Two words about my trip:
See how those two words are not quite the same? Two whole different letters and also TWO WHOLE DIFFERENT STATES.
And yet -- when spoken by an Amtrak NE Corridor conductor over the loudspeaker, they sound very much the same. Especially since some jackass decided that Penn Station is pretty much the greatest train station name in the history of train stations, so...yeah.
I was listening to my iPod and wondering how much whiskey I would have to drink to sound like Amy Winehouse when I heard the conductor over the loudspeaker. I yanked my headphones off and heard something like: Newyweark Penn Station.
Hooray! Am in New York! And look! We're about 10 minutes early. I can meet Isabel early and get started on that whiskey plan.
So I grabbed all my stuff from my cushy delicious business-class seat (snob! snobby snob!) and hopped off the train. I stood on the platform and yanked on my thin little jacket (please note that I was dressed for DC weather, including short sleeves and bare legs and open-toed wobbly heels, and my only source of actual warmth was a scarf my mother had forcefully knotted around my neck that morning in PA, while wondering how she managed to raise a daughter who consistently forgets that weather is not the same across the entire East Coast and also showed up with a coatless, sockless toddler).
And this point I actually looked at my surroundings and...hmm. This doesn't look right. I've been to Penn Station a million times and this...hmm.
Oh look! A sign! Newark Penn Station.
Newark. New Jersey.
I spun around right as the doors shut and then stood there while my train and my delicious cushy seat pull away from the station.
Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckity FUCK.
First I kind of panicked. Then I kind of laughed at THE IRONY, THE BURNING IRONY.
My mom had tried to convince me to take NJ Transit (a super-cheap and sort-of grody light-rail line, for you non-locals) because she hates driving to the Amtrak station in Trenton. And I sniffed and snobbed that I don't like NJ Transit -- there are no bathrooms or assigned seating on the train and it takes 30 minutes longer to get to NY and the people on it are always smelly and one time we saw a fight break out and did I mention how many times I've sat next to smelly people?
So there I was, stranded in fucking Newark, silently praising the baby Jesus for NJ Transit as I dashed upstairs to fork over an entire $3.75 for a ticket to the Other Penn Station.
I missed the first train to New York by literal SECONDS (there's a symbolic lesson for my elitist ass in there, with all the doors that slammed in my face, and also something about why the sneakers-while-commuting look is actually pretty smart), and then had to wait 20 minutes for the next one. I had goosebumps all over and my feet were getting swollen and angry in my leopard-print open-toed shoes. I kept checking my watch in terror since I had no idea how long it would take to get to NY. (I could have just asked someone, but was scared to, lest the answer was "an hour" or "three days, by boat, beware! Ye skurvy dogs!")
The train came, I got on and sat next to a lovely young woman. I heard Amy Winehouse emanating from her iPod headphones. I continued to check my watch and grit my teeth over HOW SLOW the train was going -- look! that guy on a bike! can we at least go that fast? -- and was ready to claw my eyeballs out when we stopped at Seacaucus. I sent Isabel a number of increasingly-enraged and profanity-laden text messages. She didn't respond so I stopped, lest she was re-thinking her decision to employ such a freaking dumbass.
I called her when I got to the Other Penn Station, only to realize I had the wrong number. BECAUSE OF COURSE I HAD THE WRONG NUMBER. MOTHER OF GOD.
Dear Random Person Out There: I really hope you don't get charged for those text messages, and I'm so sorry about all the bad words.
Can you believe I was still the first person to arrive at lunch? My nervous-traveler-tic had prompted me to buy a train ticket with an arrival time of over an hour-and-a-half BEFORE the meeting, and thus saved my ass from my should-not-be-allowed-out-unsupervised tic.
Laura arrived next, looking SO FREAKING LOVELY (and warm! in her winter coat! I wanted to steal it! so I could use it for kindling to start a fire because I was SO DAMN COLD). I jumped up and said hi and shook her hand and immediately started yammering away about this and that and Laura smiled politely for awhile and then finally asked me who exactly the hell I was because I'd never actually told her my name.
(Oh! And how about later when she caught me intently checking out her dress and asked me if her boobs were leaking. Yes. I am a master at this social interaction stuff.)
Anyway, Laura Bennett from Project Runway (I say that only because up until yesterday morning Jason thought I was going to meet with a contestant from America's Next Top Model and was really getting disturbed by all the "she's such a ROLE MODEL! she's my IDOL!" stuff I was saying) is one of the nicest, funniest and most-down-to-earth people you will ever meet. You will want to be her best friend and throw dinner parties in her honor. The PR gossip she dished just about made my head explode and we ate fondue and drank wine and I kept interrupting everyone with my stupid jokes and also kept thinking about what outfit I should have worn instead.
Then we all piled into Laura's minivan (!!) and went to pick up a couple of her boys from school. Then she dropped me off at my sister's apartment so I could visit my little nephew and go with him to...where else? Gymboree.
Isabel took all the photos for the day and I will have those soon, although judging from what I saw on her camera I believe Twiggy's verdict would be that while the camera absolutely loves Laura, it absolutely dispises Amy and her giant shiny head.
The only picture I took was this one, last night, at the Other Penn Station:
I hope I don't need to tell you which train was mine, and whether all those other lovely ON TIME trains were Amtrak or NJ Transit.