The week that was…week 13: old friends

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This was a week of old friends – Frederique and Eric, Deanna, academia and my PhD and New York. And of course it started on my birthday.

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2013-03-26 11.34.01New York really is an old friend. I worked out that I have visited it more than any other city in the world I haven’t lived in, with the possible exception of Brishane – I’ve been there six times.My first visit was my shortest, back in 1989 when, after visiting friends in San Francisco and en route to Paris I didn’t want to miss the chance to see the archetypal Big City (little knowing I would later spend a year living in another archetypal Big City, Tokyo). I have loved every visit and I have done something different every time, and, of course, there is still so much to do. Having two of my most loved friends living in the city certainly helps to draw me back, but the city itself has lots to make you love it.

For my birthday I shopped on 5th Avenue,

2013-03-25 12.07.57 2013-03-25 12.14.02.. and went to the “Top of the Rock” – despite urging from the person at the box office “visibility is low don’t you want to come back tomorrow”. Nope. Foggy New York views were cool. And it actually snowed on me while I was out on the 69th floor.

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Then it was time to ice skate at the Rockefeller Centre rink. This was fun, even though the snow I encountered on the 69th floor had turned to drizzle by the time it hit ground level. And ice skating is different to roller skating – it took me a while to get my Ice Legs, but I didn’t fall over and managed to get up a bit of speed by the time I was done.

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After an hour or so of skating, I decided I was wet enough and could retire to drink gin and spectate.

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My lovely friends Eric and Frederique made sure I had a lovely birthday dinner too.

2013-03-25 20.11.55 2013-03-25 20.12.45 2013-03-25 20.20.17Fred even made me a cake (we ate it the next morning so the small boys could join in too).

2013-03-26 07.54.12My next day in New York I did two completely new things and one incidental thing:

First, The Frick.

2013-03-26 13.02.34One is not allowed to take photos inside, so this is all you get. But it was a great collection. And who knew that Monet started his career as one of those people who drew caricatures of random people with gigantic heads and tiny bodies to support himself as a student. I love when the museum itself is as interesting as many of the paintings – this former residence was a beautiful house. You do wonder if some of the Frick heirs might be unhappy their great grandfather was such a philanthropist! I enjoyed the museum, and even better, got in for free. An older woman started chatting to me in the line and, weirdly immediately mentioned Kakadu, just like Miles had. She had also been to Kangaroo Island. Anyway, she was a volunteer at the Museum of Natural History, so got free entry, and got me a free ticket as well. “People were so nice to me in Australia.”  Thank you fellow Australians.

2013-03-26 14.22.36I then went by Grand Central Station to see Nick Cave’s horses dance. As I only got there a few minutes before it started, I had to stand on tippy toes to see. It was cool, if somewhat weird, but certainly had the crowds there.

It was then time to head way downtown to Chinatown and surrounds as I had an appointment with the East Village Tenament Museum.

2013-03-26 17.23.43This is a fascinating place – an old Tenament Building which has been restored and fitted out as it would have been at various points in its history. Completely focused on social history, you don’t just get to wander it, but have to particiapte in a tour which takes you through aspects of life as it would have been in the Tenament. I went on the “Sweat Shop Workers” tour which was really interesting, focusing on the life of recent migrants jsut before and after the beginning of the 20th Century who worked in the garment industry, a staple of the lower east side.  Worth going back for another tour another time.

Here are some random arty shots of Brooklyn, just for interest.

2013-03-26 10.43.00 2013-03-26 10.44.15On Wednesday it was off to Washington on the Amtrak.

2013-03-27 12.08.55It must be said that on this visit, I really didn’t see much of Washington as I spent the entire time at my hotel at the Popular Culture Association conference where I was part of a roundtable on the “Afterlives of the Sixties.” I loved revisiting the world of academia and my thesis, and indulgently attending sessions on Zombies, Vampires, Fringe, Sherlock, Battlestar Galactica and Gender in Science Fiction amongst other things. It was an absorbing couple of days.

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Compulsory hotel window shot.

2013-03-28 13.08.54It was also super cool to find the book by one of my friends on sale – this was her PhD thesis when we were doing them at around the same time.

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And then it was time to start the trek home – from the Washington-Baltimore International Airport which is, clearly, actually in Baltimore.

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But before I got all the way home, one last old friend – Deanna in Toronto. I am completely hopeless and failed to take a photo of us together, but her is the icecream sandwich we shared.

2013-03-29 21.09.15I do love seeing the friends I first made 20 years ago and still having a strong connection, even when it is sometimes years and years between seeing each other.

And then home. First from Toronto to Vancouver. I had a snack in Vancouver waiting for the flight to LA.

2013-03-30 12.27.06it was a big trip – I caught 10 flights, visited 7 airports and caught one train. But I saw old friends, met new people, saw different things and had good outcomes. But, as I got on the flight from LA to Sydney, it was nice to think I was going home.



2 Responses to The week that was…week 13: old friends

  1. What was your PhD on (i think i got that it was popular culture, but specifically)? Unless I just completely skipped past that.

    • Melissa says:

      My PhD was on the depiction of the Sixties in films made during the Reagan-Bush era and what that indicated about the way the present in which a historical depiction is made impacts the past it is representing. EG why did Dirty Dancing talk about abortion the way it did when it was made in 1987? Why so many Vietnam War films during this period etc.

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