Sunday, October 8, 2017

I Traveled To New York! (Part 2)

If you're just joining us and you missed Part 1, click HERE!

My third day in New York was much calmer.  It was nice to not have to be anywhere at any particular time like I needed to be the day before.  So I started off with a slow morning and then hopped on the subway and headed out to Brooklyn.  My mission was simple: pick up a rainbow bagel.

It's likely that you've seen these bagels whilst perusing Facebook idly one day.  They definitely caught my eye and from that day forward, I told myself that the first time I go to New York, I would get one of these bagels and eat it.  And so I did.  They're really quite amazing to see for yourself.

I got my bagel the way The Bagel Store intended with cream cheese that included cake batter and sprinkles of all things.  It was a struggle to claim this as my breakfast because it was so sweet.  It was quite tasty and I munched on it throughout the day, but yeah... not something to be consumed on a daily basis.  But it was worth it just to say that I have eaten a rainbow bagel.
I brought my bagel back into Manhattan and returned to Battery Park, where I picked up the ferry to the Statue of Liberty the day before.  It was nice to find that space because it was so quiet and it was nice to be near water and just kind of forget for a while where I was and just be.  10/10 would recommend eating bagels in Battery Park and incorporating downtime into your future adventures when possible.

But I couldn't stay in Battery Park all day, as nice as it was to be there.  I had more I wanted to do this day.

I started walking in the direction of the 9/11 memorial.  That was my next big stop.  On my walk there, I ran into a protest.  At the time, the latest news to come out of the White House was that we were dropping out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  I thought it was interesting to run into a march against Trump in the state he calls home.  It was odd though because the police didn't know anything about it.  They didn't even know where the marchers were headed.  I thought they were supposed to be informed of these things, but I guess they don't have to be in the know on everything.

Anyway, I continued my walk until I reached the gigantic fountain that stands on where the foot of one of the World Trade Centers once stood.  The other building has been built up again and is now a museum.  I believe it is also the World Trade Center, redone.

Just being outside by the fountain, even before figuring out where I needed to go and going inside, I was drawn in by how small I felt surrounded by all of those people who had come to this same place to pay respect or to marvel at the great impact of this tragedy or both.  I felt small standing next to the former footing of the old World Trade Center tower 2.  For me, I was in second grade when 9/11 happened, so it was hard for me to conceive what this tragedy could have looked like as I was standing outside the new building, looking around at the other buildings in the area.

Going inside, I went through security yet again and then I was at the top of a long bank of escalators and staircases.  I got on an escalator going down and the further down I went, the darker it got.  I went from a bright white, window-filled room to a dark, windowless space.  You can see the original foundation and steel beams that are twisted and rusting, jutting out of the wall, left where they stood at the time the towers collapsed.  For a while, you're just doused in tragedy with not a ton of information.  You see the mangled corpse of a firetruck where the entire crew perished while coming to the rescue and put out fires.  But then, you go through a set of doors and you're specifically asked not to take pictures (which, to my frustration, a saw quite a few people taking pictures which was utterly disrespectful of them).  So you'll have to rely on me recounting what I saw for this part.

Walking into this exhibit behind a set of doors, I didn't realize that I was entering a timeline of 9/11, twenty-four hours starting right before the first plane hit.  It's eerie to see pictures of the day of, but before anything happened.  It was a peaceful day... just a normal New York day.  Meetings were scheduled, people were coming into work, just like every other day.  What was interesting to see was a video that was capturing the New York skyline live (at the time) as an art installation to show that things never change and life will always go on.  They captured the first explosion completely by accident.

From then on, there was a breakdown of what happened in New York, minute by minute.  It took about 15 minutes for all of New York's emergency personnel to be called to the sight and for news stations to start covering what was happening and I believe for President Bush to be informed and start flying in from Florida where he was due to speak at the time.  My heart was pounding as I was reading it and I couldn't help but be impressed by how little time, in the scheme of things, it took for this tragedy to happen and for first responders to arrive on the scene.

This is such a haunting exhibit.  I don't remember what I expected before this, but I was still surprised just watching the videos captured of the explosions and of people jumping out of high windows, recordings of phone calls between passengers and their loved ones, flight attendants and the airport... one of the most interesting things for me to see was footage of the terrorists as they were going through security (much less of an invasive process as it is now, as many older than me know and have experienced) and head to their gate.  How did they feel knowing what they were about to do?  Calm?  Scared?  What does an evil person do before they do something truly and irreversibly evil?

One thing that I wish had been done differently was the part where they talk about Islamic terrorism.  I think that part of the exhibit was decent for someone who knows a little bit about terrorism and about Islam, but if this is your first exposure to thinking about this, I think it can be quite problematic.  I wish they had separated this terrorist group from the rest of Islam because it's not a violent religion.  It's the people who are violent.  I wish they had taken a more general stance on terrorism, showing that terrorists can come from any religion and that those who choose to commit such crimes do not represent the rest of the religion.  Islam is NOT synonymous with terrorism.  As it is, I don't think individuals would walk away from this exhibit with their views on who can be a terrorist challenged.  That's such a shame because if there was a place to have this conversation, I think this place would have been a good place to start.

It was a lot to take in and I'd be surprised if you could process and take in everything after just one visit.  I'll have to return someday, perhaps when I have someone I can process this place with right away.

From the 9/ll exhibit, I went to Starbucks, charged my phone for a bit and sipped a Chai Latte, and then hopped on the subway to go to Central Park.  Looking back at the journaling I did on my trip, I wrote, "I don't think I was expecting this place to be as beautiful as it was."  Just walking around the park, it felt like I was in a totally different place than New York.  New York's green spaces have a way of immersing you, however small they are, and making you forget that you in this huge, busy and bustling city.

What I loved about Central Park is that there were so many unexpected adventures to be had.  I had a map and I was finding my way around that way, so I ran into some expected places.  I ran into Belvedere Castle, which is a small castle situated on a pond that was largely used for bird watching if I remember correctly.  While there, I ran into a French school group who were babbling excitedly in French to each other.  I stuck around them for a while because I missed hearing French.  I had to laugh to myself as they were getting excited over seeing squirrels in the park and turtles resting on logs by the pond.  I remembered my own French family who was so excited when they visited Minnesota and saw the sheer number of squirrels in the park.  After a while though, I was sick of running into this big group, so I purposely tried to get lost in the park, thinking that I would be taken away from that group at least for a little while.  And I did manage to get away.

I found a great pond where friends and couples were rowing in rowboats, trying not to run ashore.  I kept walking and ran into another pond where children and parents were playing with remote control boats, which I saw in the Stuart Little movie, so I was pretty excited that this was an actual place (albeit not as big as the movie depicted... movie magic!).  I ran into the John Lennon "Imagine" memorial (along with a hundred other people it seemed).

One of my favorite things I found was a group of people learning to tango in a public square and I just sat admiring them and watching them for a while.  I continued walking and found statues of Alice in Wonderland, Balto, and Hans Christian Anderson and thought these things added magical elements to the park.  Before leaving the area, I went and had dinner at a comfort food Thai restaurant and ate delicious Pad Thai on a stool looking out the window at the street so I could people-watch the whole time.  I hadn't eaten on my own at a restaurant, I think, since I was in Italy for my 21st birthday.  It was a good experience having again, taking myself to dinner.  I think this is something everyone should try, even if they're romantically attached to someone.

After that, I headed home, because the next day was going to be a busy day-- BookCon!

I arrived at BookCon at what I thought was on time, but it actually took a while of standing in line before I could actually get into the conference.  Still, my anticipation was high-- so many exciting things could happen today!

Once they actually started letting people in, I went right to the lecture hall so I could hear Bill Nye the Science Guy speak!  He had co-written a series called Jack and the Geniuses that I hadn't heard about, but I was excited to see Bill Nye, straight out of my middle school science classes.  I think my favorite panel to see and listen to was about writing children's literature with Kwame Alexander (new author to me, his newest book is called Solo which I preordered, now have, and can't wait to read!), Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House), Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events).  Ms. Osborn is so sweet and thoughtful, that she balanced out each of the gentlemen on this panel, even though she held back more than they did.  I loved Kwame Alexander because of his fresh perspective.  Of the panelists, I believe it was he and Jeff Kinney who were the newest to the literary scene.  My favorite of them all was Daniel Handler though.  I admire people who can be hilarious and yet take it all down a notch and be extremely thoughtful without really trying.

It was wonderful just to wander around the exhibits visiting different publishers, seeing what books were new to the scene.  I bought a number of books, but I was also determined to find some ARC books (Advanced Readers Copies, which means they were not yet published and open to the public).  I did manage to snag one!  Even though it's not my usual genre, I was still excited to receive it.  One of my favorite memories was visiting a small publisher (finding them completely on accident) and I must have spent 30-45 minutes with them just talking about writing and publishing.  It's still my desire to someday publish a book, but I have been having an issue creating a draft that I like even a little bit.  So I was talking with them about creating a writing practice and getting back into crafting stories.  She definitely inspired me.  I have since written a letter to the publishers thanking them for talking to me for so long and for encouraging me to keep writing even when things are hard.  I really appreciated it.

And so concluded my last full day in New York!  The next morning, I rose early and embarked on the hour or so train journey from upper Manhattan to JFK airport.  It was a really great trip and already, I can't wait to go back someday!  But for now, there are other places to visit and explore.

Thanks for Reading!


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