Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dahling, I love you but give me Park Avenue

New York?  Yes, I went.  It was a Sunday to Sunday trip, and even though we covered a lot of ground, we only saw a hint of the city.  I’ve wanted to write about it all, but I just haven’t been feeling it.  Ever since I returned I feel like I’ve been living in slow motion.  The first couple of days back I was so tired I was, literally, in a dream state.  Most days in New York didn’t end until 1:00 a.m. or later, and started again around 7:00 a.m.  We left New York on a Sunday night and I didn’t walk into the door of my house until 3:00 a.m. Monday morning.  My sleep for the next few days was full of dreams going at full speed, just like the city.  Then, when I would awake my mind would take a few minutes to register that I was back home and in slow motion.  I wouldn’t call it jet lag.  More like city lag.

There are a few things about the trip that stand out among all others.  Such as:

Ellis Island – My grandfather came to the United States as an immigrant processed through Ellis Island.  As I walked the halls and rooms I tried to imagine what he saw and felt when he was there.  I looked out of the windows of the building to see through his eyes.  I scoured the pictures and graffiti for a trace of him.  It was a very meaningful experience for me. 

Broadway – Our hotel was on Broadway, but it was the shows, not the street, that stick in my brain.  All total we saw four shows: Cirque du Soleil, Zarkana, The Best Man, Once, and Wicked.  My niece, the Metropolitan-chic one, also saw Newsies.  Cirque was bizarre, but entertaining.  The Best Man was well acted and starred James Earl Jones, ‘nuff said.  Wicked will always be one of my favorites, even though my sisters dozed through the first act.  But Once was the one that stays with me.  From a purely technical standpoint the production was amazing.  Add immense talent, a funny, yet bittersweet storyline, and music that will raise chill bumps and the hair on the back of your neck and you have the recipe for a deserved standing ovation.  Not one of those “ok, I’ll stand because everyone else is,” ovations, but a jump out of your seat because you were so overcome with emotion ovation.

Architecture – I have always been a fan of the art deco style.  Maybe it’s because I was raised on old movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s.  Seeing and touching the real thing was like coming home to me. The way the buildings layer upon each other is art.  The escalators in Macy’s were wooden, for mercy’s sake.  If there had been more time I would have wandered the streets aimlessly, looking up.  Heaven.

Confidence – I had great parents, but one thing they forgot to teach me was confidence.  They were my safety net, so there was no reason to explore too far because I knew they were always there to catch me.  I left their home and went straight into marriage.  Now my husband is my safety net.  So anytime I have to be entirely on my own and have to rely on my own wits can be very scary.  Leaving my travel party and walking out into the streets of a huge city and then finding my way back to where I started was like a shot in the arm of liquid confidence.  Addictive confidence.  By the time I left New York I felt I could find my way anywhere I wanted to go as long as I had an address.  I never felt afraid.  On the contrary, I felt empowered.

There is so much more I could write about, but I’ll save it for later.  For now I’ll close by thanking my sisters and my nieces for the opportunity and the wonderful time.  And I want to thank God for keeping us safe and giving me the energy to keep on going even when I thought my feet were going to fall off my ankles.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Start spreading the news...

The time has finally come to head north.  Tomorrow I will be on my way to New York City for the third time in my life.  My first two trips I was a child in an adult world, but this time around I get to be the adult and make my own choices.  Well, most of them anyway.  My younger companions have some ideas of their own.

My first NYC tour was c. 1972, I think.  It was only a pass through on our way to visit my Italian aunt in Rhode Island.  I remember a green station wagon filled beyond capacity with my mother, sisters, brother or two, and cousin or two.  I also remember something about chiropractic treatments being performed in the car.  A chiropractic treatment was something my daddy made up that didn’t have anything to do with spinal adjustment but all to do with gas.  Maybe my brothers will expand on that in the comments section.  The only landmark I recall was the Statue of Liberty from all angles because my mother was lost and driving in circles.  I’ve heard my oldest sister was terrified of the city so we were not allowed to stop and get out of the car.

Two years later my mother, her best friend, and her sister, Rita set out on another trip to see the Italian aunt, and my brother and I were swept along.  This time NYC was not just a pass through.  My hazy memory recalls going to Radio City Music Hall to see a show, Good Night Irene, and a movie called The Tamarind Seed.  My mother and the adults enjoyed this, but I provided my own entertainment by sleeping through it all.  We also went to a game show taping, and an up close viewing of the Statue of Liberty.  I can’t believe my mother actually got on a boat.  She would not allow me to go inside the statue, nor would she allow me to go to the top of the Empire State Building, but I think we did get to go up a little ways.  Even with the limitations I am grateful for having had the experience with my mother.

This time around my travel companions will include my two sisters, the pesky one and the middle child, and two of my nieces.  I don’t have special names for them, but give me a week sharing a hotel room with them and I’ll come up with something.

Other than the annual Cousin Reunion and the Sunburn Tour of Florida c. 1981 I haven’t been on vacation with my both my sisters since that first pass through in ’72.  This trip will be on a Blue plane with assigned seating, not a green station wagon filled beyond capacity.  Our Broadway plans include Once and Wicked (mmm, Wicked).  I will be making a return trip to Radio City Music Hall, but this time Cirque du Soleil Zarkana will be providing the entertainment, not Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif.  I think I can manage to stay awake.

Ellis Island and the 9/11 Memorial are also on my agenda, but that is it.  I am not planning the rest of my time.  I’ll leave that to the two nieces who have their own agendas and tag along.  Knowing them as I do, I feel certain there will be much shopping and many cupcakes in my near future.  I just hope I don’t embarrass them with my fanny pack, camera around my neck, and socks and sandals.  I love you, girls!

Good times ahead.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stepping out of my comfort zone

When it comes to controversy I am prone to take the back seat, or better yet, hide under the back seat.  I am not good at debating anything, hence the reason I somehow made it through high school and college without taking a single public speaking class.  You do your thing, I’ll do mine.  Agree to disagree, I say.

So it is completely against my character that I am stating my opinion on the whole controversy surrounding Chic-Fil-A.  First, I read the article that started the whole thing.  I was expecting it to quote Dan Cathy saying hate-ridden slogans slamming the gay community.  That is the way it has all been hyped anyway.  This is exactly as it is written on, the site where the article was posted.  Form your own opinion.

Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.

"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that………

"We intend to stay the course," he said. "We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."

And here, as they say, is the rub.  Rubbed like a cat that has been petted from tail to head:  “…thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles." 

Sorry, Dan.  Maybe our country used to be a place where we could freely express ourselves and live according to our religious beliefs, but those freedoms are slipping from us.   Because no matter what your opinion is or is not on the definition of marriage or family, the issue at hand hasn’t anything to do with these things.  This isn’t about the definition of marriage.  This isn’t about gay rights.  It is, however, completely about the First Amendment. 

Am I the only one who sees this? 

Dan Cathy, Elizabeth Shoemake, and (insert name here) have a constitutional right of free speech and to practice their religion.  We can give money to any organization we choose, regardless of the morality of the cause.  By the same token (insert name here) has a right to disagree with my speech I freely speak, or the church I attend, or the organizations I support.  Gay rights groups have the right to publicly show their affection outside of a Chic-Fil-A store.  Those of the opposite view have the right to spend their money at the same Chic-Fil-A store to show solidarity.  These freedoms are what make our country unique.  More than half of the world’s population does not have these same freedoms.  And we wonder why people will hide in car trunks and cargo bays just for the opportunity to live on U.S. soil.

If you disagree with Dan Cathy eat a burger.  If you agree with Dan Cathy then eat more chicken.  The fact that the mayors of Boston and Chicago are trying to block Chic-Fil-A from building in their cities because of the belief system of the corporation is wrong.  There is no right about it. Pun intended. 

Oh, and I’ve never received a letter or a phone call from Congress asking me if I agreed with the money they give (from my taxes) to foreign countries to support causes I oppose.

Am I the only one who sees this?