I'm Back in Brooklyn, the Bronx, the Bottom, the Bowery, the Big Apple...

In our unabashed excitement, we're both going to explain why our upcoming NYC trip is a big frikin' deal.
Essentially, it's like this: though we've both visited New York before (multiple times, in fact), we've never seen it in this capacity - as an extended girlie-getaway. The mission (which we've accepted with gusto) is simply relaxation, inspiration, excitement, and supporting each other's adventures. Meredith wrote a wonderful vision statement in our Google-Doc, which I re-read whenever I'm feeling blah or bored. It's reads like the standard business mission statement, but with our own travel philosophy infused.
I've been to NYC twice before - once as a child, and the other as a teenager. Both were short family affairs (my parents, my aunt, a sister or two, and - for the teenage trip - my best friend at the time).

My NYC Debut
At ten, my family went to Manhattan for a Christmas getaway. If my parents were on a budget, I didn't know it. We stayed at The Beverly Hotel (since, renamed the Benjamin and refurbished), went to FAO Schwartz, the Empire State building, and the Holiday show at Radio City Music Hall. It was the type of magical, fantasy holiday tradition I hope to maintain when I have children of my own. I don't remember many other details, except cold temperatures, my little sister Tracee crying a whole lot, and my aunt cracking jokes.

The Second Time Around
The more recent trip was the spring of my junior year of high school. We went just as the city was waking up from winter. We were there for four days and did tourist-y stuff. That was a year before the much ballyhooed "Disneyfication" of Times Square. We went to some tourist traps, saw our first subway rat, and stayed mainly in our hotel's neighborhood. My mom let my then-best friend LaToya, whom I've since grown away from, come along and let us do big-girl things like walk around by ourselves and spend our own money.
I harbor a serious Broadway love affair, which was, at the time, stunted by my having never actually been to see a show. So, naturally, the focus of this visit was to remedy that. My parents took one night to see Chicago on their own. The next day, my mom took me and best friend to see an Annie matinee.
But the best show was once-in-a lifetime, something I feel fortunate to have experienced because of it it's uniqueness. I saw
Bring in the Funk, Bring in the Noise, with the singular Savion Glover, Jeffrey Wright, and Ann "The Voice" Duquesnay. I cringe knowing that no sentence I construct will definitively describe this tour-de-force masterpiece history of black hoofing (that's tap-dance, for the uninitiated). I still have my Playbill, soundtrack CD, and T-shirt. It's my crowning memory of that short trip and since then I've wanted to return and do more. I also mourn Funk/Noise and wish it would return. Where is Savion Glover anyway? According to his Wikipedia page, he's still dancing, working in film and choreography. I'm glad. I wish he'd consider reviving this amazing show..

Why do I ♥ NY?

You can't follow American pop-culture (or high or folk cultures, for that matter), without knowing that New York City is one of it's beacons. Despite the vapid TRL decade we just finished, when Times Square teemed with folks on the street screaming up to the funky-glass windows above, I still admire NYC. What draws me is the clash of grit and grime with elegance and excess. Some days this city is everywhere I want to be. It's not place I'd want to live in forever (the claustrophobe Southern Belle in me will never die), either. Sometimes I feel like a New Yorker, raised in Queens, with grandparents from Harlem, a Manhattan job, and a Brooklyn boyfriend.

I admittedly glorify this city, but I'm still open and aware of it's flaws and sprawling nature. I see the way it's children hanker to move away for open space, fresh air, and affordable lifestyles. They've recolonized Florida and have a good stronghold on North Georgia. But I also see why they never let the New York sensibility die and why my city (Atlanta) tries so hard to emulate it. The city is too much to love, then leave abruptly. New Yorkers take their city wherever they go.

So, Third Time's A Charm
This time around, I'm on my own dime, my own time, and with one of the coolest travelers ever. My hope is that I add new favorite spots to MY New York, and that I see it as an adult for the first time. I'm stoked to bite that Apple, again.
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30 days til take off!

This time next month, I'll be struttin thru Charlotte Douglass Airport headed to New Yawk City. Big City of Dreams! I think I am in for a bit of a shock. Mentally, I glamorize everything! I can plan a weekend at home and make it seem like a lifetime movie. So I keep having to reminding myself, "Merdi, yes it is a vacation, but no it’s not a resort we are going to the city. A big, loud, crowded and somewhat impolite and dirty city!"

While in NYC, Mon and I will celebrate our birthdays. Hers is next Saturday and we’ll be in G’boro visiting the Diva herself, Mrs. Carter and my birthday is Aug 2, but my family will be in town for a memorial service and though I can be somewhat self-in
volved, I think it would be inappropriate to make that weekend about me, don’t you think? So the last day in NYC, we'll get dolled up, catch a cab to a swanky New York eatery to exchange gifts and philosphical expectations for the year ahead while sippin' something sexy and alcoholic!

As far as planning for the trip, I am very proud of my crony and I. Our first time traveling together, I think lack of communication, almost sent us over the edge. Lesson learned! So this time around communication was key! My unofficial motto for planning is "For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned." Monya and I talked about almost every aspect of this trip to make sure we are on the same page. The universe allows us a certain amount of control, so we try to take advantage of it. Our respective interest will make the trip exciting for the other person and the little expectancies that the universe has in store will make the trip a unique experience for us both.

Thanks for reading!

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Tech and the City

Meredith and I are huge "Sex and the City" fans, so expect more plays on the title and plot stuff from the story here. Sorry - we'll try not to wear out the welcome. Anyway, Meredith said, "We need to post something about our use of technology on this trip." So, I'm on that.

On technology, my biggest concern wasn't access, but quick and complete reference. As a library-girl, my job is helping people find information. Most often, in my profession, users want info quickly, but wind up having to return to get more because it wasn't what they really wanted or needed.

Like those users, in New York City, I want to have the answers to as many of our questions as possible in my hands. Granted, part of the adventure is getting lost or making mistakes and finding your way out of them. Yet, I feel more relaxed when I plot and navigate my path on my own, not having to depend too much on the kindness of strangers or dumb luck.

Mos Def has a new album out, which has a track called "Life in Marvelous Times". His meaning is partly ironic, but for our travel purposes, I must co-sign. We really do live in marvelous times for technology and communication. Mer and I don't see each other everyday because we're in different cities, but we're constantly on the phone and web bouncing ideas off of each other. We're both Google acolytes and have been keeping our plans for the trip on a shared Google Doc. It holds our visions or mission for the trip, the budget, maps, and other things.

The largest, meatiest part of the trip-doc is our "Desired Stops/Itinerary" chart. We list the place we wanna go, it's address, a web-link, and the reason it's on the list. Lately, we've added a priority ranking system and I'm working on another addition - a new column that lists each destination by neighborhood. The list has dozens of museums, shops, restaurants, and landmarks we're trying to visit, and ya'll, we add new stuff all the time.

I was feeling anxious and tried to get Mer to agree to cease with the new additions, but she brought up an excellent point. It's better to have too much on the list, than too little. That way, if circumstance wrecks any plans, we have alternatives and choices. When the trip's finished, we may share our final trip document, but in true rebel spirit, we don't want other people offering unsolicited, authoritative advice that could make us miss an unexpected adventure. Plus, it'll take away from the blog-narrative, see?

Our other techy-thoughts were computer-related:

Should we bring a laptop?

What about web-access? Will we have to pay for it?

The short answer: We don't want to lug a laptop around, leave it in a hotel, or have to pay for the web. Both of our smart-phones are Wi-Fi accessible, so we're just going to depend on those, hotel concierge, email, and Twitter for quick access to last-minute info. We've discussed getting a GPS unit, but think that might be too extravagant or may prove uncessary.

We're also going low-tech with my NYC guide-book, a easy-to-hold print-out of our Google doc (which is 12 pages right now, without fancy formatting!!!), and probably whatever brochures and paper we collect while we're in town. We're trying to be green and not bring home a lot of clutter and paper, though.

So, that's the haps on our technology game, folks.

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