A Trip to New York City

Last week my husband and I spent a couple of days in New York City. He was born in New York. As a young child his parents moved to the nearby suburbs so he visited often and knows his way around the city – unlike me who has no clue about uptown and downtown or in between.

We took the MegaBus. $40 for both of us round trip. That’s the upside. The downside is that we have to drive to White Marsh Mall outside of Baltimore to catch the bus and returning is a wait on the street near the Javits Convention Center. Our choices from the Eastern Shore of Maryland are 1) drive ourselves and pay astronomical parking fees in New York, 2) drive to Wilmington, DE and take the train ($100 – $200), or 3) take the MegaBus. Driving to Wilmington or White Marsh is a horse apiece so we chose MegaBus.

Going up was something of an ordeal. The bus we were supposed to be on was broken down and we had to wait for another bus. Fortunately we had “reserved” seats (an extra $2 per person per trip) and could wait out of the cold and wind in our car. Oh, I forgot to say it was raining. Another bus finally came and we started out – only to get off the highway at a rest stop because the windshield wipers had stopped working and the driver couldn’t see. We had a bathroom and snack break while we waited for another bus. That took another hour. So getting to the city – not so great. It was a good thing we didn’t have matinee tickets for a show. But coming home was terrific. Decent weather and they let us get in the bus while we were waiting to leave. The drive back to White Marsh was uneventful.

Before the trip Laura persuaded me to put Uber on my phone and that’s how we planned to get around the city. I had downloaded the app and my credit card information so no worries about having small bills and how much to tip, etc. You set that up ahead of time.

The MegaBus drops you off midtown – everybody on the bus exits and we got our bags from under the bus. I pulled out my smart phone and touched the Uber icon, feeling extremely proud of myself for using this new technology. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks.

What I didn’t know was that there are three options on Uber and I picked the worst one. It’s kind of a carpool option and it doesn’t pick you up exactly where you are, you have to walk to a location. So we did. Did I say it was raining and blowing so hard it blew my umbrella inside out?

The silver lining was that there was already a young woman in the Uber that picked us up and she explained to me the different categories. I should have picked UberX. That picks you up based on your location, although in NYC’s one way streets that might be on the other side of the road. But all in all, Uber was fantastic. They came fast, were good drivers, and since you’ve already set up your credit card info, no scrambling for bills at the end. You know what the ride will cost before you get in the car.  I’m a fan.

We had a couple of things we wanted to do in the city. We wanted to eat dinner at Il Grifone. We wanted to see a Broadway show. I wanted to go to Chelsea Market and the fabric store, Mood, which is featured on Project Runway. I needed some make-up refills so a stop at a department store was on the schedule. Other than that, we just wanted to poke around.

The city was beautiful as we walked to dinner.

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Grifone is a small Italian restaurant with white tablecloths and exceptional food.

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When I sent Laura this picture of my grilled octopus appetizer, she texted back it was the most pornographic food she’d ever seen. I’m still trying to figure that out.

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I’d never eaten octopus before, and it was delicious. Meaty and mild with a lobster-like texture. A fresh salad with some grilled shrimp was my dinner.

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When we strolled back to the hotel the rain had stopped and good weather was predicted for the next day.

My husband wanted to check out Tiffany’s first floor. We weren’t shopping for anything but it’s always fun to see all the glitz. Bergdorf Goodman was nearby and I thought that was as good a place as any to get my make-up refills. I went in and asked the first clerk I saw. He put me on a stool and before I knew it I was convinced I needed a new brand of foundation. Soon, Clif and I were on a first name basis. One thing led to another and I left with a bag full of goodies. That is me post Clif’s attentions.

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Then we ubered down to Chelsea Market where I knew I’d be able to find the elusive harissa. Nope!  It was still elusive, but I did find a container of 25 whole nutmegs for under four dollars. I won’t use that many in this lifetime so I’ve shared with some friends.

Then on to Mood where my husband found a seat (holding my bag from Bergdorf) and I walked around and patted fabric. He patted Swatch, the resident dog. I bought a Mood tote bag.

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I used to sew a lot and I love watching the designers on Project Runway. They always go to Mood for their materials.  There is now a new show called Project Runway Junior and these kids are truly amazing. Some are as young as twelve, none more than eighteen. Often they’ve taught themselves to sew watching YouTube videos – or they were lucky enough to have a seamstress mother or grandmother. I always sewed from a pattern and here they are patterning their own designs. Amazing talent.

That night we had tickets for “The Book of Mormon.” It was funny, irreverent and touching. No wonder it garnered so many Tony awards. However the seats in the section of the Eugene O’Neill theater where we were sitting had no leg room. My tall husband was miserable. It took his legs two days to unkink.

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It was nice to get away for a little while, but I always love coming home.

In What Universe Does Skin Care Have Anything to Do with Writing?

I’m one of those women who should never sit on tall stools at cosmetic counters. I try to walk past without making eye contact, but that tactic failed me a couple of weeks ago. I was with three women friends on our yearly lark to New York City. Laura wasn’t invited. She’s too young.

Golden Girls in NYC 2014

We were in Saks and just trying to get from one side of the store to the other. We made it past an ordinary scarf with a $1200 price tag. That was Warning #1. We should have run right then, but the closest way to the exit was through the fragrant counters of youth. Why not? We could make it. I think this is similar to an alcoholic saying one taste isn’t going to matter.

A very nice young lady stopped us. Before we knew it she was patting our faces with an exclusive skin care line – available only at Saks. Words like exclusive…Warning  #2. Red lights should begin blinking, sirens blaring.

Now that I think of it, there are never any nice old ladies at those counters, ladies whose faces reveal their lives…character permanently etched on foreheads and around mouths.  My friends and I all agreed our skin looked better, felt soft and dewy.

But not one of my friends sat on a stool. There were plenty available. It wasn’t like I had taken the only one. I was doomed and I knew it.When we walked away I had a small bag with new skin care products and I already felt guilty. I had exchanged flagstone for my new garden path by chasing the fountain of youth.

Vindication occurred the following Saturday at the monthly Eastern Shore Writers Association meeting. I stood to share that Laura and I had four theaters nibbling at our toes about producing The Santa Diaries. That we are thrilled is an understatement!

I also said that I had visited the Broadway offices of The Dramatist Guild and made the receptionist (possibly twelve years old) take a picture of me by the door. I still can’t quite believe that Laura and I are members.

Dramatist Guild office

This morning my friend Anny Williams, who had been at the Saturday meeting, called and told me I had looked radiant! Yes, Ponce de Leon, there is a fountain of youth and it’s at Saks. Those tiny vials are working their magic. And I hadn’t even used the wrinkle filler that I got because I bought two products instead of one. (I’ve got to stay off those stools. People like me should me required to wear ankle bands that beep when we get too close.)

But here’s the rest of the story…in the end, it’s really about the Academy Awards. Seriously! I‘ve got the taller part covered, but I have to look thinner and younger when Laura and I walk up those steps to get our Oscars for the best screenplay. On that night I will absolutely make sure I use the wrinkle filler.