F riday, May 29, 2009: I’m in Hoboken, New Jersey, with my father, staying in one of the vacant dormitories at the Stevens Institute of Technology. My father spent a memorable portion of his childhood growing up in this area, and a part of him one day wants his ashes buried near Helmer’s Restaurant, where they have an open-face steak sandwich so amazing anybody who eats one is haunted by the magical experience for life.

Yesterday we walked along Washington Avenue and took the New Jersey Path Train straight to downtown New York City, at 14th St W and 6th Ave, and spent some time at the Strand, where I bought a few books (Breyten Breytenbach’s Windcatcher and Eugen Jebeleanu’s Secret Weapon, among others). Tonight we’re going to see the current Broadway production of Waiting for Godot, and then tomorrow it’s back to Helmer’s for another steak sandwich. It’s a tradition every time we visit Hoboken to eat there as often as possible.

Another tradition I enjoy is getting lost in Yonkers, New York. Whenever I’m lost in Yonkers, I always try to visit the same antique store on Central Avenue for directions, where there’s always the same old man behind the counter. Every time he sees me walk in, he picks up the phone to have something in his hand to bludgeon me with. I always keep a safe distance as I explain I’m lost. “You’re in Yonkers,” he yells, and then I thank him and walk back outside.

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