if we can make it there .. (part one)

Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life. 

Irving Berlin

When my grandmother passed away last week, one of the first things that Katie said was, “Mama, please don’t think twice about postponing our weekend in New York. Whatever we need to do, okay?”

My heart ached for my girl. The trip meant so much to her – the Christmas gift from her Papa that I told her was simply to generous for her to expect. (Yeah, I lied so that she’d be surprised. Wanna make something of it?)

She’d been so excited. And the very first thing she’d said was, “It doesn’t matter when we do it. I know that we will.”

I told her that we’d wait to see what the funeral arrangements would be and then I’d make a call. When it turned out that we’d be on Long Island through Friday, I decided not to cancel the trip. The timing was atrocious. And it couldn’t possibly have been better.

After a painful week, the time alone with my girl was a soothing balm on our raw souls. We snuggled, we giggled, we teased, we laughed til we cried. We walked a lot and we ate more. We reminisced about Oomah and I shared forty year-old memories as we toured the places and spaces of my childhood.

In short, we did exactly what my dad has in mind when he gives my girls these amazing gifts – we made memories. And magically, in so doing, the places and spaces of my childhood became the places and spaces of hers.

But first, we had to drop our stuff in the hotel. I’d booked us into the Hudson, a funky boutique hotel in midtown that I thought would serve us well, and which, most importantly, had a deal on Expedia.

We entered through what we assumed was a back door, though it turned out it was indeed the only door. This was what was inside the door. And yes, it was this color.

A note to my more literal-minded friends: Please be advised that what follows is riddled with sarcasm. I will do my best to point it out, but if I say something that sounds completely outrageous, please rest assured it’s likely tongue in cheek. 


{image is a photo of the chartreuse escalator at the Hudson.}

Here’s a closeup. You’ll know why in a minute.


{image is a closeup of the top of the elevator which looks extremely dark until it opens onto this .. }


{image is a photo of the very funky lobby of the very funky Hudson hotel. The lobby is very dark at all times and the walls and ceiling are, inexplicably, covered in ivy. To the right, we see the chartreuse glow of the escalator.}

… which is why I said to Katie upon our egress from the, uh, tube, “I feel like we just traveled through the birth canal,” to which she responded, “Uhhhh … thanks for killing that for me forever.” Any time, love, anytime.

Thankfully, we didn’t have a lot of stuff to drop in the room. And we’re not large people. Cause the room looked like this.


 {image is a photo of Katie sitting on the bed in our hotel room at the Hudson, which looks much more like a cabin on a small-ish boat. She has her arms extended to either side and is nearly touching both walls. She’s five feet tall.}

Good thing we really, really like each other. Katie’s commentary was, “Well, at least we won’t lose anything here.” I do love her optimism. She’d need it for this ..


{image is a photo of the bathroom. Despite the fact that I’m standing with my back against the farthest wall, it looks like I’m standing in the shower. That’s because the entire bathroom was about four feet square. Better yet, Katie is peeking through the gauze curtain and into the shower. From the room. Because everyone wants to be able to see the toilet from the bed, right? Er, right? It was odd, people. Or maybe I’m getting old. But I’m going with odd.}

Once we dropped our bags (unpacking not being an option, because, well, where?), we headed uptown. Because Zabar’s.


{image is a photo of Katie standing in front of Zabar’s}

When I posted the photo above on Facebook, a couple of folks asked what the significance of Zabar’s is. Other readers helpfully chimed in that it’s a New York institution – a food market / bazaar with a mind-boggling array of meats, cheeses, smoked fish, and, along with just about everything else you can imagine, traditional Jewish treats. Or, as it says on their website, New York is Zabar’s … Zabar’s is New York. ‘Nuff  said.


{image is a photo of Katie ogling the cheese display. You come by it honestly, kid.}


{image is a photo of Katie’s face after I told her that I wouldn’t buy her a box of TWENTY-FOUR rugelach despite the fact that we’d be in the city for 29 hours in total. Yes, I can resist that face. I’m steel, people. Steel.}

From Zabar’s, we walked in a Southeasterly zigzag toward our first non-edible destination, FAO Schwarz. Along the way, we passed this guy and had to take a picture for Brooke.


{image is a photo of Katie with a very large Playmobil guy, or, as Brooke would call him, a castle friend.}

Eventually, we realized we were going to run out of time, so we jumped in a cab. Katie pointed out this really cool scene out the window just as we were passing the park. It might not be art, but I think it’s a pretty cool shot.


{image is a photo of a light post and a nearby tree, both lined with birds, against a dusky blue sky. I love these spots in which the natural world defiantly inserts itself into the concrete jungle. Graceful, delicate, and unyielding. Neat combo, that.}

And then we were off to FAO. When I was a kid, walking into FAO Schwarz was like walking into a dream. I’ll never forget the awe I felt in that place. The toys were otherworldly, from the huge piano in the floor to the nearly life-sized electric cars to the gigantic stuffed safari elephants. It was something to behold, and still is.

Katie’s smile was wrapped around her head. First things first, of course, she needed a photo with the toy soldier. I loved that she marched right over and said, “Excuse me, sir, may I take a picture with you?” and that he said, “Me?? You want a picture with ME?” even though he spends his day doing this. Thanks, toy soldier, guy; you’re a mensch.


{image is a photo of Katie with the toy soldier / doorman at FAO. He is saluting. She’s not, cause without the uniform, that would be weird.}

The first thing she saw that she simply had to do right that very second because ohmygodmama was the old Zoltar fortune teller. Big, anyone?


{image is a photo of Katie getting her fortune from Zoltar. It was sort of creepily accurate, which impressed her to no end. Nicely done, Z.}

Z says, “No problem.”


{image is a close up of Zoltar.}

She was then compelled to climb this thing and made me promise to take a picture of her when she got to the top. I did. It was terrifically anticlimactic for us both. They can’t all be winners.


{image is a photo of Katie standing on what I can only think to describe as a play house balcony made out of Lego material. It’s boring. Moving on.}

And then there was this. This was creepy. And wrong. Very, very wrong.


{image is a photo of Katie holding a Madame Alexander baby doll painted silver and dressed to look like the Tin man from the Wizard of Oz. The effect is arguably much more Chucky than Yellow Brick Road, but, hey, if that’s your thing, have at it. It can be yours for just $129.99. Yes, really. This is what nightmares are made of, kids. Very, very expensive nightmares.}

On the way out, we passed through the candy section of the store, cause, ya know, it would be rude not to. We were all excited when we saw that they had marshmallow puffy puffs. Oh my God, tell me you know marshmallow puffy puffs. The first time we ever had them was years ago at Dylan’s Candy Bar. Katie bit into one and when I asked what it was, she said, and I quote, “Happiness.”

Anyway, we’re all about marshmallow puffy puffs. The strawberry ones. Not the apple ones (who the hell thought a marshmallow should taste like an apple? C’mon, folks, tighten it up.), not the orange ones (just ew), but the strawberry ones. Which were nowhere to be found. So we went to the counter to ask where they were. And that’s when the nice man told us that they were OUT of the strawberry marshmallow puffy puffs. I know, RIGHT?

I might not have handled it well. I might even, when he asked if there was anything else he could get for us, said, my voice dripping with sarcasm, “What else could you possibly get for us? You’re dead to me.” Katie might have apologized as we walked away. None of that might be true. Or all of it is. You decide.


{image is a glorious pile of strawberry (and some other flavor that doesn’t matter because STRAWBERRY) puffy puffs. Which they did not have at FAO. I’m so not over this.}

So we didn’t get our puffy puffs. Did I mention that? But we did get a picture of this thing.


{image is a photo of Katie smiling next to a huge display of candy atop which is sitting a very, very large princess. (Katie is the one on the left. You’re welcome.)}

And this.


{image is a photo of Katie pretending to drink from a very, very large bottle of Hershey’s strawberry syrup.}

As we walked away from the giant bottle of Hershey’s and the extraordinarily large cake-topper princess, Katie said, “Everything’s bigger in New York.” I told her that was Texas. She rolled her eyes. Whatever, smarty pants.

Seventeen hours after our arrival <hyperbole> we left FAO and their crappy butt flavors of puffy puffs in the dust and headed across town to see the matinée of Disenchanted.

And that’s where I’ll leave it for today, my friends. Tune in tomorrow (ish) for part two of our adventures in the Big Apple, where you’ll hear all about how we found out that the Little Mermaid is a drunk, Pocahontas is pissed, and big boobs are really all you need <sarcasm. big, big sarcasm>.

Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. 🙂

11 thoughts on “if we can make it there .. (part one)

  1. You’re really blessed with kids that are mature enough to look at life with a positive attitude. They see the good in everything not the bad. Katie I love you attitude to life!
    Jess you’re awesome!

  2. I disagree, the bird photo is most definitely art! Sounds like an amazing trip. 🙂 I honestly read your blog and Facebook posts more for the Katie posts, they remind me so much of my 13 year old daughter and myself! 🙂 I share many Katie posts with her and she often “goes all fangirl” and has said on more than one occasion, “Why can’t she go to my school? We’d be such great friends!!” 🙂

  3. This is the stuff other parents need to see. The memories that you make with your daughters are so amazing. And I know you’ve mentioned that sometimes your girls read the comments, so to Katie, I just want to say Keep doing what you’re doing. You are such a bright, wonderful girl, and I think you are on your way to making this world a much better place. I wish more kids were like you. Glad your trip was fun (and bummer about the candy. I would have a hard time recovering from such a disappointment as well!) and thanks for sharing!

    • The escalators themselves were not that color, but the lighting around them made them *appear* that color. It was very odd and a little disconcerting. 😉

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