Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Favorite Day

This day, this wonderful day before Thanksgiving has always been my "favorite-ist" day of the year and hopefully will be forever. Why the day spells magic and joy to me I don't exactly understand although I've some ideas. 

For one, the Thanksgiving Day holiday is my favorite holiday of the year; better than Christmas. The day is about all the right things; loved ones and time together, sharing a great meal. What could be nicer? I love that Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, the fourth Thursday of November. The time of week makes for a very nice four day weekend for many of us, unlike Christmas or New Years that can fall on any day of the week. I love the loaded plate of food, the tastes all blending together. I love the leftovers. I even love the preparation and (sigh) even the cleanup. The fall decorations are beautiful.

This is prime time, people.

But the day before Thanksgiving?  This is the day of promise, the beginning, the quiet anticipation growing, the joyful thought about how nice it will be to gather together once again as family, as friends, as grateful people enjoying the bounty of our lives. I always stop to think about my extended family and where they are on this day, what they're doing  and no matter how far afield they may be, I can draw them close in my thoughts. I remember those loved ones no longer here but who were once such important faces around the table.

Recent tradition holds that we'll watch  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving video, eat pizza, and snack o Party Mix. No matter the weather, it's time to be gathered inside together.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Week Later: Ambivalent

Well, here we are. Election Day 2012. But, that's not really the point of my post today.

My last post was a week ago, the day after the big storm, Hurricane Sandy, hit the East Coast. I can barely fathom that it's been but a week; it seems so much longer. We were so fortunate. Nothing untoward came our way. My heart aches for the devastation, the loss of lives, the injuries and hardships of those affected by this terrible storm. In mid-town Manhattan, there was little evidence of a problem aside from lighter traffic, closed businesses, and tourists moving about the old fashioned way: on their two feet.

By Wednesday, Halloween Day, traffic was hectic as people busted out their vehicles to make it to work with a downed subway and bus system. More places were open, including the Broadway shows which had been dark for three days. We bought tickets for the matinee performance of Once and enjoyed an early dinner on "restaurant row" in the theatre district. The food was amazing at Beccos and the wait staff were all in costume. All very festive and light hearted.

In retrospect, had I truly understood all the sadness and pain going on within a fifty mile radius at the very same time, the enjoyment would have evaporated. When you don't know, you don't know. The human stories come forth days later; they did in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, with 9/11, with the massive Asian tsunami of 2004, with the earthquake in Japan. The details take time to surface and spread and in the meantime, most of us (even those in the middle of the fray, unscathed) keep moving forward with our lives.

I'm glad we went to New York. The days spent in the big city were epic, unprecedented, and we saw and experienced things that we will likely never see again. Empty streets, closed businesses, cordoned off subway access points. I learned that geography was on our side as we hunkered down in mid-town Manhattan, protected by tall buildings and removed from the wilds of Battery Park and the southern tip of the island where havoc played out while the rest of us sighed in relief.

By Thursday, Manhattan north of 34th Street started to look and act like "the city" again. We took in more sights, another Broadway play, good food, and walked our legs off. Meanwhile....grief stricken people were close by.

The juxtaposition in hindsight gives me an odd feeling. Could I have done anything useful to help? Or was it "OK" to simply go on with a vacation and make the best of poor timing?

You can see, I'm wondering.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Strategic Eating in NYC

D and I learned that good food is reasonably priced in New York City.  I sort of knew this from a couple of trips over the last decade but D had not been in the city since the late 1960's. He imagined that meals would be outrageously expensive everywhere. But, not so; especially if you stick to the main rule: NEVER eat in a hotel restaurant, especially at breakfast. If you do, be for-warned that  2 eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, and coffee will set you back 28 bucks.

We avoided standard breakfast fare entirely choosing to buy wonderful looking and tasting pastries from bakeries the day before and enjoying them in our hotel room with a cup of coffee before setting out for the day. Denny found a great authentic bagel spot on Third Avenue called Ess-a-Bagel which reminded me again that not all bagels are created equal. Nothing like seeing those bagels being made right in front of you and having a choice of two dozen types of cream cheese that gets slathered on an half inch thick

As for lunch and dinner, we found great choices everywhere from restaurant row on West 46th Street to the delis on 7th Ave and the 50's. We ate at Carnegie Deli twice; splitting the enormous hot pastrami sandwich which clearly feeds two for the price of one. Then there was the unexpectedly great lunch at an Irish Pub, one of the few places open the day after the hurricane where we enjoyed a Guinness and corned beef. Two nights when very little was open owing to the storm, we ate great tasting pizza from a small storefront on Lexington just by the hotel.

We did not go hungry and we didn't break the bank.

The cost of hotel accommodations is a separate story.