky, and lights in room in sky scrapers turn on and then off. I was lucky to be sleeping in the living room on the sofa bed, and with a spectacular view from bed – it was nice to fall asleep and wake up to New York.

This morning, we had a fantastically decadent brunch before I headed uptown to meet with collaborators. (I don’t know that you’d be able to find brunch on a week day anywhere other than New York). We walked from Olivia’s apartment, stopping to check out a couple of fantastic buildings (Olivia is a very good New York building guide) and at some nice stationary stores, finally making our way to Norma’s – not the cheapest brunch location in New York, but not completely over the top either (unless you order then $1000 caviar omelet). I’m of the opinion that when traveling you should just accept that money’s going to fall out of your pocket (within reason), starting the moment you step out of the house. I find I have a much better time if I take this approach, and don’t necessarily end up spending a whole lot more. We had delicious orange juice, good tea, and complimentary samples of the fruit smoothie. Olivia ordered the crispy belgian waffle which came with fruit (and chocolate sauce on the side, at her request!), and I had the chocolate French toast, which was unlike anything I’ve had before. Delicious, rich, and completely impossible to finish.

I took the Bolt bus to Boston. Definitely better than Greyhound or the Chinatown bus, but not quite as good as you’d hope either. The real reasons to take the Bolt are as follows: relatively cheap (<$20 one way); new buses; a guaranteed seat if you buy a ticket online ahead of time; some semblance of order in the boarding process; and power and a wireless internet connection on the bus. It’s pretty good, but I ended up in a seat with a broken overhead light (no reading, no knitting), and the internet connection was patchy, at best. At some point it stopped working altogether, and a rebooting of the system did nothing to alleviate the problem. I’m not sure if it was a bandwidth issue, but I wasn’t hoping for anything particularly fast – I really just wanted to be able to check my email, and perhaps work through some responses. The was possible to begin with, but it really only lasted the first 15 – 30 minutes (and it takes 4 1/2 hours to get from New York to Boston).

Update: You can read Olivia’s version of events (and see my ginormous mountain of chocolate French toast) here, and there’s photos of the view from Olivia’s apartment here.

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