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« Hamilton: An American Journal | Main | The Same Rights as You and Me - Jan 5, 2017 »

These New York City Streets Gettin' Colder

I’m not sure what part of traveling I hate more – the hassle of getting to the airport and going through Security, or the flight itself. They tell you to arrive 1-2 hours before your scheduled departure, but the former practically guarantees the freeway will be shut down due to a SWAT situation involving stolen weapons, Rick Perry, and a pack of rabid raccoons. Also, only one security lane will be open, and you’ll get stuck behind some guy who doesn’t understand that his jacket has to come off, as well as his belt, and yes, the hat, too, and that laptop has to be removed from its case, and stay with your items, sir, don’t just leave them there, everything has to go in a separate container LIKE THEY SAID A MILLION TIMES WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Of course, if you opt for arriving two hours before your flight, the roads will be empty and all the TSA checkpoints will be open, but all the airport bars will be closed. Basically, you have an hour and fifty-five minutes to contemplate all the things that can go wrong when a 75-ton airplane hurtles 30,000 feet above the surface of the earth at 500+ miles per hour. Seriously, why are the bars closed? I can’t be the only one who needs a double gin and tonic at 7:00am.

We hit a few snags leaving for New York, but through some miracle we still made our flight. I love my husband dearly, but that man is incapable of leaving the house on time. All those jokes people make about having to wait on the women are pretty much opposite in my house: inevitably, my daughter and I will be standing at the door, tapping our feet as we wait for my husband to get his shit together. (This is made doubly frustrating by the fact that he spent the past hour, while my daughter and I were getting ready, playing Angry Birds and insisting he was “all set.”) Apparently, our front door is some sort of magic portal, and the instant he passes through he remembers all the things he meant to do before we left, plus seven different items he forgot to pack. 

So we left the house later than we’d intended, husband driving while I typed into my phone the address of the offsite airport parking lot at which I’d made a reservation. But husband doesn’t trust Siri, probably because I gave my Siri a male voice with a sexy English accent, and my husband is jealous. So rather than following the excellent directions from Ian (also I changed Siri's name to Ian), husband decided to navigate on his own, which would have been fine if we’d been going to the same parking lot we used last year — but we weren’t. By the time he realized this, exited the freeway, and turned around, I was beginning to panic. We got back on the highway (going the correct direction this time - yay!) but as we neared our exit the traffic was so bad we couldn’t cross the multiple lanes necessary in time to turn into the parking lot. So we ditched the reservation and parked at a different lot. Then we had to wait for the shuttle — and there's nothing like the quiet hysteria that grips you when you know you're very, very late, and there's nothing you can do but wait in total impotence. When we finally got to the airport, the lines for the two open Delta agents were almost out the door, and I remembered why I hate traveling. And my husband. (I’m kidding — I adore him. Mostly.)

Once we got through Security, and I could breathe without hyperventilating, I started to relax. We made our way to our gate, where Dan Rather sat making Facebook posts about the latest insane Trump tweet. Seriously. I guess you never know who you’ll run into on a flight to NYC. Or maybe he lives in Austin? It's possible. I could tell a few other people recognized him, but no one bothered him. Except me, of course. I was a journalism major — Dan Rather was one of my early childhood heroes. I never would have forgiven myself if I didn’t speak to him. Now, did I want to meet Dan Rather when I was wearing my standard travelling garb of faded hoodie and super-comfy fat pants? Of course not. But carpe diem, right? I shook his hand and thanked him for his Facebook posts, which have provided such reason and sanity amidst the craziness of this incoming administration. He was gracious and generous and thanked me for thanking him. Despite the rocky beginning, our vacation was now off to a fantastic start!



The man, the legend, the bored passenger awaiting his flight.The flight was uneventful; I read the first half of Roxanne Gay’s excellent book Bad Feminist while husband and daughter watched movies and played games. Seeing my kid’s face when we approached JFK and she saw snow on the ground was amazing. Poor kid. I think it’s snowed in Austin once since she was born, but she was so young she can’t remember it. I’d hired a car to take us into Manhattan, and it was fun to watch her snapping pictures of random things as we slowly made our way along the LIE from Queens. We arrived at our hotel an hour before check-in, which gave us a perfect opportunity to go play in some snow before it melted.

We stayed at the W near Times Square, so it was a short walk to Bryant Park. Temps were in the teens, with wind chills lowering that to the single digits, but having checked the weather before we left I was prepared. I wore fleece leggings beneath my fat pants and fleece thermals beneath my sweater, hoodie, and coat. Plus I had gloves and a heavy scarf. I had encouraged both husband and daughter to dress similarly (assuming we wouldn’t have a chance to get into our luggage prior to heading out), but both dismissed my warnings with a shrug and a pffffttt. Husband didn't want to be hot on the plane, and daughter does whatever husband does. Basically, I was the only one who wasn’t absolutely freezing while we trekked to the park. 

My husband is from the northwest, so he’s no stranger to sub-freezing temps. But apparently he’s lived in Texas long enough to become a total wimp who wouldn’t even take his hands out of his pockets long enough to snap a photo. A lack of gloves didn’t stop my daughter from playing in the powdery snow, though. She made snowballs and threw piles of snow into the air until her little hands were bright pink. I gave her my scarf, so at least her ears and head were warm. We watched the ice skaters at the Winter Village, bought a steaming cup of hot apple cider, and had another massive snowball fight before heading back to the W.

It was a tad chilly.

After checking into our suite and getting settled, we ventured back out. Daughter dragged us to the Hershey’s store and the M&M’s store in Times Square, then we just wandered around until we found a place to eat. We ended up at a pub called Hurley’s, where I had decent fish and chips, husband had a nice-looking shepherd’s pie, and daughter had that famous Irish specialty known as mozzarella sticks. Husband got to try a couple of local craft beers, and I had a local cider. Our bartender was Irish, which added genuine charm. All in all, a pleasant and tasty meal. 

We were exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel. Being in the heart of Manhattan plays with your sense of time, as even at midnight it’s so bright outside it feels like the sun is still up. We were on the 41st floor, which helped with the street noise, although it couldn’t completely shield us from the onslaught of constant sirens that is Times Square. Whatever – it’s part of the experience, right? I bought a white-noise app for my phone and we turned in, dreaming of the grand adventures we’d have the next day.


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