1. Continental flight no. 1127
I finished reading ‘Persuasion’ on the plane to New York last week. I sat, tucked into seat 18A, and read while my seatmates watched a DVD of “Seabiscuit”. The attendants served drinks and cold turkey sandwiches while Anne Elliot shuffled around Bath in fear and in hope of running into Captain Wentworth. I was on my way to New York to visit friends and family, Maria in particular, as she has just started her new consulting gig and I wanted to check out her new digs on the Upper West Side.
Newark airport has a useful monorail that transports travelers — between terminals, to parking, to ground transport, and to Amtrak and NJ Transit trains. Being on the monorail reminded me of my visit to Disney World two years ago, and I made a mental note to plan a return trip to Orlando later in the year. Once I got off the train at Penn Station, took the escalator up to the street, I could feel a grin spreading over my face as I jumped over a snowbank and beat a couple of yuppies to a taxi.
I love coming home.
2. 73rd & Broadway
Maria’s building has a cool doorway — framed by glowing cubes, they were an easy landmark to identify as the cab turned around the corner past the North Face store (!!!) and the Sephora on the corner (ooh!). I made my way through a sleek lobby full of dark cherry wood furniture and huge humanoid frolicking figures sculpted out of steel. Maria left her door unlocked, as she was in bed sick when I got in. I fumbled about for the light switch until Maria emerged from her bedroom, flips on the switch for me, hugged me hello, showed me where the sheets and towels were, then tottered back to bed. I flipped around until I find public access, which is showing The Robin Byrd Show (http://www.robinbyrd.com). Maria’s living room is small but well-fitted with a big screen tv, DVD player, and a kitchenette. The couch and armchair are appropriately hip yet comfortable, and so I passed out on the couch while visions of Robin Byrd in a crocheted bikini danced in my head (ew).
3. 83rd & East End
On the crosstown bus to meet Nadine, I had to listen to a young woman talk about her acting class: “And you know, it’s such a gift when I act, when I can work with good people and they make me better, you know?” Ugh. Nadine and I took the bus to 86th and York, and then walked down to East End Avenue, and down East End past Chapin and where my beloved Lepanto’s used to be and we were buzzed in for our appointment with Mrs. Eaken.
Brearley now has all these floors, so we took the elevator up to the 12th floor and knocked on the alumni office door. Mrs. Eaken took our coats and gave us the full tour, starting with the new class XII homeroom on the twelfth floor (where the girls looked just like my classmates did, only with more jaded expressions). We worked our way down the stairs, stopping occasionally to marvel at the mascot wall hangings on the way. Highlights:
10: Still a gymnasium, and formerly the uppermost story of the building.
9: A middle school PE class was in session. Today’s sport: badminton.
8: Ran into hunky Mr. Karb, who is hotter than ever. Wondered if he had highlights.
7: Formerly where the class XI and class XII (no, we didn’t use terms like “senior” or “junior” — kinda like the U of C, where you have first years instead of freshmen). Now the art floor, where we found middle schoolers pounding clay very loudly in my old homeroom.
6: Class IX and X homerooms. Room 6A, where I used to have 11th grade history with Mr. Harrison, my favorite teacher at Brearley.
5: Music classes and practice rooms, so I stopped and say hello to Mrs. Biran, who had been my choir director from VII to XII. She told me what the girls were singing this year, and I felt like asking her for some sheet music just for old time’s sake.
4 through 2: Middle and lower school floors. Lots of cute little girls in pinafores running around and playing like puppies.
1: The lower and middle/upper school libraries have been combined into one large library, with a door separating the two. The little girls will come down in groups where their teacher can seat them on the big rug in front of the fireplace so they may be read to. I’d forgotten how certain spaces in Brearley were just made for comfort.
A level: first basement level, and home to the cafeteria. Unfortunately, we were too early for lunch, and could not have any delicious rolls. Mrs. Eaken showed us the balcony of the assembly hall (B level, which we did not visit). The balcony is where class XII sits, and had just been refurbished with nice theater seats. I’m pretty certain that as this point a splinter that worked itself into my bum during a long-ago assembly picked that exact moment to pinch, but I could be wrong.
Nadine’s impressions: she went to Exeter for grades nine through twelve, and was kinda wigged out by the fact that there were no boys. But wigged out in a good way. It was nice to be in a school where the girls weren’t insecure about how they looked to boys, which is just as well, because that is what college for, and usually by the time college happens you just don’t care. Or you’re not into boys anyway. Whatev. Moving on . . .
4. 83rd and 5th
Nadine and I shopped a bit after visiting Brearley last Friday, then headed to midtown to have lunch with Nick. After lunch, we meant to visit the Museum of Natural History afterwards but discovered that the oceanic hall with the improved blue whale (http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent/ocean/) was closed. So we met Josh at the Metropolitan Museum of Art instead. I am ashamed to say that, while viewing the Chuck Close exhibit, I felt inclined to say all sorts of dopey-trying-to-be-deep things. I sounded like a pothead. We wandered around, getting lost in trying to find the Costume Institute. Once found, we ogled the “Men in Skirts” exhibit and wondered at the inclusion of a Kurt Cobain mannequin in a babydoll dress. I dragged Josh and Nadine into the Temple of Dendur, on the way to the Engelhard Court in the American wing, so we could check out the graffiti on the temple. We stopped for a rest in the Engelhard Court, which is my favorite place in the museum. We split up, so Nadine and Josh could go home and I could go meet Maria and her friend Carrie for dinner and a show.
5. 58th between 2nd and 3rd
It was Restaurant Week in New York City, where participating restaurants offered prix fixe suppers for $30.04. Maria made reservations at Ada (http://www.adanyc.com/media/websiteada.html), where I had a Kir Royale with my spiced corn and asparagus and rack of lamb and daal and naan and mango ice cream. Oh it was delicious. Carrie and her husband Matt (Maria’s former boss) live in Stamford, and told us all about trying to drive a Mini Cooper over two feet of snow, and of her neighbor’s house burning down. She made Connecticut sound like an eerie place to live, an idea which had been put into my head when I first saw “The Stepford Wives” a few years ago. We lingered a bit too long over dinner, so we ran and then got a cab crosstown so we wouldn’t miss our show.
6. 45th & 8th
We saw “Avenue Q”, and I laughed so hard I think I scared Maria. Imagine “Sesame Street” with sex, drugs, and post-collegiate ennui. The puppeteers/actors were fantastic, but what was up with that one guy with the combover? He fooled nobody. My favorite bit? Gary Coleman (yes, he is a character in the show) singing a song called “Schadenfreude” — delicious.
7. 46th between 8th and 9th
Don’t Tell Mama. Gay-friendly piano bar and cabaret. All the waiters and bartenders are actors between shows, so they sing and dance and tell bawdy jokes while they serve up your gimlets. A crew of robust-looking lesbians sits next to us, and one of them is apparently so threatened by innocent Maria that she gives her a dirty look and shoves her tongue down her girlfriend’s throat at the same time.
Now that, gentle readers is entertainment.
In the next edition: finish up NY recap (really).
Brief plug: if you’re in need of an inexpensive massage, are in Chicago, and want to help out a friend of mine in massage therapy school, let me know. My friend Jeff gave me a massage last night and it rocked. And! he plays non-sucky music (think Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Ben Folds, and not Enya).
Aretha Franklin – You’re All I Need To Get By; Michael Jackson — Shake Your Body (Down to The Ground); Justin Timberlake – Rock Your Body; Lionel Richie – All Night Long; Jay-Z – I Just Wanna Love you
http://chicago.craigslist.org/mis/23632870.html (I’m a dork)
http://www.metmuseum.org/mymetmuseum/my_main.asp (You can keep track of your favorite pieces at the Met)
http://tinyurl.com/2f24t (Tori Spelling’s wedding registry)