Sunday, October 10, 2010

New York Recap

Today is apparently an auspicious date: 10-10-10. OK!

So, the New York visit was wonderful.

The conference turned out very well, which is a relief as always. And it was also very busy, but I was conscientious about being sure to get out and about whenever possible, and though the weather was a bit muggy, the rain held off when I needed it to.

On that Tuesday evening, I took the subway down to the Village and wandered into SoHo, with the goals of finding Purl SoHo and Lupa. Unfortunately, Washington Square Park was still under construction, but maybe that's for the best as it kept me walking. I get very emotional when I'm in that neighborhood still. It's as if the excitement and uncertainty and adventure and promise are intertwined with the streets and structures, not me. So when I return to those neighborhoods where I live through so much, I feel all that energy flooding back. So many what-ifs came welling up too, mainly "what if I'd stayed in NY" and review of all the dumb mistakes I made. I stopped several times to tap some snippets of poetry into my iPhone (gotta dig those out at the next meeting of the Pointy Pals).

And then my wander became a bit more of a forced march. I did not make it to Purl SoHo before it closed unfortunately. And I thought I knew where Lupa was, but somehow I must have missed it on my way down from Washington Square. Walking by the closed shops and tourist-y restaurants, it became clear as my feet and hips began to ache that I'm definitely not in the walking shape I used to be and I was becoming quite hungry, which always makes me grumpy. I headed back toward the subway, feeling a little defeated and unsatisfied. But still I clung to a little hope that the travel magic would come though and reveal the adventure (mostly culinary) I was supposed to have…and sure enough it did! I retraced my steps up what I hoped was the street for Lupa, but on the opposite side and there it was, like a tiny bit of Brigadoon. I had missed it because the name was only printed on the front of the awning, which was not visible on my first pass. It was crowded but I persisted, practicing my being-OK-with-just-being-there chops and waited patiently and without digital device crutches near the hostess station enjoying the view of the street til a seat finally opened up at the bar. And of course it was just the right place for me. Through the packed-in din, I overheard conversations from the Wall Street guys and the bridge-and-tunnel yuppies, always amusing. I also practiced my lone-gal outreach and struck up a conversation with the young man next to me, who was the new boyfriend of the bartender. He turned out to be from Turkey, selling furniture and studying at the New School, hoping to eventually go home to help the gay community there. I also discovered that I can't really read menus in low light anymore. Sigh. The wages of age continue to accumulate.

The following night was dinner chez Caiola Madhu. It was dry enough to walk crosstown to the 6 train uptown. I paused for a bit in the station to hear some good music. The platform was so crowded! And not everyone who wanted to made it on the train when it finally arrived. I perversely enjoyed it, but I know that if I lived there and had to commute through that sea of humanity every day being smushed and jostled, it would be very trying. My evening at Sara and Chandran’s was lovely. It’s amazing how the kids have changed of course. Their new puppy Gus is adorable and an energetic addition to the household. Blacker seems to be getting used to him, and it made me a little sad that my cats never were able to adjust to Rex. It was nice have some four-legged creature interaction, though I think it inspired some bittersweet dreams of Veronica that night. Dinner with family is such a special thing when I’m working and far away from home. It takes my brain completely out of work mode and is therefore extra relaxing in addition to simply joyful family time.

Thursday was my splurge evening. I met up with my dear friend Cathleen at Trattoria dell Arte, which was very close to the hotel. We spent almost four hours lingering over wine and good food, outlasting our original waiter. Though his replacement was lovely, wandering the tables with commercial-sized pans of cookies for patrons to pluck at will. It was a great way to unwind after the conference, though the bad weather was niggling at my brain a little--I didn't want to be delayed in my travels to Rochester the next day. She told me about a friend of hers whose husband is going through a mid-life crisis--he went out and bought a Ducati and apparently pretty much doing things his own way. So she suggested "Think Ducati" should be my new slogan, and so far I'm liking it quite a bit. It's a little like the ring M gave me for my birthday--a reminder to stay out of the rut.

The weather did indeed worsen overnight. A colleague and I had agreed to travel to the airport together--she also happened to be traveling to Rochester on the same flight--so we left the hotel earlier than originally planned.Which means I didn't have time to do anything that last morning in Manhattan other than sleep in and check email one last time--though that was something I really needed to do to start my vacation with peace of mind. While the cab ride to JFK was uneventful, we had a two-hour delay for the flight. It was nice having a traveling companion. We had lunch together and it was nice getting to know her a little better outside of the office.

But all's well that ends well. The flight landed in time for Kalyani to whisk me away to Brockport for a quick dinner and then on to the high school for the Homecoming football game. Ashwani and Hannah had saved us some great seats and Jo and Susi piped and drummed the Blue Devils to an unexpected victory. The rest of my visit was chilly and damp, but the rain held off til night, so we were able to enjoy activities during the day.

On Saturday I met Aunt Janice's chickens, then we went apple picking followed by a quick trip to the lake house, lunch, and a visit to a very busy Brown's Farm for ice cream and further enjoyment of the delights of rural living. Ashwani whipped up a fabulous spicy dinner then Kalyani, Hannah, and I headed to downtown for a performance by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. It was so wonderful--a full house in a beautiful hall. Listening to live classical music is not something I do often enough and I feel like I could use more music education to appreciate it more fully. But seeing it live helped me hear it better. I could focus on trying to pick out particular instruments. I really liked being in a part of such a large group of fans--they helped me hear it too. After the concert we had dessert with friends of Kalyani's which really gilded the lily.

Sunday featured a very retro adventure: a trip to the Genesee Country Museum, a collection of historical homes and businesses making up a little village, peopled by very enthusiastic docents. Added bonus--the local ag society was there, filling tents with sheep and goats, horses in all sizes, slender upright runner ducks, ruffly Sebastopol geese, wildly feathered chickens, and two technicolor varieties of pheasants I'd never seen before. Two sets of long horned oxen wandered with their humans, and huge black Percherons in spectacular harness pulled a wagon through town. We chatted with the kitchen lady making butter, potato soup, and cheese, the man making beer (or perhaps it was whiskey), and the Shaker lady who informed us that Shakers not only invented the flat broom but also that, inspired by her spinning wheel, a Shaker woman invented the circular saw. I also got a close-up look at a cobblestone house, a beautiful architectural style concentrated in the Brockport area. When we got home, Aunt Janice, Uncle Madhu, and Noah had arrived from their Shakespearean sojourn to Stratford. After an afternoon of visiting and catching up, it was a lovely pie-focused dinner at the Madhu Chhibbers.

Monday was school and work for most of the clan, so Aunt Janice and I had the day together. We took a short stroll around their property before the rain started up again (the overgrown riot of green was such a welcome change from dry golden California!), then decamped for lunch in the charming village of Brockport. We did some bookstore (she introduced me to A. Ghosh's "Sea of Poppies" which I'll start tonight) and giftshop shopping. Hannah and Noah had headed back to their respective colleges, so it was a smaller but no less delightful gathering for my last upstate dinner.

The trip home was a little eventful, but in a pleasant way--while I was waiting for the bus to Santa Rosa at SFO, I was chatted up by a somewhat older gentleman dressed in a stage-worthy style with guitar in tow. He introduced himself as Jack and definitely had some professional patter but seemed very nice; I let him use my cell phone and offered a cough drop left over from my visit to the RPO. As he debarked in Petaluma, he mentioned he performed under the name of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, a name I'm familiar with, but M and most folks at work weren't. He definitely seems to live up to his name. I heard a review of the film his daughter made of him and I think it implied he rambled with the ladies as well as his music.

More happiness when I arrived home, in the form of a happy wiggly dog and! my letter to the parking ticket office worked! They accepted my reasoning that (stupidly, I'll admit) putting money in the meter was good enough effort, despite it being the wrong meter. So my driving record continues to be spotless and that's $30 dollars I'll be hanging on to.

In other news:

With Pointy Pals Rebecca and Julia, I will once again be participating in NaNoWriMo. How many words will I write this time? When we all decided to do it about a month ago, I felt very relaxed. But now it's just a couple of weeks away and I have no idea what I'll write about. Time to really read "No Plot No Problem."

Finally, M and I took a very pleasant motorcycle ride to Calistoga yesterday. We had lunch and I suffered my first bit of motorcycle snobbery--two couples next to us in the parking space were "admiring" our beat up saddlebags as they mounted their loud, shiny, and be-Garmined bikes in full leather Harley branded attire. Whatever, people. All that was forgotten as we took the long way home, cruising up to the top of heartbreakingly scenic Alexander Valley and back down to Santa Rosa by way of equally gorgeous Westside Road. As we were putting the bike away, I didn't hop off properly and I'm now dealing with a good sized burn on my ankle from the exhaust pipe. That'll learn me.


At 8:18 AM, October 11, 2010, Blogger bren said...

Oh, my dear, you are an absolutely amazing writer. I felt those excited feelings walking the NY streets that I used to get when I'd visit you. Thank god you decided not to stay, but a NY trip would be fun for the city and family.

At 6:49 AM, October 12, 2010, Blogger K2 said...

We really enjoyed seeing you, Suzi. You're such a good sport.

At 4:57 PM, October 12, 2010, Blogger Sara said...

I am glad you enjoyed our chaotic home. We enjoyed seeing you.


Post a Comment

<< Home