August 09, 2010

I feel good (nananananana) I knew that I would

I just have to say how dang good I feel today.  I knew that I needed a break in the worst way before going to NYC, but once I got there and felt like I could exhale for the first time in months, it really hit me just how badly I need to try to make time for myself more often!  Getting rested and recharged feels awesome!

To say that it was a phenomenal weekend would be an understatement.  It was one of the most amazing adventures I've ever had.  It was wonderful meeting so many outspoken, strong and passionate women.  There were also some crazy big egos at BlogHer, but that is to be expected.  After all, it seems that the whole purpose of the convention is for bloggers to pimp themselves out to corporate sponsors.  But for the most part, people were normal and nice. It is also awesome that everyone you meet starts out by saying, "What do you blog about?"  And I get to say, " My crazy children and the Congo."  Which is usually followed by, "Congo? Why Congo?"  That's my cue to launch into my big crazy spill.  I LOVE sharing the Congo! (Duh.) 

But I also learned that I love New York.  And I have the I Heart NY shirts to prove it.  It was nothing like I thought it would be.  Everyone was nice and the city was clean and it felt so safe.  In my experience, the mean New Yorkers and the dirty city rumors are just big ol' lies. 

I did so many fun things, it's hard to know where to begin.  I took a bus tour with my friend Christine all over the city.  Then we walked all over Times Square at midnight.  We were such tourists!  We took pictures of everything and pointed at everything and otherwise just walked around looking like huge dorks.  I love that girl!

As an aside, do not wear a flowy skirt and walk over the grates in the city.  Your skirt will fly up all Marilyn Monroe style.  I learned that one the hard way. The bad news is that I only have one pair of non-cotton underwear.  (Very Granny-ish, I know)  So if I am going to wear a skirt that I don't want to stick to my underwear, I am limited to this one pair of silkies.  Unfortunately the seam split out of that pair of underwear at our Congo reunion last weekend and so in my haste I stuck them back together with a safety pin.  The really bad news is that these were the underwear I had on when my skirt flew up in the middle of the sidewalk.  The good news is, no one in New York pays attention to you.  Perhaps I should go underwear shopping. 

The next day, I decided that I was going to go on my own mini "Eat, Pray, Love" experiment.  I prayed that I wouldn't get fat as I ate my way all over the city.  I loved every minute of it.  I walked in a million tiny restaurants and asked the people behind the counter what their restaurant was known for.  Whatever they said, I ate one of.  That meant having an enormous piece of cheesecake for breakfast, a cannoli for a snack, a massive pastrami sandwich and homemade kettle chips for lunch, a chili dog for a snack and a peanut butter brownie just for the heck of it.  I almost needed a wheelbarrow to drag my bloated self around.  I've never had a better food day in my whole life, all ten billion calories of it.  And then there was dinner...

Do you remember me saying that I was going out on a limb and staying with some strangers one night in New York City?  Well, I did it.  And I am going to chalk it up as one of the funnest little adventures of my life.  M & A (their names have been changed so you don't try to mooch hospitality from them!) hosted me on Saturday night.  We had exchanged a few emails, but they aren't bloggers, so I knew VERY little about them other than that they have an 18 year old cat and a few various other fun facts.  I have to admit, I was a tad nervous when it came time for our meet up.  I lost my voice about an hour after getting off the plane and what little air squeaked out sounded almost demented.  I was so afraid these strangers would meet me and automatically assume I was a redneck, chain smoking heathen from the sticks with that voice. 

At last, the time came for us to meet in the lobby of the hotel.  And do you know what?  M & A were the cutest couple I've ever seen.  They looked like a couple that you see on the postcards you get from churches that want you to visit.  They were so delightful. Being the thoughtful people that they are, they thought it would be a great treat for me to go out for African food.  They didn't even make fun of me when I practically begged to ride the subway since I'd never ridden the subway before. So we rode the subway to Harlem, because rumor had it the best African food in the city was there.  There were traditional neighborhood block parties going on in Harlem.  There was such an interesting mix of people there.  As an avid people watcher, I was in heaven.  I couldn't help but ache for that kind of diversity in our small town. 

Okay- back to the restaurant. We walked into the restaurant and there was a big woman sitting on a bucket peeling vegetables.  I think that was my first clue that it was going to be good.  The other clue, is that we were the only white, touristy looking people there.  Everyone else there looked and sounded authentically African.  Our waiter was from Senegal.  I can not convey with words just how good the food was.  It was far and away one of the best meals I've ever eaten and I have seriously contemplated moving to Harlem so that I can eat at Africa Kine everyday.

But even better than the food (which was crazy hard to beat), was the company.  My hosts were so much fun.  We had wonderful conversations and laughed until my cheeks hurt.  (And their friends are probably going to make fun of them about how "famous" they are now after I am writing about them!) I'm just sorry that we don't live closer together because I think we'd have a ball!  Can't wait to host them in KY some day.

Going away for four days to recharge is probably one of the nicest things I've done for myself in years.  I came home to a sparkling clean house (go hubby!) and delightful children.  Hopefully, they will keep this up indefinitely.  A girl can dream, right? If not, the next trip is just around the corner in October for our Mom's Retreat- which is FULL!  Can't wait!!!

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