Thursday, 28 September 2017

A little trip to the United States of OMG America Part 1: New York

In May I received a Facebook notification from my cousin and his partner. They were getting married and I was invited. 

In their adopted city of New York. In the United States of OMG America.

Now under other circumstances I probably would have been excited, but realised almost immediately that attending wouldn't be an option because of the distance, expense of an overseas trip etc. 
However my godfather Gazza is also this particular cousins godfather and every single time we spoke over the phone, asked if my cousin was getting married yet. 

The fact that I have a godfather is an enigma in itself. Sometime in the late 70s/ early 80s, my parents decided to baptise my sister and I which makes no sense as we never had, nor since have been, a religiously inclined family. But whateves, I ended up with the delightfully eccentric and very camp Gazza (an old old friend of my dads) as my fairy godfather (FGF). 

He is also the aforementioned cousins FGF. And Gazza was super proud that the son of one of his oldest friends and godson was getting married. And absolutely insisted that he had to go. And that I had to go with him.

This wedding meant so much to him as he is gay. And my cousin is gay. Marriage between same sex couples is not yet legal in Australia.  

It is a very hot issue ATM as the Australian public has been asked to participate in a 'survey', the result of which is 'non-binding' to the 'government' which gives our 'opinion' on whether a minority of people can get married which the 'government' can choose to ignore even though they've spent '$122 million' seeking our 'opinion' on making a minor change to the Marriage Act. #voteyes

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

So it was very important to Gazza to see his godson marry his partner of 26 years, even though they could not yet marry in their home country.

Gazza is now 70 so whilst he probably could have made the journey himself, said he didn't want to go alone. So I took a deep breath. And said ok.

This decision was a difficult one for me. I would have to leave my Sonofaguns and the Bear for nearly 2 weeks which was not the funnest thing ever.  But I knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime. 
To see a place I never thought I'd visit ever because:
1)  The United States of OMG America has guns and Aussies are allergic to guns
2) The United States of OMG America is very very very far away and planes cost lots of dollars.
3) The United States of OMG America to many Aussies sometimes feels like an imaginary place in the TV inhabited by Jerry Seinfeld, Holy Oprah, Krazy Kardashians and a strange breed of people who have never eaten Vegemite. NEVER EATEN VEGEMITE!

So I packed a small jar of Vegemite, along with some undies, yarny projects and a nice dress and off we went.

 The trip from Sydney to LAX was fine. I took along my abandoned sock project from last year and knitted for the entire flight whilst watching various tv shows and movies.
red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
Bye Sydney!
red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
For the record, you can take knitting needles and crochet hooks on international flights!
red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
Possibly 10 out of the 13 hour flight to LA....

The LAX to JFK leg was not so great. My boarding pass issued to me in Sydney had the dreaded 'SSSS' code on it. I wasn't aware this was a thing until the TSA pulled me aside going through security and went through each and every item in my carry on bags. 
I was on the receiving end of an 'external pat down' which honestly was fine. I was too tired to care. But they completely pulled everything out of my bag. They unfolded my spare (clean!) undies, squished and unwrapped tampons (I pack for every potential emergency!), but strangely were unfazed by my thin, sharp circular knitting needles!

All this time I could hear an announcement for my name and the final boarding calls for my connecting flight. I said several times in my bestest polite voice, "Excuse me ma'am (because you have to call peeps sir and ma'am in the United States of OMG America). My plane is supposed to close boarding in 2 minutes. Is this going to take too much longer?"

They were totally calm and all like, "Don't worry. It'll be fine."

Meanwhile I started to panic. They eventually finished and I threw everything including unravelled balls of yarn, spare undies, unwrapped tampons, compression stockings, tiny tubes of moisturiser into my previously neatly packed carry on bag and bolted for the plane through all the windy corridors. 

I made it but then proceeded to have a 5 hour panic attack between LAX to NYC.  I missed my kids, my gorgeous Bear, and I felt so very very ridiculously far away from them.  I kept it to myself. I'm not one to make a scene, but just felt miserable.

We arrived several days before the wedding, so had some time to see a few wonderous sights. 

I only had 2 things on my bucket list.
1. See a squirrel
2. Find a copy of the US release of Desolation Boulevard on vinyl by 70s glam rock band The Sweet.

Everybody had told me squirrels were everywhere but I decided that I would go to Central Park for my squirrel fix.

And found them immediately!

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

Gazza made friends and started gas bagging with some New York construction workers who wanted to talk about:

"Oh my god, you guys have like, funnel web spiders and crocodiles and the MOST poisonous snakes in the WORLD!"

and I was all like:


And took approximately 164 photos of squirrels and several videos.

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

 A walk through this beautiful park, breathing in fresh tree air, and from time to time just sitting still and enjoying the view was so therapeutic and liberating.  

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

Many other people clearly felt the same as me. This young lass was enjoying it so much, she was all like, "Ima gonna stretch my wings and strut the streets of Central Park in mah undies!"

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
Black wings: check!
Orange undies giving me a wedgie: check!
Whilst Halloween is sort of starting to pick up down here in Kangarooland (no thanks to the commercial push from supermarkets etc), it's not really a big thing.  But Halloween advertising is crazy in Squirrelland (aka the United States of OMG America).  Everything is scary this, pumpkin that. Pumpkin EVERYTHING!  And if it wasn't pumpkin flavoured, it was reeking of cinnamon....
red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
Pumpkin Ale brewed with espresso beans. Really guys? In Australia we have an expression: "Yeah, nah, yeah... nah." Which translates to, "No. Absolutely not. No way. All of the nopes."

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
These were adorable. and look alot easier to do than carving!

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
more Pumpkin Blend craft beer.  And apparently you have to shake it before opening? Riiiiiiiiighht....
Many people go to New York to see the big, famous things. Like the Statue of Liberty...

Staten Island Ferry Statue of Liberty
She is much bigger in person!
Statue of liberty Staten Island Ferry
Hey there pretty lady!
Or pay tribute at the 9/11 Memorial...
This was such a deeply sad place, but so beautiful.

9/11 memorial

One world tower 9/11 memorial
The One World Tower
Or to climb tall buildings.

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
Hey there Empire State Building!
 Heaps of peeps told me I should go to the Top of The Rock instead of the Empire State Building. However I bucked the trend. 

Here's the deal. My parents, the Mothership and the Fatherdom LOVE watching Sleepless in Seattle together. 

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

It's their favourite movie. And I love it too.  So I wanted to go up to the Empire State Building for them.

Back in Kangarooland, they were both ill with Influenza B. Like REALLY sick. And Dads progressed to also become pneumonia which sent him packing off to hospital for nearly a week.
The day I was up on the 86th floor, it was about 1.30am in Oz.  I sent through a few photographs to mum via Facebook messenger for her to see when she woke in the morning. But the Mothership was actually awake as she had been coughing. 

And so was Dad....

Central Park is that way somewhere on a foggy NYC morning... And thank you humidity for my super frizzy hair....
So I took all of the photos and messaged them to Mum & Dad in real time as I walked around the Observation Deck and viewing floors....

 We got the hang of catching the subway. Although I am never, ever again going to complain about the Melbourne Metro train stations or platforms.  

New Yorks subway stations are these little claustrophobic rabbit warrens with no clear layout and you could totally envision giant mutant turtles or rats or lizard people creeping through the subways. Plus if you are at all mobility impaired, forget it! Most stations have steep old staircases. Not many have elevators or escalators. 

On the good ole' L train. Or Q train. By this stage I had totally given up on hair styling of any kind thanks to the humidity. 
So whilst there were all these big iconic New York things people go to see and experience, I really loved all the small, everyday things.

Like lots of small corner stores. We don't really have many of these in Kangarooland anymore.

corner store williamsburg brooklyn new york city

Tiny courtyard restaurants...

Signs of protest and freedom of expression..

Bernie Sanders new york

anti- trump resist protest Highline NYC
The sculptures and artistic expression in everyday places...

geisha graffiti art williamsburg brooklyn New york NYC
In Williamsburg...
red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
Mosaic at Whitehall Street terminal
 On one of our wanders through the city. I really couldn't tell you where we were but loved this statue of a guy sitting because I was tired and sitting down looked amazing.

I'm fairly sure he is important but after 3 hours of random wandering, we were tired, dehydrated and lost so we had stopped paying attention to who these statues were and why they were important. They became a blur of 'a statue of a guy standing with a walking stick', or 'a statue of a dog next to flowers'. 

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

But my favourite part was that in this immense concrete metropolis was how much much greenery people tried to squeeze in.

On Saturday afternoon we were to meet the family in Greenwich Village for a pre-wedding brunch.  I will forever remember Greenwich Village for this beautiful place. The Jefferson Market Garden is a lovely park open for free to the public (donations welcome) and maintained by volunteers.

red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

morning glory vine red haired amazona NYC USA holiday

cottage garden NYC
crepe myrtle red haired amazona NYC USA holiday
When I got back home to Oz, one of the first things I did was buy a pink crepe myrtle for my garden...

red haired amazona new york USA holiday

red haired amazona new york USA holiday

calla lilies red haired amazona nyc holiday

red haired amazona new york holiday
Red Haired Amazona NYC holiday Washington dc white house

Red Haired Amazona NYC holiday Washington dc white house

I will also remember Greenwich Village for these freaking awesome boots I bought in a vintage shop...

So now I can say, "What? These old things? Oh, I just found them in a little vintage shop in Greenwich Village..." like it's totally nothing....

About 3 weeks before I was in NY, my BBB (best bloggy buddy) Vicki from Off The Hook was in NYC.  We've never met in person but have chatted over the interwebs almost daily for over 2 years.  

We had a little bit of a 'Lake House' moment on the Highline.  

On the left is a photo Vicki took on her trip in the last few days of August and on the right is me in almost exactly the same spot, just 3 weeks later!
We absolutely did not intend on wearing the same sunglasses.

You can read all about Vicki's trip here.

Some people wear sunglasses because the sun is bright.  This is only part of the reason why I'm wearing mine in the photo above. The main reason is because I never adjusted to the time difference. Every single night when all good little New Yorkers were getting their beauty sleep, I was still on Aussie time and stayed awake ALL NIGHT.


At about 3am, I'd stop tossing and turning and get up for some vegemite toast.

Red Haired Amazona NYC holiday Washington dc white house
When I told you I packed Vegemite, I was serious. 

And then go back to bed. And fall asleep at about 6.30am (8.30pm in Melbourne). Then get about 2 hours sleep and have to get up to do sightseeing/ wedding stuff.  

So the wedding! It was everything you would want it to be after flying 17,000 kilometres!

On the Friday night the Bachelor Party was held at a Whiskey & Cigar bar called Velvet in Williamsburg.
We were entertained with topless waiters and Karaoke.

Despite very strenuously deciding not to sing, I did engage in a couple of duets. My cousin Paul and I 'sang' Take On Me by A-ha, and my other cousin Chris and I broke down our own rendition of 'Take a walk on the wild side' by Lou Reeds.

No video footage of this is available. Ahem. 'cough' (has been destroyed).

Here is me looking mildly trashy but not too shabby at 2am in Brooklyn, NYC. Crazy times for a middle aged Aussie Redhead!
My Cuz and his hubby do know how to throw a bloody good wedding.

At the Gansevoort Park Hotel on Park Avenue....

Red Haired Amazona NYC holiday Washington dc white house

Red Haired Amazona NYC holiday Washington dc white house

Do you see those little cufflinks?

I brought them over from Australia for my cousin as a sort of injoke. He is a massive Dr Who fan and I gave him a pair of little Tardis cufflinks as a little wedding gift.  And he totally surprised me by wearing them to his wedding! 

I was totally chuffed!

Red Haired Amazona NYC holiday Washington dc white house

A couple of days later the boys left for their honeymoon to Mexico, while Gazza and I climbed down the insane staircase from our Airbnb apartment one last time...

Red Haired Amazona NYC holiday Washington dc white house

And hopped on an Amtrak train to our next destination...

The White House Red Haired Amazona

Now go read Part 2, Washington D.C.!