Sunday, April 3, 2011

A weekend in Manhattan

I just got back from a long weekend in New York. Staying in a swanky hotel, driving around in Escalades and limos, and getting interviewed for a Discovery Channel documentary about the Tsunami in Japan. Don't ask me how I end up in situations like these, because I truly don't know.

It was all a pretty strange experience, usually when I travel I do it on a shoestring budget and cut corners every chance I get. In this case it was the exact opposite, it was all so incredibly excessive and flashy that it made me quite uncomfortable. I was visiting some family in the Tahoe area when I first got the call about the doc, and though I was on vacation at the time I agreed to be involved in this filming because I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about the porpoise slaughter in Otsuchi. So a limo picked me up on Thursday and drove me the airport in Reno, had a lay over in Phoenix for longer than I would have liked, and then continued on to Newark airport where I was met again by a car service. I was driven to the Hampton Inn, which is a somewhat fancy hotel in Soho and met up with one of the other SSCS supporters, Tarah.

Tarah thankfully had gone out earlier to get me food from a raw place nearby, and though the portions were meager I was happy to have it. The next morning we were met by Eric, the producer for the show, had a strange complimentary breakfast at the hotel, and headed out to the studio to film our interviews. Hung around in a loft-style studio for the day, wearing a brand new shirt that I had just bought at American Apparel because I had nothing "nice" to wear, and got to catch a glimpse of the high-stress and forced-smile industry that TV can be. We met some nice folks though, including Paula Zahn who seemed genuinely interested and concerned about us. The whole process took all day, so by the time we came back to the hotel that evening it was time for Tarah to leave. My flight wouldn't be leaving until Saturday evening, so I hung out with Tarah till she had to go and started to make some plans of my own.

That night I walked a couple miles across Manhattan to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant called Red Bamboo that I'd be hearing about. There was a line out the door, so I waited for an hour or so before I was seated, and was treated to some delicious vegan fine dining. After walking back I made some calls back home, figured out some plans for the next day and went to bed.

The next morning I was greeted by sunshine, which was refreshing to see because the previous day had been cold and rainy. I packed up my bag, checked out of my hotel, and began my trek across town. I hopped on the C train and rode it up to central park, and then on to my ultimate destination; the American Museum of Natural History. The building was bigger than I could have ever imagined, and even all the info on the internet said it would take a few hours to see everything. I only had a limited time before I had to be back at the hotel, so I got a move on. I got into line for tickets which are normally $16, but when I finally got to the counter the womyn handed me one before I gave her my card. I said "how much?" and she replied "don't worry about it" and gave me a subtle wink. I thanked her, grabbed the ticket and went straight for one of the entrances fearing that someone had made a mistake and was going to try and stop me any second. They didn't, and I proceeded to explore the many floors and many many exhibits that the museum had to offer. I was really impressed by the size, I hustled through and it still took me over 2 hours to see everything.

By the end of it I was exhausted and starving, so I jumped back on the C train and headed south again. This time I ate at a restaurant called Vegetarian Paradise 2, which just happens to be 2 doors away from Red Bamboo. The food again was amazing, and this time I was afforded the luxury of being one of the few people in the place at the time. After that I decided it was too nice of a day to get back onto the subway, so I took a stroll across town again and back to the hotel to wait for my car. On the way back I saw a pug sniffing a broken and discarded umbrella. Thoroughly inspecting it inside and out, shoving his head into it, biting it, and then eventually peeing all over it. I stood and watched as the pug's humyn laughed and they both walked off together. I had a good laugh myself.

Picked up by a black Escalade at the hotel, and had a terrifying drive across Manhattan and Brooklyn to JFK airport. The whole time I was in the back clutching the door handle, and not saying much at all as we weaved in between traffic. The entire time the driver shouting "don't worry!! I'll get you there on time!!!". I also should mention that immediately when I got into his car I had to pee so freakin bad, but I figured it wouldn't take long for us to get to the airport. Being stuck in traffic and feeling like I was going to burst was excruciating, and when we finally got to the airport I thought I was home free. I went up to the first Delta employee I could see to ask where the bathroom was, and he informed me that I would have to go through security first before I could get to one. I was DYING at that point, literally ready to explode. I had to use 6 different ticket machines because none of them would read my passport, then wait in line to check my bag, and THEN had to put my bags on the conveyor belt and walk through the security check before charging ahead straight towards the nearest bathroom. Never been so relieved in my life!

Had a somewhat of a depressing flight home, reliving everything over and over again is not helping me at all, and I need to really take a break this time. The Tahoe vacation was supposed to be my time for solace, but it was cut short by a trip to noisy Manhattan. Though I can't complain about having the opportunity to share our story with millions of people, I do need to take some time for myself.

Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support. Hope to see some of you soon.

Mike XVX

No comments: