“Lanterns”

When I hear lanterns, I think of nighttime in the Old West and a barn fire from a horse kicking over a kerosene lantern and then an old man in a nightgown grabbing his own lantern and running onto the porch and his eyes going wide at the blaze and then cowboys and lanterns and fire.

Also, I think of Chinese lanterns. Those are pretty!

Winter Lantern Festival sounds like the pretty kind. Over in Snug Harbor on Staten Island, lanterns were ablaze! Except that they weren’t kerosene fueled and weren’t really lanterns. S and I headed out on a not-too-cold winter night to see the lanterns which turned out to be lights, and the lights were pretty, so it all worked out.

Snug Harbor is pretty small compared to the number of people who were swarming to see the pretty lanterns. That meant a lot of driving in circles. When I was about to make a fifth loop, the security guy beckoned my car over and asked why we were there. S was like, To see the lights. He was like, Okay there’s no parking inside but you can park right in front of my car. He indicated a very tight spot for which I would need to parallel park. And it took me under five minutes, which is highly impressive. I also sweat out maybe a pint of parking sweats, which is expected. (If y’all thought there would be no sweating, y’all have forgotten key elements of my soul).

Not pretty was the soft mud beneath our feet as we walked through. We wore boots. We were smart. I’m including this link here– https://gothamtogo.com/winter-lantern-festival-2018-on-staten-island/ — to show how the photo envisions the ground as magic unmuddy tiles, which is the opposite of what we were walking on. There were paths made of some sort of outdoor pathway building materials, but to get closer to some of the displays, there was lots of mud in the dark. But it was lit by these pretty non-lantern lights, so, in turn, it was kind of pretty, too!

The lights were LED sculptures and Eastern themed. There were large flowers, a panda, and a dragon at the beginning. The Chinese zodiac lit up another pathway. There was a shimmery peacock, which I suppose is not necessarily Chinese, but more worldly. Other worldly things were the Christmas tree and some butterflies. And we walked through a shark. It’s hard to explain, but it was also pretty.

A small section of candy appeared, and we saw it from across the way. I was like, That was made for you. S was like, for sure. When we got to it, she kept turning towards me as I was taking pictures of her from behind, and finally I was like, Hey you’re ruining it! And she was like, Ohhh, yes, good idea.

A few years back, we went to a Will Cotton exhibit and I snapped a quick photo of her from behind looking at the painting, and it was pretty amazing. Since then, whenever we come across a candy-themed exhibit, I usually recreate the magic of S In Awe Of Sweets. Here in the dark backlit by candy, it does the trick.

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#SouthpawSweets

Then there was another panda. Like a person in a costume panda. I stopped short and then told S we had to walk quickly. When she saw what I was avoiding, she cackled and then tried to get me to go back twice to take a picture. No, no thank you. I am not going near adults in costumes that don’t speak. It’s weird and awkward and I stand by my choice.

She also found some lanterns for me! Lantern success!

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Look At All Of These LANTERNS!!!

After we were lanterned out, we headed to the car. Only we couldn’t find the car because once we were out of the exit, I was like, We’ve never been on this street before. S asked a security guy about exits, and he was like, Did you park on Blah De Blah? And I was like, I have no idea. So he was like, That means you did. He gave us directions back into the park and then out again. I had to parallel out of the space halfway because by the time I’d maneuvered back and forth a bunch of times, the other security guy pulled his car away. More success! Very little sweating!

And all by the light of the pretty lanterns.

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Dim All The Lights

Summer. No, not the season. The Donna. Donna Summer! S and I saw her in concert at Jones Beach together once. Last night, we saw her music and life on the Broadway stage.

Before getting to the theatre, let me back up for a side story about how I am a giant. I stopped in Penn to grab a snack. A few people stood on line in front of me. At first, I thought the person with the large backpack right in front of me was the daughter of the women in front of her because the person in the backpack was tiny.

Like I felt at least a foot taller than her. I was wearing heels, sure, but I towered . When I saw her face, I was amazed that this was not a child. She was a petite adult.

Waiting and waiting, I pondered the snack options. Waiting and waiting, I chose and then changed my mind and then chose and changed my mind back to the original. With all the waiting and decision making, I jumped into action upon being called next.

Only I wasn’t next. I’m so not used to having to look down to see anyone because no one is ever shorter than me that I totally did not see Petite Backpack still standing in front of me. We’re all probably lucky I didn’t bowl her over. The guy at that counter was like, I think she was before you, and I turned and saw her standing there, not angry, but with a look that said, This happens to me a lot.

This does not happen to me a lot. I said a quick, Oh my mistake! and walked back behind her as she passed by me, a smile on her face. I hadn’t ruined her evening. However, I now have an experience that I will probably never have again–being the tall one.

After feeling ten feet tall, I headed out to the theatre. On my way, I found myself walking behind a man who was at least seven feet tall. I thought in that moment,Β If he changes direction at any moment, I’m crushed. And now I’m back to shorty short short.

More importantly, Donna Summer. S found me on line even though I was wearing my orange coat and pumpkins from a restaurant’s outdoor decor surrounded me. She said something about the show being an hour and forty five minutes. I said the email I got said it was an hour and forty minutes. Then I overheard a bartender tell a customer the show was an hour and a half. We decided to quickly get to our seats before the show was simply over.

Our seats were high up but we had a perfect view. Then that perfect view was destroyed by four people who did not know how to sit still and be quiet for an hour and forty five/forty/thirty minutes. The two people not directly in front of us kept kissing every few minutes. The woman in front of me kept talking to the man in front of S, which meant we had to keep leaning in the opposite direction. Basically, S and I watched Summer slanted way too the left.

Other than that, the show lived up to the disco and beyond spectacle it promised to be. I learned a whole lot about Donna Summer’s backstory that I never knew. I got a little confused with time shifts and which actress was playing which version of Donna Summer at times. That doesn’t matter, though, because the music and dancing and shimmery costumes and lights of dazzlement kept us entertained for that entire hour and however many minutes, and now all I want to do is listen to Donna Summer over and again.

Why Donna Summer? Years of belting out her lyrics in our bedrooms, on carrides, everywhere we could. Years of dancing at all those parties ending in “Last Dance.” Years of big hair and simple glee. Let this legacy live on.

A World Of Color, or Everything Worth Doing Ends With A Ball Pit

Another day in NYC, another pop-up museum. But not just any other. Color Factory NYC stands as my favorite pop-up museum, temporary exhibit, and all around way to spend an evening. Immersive in color from room to room. Adding sweet treats along the way. Some poetry. Some movement. Some drawing. Some drumming. Some spinning. Some labyrinth walking. Something for every sense and then something more. Throw in some banter with a factory worker about guessing how old I am (we agreed on anywhere between 28 and 52) and that same worker letting S and me grab an extra marshmallow before heading to the next room, and throw in a free coat check that would hold my great big orange bag (courtesy of S — 45% of our friendship is giving bags to each other that we have to then hold for the rest of the time we hang out), and throw in a map of NYC that shows where to find colors specific to NYC, and there you have it. My fave by far. Also, a ball pit. I didn’t get stuck, but when I got neck deep, I also go claustrophobic and had to get out of the ball pit quick. Ever try to get out of a ball pit quick? It’s kinda slow. But still, my fave.

Color Factory Balloon Room 1

These balloons flew around.

Color Factory Dance Floor 1

Dancing!

Color Factory Secret Color Booth 1

There’s a long explanation of this photo but I’m going to let the psycho scare speak for itself.

Color Factory Drawing (1)

Listening

Color Factory Drawing (2)

Drawing

Color Factory Labyrinth (3)

Choosing A Path

Color Factory End (1)

Color Factory End (3)

And for the record, pre-claustrophobia:

Color Factory Ball Pit (18)

Miss Chocolate Bar

Candytopia is exactly what it sounds like, so let’s jump right in.

I get to the city and need to walk only across the street and I’m where I need to be. How often does that happen? So, I’m walking my one block to Candytopia, and a guy and I pass each other, and right as he’s almost past, he says, How you doin, Miss Chocolate Bar?

Took a second to realize, oh, that’s me.Β I’m Miss Chocolate Bar. [Flashback to when I was Eskimo Boots. ] It was too late to correct him, but for the record, it was a Larabar. Larabars look like chocolate bars because their main ingredient is dates. So they’re brown. Seeing one for the first time jarred me a bit because I was expecting more nutty looking than brown looking but I eat them for health reasons, not for what they look like reasons. If they look like a chocolate bar, so be it. So now I’m Miss Chocolate Bar.

I met S outside and we stood in line until it was our time to enter what seemed to be a little town with a taxi out front. Then the gates opened and into the tiny town we went. It felt like a cross between Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley (Fun Fact: usually I’m a lazy writer, but I just looked up the spelling for Diagon Alley because HP fans scare me). Here, I ate a piece of taffy.

We then gained entry into a room of clocks. Hello Alice In Wonderland inspiration. I loved this room. There was a man in a hat who was telling us all about what time it was across the world. It was hard to hear, though, so I walked around taking in the clocks and the things made out of candy. This is the really cool part–there are a lot of things made out of candy and signs that explain how much candy is involved. Like thousands of jelly beans to make a fox or millions of Gummy Bears to make a real bear.

The other really cool part was the clock coming down from the ceiling to reveal Lindt chocolate truffles. I ate one of those, too.

There’s a graffiti room where we found Jackie Sorkin, the Candy Queen and the reason Candytopia is a thing. S gave her some Southpaw Sweets cookies that the Candy Queen immediately posed with for pics. She has such magnetic energy and is so so sweet. The room had a wall that you could write and draw on. And there was a dragon.

Oh, did I mention theΒ big purple blow up thingie that I almost had a panic attack in? Yeah, so, there’s a big purple thing that you have to walk through between rooms and I thought I was going to die in it because it just kept going. Think of a hallway made of a bouncy house that inflates towards the center while you have to push through it. Then imagine it goes on for what seems like a mile. When I finally kind of fell out of the end of it, I looked at the Candytopia worker standing there to direct us, and told her, That? Was not fun.

Everything else? Tons of fun. Here are the highlights.

A room I’ll call a Candy Land. There’s a Katy Perry Madame Taussaud’s-esque statue there along with gumdrops to sit on and trees made of lollipops.

There’s an art gallery where portraits of famous people hang. These are made of jelly beans.

One room has an Under the Sea theme. Some sharks. Some seahorses. All blue hued.

Underwater (12)

Then there’s a room dedicated to unicorns and confetti. Here’s what happens. You pose for a picture and a Candytopia worker shoots confetti at you. And it’s awesome. I spent the rest of the day with unicorn confetti all up in my hair. And in my pockets. And falling out of my clothing. And then I found it in my bra. [P.S. It’s been a while and I’m still finding it around my house, falling out of drawers even after I’ve washed my clothes]. I grabbed a bag of gummy worms to nibble on.

Another room is a playground. We climbed up on the swing set because we’re clearly 100%. And then I became the proud owner of two pixie sticks.

Swing (3)

At some point, I also had some Airheads. It’s a sugary blur.

One of my most favorite sweet treats in all the land is marshmallows. I don’t eat them often because I usually want only one and no one sells singular marshmallows. I didn’t get to eat marshmallows at Candytopia but I did get to jump into a whole pit of them! They weren’t real so it wasn’t sticky. They looked very real, which is what counts.

And then? We got stuck in the pit. I did a pretty good job of staying above the surface, which I considered the day’s workout because my legs were on fire. But then I sunk in. And then I couldn’t exactly get out. Wanna see how the struggle is real? Click the link below.

S was drowning almost the whole time. She was in up to her shoulders for the long haul.

We were by a wall luckily so I pulled myself up. And then I sunk back in. And then I pulled myself up. And this went on until I got to the edge and very lady-like hoisted my ass up in to the air and flung myself out in a shower of fake marshmallowy goodness! How sweet! A bit later on, I found myself in the lobby of a building where a gentleman came in, exclaiming to the doormen, Fellas I brought you some cookies! He handed them cookies. Then I hear, Can’t leave you out! I look up and a variety of cookies appears in my face. How sweet! Again! PS: The next day I had to go to responsible adult stuff, but in the lobby, there was another sweet surprise!

Catacombs, Pudding, and Holland Taylor

Maybe rats and other creepy crawlies come to mind when thinking of the underground world of New York City. You take the subway? You’ve probably seen a rat. In fact, you take the subway, you’ve probably seen some things. Lots of things. Anyway, this is not about subways. This is about what’s underground in NYC, and if you go to the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, you’ll find catacombs. You can tour them by candlelight, and you can keep the candle and keep lighting it as long as the battery has juice because it’s not a real candle because there was already a fire there once, so the non-fire candle is a safer way to take a tour.

Tommy of Tommy’s New York came into the air conditioned holding room across from the church to say hello and explain that the tour is so popular that he splits up the groups and has two guides go in opposite directions. It seems that everyone wants to see a catacomb by candlelight. What you may not be expecting is that in addition to catacombs, the tour goes through a church and through the cemetery grounds and you get a tour guide who has a tiny projector to show you neat pictures of people who were buried. You learn gossipy history. You learn stuff while underground holding a candle!

Things we learned (oh! “we” refers to my officemates and me):

  1. People used to bury their loved ones in the catacombs and then go into the catacombs to pray because the catacombs were kept open.
  2. People learned that open catacombs could start to smell, so the catacombs were sealed and reopened and sealed and reopened.
  3. Exit signs glow in the eeriest way underground.
  4. The Ancient Order of the Hibernians protected old St. Patrick’s so no one could set fire to it, and the wall surrounding the cemetery is a fortified wall.
  5. I cannot spell cemetery correctly on the first try. I keep writing cemetary. I’m a teacher.
  6. The Italian family that started Italian restaurants in NYC is buried there.
  7. There’s a crypt that was left unlocked which means it’s accessible and no one has come back to lock it and it’s got Edison light bulbs in it along with some very expensive marble and tile because, although you can’t take it with you, you can for dang sure come close.
  8. Boss Tweed came up, and it was super interesting, and I can’t remember any of it (grief fog!), but I do remember that two guys who didn’t like each other very much are buried next to each other.
  9. Getting buried there is way expensive.
  10. I would not want the job of cranking the wheel to make the Erben Organ make sound.
  11. Sheep need a vacation.

After the grand tour, we got coupons to places to eat nearby! Though we didn’t use the coupons, we did head over to Rice to Riches for rice pudding. The signage alone overwhelmed me. I had to order at a counter–one of my top non-favorite things to do in life–and there were vats of pudding to choose from and then more signs. Worth it. I finished almost all of my pudding before realizing that my insides might try to climb out from the effects of eating so far out of theΒ  norm. However, a bowl of Be My Banana Coconut is simply irresistible and worth anything that could possibly happen as aftermath–and nothing happened so I clearly make good choices.

Rice

Like I joined Entertainment Weekly’s panel and got invited to the Crosby Hotel for a preview of the second season pilot of Mr. Mercedes. It’s a show on the Audience Network through AT&T Direct Now. That means I cannot watch the show at home, but it sure was thrilling. After the viewing, there was a Q&A with three main cast members and a producer: Brendon Gleeson, Holly Gibney, Holland Taylor, and Jack Bender. Thrilling again! I was especially gleeful to see Holland Taylor. Don’t ask me why. I simply got giddy. She’s so elegant!

Mr Mercedes 2

Let’s add this all up, okay? Three things in one day. This might go down in history as the day I did the most things ever. And also a day when I learned I can eat a vat of rice pudding, watch one episode of a show I’ll likely not see again, AND tour the underground of NYC without bumping into a rat. A good day, right there.

 

Solsticing Still

June 21 was the Summer Solstice as usual. Also, as usual, Times Square filled up with yogis endeavoring to slot minds over madness. This year, the session I took turned out to be the best yoga class I’ve ever taken. If you find yourself with the chance to take a class with Catherine Cignac, do it.

While finding inner peace is all well and good, the real reason I return to NYC every year to partake is something apart from that. It’s not even the free stuff. I mean, that’s a big reason. We all know I love free stuff. The Yoga Village is filled with free samples from food to delicious water (not all bottled water is equal, yo) to holistic soap. I got a pretty new mat. I got a bag of stuff. The bag? Also free.

Still, the one thing that pulls me back is the opportunity to lie down in the middle of the city. I’m sure I could probably do that somewhere and not be looked at as odd. Odder things happen in the city all the time. However, I’d probably get stepped on. Here, corralled into safely taped-off sections of midtown, we all get to lie back, stare up at the cityscape, and really feel the wonder of it all.

Namaste.

 

Books and A Henge

BookExpo/BookCon unfolds in NYC once a year. It’s everything for anyone book related: networking, selling, buying, paneling, conferencing, workshopping for sellers, buyers, lovers, publishers, writers, readers, conferencers, workshoppers, panelers. I wanted to go but was on the fence because of the price. Then I remembered, hey I write for Book Riot. I applied for a complimentary Media Badge and was approved, so problem solved and I’m a pretty big deal.

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The Javitz Center combined with five days of events scheduled early morning to late evening made for brain-overload. I like to plan, and I found paralyzed when I tried. I thought about winging it, a suggestion that came up among several other Book Rioters and several writers and readers in different groups I know. The thought of winging it paralyzed me even more and also made my neck stiffen and my heart race, so I went with the first kind of paralysis. I mapped out options. I mapped out interests. I checked off booths and panels and readings. I was ready.

The first day I went, I walked over to Javitz in a surprisingly non-sweaty jaunt (if you don’t get the sweat reference, for shame! you should know better). I arrived and found where to pick up my badge. I then scoped out the place. I’ve been there before for events that were only on one floor. The expo/con took over almost the entire building. I found myself lost and wandering.

Then I came across tables and tables of books with signs that read, Please Take. Yes, I will, thank you.Β  Here were books for the taking to be read and reviewed and written about. Yes, this is why I was here. Yes, this is for me. Yes, this is me. 01bbb441d4a6daf527e63a7573b040298b8ac49afc I found the panel I wanted to see about Can’t Miss Graphic Novels of 2018. It was really enjoyable! I’m trying to get into graphic stuff a little more, and this was exactly what I needed. Then I checked out a reading, roamed a little more, and then headed out to meet up with some Book Rioters. The folks at Book Riot do good work with fantastic energy, and meeting them in person to talk about books and other things was as fantastic. The second day of BookExpo meant another jaunt to Javitz and a day of paneling. I wanted to see an astronaut. Then I wanted to hear about publishing. A reading, a chat, a panel, and then off to the floor to see all the books. However, the app listed the astronaut in one place and the brochure listed it in another and no one I asked knew where I should go. I even asked in the app and then tweeted my woes.

To no avail. So I wandered and chatted with book people.

Then the time came for the panel. The room was correct. I was in! I sat in front of a row of people who typed away at their laptops and tablets and phones. The room filled up. We waited.

Then we waited some more. There was even more waiting. Then someone got on the mic to say that the panelists might be in traffic because they were heading over from a sister venue. Then two publishers got up on the dais and offered to be the panelists on the fly. What a friggin boss move! They were very humble about it. They were like, we see people in this room who have as much information to give as we do, so we invited you to shout out your ideas, too. Then they took questions from the audience because they obviously had nothing prepared to say and didn’t want to talk at us. The first question was about marketing and it was interesting. The answers were helpful. Then someone in the audience walked up to the dais and showed one of the neo-panelists his phone. One of the scheduled panelists had sent a message–maybe tweeted?–that they were told the panel had been canceled. I stayed a little longer, but then realized that all my planning had gone awry and I could simply wing it for the rest of the day. That’s what I did, talking to all kinds of people on the show floor. I picked up books and cards. Some people gave me magnets. Others gave me chocolate. I came home laden with books and pamphlets and idea for Book Rioting. I had plans for two more days of Expoing and Conning. Instead, I tossed my plans to the wayside and reveled in everything I’d already collected. Coming soon…write ups about books and reading and more books and more reading.

In the middle of all of this, Manhattanhenge appeared. Wanting to see it in person for years, I found a mid-block crosswalk and waited. Every time the cross sign showed green, out into the street I went to take pictures. So did the small crowd that amassed with me. Then I looked at the block ahead and the block behind, and every crosswalk filled with onlookers. Clouds made for a bit of a fuzzy henge, but it was still brilliant.

Mega Return To The Movies

Three movies in four weeks. That’s starting to go in the right direction. I used to go to the movies a whole lot. Then came along higher ticket prices, reserved seating, and big chairs that I don’t fit into comfortably because they’re made for people with longer torsos. Gripes aside, I really like going to the movies. I like going during the day. I like going to 9 AM showings on Sundays.

Somehow, I’m on a list for GoFoBo or something like that. I get emails every once in a while offering free tickets to previews. When I say “every once in a while,” I’m talking years apart. Out of nowhere, I got an email to go see Book Club showing right by work. I’d never even heard of it, but since it was free, I was in. SD came along. She’dΒ  heard of it. She was like, Isn’t that the one with… and I was like, That’s already more information than I know.

Usually, I don’t see comedies in the movies. I also don’t usually see movies about older ladies reading books. I need to change my watching ways! This was so much fun! The theatre was filled with people laughing out loud the whole time. The movie really was funny. There were some definite plot holes. Huge gaping holes (like why can’t one of the women still be in the book club if she moves away when she already flew back to participate once before…it made no sense). To make up for the holes, there was Don Johnson. I haven’t thought about Don Johnson in I don’t even know how many years, but this made me happy.

During the last week of the semester, the officemates and I treated ourselves to Avengers: Infinity Wars. In addition to free tickets, I had an offer for a free large popcorn and a free soda. I got very excited at the soda machine, seeing they had flavored ginger ale. I got a bit discouraged when I couldn’t figure out how to work the soda machine–I really don’t drink soda apparently–or go out in public apparently. But I got it to work and then tried the lime ginger ale that came out basically like lime soda so I dumped it and had some regular ginger ale that tasted more like sugar ale. I didn’t finish it because it was a large and a large is about the side of a two litre bottle of soda. The popcorn was the size of a small suit case so we shared in small cups. The movie required concentration because the cast was the population of a small country, which we knew going in. Coming out, we were a bit depressed with all the fading away of half that population. However, we rallied ourselves with real life facts–the fact that not all these characters can simply fade away for good because then the movie franchises would take a serious hit, and no one is throwing away that kind of money.

My gift to my mom for Mother’s Day came in the form of the re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey on original 70mm to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Into the city we went, lots of trains, lots of walking, and then lots of stairs to climb down and up and up and down. Worth every step to be in one of those old-timey theatres that has enough updates to not be gross but still keep the feel of a retro theatre where I fit in the seat and I don’t have the anxiety of choosing my seat beforehand.

We both remembered the movie a little, or so we thought. I knew there’d be some monkeys. I didn’t remember the monkey scenes being that long. I knew there’d be a monolith. I didn’t remember it would show up in several places. I knew there’d be the line, “it’s full of stars,” but I actually didn’t hear it so either I missed it or misremembered it. I knew there’d be a scene with an astronaut taking out cartridges to decommission HAL. That scene happened but not the way I remembered it. My mom had the same reactions–remembering things and then seeing things she never remembered.

The movie had an intermission. I’m guessing because of changing reels. This is the extent of my 70mm movie knowledge. The movie ended with someone in the audience asking, That’s it?

But that’s not it! There’s a sequel! I proposed to my mom that maybe we remembered more about the sequel because it appeared more recently, in the 80s. She didn’t remember there was a sequel, so I tried to explain it. Have you ever tried to explain the plot of a movie you barely remember and never understood? Yeah, that’s exactly what I did, so we decided we’d have to watch it some day. Maybe when they bring it back into theatres for its own anniversary. And that will be full of stars. Maybe.

PS I took myself to see Deadpool 2 today. Stayed for all the credits like a good gal should.

Sauntering (More Than) A Few Miles

S was like, Hey wanna walk with me and R around Manhattan? And I was like, Sure, that sounds like fun.

I work out usually six days a week, but none of those workouts are endurance training. I figured walking the perimeter of Manhattan would be a challenge, but I’d be up for most of it.

S and R walk a lot in their daily lives. I walk a little but there’s a lot of standing in place and sitting for me, especially since many of the computers in the classrooms at work are in tiny metal boxes that I have to sit at (with my back to the classroom, but this is becoming a whole other post, so more on that another time).

What all this adds up to is that none of us trained for this particular walk but they were more ready for it than I was, and remember I have a labral tear that’s always lurking even if I forget about it. Labral tear, I laugh at your lurking.

The Great Saunter began at 7:30 AM in Fraunces Tavern on Pearl St. I took a 6:03 to Penn and then hopped on an express 1 all the way to the end, which gave me plenty of time to eat the turkey and lettuce on whole wheat that I’d packed for breakfast. Then I followed a man already in his walking bib to find the tavern. I stood on line quite chilly, waiting to get my own bib. Then I taught myself how to pin a bib to a backpack in very low light (Fraunces has mood lighting, perhaps in honor of GWash and lamplight–that’s history, y’all).

We first stopped at the SI Ferry terminal for bathrooms and water and then headed up the path along the shoreline where it was chilly and bright. This is what a lot of the morning was like. Walking near the water. This whole thing was quite simple!

At mile five, there was a volunteer cheering us on and showing us the way to go. I wasn’t exactly appreciative for the mile five cheer since I felt like I’d walked more than that already and the entire thing is 32 miles, so with a labral tear tweaking, mile five was nothing to really feel accomplished about. OR MAYBE it’s positive attitude Saturday and being able to even walk is an accomplishment! Or not. Whichever you choose.

On this leg of the walk, there were a lot of opportunities for bathroom breaks and seeing civilization. We ran into another walk, one that was for charity, and so we realized that there are many reasons to walk. A few minutes later, enter Lady Who Likes To Ask Me Questions. I knew the least about the walk we were on, so she asked me specifically why we were walking. I explained about Shore Walkers and said we were raising awareness about the shore. I figured that would suffice. It did not. She asked for more specifics about the kind of awareness. I answered something like, That it’s there and we should appreciate it. She asked further, For sustainability? I was like, Yes. She finally power-walked away, wishing us a good walk.

We walked alongside parks. We passed other walkers, whom S called bibbers because we were all wearing racing/walking bibs. Other bibbers passed us. One woman in particular passed us as if she were on a mission and then almost walked straight into a tree. Like it was a moment when I wanted to yell out, Hey watch where you’re going!, but it all happened too quickly. She narrowly escaped the tree collision and then a few feet later practically skidded to a halt to take pictures of children playing sports in the park. So that happened.

At a water stop–or I should say The Official Water Stop–we met some Shore Walker organizers. S introduced herself as the baker who donated cookies, and the one guy reacted how people always react when they find out S is the cookie-maker. He was pretty overjoyed by the whole thing. After the water, we followed a group of people along a more dirt-like path with rocks to the side instead of any kind of barrier between us and the water, and there was a girl in front of us kicking along a ball. Because the walk itself wasn’t a challenge enough I suppose.

We saw public art. We saw bridges and overpasses from underneath. We saw trees and docks and boats. We ate bananas and nuts and KIND bars and I ate Larabars, too.Β  We navigated around cyclers, some of whom could learn to use a bell. Then we saw the George Washington Bridge and figured, oooh, the Little Red Lighthouse is there. Then the GWB disappeared. It was like a mirage. It reappeared. We’d head for it. It disappeared. We wondered why we were walking. Over and over until finally it stood right in front of us and the lighthouse came into view. We’d made it a little over 12 miles!

Then there was a hill. I’ve never seen so many cyclists ride up such a steep hill. I don’t remember climbing a hill that steep since I was an undergrad at Oneonta (aka The City Of Hills) or maybe when I visited San Francisco. Or maybe it seemed steep because my legs were jelly and my joints were on fire. That could be it. I wasn’t the only one feeling something. We all were feeling something.

Between miles 13 and 14 stood a Grecian Temple. Because, you know, why not? This is where we took a sitting break. I changed my socks, which was heavenly.

We headed north still towards Inwood Park where we’d find a rock and walk over railroad tracks on a footbridge. It got a little confusing, not knowing if we’d found where we needed to go. This is where we could have used a volunteer cheering us on and pointing us in the right direction. There was no one so we simply kept at it, walking and not veering too far.

We passed by a group of walkers who were wearing shirts that said You’re Going The Wrong Way. Which made us pause until they assured us we were going the right way, which is explained on the back of their shirts, which would be helpful information at first glance, so I wish they had been walking backwards. There were some more hills but not as steep and we finally came upon the Shorakkopoch Rock. For joy! This is where all we needed to do was bear right to find the break where there were bathrooms and snacks and benches!

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So we went right with only 16 more miles to go!

Except that in going right, we went into the Enchanted Forest of Inwood. It was literally a forest and there were literally no bibbers around and we literally got lost in the forest, despite my carrying the map and re-reading the instructions. We did bump into a group of birders, so we could have abandoned the walk and taken up birding. Instead, we broke out the GPS and found a way out of the forest up and down hills and to an exit that was not near the exit we were supposed to take. Instead, we took our own detour and somehow figured out how to meet back up with the actual path. So while we had only 16 miles to go, we probably added on a bunch in walking in circles and double-backing.

This next part might be out of order. The leg going south is kind of a blur to me, so these things happened, but maybe not in this order. Not surprisingly, I was sweaty, which makes me sometimes not think too good.

We found, finally, a mini mart to get some water. What surprised us most was the lack of bodegas and cart vendors. S mentioned street meat a bunch of times, but we didn’t see anything of the sort on the way back down. Getting back on track, we bumped into someone S worked with and they told us that up ahead, we’d see a bunch of young people. Which clearly meant we are old and needed to go to bed soon. It was Cinco de Mayo, so young people were everywhere.

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We walked under the three bridges. Getting to the bridges was another one of those so close yet so far away moments. However, they didn’t do the mirage thing like the GWB did, which was nice.

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We found a volunteer on the side of a road who told us, Once you walk up this hill, you’ve completed 60% of the walk. The “up this hill” part was not exactly what I wanted to hear, but 60% was a joy.

A woman asked me if we were coming from the game. We were not, but that made me happy knowing that we didn’t look too shabby for walking as far as we had for as long as we had. We simply looked like we were coming from the Yankee game.

We got to 145th and found a Subway (the Eat Fresh kind, not the MTA kind) and sat. S got a sandwich, and I got a cookie. I also got a yearning to go home. I found a Subway (the MTA kind, not the Eat Fresh kind) that was super close. I looked at the map. The next part was called Zig Zag to South Harlem. Through the zigging and zagging, I didn’t see another subway stop that would take me directly to Penn (because the 1 wasn’t running until further down after the zigging and zagging). So I pretty much said, This is where I leave you, and they walked me to the stop which was only one block uphillish and I wished them well and walked down some stairs and the A came right away and took me expressly to Penn where a train home was waiting for me and leaving in two minutes so I got on that and then got to my car and then got to my house and then stretched and iced and got on my couch and sat there in a state of what-did-I-just-do?

S and R finished in the 10 PM hour. They are my heroes this week.

Sunday came. My labral tear that had a good clean burn going the night before wasn’t even a thought. I had some achy feels around my thighs, but nothing really terrible. Ooh, I was feeling fine!

Monday came. My everything hurt. No, seriously, I gimped and limped around. My ankles. My calves. My shins. My knees. My quads. My hamstrings. Just everything. I had to walk between buildings at work and I made little yipping sounds as I went. I was the slowest walker in the universe. Upon being asked what happened, I simply said, I make bad decisions.Β  This lasted through Tuesday.

The walk was not a bad decision. The last minute decision to walk was the bad decision. But now I’m on a mission. I’m adding endurance to my workouts. That way, next May, I might round the bend at 32 miles instead of conking out at 19 and change.

My wish list for the next saunter:
1. more water stops
2. being cheered on and directed in the more desolate areas and not at mile five
3. food cards and bodegas
4. not getting lost in the enchanted forest of Inwood
5. a hotline for if I do get lost or confused again, which I will
6. foot powder and more sock changes
7. better training beforehand
8. singalongs with other bibbers, or at least a secret handshake or fun wave

Architecture Is My Bag

Architecture is so my bag that I wasn’t even sure if I was spelling architecture right. I’m as much of an architect as George Costanza. I admire anyone who can figure out how to build anything, so if someone can build a building and have it not fall down, I admire that someone. All this means that I have no idea how I won two tickets to the Architecture Design Show. Tickets run about $30, and I got two for free. Free. That’s one of my favorite words.

So SD and I met up at Pier 94, an indoor sprawl of showroom. We walked. We admired. We opened and closed things. I signed up for free stuff. We found fireplaces. We found wine fridges. We witnessed a couch turn into a bed and a coffee table turn into a regular table. As opposed to an irregular table. I’m not only an architect, but I’m clearly an interior designer, too.

There were fixtures that wouldn’t even fit into my house. There was artwork that had fossils that cost more than my car. SD asked me, Who comes to things like this? And my answer was simple, Designers and rich people. AND people who win free stuff. We can all figure out in which category I fall.

After roaming through a vast amount of square footage, we took an Uber (my first!) to a thai place and ate good thai food, something I don’t eat often so it was a delight!

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And then because I was in NYC, I found some gems that made me smile, and these days, every smile means so much.

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SD asked, Do you think they meant poet? I answered, Maybe but probably not.

 

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I’m happy I got in this picture.