Sunday, October 7, 2007
NEW YORK, NEW YORK!
The last time I visited New York City was a few months after 911. My friend Susan Montepio and I went to Connecticut for a conference at the University of Connecticut, and afterwards, we went to New York. We stayed with her niece in uptown New York. New York then was very somber; there were few tourists around; people were surprisingly helpful and kind to us. We visited Ground Zero and still saw the fluttering notes on the wire fence surrounding the gaping land where the Twin Towers had stood.
This visit, New York, is quite different. It is crowded; it is teeming with life, and energy. There's been an unsual heat wave here and people have been in a kind of summer mode, eating al fresco, promenading about, many windows are open, and occupants actually wave their hands at us as we cruised by in the double decker circle line tour bus. And New Yorkers are once again gruff and rude! It's actually refreshing and funny, and really it's just their way of talking. The tour guides scream at the occupants: SIT DOWN! DIDN'T I TELL YOU TO SIT DOWN? And while my sister in law was haggling with a street vendor over a faux Coach purse, she said, "Oh, it's only $25 over there," the guy says, "You're a liar." It was so rude, we had to laugh.
Ah - but let me give you a brief rundown:
Day 1, we took an uptown and downtown tour with a stop in Battery park, walked to Ground zero, etc. The tour was great because I've visited New York before but never really saw the whole thing - I'd seen parts of it in snatches, but the bus tour goes all around Manhattan, giving you a very good idea of what the place and people are all about.
(We are staying in 414 Inn, on 46th near 8th, walking distance from Broadway and Times Square.)
Day 2: we took the ferry to the Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty is, and we also went to Ellis Island. The statue of Liberty is still gorgeous - the sight of her is breathtaking - just beautiful, well-balance, her green patina a wonderful contrast against the blue sky. I've been to Ellis Island but it was the first visit for Lauren and his sisters, so it was fun to experience the place with them and their mom.
In the afternoon, we saw the musical Wicked, which was great! Glinda was very funny; we had a stand-in but she did an excellent job portraying the self-centered but charming Good Witch. I'd read the book and it was nice to see the musical version of the book.
Had dinner, and outside the restaurant, all up and down Broadway were street vendors. Sundays, the ticket-people are off, and so all the illegal street vendors come out. We started buying faux Louis Viutton and coaches purses, so cheap - $20, $25, and we picked up other purses for $5 dollars! And pashminas for $5 each - (even if fake, nice). etc. etc. We topped the evening with ice cream.
Oh, here's a bit of trivia about New York: it has 30,000 restaurants and only 5 gas stations.
(Photo above with Statue of Liberty shows: Merwyn Bergquist, Paula Alix, Lauren Brainard, me, Kim Del Tiempo
Middle Photo shows: Paula Alix, Kim del Tiempo, Lauren Brainard, Merwyn Bergquist
Bottom Photo shows: Kim Del Tiempo, Lauren Brainard and Paula Alix)
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author of 9 books, including When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, Magdalena, Vigan and Other Stories, and Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose. She edited four books, co-edited six books, and co-authored a novel, Angelica's Daughters. Her work has been translated into Finnish and Turkish; and many of her stories and articles have been widely anthologized. Cecilia has received many awards, including a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction, a Brody Arts Fund Award, a Special Recognition Award for her work dealing with Asian American youths, as well as a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate, 21st District, and the Outstanding Individual Award from her birth city, Cebu, Philippines. She has received several travel grants from the USIS. She has lectured and performed at UCLA, USC, University of Connecticut, University of the Philippines, PEN, Shakespeare & Company in Paris, and many others. She teaches creative writing at the Writers Program at UCLA-Extension.