Temperatures continue in the early 20s at and I marvel at the sunshine from my window in the mornings . This crispness of the light doesn’t seem to belong to the city below. We are entering Autumn in New York, that evocative phrase that makes you want to check out flights and crackle through leaves in the Park. I haven’t been back since my first week but I have found an alternative walking route much nearer home. I usually walk up my street (121st, and those numbers make so much sense to me now) I turn left into upper Broadway, and walk down as far as I feel like it, maybe cutting across to Amsterdam to return. This gives me a 30-45 minute walk with plenty of people and things to look at on the way. Now I have ventured across Broadway, cut across to the next block and found Riverside walk, a leafy zone running parallel to the river. It is frequented by joggers, dog owners and parents with small children, and is one of those peaceful recreation areas that are all the more miraculous because they are located in a big city. This has now become part of my beat.
I am still struggling to organise all my study requirements. No sooner do I finish one assignment than another two are presented. The pace is so relentless that I have got a deadline list on my desktop to keep me on track. I was chastened this week to find I had been marked down quite ruthlessly because I had embedded some information within the text rather than use separate paragraphs for each point. What I had thought was a contents checklist was actually also a formatting template. I had to rewrite the paragraphs and send them to the lecturer to regain those eight (four for each paragraph!) lost marks. Apparently they are sticklers for formatting here and every undetected proofreading error, down to an extra space between sentences, is circled. It will be a crash course in rigour.
One of my duties as testing coordinator is assigning rooms for the classes, the kind of task that has me shuddering with distaste. But Ron, my administratively gifted office manager, gives me an Excel workshop and patiently takes me through the stages of organising 16 teachers and their classes on a beautiful colour-coded spreadsheet. This has used bits of brain I have long neglected and I feel hopeful that I might develop some modest competence in the area.
In a pre-satnav era, London cabbies had to pass an exam to show that they had the Knowledge, i.e. that they knew all the streets and shortcuts of the city by heart. There was rumour of a study that showed that a part of their brain, the hippothalmus I think, was larger than the rest of the populations as a result. I am wondering whether, with all the things I am learning, this might happen to me.