New York in a Day

It can be done. Especially if you don’t care whether you see any of the tourist hotspots like the Empire State Building, Ellis Island, or the Statue of Liberty. Or the museums. Or — listen, I’m sure I missed a lot. But here’s what I did do with my one free day in New York last week and what you can do, too*:

Sunday, May 27 

9 am Wake in mid-town Manhattan hotel since you left at home the children who would have awakened you at 6:30am. (For $250/night you can sleep in a walk-in closet, albeit a nicely furnished one. You may not be able to turn a full circle in the bathroom.)

9:30 am After a short wait in a subway station reeking of urine (probably human urine, though the rats are rather large), jump on the subway and land in Central Park for a 2.5 mile jog. The park is quite beautiful.

10:15am Breakfast/lunch at Jax. Quick, fresh sandwiches and salads. Enormous, delectable looking cupcakes that sadly you do not purchase because, having just run, you lost some brain cells.

11:15am After a shower (or not–up to you), head to lower Manhattan. You might have tried to reserve the necessary tickets to see the 9/11 Memorial and failed because they were “booked.” Whatev. You go anyway and see this:

11:15 cont’d — Walk around, see Trinity Church and some cool lower-Manhattan federalist-ish architecture. Note there are more cabs in NYC than there are other cars. Also, the people are much nicer than the stereotype says. Listen to several Asians and French discuss how they just saw the 9/11 memorial. Harrumph.

11:30am — Visit John Street Church, the first Methodist church in America. It was founded in 1766 by–forgive the plug–your ancestors, the Emburys. It still stands in lower Manhattan.

(The pastor, Jason Radmacher, might not spend as much time with you as he graciously did with me–a name really gets you places–but there is a small museum in the basement where you can see several very cool historical artifacts.)

1pm — Lunch at Cafe Habana which, on a map, is between SoHo and the Lower East Side. Fast, Cuban, and tiny. There are more people, yourself included, eating on the sidewalk outside the cafe than in it.

Nameless people who allowed you to take their photo.

2pm — Subway north to Niketown because it is your husband’s birthday and he wants the Nike FuelBand which he laters says might not have been worth the money.

2:30-4:30 — Navigate the 5th and Madison Ave. area on a holiday weekend, and push through Times Square on the way back to your hotel.

5pm — Freshen up. (Again, totally up to you.) Head to McSorley’s, the city’s oldest continuously operated saloon, founded in 1854. Favorite place by far–sawdust on the floor, a simple choice of light or dark beer (you go for dark), and when you want to sit, the server places you wherever there are open seats.

Your new table friends from South Carolina and Indiana

 6pm — Dinner at The Bridge Cafe, another oldie, built in 1794. At turns a grocery, brothel, and pirate bar–and depicted in the book and movie The Gangs of New York–it now serves fantastic food. Smoked gouda and almond crusted chicken stay in your thoughts well after dinner.

The Bridge Cafe

8pm — Attend Broadway play Clybourne Park. (I should have mentioned that earlier you bought day-of tickets at the Walter Kerr Theatre box office. $90 front-row tix for $30.) Laugh, cry, and wish you could write this well.
10pm-12am — Drinks at The Ginger Man (nice but too nice) and Rattle N Hum (good beer, not too nice, which is perfect).
12am — Brush teeth, careful not to hit your elbow against the wall. Fall into bed (easily done from the sink area).
*This isn’t a real travel article, so no research was done on behalf of this post. Fact checking and determining locations of places mentioned in the post are the responsibility of the reader. Also, some events are out of order, for ease of writing. This might not translate into ease of tourism.

A Veteran’s Post

 NEW YORK 

I’m here for a writers conference, as is my friend R.Y. Swint. She is a veteran of Afghanistan. In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, and of her, I’d like to share a bit of her writing–one of my favorites.

So many events of this past year have taught me that the simple things deserve appreciation more than most others. A good box of Kleenex and some Vicks salve (VapoRub, for you uppity folks)  works wonders for my disposition, even though I’m a little under the weather.  Has me looking forward to my next sneeze as I listen to music from my childhood on YouTube or my iPod.  I hear bits and pieces of my life set to music, as so many people pass through, some fleeting, some lingering.

The Kleenex treat me like the cool side of the pillow.  The Vicks comforts me like my grandmother’s hands.  The music plays a soundtrack to a life I’d forgotten how to love.

Current plans have me attending the funeral of a fallen comrade and the wedding of a dear friend in the same weekend.  And such is how life goes.  And as life goes, I find that I’m moving along with it, but only making motions.  Watching it more than living it.  Observing, listening, appreciating, respecting it, but yet to revisit it.  Life.  As it goes.

A friend suggests that I might be exhibiting subtle symptoms of PTSD, but I doubt it.  It’s natural for folks to worry.  I wish they wouldn’t.  The monsters don’t come for me every night.  Something about the music seems to keep them at bay.

Post deployment indeed has me hovering between perpetual states of mourning and celebration.  It’s true that my patience is shorter.  My threshold for bullshit is even lower.  Self-control is a thin, yet deceptive enough veil over crazy.  Grief strikes me at the oddest moments.  Tears and dread and angst almost always follow.  For life lost, life wasted, lives forced into destinies of struggle and turmoil, and for others who will choose to walk the most difficult, misguided, and ill-advised of paths.  And then I smile or laugh in remembrance or anticipation.  Or appreciation.

My bathroom is two, maybe three feet away from my bed.  My bed is soft and warm.  The water in my shower is hot.  I just bought new shoes that I have absolutely no plans to wear any time soon.  And I no longer write with a rifle on my lap.  Simple things.

 *Originally posted on Swint’s blog, Write on Time.