Monday, December 8, 2008
Hi! BACK IN THE CITY Back from Christmas in the City. Saturday, Dec. 6th, I decided to take the bus to NYC, a day trip through a local college. Decided to save my own $$ to budget for my own trip. And thus will have to make "sacrifices" the rest of the month! Knew it was a trip I had to take, not so much to see if I still "loved" New York, but if it likes me. It has been almost two years since my last bus trip to Manhattan in April 2006 when I was very sick and the Diabetes Type II gene hadn't yet been discovered. Needless, to say, it didn't go well, but no one understood the reason yet. On the bus on the way to NYC, I felt very anxious and depressed, wondering if I forgot to take my Zoloft. But indeed, I had taken it, as I learned when I got home and saw the empty "Saturday" slot on my pill box. THE MET It didn't feel like "home," like it did when I would first arrive in the City on my twice yearly pilgrimmages. Cold at Christmas time. Felt good to get a hot dog and a soda at the stand and ascend the steps to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Toured the Italian renaissance exhibit featuring love and marriage. A pictorial parody of love, betrothal, marriage and family. In one such painting, Cupid is blindfolded, revealing the message of two lovers in a verdant pasture that "love is blind." In another series of scenes emblazoned on bowls and dishes, a woman scorned is either aiming a bow and arrow toward her lover or wielding a knife "to cut his heart out," portraying that "love is cruel," "unrequited love," that is. The "Betrothal" is the practical view of marriage as a "transfer of property," the "dowry" as the money, property, and possessions a woman takes to her marriage. Two mischievous children are pictured, among grapes and other fruit, featuring the word "fecundity" in the description. And my personal favorite, the story of Psyche and Cupid. A large painting depiciting a series of events in a young woman's life: Her being "seduced" by beauty, falling in love, the envy of those around her, being "stoned" by the neighbors, the pain of rejection, and finally being able to meet and be with the one she loves, "Cupid!!" There is one painting of "unattainable love," that being a man who pursues a woman he cannot have, until she turns into a laurel tree. Which I found to be rather disturbing. Eerie that a woman pointed it out to me as one of the more famous paintings in the world. After which I felt quite drained physically and emotionally (later to be agreed upon by a young student who I met on the bus back home, "Julia.") THE ANGEL TREE Found the cafeteria after seeing the Angel Tree for the first time! Very tall and stately, the Angel Tree inspires quiet awe. Featuring many antique angels in elaborate costume all over the tree among simple elegant white candles. At the base lies an agrarian scene, farm animals, shepherds. And lovely other worldly music. A gentleman sitting across from me at a nearby table kept giving me a funny look (must be from Connecticut :) ), not sure why, but I just smiled, as I am used to getting "funny looks." (Upon telling another new friend on the bus back home, she said, "You attract a lot of attention!!") UPPER EAST SIDE And so feeling drained and hot from being indoors too long, I headed out for the city streets. Where I had left a bottle of soda and a bottle of water, and it was still there! The museum entrance is similar to airport security now. The security guards wouldn't allow soda or bottled water inside the museum and directed the crowds to "step this way." Walked down the familiar city streets of the Upper East Side, quiet and sophisticated, the way I like it. Ducked into a Turkish restaurant (that I read about in "New York" magazine) which would do for lunch and dinner as that would be cheaper. The food was very good, the atmosphere quiet. "Uskudar" on Second and 73rd / 74th. Cucumber and tomato salad, Sauteed chicken with rice and tomatoes, coffee and dessert for Prix Fixe which I thought would be the most economical (and had a late, great supper back home!) And shredded wheat with syrup for dessert!! MIDTOWN After which I headed out once again, this time to the cruel, wind swept, siren strewn, hustler heavy streets of Midtown Manhattan, which always causes me to say: I'M NEVER COMING BACK, NEVER AGAIN!! Echoes of a dark, dirty discordant blackness filled the air. But I always do. I did end up in my old neighborhood, Sixth Avenue, between 48th and 49th, where I used to work at McGraw-Hill. By then, I was ready to go home, but the bus wasn't due back until 8:00 PM! I felt overwhelmed by the tourists, the hustlers, the horns, the sirens, the skyscrapers which lined the streets, which all looked the same. I sat down, several times, fearing I would pass out due to Chronic Fatigue and the walking I am unaccustomed to doing. Had no trouble pushing my way through the crowds and dodging the hustlers, though. I actually did really well here for a while and I can see why now: I have no patience. I am a New Yorker. Things don't move fast enough for me back home. However, on the bus back home, I glimpsed a large Christmas tree, lighted, on a small town green, among other lighted pine trees. I found it a far prettier sight even than the elaborate displays in Manhattan and even, indeed, the tree at Rockefeller Center. SPEAKEASY At the end of the trip, I was glad to find a very good bar and restaurant, "Bill's Gay Nineties Cafe" on Madison Avenue, not far from the IBM Building Atrium where the bus would pick us up and bring us all home (if we were on time, that is!) The cafe was decorated with the original 1920s Christmas decor, lighted pine tree branches, Mark the waiter informed me. The old world feel, the deep mahogany, and benevolent "spirits" filled the atmosphere with holiday warmth. The steep, narrow carpeted stairway resembled the Harborside Inn, where I stayed on Block Island last summer. "Art deco?" I asked. "For design," Mark corrected. I just wanted to sit down and relax with one glass of white wine to soothe my frazzled nerves. Two young men who I spoke to in the adjacent hotel recommended it. They said that the I came back to the reason I left Manhattan, the part that I hate: Midtown at Christmastime!! Now I am back home in Connecticut among the pine trees and unafraid to push my way past the barracudas where I live.