Note: It took me all week to get around to writing this post, because my week was bat ass crazy! Not a minute to really write or reflect. So, I’ve spared nothing here. No part 1 and 2, as would probably be advised. I’m breaking blogging rules and going looong. So, get your coffee and enjoy!
Last weekend I left for three days in New York City. No doubt, it’s a long way to travel for a three-day visit. We live on the west coast, and the flight alone, and the three-hour time difference are increasingly hard on this aging body… and mind. I don’t sleep well anyway; I’m an erratic eater; and my body does not like change. None the less, my husband had a conference and I’ve wanted to go to NYC at Christmas time, my whole life. My. Whole. Life! I’ve seen the Rockefeller Square Christmas tree on TV each year, and wanted to someday see it in person. I know, just another big tree… but having grown up on the east coast, it’s one of those things I always dreamed of. I wanted to see the skaters at Rock Center, and more than anything, I’ve always wanted to see the holiday windows that NYC department stores are so famous for.
I’ve been fortunate to visit NYC many, many times. Having grown up a few hours from there, we even visited for our 8th grade field trip. We were young and stupid, and threw a role of toilet paper off the Empire State Building. To this day, I remember how beautiful it was unraveling across the skyline, like a giant ribbon! We went to the top of one of the World Trade Center tower; it was the tallest building in the world at the time and I was amazed! We visited the Statue of Liberty and the Stock Exchange. I was too lazy to climb up Liberty and have always regretted it. In college, I visited often, to stay with a good friend who had grown up there. We walked, and walked everywhere! Several years ago, we took our children, when they were fairly young (early teens for Principessa and younger for the boys) to see Lion King (nothing like the Broadway productions!) and we walked the Brooklyn Bridge (my favorite!) and visited Ground Zero. It was about a year after 9/11 and we all were shaken. But in all of the trips to New York City, I had never went at Christmas time.
This trip, was a surprise. Smart Guy had a conference, and I was hesitant to go away and have to deal with arrangements for our son and German exchange student, who are both seniors in high school this year. The exchange student is not permitted to stay in the house without adult supervision and our son was loath to have a “babysitter.” My big Christmas/Hanukkah wish list item was tickets to see Wicked (in Seattle), something I’ve wanted to do for ten years. I read the book eons ago, and when the play came out, I was anxious to see it. However, each year I’ve missed out– not in town, not getting tickets in time, etc. The surprise was that Smart Guy, in a historic (read: this
never does not generally happen) got his gift-giving-self together this year, and made fireworks for yours truly. He got third row, center, seats to Wicked, on Broadway! Babysitter be damned, I was going to NYC.
We flew out late on a Thursday, along with 2 medical reps that my husband would be training with. I tried to ignore them and refused to play the wife they have to
condescendingly appease. Not me. I am more than happy to do my own thing; and, give me a big city and I could be lost for days on my own! I love my friends; I love my husband; but I am perfectly content alone. More importantly, I am not a fan of sales reps (in general, a few of you are great… you know who you are), and being that extra person that they feel obligated to try to intermittently include in the conversation, is always a drag! I laid the ground rules early, and we all had fun from then on. Separately, for the most part, but they turned out to be pretty fun guys. At 1am when we all arrived at the classically beautiful Roosevelt Hotel, we were starving! Who doesn’t want pizza when they’re in NYC? And NYC never sleeps… so the popular Uncle Paul’s Pizza it was. We got to bed around 2:30, the guys dreading the early wake up and me dying to go see more city action. I was out-voted. My pedometer read 12 miles for the day as I got ready for bed.
A quick backtrack: few days before heading out, I contacted blogger Lisa at Cyclingrandma, and asked if she’d like to finally meet in person. Lisa was one of my first blog subscribers, and we’ve followed each other for about two years now. When she put together Tangerine Tango, Women Writers Share Slices of Life, an anthology of blog posts, she asked me to contribute. So, we’ve followed each others’ blogs; we’ve worked together on the TT project, and we’ve shared countless emails. The idea of meeting in person seemed a no brainer! Lisa lives just outside the city and agreed to catch the train in and meet me at the hotel. I was waiting in the lobby the next morning when I spotted her. It was a true pleasure to see her face in person, and we hugged like old friends. We are: old, and friends.
Let me clarify something right off the top: blogging is a mighty powerful place to connect. When I say that Lisa is a friend, and we’d never met, I mean it; we are friends. The fact that we hadn’t met, doesn’t change that. We had a very interesting talk about this almost immediately. Blogging has become such a big part of my life, that it’s unsettling when I’m away from it. I write here with as few filters as possible. If you read this blog regularly, you know a lot about me, and what you read/see is pretty much what you get. I don’t believe in pretense and I’m as direct and honest as possible… for better or worse. I’m emotional, can be intense, playful, committed, annoying, exhausting, talkative… fun to be with. It doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with remaining transparent and honest some days; like most of us, but writing is where I try to keep it real.
I’ve found that many bloggers are the same way; Lisa is one of them. Having followed each other, we knew a lot before the Roosevelt lobby. Big hugs, excited greetings, and we were off to the Algonquin Hotel, where countless famous writers have met over the many years. We were happy to just be in the same space, and hope for some good juju. We talked about our families, we posed in front of the famous writer’s mural, we shared with ease and enthusiasm, and by the time we headed out, we were even better friends.
And then we walked… and walked… and walked a lot more! I was determined to see the holiday windows: All of the holiday windows. I”m not sure Lisa realized we’d be catching the streets of downtown on fire, despite the rain. No subways or taxis for these intrepid bloggers. I felt like a kid in a Hot Tamales and Reeses candy factory; no block was too far for me. I’m from Seattle, so I laugh at umbrellas… and I got wet. Lisa was a great sport and joined in my giddiness, though she maintained her cool, while I squealed and jumped up and down more than once. All of the windows were impressive, but we thought Bergdorf Goodman took the cake! Their theme was holidays, and they really hit it out of the park! I will say, it was strange in a city where there are a lot of Jewish residents, that they covered virtually every holiday (Halloween, 4th of July, Valentine’s… Arbor Day!!), but not Hanukkah. That aside, spectacular windows! Harry Winston made it look like their store was covered in diamonds and the inside of Bergdorf and Saks’ were truly wonderlands. Over-the-top, lavish, sparkle and shimmer wonderlands. I was giddy, all day. (Bergdorf took the cake!)
Things I’ll never own:
Skinny skinny Fancy clothes, sparkly bags that run $2300, a Range Rover that changes color or a Bentley that is completely mirrored/stainless steel (?):
Lisa left me at 3pm and I continued to make the holiday viewing dash. A few more miles and shop windows and then Grand Central Station. It’s one of my favorite NYC icons. In the early 1980’s Jackie Kennedy Onassis spearheaded an effort to save the crumbling station and today it is truly a place to visit. The robin’s egg blue ceiling, with constellations, the moldings and stone floors… it’s incredible! For the holidays there was holiday fair, featuring local artisans and craft makers (think art, not crafty craft) with sumptuous classic string music filling the spacious hall. I was lost there for nearly an hour… my feet a wee bit tired and Fitbit/pedometer informing that I’d walked 15 miles… so far.
More windows, stores and Grand Central Station:
On our way to dinner, the reps, Big Guy and I stopped at Rock to see the Christmas tree all lit up. I have wanted to do that forever, and it was everything I imagined! A sparkly, huge, winter wonderland! At night during the holidays, NYC is beyond magical! We went to dinner at an incredible Cuban restaurant that featured very authentic food, music and some of the most amazing drinks on the mainland. The paella was to die for! From there we raced over to Broadway (my feet a teeny bit more sore, in wedge heels), to see Wicked. Third row, center… looking right at the orchestra and hoping none of the actors sneezed. If it were at Sea World, we’d have been riding the dolphins! The show rocked my world and again, I felt like a little girl who wanted to squirm in her seat, blow kisses t to the performers, and cheer extra loud. I did. All of that. This is Wicked’s tenth year in production, and my only regret is that it took this long for us to get there. Big Guy slept through most of the first half; I kid you not.
From there we walked to Time’s Square and gawked at the multiple-stories billboards, the incredible lights (felt like day) and the holiday sparkle. It is one of the rare times I wasn’t busy complaining about the environmental impact of it all (for the record, the Empire State Building and many other sites have switched to LED lights… still a lot of waste, but it’s something). I was too busy skipping, oohing and ahhing, and tugging on Big Man’s sleeves. There’s the David Letterman Show! There’s NBC studios and there’s The Today Show windows! Wait, is that where Saturday Night Live is filmed? Oh My God!! I might have been a teeny bit obnoxious. At the Swatch store, I got excited watching one of the staff members singing and dancing to Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are, and I broke out in a top-of-my-voice rendition: “When I see your face…” The entire staff joined in and we all stared our own private karaoke/flash mob. Big Guy, fairly mortified, pulled me out of the store, still singing, and the staff singing to me through the windows! Big Guy doesn’t sing. In public. When I went to bed, my pedometer read 18 miles, and I was still humming.
NYC is full of iconic places and images: One of the truly greatest cities in the world, for so many reasons… so much to see and do! (Empire State building, us at Rock, Radio City Hall, and Time’s Square)
Day two was more walking (St Patrick’s Cathedral) and a reunion with a dear friend from my childhood. We met in elementary school; we were friends through high school, even after she moved back to Long Island, and we were stunned to see each other at the same small school, the first day of college. We’ve stayed in touch since, intermittently… with years of no contact, and then finding each other again. Her father is one of my favorite people ever; we share a long history of: playing Bilbo and Frodo, in elementary school; I drank my first beers (I threw most of it out in her parent’s bushes) while The Knack and Journey blasted in the background in high school, and frat parties in college. Reuniting for the day, in the city that she owns, was amazing! We met in front of the famous Plaza Hotel, across from Central Park… I ran up to her, swept the hair from her forehead and we hugged. We both loved The Way We Were… the final epic scene, with Barbara Streisand and a stunning Robert Redford, was shot right there. She laughed, and for the rest of the day we picked up right where we left off… twenty-five years ago.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8TflIIfuhs (minute 2:30)
Pam took us all over! My feet screamed all day, despite cushy socks and good shoes, but we only took the subway once: because we were starving, lunch was in Soho, and you have to ride the subway in NYC! Feet recover, but you can’t get back time in NYC. I hate to miss a minute of any special event! We ate an unbelievable noodle restaurant that is distinctly off the tourist grid, but packed with locals: Kelly and Ping. Home-made noodles and some of the yummiest Chinese food, cooked to order. Heaven! After lunch: we hit some galleries; we went for famous cookie (for the flight home); we got to hear all about the celebrities Pam’s seen around Soho, and the local lore; we popped into the American Museum of Sex (technically we only perused the gift shop, informative enough!); we stopped at the Chelsea hotel, where Dylan Thomas, Thomas Wolf, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Iggy Pop, Arthur Miller, and where Sid Vicious’ girlfriend, Nancy Spungen was found stabbed to death in 1978… and met a lovely older woman in the lobby, who regaled us with tales of her life, living there for 30+ years. Next door, we stopped at the orgasmic Donut Plant, where donuts are a whole other thing… and it’s impossible to eat just one! We shared a Coconut Cream (not sweet, syrupy coconut but fresh lovely cream), a Peanut Butter and Jelly filling (not our favorite) and a Creme Brulee donut that rocked my world, and almost made me forget about my feet. Pam walked us back to the Roosevelt and we said a bitter-sweet goodbye, promising to do a lot better at keeping in touch. We will. Photos: (The Chelsea, My favorite word, Art: please note ladies: au naturale is coming back and the final picture of newspapers is actually art: carved wood, page by page, and painted! And finally, donut heaven. )
That night, Big Guy and I had a gourmet dinner at a fabulous Italian-French restaurant with a prix fixe to die for! The food was divine, the Israelis sitting next to us were fun dining partners, and I left too full to walk… fast. But
waddle walk some more we did. My final goal: Macy’s window was just a relatively short distance– in the NYC block sense of short, so we shot over to see the windows that are so famous. They did not disappoint! While Bergdorf remains my personal favorite, Macy’s was kick ass! The lights, the holiday sparkle, it was the perfect way to end another incredible day in the City That Never Sleeps. When we got into bed, my pedometer read 22 miles!! Makes me think I could actually walk the NY marathon. (At last! The world-famous Macy’s Windows– 150 years of celebration!)
Finally, our last morning was a last jolt of sublime. Big Guy’s sister (who I adore) and her husband (one of my dearest friends, after nearly 20 years of sharing crazy family stories and laughs) met for brunch, and we spent the brief four hours we had eating more great food, drinking champagne drinks, laughing until we were snorting (I’m a snorter), and catching up– for the brief four hours we had. After brunch we walked over to Rock, one last time, to watch the skaters and see the tree again. We popped into Saks to take in all the bling we can’t buy, but had fun looking at, and checked out the Waldorf Astoria, to see the clock and lobby… and we laughed a lot more. Living on the West Coast, the only thing we ever regret, is being so far from these people we love so much. Our family in Boston, in Connecticut and the Cape. It’s a sacrifice… as much as we love where we are.
We said goodbye from the hotel and headed to the JFK airport–>Portland–>Emergency return to Portland 35 minutes into our flight and some delays–>adopted a Vietnamese monk who spoke NO english and thought we were home, when we’d returned to Portland–>got him to his Canadian relatives—>and fell into bed, exhausted and sporting only 8-9 miles on my pedometer, after a day of sitting on planes and in airports. From Thursday to Sunday, I tallied about 59 miles walking, in less than four days!! My feet have hurt all week, but my dreams have been filled with sugar plums, new friends, old friends, loved ones, food worth walking for– Wicked good stuff, that makes the world an extra special place to take in. I believe in Carpe Diem. In my mind, there’s no point in pacing yourself or sitting it out, when the world is in fact your oyster. Eat it raw, and order more; take it all in, and hustle on for more! There will always be time to rest… later.
Have you been to NYC? What do you love; what do you hate? What’s a Bucket List thing you hope to do? Share your thoughts in the comments. It’s the season for giving, so show some love and hit Like. Check out Tales From the Motherland on Facebook and Twitter, and follow along.
** Please read: I also want to thank Zainab over at A Mom’s Blog for nominating me for the Sisterhood Award. I am grateful and touched that she appreciates my work, enough to do so. As many of you know, I do not answer questions anymore. It’s all been said on my blog, and I can barely keep up with comments (I answer them all) and posts! That said, I am grateful for the nod, from a blogging peer. You should check out Zenaib’s work, as she is a talented photographer, blogger and mom!
I’m passing this on to the following bloggers: 1) Yara at Hearyoumemyfriends– her writing is exquisite, heart-breaking at times, but always excellent. 2) Susan at Still Life With Tortillas– A writer, a poet, a seer of life’s beauty, an artist, and my friend. Her work always leaves me touched. 3) Mike at AppleCore– He and his wife Florence have started the 6 Monthers. They move to amazing places and live there 6 months, while Mike shares all the wonderful details of their life there. They’ve been in Croatia for the past few months, and I can’t get enough! 4) I’m new to Katrina Anne Willis and her blog, by the same name, but the Sisterhood award is appropriate as I’m fairly sure we’re sisters from another mother! Love her take on the world, and how she puts it out there. Funny, touching, Clever. Great writing! And last but not least, 5) My friend Lisa over at Cyclingrandma. We recently met in person and she has become a blogger I love to follow, and love to call a friend. She writes about anything she is thinking about: politics, books, family, news… it’s all good. Check her out!
Now for the rules (which I am not entirely following. Sorry for that!):
The rules forwarded to me are as follows:
1-Provide a link and thank the person who nominated you.
2-Answer 10 questions.
3-Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipient know they have been nominated.
The ten questions and their answers are:
2-Your favorite animal:
3-Your favorite non- alcoholic drink:
4-Your favorite pattern:
5-Do you prefer giving or receiving presents:
6-Your favorite number:
7-Your favorite day of the month:
8-Your favorite flower:
9-What is your passion:
10-Facebook or Twitter- Facebook