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Noo Yawk again

It’s fall already, surprisingly cool and grey, but summer will be back. Hear that, summer??

I’m preparing to leave very early tomorrow morning for a trip to my birthplace, New York City, or Noo Yawk Noo Yawk, as we New Yorkers prefer to call it. No, I’m not going for the tenth anniversary of 9/11, though that will be looming heavily over the next few days. Or to Fashion Week, that goes without saying. On Saturday, my cousin Ted is celebrating his 70th birthday with the usual intimate NYC gathering – a sit-down dinner at his club, the Century Club, for 150 of his closest friends and family. Among whom is moi.

This is the first time I’ve had to pay to stay in New York. My beloved Uncle Edgar, on whom I used to sponge, is gone, and Ted’s place, where I usually stay, is full of out of town guests, there not only for the birthday party but for Ted’s wedding the day before. Ted and Henry have been together for decades; many of us were teasing them about getting married long before New York State legalized gay marriage. They’ll be married not in town but in the garden of their waterfront house in Northport. This actually IS a small affair, and among the guests will not be moi.

I instead have a very long list of Things to Do during my 3 days, which includes, of course, the Met, the Frick, the Morgan Library, as much theatre as possible, and endless walking. I have rented the small apartment of the friend of a friend of a friend (for $125 a night, a bargain but still … not free, as before.) It’s in the East Village so I’ll be in new territory, the fascinating old streets of lower Manhattan – I’m used to staying uptown. I’m booked to see a new American play at the Public Theatre, close to where I’ll be living, with a comp courtesy of my ex-husband who used to work with the Artistic Director (and who, incidentally, will be in Toronto while I’m away, and so will be staying here, in what used to be our house. I am very happy about that. Except that he is an exceptionally neat person, and I’m more aware than usual that I am not.)
I’m also booked to take Great-aunt Lola, who’s 88, to see a matinee of “Freud’s Last Session,” which is apparently an argument between Freud and C. S. Lewis. Can’t wait. And for Thursday night, I’m playing it by ear – maybe TKTS, the cheap ticket booth, maybe one of the other shows I’ve circled in New York magazine, which includes an amazing Montreal dance troupe called 7 Fingers. Ah, the moveable feast.
What I will be trying not to do is shop. Yes, those of you who know me are laughing out loud. But truly. Packing is a test in itself – a small carry-on bag has to include chic clothes for 3 days, including a fancy party, with the weather predicted to be very hot and muggy but thunderstorming every single day. How to finesse that? Linen is the answer, and, as always, layers. But I can’t buy much, because there’s nowhere to put it, let alone that I don’t need it etc.
It’s just that NYC is an overwhelming banquet. Here, I keep away from stores, except second-hand ones which are my downfall. But there, every inch of space is retail, hundreds, thousands of shops, crowded together, full of the latest and the most interesting.
Luckily I was at the library yesterday to pick up The Three Weissmans of Westport, an entertaining novel recommended by my friend Isabel Huggan – and happened upon a book called Lost and Found: unexpected revelations about food and money, by Gineen Roth. She’s a writer who lost her entire life savings with Madoff, and is writing with deep honesty about her conflicted relationship with money. There’s a wonderful scene in which she convinces herself, broke as she is, that she needs a pair of thousand dollar glasses; she obsesses – life will be better, she’ll be sexier and smarter with the glasses – and finally remembers that she HAS nice glasses. She realizes that, rather than remembering the beautiful jacket she has in her closet that she hasn’t worn in a year, she’s focussed on getting a NEW jacket.
“But I have enough,” she says. “I have more than enough. And yet it’s never enough; I always want more.”
Wow – that hit. It’s a very interesting book. She quotes a finance writer as saying, “Insofar as there is a lesson in history, it’s that human beings are not good with large sums of money, anything over $136.”
Well, that’s good, because that’s what I can afford to spend in New York – $136. Stay tuned.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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