A while back, I kept “hearing” I guess you can say, that I will go to New York City in November whenever I was whining to myself that I really wanted to go. I haven’t been there since the beginning of this year and wanted to go someplace where, for once, I wasn’t going to meet up with friends. I needed some alone time, but some alone time where I wasn’t in my room or walking around the house. NYC was the obvious choice for me – it’s one of two places I really like going and the other place, Salem, has lost interest for me in the present time. Okay, I guess there’s also Wickford Village that I visited once before and would love to check out again, but not right now. NYC had to be it. It was (and currently still is) November and I wanted to go, just like I had been telling myself I would. I happened to get two days off this week, so I took advantaged of it and went to NYC.
After I managed to make the decision to go to NYC, I had another decision to make. My car needed an oil change (as well as numerous fixes) and in order for me to go and get that, I would either have to do that really early on a work day, which I felt was risky since I don’t know how long it would take, or I would do it on my day off and go early on the day I went to NYC. I stressed out over that, especially since I wanted to make it to NYC between noon and 1 PM. I told my mom about it and she very awesomely brought my car in. This gave me some time to get ready, pack, and plan. Something that ultimately made me decide to drive an hour and forty five minutes up to Stamford take the train up there. Normally I go to New Haven, but I decided Stamford would be the better choice since not only is it closer to NYC and still allows me time to sit down and relax, it also has more trains going through. I did end up leaving later and arriving later than I wanted, but that was fine. At least I managed to get there.
The drive up to Stamford was okay up until the last 45 minutes or so. My anxiety started kicking in – I hate driving in the first place. It gets worse the longer I have to drive. If the drive is nice, like it is to Rhode Island, my anxiety doesn’t really kick in until much later (most of my feelings are “AM I THERE YET?!” in that case). For a drive up to Stamford or up to Boston, I have to go through cities and narrow roads, causing me to turn down my music and try forcing the attention I don’t have onto driving. Blah. I missed the parking garage the first time around, so I had to turn around, and go back, which was fine. The parking garage was PACKED and it was super confusing to drive around. I thought I was going the wrong way a few times. As I pulled up to the second level, I found a parking space immediately, parked, got out my backpack, and headed to the train station.
I’m pretty sure my eyes sparkled when the train pulled up. It was completely empty, big, and extremely inviting. I didn’t have to drive anymore until I came back! I could just sit, relax, and watch Blade Runner for the first time in my life. I couldn’t wait! I got inside, was super happy despite feeling pathetic because my hair wasn’t styled (didn’t bother to style it like I usually do since it was suppose to be raining and my hair & rain don’t get along when it’s styled). I ended up just listening to music and reading a bit of Another volume 1, since Blade Runner was all like “no, not gonna work”.
Arriving at Grand Central was easy. I was a bit confused when I got out since it didn’t really look all that familiar, but quickly found my way to 42nd Street. I usually go straight to Kinokuniya once I get off the train (you exit onto 42nd Street, turn right, walk straight down until you’re at the end of Bryant Park and on the Avenue of the Americas (a.k.a. 6th Avenue), cross over, turn left, and walk straight down until you see the bookstore sign), but I decided to go to Book Off first. I had to look up the directions on my phone simply for a recap, and basically walked around in a rectangle before I found it. I always seem to get lost trying to find it, but always find it in the end. It’s tucked in one of the streets and the sign doesn’t stand out all that much. I do remember it’s right next to a little park area and a pizza shop.
Book Off surprised me – they changed much of it around! I’ve been to Book Off several times, including last year and earlier this year which had a different set up than now, and I had to walk around for a little bit before finding everything. I first browsed over the kids books for Pokémon ones, because why not, but didn’t really find anything of interest. I then headed down into the basement in search of manga! I heard a lot of Japanese down there – at first I was a bit annoyed because I didn’t really feel like hearing Japanese (it reminds me I need to go back to studying it), but soon enough, it was nice to hear. It made me want to use it. After I picked up the manga I wanted (including more volumes of Beelzebub and the first two of the famous series, Doraemon), I went back upstairs. I poked around a bit more in the kids section, making sure I didn’t miss anything and if there was an off chance the second volume of that Pokémon novel I have was there (I went back down to the basement for the same thing). I did come across some hard page children’s books from the Diamond & Pearl series that appealed to me (I could understand a good majority of it, yaaaay), but I decided not to get them. I went off to the video game section, which I was asking myself where it was moved to before seeing I was staring right at it. I decided to finally get the Japanese copy of Phantom Hourglass, easily one of my favourite Legend of Zelda games. It was for $15, which I felt was acceptable for a used game of one of my favourites in Japanese. After that, I went and paid (the woman seemed to be having trouble speaking English, using broken, simple words, and I went to be nice and tried speaking Japanese back to her, which is a HUGE no-no and I knew that (it’s really insulting to people speak to somebody back in their native language if they’re speaking to you in yours) and feel kind of bad because it’s something I constantly repeat to myself; she kept speaking in English, which I ended up responding in), and went back out to Kinokuniya next.
The site of Kinokuniya kind of surprised me, as there was scaffolding over it (as well as numerous other stores), which made it a bit harder to spot. One of the doors had wood over it. The other door was open though, so I walked in, went down into the basement section for the study materials and was SHOCKED. Kinokuniya changed things around too! After, what, the three years I’ve been visiting there, things got changed around?! I mean, that wasn’t a bad thing, but shocking. The study material section was no longer right when you walked down – instead, it was magazines that used to be upstairs on the entrance floor by the registers. I had to look around for the study materials, eventually finding them tucked all the way in the back of the room, in the corner. I browsed for a while, thinking what was on my list of things I wanted or felt I needed: workbooks for grammar in order to help me practice my weak points, the rest of those Nihongo Tango Speed Master books I really like, and really anything else that would help me improve my grammar. Once I picked out my choices (ended up debating between two N4 grammar practice books and opted for the cheaper one), including two N4 grammar workbooks, a workbook called Japanese Pronunciation Activities, another workbook called Watashi no Nihongo, and the remaining two Speed Master books (I was also going to get a book with Fundamental Japanese grammar, but I decided to put it back and just buy it on Amazon instead). Oh, I picked up this really awesome kanji poster I’ve been wanting too. I then headed up to the second (or third floor if you want to count the basement as the first floor), poked around for manga (ended up deciding on two BL manga in English that I’ve been wanting to read (totally forgot to take a picture – oops)). I put numerous other manga into my basket too, but ended up having to sit down and REALLY think about what I was going to buy and what I wasn’t. Most stuff stayed with me, but I put back a majority of manga and decided to put back that Fundamental Japanese grammar book, as I had said I did earlier. Of course, when I went to go put the grammar books, I found the Pokémon section with the kids stuff and poked around there for a while before deciding not to get anything. Then I saw a book entitled Kurisumasu no Obake which I would like to translate as “The Christmas Ghost”. Clearly it was a children’s book…with a ghost. On Christmas. With cute artwork. I needed to read that. I also picked up a book called Nihongo Notes, which talks about customs in Japanese foreigners may not get, which is something I really needed. After that, I signed up for a new Kinokuniya membership card (this time they give a 10% discount on like, everything, for the most part, unlike the previous one which was for anime & manga only), paid, and left. I had to stop at Bryant Park to try and condense my bags. It was really hard not to find a spot that wasn’t full of water, as it was raining.
Once that was done, I considered going home, but decided against it and headed to the Pokémon Center! I mean Nintendo World! It was a bit hard to find and following the directions from my phone kind of confused me because I thought it was down a much nicer look street than it actually was. I ended up finding it though, went in, and was pretty much greeted by Legend of Zelda stuff everywhere, most likely to celebrate the release of the newest game in the series that I can’t remember the name of and am too lazy to go and look up. I was disappointed the Pokémon section was replaced by Mario…but then I went upstairs and saw they had a small one that included even more plushies that were OMFG SO CUTE. I picked up numerous ones, but put all but Meloetta (the forme that represents dance, since I already have the one that represents music) and Mijumaru a.k.a. Oshawott back. Oh, and I picked up the giant plushies of the XY starters, Fokko/Fennekin and Keromatsu/Froakie. (I want to pick up Harimaron/Chespin too…hopefully it’ll still be there next time I go) I think they’re the life sized plushies and they are SO CUTE and totally remind me of the giant Snorlax Pokédoll I have. I picked up an easy piano book for The Legend of Zelda for myself solely based on that “The Song of Storms” was one of the tracks I could learn how to play. I paid and left.
I stopped at Hershey’s World per tradition. It’s the only arguably non-geeky place I visit when I go there. As I was walking there, some guy tried to hand me something (shouting “It’s free. IT’S FREE! IT’S FREE!”), which I just ignored and he just shouted some things out of frustration and some other guy called me “big backpack” trying to call me over, I think to donate to the homeless. Anyway, I went inside Hershey’s World and first tried to figure out what to get myself. I first saw these little gift boxes of assorted candy with a sign that said “Mix-n-Match for $20” or something like that. I picked up two of them, walked around the corner…and saw the 36 box packs of KitKats, Reese’s, and numerous other Hershey’s products with a sign that said 2 for $30. $15 each. I saw these as cheap, since at BJ’s, I get them for about $20 for one. I picked them up for me. When I went to go pay, I picked up two of the cookies and cream bars for my younger sister. The girl who cashed me out looked at my shirt and she said it looked pretty cool and asked what it was from. I told her from Assassin’s Creed and she was like “oh, that’s why it looks so cool!”. Then she told me about how she really wanted to play the games (in which I advised her to play from the first one) and how she’s not really a gamer and the last game she had played was a Harry Potter game based off the second book/second movie for the PC. She also wanted to play Kingdom Hearts. I wished her luck in eventually having a chance to play all those games (she seemed like she would love them too) and left.
I had too many bags for my liking and knew the train ride back would be a pain, so I opted to go to Olive Garden in hopes to sit down and sort out my stuff. I was going to go else where, but I figured I needed a place where I could sit down and have food served to me while I sorted out all my stuff, which is what I did. The guy who waited on me kind of laughed and asked if it was Christmas shopping, which I said nope, most of it wasn’t. I did manage to condense my bags (thank goodness I brought my reusable bag) and had a FANTASTIC meal at Olive Garden. Everything was fresh, ESPECIALLY the tomatoes. Oh geez, the tomatoes were so delicious. They were juicy and full of flavour. I also had minestrone soup for probably the first time ever and that was delicious as well. I hope to go back to Olive Garden again to have everything again.
After that, I went back to Grand Central, got on the train, hoped nobody would sit next to me (which someone did, dang it), freaked out that I was going to miss my stop, awkwardly walked towards the door about 10 minutes from my stop accidentally bumping into people and thinking I probably look like a moron for having so many bags, and then I got off, exited, and went home, yelling at my iPhone for not playing more Eurobeat because I was totally ready to go to bed and really required faster, more energetic music than what it was playing.
Then I got home, gave Jenni her stuff, tried talking to my mom about the day but could see she was clearly falling asleep, put everything away (and by everything, I mean I just put the Japanese study materials away and just nicely piled everything else), and read the two manga I bought.
Overall though, the day was relaxing and just what I needed. Almost everything about the day was wonderful. The rain felt nice, the air wasn’t as cold as I was expecting it to be, New York wasn’t crazy busy, but still lively. It was the right choice and reminded me how travelling is so much nicer when there’s no one to share the experience with. Travelling somewhere with others changes the perception of it to me. It’s so much purer when experienced alone. If you’ve never travelled somewhere by yourself, I highly recommend it.
I actually want to talk about everything I bought, since it delves into some future plan details, but I’ll keep that to a separate post. Until next time~!