Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m still posting!

For me, nothing evokes the holiday like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Growing up, watching the parade, sometimes in person, was a staple in my family. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Day Madness!

Here are words you’ll never hear from me:

“It’s Thanksgiving Day! Let’s go shopping!”

Which means, if you were hoping to run into me while out shopping on Thanksgiving Day, don’t count on it.

If you were expecting to see me screaming like a banshee as I race down the aisles of Walmart in search of that one of a kind, must-have-or-I’ll-die-deal, don’t hold your breath.

Maybe you thought you’d catch me in the wee hours of the morning, Continue reading

Empire State of Mine

Not that anyone has asked, but I’ll say it anyway: I thank my lucky stars I grew up in New York.

I mean, when you think about it, when my parents left their country for the U.S.—just after World War II—they could have ended up anywhere. Today, I could be saying that I hail from Gainesville, Florida or, that I was born on a cattle ranch in Nacogdoches, Texas, assuming they have cattle in Nacogdoches. And, maybe if that had happened, I would be saying I like these places very much.

Ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center.

Or maybe, if their plane had been going at warp speed and shot right over the states, today I might be calling myself a Canadian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. They have a beautiful national anthem, after all.

So, given the odds, it’s a wonder my folks made it to New York at all.  By the city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. Where Mad Men dreams come true. Home to Woody Allen, Lady Liberty, an empire state of mind, and, as it turns out–me!

Which means, I grew up shopping at the Macy’s flagship store in Manhattan—the very same one that inspired Miracle on 34th Street. I went to school at P.S. 154 and, later, to P.S. 117. We didn’t bother giving schools names; after all, New Yorkers don’t have time for such trivialities.

When I was a mere infant, my mother and her friend, who also had a baby, would push our baby carriages to the supermarket and park us out in front, while they went inside and did their grocery shopping. All the while, we, babies, would be innocently lulled to sleep by the cacophony of traffic on Main Street. Who had time for finding babysitters? The streets were our sitters!

Growing up in New York, meant class field trips to the United Nations, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Hayden Planetarium. Does it get any better than that?

A view from atop of the Empire State Building.

Every time there was a new film playing at Radio City Music Hall, my family was there, listening to the organist play while we took our seats (boring!), and seeing a movie (the Doris Day films were the best!). And, when the film was over, it was exciting to see the fabulous, New York City Rockettes, tapping and kicking away, in all their glory.

Growing up in New York meant waking up at the crack of dawn to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, live and in person. We saw it in all kinds of inclement weather, with pummeling, freezing rain being the worst. Best of all, growing up in New York meant I got to see many Broadway musicals, like The Sound of Music with Mary Martin, and My Fair Lady, with Julie Andrews. I also got to see Here’s Love, a musical version of Miracle on 34th Street that flopped, despite my seven-year-old self, predicting to my school chum, that it would be a big hit.

I LOVE the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Growing up in New York meant that, as a teen, I got to see up-and-coming journalist, Geraldo Rivera, and his One-to-One benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. The line-up included John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, and best of all, who can forget, Sha-Na-Na.

Growing up in New York means that I say “on line,” and not “in line” when I’m standing on a line and waiting my turn.

Being a kid in New York was so much fun that I’m hard pressed to find any drawbacks.

For, had I not grown up in NY, I would never have met Rod Serling in Central Park, back when he was still producing The Twilight Zone TV series.

Central Park in summer.

I wouldn’t have been able to read the local newspaper to keep up on that nefarious serial killer, David Berkowitz, aka, Son of Sam. And how would I have ever found a $20 bill at the Flushing subway station if I wasn’t in Queens at the time? Or mastered my cool, aloof, don’t-bother-me stare, while assertively striding through the streets of Manhattan?

Perhaps, too, I would never have eaten gads of steaks at Tad’s Steak House, only to learn they weren’t serving steaks at all. Horse meat was the meat du jour. Talk about indigestion.

And, I probably would never have experienced the hot, sweaty platforms at the subway station in summertime, or the crushing sensation that you feel when you wedge the subway doors open as they’re closing, because, if you don’t, who knows when the next train will come along?

Or the mobs of people everywhere, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in cramped restaurants, and dining so close you could almost kiss the stranger next to you on the cheek, but, why on earth would you?

I was raised in New York, which gives me carte blanche to call myself a New Yorker, or Nu YAWKER, depending on your accent.

New York and proud of it.

How about you? What makes your hometown special to you?

Farewell, So Long, It’s Been Swell

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room:  I am getting old. I have an expiration date.  Which is why I’ve launched my Farewell Tour.  Which really means I’m trying to do all the things I didn’t get to during the first half century of my life. It also means I’m returning to some of my old stomping grounds to recapture life as I remember it.

Some people would say, “Monica, that’s not a Farewell Tour you’re on, that’s your Bucket List.”  But “bucket list” sounds so provincial, so bargain basement. Call it what you will, but I’m on my Farewell Tour, which started in Europe.  I  had never been to Europe, not even during college when it was all the rage to “find” yourself by backpacking across the continent while smoking pot.  Which probably explains why I didn’t find myself until sometime in the last decade.

Our European tour would not have been complete without a visit to Florence, Italy.

So facing 50, I booked my European tour with my daughter. And there was no way we were going to do this trip backpacking.  It would be hotels all the way, and I was leaving this trip up to the experts. We signed up for a posh tour that took us from London to Rome and I’m so glad we did. It was truly a wonderful trip!

During the 16-day journey, we got to know and spend time with our fellow travelers, who hailed from all parts of the world (Canada, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and of course, the U.S.) and who were just as nice as can be. We were like goodwill ambassadors from the U.N. enjoying a pleasant romp through Europe. Each day, we’d rotate our seats on the bus so that everyone had a chance to get a nice view and we all smiled and said polite things about the scenery and the weather. The Saudi family pretty much kept to themselves, but when the day of departure arrived, we all huddled for a big group hug and bid each other a tearful goodbye.

Other items on my Farewell Tour:

Taking my daughter twice to New York, including once during the holidays, which is the time to see the city, if you ask me.  We saw six Broadway shows during the first trip, but only got to see one on the second, due to an untimely strike by the union representing the theater production crew. This forced the cancellation of most of the shows. I blubbered like a colicky baby when we took a behind-the-scenes tour of Radio City Music Hall, recalling all the shows I’d seen there, as a kid from Queens. I also got a thrill seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live and in person, from a very prime locale (thanks to my friend, Mandy).

I sobbed during my Farewell Tour of Radio City Music Hall. Such memories!

I attended my college reunion. Though I didn’t remember anyone, I got all misty-eyed while walking through the hallowed halls of my old alma mater.  I also fell into a heap, climbing the steep hills of the campus. If you ask me, they really need to provide golf-carts to help us decrepit alumni get around campus.

We took a trip back to the Northwest–Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, where I spent the early years of my adulthood, under the cover of rain clouds. It was absolutely divine to reconnect with old friends—and visit the Pike Place Market again.

My high school reunion. This was the first and perhaps the only high school reunion I’ve attended. Very eye opening, too. First of all, as it turns out, everyone has aged, including moi. Bottom line, I probably should have made a point to go to my reunion earlier, as, at this age fewer and fewer go, and our class size was small from the start. But thanks to Facebook, I’m in touch with quite a few of my high school classmates. So in some ways, everyday is a reunion!

Perhaps, best of all, was making two trips back to Venezuela, with my children who’d never been there before. It gave them a chance to meet their relatives and discover a bit of the Latin side of their heritage.

I still have many more stops to make on my Farewell Tour, but I think I’m off to a good start. I hope to return to Europe, perhaps to Vienna and Prague. Madrid and Barcelona, too. I’d also like to see my family in Caracas again, and, perhaps, take a cruise to Alaska.

Not all on my Farewell Tour is about travel. I’d like to one day write a book, and spend time with my grandchildren, assuming my kids settle down (though they should know, I’m in no rush for this one). I figure my Farewell Tour is going to last a long time. At least, another 30 to 40 years. So I can wait. In the meantime, I’ll just keep adding to my tour. After all, I believe in long goodbyes.