What a trip: New York (again)


Me to Smarmy Bastard: “These all EXPIRED. I’ve got to get on that….”

Smarmy Bastard: “Just wear them all at once.”

Because I knew I would have just finished up two jaunts in two weeks, I planned my most recent business trip to New York to be only a few days — no extra PTO days tacked on to either side, just there and back. No shows, no bars, no shopping at Uniqlo or anywhere else …

But, you know, just in case something happened one night, I decided I should pack some necessities. Which is when I started looking at the expiration dates on the condoms, and upon realizing how many were beyond their Use-By Date was like, “Damn, am I some sort of MONK?” I ended up throwing all of the above away — and then I took the garbage out, so our cleaning lady wouldn’t be greeted by them if she opened up the trash while she was at work the Monday I was gone.

New York is always interesting for me, but flying in to the city the day after the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks made it particularly so. Everywhere I went people seemed particularly fraught with tension and memory, and body-scanning was the only option to make it through the airport security checkpoints.* (I’d never been body-scanned before, but any time someone tells me to hold a pose for five straight seconds, you know I’m gonna shout “Broken-down doll!” and SMIZE!)

* The good news: The sensors work so well that even an overlooked lip balm in your pocket will trigger them. The bad news: I now know this from experience.

I had scheduled a visit to the Warby Parker showroom on my last day in town; I had a good idea which frames I liked, thanks to the five pairs they sent me, but Full Mental Sammitt kept thinking that it would be best if I saw all pairs up close and talked with a consultant, too. The company has just opened another New York showroom in Little Italy, on the fifth floor of the Puck Building, and I was one of the first people to have an appointment there.

When I read “showroom” in the email I expected, well, something showy, but when I walked up to the open double doors in the hallway what I saw was: a bunch of well-dressed people in a call center.  I kept skulking up and down the hallway, double-checking my Google Maps information and wondering if there was a secret passageway to another wing somewhere. Finally I blustered in and saw that the showroom is like one part display area (around the corner, not visible from the entrance) and 15 parts other areas (including, yes, a call center).

The consultant — who was wearing the Winstons himself — was superfriendly, and wasn’t fazed when I told him I wanted to try on pretty much every pair that would look good on someone with a giant noggin. I ended up buying the Winstons that I had considered on my previous blog post — and because the price was so good (and I got a discount for being one of the first people in the new space), I also picked up the Felton style at right. In what I thought was an ironic twist, to order the glasses I sat down at a computer and he helped me fill out my information … which then was transferred to one of the people sitting behind me, in the computer/call center.

That was Thursday afternoon; my glasses arrived at work this morning, which I think is wonderful turnaround, especially since the total for both pairs (frames and ultrathin high-index lenses for people with awful eyesight) was well under $300, including shipping. I super-highly recommend the company if you’re considering new glasses. (Do it! Do it!)

I decided to try a new hotel this time, so I stayed at the Element New York Times Square West (so many words!) — part of a division of Starwood that specializes in eco-friendly properties. The room had its own kitchenette, which was a nice touch even if the only thing I used for was to store my leftover sodas. The hot-water pressure was awful, perhaps due to the low-flow shower heads, but Internet (plug-in and wireless) was included in the price, which is an automatic selling point for me. And it was close to Hell’s Kitchen … where it turned out I never went out to.

I did meet my friend Dr. Alex, who is doing a one-year residence at Southampton Hospital and had ventured in to the city so he could buy fabric for an outfit he’s making for his roommate. (He started off with ties while he was in medical school in Phoenix — I have an early production number — and has since graduated to men’s shirts.) I was excited that he wanted to meet at Mood, because it’s the fabric store they always go to on Project Runway, so I channeled my best Tim Gunn while we consulted about fabrics. (I did not utter “Make it work” at any point, although I may have said, “Thank you, Mood!” as we were leaving.)

I’m not old hat at fabric stores, but I was surprised how many rolls of material were just plain ugly to me. Maybe it’s a lot harder than I realized for the contestants to find great fabrics! (Although being there made me incredibly suspicious about two designers picking the same fabric for their outfit, because if one had selected it, there’s no way it would have been cut and placed back on the shelves in time for the other person to find it.)

I also got to sneak in time with my former manager and his family. When we started at our company (on the same day) three years ago, his child was a newborn, and to see how much he’s grown since then is a tangible reminder of how much time has elapsed since then, too. Moments like that jostle me into a knee-jerk “I’ve got to do something different with my life soon! Life is passing me by!”

It also doesn’t help that I’m in the top media-related city when it happens, because then I start rhapsodizing about moving to New York and how kick-ass I’d be at my job, and suddenly I’d be like the sensible new cast member on The A List because of my incisive wit and camera-ready looks. And that’s generally when I realize I forgot to zip my pants or, in this trip’s case, walk right into a wall because I was distracted by the meaty calves of these guys walking around Little Italy. The fantasy is short-lived.

My U.S. Airways flight was predictably awful; I got a notice that the flight would be delayed 1.5 hours … after I had already cleared security and was waiting to board the plane. The automated voice said it was because of maintenance issues, but I’d think since the plane left Phoenix FIVE HOURS BEFORE, they could have given a little more heads-up about it.

To the company’s credit, some of us who had traveled with only carry-on luggage were able to be squeezed on to another flight headed to Phoenix. To the company’s discredit, the only reason we were able to make that flight is because it had been delayed since 10:30 a.m. … and we boarded that flight at 6:30 p.m. I wonder if the passengers of that flight got their notice sooner than I did?

But I got home at a decent hour — in time to make it to (and not win at)  Thursday Trivia, and spend a single day in the office before my next trip began.

WHAT SAM WORE: 9-20-11
The shirt: Plaid cotton button-down shirt from Uniqlo, New York.
The pants: Corduroy jeans from Uniqlo, New York.
The shoes: Tumble leather loafers by J Brand shoes, ordered online.
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