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2008-02-04 - 11:31 p.m.

New York was big and wet. We took a Greyhound bus up and got into the city around 4. Our bags were heavy and we did a lot of underground walking, from bus station to subway stop, to subway, to another subway stop, to our hotel. We met my lawyer friend from college and he took us to Desmond's, which he called a dive bar and which, mostly, was. We drank six-dollar pints of Stella Artois and shouted our way through the white-boy-blues cover band. The singer-guitarist wore a T-shirt that had on it an image of John Lennon wearing a T-shirt that said "New York City." My lawyer buddy showed us to his office. He has a view of the Chrysler building and, if he cranes his neck, the Empire State, too. The Empire State was crowned in blue lights, for the Giants.

The girlfriend had a bad burger or something at the Lyric Diner down the street, so she felt pretty bad for two of our two and a half days in the city. She took me to a photography museum in
Midtown called ICP, which was in the basement of a huge building and which was pretty neat, if a little pretentious in its wall plaques. The curator tried to push it a little too much, to try
to connect the dots, when really, all he had to say was, "This exhibit's about how humans document things: big things like nine-eleven, little things like a single life, and tragic things like murders." There was a room where they had hung framed front pages of I'd say two hundred newspapers from Sept. 12, 2001. And, funny, but for all those newspapers from around the world
and all the slightly different giant headlines, I spent the most time on the New York Times. Newspapers are powerful things, especially when they're old. There's none of that stuff that colors our memories of the thing. Instead, the thing is just the thing, shown only 12 or 24 hours after the thing happened.
History in the making and all that.

I had a job interview in the Doubletree hotel on 51st and Lexington. It's for a job at a little liberal arts school in the Amish part of Pennsylvania. Not sure if I want the job, but applied for it because I thought I'd see what happened. It went well, the interview, but it was very strange how it happened. I knew I had to be there at 4, and that the interview would last about 45 minutes, but that's all I knew. I took the 6 train uptown to 51st Street. I asked the woman at the desk what room the college's people were in. She said did I have an interview? I told her I did and she said, Room 1834. I rode the elevator up and got out on the 18th floor. It was a long, straight hallway. I found the room. There was no one in the hallway, no one to meet me, nothing like that. I put my ear to the door and thought I could hear hushed voices. I walked up and down the hallway for a few minutes and wished I'd brought something to read. At 3:59, I knocked on the door, half expecting no one to be there. But a middle-aged woman opened the door and stuck out her hand and said you must be our 4 o'clock. There were three of them and they knew my application package pretty well: a CV, a writing sample, letters of recommendation. I think I said mostly the right things. We'll see what happens. The next step, if it happens, is an on-campus interview.

We went to a short story reading that night and the next day we spent a few hours at the conference in one of those huge hotels in Midtown and then met a grad school teacher and his wife for Thai food in Chelsea.

New York has levels, and the lowest one, if you're on the street, is all about food. New York runs on its belly, is driven by it. You walk down any street, it seems, and the options to put something in your belly are endless: cheap Indian, expensive Indian, Thai, sushi, noodles, pizza pizza pizza, hot dogs, steak, Italian, falafel, pizza pizza pizza, and then, as if to humor the restaurants, a grocery story every now and then. It's beer and food, all over. I think maybe that's why there are so many gyms.

And then back to Baltimore. Was able to wash my face and change socks and shoes before some friends and I drove to DC for a birthday party. I drank Carlsbergs and was home at 2. Yesterday was the Super Bowl party at the warehouse. I counted sixty people. We drank Yuengling from the keg and ate fried everything. I somehow got into a conversation with an Indian kid who I recognized from the Daily Grind in Fells Point. He's humorless, it turns out. He's an environmental guy. He wanted to talk about oil dependence and "borrowed sunlight." I was drunk, but the word that kept popping into my head as he was talking, very seriously and humorlessly, while the football game was in its fourth-quarter throes, was "insufferable." I got pretty drunk and I know because there was mock dry humping.

I teach my second class of the semester tomorrow. I'm mostly ready for it.

We all run on our bellies. And not just food. The next meal, but also the next, just, thing. The next thing.

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