Just Jul Lee is just me. I write my thoughts and observations.
I'm just Jul Lee, just a normal person with a talent, a talent others have as well. We have much in common...Welcome to Dragons Delyte and Faries Farce...Welcome to my world!
This is just a journal about me and what I feel and experience. It will speak of God quite often and since I am human it will speak of loneliness occasionally experienced and other emotions we all deal with.
I hope that you will read this objectively and rate it fairly, if you rate it at all. Please don't rate it if you're just doing it because you disagree with me. I am not you and you are not me, that's what makes us great. We believe differently and do things differently.
Sit back and enjoy but if you don't want to hear about God then stop now.
Just Jul Lee
Searching for a Suitcase in NYC, Come Fly With Me Revisited
DATE: August 1, 2005
My mom and I set out rather early to find a suitcase. We walked up and down a street near our hotel, looking in all the souvenir shops, before we finally found one. It was a really large one that could be zipped down to a carry-on or unzipped to four feet high or so. We only paid thirty dollars for it so it was quite a bargain.
We returned to the room and finished packing. I had bought twenty-five or so shirts and my mom had bought ten or so plus all the other shopping we did. Needless to say, we managed to fill the bag with little effort.
We got something for breakfast and then returned to check out. We called for the bellboy, if that’s what they’re called, and had our luggage taken downstairs.
As I went to check out, I found out that they charge you every time you use the phone in your room, even if you call downstairs. Since PJ used it the majority of the time, I told him the tab was twenty-nine and change and that he could pay me later on.
We headed for the airport with me seriously irritated and my mom and PJ pretty much sick of me. Then, the man checking in our luggage made us empty some of the large suitcase and add it to the other bags because it was too heavy. He then stood there and complained about the weight of my bag loudly and irritatingly. I was about ready to scream at him but I just walked inside and watched him through the glass doors to make sure he placed my luggage on the plane.
My mom said that he was hinting for a tip and I said that I didn’t care. The way I look at it, I’m a woman who is overweight and doesn’t work out…if I can lift it without effort, surely the man who does it for a living shouldn’t have a problem.
Needless to say, he stood there looking annoyed and frustrated for a full minute or so before he picked up my bag and added it to the others.
We hustled through the busy airport and to the gate that was on our boarding passes. PJ went and got something to eat and then my mom and I went to find something, since we discovered that they don’t feed you meals on the plane anymore, and I stopped and looked at the screen announcing gates.
“I knew it,” I muttered.
“What?” my mom asked.
“We’re at the wrong gate,” I supply miserably. PJ had led the way without bothering to stop and check the screens and I have a horrible fear of getting lost so I didn’t stop to look. I had finally had my chance and my fear of us waiting at the wrong gate had proven valid. “See?”
My mom looks and we go back to inform PJ that we’re at the wrong gate, gather our possessions and head to the correct gate.
PJ, as I said I was irritated and he was sick of me so needless to say I got annoyed easily, stops and checks the screen. I resist the urge to roll my eyes. (Now do you see why I’m better off single?) We go to the correct gate and wait.
The long flight from NYC to Dallas/Fort Worth has all three of us separated. I sit next to a flight attendant dead heading it back to Dallas/Fort Worth in order to work a flight back to NYC. I’m on the aisle and I’m thinking how horrible it would be to be there for the hours of flight when I discover that the guy by the window is an aisle man. We happily switch places.
I am able to see Central Park as we fly out, the large patch of green amidst the monstrous buildings. I flew in at night, saw the beautiful city alight, saw the Statue of Liberty glowing in the harbor and then I fly out during the day and see the streets and buildings, the green of Central Park and the water sparkling in the sun. What a wonderful way to end the trip.
The movie they are playing was supposed to be Miss Congeniality 2 but they play something else instead. I can’t remember what. Isn’t that sad? I think I spent the time reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and writing the earlier blog journals, the ones that are actually coherent and have information these recent ones are lacking.
The flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Albuquerque has PJ sitting a few rows ahead of my mom and I, who are actually together. I just can’t wait to get home.
We arrive safely and we go to wait for our luggage. Mine takes forever to be spit out of the hulking beast and then we say our good-byes, meet PJ’s friend and my mom and I head out to meet my sister-in-law, Erica.
We go to Red Robin for dinner, we talk about the trip, we laugh, tension flees and I am ready to see my room, my books and my bed. It was a fun and long trip, something I’ve wanted to do for so very long, and I know that I would love to visit NYC again…I would just plan better.
Harlem Gospel Tour, Central Park and Chinese Food
DATE: July 31, 2005
Sunday dawned and we were, somewhat, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as we went to meet the Harlem Gospel Tour.
We stopped at a bakery and nothing looked appetizing to little bad attitude me and thus I went to McDonalds.
I have to say that the woman that helped us was the nicest employee I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I felt like a lump on a log with my black cloud of low-blood sugar, wits end, tired beyond all get out hanging above me. I tried to chipper up but she put me to horrible shame with her genuine joy. Bummer.
Anyway, I munched my McGriddle meal and we headed over to the bus. Our tour guide was a sweat and awesome woman that reminded me of Bernice Moore, the Pastor’s wife in Africa.
We went to a church and joined in their praise and worship but left before the service got fully underway. We then headed back to the pick-up point.
We went to Papaya Dog and had hot dogs. They were mighty good…lots of ketchup. Then it was off to Central Park.
Ah, Central Park! I absolutely loved it! I have to say that Central Park was my most enjoyable, least stressful afternoon the whole trip. I sat on a bench while my mom and PJ went their own and I poured myself into a book. I saw a blue poodle (yes, blue!) and a wedding party pass. PJ saw play and the wedding party as well.
About a half hour before I was supposed to meet up with them, I realized that I hadn’t seen Belvedere Castle. I gathered my things and started off to find it. PJ saw me, somehow, and fell into step beside me.
“Where are you going?”
“I haven’t seen Belvedere Castle yet. I can’t leave NYC without seeing Belvedere Castle so I’m going to look for it.”
And we were off.
We found one of the lakes, lots of lovely bridges, the John Lennon memorial and, eventually, Belvedere Castle. I had to call my mom to let her know what we were doing and that we’d be late meeting her.
On the way back to meeting my mom, we saw police taping off a large area and having people vacate it.
“We’ll have to go around, PJ.”
“No, look,” and we watched a man on a bike attempt to cut across where the tape hadn’t been placed yet. The officers yelled at him, he yelled back and then continued on his merry way. I saw the look of intense frustration and anger on the officer’s face as he talked to his partner.
“No, PJ, I don’t think I want to be yelled at by a NYC officer.”
We then heard someone saying that there was a strange package in the grass and PJ and I agreed to go up to the street and go the long way back to the meeting point.
We told my mom about it and she said she saw all the emergency vehicles speeding past and she had no idea why.
My mom managed to find the petting zoo but she didn’t have cash so she couldn’t go in.
We went back to the hotel and ordered Chinese food, sorted through our purchases and attempted to pack, during which my mom and I discovered that we definitely needed another suitcase.
We decided to go looking for one first thing the next morning.
Rockefeller Center, NBC Building, Time Square, B.A.B.W.
DATE: July 30, 2005
Last night, PJ and I went to Greenwich Village to go to a club that he had read about. Unfortunately for me, I was under dress code (I was wearing tennis shoes) and so we couldn’t go there. We then ended up searching for a club to attend and ended up at an Eighties club. That’s all I will say on the subject.
I only just remembered when we went because on the Taxi ride back to the hotel we spotted a lot of flags and we wondered what the place was. We asked the driver but he didn’t respond. We discovered, much to our embarrassment and chagrin, that it was Rockefeller Center.
Saturday morning found us at Rockefeller Center. We ate brunch there, my mom and I, sitting near the famous statue. PJ had already ate a surgery breakfast so he just drank a lemonade. I fed the pigeons some bread and then we were off to the NBC building.
We got pictures of Radio City Music Hall and the Lions in front of the NY Public Library (definitely one of my favorite pictures!) and PJ and I did a taping with Jay Leno, although we didn’t get a copy of it.
We were trying to decide what to do so my mom and I said we’d go back to Chinatown to buy a few things we still wanted to get. PJ claimed exhaustion and retired to the room for a nap.
No Taxi’s would take us to Chinatown and I was being stubborn and whatnot and wouldn’t go on the subway. Needless to say, we didn’t go to Chinatown. We walked up to the Build A Bear Workshop on 45th again and I bought a poodle and my mom bought my brother a bear for the Marlin uniform.
We returned to Time Square, where my mom and I got our pictures drawn (awesome talent!) and I had “Ernie” written with the name art for my soon to be born nephew, Joseph Ernest.
We returned to the hotel and PJ asked us if we made it to Chinatown. When we told him that we didn’t want to take the subway and that no Taxi’s would take us down there, he looked at us with the impatience of a tired parent and asked what we were going to do then.
What did we do? Stayed in the hotel, watched TV and went to sleep. PJ left and came back very late. He told me the next day that he had gone to the club we couldn’t get into (thanks to my tennis shoes) and that it was very cool. Needless to say I was annoyed but there was nothing I could do or say about it so, c’est la vie.
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, W.T.C. and Coney Island
DATE: July 29, 2005
So, we’re finally going to the Statue of Liberty. This icon of America stands tall and proud in the NY harbor, Manhattan viewable from her feet and ferries taking folks there in thirty minute intervals.
My mom realizes that she is in need of film and so she pays and arm and a leg to purchase film from the small store where we purchase our ferry tickets. I stop at a vendor on the way in to purchase my Liberty keepsake at a surprisingly good price. There are folks dressed up like the Statue and you can take pictures with them, which we do.
We wait in line for about twenty minutes before being able to purchase our tickets. Unfortunately, we couldn’t buy tickets to go up into the Statue but that’s okay.
We proceed outside and get into a very long line to board the ferry. I think we wait about forty-five minutes before we get into the building that leads out to the ferry.
We board the ferry and head out toward Liberty Island. You can see Ellis Island from the ferry and I admire the lovely white buildings as we pass. We land at Liberty Island and the first place we hit is the gift shop.
Surprisingly, I don’t buy anything…then, anyway…and we continue on to the front of the Statue.
We take many pictures and one of the employees takes pictures of us all together, which came out awesome, and then we return to the gift shop. I buy a copper coin made of the same thickness of copper that the Lady is made of. Then we go to wait for the ferry.
We board the ferry again and head off to Ellis Island. Ellis is filled with history that could not even be comprehended. The first thing you see is piles of luggage. We ended up getting separated after lunch and I journeyed upstairs to discover things on my own. The clothing and books and other items that had were truly worth taking the time to look at. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
I purchased a couple of books for my Pastor and skimmed one of them while waiting in the large entrance for either my mom or PJ to stumble upon me. Eventually, my mom does.
I ask the help desk if they have a way of tracking down lost folks and they inform me that they don’t have a P.A. system but that I could leave a note with them. I decide against that, thank them and return to my mom.
“They said I could leave a note but I don’t think that PJ will stop there to see if there is a note. They don’t have a P.A. system.”
“Well, let’s just go and wait for the ferry and we’ll see him when he comes out.”
“What if he doesn’t come out before the ferry comes?”
“Then we’ll wait for the next one.”
So, we wait.
We actually are at the front of the line, only five or so folks ahead of us, and right before the ferry arrives, PJ is spotted on the steps of the building. We frantically wave him down and he joins us. We board the ferry, this time my mom and I sit on the top level, and cruise on back to NYC.
We walked to the location of Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers used to stand, and we look at the hole that is all that remains. I feel tears tugging at my eyes but I refrain from crying with great effort.
We head to a camera store and buy more film and then I say that we should take the bus to Coney Island, rather than the subway. Mom agrees but PJ doesn’t quite. Whining wins out and we take the bus.
It is a rather long bus ride to Coney Island but I enjoy seeing the sights that we wouldn’t have seen on the subway. We arrive at Coney Island, take a quick stroll up the boardwalk and on the sandy beach, which despite statements to the contrary, is quite lovely and clean, and then we grab a bite to eat. I finally have a hot dog.
We hang out for a short while then we get on the subway to head back to our hotel. The subway actually goes above ground here and there on the trip back, which I felt was pretty nifty. It was a rather long subway ride but at least we were sitting down.
We may have had to switch trains (I know we did other days!) but I can’t really remember. We go to the hotel and watch TV, which is beginning to be a very unflattering pattern, and soon we go to bed.
F.Y.I. I’m writing this entry and those that follow it in October, so you must understand why I don’t remember much anymore. I should have continued writing when the trip was fresh in my mind but I didn’t. Sorry
Jon Bon Jovi and Dinner Cruise
DATE: July 28, 2005
Now, you honestly didn’t believe you would be spared hearing about Jon just because I was in New York City, did you? Naïve…
Okay, so we went to Madam Tassaud’s wax museum and I was shocked at the cost of admission. We even had a coupon! It cost us twenty-two dollars or so a person.
Once we got past the paparazzi, ahem, I saw Van Helsing waiting at the top of the stairs. Obviously, I had to have my picture taken with him. Then, it was off to the floor where all the stars were mingling.
I took pictures with Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldburg, Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt (when he had the long, shaggy hair), Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. Mom took pictures with Patrick Stewart, Julia Roberts, Whoopi and Robin, and I believe that’s it. PJ took a picture with J. Lo and Woody Allen. He deleted his J. Lo photo but I took one with my camera. Hee hee.
Harrison Ford was on vacation…
We proceeded on and PJ took a picture with Usher (ugh!) while Mom and I took pictures with Jennifer Aniston (even in the wax museum, she and Brad weren’t together). As we turned the corner, we discovered The Rock. Had to get a shot or two with him, don’t you know? PJ and I did (I was lifting my eyebrow to the best of my ability) but my mom didn’t.
We entered the classics area and I took a picture with the original Dracula. I stood between his arms and acted like I was screaming. We meandered through there, taking random pictures (sorry if I can’t remember them all) before we got to the Hall of Presidents, for lack of a better word.
I took a picture with George Bush (current president), Martin Luther King Jr., Billy Graham and I think that’s it. Then we found the music section.
I wasn’t totally impressed. I took pictures with the Beatles, Madonna and Janis Joplin. Somewhere in the cruise of museums, I took a picture with the Osbornes too. Then, from across the room I saw him. Handsome as all get out, giving me the come hither stare, my handsome wonderful Jon Bon Jovi.
Well, needless to say, I squealed and ran over there and squeezed the life out of him (if he had any life, that is, being made of wax and all) and even kissed him. Can you believe I kissed a wax figure? What’s the matter with me? Ahem…
Anyway…security pries me off him…just kidding. We leave Jon behind and reach the souvenir shop. Then, after a quick browse, we leave to go get ready for our dinner cruise.
Allow me to say that I wasn’t sure on the spelling of the celebrities listed above so if I misspelled any name, including the museum name itself, please do not hesitate to let me know so that I can fix said errors. Thanks!
Mom was wearing the gown I wore for the Masquerade Ball at the convention and so I was having a slight attitude about dressing up myself. I didn’t really want to dress up, I didn’t really want to do anything (that’s the way I get, folks) but finally I managed to garb myself and we got a taxi to take us down to the harbor.
We boarded the boat at 6pm but we didn’t leave port until a little after 7pm. We munched on bread, drank tea and chose our dishes. Be warned that the only thing included in your ticket price is the food. Drink water! Anyway, we cruise along and eat and talk and soon we are nearing the Statue of Liberty.
Mom, PJ and I go up on deck to see the Statue although PJ soon flees to the dining area to get dessert. They ship pauses by the Statue for us to take pictures and then Mom and I return to the dining area where, big surprise, dessert was about to be served.
We took a picture outside the ship before boarding and so when we return to the harbor at 10pm or so, we look to see if we want to purchase the photo or not. We decide to purchase it, then it’s off to the hotel.
PJ and I have the strangest conversation while leaving the ship. I tell him that I’m going to start lying about boyfriends.
“’My eighth boyfriend told me that’ I’ll say.”
“You can’t give them numbers because then people will know you’re lying,” PJ states calmly. “You have to name them and you can’t call them names like Tom and Frank, they need exotic names.”
Then we start talking about a certain person that I had a crush on for quite a long time and PJ and I start saying that we’ll lie and say that I dated this crush and that when I broke it off with him, he was so heartbroken that he won’t admit to dating me.
Like I said, it was an interesting conversation.
Soon, we were back in our room where we watched TV until I dozed off.
Empire State Building, Build a Bear Workshop and Lost Pizza
DATE: July 27, 2005
We went to the Empire State Building today. The wait was quite long. We had to wait in two different lines in order to take the elevators to the top. It was about an hour total to wait. Once the elevator was going up, I believe my ears popped twice but I can’t recall them popping on the way down.
At the top, on the observation deck, I sought out the Statue of Liberty while pausing here and there to take pictures of the buildings and cabs below. I found the Statue of Liberty and fed the viewer fifty cents to spend a couple of minutes looking at the Statue before allowing the people around me to use up my remaining time as I faded into the crowd.
I had left Mom and PJ behind at the Chrysler building and before I knew it, I was back where I began. It was a marvelous view and I was quite impressed with all I saw, after I got over my fear of heights, of course.
Mom met up with me and we hit the souvenir shop. I bought a gorilla with a red apple in its hand that says ‘New York City’ and has a drawing of the skyline, it clips onto zippers and makes monkey sounds. I also purchased two pop-up postcards for my scrapbook that normally cost five dollars but were on sail for a dollar and twenty-five cents each.
While in line to get to the elevators, Mom spotted a bag that said ‘NYC’ with Mickey Mouse making the ‘Y’. Finding out it was a Disney store located on 5th Ave and 55th street made her determined to visit it.
We walked down 5th Ave toward 55th street, which was 20 or so blocks down…or up from the Empire State Building. Unfortunately for my credit card, we discovered a Build-A-Bear store on 45th street.
I discovered that you can now design a tee shirt for your new friend and after much deliberation, I sat down and made Stephen (my friend Jennie’s hubby) a shirt. It said, “I asked Julie for a NYC pretzel but all I got was this T-shirt!” I drew a pretzel freehand and wrote “2005” beneath it.
Then, we decided we could do so much more! I bought a bear (I already have a cat and a monkey so a bear was the next logical move) and it was only $10. Yet, somehow, I ended up charging just shy of a hundred dollars on my card and the hand-designed tee shirt was already paid for! I got a NYPD uniform and had my name sewn on it. Then, I bought an oriental outfit for my monkey, Mom got a different oriental outfit (hers was pink and orange and red and Japanese while mine was blue and gold and green and Chinese) and she got a white bear with a pink nose that went really well with the outfit. She also got a Marlin’s outfit for my brother’s bear at home.
PJ had gotten bored (can’t imagine why) and gone ahead to the Disney store. To my chagrin, we had been in the BABW for nearly an hour! We hurried along to the Disney store.
The Disney store turned out to be a three story tall building that had so much wonderful stuff I had to seem disinterested in order to leave with money in my pocket. I got a picture with a Cruella DeVil statue and I purchased LIFE: Pirates of the Caribbean, a Maleficent Dragon windup thingie, a package of postcards for my scrapbook and four Disney patches. I got off relatively easy, I’d say.
We took the subway, I believe, back to our hotel where we ordered pizza and waited for Lost to come on. Then I zonked out. Honestly, I have no idea why I’ve been so tired lately…ahem! LOL…
Museum and Aimless Wandering
DATE: July 26, 2005
I will take no blame for late rising. That said, we leave the hotel at 11 am. We stop at Burger King (how NY is that?) and have burgers before subway hopping our way to the museums on Museum Hill.
Unfortunately, we won’t go to the Guggenheim today. Our late rising, ahem, prevents us from doing so. Walking along outside Central Park, we arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I will pause here to point out that I am not terribly into museums. Needless to say, although the Met is very impressive, and I eventually begin to enjoy myself, I am slightly bored. I see many great things but in the back of my mind I am grateful that the museum closes at 5:15 pm while wishing the clock would speed up its progress. I apologize to you museum and art lovers, you fine people who truly appreciate art.
We take lunch on the stairs from a hotdog vendor. The smell of hotdogs, unfortunately, makes me nauseous (the sauerkraut makes it worse) and so all I buy is water and a Mountain Dew. We eat and relax for a half-hour or so while I watch a longhaired hottie guy waiting for a patron. He drives one of those bicycle things with the little carriage attached to the back. Soon, he finds someone to give a ride too and he’s off so I begin to watch the pigeons search for food. I am, I must add, an avid bird lover though I can’t name species and I don’t professionally bird watch. I still love birds and I love pigeons too, even though folks often call them rats with wings. All too soon, it’s time to go back into the museum.
Once the museum closes, my mom and I sit on the stairs and wait for PJ. The beginning of the Met experience found all three of us together, later just PJ and I ended up together while my mom wandered about, then it was the three of us again (after lunch) and then it was my mom and I until it closed. So, we wait for PJ.
Once we see him, he and I get into a debate about women’s lib (him for, me partially against) while the three of us sit on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. How cool is that, I ask you? At last, we agree to disagree, you may say, and head off down the street.
We take a cab to a place called Tom’s Restaurant. For those of you who don’t know and some of you who don’t care, the outside of Tom’s is the same restaurant front used for Monk’s in the show Seinfeld.
We eat (great food, terrific service, by the way) and an elderly woman accosts PJ with a walker for holding the door open for her. Sadly, I am in the bathroom at this point and miss the whole thing but my mom graciously tells me all.
Apparently, my mom sees an elderly woman with a walker ‘struggling’ to open the outer set of doors to the diner. The walker is on the sidewalk and the woman’s hip is on the door as she maneuvers the walker inside.
“Quick, PJ, as fast as you can go and hold open the door,” my mom says.
PJ glances over his shoulder, sees the woman, gets up and proceeds to do so. My mom then informs me that the little old lady looked so sweet and nice.
When PJ opens the door, the old woman yells, “Don’t you open the door for me!” and the like, sending PJ red-faced back to the table.
“If you ever ask me to do anything like that again,” he says to my mom angrily, “I’ll kill you!”
As my mom struggles with her laughter, she looks at the cashier who is laughing openly and my mom loses the battle and laughs as well.
Can you believe I missed that? Me neither!
We walk many blocks before hailing a cab at last and taking it to our hotel. My mom and I do laundry in the basement of the Belvedere Hotel, watch some TV and go to bed.
New York, New York
DATE: July 25, 2005
Today is Little Italy and Chinatown. We get on the subway and zoom underneath the streets of New York City on our way to SoHo, Greenwich Village, Little Italy and Chinatown.
The subway is muggy, hot, humid…terrible. I don’t mind riding in the trains themselves but waiting in the station makes me sweat like crazy. I hate to sweat! I don’t mind all the people in the subway cars themselves either because the cars are air-conditioned but the tunnels where you wait are like standing in an oven…even though the oven temp would be too low to do anything but keep the food warm. You could be as fresh as a daisy walking in and a sweaty pile of flesh walking out. Of course, I’m just a tourist, so I’m sure that the locals are used to it and consider it not so bad at all.
We get to SoHo/TriBeCa and start the walk to Little Italy and Chinatown. There are many street vendors selling items and names painted on paper. We bypass all of them and although I really want to stop at a few of them, we don’t.
I stop and buy a hat at a shop, eventually. It’s a woven hat, Chinese style, that can be folded to become a fan. Discovering that the hat makes a much better hat than a fan (go figure) I stop and buy an actual fan. Then, we’re on the move again.
We are looking for Mott Street, which is where a restaurant called Hopkee resides. Richard, a former police officer from New York City, recommended it to us before we left. We ask for directions two different times, mainly to make sure we are on the right path, once we reach Mott Street and start heading down it. Both times, the men just point down the street, saying little, if anything at all. Well, at least we are going in the right direction.
We find Hopkee at last and descend the stairs to enter the restaurant. We are greeted politely and seated by the door. My mom, PJ and I each order a dish and share. Mixed veggies, Hopkee Chicken and Chicken Fried Rice, all of which were delicious and I highly recommend.
After dining (their fortune cookies had a hint of orange flavor to them…yum!) we continue down Mott Street, taking pictures all the while. WE then turn and head back up Mott Street in order to enter Little Italy.
Little Italy has a completely different feel than Chinatown. In Chinatown, shops mainly fill the streets, with a lot of restaurants and shops below street level, downstairs off the sidewalks. Little Italy has many café’s, tables spilling out onto the sidewalks, music faintly heard and ice cream vendors selling the greatest ice cream I’ve ever had. It is quite relaxing as we stroll along.
At last, we head back to the subway and our hotel. We freshen up and head to the IMAX Theater on Time Square…or at least near Time Square.
The movies we pay $15 a pop to see are Batman Begins and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My mom pays for me to see them and so she charges the hefty sum of $60! We gave PJ a hard time because it was his idea to see two movies rather than just Charlie and the Chocolate factory but it is all in good fun. I head for the concession stand and spend $15 on popcorn, candy and two cokes…all with free refills, at least. This, my friends, was our most expensive evening together in New York City thus far and it’s only our second night in the city.
I absolutely loved, and I mean LOVED, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I highly recommend watching the flick on an IMAX if you have the ability to do so.
We return to the Belvedere Hotel, watch a little TV and finally sleep.
Rental Cars, Trains and Delays
DATE: July 24, 2005
I managed to leave the hotel at 5:30 am (the time I expected to, believe it or not!) and get into my Toyota (my RENTAL Toyota) and do the reverse trip over again. It is rather smooth sailing for me to get to the small town to fill up the tank and get breakfast at McDonald’s (McGriddle meal…YUM!) and I zoomed off to the Harrisburg International Airport for the last time this year. It may appear that I’m getting smarter but I wouldn’t bet too much money on the, friends !
I returned the car, drag my much heavier luggage to a cab and head for the train station.
I am just under an hour early for my train and so I sit and wait, munching my breakfast sandwich and listening to my muse. She was very talkative that morning, talking a mile a minute and telling me all the wondrous worlds she’s seen lately and wanting me to express her travels in writing. I smile as I listen to her. She’s come back, after all, the least I could do was listen. I wish again for a laptop and the train arrives.
I boarded the train, reading Harry Potter and fully prepared for the long trip ahead of me. The train ride is about 4 hours long, or something like that, and so I figured I had a long while of uninterrupted reading. I had all, okay MOST, of the treats from my welcome bag, water, a book…a GREAT book, and the knowledge that the was long and there was NOT a food trolley. Thus, I was prepared for anything.
The trip was smooth. I actually got a little shut-eye though I’m not sure if I truly needed it. Then, I heard the conductor say that we are a mere 12 minutes out of NYC and I think, already? and thus the train comes to a complete stop.
I sat, trying to concentrate on Harry Potter whose problems far outweigh my own but my gaze continued to stray to the swaying tall grasses outside my window, the nearby busy highway, the water tower with SECAUCUS written on it in bold, black letters and the same plane circling the sky above.
We sat there for 30 or 45 minutes, me staring at Harry Potter’s life story and the swaying grasses while the conductor told us over and over again that there was a delay in Penn Station, though he doesn’t know how long and that as soon as he hears something he’ll tell us.
Finally, they took us back to Secaucus and we sat in the train station there for about five minutes, the last words spoken over the intercom ringing through my head like a bad melody. “We’re going to pull back to the Secaucus station. If any of you want to get out and stretch your legs, feel free to do so. We don’t know how long we’ll be there but we won’t leave anyone behind. We came together, we’ll leave together.”
As I sat in the seat and gazed at the pages before me unseeing, I see the other passengers milling about outside my window. Suddenly, someone is shouting and all the faces looking toward the train look intensely scared. The shouting continued as the people began moving slowly toward the train. Oh great, I thought to myself, this is it. I’m going to die.
Thankfully, the yelling was just the porters telling everyone to get back on the train for we had clearance at last to arrive at Penn Station.
I discovered that a guy had purposefully left a briefcase in the bathroom (loser!) so that folks would think there was a bomb and Penn Station would be evacuated, which they did and it was. There was no bomb, by the way. Just a briefcase and they did catch the guy (loser!). They evacuated, halted incoming trains and searched the whole building. No small feat.
We arrived and I unloaded myself and my bags, climbed the stairs into a mad crowd where I heard once person say, “Is it always like this?” to someone next to her as I made my way past. I reached 7th Avenue and hailed a cab. I was off, at last, to the Belvedere Hotel and my NYC vacation!
Upon arrival, I checked in, paid the $300.00 deposit on the room that I knew nothing about and go upstairs to room 1410 (the number of my street address, by the way) and waited for my mom and friend PJ to arrive.
My mom arrived about an hour and a half later and we chatted and waited for PJ. Finally, (sheesh!) PJ showed up and we headed to Time Square and the market set up there.
We strolled about, checked out booths (I bought an awesome dragon bracelet!) and ended up at a pizza place for dinner.
We got back to our room, watched a little TV and go to sleep.
Auction, Food and Masks
DATE: July 23, 2005
I was way too tired to get up. Either that or I was way too lazy to get up. Whichever one sounds better to you, go with that one. I got read for the auction and was there in time for the pre-viewing of the items up for grabs.
There were so many things I wanted! I picked out at least 20 items, knowing that most of them I could never even hope to bid on for my cash was limited. The auction just showed yet another creative aspect of the members of Writing.Com.
To spare you the cut throat bidding details, I ended up spending $125.00 at the auction and had to spend a long time later working out the packing details since I managed to buy a metal mixing bowl and a basket, forgetting that I had luggage, not a car.
After the auction, we had 2 hours of free time. I called my mom and chatted with her about yesterday and the auction and whatnot, found a Bank of America nearby and proceeded to get cash for the trip to NYC the following day.
Then it was time to get ready for the Masquerade Ball.
As it was with every formal in my life, actually, EVERYTHING in my life, I waited until the last moment to get dressed. Beyond the Cloud9 , Tevie and Sarah Rae were all waiting on me. I finally went into the bathroom and draped myself in the formal gown my mom purchased, complete with feather boa, feather gloves, silver beaded necklaces and feather mask. I also donned some pretty nifty earrings.
We arrived at cocktail hour and I took quite a few pictures, had folks take pictures of me to satisfy my mom and then I settled down at my table to wait. Eventually, the room was packed with members and the food was being served.
As with other organized events, we had assigned seating. Beyond the Cloud9 and I sat together (poor Beyond the Cloud9 !) and Sarah Rae and Tevie sat at the table near ours. We were served Cream of Mushroom soup, followed by salad, then prime rib. For dessert, we had cake and ice cream.
Then The StoryMaster and The StoryMistress handed out awards and merit badges to those who deserved them. Tends to be the norm, eh? I didn’t get one !
Finally, the dancing began. Folks trickled to their rooms to change into their normal clothes and faces (little masquerade joke there…ahem) if our group of writers can be called normal at any juncture, and the dance floor was always crowded.
I finally returned to the room to change (they played my request, Bon Jovi Always, a few minutes after I left) and came back with camera in hand to get my last photos and autograph book at the ready for a last ditch effort to have those I missed sign.
Once the dance was over, I ended up in the lounge signing the two shirts placed there with permanent markers (one for The StoryMaster , the other for The StoryMistress , for those nosy folks reading this ) and then sat and chatted with the other night owls, saying my good-byes.
Finally, my eyelids grew heavy and I said good night and went to the room to pack.
Sarah Rae was reading, Beyond the Cloud9 was on the internet and Tevie was out living it up, burning the candle at both ends, or maybe she was just playing with the glowsticks given to us by The StoryMaster . I actually managed to pack everything nice and neatly into my duffel, garment bag and carry-on, unroll my blanket onto the ground, say good night to Sarah Rae and Beyond the Cloud9 , lay my head upon the too soft pillow (those pillows seriously needed some firming up), set my alarm on my cell phone for 5:00 am, shut my eyes and slept.