Did You Miss Me?

As much as I love, love, loved staying at the Algonquin Hotel,
Can you see me under the awning there?
Dorothy Parker and E.B. White

it had crummy internet connections so after two evenings of trying to log on, I said “flour’em” (my mom’s favorite expression) and unhooked for a few days.

Here’s a recap of the trip to the Big Apple, some NYPL research tips and an image of an original sculpture by Winston B. Larson.

I felt very New York taking the train from Newark to Penn Station and then schlepping our bags the oh-so-many blocks to 44th, between 5th and 6th to our destination. Our room was cozy and quiet

I’ve already shared my Dorothy Parker obsession — guess what? One of her quotes was on our room door:

“Someone commented to Dorothy Parker that Mrs. Vanderbilt was always kind to her inferiors. ‘Really?’ replied Mrs. Parker. ‘Where does she find them?'”

Snarky, yes. But deliciously so!

We got settled in
darling little window seat in our room

and hurried off for dinner at Utsav for tasty Indian food with our favorite son. Wednesday was full of editor visits (I finally got to meet our Nubs editor, Nancy Conescu, in person! She’s a sweetheart), a lovely Italian dinner at Basso56 with son and an early night due to jetlag.

Thursday I camped out at the New York Historical Society where I read diaries and letters and the Town Topics from 1928. I learned that transparent velvet gowns were the “it” wear of that season and that things Francaise were chi-chi. Heady stuff!

We had a quick dinner that night (and a terrible one; don’t go to Ellen’s Stardust Diner; in fact, avoid eating in Times Square if at all possible) and then on to see Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking. Neil didn’t realize we were going to see “Princess Leia,” (he’s behind on reading his People’s) and I’d heard good things about the solo show but let’s just say two hours of kvetching (even witty, funny kvetching) gets old.

One of the things Neil got to find out firsthand about research was that sometimes it doesn’t pan out. The trip to the New York Society Library was a bust material-wise but walking back to the subway we passed a shoe store with the perfect pair of brown boots for moi.Walking by the Dairy Barn in Central Park after leaving the Historical Society
Bark on tree in Central Park — doesn’t it look like the old paint by numbers kits?

The afternoon and Saturday morning were spent at the New York Public Library. Sigh. What a place! Now you may already know all this but in case you don’t, the first thing you need to do if you want to research there is get a NYPL library card. Just takes a second. Then when you want a book (now, remember, I’m not talking about the circulating part of the library) you fill out a slip and wait 20 minutes for it to be delivered to you. A bit cumbersome, yes, but once the book comes you get to sit in a stunning and enormous reading room, at a long, long, long wooden table with other seekers of knowledge.

Here’s what you do if you want to look at something in the manuscript and archives division: go back downstairs (there are many, many stairs in the Steven Schwarzman Building!) and check everything but your computer and pad of paper/research notes at the coat room, directly across from the Library Shop. Be sure to spend a little time and money in the Library Shop (it’s a good cause). Then, huff back up the three imposing and long flights of stairs you recently descended. Once upstairs, you will have to smile very nicely through the locked french doors at one end of the Rose Reading Room to get buzzed in. If you’ve smiled nicely enough you’ll be allowed in where you’ll fill out a researcher registration form. Knock yourself out digging around in the catalog (on line), and, once you find possible documents, fill out another form. In duplicate. These requested materials are brought up at 11, 1 and 3 each day. So I advise going early (the manuscript research room now opens at 10) so you aren’t waiting around too long. Once the materials I’d requested arrived, I was able to peruse them to my heart’s content, one box at a time. Heaven!!!

I worked right up till quitting time on Friday night, leaving enough time for a quick glass of wine with my agent supreme, Jill Grinberg, and then Neil, Tyler and I were off to a fabulously slapsticky-Monty Pythonish adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. Go see it if you get the chance!!

Back at the library when it opened Saturday morning, slaving until 12:30. Then I met up with Neil and we headed north to Randall’s Island where Tyler’s touch football team had a game. He’d told us to get off at the 103rd Street Station and walk toward the water. We didn’t realize the “water” we’d be walking toward was the Dead Sea.
We could see this bridge in the distance. Is it across the Thames?

We walked and we walked and we walked. Finally, we crossed a footbridge to Randall’s Island and then walked and walked and walked to Field 90. All of this without lunch! We arrived in time to watch the second half and get a team photo. Tyler’s in the front row, with the bandanna

It was great fun.

Saturday night meant a lovely dinner at Bodrum, a Turkish restaurant about 88th and Amsterdam (well worth the trek!) and then Tyler and Neil spirited me off to a sports bar so “we” could all watch the University of Washington Huskies’ football game. Not being a football fan, I people watched and tried my very first “frickle,” a fried slice of dill pickle which was pretty darned tasty.

Slept in Sunday and then spent a couple of hours at the Met. I visited one of my favorite paintings, of Jean d’Arc, by Jules Bastien-Lepage (painted in 1879). The look on her face is stunning and the sheer size of the work impressive. I also soaked in photographs by Robert Frank while Neil tested his memory of Egyptian culture in the downstairs Egyptian exhibit. then it was a damp walk down Fifth Avenue back to our hotel, where we caught a cab to Penn Station for the train ride to Newark and flight home — to 189 emails, laundry and Winston the Wonderdog.

Shoe sculpture created by Winston, with help from Jaime Patneaude. Seems he kept dragging out our shoes no matter where she hid them so she stacked them on the dining room table.

I’ve got lots of catching up to do but my first order of business is to find a recipe for frickles.

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