Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More tales of NY

It was a wonderful weekend and then Monday came.  We started off the day in the best way. We had bagels!  Well actually we each had a bialy and cream cheese.  Bagels on the Square had been recommended to us by one of the vendors at the Bust show. She was right!  It was sooo yummy, well priced and right near a lovely park.  We ate in the park with a pigeon or two, grabbed a copy of the paper and tried to think about our day.  

For some reason we had decided to venture north and see a few of the more touristy sites.  It sounded like a great idea, but maybe not so much.  The first stop was Bryant Park, the home of Fashion Week.  

There were lots of little shops or you might say kiosks all around, which is a great idea but the skating rink was the big attraction.  The weather was cold and just perfect for a visit to midtown.  We moved on to Radio City Music hall, which was packed with people waiting to see the Christmas Spectacular.  We weren't able to go in because of the event, so we made our way to NBC, the home of Conan and 30 Rock.  Secretly, I was hoping for a celebrity sighting, but no luck.  The NBC shop was big and crowded, but nothing really said "buy me".  
So then it was off to Rockerfeller Center!  I kind of wish we had gone at night so that the lights would be in full effect, but we didn't.  The tree seemed smaller in person and not very cheery, but at least we can say we've been there.  
Swarms of people were all around us at this point and everyone was taking pictures and looking for good vantage points.  We snapped a few ourselves and then made our way to Madison Ave.  
This is where Kent hailed his first cab!  It was a special moment and kind of scary.  The cab driver whisked us down the street like Godzilla was chasing us!  He was manic to say the least and we held on for dear life.  Our destination was 88th and the Guggenheim.  Unfortunately we didn't realize that the museum was undergoing a massive facelift and was covered by scaffolding.  We almost walked by it because it was unrecognizable.  Still, we went inside and got a taste of it.  We also scored a Lichtenstein poster, a Rothko calendar and a gift for a friend.  Heading out into the street again we got brave and bought a pretzel from a street vendor.  Ugh.  Worst choice ever! It was cold and tasteless and we were sad.  We stood between the museum and Central Park bummed about our pretzel and then somehow Kent stepped in poo.  Yes. Poo.
 It was funny and we laughed pretty hard about it.  We walked a little way and then caught a cab to Herald Square. 
The drive took us up 5th avenue and finally through Times Square.  I have to say that once again it's not all that impressive in the daylight.  In fact, it's actually a little sad.  All of the restaurants are big chains.  There was an Olive Garden, Planet Hollywood, Bubba Gumps and the like.  Not very NY.  Clearly it's a tourist trap and I'm glad we were only driving through.  The traffic was insane and so we asked the cab driver to let us out sooner than we had planned.  That proved to be a mistake.  We were tired, hungry and a little cranky.  The mood in midtown was so different from what we had experienced in the Village and Soho.  I thought that the garment district would be a thrill, but it just wasn't and I swear every single person we passed was smoking.  I almost had a panic attack at one point because I couldn't get a breath of clean air.  We wanted to find lunch and fast, we walked and walked in search of a Gray's Papaya and when we finally found it, we realized there was no seating.  Totally demoralized, we made our way to the nearest subway and headed back to the familiarity of 14th st. This was the best choice ever, because after walking a block or two we found a haven.  Yes!  Fish and Chips!  It was a massive score.  Nothing in the world could have been better at that moment than delicious, hot fish and chips and ice cold cokes.  We were slowly returning to normal and breathing more easily.  On Greenwich Ave between 12th and 13th stands the loverly "A Salt and Battery" right next to "Tea and Sympathy" in the heart of "Little Brittain".  Thank you God!  It was as comforting as could be and has to be one of my favorite memories of the trip.  

Monday evening was much better and I'll tell you about it in my next blog.

Monday, January 07, 2008

It's officially the first Monday of the new year for me, which means that the holidays are over and I'm mostly recovered and I'm ready to get back into real life again. Yes, I've taken my time getting it together, but I'm glad I did. 2008 is going to great and full of new possibilities! But before I move on, I'll recap some of my NY trip for you.

We decided to make it a road trip, because we love road trips. That meant 13 hours of driving the first day, 11 hours the second day and 5 hours the third day. It's a lot, but the scenery was beautiful and we enjoyed every second. When we arrived in NY it was snowing! As we made our way over the bridge, I finally caught my first glimpse of the NY skyline. For the first time in almost 25 years l was home. I was HOME!
The emotions that overtook me in that moment are hard to describe, but I can say that it was a combination of relief, healing and fulfillment. I cried hysterically while navigating the highway and Kent did his best to keep me calm so we wouldn't run off the road. Once I calmed down we were able to find the hotel and get settled and begin our adventure.
We took our first train ride into the city and walked up the stairs and out onto 14th st. At first it was overwhelming and a little scary, but we held hands as tightly as we could and made our way to 18th. New York city has the most amazing and diverse population and we we saw it all. A man with a cat on his head waited beside us to cross the street. I mean a real cat... on a leash... happily sitting on his head. I regret not having the courage to take a picture. I did however create this photoshop re-enactment....

We scoped out the Pavillion where the Bust show would be held. It was a "trial run" and proved to be really helpful. Afterward, it was off to meet our friend Art and his wife Leah for dinner at Arturo's. We had baked clams, mozzarella with sun dried tomatoes and olive oil,  and a wonderful pizza. The place was packed! I mean that we were practically on top of strangers, but it was totally worth it. Later, I stood on the corner to take a picture of the restaurant and 15 ft away from me a cab crashed into another car.  Yikes!  Overall, it was an exciting and fun first day in NY.
The next morning we had to arrive at 8am to set up my booth.  We rode the path train to the city an walked 3 and half blocks to get to the Pavillion.  This time we did it with 2 suitcases, a set of folding shelves and a rolling rod in a box!   Crazy.  I can't say much about the Bust show. It was definitely not a successful show for me, but I did meet some amazing people, including Amy Sedaris.  I also traded for a killer
shirt that says "Kittens!" on it.   The show ended at 8pm and we were ready to put it behind us and get back to the hotel. 
Later, we sat and talked and enjoyed the view of the city while having a lovely Sushi dinner at Komegashi.

Sunday was one of my favorite days in NY. We met my Aunt and Cousins at the 9th st station and spent the afternoon in Chinatown. We had a fantastic lunch and then walked through the streets completely in awe. We also made our way through Little Italy where we bought cannolis on the street. It was more beautiful and lively than I could have ever imagined and I think that was the day we officially fell in love with the city. It was also a wonderful moment for me to reunite with my family after so many years. As the sun went down we found the MOMA Design store in SoHo and I scored a set of socks made from recycled Japanese Yarn. Just $15 for 5 pair. We ended the evening with a fantastic dinner at CremCaffe on 2nd avenue. Kent had his first Ravioli made with real ricotta, which blew his mind and I had an out of this world cheese tortellini.  The restaurant was dark and quiet with lots of charm.  My aunt and cousin were gracious hosts and we spent the time catching up and looking over old photos.  Perfect.  Kent and I then decided to explore the East Village.  We made our way past the church where I was baptized as a baby and headed for the quirkier and some might say seedier area near St. Marks place.  Of course we felt right at home.  We found one great record store after another and in between were tattoo shops, several sushi restaurants, comic stores, vintage shops and so much more.  It's a freaks' paradise.  

So, that's it for the moment. More tales of the city with Kent and Judy in the next blog.