Sorry for the long wait between posts! Among other things, Jeff and I were busy with a flooring project during the past couple of weeks, and it ate up my afternoons. But it's finished, it looks amazing, and it is one of something like five blogs I need to write.
So! Back to New York City with Jeff, Mel, and me. As you can tell from the photo above, we spent our last vacation day at the Museum of Modern Art, where Mel caught me interacting with a man painted on a mirror. My expression probably explains why I had to wait until age 39 to get married.
But first we needed to try the best bagels in New York at a place called Ess-A-Bagel. So much time has passed since we ate these, but boy did my brain imprint a taste-memory that will make every bagel I eat in the future seem inferior. Because they will be inferior. These were perfection: not rubbery at all, but yielding and warm with a perfectly crisp exterior. Once again we ate them while standing on the sidewalk like a buncha hobos.
I also discovered that several years of walking on Dr. Scholl's gel insoles will cause them to disintegrate, so I bought some more and, and to be even more of a hobo, I did this whole boot-takeoff-insole-switcheroo bit while squatting in the entrance of a drugstore.
It was an unseasonably warm and humid morning, and as we walked toward MoMA, I took off my jacket. The dress I wore came in a fuzzy mystery fabric that seemed to promote active sweating. My ponytail became its usual awful black frizz pom-pom. So I was miserable but attempted to take on the devil-may-care attitude of the female sculptures we saw frolicking in the middle of a busy intersection.
Once we arrived at MoMA, we were disappointed to discover a giant line of people waiting to enter. We joined their ranks and prepared ourselves for boredom. Museum workers patrolled the line and said that some of the blockbuster paintings were not on display, and also people who downloaded the MoMA app and used it to pay online would get to skip the line and go inside. Jeff didn't have to be told twice--he got to work downloading and paying, and whoooooosh, we swooped inside like a trio of VIPs.
That museum worker was right about some of the museum's pieces being unavailable. It seemed like 75% of the things I wanted to see (1900-1950) were gone, but their gallery tags were still in place as if to mock me. This was a shame because those paintings are in my art teacher wheelhouse, and I was all set to bombard young Mel with interesting painting tidbits all morning long. Unfortunately we were treated to a mere handful of masterpieces (such as the fantastic Rousseau and Starry Night, above) followed by a dollop of Pop, a whole lot of Minimalism, and some Abstract Expressionism. I bemoaned this, but Mel had a grand time anyway.
I told Mel about Rodin's portrait of Balzac--she said it was one of her favorite things in the museum. And I love the photo she took of a Jackson Pollock painting viewed from the side.
We had lunch at Tina's Cuban Cuisine, which was relatively nearby, and Jeff took this photo of the straightest leg in the city.
The place was packed, and we sat in a kind of so-what dining room with what seemed like fluorescent lighting--it made me feel like I was back in a school cafeteria (PTSD!). We shared everything, including a Cuban sandwich and some ham croquettes. Jeff and I were hoping that these would match the ones we had in Spain, and while they were crispy-creamy-tasty...yeah, sorry.
These little guys were fun: empanadas with chicken filling, a Twinkie-looking item that I can't remember, and a red ball of mashed potatoes surrounding some kind of ground beef situation. I'm pretty sure I had a mango (?) shake. Sorry so vague--it's been over a month!
After lunch we headed to the Hirschl and Adler gallery on 5th Avenue. Sara, a friend of mine from grad school, told me that her husband Peter had a small show there, and I was curious to study his exquisite oil paintings in person--I'd only seen them online. The above photo doesn't do them justice--here's an example of his work.
Gorgeous and Hopperesque! Peter is my age, and I couldn't help feeling like I was so far behind him in terms of art production. He was fortunate to have been born into an artistic family and has painted professionally for his entire adult life, whereas I've only been at it for two and a half years. But this is nothing new: I feel insecure pretty much every time I walk into any gallery at all. I'm such a newbie!
And then in an adjoining room: enormous watercolors by Alexander Creswell. This artist counts among his patrons THE QUEEN OF FREAKING ENGLAND. He is so good, you guys! Included in his show was a series of giant (4 feet across, maybe?) paintings of Venice at night with fireworks, and they were color-drenched and masterful, with a sort of effortlessness that only supremely confident painters can pull off.
I was in awe, intimidated, and in love with these, and I wanted to go home and paint paint paint. I walked back into Pete's room, and yes, please just let me go home and paint. I start to feel not right if I go too long without painting. It's kind of like my need for chocolate. Speaking of...
We bought some fancy-ass desserts and hot chocolate at the Francois Payard Bakery (ground floor of The Plaza hotel).
We were feeling glamorous (at least I was) as we sat at a tall table and savored macarons and other gorgeous creations. A woman of a certain age stopped by as Jeff and I were digging into that shiny chocolate dome, and she exclaimed, "What is THAT?" We told her where she could find one. It was almost as fabulous as it looks--there was something hazelnutty going on inside, if I remember correctly.
And then Jeff's phone buzzed. A text from Southwest Airlines told us that our flight home had been canceled. Whut.
Jeff was a hero as per usual and got on the phone with the airline, and after about a half hour, we were booked on a new, slightly earlier flight. GO JEFF. He said that Southwest did everything right and were actually surprisingly soothing about the whole thing.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around, working our way back to the hotel. Along the way Mel took some photos of Bergdorf Goodman's windows--they were a purple tribute to fashion over the past 111 years.
Above and beyond, Bergdorf Goodman!
Our last meal in New York was at a Cambodian sandwich shop called Num Pang. It was close to our hotel and, like all of the restaurants we visited on our trip, vetted by Jeff weeks in advance. Mel and I shared a meatball sandwich while Jeff abstained, claiming he was still full from lunch. Num Pang was decorated with fun graffiti, and we stood at a little bar and inhaled the sandwich and a couple of refreshing tea concoctions.
Soon enough we were on our way back to Laguardia, where the Southwest chaos meant that we had nowhere to sit once we reached our gate. Actually I found one seat, which Jeff and Mel insisted I take while they sat on the floor, during which time Mel took the above self-portrait. As you can see, she was still full of energy and happiness.
I'll spare you the description of the flight home, our hotel shuttle that decided to not pick us up because our flight was cancelled but then after an angry call from Jeff and an hour of waiting, they came to get us after all, and then the two-hour drive home through the absolute middle of nowhere and the bag of Tato Skins I ate to stay awake and didn't exactly share.
If you wanted Tato Skins so much maybe you should have bought some for yourself, Jeffray.
We dropped Mel off and were reunited with our confused cats at around 1:30 a.m. Everyone was fed, watered, and adored. Cat boxes were cleaned out, and my wonderful husband and I fell into deep, dark comas for the rest of the night.
In conclusion, New York is awesome. You should go.