This week is school vacation week for schools in Maine. My week started with coaching at the state meet on Monday. Then, my plan was to get up early Tuesday morning and drive into CT and take the train to NYC with my friend Meg. We had bought tickets to see a show on Broadway Tuesday night so we had to make sure we got there on time. Mother nature had other plans. She decided that Tuesday would bring a pretty good storm. Meg and I were afraid that we would be slowed down by the storm and that we would be stressed about the trip, so we decided to leave Monday night. At about 8 p.m. we hit the road! I was a little tired, having coached all day, but the excitement of getting to NYC kept me awake and alert. Our plan was to get into CT and stay at a hotel then go the rest of the way Tuesday morning. In my head I wanted to get close to a town in CT where I had spent a year working. I knew that from that area we would have about a 45 minute drive to the train station I wanted to use to get into Grand Central. Because we left in the evening we were able to avoid a lot of traffic and made good time. It began snowing just on the other side of Sturbridge, Ma. At first it was just flurries which continued through Hartford. The snow picked up near Waterbury and at that point I was determined to get to the town I had set as my goal... and we made it...we checked into a hotel just before midnight, agreeing that we wouldn't set an alarm, and just get up and go at our leisure. The train station I had hope to use had changed a lot since I was there before. The parking situation was confusing, but we made it and next time I will know better! We were up and on the train by mid morning.
This is me on the train, so excited to be going to NYC. The last time I was in NYC was probably 2005 or 2006, before I had major knee issues - well before surgery. I was very much looking forward to being able to WALK around in NYC and enjoy it !
I LOVE arriving at Grand Central Station, there is something that feels urban and special each time I am there. When we got to the city it was really snowing pretty hard. The snow was the wet kind of snow and the wind blew it into our faces as we walked to our hotel. The walk was very cold and carrying our bags was a bit of a pain, but we were both too stubborn to get a cab. Part of the NYC experience, for me, is walking. In hindsight, a cab in such crappy weather would have been just fine! We arrived a bit before we could check into our hotel so we found a cool deli and had lunch. NYC is sooo unlike Maine. The deli we chose had such a variety of food, sandwiches, pizza, thai food, chinese food, barbecue choices, it was insane -in a good way. We got our food and went upstairs and sat by a window overlooking the street and people watched.

We then got to our hotel, it was a nice place, reasonably priced for NYC and we were only a block away from Times Square. Our room was small and FREEZING! We ended up having to have portable heaters in our room, but it was all good! I will probably stay there again sometime when in NYC. We were pretty cold and decided we wanted to do something inside for the afternoon before going to the theater that night. So we decided to go to the Museum of Natural History. And of course, we decided to walk up there. (Which was about 40 blocks!)

This is a globe that is outside of the Trump Tower near Columbus Circle. It was kind of cool to see the snow on the globe. The snow was beautiful. I would have preferred it to be warmer, but it was pretty. The other picture is a picture of Central Park. We walked along the West side of Central Park as we walked to the Museum. I have to say that the museum is probably not a place I would return to. There was a lot to see there... my reasons for not returning has more to do with my personality... I have learned over recent years that I am a bit of a control freak. I like to know where I am going and how I will get there. I think this is one reason I love NYC, it's a grid, simple. Streets tun north to south and east to west, so it is easy to locate places. The museum was chaotic. It had no rhyme or reason, at least in my mind. And the maps were not user friendly. There were few signs around the museum that gave you any idea of where you were on the maps and where to go to get to other places.
I didn't like it. But, I do think it was a good idea for the afternoon, it allowed us to not get too chilled before heading to the theater! On our walk back to the hotel we stopped and had a slice of pizza...mmm, so good! And I noticed they had black and white cookies! Black and white cookies is a NY thing and I have one every time I go there, they are good, but I do it more because it's a NY thing to do! Then it was time to get ready to go to the theater! Meg and I both were nervous about walking to the theater in our boots. Both of us had dress boots that had heels and the sidewalks were slippery, but we figured we would go slowly and we made it.

The show we saw was WICKED! I had seen it in Boston before but was very excited to see it again. I LOVE Broadway shows. LOVE them! The talent is amazing. I was in awe of the performers. It was WICKED good! After the show we stopped at an Italian restaurant we had scoped out earlier and it was a great place to have a meal. The wait staff was fabulous, so friendly! At this point we went back to the hotel and Meg was wiped out. I was pretty tired too, but knew that this was our only night in NYC. Originally we had planned to spend two nights in Manhattan, but because we tried to avoid the storm and stayed in CT for a night, we had to change our plans. I was bummed about that... As Meg was changing into her PJs I was looking out our window and knew I couldn't leave NYC without walking around Times Square at night...it's one of my favorite things to do. So I went, solo. Meg offered to go with me, but she was tired, her feet were killing her, and she wanted to go to sleep.
And, selfishly, I kind of wanted to go by myself. I needed some alone time in NYC... sounds kind of impossible, but I needed it. For me, NYC is an amazing place, where I feel differently than I do in any other place. It's not that I blend in in NYC, my height doesn't allow me to blend in anywhere... but in NYC, I am just another unique person... there are so many unique people that nobody really cares or notices... well maybe they notice my height, but the reactions are so different than in other places.
NYC seems to see my height as a cool thing, not as an oddity... like it is often seen in Maine.... In Maine I just can't get away from all the questions, wherever I go... and in NYC, it's just so different... a sense of freedom for me that I can't articulate well. There is a solitude that I feel there, a peacefulness in a way... a peacefulness amongst complete chaos, and I love that dichotomy. So I took my camera and wandered Times Square. The weather had drastically changed when I got there. The snow had stopped, the wind had stopped, and there were only a few people on the streets. I think most people had let the weather get the best of them. So I felt like I had Times Square to myself, not including the police officers that are everywhere, the guys on the street trying to sell tickets to late night peep shows or comedy shows, and a lone street vendor. He was selling artwork of NYC. I love these guys who sell this art stuff. They haven't created it, they are just selling it... and I found two prints that I liked and managed to get him to go from $10 each to two for $15. That's another fun part of the vendors, you can dicker with them. So I walked around Times Square, took a few deep breaths, exhaled, and felt happy... and then headed back to the hotel. I didn't want Meg to get worried about me wandering the big apple alone.
Wednesday morning we were up early because we had reservations to go to the Statue of Liberty at 9:00 a.m. We decided to take the Subway because walking that far would be nuts. I admit that I am nervous about the subway, not about being on it, but about how to make sure I am on the right train and getting to where I need to be. Meg was our subway guru, which worked out well because I was our street guru, she got turned around while we were walking and I had to navigate. So we made a good team. We checked out of our hotel before we left and the cool thing was our hotel allowed us to leave our bags there for $3 a bag, so we didn't have to worry about carrying anything with us. VERY cool thing to remember! This is us on the subway. (We took the red #1, by the way!)
We got to Battery Park (A park overlooking Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty) by 8 ish.. and headed towards the place where we would board the ferry. I figured that if our tickets were for 9:00, the first ferry of the day, we needed to get there early to get checked in by security, but I was wrong... They don't open the security area until almost 9 and then it takes time to process people to get us onto the ferry. So even though we had 9:00 tickets, we didn't get on the ferry until probably 9:30 or so. This meant standing outside for a long time!

I was okay standing outside, I mean I was cold, but it was tolerable. Meg on the other hand, not so happy. She has some circulation issues with her feet and being out in the cold for over an hour was very painful for her. I was worried it would ruin the Statue of Liberty experience for her. Fortunately on the ferry ride to Liberty Island her feet started to warm up and when we got to the island we immediately went inside one of the buildings and had some hot chocolate. After that meg was much happier! We took the rest of our hot cocoa to go and started walking around the island. I love walking around the Statue of Liberty. I was happy to have my new camera to get some close up shots and I am very pleased with my pictures.
I am posting a few here including me impersonating Lady Liberty and one of a cool silhouette taken from behind her. It was clouding up as we were out there and by the time we had walked almost around the island, the sun was disappearing. And I really liked the way it came out.

The picture here, of the sphere, is a sobering one for me. I have a picture of this same sphere with me standing beside it in 1999 when it was part of a fountain at the base of the World Trade Centers... somehow it survived 9-11...

Meg and I headed towards Ground Zero. I had been to Ground Zero the last time I was in NYC and at the time all the rubble had been removed and there was a big hole in the ground. This trip it was very different. There were construction vehicles coming and going and LOTS of construction workers building...or re-building... and it was odd, it felt weird to me that people were there, building something new. I know that it is a good thing, to build something new there, but... it felt wrong... It was almost as if I wanted to have them all stop and just leave it alone... I felt protective almost... but, it doesn't make sense to just leave it... I think we all need the hope of something new... and I am sure it will be beautiful, and the tragedy will tastefully be honored... but it was hard to see in a way...
Meg and I debated about what else we wanted to do and both of us were kind of tired of the coldness and since we had accomplished the two things we had planned on, seeing WICKED and going to The Statue of Liberty, we decided to call it a day and head back to Maine.

We picked up our bags, walked to Grand Central and rode the train back to CT. We got in the truck and headed North! It was a good trip. I like NYC better when it is warmer... and I am psyched that I already have plans to return to NYC this spring! I had a great adventure with a great friend... and it was all worth it!



This picture may be one that I have already posted here...but it fits my mood tonight. When I am in that kayak, looking at that mountain, I feel reflective... It's funny how things in our lives ebb and flow... I have shred with you all that recently I have received some new contacts from more folks who have dealt or who are dealing with PVNS. I feel very fortunate that my knee has been healthy since surgery, very very lucky. The last couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about my knee. One of my assignments for the class I am taking was to give a speech about my personal health, including my goals for wellness. I immediately knew that I would show my scar and that I would also show my t-shirt I was given when I walked the half marathon in October. It was nice to share my experience with the other people in my class. I talked about how bad the pain had gotten, how much weight I gained, and how depressd I had become before being properly diagnosed. I talked about how walking the half marathon began as a way to support my friend as she ran the full marathon, but ended up being all about me, proving to myself that my body is not broken. I talked about how good it felt to cross that finish line, how bad my knee had been and how good it had become... and the feedback I got from my classmates was great. In my class we are talking a lot about how to balance our lives...as future educational administrators, we will have to deal with stress, will have to have ways of dealing with stress, and need to put health first. We are also discussing how important it is to be able to get up in front of people and share your story, share your ideas and vision... and my classmates told me I seem very confident and comfortable speaking in front of people and with myself...they were impressed with my perserverence and asked all kinds of questions... Sharing my story about my knee was good for me... and a good reminder that I am lucky to be where I am at... then today I received an email from a magazine who is sponsoring a half marathon I have registered for this spring. The email was seeking stories from people who are participating in this half marathon. They want to find people who have stories worth sharing, people who may somehow be inspiring... there's that i word... in the past, when people told me that my recovery and activity level since surgery have inspired them and I have dismissed it... I just figure that I have done the best I could do and that I had no choice. I still feel that way, that my story is no more inspiring that the story of other people... but in giving my speech last night, I think I realized how proud of myself I am, for getting where I am from where I was... I am by no means where I want to be, but... I am in a good place... it's a work in progress... and I am a work in progress... but I like the progress... and I finally feel like I can pat myself on the shoulder and say... good job...

By the way... I can't wait to be in my kayak again!


Off Balance

As a teacher I often get all the colds and bugs that my students get. This year I have managed to avoid a lot of it, until now. Sunday morning I went to the gym and did 5 miles on the elliptical machine then went grocery shopping. Towards the end of my grocery shopping my stomach felt a bit off, but figured it was hungry after my workout. I came home and relaxed for a while and then had some pretty major stomach issues... I chalked it up to having eaten fried food Saturday night, which I haven't eaten in a while... and didn't worry... Monday I got up and went to work and felt okay. My assistant asked me if I was okay, saying I didn't look great. I told her I was okay, but didn't quite feel like myself. Later that morning I had a parent meeting and during the meeting felt really...foggy...and felt like I wasn't making complete, coherent sentences, but apparently I was making sense and the meeting ended. By the time I made my way back up to my classroom I felt a little off balance and decided I was going to come home and rest for a while. I then ended up calling out sick yesterday and slept most of the day. Feeling fine as long as I was sitting or laying down... and when I would get up to do things I was woozy again...I was hoping to return to work today, but when I woke up this morning didn't feel like jumping out of bed would be a good idea... feeling that lightheaded feeling again... so I called in sick again and went back to bed. I woke up a little while ago and the world seems more balanced today...so hopefully this bug is over... I think I am going to try to go to class tonight and see how that goes.

Something else caught me off guard yesterday... making me feel even more unbalanced... I got an email from a relative with whom I have had minimal contact wince my mom died. This person did and said things that were inappropriate, hurtful, uncalled for, and made a difficult situation even harder. Since mom's death this person has reached out a few times to me or my sister or my dad, and our responses have been courteous and brief. Yesterday's email from her stated that she is having a hard time coping with everything, that she misses us all, and wants us to know that she is still there for us, no matter what, and always will be. I feel badly for not telling her everything she did and said is okay, that I can forgive and forget. But, I can't. The role I play in my family, well perhaps less now than earlier in my life, has been the person to tell everyone things are okay and to maybe smooth things over so that they are okay... and I am sure that this relative expects that I will just say that all is well. But... I can't...

So I wrote back to her, telling her that I empathize with being upset, that losing mom hasn't been easy on any of us. I told her that I am sure that being disconnected from us has difficult for her. I said that I don't mind her emailing if she feels the need to do so, that I am not ready and do not want to reconnect. I said that I was still very upset about things and hurt by them, and said that I do not want to go back and forth about it all... and I feel guilt for that... not because it's not the truth... it is the truth. I do not want to go there with her again, and don't see her as an integral part of my life... but I feel bad for her... the circumstances she has chosen for herself in her life have always been difficult for her, and she has always used my grandmother, my mother, and then me to complain to about it... and I am not sure who she now complains to.... and fear that her daughter has filled that role... so my guilt comes from worrying about all of her negativity getting displaced onto her daughter... but... I just know that I cannot handle her drama... don't want to know about her drama... I will always be related to her, but...I do not feel connected to her...

And of course there is this part of me that wonders what mom would think of all this... Mom maintained harmony/peace with this person even when it was hard to do so. Mom asked me to maintain that same harmony with this person throughout her illness and death, asking me to be the contact person. I did that. And I am sure that it would make mom happy if the circumstances of this person's life improved, but I also think that she would recognize that there is nothing I could do to change this person's circumstances... But... I know that my mom worried a lot about this person...and would want what is best for her... but... I hope that mom would also want me to protect myself... to set boundaries...and to support my dad and my sister... not in the sense of ganging up on someone, but to just know that we all experienced something and no longer wish to excuse bad behavior... but the email did shake me a little... I hate knowing that people are upset... I always feel like i have to do something to make it better... to put it all back into balance...

My Favorite Place

My Favorite Place