Thursday, May 03, 2007

Knitting, lectures and books

Neighborhood dogwoods are in full bloom

At 3pm yesterday I decided to do something totally unscheduled. I drove into New York City to attend a history lecture. It was at Cooper Union, an art and engineering college near New York University. It's really not that far from my home in suburban New Jersey but it could take hours with rush hour traffic. The event was scheduled for 7 pm. I wondered if I could get there on time after rounding up the children and getting them fed. I wrote my knitting and writing buddy, Barbara, in California, for moral support. She urged me to, "go, just go." And I did just that. I dialed for takeout, sent text messages to the boys and by 4pm, I was on the road.

I packed some knitting

My son's 'going off to college' vest

a book on cd (if I get stuck in traffic) and lots of cash (just in case my van gets towed and I have to bail it out at one of those seedy NYC pounds). No, I'm not exaggerating. New York is notorious for extracting the last life blood of any discretionary cash you might have.

Anyway, I digress... The lecture was a celebration of Howard Zinn's cherished book, A People's History of the United States (published in 1980). I read it late in life - in my 20s. It remains one of the books that still resonate in my life and he is one of the few living historians I adore.

I never got to take a class with Prof. Zinn nor was I ever able to attend any of his lectures. I have heard him innumerable times on the radio and, thanks to CSPAN, I've got to see some of his lectures on TV. He isn't getting any younger (he's about 85) so now was the time and perhaps the last time I would be able to do this.

It was a bit of a challenge to even locate my kids after 3pm. I later learned that my soon to be college student had an AP prep class; my soon to be 16 year old was out playing dart wars - don't ask; and my soon to be 8th grader was not going to be held hostage for another 3 hours in anybody's lecture hall after having spent 8 hours in school! It was 4:30 when I left them all, feeling a bit guilty but I had to go. Danny Glover would be reading from the book and Steve Earle would be singing Dylan, how could I miss this?

The drive into the city was a wacky array of New York City madness.

Lots of traffic and suicidal yellow cabbies

Lots of distractions... stuff on billboards (my soon to be 8th grader would have loved this!)

And lines and movie stars for the Tribecca Film festival

I finally arrived at 7pm and miracle of miracles, there was a parking space on 10 St. and 3rd Avenue, opposite a great Japanese ice cream store and only 3 blocks from the lecture!

I had the best time!


hakucho said...

Good for you...glad you had a good time :)

CrazyFiberLady said...

Wow, you were around the corner from my office! I'm on 9th Street between Broadway and 4th. Hell, we have "town hall" meetings at Cooper Union.

Glad you made it and had a good time.

Deborah said...

Oh girlfriend, how do you stay out of PurlSoho??

Stephanie said...

Last minute, unplanned outings are fun ---- glad you have a fantastic time!

sappmama said...

Don't you love it when a break from the norm pays off so abundantly?

Howard Zinn rules.

Diane said...

Isn't fun when your kids are old enough that you can leave on the spur of the moment and not feel the least bit guilty?

Kirsten said...

Yay you! I'm glad you managed to pull it off. I know how daunting it can be with three teens each going different directions.
I was in the city on Wednesday evening too. Sitting in a coffee shop in Hell's kitchen knitting and pattern writing. Your lecture sounds like more fun!

Patricia said...

Wow, I have a lot of catching up to do. So glad that you had a great time in the city. I love Howard Zinn. What a privilege. Barbara Tuchman is another favorite of mine.

sherry said...

How awesomely cool! What a great outing. Glad it went so smoothly. Yet another author recommended by a blog buddy to explore.

Anonymous said...

...and I am guessing you didn't get towed? Glad to read you had a good time, its great when you get to do stuff thats just for you, well done!

Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you, sweet friend.