New York City – Now I, the Tourist

It’s been so long, blah, blah, blah… Once out of the practice of posting, it becomes strange to jump right back in, but today is as good as any.

It’s approaching noon on a glorious, Chicago summer day.  Although the ice has melted, the Blackhawks are marching across town along with a gazillion fans in thick, polyester jerseys celebrating another Stanley Cup victory.  Go Blackhawks.  My kids and I are still in our pajamas, enjoying our respective digital devices with the prospects of another wide-open and unstructured day.

We’ve just returned from a week long adventure in New York City to celebrate one nephew’s Eighth Grade graduation, and another nephew’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor.  I love visiting my family.  I don’t always love visiting New York.  Since leaving about 12 years ago, I haven’t had much desire to go back.  However, this trip was special.

My daughter, who was a chubby, one-year-old when we left, is now a tall, lanky, teen who is super excited about seeing “the city”.  Eye-roll.  My approach was, “What is so special about NY?  We have everything right here, at home in Chicago without all the congestion, garbage and stink.”

Her turn to eye-roll.   “But Mom, New York is the center of everything!”  I had to chuckle, because I once believed that.  She is about the same age as I was when I first visited New York City.  Because of her enthusiasm, I made certain to chisel out time just for her and Manhattan – a brief, glorious and exhausting, one-day, mother-daughter tour.

The itinerary was simple, she wanted to see the Guggenheim.  She’d seen it in movies, read about it in books, and was dying to experience Frank Lloyd Wright’s temple to the arts.  She could have cared less about the art, it was the building she longed to experience.GuggenheimWell, we didn’t exactly get the full experience as the entire interior has been altered as one piece of work by space and lighting artist, James Turrell.  It was lovely, but not an earth shattering experience.  It was not at all unlike sitting in my son’s fort-under-the-stairs as a strand of Ikea LED lights gradually change colors.  There, that’s it!  After 12 years in the Midwest, I’ve become the ignorant art observer to shout out, “That’s it?!?”  The paintings were pushed to the galleries and the otherwise gorgeous, spiraling ramp was encase in a white screen, creating a claustrophobic, tunnel effect.

After reading many breathtaking reviews about the show, my daughter and I waited nearly an hour in line to get into a gallery dedicated to his work.  Hmmm, one piece.  We entered with about 15 people.  My feet were sooo sore because I’ve lost my NY edge and wore cute flats instead of sensible shoes.  The gallery was dark.  On the far wall was painted a grey rectangle with two dim lights on the side walls.  In the dark, with this small band of strangers, awkwardly shifting around, and one security guard, my daughter whispered to me, “is something supposed to happen?”  Immediately I thought of the Emperor’s New Clothes when the child exclaims, “But he’s naked!”

We were the first to leave, rather quickly, giggling like school girls.

I read later that the rectangle could be an illuminated hole in the wall.  Drat!  I could have put my hand through.  That would have been a totally different experience.  Except that security guard looked rather intimidating, especially after being accosted by guards every moment my hand touched my iPhone – No Photos!The WrightTo complete our completely ridiculous, New York City, I-don’t-get-it Art Scene, we met my lovely SIL, Mara (she’s not ridiculous), at The Wright for lunch.  It was heavenly to get off our feet, sit in an elegant, air conditioned, beautifully designed, museum cafe.  I had the Spring Vegetables with poached egg.  Mara had the Heirloom Yellow & Red Gazpacho.  My girl had the Filet of Beef.  It came out and she gasped, “The plate, it’s so big.  And look at this tiny piece of meat!”  Yes, it was about 1 oz of meat arranged carefully with a few teensy carrots on a bed of green goop.  Twenty-eight dollars.  Yep.  Gotta love New York.Lovely MaraThe rest of the day was a whirlwind.  We cabbed it over to MoMA to see the Rain Room.  The lines were already closed for the day (up to a 4-hour wait!!!), but we were able to enter with ease to walk through as an observer.  Oooh, this was cool.  I hope it comes to Chicago.Rain RoomI thought I’d have to drag my art-averse kid through the galleries at MoMA, but to my surprise, she delighted in all we saw there.  From Le Corbusier’s designs from the 30’s (They look so Modern!!) to Claes Oldenburg’s large, soft sculptures (Pie!), she bounced back and forth to whatever grabbed her eye in the moment.  It was thrilling to me to see her mind wide open to all the possibilities.LoveOh, I love this girl.StreetOur feet were really killing us both by then, so a decision had to be made.  Central Park vs Grand Central Station.  Easy for me, Grand Central was towards home.  We made a slight detour through Bryant Park and were treated to quite a spectacle.  Throngs of people bordered the lawn, that was completely empty.  Suddenly, at 5 o’clock on the dot, an announcement was made and hundreds of screaming people ran at once, with their blankets as banners to stake their territory.  Once declared, they all jumped up and down shouting cheers.  ???  It was all in fun to stake out a good viewing spot to see Invasion of the Body Snatchers at 9pm later that evening.  My girl imagined how much she looks forward to doing this when she lives in New York.  (Mom gasp – so far away!  I’m looking for a small condo for me, now.)

Library LionFinally, in Grand Central.  She exclaims how taking the trains are so much more fun than a cab.  Ughh!  It’s so crazy how age has caught up to me.  Walking through the station I reminisced how the last time I walked these halls, I was hugely pregnant with her (very, very huge) with incredibly sore feet (plantar fasciitis – ouch) .  I walked through Grand Central nearly every day, on my way to work, during my pregnancy with that girl, up until the day she was born (almost).  Look at her, 13 years later!  Grand CentralWait a minute, while I pick up my exploding heart from the keyboard.Staten Island Ferry TerminalNever more grateful to see this sign as we made our way back to my sister’s house.  The Staten Island Ferry, still the best ride in town.  We sat on the upper deck, this time facing the ocean, letting the wind cool us as Manhattan receded into the distance.

What a privilege to sneak away with my daughter to share what I had once imagined was the center of the universe.  I will admit – it was fun to be a tourist for a day.

Let’s Walk

I love my daily walks.  They hadn’t been so daily once Chicago got cold.  I’d sworn that all I needed was warm enough clothes and I’d continue my daily trek.  But I didn’t fulfill that and missed a few walks, then a few more.  I wasn’t hitting it daily and my mood, and weight, and appetite, and sleep were all affected by losing that daily walk. Then I went on vacation.  Nothing like a crisp Arizona morning to get me out of bed, into my sneakers and out the door.

Daily walk on the Canal

Sunrise on the Canal

It was especially fun walking with this guy.

Walking BuddyAnd it was especially meaningful to walk with my husband.  Vacations are typically his time to sleep in daily, but when I gently touched his shoulder and said, “come on, let’s go for a walk,” he was up and out the door within minutes. The one day we missed our walk, we just kept missing each other all day long.

The walks are sometimes silent as we contemplate our own thoughts.  Other times, we talk the entire distance about our kids, homeschool vs private school, money (oy!), guns (we are in AZ), fiscal cliff, Dan Quail (funny he came up), flu virus, etc.  It’s nice to have 30 minutes to check in with each other.

When we walk together, we tend to touch hands more frequently throughout the day.  Smile more.  Speak more kindly.  Actually speak.  I’d love to find a way to continue our walks when we get home.  Much nicer to have a walking buddy.  If we can’t, perhaps it’s time for another dog.  I’ve been scheming to bring home Gunner, the goofy, sweet, gentle lab above, but he’s already taken.  Drat.

Any of you FB users come across this post by Michael Moore?  He’d started walking 30 minutes daily about nine months ago and thousands of his Twitter followers joined him.  In response to many of his followers wanting to know the Why for his daily group walk, he explains it’s not about dieting, changing, fixing oneself, etc.  He writes,

“Quit trying to be something you’re not, be happy with the life you’ve been given, and go for a pleasant walk outside.”

He goes on a friendly rant and wraps it all up by saying,

“The path to happiness – and deep down,we all know this – is created by love, and being kind to oneself, sharing a sense of community with others, becoming a participant instead of a spectator, and being in motion.”

I didn’t really know that I liked Michael Moore until I read this post.  I haven’t gotten a chance to sit alone with myself and contemplate the start of the new year and all I’d like to accomplish.  But at this moment, I would resolve to keep up with my daily walks – get outside and try to connect more with people.

What are your resolutions for the new year?



My day sure started much brighter than yesterday.  When thundering upstairs in search of shoes, I heard my son exclaim with a great deal of enthusiasm, “I’m going to school!!!” as if her were going to Disneyland.  Wow.  What happened between today and yesterday is beyond me, but I’ll go with it.

At the time I got out for my run, the skies were still sunny and blue.  Then I rounded the bend and it looked as though I was walking right into a storm.  The skies held back and let me linger, taking photos along my route.  The lake was beautiful and misty and had that feeling of closeness, like walking into a room full of books.  The fog, perhaps.

The harbor may be empty of boats, but not short on activity.  I guess this is clean up time as the park district brings in all the buoys for the winter.

I confess that while I now know that I can run the distance without stopping to walk, breathe or rest, today as I stopped frequently.  I think I like taking photos far more than running.  But then, running gets me out there to take more photos – the opposite of a viscous circle.

Even without the leaves, I love those trees.

Invasive Zebra Mussels.  Strangely beautiful in spite of all the damage they cause.


Copernicus, again.  He’d look so noble if it weren’t for the gull on his head.

I went a bit farther than usual and felt that I could just keep on going.  Alas, lunch, kids, driving, bills, you know, life, turned me around for home.  Sigh.  What a beautiful day.

When I’m Old, Will You Walk With Me?

My exercise routine is pretty simple.  I walk.  I try to walk a great distance each day.  Some days, I run.  I’d like to do yoga daily, but I’m lucky if I get to my PT exercises and post-run stretches.  When I run with a partner, I run faster and farther.  When I walk with a partner, well, I can’t say that I usually go further and faster.  It depends on the partner.

I convinced my daughter to join me today.  She might say that I threatened, bribed and ultimately dragged her outside.  Child abuse, I know.  It was cloudy, humid and unseasonably warm.  Look.  Even on a crappy day this view is amazing (taken yesterday, but it looked the same today, really).

I love our walks together.  She doesn’t like to walk fast.  She complains if I go too far.  She needs to stop and sit at the halfway point.  I really don’t get much of a workout in.  Yet I’d rather walk with her any day.  She tells me about her stories.  Each character has a back story that I might have forgotten from the last walk together.  A new plot unravels.  I get the spoilers.  She tells me about her studies.  Not in that monotonous, reporting to the boss sort of way, but with interest and enthusiasm.

She was holding my elbow as we neared home.  “I imagine I’m old and walking down a street in London with a friend.”  I hope that’s me.  I told her that when I get old (older) I’d like her to take me out on walks.  When I complain that my arthritis is flaring up, my knees hurt, I’m tired and please leave me alone, I want her to remember when she was twelve.  She should bribe me, threaten me, and ultimately force me to go outside for a walk with her, just like I did to her.  Because I will love it.



This is my favorite photo from one of my runs last week.  Taken last Thursday, it was cloudy and ferociously windy in Chicago, but still warm.  I was overdressed.  So hard to call these things.  I’m still a newb (or nube?) as my tween would say.  Running along the lake was a challenge.  That didn’t seem to stop these lovers, nestled together under their blanket, enjoying the afternoon together.  Beautiful.