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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Where did we leave off in New York? Ah yes, that’s right. In the space of mere hours I’d gained new clothes, chocolates, and children… and then promptly lost the last of these to their rightful owner. I mean, mother.

Sometimes, when I go to bed at night, I think of the toddler and hope someone peeled his orange for him at lunchtime, or I think of the baby and wonder if she’s teething yet.

Oh, who am I kidding? Mostly I just wonder which of the newfangled chocolates from my travel stash I’m going to eat when I wake up. But this isn’t a chocolate review post, so let’s get back to New York, shall we?

Spawn-less, the Day Shifts from Hilarity to Sheer Panic

After relinquishing my claims to the Trader Joe’s children, I made my way to the cashier and gleefully handed over my tub of chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, pomegranate muffins, and half-kilo of peanut-butter-filled pretzels. Clearly sensing my joy, the saleswoman expressed her own excitement over “the pink ones” in the sunflower seed mix. Thus ensued a speedy Gilmore Girls-esque chat about chocolate, my 30-hour flight home the next day, and the requisite snack-stocking-up I was doing in preparation for it.

It’s such little connections that brighten the solo traveller’s day and so, buoyed by friendliness, I made my way to Garden of Eden for my third chocolate stop.

*strangled voice* No! Leggings are not pants, even if you change their first letter! (I'm even more certain of this after buying leggings for the first time to wear under my new skirts. Leggings without anything over them = Hello, would you like to meet my bottom?)

Twenty minutes and a heavy shopping basket later, I reached the head of the Garden of Eden queue and got out my wallet to pay.

Except, I didn’t, because I couldn’t.

My wallet wasn’t in my handbag, or my duffel bag, and when I pulled my backpack off my back, it was half-open.

At this point, I all but flopped onto the floor and went through everything I owned, to no avail. Remarkably, I stayed quite calm. I thanked the heavens that I had a few dollars in my pocket, so that I could get back to my hotel. I knew my first move had to be cancelling my credit/debit cards, quickly followed by calling my parents. I tried not to think about the fact that I had no way of accessing any money.

I remembered feeling a bump when leaving Trader Joe’s, and knew the pickpocketing must have happened then. I stood up, vaguely taking in the fact that the woman who had been about to serve me had expressed no concern over my loss-of-wallet panic. I half-ran, half-limped back to Trader Joe’s, steeling myself all the while for the inevitable reality of disappointment.

Moo-cluck yourself, little vegan cupcake. Moo-cluck indeed.

It wasn’t until I was facing my Trader Joe’s girl and she was smiling and saying “It’s okay, it’s here, it’s okay” that I realised how upset I was. I clasped my wallet to my heart and started shaking, gasping, and thanking the girl, in the grateful way I imagine wallabies at petting zoos must thank their god when the five-year-old who equates “petting” with “smacking” is finally pulled away by an embarrassed parent.

The nicest thing in the whole situation was the Trader Joe’s salesgirl. She came out from behind her desk to pat my back and smile at me while saying “I was hoping you’d come back while I was still working”, and I think her face may be my favourite image from my two days in New York.

Of course, I couldn’t pick said face out of a line-up now if you paid me, but shhh.

And Then What Happened, Hannah?

After exiting Trader Joe’s for the second time and taking a minute to lean against a wall so as to ensure I didn’t throw up (charming, I know), I decided not to go back to Garden of Eden for its chocolates. Look, maybe I’m a bleeding-heart hippy, but I can’t help feeling that if someone went white as a sheet, plonked onto a shop floor, and told me they’d lost their wallet, I’d at least ask if they were okay. Seeing as Ms. Eden Worker didn’t even bother with that, I decided to give all my re-found money to Whole Foods instead.

If you like Pina Coladas, or getting caught in the (coconut milk yogurt) rain.

But you know what? I’m going to prolong this even further, because the Whole Foods story is worth its own post.

Also, I’m moving out to a month-long house-sitting gig tomorrow, and I haven’t packed yet. There’s no internet at this lady’s house (or a microwave… however shall I cope with my oat bran taking five minutes on the stove rather than three in the nuker?), so posts and comments may be a teensy bit less frequent for a while.

I’m almost certain I’ll have serious blog-withdrawal issues and end up buying some sort of mobile broadband, but we’ll see. There are one and a half hours of Masterchef Australia every night this week, though, so that might keep me distracted and entertained enough…

What's a New York story without at least one squirrel? A squirrel from Central Park, no less!

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I love New York. Broadway, beautiful shoes, and a plethora of gourmet stores stocking my favourite edible treasures: high-end chocolate and ingenious dairy-free/vegan foods. Having visited New York three times in the past four years, I decided to dismiss all feelings of tourist obligation this time around. Instead, I planned to spend my two stop-over days in the Big Apple enjoying myself in a laid-back fashion. I would wander around in the warmth, shop, eat (and eat and eat), and revel in feeling the way New York always makes me feel: happy and slightly envious of everyone around me. 

Flower outside The Pod Hotel, highly recommended. The hotel, not the flower, as I doubt the latter will be as lovely in the future.

With this intention surrounding me like a pale fern-green miasma, I didn’t expect to have much to blog about. 

What’s that they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? 

The Day Begins

The first half of my day followed my easy-breezy scheme, with some Food Network-watching, some Coffee Frappuccino-drinking (even if it did melt rather quickly in the warmth and honey glow of 5th Avenue on a sunny Spring day, but one can hardly complain about that), and some non-food shopping*. This last was a rather novel experience, as I am usually inordinately bored by any shopping that doesn’t end with me digesting the results. 

Darn tootin', New York sidewalk.

Then Gets Slightly Less Sedate, But I am Still Emotionally Balanced

Did you know that the subway machines won’t let you buy an $8 pass with $20? You have to buy a $20 pass. And the people in the subway booths give only information, not tickets. No worries, thinks me, I’m young and a cripple fit, what’s another 20 blocks to walk after the 17 I’ve just done, even if I’m now laden with duffel bag, backpack, shopping bags, and handbag? 

So I walked to Union Square for my HEAPS BIG UNRESTRAINED CHOCOLATE BUYING, and it was eight parts glorious, two parts sunburn. Not too shabby. 

Flutterbys! (Macy's Spring display.)

Hello Stranger, Would You Like Two Babies?

First stop at Union Square: The Food Emporium. Chocolates bought: Many. Second stop: Trader Joe’s. Muffins bought: yummy. Long lines to the checkout entered: one. 

Here’s where the day got interesting. 

In front of me in the line was a woman with a large stroller containing one (1) toddler and one (1) baby. Behind me were a couple (2) in their early 60s. After snaking halfway around the store (it was a long line), the mother before me turned and said “I forgot something. Can you push the stroller forward?” And off she sauntered, leaving me with one (1) duffel bag, one (1) handbag, one (1) backpack, two (2) full shopping baskets, one (1) enormous stroller, and two (2) strange children, all of which I had manoeuvre through and around assorted other shoppers and aisles with my two (2) hands. 

I heard an harrumph from behind me, and turned to see the older lady shaking her head. Her husband offered to take the mother’s shopping basket from my care, while the wife told me I was really too kind, and that the mother shouldn’t have wandered off. 

I smiled and said I didn’t really mind making sure someone’s children didn’t get stolen (or eaten by a dingo). 

Macro Vegetarian Brown Rice dish from Whole Foods. Sesame seeds, tofu, broccoli, brown rice, corn... just the ticket for a 22-year-old mother. I mean traveller.

At this point, a Trader Joe’s worker approached me and asked what I needed help with. Confused, I soon ascertained that the worker had been told to look after the mother with the two children and the stroller, and so I was being approached as she. 

“Oh, no, sorry, no, these aren’t mine, some lady just left me with them,” I babbled. 

Harrumph, from behind. 

The worker fervently agreed with such harrumphing, thanking me profusely for my generosity in spontaneous-child-rearing while stating that the woman ought not to have bequeathed her children to me. 

Eventually the mother returned, at which point the worker semi-politely chided her and left. The mother promptly dropped her carton of eggs on the floor, peeked inside, muttered “of course”, and placed the carton on a nearby shelf of chocolate-covered edamame. 

Harrumph

Having relinquished my pseudo-children, I watched as the mother started sharing a pear with her toddler. I’m sure this was a lovely bonding moment and all,  but the line had moved forward to the extent that, metres and metres away, she was now technically next in line, and the rest of us were stuck behind her. 

The woman behind me leaned forward and whispered “I’ve never hated someone in line before”. I simply smiled and joked “You sure do things differently in America”, not wanting to get caught in a cross-generational-grocery-store showdown. 

As I watched my children being rolled away, I shed a tear for all the birthday parties and tantrums and first-days-at-school I’d never get to see… and then I looked down at my carton of chocolate-covered sunflower seeds and decided I’d got the better deal. 

Macro Vegetarian Macro Sushi

Macro Vegetarian Macro Sushi, made with wild rice, brown rice, sweet rice, nori, daikon, carrots, tofu, kale, apple cider vinegar, agave syrup, spices, and sesame oil. Did I mention I love New York?

Spawn-less, the Day Shifts from Hilarity to…  

Well, you’ll just have to wait and see. Because this chickadee needs her dinner, and suspense is good for the soul. 

*A skirt that makes me feel like Little Ragged Blossom, two jackets, a duffel bag for the planned chocolate splurge, and a pair of heels. This last was an accident, as I was honestly just going to try one shoe on my right non-bandaged foot then leave the store. Except what’s a girl to do when a stylish New York lady interrupts her own shopping to say that the shoes look amazing and must be bought? The girl has to buy them, obviously, even if she couldn’t try on the left shoe to make sure it fit, and so it subsequently may not. But shhhh.

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Glimpses of New York

I promised photos, and I keep my promises. Just a few retrospective shots from New York:

Hello, New York!

2009 Macy's Christmas Window

Macy's Store Window

Strawberry Fields, Central Park

Strawberry Fields, Central Park

Birdie!

Columbus Circle

Christmas Display, Columbus Circle

Christmas Eggnog

Mmm, sugar cookie egg nog...

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Okay, so I’m not sure about rights in terms of embedding someone else’s video, so instead I’m just going to provide the link to Christopher Walken doing Poker Face.

Also, I have received external corroboration that I am, in fact, absurdly excited by grocery stores. I was almost at the door of the Columbus Ave Whole Foods the other day when a twenty-something guy suddenly asked me how I’d got there. Sure, my first thought was “check wallet! check passport! check laptop!”, but the following conversation ensued:

Me: The subway?

New Yorker Guy: On 96th?

Me (still a bit confused): Yes…?

New Yorker Guy: Did you get a cab from there?

Me: No…

New Yorker Guy: You must walk really fast. I saw you streets behind me a while ago, and now you’re in front of me.

Me: Oh. I think I was just excited about Whole Foods…

He then said something about waiting for his mother (his Mom, I mean) so they could buy groceries, at which point I laughed and said I wished I had a mother to buy me groceries. I then realised that I should mention that I do, in fact, of course, have a mother, but I also decided the better thing would be to stop babbbling (check dignity!) and just go and buy my darn food.

Which was awesome, by the way. Although I still can’t decide if the herbal lavender/mint/lemongrass/thyme water I bought was delicious or singularly revolting.

(Two posts in one day? Look at me go!)

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On Friday, I spent the afternoon at the Tim Burton retrospective exhibition at MoMA. While wandering through, I couldn’t help wondering whether his parents ever worried about him as a youngster. He seems to have jumped on the kooky and creepy bandwagon early on in life, with everything from his early childhood doodles to his later sketches on newspapers and cocktail napkins illustrating the fantastical, surreal, and slightly grotesque imagery he’s become known for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan: I have The Nightmare Before Christmas sheet music as well as the DVD, think his version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is brilliant, love Sweeney Todd because I’m a sucker for musicals, and am looking forward to Alice in Wonderland, particularly as the girl playing Alice is from Canberra, and E.PhotoLegend once sat next to her during a talk given by the girl’s mother. So that makes me, what, 3 degrees of separation from Johnny Depp? 3 degrees, that’s practically leave-Vanessa-Paradis-for-me closeness.

Also, I’m a little bit in love with the coupling of Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. It’s almost like they share the same unique way of looking at the world, except he expresses his through art and film and she through her clothing.

Back to the MoMA exhibition. Although spread over three floors, the main collection of work is in the Special Exhibitions gallery on the third floor, and comprises drawings, paintings, moving image works, storyboards, doodles, photographs, costumes, puppets, and ephemera from his films. The drawings consist of characters dreamt up in childhood, working versions of the figures we’ve come to know through his films, as well as caricatures of adages and relationship clichés, which I found quite entertaining. The sheer number of items to look at is overwhelming, and when this is added to how popular the exhibition is (you must pre-purchase timed tickets on the weekend, and often on weekdays too), it becomes a good idea to factor in a rather lengthy stay at MoMA. To be honest, I would have loved to stay for longer than I did, but I got a little tired of having to wait in line to see almost every piece of art in every room.

I was, however, able to spend a good amount of time looking at his literal depictions of such phrases as “undressing her with his eyes” (quite graphic and gruesome…) as well as the cinematic ephemera. I’d forgotten he did such films as James and the Giant Peach and Batman, and also learnt that one of his first jobs as an animator was for The Fox and the Hound, which I watched multiple times in my early years. I particularly loved seeing a handwritten note to Johnny Depp in which Burton suggests the cannibalism line in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and asks Depp whether he thinks it’s a good idea. I also enjoyed peering at all the models of characters from The Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas, including what could have been dozens of heads of Jack and Sally each wearing a different facial expression. Could someone procure me the model of The Oogie-Boogie Man for Christmas? It’s only protected by a glass cage and security staff on alert throughout the building, after all.

Looking through Burton’s work, I found myself drawing similarities with Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies (love!) as well as, at times, the Isz from The Maxx comic books that my brother, E.TeacherLord, once upon a time got me to read. On the whole, though, Burton’s work is refreshing, intriguing, at times disturbing, but a lot of fun. A definite must-see for Burton fans and a certainly should-see for everyone else.

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Also known as “When Travelling By Yourself Stops Being Fun”, or “Why I Haven’t Written Recently”:

a) Start chatting with a fellow Australian during the hostel’s TV Comedy Night (let’s all wish him a happy birthday for today, okay? Happy Birthday!). As a bonus, this way you get to have someone to laugh with during the funny shows (South Park, Jon Stewart), and someone with whom to ignore the bad shows (My Secret Girlfriend, I believe it was called).

b) Get quite sick after midnight one night and make a friend through being led into a room to lie down by hostel staff. Sure, this friendship may be built on one person asking the other how many times she’s thrown up that night, but it also involves help making a hot drink and some chatting about France, so it’s quite valid, I believe.

Anyhow, at least this meant I got to sleep in a bottom bunk last night, although I’m back in the top one now. I was considering trying to get tickets to Letterman today, as the Australian birthday boy managed to do a few days ago, but I’m thinking today might be better as a quiet one. Fie on you, body, New York is not the place for quiet days! There’s an off-Broadway production of Our Town on downtown though, so I might take a chance on rush tickets for that. We shall see.

As an aside, I’m heading off to Savannah on Tuesday for the week. There are no hostels there so I’ll be staying at a hotel (that one’s for you, H.OtherMe), and to make up for the higher cost am going to be getting overnight trains either way to cut out the cost of two nights’ accomodation. Sure, 16 hours in a train isn’t my perfect idea of fun, but then again, neither was last night, and I seem to have got through the worst of that okay (fingers crossed! Please, cross your fingers).

Sadly, I had some very yummy eats yesterday, but am now too scared to have any of them again in case they were the cause. Fie again, body. Fie.

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Notes to Self

1. Do not pay attention to the usher at Wintuk pointing you to the “quickest exit”. It won’t be the quickest exit when you end up on a strange street and find yourself walking around for a good ten minutes trying to find Penn Station. Of course, Penn Station turns out to be the enormous building you were walking around for these ten minutes, but that’s not much help when the sides you were on have no signs nor any entrance.

Next time, just take the exit that you came from. You’re a woman – you aren’t good at directions.

2. Don’t get so excited by the fact that the new sim in your old American phone enables you to access two-year old messages from your exchange year to the extent that you miss your subway stop and end up walking 8 blocks in “-1 feels like -9C” weather. Especially when you’re eating a candy bar and you start fearing you’ll choke because your face is so cold you can’t even tell if you’re chewing anymore.

3. Write “notes to self” that make you sound a bit more awesome.

4. Learn how to do triple-twirly-springy-flip-twists from a horizontal bendy pole held by two muscled men in colourful lycra. Now that’s a life-skill and a half, Cirque du Soleil.

5. Write a proper blog post. With photos. Which means stop leaving your camera cord locked up in your hostel room.

6. Work out where you’re going next week so you don’t end up, you know, homeless and frozen.

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