Monday, January 08, 2007

Spontaneity has its time and place.

I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to NYC one day during Christmas week to hang with Marilyn. Originally, Marilyn's granddaughter (Mar was a child bride) was supposed to come, too, but she blew us off. (Thanks a lot, Liz. Bite me, babe.) But we had a wonderful time, made all the more fun for me by the fact that my kids had been off school for two weeks. The luxury of spending 8 hours without hearing plaintive cries of "Mo-o-o-om!" Lots of laughter, adult conversation with a dear friend, the stimulation of New York, and some yarn ho-ing. What could be better?

We met at Penn Station, and Marilyn wanted to check out Seaport Yarns. This place is unbelievable. The owner used to have a marketing firm and about five years ago, converted her suite of offices into a yarn store. You go into a nondescript office building, take the elevator up to the fifth floor, and you walk into a little reception area. Signs direct you down a hallway and -- WHAM! Hallways and former offices literally full of yarn. Some on shelves, some in bins and baskets, some on tables. Yarn falling out all over the place. At first there is so much and it seems so disorganized, you can't even begin to make sense of it. Then you start to see some rough organization, mostly by manufacturer. Every brand of yarn from Araucania to Zitron. Tons of handpaints, tons of colorways, tons of fibers (meaning type of fiber; I didn't see any spinning supplies). Marilyn asked the owner if there was anything she didn't have, and the only thing she could think of was qiviut, and the Koigu hadn't arrived yet. I scored an old Rowan magazine that I didn't have, and bought some Diakeito Diamusee Fine to make socks, at Marilyn's urging. (Well, it's not like she had to twist my arm.)

In our travels, we passed Ground Zero. I hadn't been there since 9/11. What struck me most wasn't the size of the crater, or the conspicuous lack of the World Trade Center, or my memories of 9/11, but at how the site itself didn't make me feel anything. I've thought about 9/11 a lot, and I knew people who died (2 guys I went to college with), and I've been very moved by all the images I've seen, the stories I've heard, the things I've imagined. But the site itself left me cold. It may be because it looks like a construction site: chain link fences, construction equipment moving along, that sort of thing. It also had to do with the bizarre tourist trap feel it had. I saw tons of tourists with cameras and video recorders buzzing around the site, casually snapping photos -- cheesy grins, arms around each other's shoulders -- as if they were standing in front of the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty. Feh. To me, that site is sacred ground and should be approached reverently, not as a place to be ticked off on your Fodor's inventory of must-sees while in New York.

Our afternoon trip was to Soho, and of course Purl, which is a polar opposite of Seaport Yarns. Where Seaport is huge, Purl is tiny, claustrophobic even. Where Seaport is sprawling and disorganized, Purl is very tidy and organized. While Seaport had a variety of price points and a staggering number of yarn lines, Purl's selection was more limited and definitely tended toward the higher price points with lots of luxury and unusual fibers. Unlike Seaport, Purl's space was definitely designed with yarns and a certain sense of style in mind. I picked up some Koigu Kersti for a baby gift (remember that baby sweater I mentioned for the judge I used to work for?) and some striping Lorna's Laces.

Perhaps nicest of all, my yarn crawl made me appreciate Rosie's all over again. Because even when I go to other yarn shops that are wonderful, I still like Rosie's best.

Okay, enough of the Pollyanna routine. On the train ride home, I had a brilliant insight. Or "A Modest Proposal," one might say. I hereby propose that all cell phones cut out after five minutes. You get five minutes in case of emergency, to firm up plans, and so on, but then -- dead air. This would prevent future incidents like the one on my train, in which a first-time pregnant woman yammered on the phone to her friend the whole trip. "And I don't want to gain too much weight, blah, blah, and my husband and I are picking colors for the nursery and I'm so glad we're on the same page about what we want, yadda yadda, and then the doctor said I've never seen a vagina as infested with yeast as yours, blah, blah, blah." Okay, I made that last part up, but you get the idea.

I couldn't help myself: I shushed her.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

You shushed her!!!??!!! I'm very impressed, and I love your timer idea regarding cell phones. Also, I'm jealous as heck about your trip to NYC and Seaport Yarn. Gotta get up there myself one day.

Bridget said...

Sounds like a great day!

Oh, I wish I could have been there when you shushed the woman - to see her look, either of total incomprehension, or sheer annoyance that *you* would dare to tell *her* to be quiet ...

BTW, the made up part made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

Lone said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I got the same feeling the first time I went to Ground Zero after 9/11. I was offended by the tourist spectacle it has become. I mean, why the hell would you want your picture taken with a giant hole? It just seems so tacky and disrespectful to the people who died there. I swear, when people are visiting a new place, or even worse, on vacation, all common sense goes out the window.

M-H said...

In 2000 my late partner and I took the train from DC to NY. In the back of the carriage were two sales people, independently cold calling clients. The whole trip. It was excruciating. Spoilt the whole afternoon for us.

Diane said...

Good for you! I've always wanted to tell people to put the friggin' phone away and enjoy the world around you. Knit, read or just look out the window but please I don't need to hear the details of your boring pitiful life.

mindy said...

Have to clean my monitor now from exploding laughter at pregnant woman...

Anonymous said...

Jeez, maybe we could do the Car and Mar Tour of Fabu NYC Yarn Shops and give the knitting tourists some fun, eh? You know, Habu, School Products, Seaport, and maybe a couple of others, give 'em a boxed lunch in Bryant Park, dinner with Lisa. Hey, maybe I've got something here.

I had a wonderful time too--next time, I'm goin' to Rosie's, though. I've always wanted to see it and I love Lisa anyways.

The train woman. You shushed her? I love you. There are some things that are just plain rude. That's a big one in my book. Just STFU and tell your friend you'll talk to her when you get home. How easy is that?

Dave Daniels said...

Oh, ewww, yeast. And I was planning on making bread after reading Manise's post today. Damn!
There are some Amtrak trains that have those silent cars, where cell phones and computers, etc are NOT allowed. I like that car.
And I've got to look into that store you mentioned. That sounds like a LOT of fun. Thanks for mentioning it.

misstea said...

Delurking - can I sign up for that yarn crawl right now? It must be wonderful to have choices!

As for cell phones, mine is strictly for firming up plans, calling taxis, etc. The whole world does NOT need to know my business.

Misty

Michelene said...

Once again, I recommend the short story "The Murderer" by Ray Bradbury. Creepily prescient.
Perhaps after a memorial is completed, due reverence(though probably still a tourist spot) will be paid at Ground Zero.
I can't imagine you or Mar tour-guiding a yarn crawl without picturing the first KnitDweeb ditched in Times Square (or some appropriate Dweeby NYC place--I'm not quallified to pick one).
My hubster shares a birthday with the King. Since we have three teenaged daughters he realizes he's moved from King to Jester.
No delusions at the Russell Ranch.

Michelene said...

No spell check here either.

knitting bandit said...

This is only my second time your blog and I love it! Especially after your train ride story! I laughed out loud! I'll be back for more smiles! (And I scored some of your yarn--got it just before Christmas. It was so scrumptiosly soft! I can't wait to knit it!)

Lisa said...

You make me want to go yarn shopping!

Carol said...

I should move back to Philly, I miss it so much.

Carol said...

Sounds like my jaunt to Philly before xmas! Shame about the train ride. Was this in the 'Quiet Car'?

Melissa said...

And to think, some airlines are going to start allowing cell phones in-flight. I can barely stand it now when everybody whips out their cell phones when the plane is taxing to the gate. (You can't wait 10 minutes until we're in the terminal?!)

At least on a train, you can move to another car.

Cynthia said...

Seaport is my favorite yarn store ever! Oh for a local Blue Heron distributor.....

Cell phones--I don't know. They are annoying, but from experience, before them, the annoying people just talked to one another or to the person sitting next to them who was too nice to say anything (yes, that would be me).

Ground Zero is sacred space for me as well and at first I was so angry at the tourists. Now I just look at it like Gettysburg or any other historic site where tourists roam. Kids running around laughing and playing while parents gaze into the pit is now a joy to me. Life goes on, which at the time, I wasn't sure was possible.

I am far more offended by the glib use of the marketing slogan 9-11. These were terrorist attacks in NY and Washington, not a Macy's one-day sale. While speaking about terrorist attacks and place names takes longer and is far more explicit and might upset some, it is what happened. A media friendly, sound-bite name is simply not needed.

Cynthia said...

Seaport is my favorite yarn store ever! Oh for a local Blue Heron distributor.....

Cell phones--I don't know. They are annoying, but from experience, before them, the annoying people just talked to one another or to the person sitting next to them who was too nice to say anything (yes, that would be me).

Ground Zero is sacred space for me as well and at first I was so angry at the tourists. Now I just look at it like Gettysburg or any other historic site where tourists roam. Kids running around laughing and playing while parents gaze into the pit is now a joy to me. Life goes on, which at the time, I wasn't sure was possible.

I am far more offended by the glib use of the marketing slogan 9-11. These were terrorist attacks in NY and Washington, not a Macy's one-day sale. While speaking about terrorist attacks and place names takes longer and is far more explicit and might upset some, it is what happened. A media friendly, sound-bite name is simply not needed.

Anonymous said...

you're funny!

i've got a distinct dislike for some of these moms-to-be, what with their fretting over nursery colors and such.

Kathy Merrick said...

I think, chere, that you do Purl (one of a short list of my favorite yarn shops ever) Soho a disservice.
It's beautiful, tasteful, colorful and has alot more yarn than you think. You can always ask for something you don't see--it could well be in the storeroom--you should know that.
Joelle and her staff are friendly, informed and don't assume you've only ever knittted one garter stitch scarf.
I love Joelle's style and her windows are always gorgeous and clever.

kmkat said...

Oh, NYC yarn stores make me drool. We're coming to the city in May for #1 son's college graduation, and it's my first trip since I made the transformation from knitter to Knitter. I can't wait.