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NJ Travel, Part 1

December 25, 2011

Let me begin by saying that for work right now we are looking at public transportation systems and cars. There’s an implicit idea that the car will remain but it’s probably for the better if public transportation systems were encouraged. Which is essentially my stance as well (another example of fortuitous mind-meld between me and C-Lab.)

I went to NJ yesterday to visit not one but TWO friends. On the way there, we took the NJIT from Penn Station.

Actually, it was kind of a madhouse; it was Christmas Eve Day (can I say that? it sounds silly, but it makes the most sense — we were there at noon!) and there turned out to be some sort of football game that people were really revved up to see and me and my friends were really getting a bit stressed. I’ve tried to get over my Holocaust trauma a long time ago but there’s something about trains and crowds of people that makes one uneasy. There’s a definite specter of sardining-into-train-cars that hangs over the whole thing. (The American Jew Holocaust Trauma: another topic for a long post, but essentially all of American Jewry comes with some sort of inborn Holocaust trauma, which is not a particularly attractive trait in my experience. A paranoia that’s paired with stunning success in contemporary society .)

ANYWAYS. It turned out quite fun, we made it on the train without incident, and arrived into the cute town of Summit, NJ. I have a sickness for cities and towns of any size and any vibrance level. Actually this is one of those clear things that is an oddity and a weakness and I should turn into a strength, but essentially, probably my favorite thing ever is getting my bearings and exploring (if you can call it that) a new place, whether it’s Summit, NJ, Destroyed Town #9, Michigan, Tunis, or Paris. Any place. Ever. (Ok. So this is the good thing about journaling, private or public: it can help you make concrete thoughts that had been floating in the nether. And this is something for me to put away and think about, about somehow employing my fascination with cities of any size, which as we all know, is very timely.)

On the way back, my traveling companions went back to BK and I veered off to Jersey City. Another thing: I love traveling, the act of traveling. I find it really intense, really discombobulating, figuring out where to go the first time and how. And in a sense, I definitely love to do it alone, so nobody is stressed, it’s just me, sinking into the system, figuring out how it works. This time however, maybe because I was a bit tired (…hungover?) , PATH was really blowing my mind. There was NOBODY, not one person who worked there, at any of the stations. There was no explanation of fares or anything. There was one placard with how the trains went. I actually don’t remember any labels to figure out which train station I was at, but I might be exaggerating here. (Coming back from JC, however, I came back from Exchange Place and there was _definitely_ no labels that it was Exchange Place, which I think is just… odd!) So it was a bit weird, this PATH trip. Directions were unmarked. I asked if MTA card would work and no one knew. I asked if the train was going in the right direction and the man just wordlessly pointed across to the other tracks. There was another set of tracks beyond that (for what? for who? everything was unmarked, of course) but there were only two doofy-looking football enthusiasts waiting there, so I figured I shouldn’t pin my fate with theirs.

So I wish I could somehow employ my love of navigating unknown, foreign systems to my advantage, but so far I have no money-making schemes for this right now. If you do SEND ADVICE.

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