Thursday, April 30, 2015

#185 He is City Lovin'

Weekend I’d Forget

I can cram the events of this past weekend into three acronyms: NYC, AC, SONJ

And for the first time ever, the highlight of the weekend wasn't the food!

Blasphemy, I know!

We started with a 'work dinner’, but dinner with Hubby's coworkers is never a traditional 'work dinner’ it is too much fun to be considered that. We ate at “Blue Water Grill” in Union Square. Part of me was wishing I had come three hours earlier to walk around the area and soak it all in—I love Union Square!

I ordered the scallops and naturally, they were fabulous. However, as I said, the food really wasn’t the highlight. We were seated in the restaurant’s Jazz Dining Room and were only feet away from live entertainment that played everything from classic jazz hits to pop hits with a twist.

Hubby and I were eyeing up the Shellfish Tower that several tables ordered. It was three tiers of the best seafood around. Perhaps next time…

As we headed to our hotel after a little wandering around town, I saw what appeared to be flames. I could only imagine it was a contained, controlled fire and wasn’t worried until we walked closer and there was no one there containing or controlling.


By the time we were across the street from it, we realized a huge garbage container was ablaze and growing by the second. A bouncer at a club across the street stood in the middle of the road shouting the license plate numbers of the car behind and in front of the fire to the hostess in case it was one of their patrons’. We were more concerned with calling the fire department. It certainly appeared as though this wasn’t a regular occurrence on West 36th street because every passerby stopped what they were doing to stare at the flames. Some people ran past then stopped, gauging just how far away they felt was safe enough to stop and stare in awe. One daredevil stood about two feet from the flames videotaping the fire.


Not exactly the choice I would have made. We stayed to watch the fireman come all while gazing back and forth between the fire and the line of traffic backed up on the street, and then realized our hotel was in spitting distance from the fire. We went up thinking that we would sit and stare down below and then realized we were in the only level of the hotel with angled windows. They were perfect for a dreamy city view, but not perfect for spying down below.

Here is a bit of common sense. While staying in a hotel, if you want to sleep in, you should close the curtains.

In spite of knowing that the blinding sun would wake me up, I couldn’t. I wanted to go to sleep gazing out at the city and wake up to the city.

And I did.

At 5:00 am.


But the view was so worth it.


For breakfast, we headed uptown, way uptown, to Absolute Bagels which you might remember from our short Valentine’s Day trip to the city. We were greeted with a long line and a very, very, cranky man in front of us.

It was also worth it.

Being the foodies we are, we needed good coffee, so we headed to a French pastry shop. Two lattes and a French donut later, we were headed to Central Park to enjoy our goodies.


This was a REAL French donut, folks. Remember the French donut of Le Pain Quotidien that we discovered in Chicago? Let’s just say I referred to the present pastry as a French donut and the authentic Frenchman behind the counter said, “Well, yeah, you could call it that.”


As if spending the night in the city, seeing our first street fire, and walking around west Central Park wasn’t enough, from NYC we headed straight to Atlantic City to meet up again with Hubby’s work buddies. We weren’t just there to gamble, though of course, we did.

Hubby’s coworker, Jason, plays hockey and his team was having their championship games all weekend. I have only been to one hockey game in my life, and I loved every minute of it. So I was a little over eager to go to the game.



I did, however, forget that even though it is starting to feel like summer in New Jersey, it will always feel like winter in a skating rink. I was the smart one who wore flip flops that day.

Go ahead and laugh. I deserve it.

Here’s where you’re going to think we are absolutely wild and crazy. We drove home somewhere around 12:30 am from Atlantic City to hop in bed and wake up five hours later to go to Gloucester County, NJ for Jonathan’s last Special Olympics swim meet before the Summer Games.

I’ve always been a night owl, but it has been a while since I pulled two days of nonstop activity paired with two nights of five hours or less sleep.

But New York City, work friends, Atlantic City, and Jonathan are all worth it.

This is somewhere around the four hundred and ninety bazillionth swim meet I have attended. I sometimes go with my old hat face on. We’re going to watch Jon swim, we’re going to be excited for him, we’re going to go out to eat and celebrate no matter what.

In his first race he swam his little heart out and legitimately earned his gold medal. I say legitimately because there have been times he was only competing against himself. In that case, earning a gold medal merely means that he swam. This time it meant he pushed past the other two competitors in his division.


The Special Olympics motto is, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

I wish all competitors could adopt this motto. It has become a mantra for me along with Habit Four of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Think Win/Win, Everyone Can Win”.

This was put into action as Jonathan’s 50-meter relay, the dead last heat of the day, took place. I used to feel bad for the people that had to stick out the swim meets until the last event and here we were, sticking it out. Surprisingly, there were still several fans there. Jonathan swam first and was lagging a little behind, but the next two swimmers caught his team up. When the final swimmer, who couldn’t have been more than ten, went to swim, he swam one length of the pool and stopped.

“Go back!!” was screamed from the stands.

We watched as this little guy stopped at the edge of the pool, turned and then swam a few feet. He stopped, swam to the ropes and waited. He slowly pushed himself a little further, then stopped and clung to the ropes again, contemplating the water, looking as though he might not finish the race at all.

This is often the point where the winners’ families all turn away and leave, and the coaches and volunteers for the finished teams start to walk toward the area that medals are given. The families of the lagging team are left standing alone in the stands.

But not this day.

No one moved from the stands. Everyone was already standing from cheering for their teams, and now they all cheered with one common goal—to get this little guy to the finish. The coaches and volunteers crowded around the end of his lane, and just about everyone in the room cheered and clapped for the athlete and the team that would take last place.

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” is a famous quote of UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell "Red" Sanders. 

My guess is that Mr. Sanders never saw a Special Olympics competition where winning isn’t the focus, but the people behind the sport are what is most important.


Winning should be secondary. People are primary. This weekend, I knew that to be true.

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