Skip to main content

I did warn you about this.

I said a few weeks, when going through the summer schedule, that I might well be taking this week off for various and sundry reasons that ranged from a Kaiju attack upon my city of residence and my ultra-luxurious home base to a trip to New York.  I am pleased to report that there have been no Kaiju, RUSHBO, marshmallow peep, or GIANT TURKEY PUPPET O'DOOM assaults upon the Last Homely Shack or vicinity, which should have everyone dancing 'round the Solstice fire/cultural-religious equivalent.  I am even more pleased to report that I am currently en route to Penn Station in Manhattan, as it's my birthday on Monday and I have decided to take a few days to visit the museums, buy stuff I really can't afford, and visit Beata's sister Bella, not necessarily in that order.

(note for the curious:  yes, I am taking Beata with me.  She's currently sacked out in the ultra-luxurious Amtrak seat next to me.  So it's not like I'm trying, y'know, to co-opt her sister or somesuch.  I'm nice like that)

That aside, I would not leave you, my faithful and deranged readers comfortless, so lo! there is indeed a little July Rewind below the Class .05 Kaiju....

I originally wrote this in May of 2013, when I suddenly was called down to New York for an audition for Jeopardy!  I haven't gotten a call back so clearly am not going to be appearing this season (although I'm going to try out again in January), but that was a true Golden Weekend, with friends and food and so much wonder.  

Thus is it that tonight I bring you "A Trip So Good It Was Amazing," aka "Ellid's Trip to New York."  I'm sure I'll have stories about this weekend's trip next week, so hang by your thumbs, write if you get work, and keep watching the stars.


I owe you all an apology.

Back several months ago, I promised a diary entitled "Raptured by Gil Thorpe" for this Saturday.  It was going to be a fine evisceration of a best-selling series by a talentless hack whose day job involves writing a comic strip, and as late as two weeks ago I thought I'd have no problems writing and queuing it up.  

And then the life happened, and the diary...well, it didn't.  So in lieu of Gil Thorpe, this morning you get a love letter to the Queen of Cities, a place of crime and wonders, beauty and poverty, the source of so much culture and so much greed.  

This morning, my friends, I bring you not a book, or two, or even three.  I bring you my weekend in New York.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I tried out for Jeopardy on-line a couple of months ago, and after basically forgetting all about it, I received an e-mail asking me to come to New York this past weekend for an in-person audition.  After I got over my initial shock (and confirmed that no, this was not the latest attempt by a Nigerian named Chukwu Mbumbe to mulct me of my hard-earned millions thousands hundreds of dollars if I would only give him my bank account and Social Security numbers so he could use my accounts to spirit his trillions out of the countr/y, I clicked "yes, I will attend" and made plans to go to New York.

The only problem:  I would be traveling to New York over a holiday weekend, on fairly short notice.  

As I'm sure most of you have guessed, this meant that the hotel prices were, to put it mildly, well outside my budget unless I wished to stay at the luxurious Le Poisson du Garbage Youth Hostel and Laundromat (conveniently located behind the Polish/Thai fusion Roach-A-Rama ice cream stand in the Bowery).   Either that or I'd have to get up around 5:00 am, take Amtrak into the city, audition while either barely conscious or completely hopped up on No-Doz chased down by Red Bull, and then turn around and go right home.  

I mentioned this sad state of affairs to my BFF, Beata.  She in turn mentioned it to her sister, Bella, who lives in Murray Hill.  Bella, God bless her, offered us both crash space for Friday and Saturday nights.

And so I took the afternoon off from work, met Beata at her home, and together we boarded a Peter Pan bus named "Tink's Wink" or something equally ridiculous, and we set off for New York.  The bus was crowded, our seats were small, and thanks to an incompetent desk agent at the Peter Pan terminal in Springfield, we were the last ones on the bus and only were able to sit together thanks to the kindness of a woman who shifted seats at the last minute.  

Despite this, and the gloom of a rainy dusk, the trip down went fairly smoothly.  We bypassed the hell of Hartford's rush hour thanks to being in the carpool lane, and made excellent time to New York itself.  It wasn't until we were actually in Manhattan, around West 60th, that traffic got bad enough to delay us, and I swear I could have walked faster than the Tink's Wink traveled the couple of blocks covering Lincoln Center.  

Thanks to that, we were somewhat late in arriving at the Port Authority.  We were also somewhat later than expected in arriving at Bella's apartment, although this may be partially due to Beata kindly swinging by the Chrysler Building so I could go into full Tourist Mode as I stared up, and up, and up, at its icy white spire stabbing up into the rainy night.  The security guards yelled at us for trying to see the gorgeous Art Deco murals of the lobby, but even a glimpse was enough that I was practically swooning on the sidewalk.  

I think my reaction made her smile.

It was only a few blocks from the Chrysler Building to Bella's apartment, and after a quick stop at a bodega to buy our hostess some flowers, we arrived in good order.  Soon an ultra-thin crust pizza had arrived from a local restaurant, and we were sitting up talking and laughing while the sisters baked a coffee cake for breakfast and I watched that night's episode of Jeopardy on DVR.  I also spent more time than was strictly necessary gazing out the window at the view from Bella's window, but can you blame me?

The next morning I got up early (earlier than I should have, but somehow I didn't sleep all that well - funny, that), helped Bella rouse Beata so she could meet their parents at Roosevelt Field for a day of shopping and catching up, and got ready for the audition.  Bella walked me to the subway (right past the Empire State Building, which I hadn't realized had such an enormous footprint, or such gorgeous detailing on the lower floors), made sure I took the right line to get to my audition, and sent me on my way.

I had no problem finding the hotel where the interview took place, and soon enough I was one of about 21 people (several of them military personnel) trying out for one of the slots on the upcoming season of Jeopardy.  It turns out that 100,000 people took the on-line test and only 2,500 were asked to come in for an actual face to face audition, so I was reasonably psyched about that.  They'll choose 400 of us for an actual appearance, so that may or may not happen, but I still had a lot of fun, especially the taped interview where they make sure you have the personality to go on TV without imitating a shocked and very unhappy coelacanth.  They gave us a Jeopardy! logo pen and a set of very nice earbuds for our swag, and we all wished each other luck and were out the door by 2:00 pm.

After that I tromped over to the Museum of Natural History, where I had a hot dog from a Sabrett's cart and met up with my college roommate Shosanna.  Shosh, whom I hadn't seen in far too long, was my co-conspirator when it came to founding SSFFS, and we had a fine time at the Museum as we went from dioramas to astronomical displays, the butterfly conservatory to the minerals display, and plenty in between.  Our favorite parts were probably the butterfly conservatory, where she managed to get a picture of an Atlas moth (yes, they really are that big) and the minerals section (which has moon rocks and meteorites, but alas has yet to acquire samples of kryptonite, adamantium, or vibranium).

After that we went back to Bella's apartment, went out for Chinese, and then feasted on a chocolate mousse cake Shosh picked up at the Zaro's in Penn Station for dessert.  She had to leave for home in New Jersey fairly soon after that, alas, and I sort of faded out by 11:20 (excitement and very, very sore feet will do that), but it had been a wonderful day.

The next morning I woke on my own at 7:00 to a sky the deep, shimmering blue that only comes in spring and fall, and air that smelled sweet and fresh. The Empire State Building all but glowed in the early sun, and I smiled to myself as I puttered about and made tea.  Bella got up soon after and we talked, then finally roused Beata so we could spend some time at a street fair on Lexington.  We did just that, walking uptown while the Chrysler Building glittered in the sun, and as I marveled at just how many places sold Indian scarves and skirts and t-shirts of New York and fizzy water and burritos and shish kebab and superhero t-shirts and calendars and jewelry and souvenirs of New York and "silk socks" and incense and Indian food and Spanish food and Italian sausage and t-shirts and Indian skirts and sunglasses and shea butter hand cream...

It was just an instant, a momentary glimpse, but there it was:  a woman, dusky skinned, in a hijab that covered everything but her face and a robe that skimmed her ankles, waiting at a police barrier to cross the street.  Next to her were two young Asians, possibly Chinese or Vietnamese, in Western edgy/artistic/Bohemian black, arms wrapped about each other as they waited for the cabs to rocket past.  A few feet to one side was a  Middle Eastern food place promising shish kebabs and gyros, right beside a t-shirt booth and a sunglass stand.  Behind the woman in hijab was an E-Z Up selling allegedly silk stockings that were nothing more than nylon knee-highs, and beyond that was a Spanish food booth hawking burritos and churros, between a booth selling Marvel and DC t-shirts and one selling calendars even though it's far enough into 2013 that anyone who wanted a calendar already has one.  Beyond that, stretching for blocks, were men and women of all colors, all ethnicities, all sexualities, tall and short, thin and fat, brown and pinky-tan and black, Muslim and Christian and Jewish and Hindu and Buddhist, some rich, some poor, some walking dogs, some with lovers or friends, some alone, all out for a good time on a beautiful day in a city that never sleeps.

It was America, my friends.  America as she should be, "we the people" as they truly are.  It was the reality of our country, all there in the shadow of a skyscraper built during dark times that stands defiant and gorgeous in the summer sun.  

More than that, it was New York.  And I was lucky enough to be there with two dear friends to see it.

Oh, there was more - a great little Indian place on Lexington where we had a great lunch and saw the most amazing sink...Grand Central Station standing defiantly under the looming glass and stone of the MetLife Building...the silky smooth bus ride home past the newly renovated pavilions at Harlem Hospital, complete with the exterior tiles of the Charles Alston WPA murals inside...being met by Beata's husband and telling him all about it, and then coming home so I could tell Roomie after the Triple Felinoid group-greeted many wonders, so many good things to see!  But of everything I said and did this weekend, the sight of that woman, and that couple, and that ordinary, extraordinary street fair -

I saw something that confirmed, more than anything else, why I love New York, and why I love my country, and why I still think that despite everything, this great, glorious, conflicted, too religious, too secular, too commercial, too idealistic, too beautiful and hideous and bigoted and progressive and exploitative and forward thinking mess of a country is worth fighting for.

I went to New York to audition for a game show, and I saw what my country is, and what she should be.  Who could ask for more?


How are you spending this weekend?  Are you reading a book?  Visiting friends?  Fighting off Kaiju?  Recovering from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy (highly recommended, especially if you like laughing until you're hoarse)?  I'm in Manhattan as you read this, but don't be shy....


Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule:

DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
SUN 6:00 PM Young Reader's Pavilion The Book Bear
Sun (occasional) 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
MON 1:00 PM Grokking Republicans Mokurai
Mon 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery michelewln, Susan from 29
TUE - alternate weeks 8:00 AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
Tue - alternate weeks 8:00 AM All Things Bookstore Dave in Northridge
Tue 5:00 PM Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left Kit RMP, bigjacbigjacbigjac
Tue 8:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
Wed 2:00 PM e-books Susan from 29
Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
Thu (first each month) 11:00 AM Monthly Bookpost AdmiralNaismith
FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
alternate Fridays 8:00 PM Books Go Boom! Brecht
SAT 12:00 PM You Can't Read That! Paul's Book Reviews pwoodford
Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site