My flight to NYC was uneventful and when you travel by plane, "uneventful" means very good. I arrived last Friday afternoon and promptly checked into the Super 8 Motel in Long Island City. Once I checked in and unpacked, I met Derek Logue, author of Once Fallen, in the small motel lobby. From there, we walked ten blocks to the Broadway Subway station and I had my very first subway experience. It wasn't as scary or as crowded as I expected. Several minutes later, we arrived at our destination and entered an elevator and popped right up onto a crowded and busy street in Manhattan. Immediately, I was overcome with sensory overload, the sounds, the smells and the sights. We made our way southward and managed to obtain two free passes into the 9/11 Memorial, which was top on my list of places to see. As we looked at the beautiful fountains of the monument and the negative space of where the twin towers once stood, I couldn't help but get choked up while thinking of all that was lost on that unforgettable day.
After visiting the memorial, we hurriedly headed north to make our dinner engagement with Ken Kish, Paula Gloria and her husband, Joe Barton. On the way, we found ourselves in Chinatown, attempting and failing miserably at hailing a cab. Finally, we found a subway station and after getting on the wrong subway train first, finally made it to our destination, some twenty minutes late.
The restaurant was full and loud, but we found our group and joined them at the table. Menus were passed around and as I looked over the choices, I noticed many words on the menu were either in English or French. I ordered the "Sausages Du Jour", which was described as "chicken sausages with mashed potatoes and haricot verts". Derek ordered something different that also came with haricot verts. Even though the place was quite loud, I overheard Derek asking the waitress what haricot verts were and I listened as she very eloquently described, "They are a slender green vegetable." Thinking it must be something unusual and exotic, I was looking forward to experiencing something new.
When our dishes were served, I saw the chicken sausages, the mashed potatoes and I recognized the slender green vegetables immediately. I looked over at Derek and said, "Oh! They're green beans!" We both chuckled, finding it very amusing how the waitress described them as a slender green vegetable when all she needed to say was "green beans."
After dinner, we walked around Manhattan a bit and enjoyed visiting with Ken. We talked about the upcoming show and marvelled at the things we saw in the city. Finally, Derek and I hopped into a cab and made our way back to the Super 8.
In the morning, Derek and I met for the continental breakfast in the tiny lobby and donning my suit and tennis shoes, we walked around Central Park. The park was very pretty, lots of flowers all in bloom, especially tulips. We saw hundreds of people either jogging, walking, riding bikes, pedi-cabs or horse-drawn carriages. We saw numerous musicians and artists throughout the park, and even saw a homeless person or two.
Eventually, we found our way to a hotdog vendor and found the studio where the Paula Gloria show was going to be recorded. I changed from my tennis shoes into my dress shoes, and Paula introduced us to two other show hosts, Joe Friendly, of Truth for a Change and Harold Channer of Conversations with Harold. Initially, it was planned we would have the studio for four hours with Paula, but these other two hosts asked if we could be guests on their shows as well, and so we actually wound up doing three shows instead of one.
I was seated between Derek and Ken and I knew that it was likely they would dominate the conversation, but I managed to get a few good points in here and there. I was comfortable and relaxed and it was incredibly refreshing to be treated with respect, compassion and understanding, by all three hosts.
After the shows, we had dinner together with Ken, Paula and her husband, at an Indian restaurant and after dinner, Derek and I took the subway to Times Square. Once again, we emerged from the station right into the heart of Times Square. It is such a shock to the senses to suddenly and drastically be immersed into something so overwhelming without being able to "see it coming". The visual element was overwhelming between the constant gigantic video screens with their high density and fast paced imagery. Everywhere I looked, there was something to see and there were more people there than anywhere else in the city. It was intensely energizing and amazing.
At one point, we found ourselves visiting the over-sized gigantic Hershey's store where I found an equally over-sized package of Reeses' Peanut Butter cups, a full pound each. They were huge, maybe 5" across by 2" thick. I just HAD to get them for my husband and young daughter, Maddie, both huge Reeses' fans.
We eventually made it to Rockeller Center and enjoyed watching the ice skaters on the outdoor rink and seeing the trees all lit up in tiny blue twinkling lights. I found an ice cream man selling ice cream out of an ice cream truck and bought myself a delicious vanilla cone. Exhausted, we finally made our way back to the subway and arrived back at the Broadway station and from there walked the ten blocks back to the motel.
All in all, I'd estimate that I walked a good 18 miles on both Friday and Saturday, walking pretty much non-stop for at least six hours both days. That was more walking that I'd ever done in such a short time. Thank God I brought along my tennis shoes!
Sunday morning, I again met Derek for breakfast before taking a cab back to the airport. I had packed light but with several souvenirs crammed into my carry-on bag, I wasn't worried about being able to bring anything on the plane. When I left Little Rock, I had packed six bottles of SlimFast in my bag which airport security had quickly confiscated and thrown in the trash. Leaving NYC, I made sure nothing in my bag was liquid and proceeded confidently through security. After I went through the body scanner, I waited on the other side for my bag to come through on the conveyor belt. When nothing came through the x-ray machine, I looked up and noticed two young women studying the x-ray machine monitor as one was tracing her fingers around two large round objects on the monitor, saying to the other woman, "I think those are those large Reeses' peanut butter cups!"
I laughed and told them that's what they were, impressed that they could tell from an x-ray! One of them said they had to open the bag anyway to check. When she found the Reeses' she clutched the package to her chest and laughingly told me I couldn't take them on the plane, but I knew she was joking and as she put them back, I said, "I bet you see a lot of those." and she said, "We see a LOT of crazy and unusual things, things I can't even tell you about!" As I walked away, I tried to imagine some of things they might have seen and chuckled.
I arrived safe and sound in Little Rock, found my vehicle in the parking lot and stopped by to visit my daughter, Charlotte, at her apartment, before driving the last leg of the trip home, which was another two hours. I used most of that time "attending" a SOSEN staff meeting via my cell phone.
It was great to get home. My family was eagerly waiting for me, and I arrived to find signs on both the front door and my computer welcoming me home. As much fun as it was to visit New York City, the best part was coming home to my loving family.
The Paula Gloria, Joe Friendly and Harold Channer shows will be broadcast beginning tomorrow and Monday on Manhattan Neighborhood Network's public access television all over NYC, to some 600,000 homes and the shows will be posted on YouTube. To see when the shows will be broadcast, check the schedule on http://www.mnn.org/.
For now, we have a sneak preview ready for you, click on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLZk5TXYFI4#
As the shows become available on YouTube, I'll be posting links to those as well.