Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New York State of Mind.

What happens when you spend three full days in New York City, walking, eating, and sightseeing nonstop? Well, you end up needing a vacation from your vacation, for one thing! I wanted to post the day I got back (Friday), but instead collapsed on my bed and fell into a deep sleep for most of the afternoon. Then I wanted to post over the weekend, but unfortunately the utter chaos of my bedroom demanded my full attention, and then yesterday was the first day back after spring break...and, well, you get the picture!

Finally, tonight I was settling in to write a long overdue post, and I got a comment from Claire demanding to know everything about the trip. Claire, you and I, we must be on the same psychic wavelength! What's your sign, girl?

Jennifer and I had the best time in New York over spring break! Be sure to check out her blog for a blow-by-blow travel diary.

We were on planes and in airports for most of Monday, spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday wearing our tennies out all over town, and caught an 8 am flight back to Austin on Friday.

I mentioned in my last post that I used to live in New York; I spent seven years working at a nonprofit and in publishing before I was ready to leave for personal and professional reasons (read, freshly divorced and tired of being broke and on the low end of the publishing totem pole, I desperately needed a change!). But I'll always love the city, and would even think about moving back if offered a highly lucrative position (which will never happen because academics don't exactly rake in the dough). I can still visit, though, and have my fill of the excitement and the culture before getting tired of the dirt and the noise.

Jennifer, on the other hand, had never been, so I was doubly excited to be her tour guide and experience NYC through fresh eyes. There was a lot of Sex and the City/When Harry Met Sally narration going on (there's the arch where Sally dropped Harry off! There's the church where Samantha hit on that priest!).

We made a list of all possible things we might want to do while we were there, then narrowed it down to a manageable schedule, with a good mix of must-see touristy activities and plain old walking around. The only item on our schedule that was set in stone was attending a broadcast of The View!

Like a big geek, I have been watching this show ever since it first aired (what, like 8, 9 years ago? Sheesh.). I love Meredith Viera, and I love to hate Elisabeth Hasselbeck, aka Spawn of the Devil from Hell. It's great that they sit her between Joy and Star for maximum smackdown potential. It's interesting to see, though, that her knee-jerk, extreme right wing blathering has tapered off recently in tandem with Dubya's numbers. She doesn't defend him quite as staunchly anymore, hee hee.

Anyway, the day we were there, political Hot Topics were kept to a minimum, thus saving me the trouble of leaping over the railing to wrestle the Devil Spawn to the ground. We got to see Barbara Walters, too (yay!), who had been off for a couple of weeks. I was really impressed by everyone's generosity; while the "ladies" were hashing out hot topics during the first commercial break, Barbara turned to the audience and let us know that they were still working on the hot topics, but would come out to talk to us during the next commercial break.

And they did, circulating throughout the audience and making chitchat and taking pictures. Meredith smiled and chatted with some people in the front, asking them how long they were in town and had they been to any shows. I imagine that she must have this exact conversation every day, over and over, but she managed to do it with grace and a smile on her face.

We got to see Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden plugging their new I Dream of Jeannie DVD (which we all got a copy of, natch), the guy from the HBO show Autopsy showing grisly murder scene pix, and two sets of couples who'd met each other through an online personals website for animal lovers.

Jennifer and I desperately wanted to be the pair who announce before the commercial break, "Hi! We're Jennifer and Olga from Austin, Texas! Stay tuned for "Animal Attraction" when The View returns!"

See? Wouldn't we have been great? But they picked a couple of girls from Dallas (Dallas! can you believe it? we were sooo close!) Chuh.

We did the Statue of Liberty tour, of course, and rode the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, but most memorable were the unplanned, unexpected things. Like rushing through the subway station at Grand Central and stopping to watch a troupe of breakdancers (who were so unbelievable that we forgot to get a picture of them, we were that entranced).

Or having breakfast at a Colombian bakery in Jackson Heights and feeling as though we were trapped in some crazy comedy sketch.

Picture this:

Jennifer and I, on the recommendation of our lovely hostess, go into this bakery planning on buying some Colombian rolls and pastries for breakfast, but become totally distracted by the breakfast deal they have--eggs, potatoes, ham, a roll, and coffee, all for 3.75. We both get the special and sit down at a tiny table against the wall (the entire place is no more than maybe ten or fifteen paces wide).

Most of the tables are occupied with a diverse crowd. One of the women behind the counter brings us our breakfast, and as we eat, I notice a man wearing a tall fur Russian hat looking in the window, wild-eyed. He comes in, dragging on a leash a little dog in a red jacket.

A friend of his comes in and they take a table, and then he strides over to the counter, looks over the selection, and demands, "Don't you have any oatmeal?" The women shake their heads, and then he comes over and behind my shoulder, inspects our breakfasts, and strides back to his friend. "I had the chicken and potatoes here last time."

He directs his loud, aggressive voice back to the counter. "Don't you remember, I had the chicken?" Again, the women meet his questions with polite, but firm, nos. He settles on a sandwich, and sits down with his friend and his dog at his feet.

Now, since I had my back turned to him this entire time, I have to let Jennifer, who eyewitnessed the rest of this scene, narrate the rest.

The man begins to munch on his sandwich, and one of the women approaches with a small piece of bread on a plate. Mid-bite, he turns to her and says, "Forko?" motioning with his hand toward the plate.

The woman hesitates for a moment, and he says to her, "Can I have el forko please?" He gesticulates more emphatically, emulating a fork to his plate. She quickly retreats and returns with a FORK. He used said "forko" to cut the piece of bread into small pieces for his dog, who awaited his breakfast eagerly at the man's feet.

Witnessing this scene in disbelief, I recount, very quietly, to Olga, "That man just asked for a FORKO."

Once the look of shock faded from Olga's face, she burst into uncontrollable laughter. I continued to enjoy my breakfast with my forko while Olga was dissolved into giggles.

Just a few feet away, the man turned to look at our table and asked his friend, "I wonder what she's laughing about?"

But Olga could not stop laughing!

I admit that I could not take my eyes off of this man--he was SUCH a spectacle with his big hair and red-jacketed dog at his feet. Once the dog finished his breakfast, he stood on his hind legs and began to beg.

The man, still eating his sandwich, picked up the dog and sat him on his lap. When the man would set his sandwich down on the plate, the dog would nip at it, taking small bites. The man, deep in conversation with his companion, was absent-mindedly feeding the dog pieces of his sandwich while eating from the other end. As if that weren't enough, when the man finished his sandwich, the dog started to lick his forko. It was not disposable!!!

Fully grossed out, I implored Olga. "Let's get out of here."

We walked out of the panaderia, shaking out heads.

Olga turns to me and says, "I have got to blog about this."

Y'all, I have to confess, just reading this sent me into fits of laughter again. It was just...sublimely ridiculous. [Update: Just so you know, this guy was NOT Russian, despite the hat. He looked (and sounded) pretty American. After I posted this I began to realize that it might sound like I was chalking up all that craziness to cultural and language differences. Nuh uh.]

Anyway. I know you would take my knitting credentials away if I didn't manage to go to any yarn stores! I had three listed on the back of a receipt: School Products, Seaport Yarn, and Purl. Whelp, it turned out that we found ourselves in Soho on Tuesday after the Liberty tour, so Purl it was.

I'd lost my little scrap of paper, though, so I called information and got Purl on the line. A soft-spoken male voice answered, and we figured out that I was only a block away from the store.

Having been suitably awed by the success of Last Minute Knitted Gifts, I expected to find a huge Soho gallery space full of glitzy yarn. Well, it's nothing like that. Not huge, not even middling sized. It is, probably, smaller than many Park Avenue socialites' shoe closets.

But, nevertheless, utterly charming. We stood outside while I hesitated, reluctant to go into such a tiny space where we would no doubt be hovered over (because when I shop, I vant to be left alone, darling). The call of the yarn got the best of me, of course, and we ventured in. There was a large table heaped with books in the center, and several customers were bent over the patterns, trying to make some decisions.

I was immediately drawn to a display by the window, where skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Yarn hung from little clotheslines. A sign said that these colorways had been specially made for Purl, so...of course I had to get some! I picked out a pretty china blue and white, and took them to the register. Jennifer, whose photographic vision has been proven to be spot on before, asked me if I wanted a picture with all the yarn. A bit sheepish (pun not intentional!), I agreed, deciding that it was probably obvious that we were tourists, anyway.

The young sales clerk asked if we were from out of town. I laughed. "What gave it away?" We got to chatting and it turns out that Brian just moved to New York from Chicago! We compared notes on our old neighborhoods, and I left feeling just the tiniest bit envious that he still had the whole adventure of New York in front of him.

It wasn't the last I would see of him, however. Remembering the clearance basket of 40% off Helen's Laces, and finding ourselves in Soho again on Thursday, well, I just had to go back! So here are my mementos from Purl:

I have to say, my heart went out to that saleswoman who wound that ball of lace yarn for me.

Every time I wanted to buy a souvenir, I would ask myself, would I rather have this, or yarn? Do I even have to tell you what the answer to that question was? (BTW, the souvenir mugs at the View, which I really wanted, were FIFTEEN DOLLARS!)

There was a time when I would have come away with shopping bags full of new clothes and shoes. (Who am I kidding? That happened to me over Christmas break.) But I was wonderfully self-restrained this time. I bought a cute picture frame at the Empire State Building, but otherwise spent my money on the yarn, and food. Oh! And these beads:

We were walking up Fifth Avenue after the Empire State Building, when we passed a store called, simply, the Bead Store. I must have had a longing look on my face, because Jennifer asked me if I wanted to go in. Y'all, it was simply amazing. The walls were lined with every kind of bead you can imagine. Colorful wooden beads hung a few feet away from strings of big, fist-sized chunks of turquoise.

I could easily have blown my entire student loan in that place, but finally managed to pick out the red millefiore beads and the two pendants. I know I said I would make a pink dress for Project Spectrum, but realistically, seeing as how March is more than halfway over, a red necklace may have to suffice!

I managed to get some sock knitting done on the plane ride there and back (actually, I had lots of time during the three-hour layover in Atlanta on Monday!). So here's what I have so far on my Sockapaloooza socks:

These are the Rib and Cable pattern from the IK Fall 2005. I love the little cables! I'm just a bit worried about the fit; I picked this one because I thought that the ribs would be quite forgiving. But the finished size in the magazine says that the ankle circumference is 7.5 inches, while my sockpal's is 8.5". Hmmm. Should I worry? I tried it on over my arm, and it seems to fit OK (even where my arm measures about 9" around).

I started turning the heel and am holding my breath to see how it turns out; the yarnovers are going to leave little holes, says the pattern. Hopefully they won't be too obvious? Or will look like part of the design?

Amazingly enough for me, I think I may be done with these socks with time to spare before the deadline. And speaking of deadline knitting, look which one's come and gone!

I trucked along on Jennifer's shrug and made pretty good progress, but it was nowhere near done in time for the wedding last weekend (March 11). Seeing as how the temps reached into the 90s in San Antonio that day, I don't think the shrug was much missed.


At 6:09 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Wow wow wow!!!! I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time in NYC!! I think half the fun is seeing all the freaks - my mom and I encountered "crazy crow man" on one trip - who stood under an awning during a sudden rain storm and cawed!!! How exciting to see The View. And lovely lovely sock yarn - what better souvenirs?? Those beads are gorgeous too. A big pat on the back for your shopping self control. Your socks are looking so pretty - maybe they will be stretchy enough to fit??

At 6:29 AM, Blogger Ashley said...

OH, NYC. So full of teh crazies. But it wouldn't be the same without them. I just bought some of the stripey Purl lorna's too! Mine's in pink though. But otherwise, we'll have totally matching socks...if we make the same socks. Otherwise our socks won't match at all. Never mind.

Ok, if the socks fit over your arm at this point you should be ok, but the heel will be the real test, since it won't have the same stretch as the rib parts. As for the YO short row heels-- I don't know, girl. I thnk the YO short row is a tool of Satan, no matter how often anyone tells me that the holes are "design elements." My vote would be to skip it and do wrapped short rows.

But then, I am fussy.

At 7:09 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Hey, welcome back! Glad you had an awesome time in NYC. I love the photo in Purl - I felt like an utter tourist in there, too. And looks like you got some lovely Lorna's... looking forward to seeing your finished socks and shrug - both are looking great!

At 7:10 AM, Blogger christine said...

Olga - what a wonderful travelog! I could picture the Russian guy with the dog, especially once the dog ended up in his lap! Giggling........

Thanks for the description of Purl - I hope to end up there someday!
Glad you had a good time - and I love to hate Elizabeth, too. She was much more likeable when on Survivor......

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Ina said...

What an excellent NYC adventure!

Rib and Cable socks look great!

And say what!?! Helen's Lace 40% off at Purl!?! Oh, must go immediately.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger candsmom said...

Wow!! Sounds like the two of you had quite the adventure! I loved the story about the guy with the Russian hat. Cracked me up! There's definitely no cap on the crazy quota. ;-) Love the new beads! And what awesome yarn souvenirs, too! I'd always imagined that Purl was huge, too... it may be small, but it definitely looks packed to the brim with yarn! And just so you know, I would've picked you and Jennifer to do the commercial break, too. ;-) So cool that you got to go to the taping. I haven't watched The View in years (since the Lisa Ling days) *ducks* but I used to really like it. Your socks look fantastic!! Good to have you back- take care, O! :-)

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Olga! I missed you! I have been hoping that very soon I would see a long post from you detailing all your NYC adventures. So this made my day! Sounds like you had an awesome time -- I am envious enough of the yarn crawl, but I bet you had some amazing food while you were there, too.

Glad you had fun, and that you are back!

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Ah, the infamous mantra: would I rather have this or yarn? Is this the sign of obsession, or frugality and realism!

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Legalfrugalbabe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Legalfrugalbabe said...

Welcome back! El forko... HA! It's "el tenedor" in Spanish, but never mind. Da, da, el tenedor. And niet, it's not okay for el perrito to eat from the table... Yech...

Lace yarn, yippee! Whatchagonnamake? I have several NSOs (non-started objects?) involving lace yarn - Fibertrends shawls to be exact.

You were asking for my sign; I'm a sagittarius from the year of the tiger. And hey, pardon my ignoramusness, but what's The View? We have no cable and I watch no TV, so no tengo ningun idea. Da, no tengo ningun idea. ;-)

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Marisa said...

Glad you had such a great spring break. I'm trying to go to NYC myself in April -- in between roller derby practices.

Love the socks btw, the pattern and color rock! Any plans for tube socks in your future? 'cause I know a certain derby girl who could use a pair!

At 6:59 AM, Blogger alison said...

What a fun trip you had!

Your sockapaloooza sock looks great so far. If I hadn't already started, I think I'd use that pattern for my pal. Yours really is gorgeous.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger The_Add_Knitter said...

I was also recently in NY and was drawn to the same LL sock yarn at Purl! Glad you had fun on your trip and your blog is hilarious...

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Mari said...

Hi Cuttie Pie! New York! What ever happened to Chicago for Spring Break? We can party. We sell yarn. We don't have that man Starr Jones but we have Springer!


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