"NEW YORK: I've spent the last couple of days in New York City and I must say it's cheered me up no end. Apart from friends, the great pleasure has been the frustrating, irritating, grungy normality of it. I was stuck in traffic on Madison Avenue today and I almost felt happy to be there. A new friend even said she felt relieved to see people having fights on the sidewalk again. It reminds me of a button designed by my friend Art Carlson, the philosopher king and opera queen of C.F. Folks' diner on Washington's Nineteenth Street. He got it made a couple of weeks after September 11 so he could wear it on an upcoming trip to the Big Apple. In red, white and blue, the button screamed, "We're Tourists! Act Normal. Jerk Us Around. We Love You, New York." Well, it was great to see New Yorkers jerking people around again - uplifting actually. The place seems far calmer than D.C. My pet theory is that it's because most people in this city have real jobs and don't have to think about the war all day long. In D.C., everyone is thinking about it all the time. It's enough to give you nightmares. But New York's hustle has helped me banish some of those. And then just when you think you've got your life a little integrated again, you smell that weird breeze of burnt plastic and molten metal from as far away as Chelsea, and the dread begins again."