If I weren’t a writer, I think I’d want to be an architect. I like industrial landscapes. I like the stark angles of buildings and the simple, artful details of construction materials like steel, brick, stucco, wood and concrete. So while I feel wistful about being away from home when I travel, and nervous about being in the Big City, I’m never bored by my surroundings.

While in the Big City I had a chance to visit a Wise and Dear Writer Friend in Chelsea. I arrived too early because I’m always late for everything, but didn’t want to be late for our coffee date. So I strolled around Chelsea and saw a bit of Chelsea Piers and the Hudson, and then wandered up 10th street a bit. But I forgot my actual camera and only had my cellphone with me to take pictures. Sadly, the quality isn’t great.

I was charmed by the handsome young men playing some version of baseball in a large sort of cage (you might have to look closely at the pic) and I thought this bit of naughty-looking underwear hanging from a branch just outside an apartment building building was very interesting. I was too intimidated to go into any of the uber-cool art galleries in the neighborhood. And WDWF told me that I’d walked right by Marquee, the night club that regularly disgorges drunken celebutards in the wee hours of the morning. (Marquee photo from nymag) But there were lots of quaint homes and apartments on the side streets and everyone was very friendly–except perhaps the chic young Londoner of whom I’d stopped to ask shopping directions. “I think Comme des Garcon is around here somewhere,” she said, and tottered off.

Camera phones are particularly bad at making portraits of people. But when I saw two men talking over a full shopping cart, I was tempted. I’d pretty much already decided that I wasn’t going to be incredibly insensitive and take a random picture of an obviously disadvantaged person who carried his life’s belongings in a shopping cart when I noticed that he and the other man were engaged in some sort of furtive commerce. When I realized I was staring at them, I quickly stuck my camera phone in my bag. How ironic that I was in town for a thriller writers’ conference. It would be like me to end up as the loser in one of my own stories.

During our chat at a very cool bar partly-owned by Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm), WDWF gave me some serious advice (writer-friend darlings, listen up!): Never, ever look at Amazon and B&N rankings and reviews. They don’t mean anything in the real world. I promised–and I don’t make promises lightly. I think it will make things much easier when Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts comes out this winter. It’s all about the work, the writing. Please remind me if I start to waver….

In all, it was a lovely afternoon in the city.

Join the conversation!