NYC, January 16-18, 2003

I decided that I had to see the Men in Skirts exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before it closed, so I shanghaied Cris into coming with me on a trip to NYC. We decided to take the cheap way there and the spendy way back (Chinatown bus and Delta shuttle, respectively). This turned into a trip of Plan B's...

Fri Jan 16

I dropped by the post office in Kenmore Sq to send off a package, and then took the green line over to Park and walked from there to Chinatown. I finally found the Winter St. tunnel, so I could go over to Downtown Crossing inside, but it was still chilly with a mild wind finding it's way down there to toy with us. I was a bit early for our 5:30 meeting time to wait for the 6pm bus, so I popped up to the Chinatown Eatery, but nothing looked appealing. When I came down to the street again, the line had grown from 2 people to 10, so I decided to just join it. Cris walked up soon after and we spent the next 1.5 hours waiting to be picked up. A bus let people off at 6, but didn't pick anyone up. The line kept growing, we were told that a bus would come at 6:30, then 6:50, but that ours would be here in 5 minutes. Cris picked up some hot and sour soup and we sipped at it in between wrapping our hands around it to stay warm. The mercury had been at 14F in mid afternoon, and it felt closer to 0F while we were waiting. I couldn't feel anything but painful blocks of ice at the ends of my arms and legs by the time 7pm rolled around and a bus pulled up. Then the mob rushed the door.

I hung onto Cris and let him forge our way on, with slight delays as the ticket agent kicked people off who didn't have times on their tickets, or had bought passage with a different company (I felt bad for them, they'd waited 1.5 hours and missed their trip entirely, all for not asking which line they were in). Cris fought his way against the stream to get our packs underneath as they were a bit too fat to fit in the overhead bins, while I guarded his seat against all comers. Then, once we finally started moving, we stopped again, with the engine shut down and lights off, for the driver to track down an alarm sound. He called into headquarters and finally figured out that it was a call button that had been stuck on in one of the overhead consoles. We all started punching at our own buttons, and he finally found it and got it turned off. We were finally on the road, and I promptly fell asleep. I woke up when we had to stop for an accident around New Haven, but the windows were so salt encrusted, we were never quite sure where we were. I woke up for good just as the skyline of NYC hove into view, and jabbed Cris awake so he could see it as well. The Empire State building glowed green, the Chrysler building was shining bluishly, and the bridges were series of white dots spanning the river.

We pulled into our stop at a corner in Chinatown, grabbed our bags from underneath and walked the 5 blocks to our hotel. We'd called ahead to confirm our late arrival (we got there just after 11) so check in was a breeze, and our room was fine, if equipped with a slightly claustrophobia inducing bathroom, but the king sized bed took up most of the main room in a pleasing manner.

We cleaned up after the trip, and headed out to grab some dinner. Cris' sister wasn't able to meet up with us, so we just wanted to get some food, and then maybe hit Contempt. We found a place that was still open a short ways away, The Funky Broome. It was empty but for the staff, and the two tanks of live fish. The food was good, though I shouldn't have sat facing the eels... I have a mild snake phobia that eels poke. I had a sticky rice dish with seafood, served in a piece of bamboo repurposed as a serving dish. Dinner was punctuated by severe pipe banging coming from the front corner, but it stopped on it's own, before the staff could connect with someone to report to. We bundled back up for the walk up to the club, but only got about a block before the cold and our general tiredness had us looking at each other and deciding to just go back to the hotel and sleep.

Sat Jan 17

We got up in time to just catch the last of the hotel brunch (it ended at 11, they closed it up at 10:45, though they did ask us if we wanted anything else before they whisked it away). I stuck with cereal, fruit, tea and a small mound of scrambled eggs, as Cris dove right into the cooked food and dissuaded me from trying the potatoes. We wandered around a bit in Chinatown/SoHo, passing the closed Paul Frank store, the closed Machine, and a closed furniture store that had really neat, simple stools in the window and funky chairs hidden in the gloom. We doubled back toward the subway, repassing the Paul Frank store and it was open this time, so we popped in and I blanched at the price tag on the skull and cross bones flannel pj's. The Scurvy bike was really cute though.

We continued on to the subway and took it up to midtown in order to meet Cris' older sister at Hatsuhana, but it wasn't open for lunch at 1pm when we arrived, we just caught someone locking up the roll down door who told us that they were only open for dinner. So, once our dining companion arrived, we followed her around the corner to Katsuhana, where I braved the pretty much fully deep fried menu and had free range chicken breaded with panko crumbs and fried. It was quite good, much lighter than southern style deep fried chicken. Then it was off to a chocolate shop (in the NBC building, which was odd) where we struggled to get the attention of the baristas long enough to order, get our table cleaned, and then our bill. The rich chocolate-orange cake and wonderful Ceylon tea made up for any hassles though.

Then, finally, it was off to the MET, arriving at around 3:30, braving the long coat check line, and then the numerous detours to find the Bravehearts: Men in Skirts exhibit. We were sidetracked pretty seriously by the Arms and Armor hall (it's huge!) as we're both fans of sharp pointy things, and big heavy metal suits. The Gaultier sponsored exhibit in the basement had some interesting "famous" pieces: the great kilt from Braveheart, Neo's jacket from Matrix III, outfits that Boy George wore in Culture Club, a Kurt Cobain babydoll dress, Bowie's frock coat from the Earthling album cover. They also had some Utilikilts, one paired with New Rocks. :) I could picture Cris in one of the lounging caftans, a soft fleece number with a hood. It was hot and crowded in the rooms that housed the exhibit, and some of the text was over-wrought and hard to see over people's shoulders, but it was well worth seeing, especially since they had historical pieces from all the continents. For modern subcultures, they covered punks, new romantics, skaters and hip hop ... people? What is the collective noun for them anyway? They skipped ravers and goths, but space was tight, I suppose. We stopped by the Gifford landscapes on our way out, as the one large painting visible from the hallway we were taking back to the exit was exquisite. He does wonderful things with light, focusing on valleys and water at sunset and sunrise.

We reclaimed our coats, the line was shorter this time, thankfully, and stopped at the info desk to inquire as to where we could catch a bus across Central Park to the Museum of Natural History (they have a Petra exhibit we wanted to take in, as we'd just recently been immersed in the Indiana Jones box set). The helpful woman gave us directions to the nearby stop, and then checked to see how late they were open, and it closed in 15 minutes or so, at 5:45. Strike that plan. We were to meet Maureen for dinner at 8, so we had some time to kill, and decided to walk up a few blocks to a cook book store that wasn't going to be open on Sunday. It had closed 10 minutes before we arrived. So, we got in touch with Maureen and arranged to meet at 7:30 instead, and began the trek by subway down to Times Square, and across to the line that would take us up to Zen Palate on Broadway. We were only 10 minutes early, so we grabbed a table and waited. A small child screamed on and off during dinner, and a young boy decided to amuse himself by running into the entry way wall (we were seated on the other side of a glass partition from it) and bouncing back to fall on his bottom. We tried hard not to giggle at him, but it was amusing. :) The food was good too, I had the Sunrise Meditation - spinach filled wraps in a tomato sauce, and more filling than I expected. I still managed to save room for dessert, splitting a pear pie in a blueberry sauce with Cris. We managed to get in touch with Janette and were invited out to Queens to watch a movie and chat. We grabbed some pear cider (Woodchuck redeemed itself a little in my eyes) and grabbed a cab out to the sticks. :) She's done a lot with the place, it looks wonderful. We ended up skipping the movie and just chatting until about 1am, when both Cris and I started dozing off - I think the cold (though it had warmed up a lot, it was still hovering around freezing while we were tromping around the city) and all the walking and standing had caught up with us. Janette called us a car and we were whisked back to Chinatown in style, but not before witnessing her all happy and smiling due to a phone call from Mr. Damn Keen. ;)

Sun Jan 18

We actually woke up a bit early and had some time to kill before the planned meeting Joseph and Nora for brunch at 11, since, as per usual with this trip, the restaurant didn't open until 11:30. We ended up just packing (moving some newly discovered tools into my pack in anticipation of checking it in for the plane ride home), checking out, and looking for a cafe to while away a bit of time. The one on the corner across from the hotel looked like it should be filled with cigarette smoke, the tables with one person each, immersed in their newspapers, and the cafeteria style serving counter, wasn't quite what we were looking for. Just down the block, though, we spotted a sign for a tea house and internet cafe. This was one of those sirendipitious finds that makes travel so much fun. They had tiny little cubes of computers on desks made up of polished cross sections of trees, with chairs that looked like they'd been grown at the same time as the tables. We sat at the bar, and the two staff members took good care of us (we were the only patrons), the one mixing me up a very good lychee and green tea drink when he found that he was out of mango for fruit shakes, and the other set us up with a pot of jasmine tea. We'd been given a menu with no English on it, just pictures of tea tins and leaves, but there was one tin that had "jasmine" written across the top, so I latched onto that one and ordered it. We sat and sipped our drinks, and then meandered slowly over to Cendrillon in the wet snow. We got there a tiny bit early, but the doors were open, so we grabbed a booth in sight of the door and applied ourselves to the menu. Joseph and Nora arrived and we put in our orders, with them just having tea. I'd already started on a pot of Dragon Eye tea (very pretty fruit tea, reminiscent of my all time favourite, lychee). Cris's baked chicken tasted really good, but I was quite happy with my black rice and seafood dish. It was good to see the two of them again, though time was short and we had to duck out at around 12:30 to make it up to the airport.

We ended up taking a cab to LaGuardia, my first time at that airport, and it turned out to be almost as cheap as the subway up to Grand Central and then taking the shuttle from there, when you factor in two tickets. Tiny little airport, we checked in at the Delta shuttle counter at just after 1pm, and found that the 1:30 flight we were anticipating taking back to Boston didn't exist, so we grabbed tickets for the 2:30. We sat and read while waiting for our flight to be called, then joined the line as it was forming as there were no assigned seats. Then we waited for push back, and de-icing. Pink then green gunk was sprayed over the fuselage (we'd grabbed the exit row and I had the window seat), and we watched the huge plows running up and down the taxi and runways. We finally made it into the air, and had a very quick flight over to Logan. There was a short wait for my pack, and it came out with the TSA blue zip tie that indicated that it had been inspected by hand, I'm guessing because of the screwdriver (which is why I checked it *sigh*). We took the T to his work and picked up his car for the drive to his house and our regularly scheduled social engagement, arriving 1.5 hours late, at 5:30. We ended up hearing from someone who took 9 hours to make the drive from Long Island to Cape Code, due to a series of accidents in CT, so it ended up totally being worth the extra cost and small bit of extra waiting time to take the plane. The guys had amused themselves and we ended up diving into the game, ordering food, and playing until 10:30. By that time, we were both wiped out, and Cris had an 8am meeting the next morning, so we passed on the gathering being held in honour of some people not having to work the next day. I officially had it off, but planned to meet Cris for lunch and then go in for a few hours to catch up.


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