Monday, August 25, 2014

I Heart New York

I spent last week in New York City. I loved every minute of it, even though I accidentally got knocked over by naked people wearing body paint in Times Square, had to pay the price of three hot dogs for ONE hot dog, and may or may not have ended up in Coney Island when I was trying to go to the Upper East Side.

I spent four nights there, and I did and saw as many things as I could. The highlight of the week was watching Julia Stiles and James Wirt perform in the excellent off-Broadway play Phoenix. Along with other fans, I waited by the stage door after the show and got their autographs. I kicked myself for being too shy to ask to get my picture taken with Julia, whose work I've admired for fifteen years, ever since I saw her in 10 Things I Hate about You. But I watched her perform live and I got her autograph, so two out of three isn't bad. (She was very nice and gracious to everyone, and gave an autograph to everyone who asked, even the people with several DVDs.)

I spent more than two hours walking around Central Park, though that was partly because it took me more than an hour to figure out how to get OUT of Central Park.

I ate a peanut butter sundae at Serendipity Cafe and didn't feel too guilty eating it, seeing as how I spent hours every day walking around, muttering, "Where AM I?"

I took pictures from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.

I bought a black Dean & DeLuca T-shirt and felt just like Felicity from the TV show, minus the beautiful hair and cute boyfriends.

I ate lasagna and gelato in Little Italy and beef chow fun in Chinatown. My hotel was in Chinatown, and in the morning I'd buy a fruit smoothie, go to the park nearby, and watch people do Tai Chi.

I watched people playing chess in Washington Square Park and thought of that scene in When Harry Met Sally where they said goodbye by the Washington arch.

I visited the New York Public Library and the bookstores the Strand, Shakespeare & Co., and Housing Works, and I bought a couple books.

I wrote in a cafe in Greenwich Village (which was my favorite neighborhood), and I window shopped in Soho and on Fifth Avenue.

I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was much bigger than my favorite museum in Chicago, the Art Institute.

I got up early every morning and only came back to my hotel room to shower and sleep. I spent all day walking around and marveling at how much bigger, louder, more crowded, and more colorful everything was in New York than in Chicago. I envied the people who lived there, and I thought of how cool it would be to teach, write, and live in New York City. (I'll probably end up in some small college town, though.)

The best part of the vacation was that for the first time in a long time, I felt happy and relaxed. I'd be standing in a subway car or walking around the East Village or eating dinner in Little Italy, and I'd find myself smiling.

It felt so good to escape my work, my anxieties about my work, my music-blasting, magazine-stealing, let's party like our parents pay our rent because they DO neighbors, the e-mails from students (and their parents) complaining about their grades, the phone calls from relatives asking why I'm not married yet, and my usual days that consisted of work, coffee, exercise, and kicking people who cut in front of me in line. In Chicago I often feel old. In New York I felt ten years younger, like I used to feel when I first moved to Chicago and walked around with the same awe and fascination. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

When my plane landed in O'Hare Airport, I found an e-mail regarding a presentation that I have to make in front of my entire department (where my work will be torn apart by graduate students AND professors), another e-mail regarding a bill that's due, and an e-mail from one of my professors regarding my dissertation. I also found out some deadbeat loser somehow used my phone number, and I started getting daily phone calls from aggressive bill collectors (I had to spend an hour on the phone to get THAT straightened out). The weight dropped back down on my shoulders, and I felt old, tired, and stressed out again.

But at least I still have my memory of that wonderful week in New York, and I've already resolved to visit that city again someday soon. I'm not going to wait another thirteen years before I travel again, and I realized that everyone needs a vacation, even a neurotic workaholic like me.

What about you? What are some of the best parts of the vacations that you've taken? Do you ever wish you could just escape all the everyday problems in your life?


  1. I am so happy that you finally did go to New York and that you had a wonderful time. You deserved some away time and fun. Yay!

    My idea of vacation is getting away from human civilization. Then I end up smiling. I agree, getting away from everyday problems is such a relief. However your everyday problems would drive me crazy. Tell all those people who are harassing you to (Bleep) and (Bleep) (Bleep).

    I really respect you for continuing to teach and stick it out with your neighbors. Maybe you could one day move to New York and when things get old there, you move again. Sending you plenty of virtual hugs and hope things get better for you.

    1. Hi Murees,
      Hugs to you too! The bill collectors drove me nuts, especially because I always pay my bills on time and I don't even know how that deadbeat got my number. One of the collectors said that I either have a recycled number or the deadbeat just found my number somehow.
      I hope I can move to New York someday; that's always been a fantasy of mine.

  2. Sounds like the city's energy was a good match for you. It'd be great if you could end up there. I'm sure there are many, many colleges in the area where you could apply once you are ready.

    1. Hi Karen,
      Even if I don't find a tenure-track position, I'd love to just find a full-time teaching position at a good school in New York. The only thing holding me back is the cost of living; everything's so expensive there, and teachers don't get paid very much. But you're right about the city's energy; I loved the big city vibe of New York.

  3. My brother moved to NYC after he graduated from Brown. If you knew where we came from you would be impressed. He started out living in Brooklyn with roommates and now lives in a cracker box in the City.

    Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself. I make it to Chicago every now and then for business or shopping and am always impressed with the city and do think it is expensive there too. 10% sales tax and don't even mention parking.

    I've always wanted to live in a college sound so it will be interesting to see where you end up. When I graduated from a Wisconsin state school I moved to Milwaukee near UWM. It wasn't what I thought it would be. My neighbors also kept me up 'til all hours of the night. Now I live in a pretentious suburb - very safe, but a bit too showy for me.

    I work too much too and can be a nervous Nellie. I wonder if we have the same Myers-Briggs score. I've started to realize life is too short to file tense all the time. I did catch up here at work for the first time in years and it feels wonderful. Like a weight has been lifted. I'm not good at taking vacations. Many have been ruined by checking my email.

    Hope you have a great semester. Look forward to watching your progress.

    1. Hi Savvy Working Gal,
      Fortunately, the Internet wasn't a big distraction for me during my vacation; the WiFi in my hotel wasn't very good so I was hardly able to access the Internet the whole week.
      The sales tax is definitely too high in Chicago, and most people don't even bother with parking, even if they have cars; that's why everyone takes the bus or the train instead.
      I don't remember what my score is, but I do know that I'm a Type A personality; that's why I'm a neurotic workaholic. :)

  4. Oh, those photos are amazing! I'm so glad you got away from it all and enjoyed your time in New York. I've never been there!

    1. Hi Julie,
      I loved New York; it was better than I imagined. And you should go too; there are so many interesting new things to do there!

  5. Serendipity is on my list of must-see places next time I go to NYC. It looks like you had a blast!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      I liked Serendipity, though it was smaller and more crowded than I expected. You should definitely try their sundaes; the one I had was soooo good.

  6. Like that picture from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.

    1. Hi Haddock,
      Thanks! It was fun to take pictures of the city.