Monday, May 05, 2008

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Patty here...

I've only been to New York City twice before and never alone. Last Wednesday morning I arrived in Manhattan to attend the Edgars. Thursday, I was presenting the award for Best Paperback Original. For details on the winners, check here.

There were pre and post parties to attend, of course. I schmoozed with my agent and sat at my editor's table at the awards banquet. But on Thursday morning after having coffee with my friend Louise Ure, I set out to explore the city. I tried to blend in, walking briskly and with purpose, ignoring red lights, because that's what New Yorkers do. I brushed off the presence of the NYPD, even though they were everywhere and, at times, sirens trumped all street noise.

A cosmetics huckster at Saks 5th Avenue talked me into a free facial. She promised that if I dropped a grand I'd never have to feel bad about my neck. If the number of shoppers crowding the store was any indicator, the economy is in great shape. Necks, too.

I fell in love with a gold necklace in the window of H Stern and stopped to ask the price even though I knew it was beyond my means. $11,500.00. Falling in love can be expensive.



I dallied at the Plaza where I'd once stayed, but on this visit the Tea Room seemed to have lost some of its mojo. Maybe having tea is an adventure you shouldn't experience alone.



Tulips were everywhere. People wore scarves. I love tulips. I love scarves.



Lunchtime found me at the outdoor cafe at Rockefeller Center among pigeons and accented conversations. I wrote my impressions on the back of charge slips until I ran out of paper. In a moment of sheer contentment, I raised a glass of Pinot Grigio in a silent toast. Here's to me alone in New York City eating a cheeseburger in the crisp spring air with the sun toasting a new crop of freckles on my face.




Sometimes I wonder if traveling alone allows you greater freedom to absorb the essence of a place without having to filter your impressions through someone else's sensibilities. What say you?

Happy New Yorkers

Happy Monday!

23 comments:

  1. Great post, Patty...I so heart New York ;-)

    And yeah, with the exception of trips that are for the specific purpose of hanging out with pals, I usually prefer to travel solo. I love being alone in a crowd, just watching the world go by, and I do think you get a better sense of a place when you don't have to filter it through someone else's impressions.

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  2. So glad you enjoyed New York, Patty. :-D My left foot is still getting over walking all over that city in the rain monday, last week. Tendonitis. We stayed at a lovely little hotel on 46th street called The Muse - we wanted to take the bed home, it was so comfortable. :-D Monday was spent with our friends from Dallas who were on their way home from an Astronomy Imaging conference, Tuesday was lunch at a posh place with the art director from TOR publishing, and a visit to the Strand Bookstore, where I found a new mystery author to read. :-D

    I don't know, sometimes I think that some things are best absorbed alone - no one is chivvying you along when you're trying to make notes, and they want to get to TOys R Us in Times Square before it closes. :-D

    Have a great day,
    Marianne

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  3. patty smiley5/05/2008 6:32 AM

    Rae, this was the first time I felt I could really heart New York, maybe even heart it enough to live there.

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  4. James O. Born5/05/2008 6:37 AM

    I have certain people I like to travel with. None of them are related or married to me.

    Jim

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  5. patty smiley5/05/2008 6:38 AM

    Marianne, we're ships passing in the night! It didn't start raining until the day I left. Wednesday night I went to a party. I asked the concierge at the hotel if the address was within walking distance. He said yes--only 17 blocks. I took a cab. We Angelenos are willing to walk but not 17 blocks in high heels.

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  6. patty smiley5/05/2008 6:39 AM

    Oh, this could be fun, James O. Shall we all take a guess? Tina Fey?

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  7. I loved the twenty-four hour city from the moment I first landed there in- dare I say it - 1976! That was when I worked as a flight attendant (only we were called "airline stewardesses" then). My roommate and I would always request the long layovers in NYC - a week in the Big Apple, we felt like natives. And that was when that song, "Native New Yorker" came out and we just loved it! I enjoyed the city as much when I traveled there alone, and remember the last flight I worked, before giving up that life to get serious about a career: It was mid-June and a lovely warm weekend, so I took myself off to the Plaza for breakfast. I wore a summer dress and put my hair up (that hair was waist-length in those days), and remember sitting in the Plaza, with three waiters buzzing around me as I tucked into my melon and coffee, which was all I could afford on the menu (contrary to belief, we were not paid that much). Over the past eleven years, I've traveled to New York once a year, usually in April, to meet my old friend from those flying days for a long weekend in the city - and we have a blast! She's the only person I have ever enjoyed traveling with, mainly because we both know when we need to go off on our own to explore.
    A terrific post, Patty.

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  8. Patty,
    Love the wide-eyed optimism and joy of your post. Makes me think of Holly Golightly (in a good way):

    "When I get the blues, the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!"

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  9. Hurray! An Edgar post without the Edgars!

    My favorite time this weekend was catching up with you, Sweet Girl. And while I heart New York, too, after four robberies and two muggings, I choose never to live there again.

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  10. patty smiley5/05/2008 9:18 AM

    Our J, okay now for sure our Naked Bus Tour must pass through New York in Springtime.

    Paulie, oh how I love that quote. Thanks...in a good way.

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  11. Patty, how wonderful. Isn't this a great time of year to visit NYC? You're making me homesick for it... and I would've loved to get to hang out with you AND Louise.

    I don't like traveling to place I don't know well myself. I do like to wander around alone once I get there, but it's nice to have someone to compare notes with, preferably a pal and not a spouse, in my experience. Had a wonderful time going around the world with my sister, years ago.

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  12. patty smiley5/05/2008 9:20 AM

    Louise, as always, it was inspiring and delightful to chat with you. And after your stories, maybe I don't heart NY so much anymore.

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  13. patty smiley5/05/2008 9:27 AM

    Ms. C, your presence was sorely missed. I just wish I would have been there last year to honor your nomination for A FIELD OF DARKNESS for Best First Novel. Having been a judge, I know what a towering achievement that is.

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  14. James O. Born5/05/2008 10:30 AM

    Patty
    Not as exciting as Tina Fey but easy to travel with.

    Jon King, Chris Kling and Fred Rea

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  15. Glad you had a good time, Patty.

    Still willing to drive that Naked Tour Bus!

    Groupie

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  16. After your post, I may need to re-think my decision to skip a trip to New York this year.

    Whenever I'm there, I always take at least half a day to wander around by myself - check out the newest neighborhoods, and do some people watching.

    Glad you had a great trip!

    xo
    Kathy Sweeney

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  17. patty smiley5/05/2008 11:37 AM

    James O, okay about Tina. Those guy are also smart and probably very funny, too.

    Groupie, you are SO driving the bus.

    Kathy, you're a New York kind of girl. And remember, it's all grist for your writing mill.

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  18. patty smiley5/05/2008 11:39 AM

    And of course, Chris Kling is Tina Fey without glasses.

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  19. My one trip to NYC left some quote indelible images (though I can't say I remember Rockefeller Plaza looking so lush) and at least one reasonably good story of three Iowans' naivete. I look forward to returning one day and exploring further, either in company or solo.

    Come to Iowa for tulips, Patty. It's Pella Tulip Time the first weekend in May, a taste of the town's old Dutch heritage, and tulips everywhere!

    http://www.pellatuliptime.com/tulip-time/gallery/

    And by the way, congrats on the award, Patty!

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  20. Hmmm...let's make that "quite" indelible images, please...

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  21. patty smiley5/05/2008 2:00 PM

    Jeff, alas I didn't win an award; I merely presented one. Still fun, though.

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  22. Oh, I didn't mention it, Patty? You won a Jeffrey for something that I finished reading over the weekend. Unfortunately, the award doesn't (yet) come in the form of an $11,500 necklace. The prize committee is working on that. :o)

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  23. patty smiley5/05/2008 10:18 PM

    WHEW!!!! That sounds good...I think.

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