Thursday, May 20, 2010

Five days in...

The library entrance

Hello again from the Big Apple. My fifth day is drawing to a close, and my love affair for this place grows by the day. I feel like I'm sneaking around behind Melbourne's back, falling in love with another city. Don't worry, Melbourne; you will always be my No 1.

Since I last blogged, I have been to the library. Not just any old library, the New York Public Library, which is right up there in the library hall of fame, and for good reason. It's a jaw-droppingly impressive building. Marble as far as the eye can see, columns and arches and staircases (Beaux-Arts style, for those who are interested). But the jaw-droppingest bits were the McGraw Rotunda,  Bill Blass Catalogue Room and the Rose Main Reading Room. Simply stunning. So much ornate detail.  

Not only does is it a feast for the eyes, it has some amazing treasures in its collection - the letter Christiopher Columbus wrote to the Spanish king and queen notifying them he had discovered the New World, one of five copies Thomas Jefferson made of his draft Declaration of Independence (which contains a section abolishing slavery, which was promptly removed by Congress), the first Gutenberg Bible (dating back to the 1450s) to come ashore in America, a desk, lamp and chair belonging to Dickens and the original (now very threadbare) toy animals that inspired AA Milne to wrote Winnie The Pooh.

You can't see all of these things, but I did see the bible, Dickens' desk and the toys.

I had to abandon plans to go to the Empire State Building due to poor weather so I grabbed a Big Salad for lunch at a gourmet deli (my god, what an eye-popping array of food!) and then headed to the Museum of Sex. Yes, they do have a museum for that. It's not as tawdry as it sounds, although the first exhibit was on sex and the moving image, so you can imagine what they had on display there. Very bizarre experience seeing a money shot while you are in a room with fully dressed strangers. Also difficult to concentrate on reading the information displays with porn music and lady moaning in the background. I mean, I was there for the information after all.

The other displays were far less spicy and far more educational (unless watching a bonobo chimp orgy is your thing). I did touch a penis, however. No, no real genitals at the Museum of Sex, unlike MoMA. It was a silicone one meant to simulate the male member (not very convincingly, however).

The weather was even worse after I  emerged from touching faux penii and watching porn, so I spent some time cruising the souvenir shops (yes, I now own an I Heart New York T shirt), then headed back to my hotel, again catching the right bus and ending up in the right place. Go, me.

Today I visited the Chrysler Building, including the awesome art deco lobby and Grand Central Station, which is yet another jaw-droppingly gorgeous building, especially the main concourse with its vast blue ceiling featuring a mural of the zodiac and huge arched windows at either end.

Then it was showtime! I had a ticket to see West Side Story on Broadway. I've not been to many musicals in my life, and I've never seen West Side Story. I confess I'm not really that big a fan of musicals to be honest, but when on Broadway... I chose WSS because it's set in New York and I'm staying on the West Side.

I enjoyed it - lots of colour, great choreography and songs I recognised even if I never knew where they were from ("I feel pretty, oh, so pretty..."). Oh, and hot guys with muscular biceps. Noice.

It was at the Palace Theatre - surprise surprise, another beautiful building.

After the show I had some cheesecake (another New York specialty) and a can of Dr Pepper before heading to St Patrick's Cathedral. I walked past it the other day without knowing what it was and thought it was impressive from the outside, but today I went inside. Wow. Amazing. Can you tell I'm running out of superlatives? (Strange seeing security guard and so many tourists taking photos in a church though).

Then I headed home again. Tomorrow I'm finally going to visit the Statue of Liberty. Got to be up bright and early and down to the ferry terminal at 9am. I'm thinking I might even brave the subway in rush hour. I'm told it's bedlam - and I'm sure it is - but I'm a big girl...I'll just make sure I allow plenty of time to get there.

I also have a ticket for the hop-on, hop-off tourist bus tomorrow so will spend the afternoon pootling about on that visiting various places on my must-see list. I'm hoping the weather will be fine enough for a trip up the Empire State Building too. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm in New York!!!!

Me, in Central Park.

Oh my god, you guys! I'm in a whole other country! At last! It's only taken me nearly 38 years, but finally I have set foot outside Australia! I've been in New York for three days now and I still don't think it's sunk in. 

I'm in love with the place already, and I've barely even scratched the surface. I haven't ventured too far downtown so I'm yet to see the iconic sights like the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building. I expect the love affair to deepen dramatically once I do... 

You'd think those landmarks would be the first things that I would go see, but I'm spreading out the awesomeness. Just being here is enough awesome to sustain me for now.

What have I seen? Squirrels! Sounds ridiculous to get excited by them, I've obviously never seen one before. When I saw the first one, it took me by surprise and, in my head, I shrieked, "Oh my god! A squirrel!". I took a photo of course. 

I spent Saturday exploring Central Park and it's amazing - huge, beautiful, full of people and so much to see. New Yorkers truly are spoilt to have such a vast patch of green in the centre of their huge and bustling city. The view of the skyline from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is spectacular and the water features are postcard perfect, especially The Lake with all the row boats punting about on it. The bridges are beautiful and the wrought iron lamps! They've got loads of olde worlde charm and there's so many of them everywhere. 

I saw a pair of geese with a clutch of gosling, loads of turtles and an owl. Yep, an owl. There was some kind of bird day on at Belvedere Castle and a woman was giving a talk about owls with a massive owl sitting on her arm. It looked pretty unimpressed, but it was awake when it should have been sleeping afterall. I felt like we had something in common.

Today I went to the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art and saw works by Warhol, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Monet and Van Gogh. I got quite a buzz from knowing I was standing in front of the real deal. 

I've eaten some New York staples - hotdogs and pretzels from street vendors and chicken soup with matzoh balls. Tonight I had a toasted bagel with cream cheese and it was delicious. I foresee more of those in my future.

I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself for finding my way around without too much trouble and I've managed to buy a weekly Metrocard from a machine at the subway and catch a bus back to my hotel twice. Go, me! I should save the self-congratulations for after I work out the subway...

Sorry this has only one photo - I have loads more obviously, but it's time consuming to upload them and I'm doing this at a net cafe.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A strange musical coincidence

You know how I like silly coincidences? Here's another one: last week I had a brief discussion with a friend about the Crash Test Dummies' song Mmm mmm mmm mmm, which was a huge hit when we were at uni (don't ask, I don't recall how it came up).

Then last night my friend Paul texted me about a bunch of acts that are performing in New York while I'm there and Crash Test Dummies is one of them. Funny, I said, I was just talking about that old song the other day...

But that's not all! Paul went to a pub tonight and no points for guessing what song was playing. Yep. That one. Weird. I haven't thought of that song in probably more than 10 years - let alone heard it - and now it's popped up three times in the space of a week$ and a bit.

In other, less freakish, musical coincidences, today I posted a YouTube video of Frank Sinatra's New York, New York, to get me in the mood for my trip (two sleeps!) and tonight a snippet of the song featured in one of the rounds on Spicks n Specks.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Lemon tart and tea

I was distracted by stuff last night and forgot to post, but if I had, it would have been to tell you that my friend Paul had invited me to help spend a $250 Crown dining voucher tonight. Of course, I did not decline. Are you nuts? Who says no to $250 of free tucker and drinks?

We went to Breezes, which is on the top floor of the casino complex - just past the huge Crown Towers swimming pool (which had two people in it) and at eye level with the huge glas flares along the promenade that blast balls of flame into the air on the hour.

I don't know how much of the $250 we used, but we had three courses each, with drinks, and were full as googs by the end of it. The best bits were the creamy mashed potato (how awesome is restaurant spud mash? You just have to try not to think about how much cream and/or butter has gone into it) and the roast pumpkin ravioli I had for entree. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Also, only three more sleeps until I leave!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Awesome coincidence

Remember I wrote yesterday how I enjoy that freshly-clipped nail feeling? Well, last night after publishing that post, I had a hot bath and settled in to read The Book of Awesome.

And what should crop up on page 234? Finally clipping your fingernails after you've been meaning to do it all week!! It's like the author Neil Pasricha read my mind....from the past.

I don't like my nails long but I also don't like cutting them, so they usually end up way too long, and interfere with my typing and texting before I do something about it and then aaaaaah. Short. All good. 

I had some time to kill in the city tonight so I went to Borders and bought some books for my trip - two Penguin classics: The Lucky Country (an Australian classic) and Breakfast at Tiffany's, which is set in New York. Quite fitting, I thought!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Giggling, list writing and manicuring

My friend sent me a video of her seven-month-old, Thomas, (one of my 'nephews') having a fit of giggles yesterday. It's impossible not to laugh along with him. He almost looks like he's putting it on, such is his enthusiasm. So cute and funny.  

I wrote a list of things to pack for my New York trip today. I wasn't feeling mentally ready for the trip, but now I feel a little more prepared. Love a good list.

I dislike having long fingernails, but I really like that fresh (DIY) manicured feeling.

Friday, May 7, 2010

At last, opening night

I came through the park on my way home tonight just in time to catch the end of the opening night light show at AAMI Park, Melbourne's newest and coolest sports stadium (which looks set to become nicknamed Bubble Dome). It looks amazing, especially with the lights reflecting off the drizzle.

Here's a cool time lapse video of construction of the Bubble Dome. Keep watching at the end to see what it looks like inside. I love it. Shame I'm not interested in either of the sports that will be played there...

Mmm...giant jaffas.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More flowers, less money, short week

I arrived at work today to find a bunch of white/cream roses and lilies from a friend in Sydney. Just gorgeous.

I really like it when I have a lot of coins in my wallet and I can pay for my lunch without breaking a note. It lightens the load and feels like I'm spending less money.

It's nice going back to work on a Thursday, especially when it's pay day.

A day out in the hills

I was feeling glum and sooky today, so my friend Julian whisked me away to the Dandenongs for some fresh air, exercise and lunch. Isn't he ace?

It's so pretty up there - almost like stepping into a fairytale - especially at this time of year with autumn colours on display. We bought some lollies at the lolly shop in Sassafrass and then ate lunch at Pie in the Sky before heading to the top of Mt Dandenong to enjoy the (rainy) view. It was bloody cold up there! I remembered to bring my fat puffy parka with me - and was looking forward to wearing it - but I foolishly thought I'd be OK without it when I got out of the car. Wrong! It was below 10 degrees C. Very wintry indeed.

My lime spider

We warmed our hands on a hot chocolate, had a look at the very well sign-posted Secret Garden and then drove to Silvan Reservoir as the late afternoon sun slanted through the trees and lit up the greenery with a golden glow. But when we got to the dam, it wasn't open. Dang. We did contemplate clambering over the gates, but the possibility of getting caught stopped us.

We consoled ourselves with a walk in the damp, drippy forest. It was nice - dark red soil, glistening leaves, fungus sprouting in the undergrowth, mossy rocks and lichen covered tree trunks, and a quite pleasant earthy smell.

Demented koalas at the Skyhigh giftshop

Tonight Julian and I met Anna at Hu Tong in Prahran for a feed of dumplings. Yum.

When I got home I had a present in the mail from one of my blog readers, Margaret. A cute little Kimmidoll canvas pouch for me to take on my trip. How lovely is that? I've 'met' so many wonderful, kind and caring people on the interwebs. It makes me warm and fuzzy inside.

Tuesday night I got a message from my former osteo on Facebook that made me happy but teary (not hard at the moment). I'm glad we've stayed in touch.

PS 8 days until I leave for NYC!  

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A tough day turns out well

A quick stop at the Williamstown waterfront before the funeral

It was my Dad's funeral today and I amazed myself by delivering a speech and doing it pretty well. I never imagined that I had it in me not only to speak in front of so many people, but to speak publicly at such an emotional time.

I haven't done any public speaking since....well, probably since Year 12, and I'm not an outgoing type who loves being centre stage. But I did it! I even ad libbed a bit.

It was weird how calm I was leading up to it. I thought I would be wobbly-legged and all a-tremble, but I wasn't. I was determined to do it for my Dad and I did.

I felt elated after it was over - a combination of relief that it was out of the way and immense pride at doing it as well as I did. It's wonderful to discover strength you never knew you had.

And to have everyone tell me how well I did, that they were proud of me and that my Dad would be proud was the cherry on top.  

It's been a sad day, but also a good day. Laughter through tears.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I made gluten-free pasties today. I was delighted to discover gluten-free pastry in the freezer section at the supermarket. Although it was very expensive, I thought I'd give it a go, just for something different.

I made low-allergy lamb and vegetable pasties - no recipe, just making it up as  I went along, which is how I do most of my allergy cooking. The filling was nice, but I overcooked them a little and made the pastry a bit chewy. Oh well. I'll know better next time.

It was nice to finally cook a meal at home at least.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


OK, I'm cheating a little by back-posting this...but I was sick Sunday and slept almost all day. It's hard to find anything gleeful about the day, so I'll just say, mmmm...porridge. Porridge and tea. Very comforting.

And yay for painkillers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cuddles, secret smiles and pudding

I did get me some cuddles today. As I mentioned yesterday, I went to visit my friends and my two quasi nephews, who are three and seven months. Both are adorable. I'm quite besotted with them.

Master 3 was a bit rambunctious in the evening after not sleeping in the afternoon, prompting his parents to have stern words with him at the dinner table. I looked at him and gave him a little secret smile, and he gave me a little secret smile in return. 

He let me take home two of his kinder art creations for my fridge - a fish and a jelly fish.

My friends cooked me my favourite corned beef, mashed potato and vegies for dinner, with self-saucing chocolate pudding for dessert. Yum. We used to eat chocolate pudding often when I was a kid, so it was the perfect comfort food. It felt great to be looked after.

I got home late and cold, had a very hot bath, put clean pyjamas on and now I'm ready for bed. I'm not setting my alarm. Sweet.