Birthday bonanza or The Girls Who Ate New York

43. Nothing interesting to say about the number. I’m sure there’s something of note about 43 in some religion or ancient philosophy or mathematical concept that is worth mentioning, but I don’t know any off the top of my 43-year-old head. And yet, Gabriella surprised me on this random birthday with a get-away weekend in New York. Her nephew Zachary and his girlfriend Ashley stayed with the boys for 2 nights and 2 very full days while we played in New York City.

Friday night June 10th, erev birthday (meaning the night before in Jew-speak), I was feeling sorry for myself. Gabriella did not make it home in time to light Shabbat candles or eat Chinese food with us or bathe the boys so that I could get a leg up on my birthday weekend. She works a lot. I couldn’t complain. So, I got on the phone with my sister Rachel and whined. Gabriella interrupted me.

Gabriella: Look who’s here!

Deborah: What? Zachary and Ashley?!? What are you doing…

G: Tell Rachel you have to get off the phone, and go pack for two nights.

Now, I’m the planner in the family. Also I prefer to be the surpriZOR as opposed to the surpriZEE. Control-freak? Perhaps though I have yet to be diagnosed. I prefer uber-planner.

Deborah: But, what do I pack?

Gabriella: Casual and one nicer outfit.

D: Like jeans and a nice top or like a hoop skirt and parasol?

G: Jeans and a nice top.

D: Do you think it’s going to rain? Should I pack a jacket?

G: I don’t know. Just take it.

Gabriella was starting to lose patience. I outstretched my hand and motioned to shake Gabriella’s.

D: Hi, Gabriella is it? Please allow me to introduce myself to you. My name is Deborah, and I’ll be your partner for as long as I can foresee. Mostly we’re compatible, so we should get along swimmingly, but I will tell you that I’m an uber-planner. I understand that you are the anti-planner, and this may be an issue for us occasionally. You can’t will me to be a go-with-the-flow kind of girl, so you just have to accept that while surprises and spontaneity are conceptually pleasing, I will always react with resistance at first but will eventually relax once I’m able to compose a check list or talk through all the likely challenges that we may meet along the way. (I shake her hand.) Please don’t be annoyed. I’m really excited about spending the weekend with you in an unspecified location. I’m trying to go with it, but it’s making me a little nauseous. It’s my birthday. Be kind.

G: Pack whatever you like. If you don’t have something you need, we’ll buy it when we get there.

Ah, a safety net made out of shops. I stopped to breathe and then threw some clothes in a bag. “I can always buy what I need,” I chanted to myself. I know. I’m bonkers.

We arrived at our boutique hotel. The room was big enough for the queen-sized bed, our roller bag and my thoughts.

Thought 1: Wow, this is a small room. I wonder where all the new clothes are going to go after I buy them.
Thought 2: Is that a computer monitor or the television?
Thought 3: Where’s the hair dryer? I must have a hair dryer, and I don’t see one. I wish I were one of those girls who didn’t need a hair dryer, but I really do. Ok, we’re in New York. There’s a Duane Reid on every corner, and they’re open all night, and…oh it’s hanging behind the bathroom door. Phew!

And then, I was absolutely fine. In fact, I was outstanding. Gabriella organized the perfect weekend of food, drink, performances and pampering. Care for some highlights? Well, I’m going to share some anyway.

1. Sleep. Waking up and going back to sleep and waking up rested. Divine.

2. Brunch. Saturday morning, we went to Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune. Gabrielle won the James Beard Award for Best Chef this year. Not too shabby.

We sat at the bar and chatted with 27-year-old Roller Derby skater, blacksmith and bartender Zoey from North Carolina. She makes a mean bloody, and she likes salty fish.

3. Beginners. Saturday was a blustery, rainy, crappy day – an invitation to get a pedicure and catch a movie. I needed a bright color for the dreary day.

Gabriella had prepared a list of film suggestions and rattled them off to me. The fact that she had researched movies was gift in itself. The first movie on her list was Beginners. She had me at Ewan McGregor. I loved everything about Beginners. Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent and Cosmo. Here’s the trailer.

4. Blue Ribbon Sushi. mmmmm

5. War Horse. Puppetry and World War I? Yup. And it’s phenomenal. And so sayeth the voting members of the Tony Awards who honored War Horse with Tonys for best play, direction of a play, scenic design of a play, lighting and sound design.

Shout out to this man who recommended it to us highly:

He was wearing these shoes:

6. Sunday brunch at Café Forant in Hell’s Kitchen-first experienced during BlogHer last summer. Barrington and Fil (not Phil cause it’s Czech as in Filip) were our delightful boy-servants, and our yummy brunch was served up fine by Lea Forant and Carolyn Montgomery.

7. Cafes. We picked up some hot drinks on that cold Saturday at The Bean. Look at our cute baristas. I just had to capture their adorable little souls with my camera. “Look how sweet you are,” I said to the kids as they posed for me. “You should procreate.” They laughed nervously. “You don’t have to be together to make babies. Just make them! Everybody’s doing it.” I don’t think I convinced them.

Before we drove home Sunday afternoon, we sat at Soy Cafe where Gabriella read news type things, and I wrote the previous blog piece. After that, we picked up some Benny’s Burritos to bring back to the family.

When we got home, the boys ignored us. Zachary and Asher were playing an involved game with action figures, and Levi was on the iPad next to Ashley who was asleep on the sofa. After inhaling burritos (because we clearly had not eaten enough all weekend), Gabriella bathed the boys and put them to bed. I love my birthday. And I love Gabriella who loves my birthday enough to plan. Thank you Zachary & Ashley for making it all possible.

8 thoughts on “Birthday bonanza or The Girls Who Ate New York

  1. Gabriella bought a jacket on Saturday. It was cold and wet that day, and she did not plan for bad weather. I had a cardigan that suited me just fine. Planners rule!

  2. What a great birthday! You two are beyond cute.

    But, wait. I don’t think you are supposed to go to Café Forant without the rest of us. My invitation must have been lost in the mail. Darn it!

  3. Hi Deborah, I was introduced to your blog by way of Shamim’s book “…Now the Blog”.

    The World Unseen had such a deep and arresting impact on me that within a week I owned everything she and Hanan ever produced (in my frenzy to get my hands on all her material I think I even somehow procured video of her birth!).
    (Kidding obviously.)
    I’m now powering through her archived blogs until she writes more. 🙂

    It struck me that the very first entry in her book was in praise of your blog so I fired up my “computer machine” and scurried over here as fast as my browser could carry me.

    Good thing I did, since reading through your blogs I have laughed uproariously, wept softly, and gagged majorly (the placenta blog…) It was my own fault for looking since you *did* give fair warning, I’m just a glutton for punishment. That thing looked like a facehugger from the Alien movies…and gave me nightmares for a week!

    Placenta and facehuggers aside, you need to write a parenting book. I’m not a parent yet but I’d absolutely buy it! Your exploits are incredibly entertaining…(kinda like those other ladies I follow across the pond!) 😉

    Happy (belated) Birthday & Happy Pride Month! ~ Lauren

  4. pencil, no shoes but i still wear my favorite shoes that g convinced me to buy when we were living in chicago. some of our fondest memories. xo

    hey margie smith!! love hearing from you.

    and thank you ericka! gabriella deserves many cheers indeed.

    deb, your invitation was sent my pony express and should arrive by august of 2012. see you there!

    and to my shamim-o-phile lauren, welcome!! shamim honored me greatly by including me in her book, and i’m forever grateful. she is one classy broad it has to be said. thank you so much for finding me, reading me and writing such lovely and encouraging words. essays may follow, but i don’t know how i’d do without the likes of my blog readers sharing their thoughts on the page! thanks again!!

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