Saturday, October 24, 2015

NYC Day 5, Monday, October 12

Sunday night I was in bed and asleep by 10, only to wake up at 3 because I was coughing so hard.  Trying to avoid waking Mom (ha!) I got up and made a bed on the sofa where I could sleep upright.  Well, I managed the upright, but not the sleeping.  Mom slept a bit, but mostly didn't because I was noisy and she was worried about me.  When it got light, she got dressed and went to two different drugstores looking for an expectorant.  All of my effort was going to getting oxygen into my body.  At this point I was pretty sure that the chest cold had deepened into bronchitis, and all I wanted to do was get home.

What I experienced was a combination of asthma attack and panic attack.  I was gasping for air and not getting it and my brain was doing panicked little rodent dashes in every direction.  Not something I want to experience again.

After some discussion between all four of us, we decided to leave for the airport in time to put the early flyers (both Bookworm and Anabel) on their planes, since Mom and I would have to move very slowly.  However, that plan went out the window when I lost all my breath walking the ten or so steps from our room door to the elevator.  I told Mom I was going downstairs and have the clerk call 911, which I did.

After a short wait time, during which my sisters-in-law agreed to go to the airport so they didn't miss their planes, an ambulance and two nice EMTs arrived.  They asked some questions, listened to my lungs and my heart and told me they needed to take me to ER.  So we left my carry-on and both of our suitcases at the hotel and got in the ambulance.  The EMTs gave me a breathing treatment in the ambulance, and somehow it was vanilla-scented.

Everyone at Mount Sinai Roosevelt was very nice.  I saw a nurse, the attending physician, the X-ray tech and two residents and they all worked very hard to help me get home.  I had an additional two breathing treatments and an order to see my primary physician (who I don't have) and got the news that although the ER docs did not want to make an official diagnosis, all three are pretty sure I have COPD.  A warning--that link has a very unpretty picture right at the top of the page.  The hospital discharged me in time to take a cab back to the hotel for our bags and out to the airport.  Fortunately, the line for security was very light and the gate was close-ish to security.

Getting out of the airplane at Cleveland turned out to be more of a task.  Climbing up the ramp exhausted me to the point where all I could do was collapse into a chair.  Fortunately, Cleveland Hopkins has some exceptional special employees who help customers who need assistance, and one of them got me into a wheelchair and all the way down to baggage and then to the park and fly shuttle.  I know Mom tipped her, but I really wish I could remember her name.

Anyway, yes, the elephant in the blog--am I going to quit smoking?  I already have, thanks to Monday, the only question is whether or not I can make it stick.

NYC Day 4, Sunday October 11

Once again, there was a possibility of sleeping in but none actually occurred, at least not for Mom & I.  Mom and Margo and Bookworm were planning a day of walking around the city and trying different nibbles, and I had a brunch date with my friend Abigail, recently returned from Dublin to live and work in NYC.

Abigail was surprised to find me waiting for her and hoped she hadn't gotten the time wrong, but I told her quite honestly that I tend to be early anyway, plus I was so excited to see her that I was ready early.  I bought a subway pass and we took a short ride to Gramercy park and had a swoon-worthy brunch at Friend of a Farmer.  Abigail had pumpkin pancakes, I had Eggs Benedict with corned beef instead of ham, and we both had some complimentary applesauce.  Everything was amazingly good.

After brunch, we stopped at a drugstore so I could buy nail polish (cue chorus of "Of course!") and then went to Strand Books, which is of course a New York landmark.  We talked a bit about independent bookstores which have lost faith in the differences which make them special, which includes both Strand Books and The Book Loft in Columbus.

I was feeling a bit tired and after a phone call to Mom, we agreed to walk only as far as Union Square to meet them.  I will be honest and say that I spent most of the walk complaining that I was fine and that my family was cosseting me, and Abigail was good enough to listen to me vent and to go back to the restaurant when I realized I left my glasses on the table.  She was also worried that she was making me sicker by getting me to come out and walk around in the fresh air!  I told her then and am reiterating now that our brunch and walk could not possibly have made me sick.

Abigail was prepared to spend an afternoon with my family, but by the time we reached them and I made introductions, I discovered that Margo had blisters on her blisters and was ready to go back to the hotel.  Since by then I was coughing, I said I'd go with her, so Abigail headed home, Margo and I headed for the subway, and Mom and Bookworm went walking.  I did finally get a pretzel on the way home, and gave my subway card with a little bit of money left to a young lady who was either coming from or going to a yoga class, and absolutely collapsed on the bed when I got back to the room.

Mom woke me when it was time to get dressed and go to dinner.  By then I was coughing pretty hard and didn't have much appetite.  Still, the four of us had a nice dinner at Cellini, and I was sure that a good night's sleep would make things better.  When we got back to the room, Mom turned on the tv, and we watched the last hour or so of Pitch Perfect.  It amused me no end that the woman who is incredibly squeamish about blood had no problems with the barfing scene, but while I can read horror novels and not think anything of it, I had to close my eyes and put my fingers in my ears!

I was in bed by 9:30, sad that the weekend in NYC was almost over but looking forward to going home.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

NYC Day 3, Saturday October 10

This was, at least theoretically, a day where we all got to sleep in, because we had no firm plans for the morning.  Mom and I, of course, were both awake by 7, and I'm afraid I may have growled at the desk clerk when he told me the coffee shop didn't open until 8.  Nevertheless, I managed to use the time to shower and get dressed so I could get my caffeine.

After Friday's free coffee and pastry for breakfast, Bookworm pointed out that she needed some actual protein in the morning, so she found an "unpretentious diner" for us on a street behind the hotel.  Mom is never ready to eat until mid-morning, so Bookworm, Anabel and I walked over to the diner.  Anabel's fresh-squeezed orange juice was so good that Bookworm and I wound up ordering a glass, and I had an omelet with terrible tomatoes, yummy basil and really really good mozzarella.

After breakfast, the four of us rode the subway up to Museum Mile.  We stopped first at the Neue Galerie, where I had wanted to go to see the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (The Woman in Gold) and the multi-media exhibit on Weimar Berlin.  Unfortunately, it was 10:25 when we got there, and the museum didn't open until 11:00.  My lovely family would have been willing to stand in line with me, but it was chilly enough to be good walking weather and too chilly to stand still for 35 minutes.  Clearly, I'll just have to go back. :-)

The four of us walked over to the Guggenheim, where we took the elevator to the top floor and then walked down.  I was not that impressed with the Burri or Salcedo exhibits, but really enjoyed the Kandinsky.  The last made me think "This is exactly the type of 'degenerate art' Hitler wanted to eradicate."  I admit that I am not educated in art at all, so all of my reactions are emotional rather than reasoned.

We finished at the Guggenheim around 11:30, and then started walking around by Central Park.  The street vendors were out in force, and Bookworm and I both bought prints from one artist.  I loved the gates to the children's garden!

Anabel headed off to meet her nephew for lunch, and I took a cab to my lunch date.  I arrived early, and was having a cigarette outside when I looked at the license plate of the car parked at the curb.  Not only was it an Ohio plate, the plate-holder was from a car-dealer in Elyria, the place where both of my parents grew up!  I had a mad desire to leave a note saying, "Hi stranger!  EHS Class of '58, Woo-Hoo!" but refrained.

I met my Goodreads friend Jonathan at the bar of Cafe Luxembourg, and had to laugh at the thought that just like in a WWII spy movie, he could recognize me because I was carrying a copy of his book.  I really need to get my head out of WWII (and the American Civil War for that matter) and onto some other subjects!  At any rate, Jonathan did sign his book for me, and we had a lovely lunch full of conversation and opinionating and fun.  It might have gone on longer if the bus boy hadn't knocked over a glass of red wine at the table next to us!  I have to admit that I totally forgot that my camera was in my purse and so I didn't get a picture of the two of us.

I took a taxi back to the hotel and rested for a bit before Mom came in and told me it was time to get dressed for the evening.  We had dinner at Sardi's like good tourists, people-watched a bit in Times Square, and then went to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre for Book of Mormon.  Looking around, I thought that it reminded me of the Akron Civic Theatre and wondered if it also started life as a movie theater.  It hadn't, but since the Civic was built four years later, it makes sense that the latter would have been modeled after fancy theaters of the time.

The four of us had a lot of fun with the fact that Anabel's wine came in a sippy cup, and then we settled down to watch the play.

I'm not a theater critic, so I probably won't do it justice, but Book of Mormon is blasphemous, true, shocking, sweet and hilarious all at the same time.  Go see it if you can.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

NYC Day 2, Friday, October 9

Friday was our tourist day, wherein we were scheduled for a 6 hour tour by bus and by boat.  We got up early and stopped at the coffee shop espresso bar in the hotel for our complimentary coffee and pastries and then started walking.  I had a tougher time than I thought I would walking 30 minutes at a smart pace and I was realizing that although my water walking is exercise it is not the best practice for city walking.  A. I don't sweat in the water and B. my body is partially supported.  But with the patience of my family and one stop to rest, I made it and we all got to the tour departure on time.

There was standing in line, and then I spotted a penny stretcher machine, so I paid my 51¢ for one with the Statue of Liberty on it, then it was time to get in the bus and leave.  The "bus" was in fact a pretty nice 14-passenger job, and there was a four-passenger seat across the back that was just right for us as long as two someones were willing to sit with their feet up over the wheels (we took turns).  We had a tour-by-bus of Times Square, then drove along the Hudson to the Riverside Church.

The Riverside Church was intended to be non-denominational, but as I said to Bookworm, I don't imagine it was particularly appealing to old-school Scots Presbyterians of the time what with all the Gothic details and fancy touches like a wood revolving door.  The guide made a point of mentioning the stained-glass windows, and of course Mom and I have been reading about Clara Driscoll of the Tiffany Co., so we wondered if the windows were Tiffany.  Nope, some of them were from a contemporary, Harry Wright Goodhue, and many were 16th century Flemish windows brought over by Rockefeller.

Across the street is Grant's Tomb, and I did not climb the stairs, but stayed outside and watched a woman walk a cinnamon-colored chow-shepherd mix who reminded me of Littlefoot and told my sisters-in-law that it was Julia Grant's insistence on leaving-right-now-thank-you-I'm-sick-of-Washington that saved her husband from dying with the president.

We got back on the bus and resumed the tour, stopping for lunch in (what's left of) Little Italy, where I had some very yummy penne alla vodka followed by a beeeeeg cup of coffee from the place across the street.  Margo grabbed some gifts for her boys and I got a pretty scarf and then we went on to the part of the tour I didn't want to do, the World Trade Center.

The pools are beautiful, the atmosphere is reflective and reverential and the whole thing is too damn raw for me to handle, even after 14 years.

Afterwards we walked to the Winter Garden Atrium (big fancy shopping mall) and then got on a ferry/tour boat with an obnoxious, probably sloshed announcer/guide who inspired my new mantra, "Please just shut up and let me look".  We did see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge.  I am especially proud of my picture of the cables of the bridge after reading the incredible story in The Great Bridge.

Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a six-hour tour actually took seven hours, which meant that none of us had time for a shower before we dressed up for dinner and went to Carnegie Hall.  Dinner at Etcetera Etcetera was lovely, and all kudos to Anabel for making three great reservations for our dinners in NYC.  After dinner we went to Carnegie Hall for a New York Pops concert of Rogers & Hammerstein music.  I wish they hadn't ended with songs from The Sound of Music, because I loathe the whole thing, but the conductor was a blast.  Mom is fairly convinced that Mr. Reineke was trained by Erich Kunzel, because he was up there dancing while conducting.  After that, we headed back to the hotel and I think all of us were asleep pretty quickly.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NYC Day 1, Thursday, October 8

NYC was wonderful.  Mom and I arrived at 8:30 and had coffee and a bagel while we waited for Bookworm Mathgeek and Lady Margo. LaGuardia airport has the cutest fences made of apples!

After waiting for American Airlines personnel to figure out how to open the cargo door on Bookworm's plane, we all had our luggage and grabbed a cab to the hotel.  The Lombardy was quite lovely, and I don't think any of us had any complaints.

After we'd stowed our bags in the one of our rooms that was open, we left the hotel and had lunch at a deli, where I had a mozzarella, tomato and spinach sandwich on the best bread I had on the trip.  It was a dark bread loaded with sesame seeds, and absolutely the star of the sandwich.  Then we walked to the library.  I was tired, having gotten up at 4 that morning and sweaty thanks to the walking, so although I wanted to take the tour, I elected to sit outside and wait for my family.  I felt bad about missing the tour, so I called Mallie and after she cheered me up, I had an enjoyable hour people-watching.  I was especially pleased by the number of people who took advantage of the free art supplies.  When the tour was done, Mom offered to buy me a coffee, and then we looked at the library store.  Mom didn't buy anything, but I got two tote bags and a gorgeous black and white scarf.

After a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up, we tried to get a cab outside our hotel.  When that didn't work, we tried on Park Ave. and when that didn't work, we kept walking until we found a hotel with a helpful doorman and he got us a cab.  After some confusion on the cabdriver's part, we made it to the right street, only to go past the address.  The driver made a (probably illegal) U-turn and dropped us off on the opposite side of the street.  We jay-walked across, and started looking for the address.  When we couldn't find it, Mom called cousin Newsprint.  He told her he could see us, so the four of us started spinning around until he told Mom to look up.  When we did, there he was, in a very large window above a drug store!  It turns out that 110 Whatever Street's door is actually on the side street.

Cousins Newsprint and Newsprintska are both former journalists who now teach at Columbia, and they had quite a selection of nibbles ready for us as well as red wine or an old-fashioned.  I had the red wine but the old-fashioned made me smile because that was my grandfather's drink.  I should mention that Cousin Newsprint is my dad's cousin, and their fathers were brothers.  Clearly, Great Uncle Newsprint loved old-fashioneds as well, and taught his son to make them.  Newsprint and Newsprintska took us to an Italian restaurant three blocks from their condo and we had a wonderful dinner and great conversation.  Afterwards, we took a cab back to the hotel and went to sleep.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Last words

These are my last words before leaving for NYC with my mom and both sisters-in-law:

"Please don't let me die on this trip because the house is full of dog hair!"

Next Monday is a court holiday, so I am taking Thursday and Friday off also, and we're having a girls' weekend out.  We are doing the bus tour of the city, seeing a Pops concert at Carnegie Hall and going to see Book of Mormon.  I have lunch dates with a children's book scholar and an art critic and author, which means I will be out-brained for most of the weekend, and am looking forward to some epic people-watching.

There is not much else going on, so I'll be back with pictures after the trip!