Penn Station Bathroom Memories

My post about the Bryant Park bathroom brought an email response from my aunt, who used to live in NYC. She writes,

Your comments brought this incredibly vivid memory sweeping back to me. You and your mother had come to visit me on the train, and I was picking you up at Penn Station. You had to go to the bathroom, and much to my dismay, we went into the public restroom in Penn Station. For me, it was like a scene out of the dark ages- dark shapes of women lined the sides kind of moaning and definitely stinking. You were quick and we got out alive.

It's funny to hear that memory since, though I remember a lot from those magical trips to NY to visit my aunt, I don't recall that bathroom visit. It must not have been *that* bad if I don't even remember it. I do remember one time when my mom, brother and I ran for the subway but only I made it, and the door closed behind me, catching my bag in the middle. The door re-opened quickly, just enough time for me to pull my bag in. I still remember the look of horror on my mother's face as the train pulled away from the station with her nine year old daughter on board (who had no money, no ID, and no idea where her aunt's apartment was, aside from "the upper west side").

But my favorite 1980's NYC memory is buying Nintendo Game & Watch handhelds from one of the zillions of electronics stores all over Manhattan. Parachute (close-up of box) was the first we got and between my brother, my mom and I, there was always a fight over who got to play and who held the high score. Another memory is of the first time I had sushi, but that one's not nearly as good. Probably more akin to the yuck of the bathroom at Penn Station.

Subway update

For those that need closure on the NYC subway anecdote: I got off at the next stop and waited. Several trains passed through the station, and eventually (though I'm sure it wasn't more than ten minutes or so) my mom and brother stepped out of one. I think my mom was a little surprised to see me; she said she assumed I'd just take the train all the way to my aunt's and meet them there. Funny thing is, I don't even remember being scared at all. Just annoyed that my mom and brother were such slow runners.

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The Biscuit

Sometimes when I read a book, I get infatuated with a character or person in the story and I can't stop thinking or talking about him or her. Last fall when I read The Making of a Chef, Thomas Keller became the object of my obsession. Back then it was, "Thomas Keller does…" and "Did you know that Thomas Keller…" non-stop.

Now it's Seabiscuit, or The Biscuit. Did you know most horses sleep standing up? But not The Biscuit — he liked to bed down in a big ol' pile of hay. And The Biscuit liked to eat the hay even though he'd already had dinner. And The Biscuit had funny front legs that didn't straighten quite right so people thought he couldn't run fast. And did you know that The Biscuit…

Lost Gloss

I hate it when things like this happen: I've had this Bloom lip gloss in 'Cutie Pie' for ages, and don't even wear it much. For some reason, I decided to bring it along on this trip and discovered it's perfect for wear both day and night. Not too glam and not too bright, it was just right and I was so pleased. But it appears it was not meant to be — after 24 hours of new-found love and rekindled appreciation for its glossing abilities, I lost it last night in a bar in SOHO.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Yesterday on the way to the airport I realized I'd forgotten to bring a book (since I'm between books, I put-off my final decision on what to read next until the morning of departure, having narrowed down my choices the evening before) to read on the plane. Faced the the grim prospect of purchasing something in the airport bookstore, I slogged in, expecting to settle for the latest from Oprah's book club. Imagine my delight when I saw two copies of Seabiscuit: An American Legend sitting on the display table.

I'd put Seabiscuit on my wish list ages ago, when it first came out. So I snapped it up and settled in for some good reading over breakfast on my way to New York. What a book! "A first-rate piece of storytelling" says the New York Times, and I couldn't agree more. I'm already half-way through and would like nothing more than to spend the rest of the day reading about the Depression and horse racing.

I'm really enjoying this book for several reasons: 1) I don't know anything about Seabiscuit, so hearing his story is compelling in and of itself, 2) the book opens up the world of jockeys and Thoroughbred racing, something about which I'm not very familiar, 3) I love it when books do that — absorb you into unfamiliar surroundings and make it engaging and real, 4) I love this horse! There's a picture of his face about a third of the way through and I found myself thinking, "that's such a Seabiscuit expression!" when I saw it. That's how thoroughly and wonderfully Ms. Hillenbrand pulls you into the world and character of Seabiscuit.