Friday, September 5, 2008

My New York City Adventure: Part 1, Brooklyn

I love to visit New York in the late summer or early fall. Last week I was able to finagle another visit, but this time I had several objectives. They were to help Jennifer set up her fourth grade classroom in Brooklyn; attend a swing dance event called Hudson Swing Affair, where Tom, my husband, was a deejay; shoot the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn side; and last, but not least, visit with my sister, Janie, and my brother-in-law, Dennis.

Because this is going to be a post of EPIC proportions, I absolutely must break it into several posts that the average human can read in minutes, not hours. I know I will lose several readers (Janie) if it is too long. So, with that in mind, I will begin at the beginning.

The plan was to arrive at LaGuardia and meet Janie and Dennis, who were coming from California. As usual, my flight arrived first, so I had to wait for about two hours for their plane to arrive. I guess I didn't realize when I made the reservations that I would have that much of a wait, but I did so I dealt with it. As luck would have it, I brought that book along, the one about Renoir that I mentioned in a previous post. I also had some old Coke and trail mix. I was set. I propped my feet on one suitcase and read and watched and read and watched. Finally they arrived, and we got a cab to Jersey City, New Jersey. "Why," you may ask, "did we go to Jersey City?" Well, it's like this. Since Tom was playing at the swing event at the Hyatt in Jersey City later in the week and we got great rates, it made perfect sense to stay in the area before moving to the Hyatt. That's why. Anyway, a hundred bucks later, we arrived at our hotel and checked in. We immediately inquired about FOOD, since the trail mix didn't go very far. We were told that the restaurant in the hotel was closed, and it wasn't looking good at the bar/restaurant across the street. Living on the wild side, we took our chances and went across the street, but because it was after 11:00 P.M.,the kitchen was closed. After ordering wine, we immediately started groping in our purses for some morsel of food. We found some stale pretzels and crackers covered with lint and a few melted M&M's. At this point, we couldn't be picky so we dove in. It was dog eat dog. I don't drink that much wine, so the impact it had on me with my empty stomach was huge. The weather was perfect, so we stayed there and drank and talked and drank and talked. Finally around two we crawled across to the hotel and crashed.

The next day, Thursday, we planned to go to Jennifer's school in Brooklyn. HA! Easier said than done. New Jersey has a different transporation system than New York. That means that PATH stations are only in about five subway stations in the city. We had few choices because we were going to Brooklyn, and not every station in the city has trains going directly there. So after lunch we began our journey. Got the train to the World Trade Center, exited, walked to God knows where to get a subway to 33rd street to get the Q to Brooklyn. Did it. Got off at 7th Avenue, called Jennifer, got walking directions to her school. Eight blocks later, we were there. Piece of cake. This is a shot of the brownstones on one of the streets we walked down.

Jennifer's room in the school is on the third floor. Did I mention that? And it's not air conditioned. Did I mention that? So as soon as we could catch our breath and lower our heart rates, we visited with several members of the staff. We caught up with Brad, who used to teach fourth grade across the hall; met her cute, perky, supportative and wonderful assistant principal, Jill who has a 1 1/2 hour commute from Long Island; met Tania who moved into Brad's old room; and Julie and Kim. Soon Jennifer put a halt to all of the visiting and immediately put us to work. Janie labeled literacy books, Dennis worked the label maker, and I covered bulletin boards while Jennifer worked on organizing papers, books, and plans. We had to vacate the building by five, so we were working fast...not that fast because we knew we were returning the next day so we weren't pushing the panic button, YET!

On the way to Jennifer's apartment, we stopped at a cute little Mexican restaurant for yet another glass of wine and a chip or two. Notice the Tibetian store in the background? That gave us the strength to walk several more blocks to yet another cute little restaurant down the street from her apartment on Vanderbilt. This one was Italian. We had a wonderful dinner and made our plans for Friday. We were going to try to arrive earlier to help her because it would be the last day before the students arrived. Our intentions were good. We said our good-byes and started walking. Jennifer went to her apartment two minutes away, and we went to the the subway to begin our hour-long trek to Jersey. Thank goodness for Janie because she figured it all out. We crashed, watched Obama, and went to sleep.

Things get complicated the next day. Before going to Brooklyn, we had to check out of the Courtyard and check in the Hyatt. Although the Hyatt was only one subway stop, we had to get a cab. Here we go. Load it up again and unload again. We checked in and HAD to have lunch before going under the Hudson River, across Manhattan, over the East River and down and over eight blocks to her school. It was around two when we arrived, late, as usual. This time Dennis and I scrubbed desks, swept the floor, scrubbed the sink, and put out worksheets while Janie labeled books. She's kinda task-oriented, likes to finish what she begins...the Blue Bird oath, or is it Camp Fire Girls oath? There really wasn't a lot of was work, work, work. The room looked great..very creative and very organized. The custodian told us that we had to leave again at five. We were ready. Jennifer decided to join us at the Hyatt, so after loading up her "stuff," we were on our way.

Here's Jennifer as we wait for the subway in Brooklyn. Can you say "pose"? Can you say, "not a lick of makeup"? Jennifer's words, not mine. Cute is cute, with or without makeup.

Jennifer took this shot of us waiting for the train. I wanted her to get the name of the station in the shot. She did...venue? OK, I guess 7th Avenue would have taken up too much room.

What a day! We were exhausted. On to Jersey City. Tom arrived at the hotel and the event began. Part 2, Hudson Swing Affair, coming soon.


JennyB said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for help! I couldn't have gotten my classroom together without you. And please take that picture of me down. Thanks.

JennyB said...

And I meant "for YOUR help." Sorry, daughter of an English teacher. Needed to correct that ASAP.

Nancy said...

I can't take it down, it's just too cute.