Friday, May 27, 2011

Noo Yawk Sitty

So last week Mom and I journeyed to New York so we could be present for my sister Julie's graduation from Columbia.

Proof we were there.

Best Producer award from the Columbia Film Festival! Go Julie.

Actually, my sister has worked like a dog producing films her whole time at graduate school. I can't think of anyone who is more deserving of the award than she is. So there.

Other trip highlights:

Based on his interminable address at Julie's commencement, Tony Kushner is deathly afraid of the Delete key. He also seems to enjoy the luxury of hearing himself talk without having to worry about anyone else getting a word in edgewise. Phil Spector's Wall of Sound had nothing on this guy. Just one woman's opinion.

I am proud to say that I successfully pushed Mom in a wheelchair over a sizable swath of Manhattan. (Go me.) It turns out that wheelchair ferrying gives one a nice little workout. I lost 4 pounds despite eating lavishly on this trip. Said lavish eating included an obligatory Pinkberry stop (ah sweet Pinkberry, an ode to thee and thy scrummy pomegranatey deliciousness! *strum strum*), a French bistro in which your humble writer tasted her first escargot (actually, not half bad), and a stereotypical Italian restaurant wherein we were apparently served by Guido, the lost Marx Brother. He had a huge wiry black mustache, wandered around the restaurant singing little snatches of Italian folk songs and called the other waiters "fratello mio." And the food was pretty good too, so bonus!

On Julie's advice, Mom and I went to see a musical called The People in the Picture, playing at the former Studio 54. As Mom was in the chair, they gave her a special discount which they also offered to me. We had seats so close to the stage we were in danger of the actors falling into our laps. The show itself was very good -- some uneven musical numbers here and there, but worth seeing overall. And Donna Murphy was simply amazing in the lead.

We have learned from sad experience that if you're going to visit New York on the weekend of Columbia's commencement, you'd best book your hotel room six years in advance. Other than a handful of rathole fleabag establishments, there didn't appear to be a hotel room available for love or money anywhere in Manhattan. We ended up staying in a very nice hotel in Astoria, Queens, which meant we spent a small fortune on car fares -- yes, the subway would have been another option if Mom weren't in the aforementioned chair. The MTA is a great system, but it really wasn't built with full ADA compliance in mind.

Also, I cannot hail a cab to save my life. One time we'd actually managed to flag one down and put Mom's chair in the back and everything, but when we told the driver we were going to Queens he apologetically refused to take us.

The Met is not all that intuitive to negotiate in a wheelchair. Also, if one were required to take a driving test to push a wheelchair, I would never pass. I kept accidentally barking other people's shins and bumping into things with Mom's chair. (You'd think I would try to use the chair as a battering ram to force cabs to stop for us, but it's a better idea in theory than in practice. Trust me.)

I've discovered why Mom has this magical ability to get strangers to tell her their life stories. It's not just that she has a sympathetic face. She draws them out by asking them questions about themselves. In almost every cab or hired car ride we took, she asked the driver where he was from, how long he'd been in America, whether he missed family back home, etc., etc. We had some interesting conversations with multiple drivers this way. The nicest was with a former Belarusian by the name of Sergey, a really sweet man who seemed to enjoy the chat, because he turned the meter off before we got to our final destination.

What am I missing from this trip? Mom, any thoughts?

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