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I Love You, New York

I had been working what seemed to be endlessly for three weeks. The first weekend I had been on call, been called, worked for what amounted to be an extra day, and spent the other agonzing about a possible repeat. Call is torture, so much so that I find it impossible to believe how people forget about it. The new week felt pike more of the same until I was assigned to a once-a-year case, witnessed a demise, and struggled through the usual bouts of miscommunication all the while orienting my charge on little sleep and no rest.

My day off that week was Friday so I struggled through four days before stumbling into Friday exhausted but unable to rest. The following Saturday was a plastic surgery conference and I had to speak. I spent the bulk of the day working on the notes and slides I had only half-heartedly started earlier. The next day found me out with the morning dew headed for my workplace for the conference. The upside was I was getting my trauma hours fulfilled and the subject is interesting to me. It was also catered by the implant company and they spend lavishly, compared to the hospital.

I found some time Sunday to go to the opening day of the farmer’s market along with washing clothes, cleaning, and cooking for the week. One day off before another horrid week is far too little. Even two feels short. The nxt week found me downright crispy and cross. I had reached the other side of exhaustion and instead of feeling sleepy, I was bedraggled but couldn’t sleep. I managed to finish the week jut through sheer grit. There was nothing more lofty involved. Nothing more than a single-mindedness to get through it.

I had several items of business to get done in New York. One involved getting refills for my Nespresso machine, the nearest store being in Manhattan. The other was my need to get my hands on an iPad. They haven’t been released to the third party reseller market and there is no Apple store in Center City. The nearest one is in King of Prussia, but if it’s necessary to travel anyway, may as well go to the Big Apple. I also intended to shop for some furniture, but since the latest sofa I’ve liked is a sectional from BoConcept, of which we have a branch in Center City, it quickly took a backburner to the other charma of the city.

It was a beautifully crisp spring day and I left on the 0658 train out of Philadelphia and was charging my MetroCard at 0930. Amy’s Bread at Hell’s Kitchen was my first stop but unlike every other time I’ve gone there, I didn’t get a seat, even if it was a weekday. Some Italian guys were taking animatedly in the back. There isn’t even any standing room there. I broke with tradition and got one of their oatmeal scones rather than the cherry cream scone I usually get and a small coffee. I walked back through the breezy streets and ended up in Bryant Park. The directions to Bloomingdales that I had were wrong so I ate my scone there in the perfect half-light under the trees. They have seats and tables that aren’t hogged by a restaurant or eatery. They’re free foe tour use. Let me also say the shockingly immaculate bathrooms complete win flowers in vases has made Bryant Park my favorite in the city.

Since I was there, I stopped inside the New York Public Library which is currently undergoing renovation. It’s stately and immaculate inside and I looked into their lovely bookophilic store and only stopped myself from buying things bcause it was early and I didn’t want to carry them around. Now that I think of it, I should have treated myself. Now I know.

Grand Central Station is nearby with its dramatic entrance with a bronze eagle outside. I took the subway from there to Union Square. The market was in full swing and while I may have been there before, I don’t clearly remember it and it was nearly all new for me. I entered through the artist’s market and took cursory glances. A Whole Foods looms on one side, eateries and other box stores on the other sides and a W hotel anchors a corner. Sephora faces Whole Foods across the square. This could be the perfect place to stay.

I found ABC Carpet and Home without too much trouble but was really underwhelmed. Accoring to reports of awesomeness on home design blogs, I was ready to see a Wonder of the World but instead it was a lot smaller than I thought with a lot of space wasted on clothing, of all things. There was a Conran Shop but it was severely underwhelming too. I did get to see the little white canisters I’ve been considering as a side table. They’re a bit small than I wanted and a little rickety for the price. I may not want them anymore. That’s good to know. The rest I was done with quickly. It was too ornate for my tatste and I’d rather get anything with “world” or “international” flair actually out in the world, not just at a store in New York. I wasn’t there for long and actually stopped at a
Sephora which I think I visited for longer.

After buying and devouring a chocolate chip cookie in the park, I crossed over to the DSW and shopped on there for a
Long time. I live shoes and we don’t have a DSW in Center City. The selection was great but I only got one pair, chiefly for the reason that I did ‘t want to tote around two pairs of shoes for the rest of the day. The staff was lovely. New Yorkers continue to impress me with their non-suffocating kindness. Why are they thought of as rude? That’s completely false.

With my new shoes, I jumped on the subway again to Spring Street. Though I had vacillated on the decision, I de ides to spring for it and took a journey into the Lower East side to
find Economy Candy. That part of the city isn’t as gentrified as others but never at any time did I feel unsafe. Economy Candy is huge and chockablock crammed with all kinds of candy. I bought some absinthe breath mints and a bunch of small Ritters for just over 5 bucks. A steal.

It was a significant walk back to the heart of Soho to find the Bloomingdale’s. Sure enough, it had a Nespresso cafe and I stocked up on the goods. There were also Marc Jacobs bags for sale and if I had found the yellow one in the smaller size, I would have so bought it.

Magically, it was getting on to 2 pm so I played with the idea of going to a new pizzeria reviewed in the Times. But first, I determined to stop by a Spanish grocery I had glimpsed the last time when I was in town. It was a few blocks from a great wine store. I wasn’t going to be getting wine on this trip (thanks to some friends and San Jose Garces), but I wanted jijona turron, still impossible to find in Philadelphia. To my pleasant surprise, not only is the place a grocery and charcuterie of sorts, but it’s also a lunchonette, much like DiBruno’s. I had a nice lunch there in the back sharing a table with a nice older couple. It cost me much less than a restaurant would have with the added benefit of shopping for Spanish foods afterward. I should open a place like that in Philadelphia. It would be a hit. I bought my turron and some piquillo peppers and hit the road. Part of me regretted not eating at Balthezzar (long a goal), but that place us always so busy.

Unable to wait much longer and fully knowing I was runnnv out of time, I headed for Prince Street and the Soho Apple Store.t was hoppng and I had to wait my turn in order to try out an iPad. It’s much lke this little machine but faster and brighter. I just wish it were a little flatter in the back, lighter since I have the weakest wrists in humanity, and that I could afford the data plan for it. It’s great for old people, as I suspected. The form factors of many of the programs are efferent in odd ways and I can’t really say it’s better. Since it excls at manipulating data, your personal data is what would make it most useful so a true review is impossible, but it has the Love Me factor even though I can’t see myself ditching s real keyboard for marathon writing sessions. As a data depository though it’s fantastic, possibly without equal up to this point in history, much like the iPod before it. For the first time, I thought it would be nice to read off of it since the words would look great. But do I really need it? Not more than Aperture 3.

The staff bid me a friendly farewell and I struck out north across Houston into the Village. I still haven’t tried Joe’s pizza and maybe never wil, but I stopped at Amy’s Bread and bought a loaf of the semolina and sultana bread that’s so amazing. They only had a small loaf left but that’s probably a good thing. I also got a slice if carrot cake thought I meant to have a devil’d food slice when I firstalked in there. I’ve been having a hankering for carrot cake but strangely, one of my favorite bakeries underwhelmed mr with their version. The Naked Cjovolate cafe makes a better version in their cupcake and Whole Foods makes a beyond-competent version. This one just didn’t have it. Maybe I was too tired or too dehydrated to appreciate it. I saved more than half in the empty coffee cup. Maybe it’ll taste better to tomorrow back in Philly. Next time I go to Amy’s Bread buy a whole wheat loaf and some of the bar cookies, especially the butterscotch cashew. I’m regretting not buying one right now.

I strolled down Bleejer WMD stumbled upon a table of books outside a bookstore. I think they were new though at the time I thought they were used because the prices were so good. I found a copy of John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and nabbed it. It’ll make a great poolside read.

I read about Il Cantuccio on Christopher Street in the Times and I intended to stop there to get cantucci before getting back on the subway in time for the 6pm train. The place was cute, the girls working there Italian, and the cookies looked delicious. I foolishly ordered a pound though I guess you can get singles, too. They didn’t take credit cards and the total was a jaw-dropping $29.50. I hate cash and I hate spending so mcuh of it at once. There was a standalone ATM across the street outside a kinky store with weird dudes hanging around in front of it. I hate using non-bank ATMs so I did something I’ve never done before and just kept on walking. Almost thirty dollars for cookies o don’t need is madness and ordering so many was absolute madness. I can never go back again now but that’s okay. There are other places to eat. I would feel worse now if I had that bag of cookies amongst my possessions right now.

Midtown was the usual knot of alarms and nerves and tourists. A glass of wine at a bar of a nice hotel would have hit the spot but the hotels near Penn Station aren’t at the upper echelons of hotels and the others were too far. I set out for the nearby Artisanal, but it’s a true restaurant and stood empty at just after five. I didn’t even see a bar with a happy hour. I just walked on by and then looped back to 34th where u couldn’t easily find a bathroom at Macy’s. I went to the Borders above the station instead and then went down to buy tickets. It turns out it was a good thing I got there early since the line ran the length of the waiting area. I got a frappuccino and came back just as they were announcing the the platform. I’m writing this on the train home.

What a fascinating city it is. Philly is so much smaller, slower, cheaper, and more livable. I couldn’t live in New York, but having it within 80 miles is worth the costs in time and money it takes to get there. People are helpful and smart and realistic and tough. The city’s squares are beautiful and desperately needed and used. It doesn’t stop. It thrills and excites and educates and wears you right out. There is no other like it. Not a one. A guy on the subway was saying Chicago was like it and Philadelphia was like it. No one is like it. No one comes close. This is a city that’s Sui generus and exists in spite of anything else. This is a place where terrorists will never win. This is a place that doesn’t know how to be afraid or quiet or bored or the same.

One Response to “I Love You, New York”

  1. 1
    Pia:

    Waaah, New York! I wanna go baaaack! You’re so right, there IS no other place like it…..

    Oh, and did you know BoConcept is Danish? Hehehehee…..

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