30 October 2006

New York City - Part Deux...and a few thoughts

[For the curious among you:
I've had several E-mails asking me
if Michel,
who recently joined me in NYC
and appears in a few of my posts,
is my date,
fiancee -
Fortunately for Michel,
he is my friend. :-)
Michel is too smart
to get tangled up with me!
The fact that we are not
romantically involved
is the reason we're still friends!]

Stop This Train...

"So scared of getting older.

I'm only good at being young.

So I play the numbers game,
to find a way to say that life has just begun..."
~ John Mayer

If you haven't listened to John Mayer's latest CD, "Continuum", you really should. And if you do, pay particular attention to "Stop This Train" and see if you relate. If you're over the age of 40, and I'm six years past that, it resonates. It reverberates. It haunts my mind, but mostly in a good way. Maybe it means a little more with a bit of history.

It was also almost the reason I missed my flight back home to Wilmington. Not that I didn't get to La Guardia in plenty of time, but I kept playing that song on my iPod so many times and I was consumed with a million circulating thoughts, that I didn't hear the announcement that my gate had been changed. In a divine Act of Providence, my ear piece popped out of place and I heard this startling announcement, "Would passenger Susie Parker, please report to Gate 2 for boarding. This is the final call for Susie Parker - Report to Gate 2." It was a "Home Alone" moment. I sprinted. I'm sure I looked like a freak. Oh well, it was New York City which meant that I probably looked normal.

Anyway, to sum up the rest of the trip, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, just like Thursday and Friday, were exhilarating, fun and filled with unexpected surprises, the good kind, and blessings scattered all around me - disguised in the form of sights, sounds and the people hanging in my orbit. I really love whatever galaxy it is that I am currently inhabiting. I just don't quite know how I managed to find it. Or maybe it found me.

On Saturday, Michel and I headed to Union Square because he wanted to see a NYC farmer's market and how impressive it was! We walked around until Katie joined us around noon and then she took over the itinerary as only she can.

We headed for "The Strand" bookstore, having heard from Erik at PC Magazine, that it was a "must see", and Katie quite concurred. Four incredible floors of BOOKS! New books, old books, out of print books, gently and not-so-gently used books, you name it - and it was probably there. I set up camp in the basement and would still be there if Katie hadn't reminded me there was more of NY that Michel needed to see. We made our purchases and found our way back outside and in a taxi.

Next stop: South Street Seaport. Katie, John and I had lunch there last May at Pacific Grill, and it was such a warm, sunny NY afternoon, it seemed like the right thing to do once again. After lunch, we decided a harbor tour might be cool, but we couldn't' have been more wrong. Oh, the tour was fascinating - but it was FRIGID! The wind whipping up off the water soon chased Katie into the more temperate reaches of the tour boat, but Michel and I braved the winds because the view was just too perfect. It was like sailing in a picture post card scene except for the wind. I loved how the boat bounced, but I did miss it when the feeling left my face and hands. Michel was kind enough to share his overcoat and scarf, but even with that - my southern blood was protesting.

But the views! It would have been impossible not to fall in love with Manhattan that day. The skyscrapers gleaned, the water was white-capped and the sky found just the perfect shade of blue. It was one of those moments when the non-NY'er that I am, felt, well, extreme pride! Considering all that this city has dealt with and weathered, "Can do" was stamped all over the place. My fondness for Manhattan bubbled up, kind of unexpectedly. Having said that, when our boat sidled up to the Statue of Liberty, I did turn around and thank Michel given that he's French and it seemed like the polite thing to do. It is pretty impressive, all the more so since 11 September. One of the most touching parts of the day was when the boat got into position for the "Statue of Liberty Photo Op", every single person on that boat stood up - even the ones without a camera. All eyes turned toward the torch and I think there was this collective feeling of "awe". I still feel it when I look back at my photos. It was a goose bump sort of moment.

After the boat ride and post-sail thawing out, we weaved our way through the financial district and found a cab which deposited Katie on Avenue C and we made plans to meet up with her later for dinner. Michel took off for a walk to find something for his son, Brieg. I took off...for a nap.

The wait for dinner was something like an hour or so, but it was more than worth it. We found the most sumptuous restaurant, just around the corner from the hotel and I had no idea it was the home of the same chef who authored "Kitchen Confidential". Brasserie Les Halles is definitely worth a visit and whatever wait you may encounter. You have to understand, that after eating at NY Athletic Club on Friday Night, was a hard act to follow for whatever restaurant we chose, but through pure dumb, inexperienced, naive luck, we encountered a contender.

I said everything was fantastic - Katie and I ordered Filet de Boeuf Bernaise which was mouth-melting, as was the Salade d'Auvergne and, of course, the tea...well...trust me - good stuff. The only puzzling thing was Michel's entree: Steak tartare, Frites. I just couldn't understand eating raw beef with a bunch of stuff tossed in to make it appear (and I use the word loosely) cooked. Michel insisted that I try it and I did, but it tasted and felt like something I would give Cassie were I to try and hide a pill she needed to take. My unsophisticated palate found it to be...raw meat with stuff tossed into make it look cooked. Ugh. What was he doing to me? The first night we take him out he orders Kangaroo sausages and then it's raw steak. I think it was a sly French device for taking me to task - probably because I didn't walk fast enough. I didn't sense any obvious malice or resentment, but it could all be very passive-aggressive. Of course, I am teasing. Michel would have no problem getting in my face and expressing to me his displeasure with one of my actions - in a polite sort of way, of course. The French are very civilized like that.

Oh well, his digestive system, not mine. It must have agreed with him - or maybe that's why they are so serious about their wine - to take the edge off having to eat ill-prepared dishes. I really can't say. I guess if I tossed back a couple of glasses of vino, I'd easily overlook that someone forgot to put the meat over a flame. It reminded me of the time he ordered oysters for us on the Eiffel Tower and right when I was about to swallow one, he pointed out that it was alive. This was in my "pre-sobriety" days and I recall needing a half bottle of champagne to get the taste of THAT out of my mind and off my tongue.

What can I tell you - I'm such an American! Michel, I know that if you're reading this, you are probably rolling your eyes right now.

Sunday Morning was spent in the deep woods of Central Park. John joined us after seeing his mother off as she headed back for North Carolina the day before me. It's always fun to have John along and he's so easy to spot since he's generally the tallest person around and never gets lost in a crowd. Of course, Central Park was beautiful and the leaves were turning and it was nice to feel so far removed from the noise of cabs, buses, subways and 8 million people, give or take a few thousand. I love Central Park. It takes the occasional claustrophobic feel that I sometimes experience when I'm in that town. We followed paths and rambles and saw all manner of wild life, and there were some animals as well. The weather was still warm and it was a nice way to spend a Sunday Morning.

We had lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant which was very nice and then, given that Michel only had a couple of hours left for sight-seeing, I decided his sights needed to include the chaos that is Times Square for a little "sensory overload" which is the essential NY experience. Michel didn't quite know where to look first. So he looked a little lost and, of course, I captured it. I always have my camera. He's still handsome even when he looks lost.

Soon enough, it was time to head back to the hotel and the train that would take him to Newark and then to the plane that would fly him to Milan and then Nantes and the French 'hood he calls home. Or whatever the French word for home is...Chez Le Seac'h.

After bidding him a safe trip and goodbye hug, it was time for me to catch a cab for Greenwich Village for a fun dinner with John's Aunt Daria and Uncle Bill, John, Katie, another John, Cathy and Joan, who I met for the first time and enjoyed immediately. How kind of them to invite me to their Sunday Night dinner at El Charro. The only person missing was Melanie (John's other lovely Aunt). The food was warm and spicy and the company and conversation even better. What a great way to wind up a spectacular weekend. Sometimes I am amazed at the individuals who light up my path. I'm not sure how it all happens, I know my buddy Bruce B. has his own theory with regard to such encounters, but I know this much: I am so thankful, regardless of the machinations that make it so.

Monday Morning, I had one more meeting to attend. I figured it would last an hour or so, involve a cup or two of coffee and then I'd be on my way to hop around the Upper East Side as I waited a couple of hours for Katie to take off from work for lunch. What was supposed to last one hour, became three hours that flew in a blink! I met a very special person who was a surprise and delight. And so talented! GE - it was a pleasure and I really am working on my assignment - I just had to take a little time off to blog this stuff or it would recede into the far recesses of my cluttered mind. I promise to get back to work. I'll make you proud. I won't let you down. I won't let me down, either. Thank you for that SURPRISE Tuesday phone call.

Finally, as noon approached, I checked out of my hotel and headed for the charming place where my daughter spends her days. I met her fantastic friend Eric, who graciously guarded my suitcase while Katie and I ate at the Moonstruck Diner, just around the corner from the Queensborough Bridge, and then I returned to meet the beautiful and vivacious director, Anne Marie, other staff and, just as important, some very cool cats. No really, I met cats. I walked into a room that had at least 60 cats and it was like this huge cat daycare center - all cats, all the time. Everywhere my eyes landed, there was a cat engaged in cat-like activities and, as it turns out, NY cats pounce, swat, stretch, sleep and purr, much as their southern counterparts, three of which who call my place home. I will say that I met a very cool urban NY cat named Patterson who, I am told, is running for mayor and should I be granted HSNY voting privileges, he's got my mine. Katie works in such a purrrrrfect environment and it's a good fit for her.

Soon it was time to collect my over-sized suitcase, ask Eric to take one more photo and though I was sad to leave, Katie tried to make me feel better about not seeing her again until the holidays - "Mom, Christmas is like ten minutes away! You'll see - it will fly!". Right.

The weirdest part of all is that, though I was thrilled to be back home and see my son, my parents, Stephanie, Princess, Sylvester, Felix, Cassie and the birds - for the first time ever, I found myself missing the noise, the crowds, the shadows of skyscrapers, the subways, the taxis, the smells of a million different restaurants and street vendors, my friends, both old and new, and so much else that epitomizes that crazy city. Except the weather. When I left there was a biting wind whipping around those buildings and off the East River and I do NOT miss that mind and throat numbing cold, but I miss so much of the warmth I felt on this trip. I never ever thought I would feel that way. Then again, I never thought I'd have a kid living in Manhattan.

When I think about all of the fun I had on this trip, the adventures, the dinners, the meetings, the unexpected familiarity and even a little deja vu tossed in for good measure, and I recall leaving NYC in May when I was miserable and at the end of a relationship that was doomed to fail, the tears that I dripped all over the Financial District and Battery Park as I left my daughter in Yankeeland, and the very sad flight back home realizing all that I had to confront and feel my way through, I can't help but feel astonishment and gratitude for all that has come to pass in what is a relatively short span of time.

I couldn't know back in mid-May that all of that pain and frustration would deliver me to this place in my life. I am not quite sure how I got here, but I keep coming back to something I hear often and believe with all of my heart, "the promises are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will materialize if we work for them." There was a time I couldn't totally buy into those promises, and there were times I thought they might be meant for other people, but certainly not me. I now know they are dependable, reliable and non-discriminatory. They are true for everyone. Even me.

"Don't stop this train
Don't for a minute change the place you're in

And don't think I couldn't ever understand

I tried my hand
John, honestly, we'll never stop this train..."

25 October 2006

Manhattan with a French Twist

It was the best of times...it was the best of times!

Click on the moving photos at right ----------------> to see some scenes from NY.

It was...New York City. It rocked!

My suitcase isn't even unpacked. I think that's a sign of a good time that I wish wasn't over. Or perhaps it's a sign that I have more important things to do than tend to minor details. Or maybe I just really hate unpacking because I'm domestically lazy. Personally, I think it's a combination of all three.

I had a great flight up and even made it to the airport a whopping hour and one-half before my departure time. This was perfect because I ran into a friend whose flight had been delayed and we had over an hour to catch-up and Sam is HIGHLY entertaining, which only made the time fly...as I waited to do so myself.

I arrived at my hotel at around one o'clock on Thursday, 19 October, only to find that my room wouldn't be my room until 3:00 PM. What to do? Park my suitcase at the Park South Hotel and find someplace to eat and kick back and, since it was unseasonably warm, I found a great French restaurant on Park Avenue with outdoor seating and fantastic unsweetened iced tea! It doesn't get much better than that. Naturally, I had bought a copy of the current issue of a certain magazine because I wanted to see a certain article in print. Oh, and at this restaurant, they actually REFILLED my iced tea glass and DIDN'T CHARGE ME FOR IT! Now I know that I can never stay in a hotel too far from this place because it is a rare find, let me tell you. Nectar of the gods! I was at an address close to heaven, no question.

Three hours whizzed by fast because, if you're sitting in an outdoor cafe in Manhattan, the food may be pricey but the entertainment is free. I think a gazillion people passed by and what a cool place to "people watch"! I gave up trying not to appear as a tourist because it's so ridiculous for me to pretend that I see any of those sights every single day.

Katie wanted me to start my adventure with an authentic NY experience: We went by her apartment, grabbed her laundry and headed for "Manhattan Laundromat". Yes, you read that right. I was in the City all of five hours and was watching my daughter feed coins into a rusty front-loading washing machine in one of the filthiest laundromats I'd ever seen. Fortunately, it was right across the street from a cute Italian restaurant so we parked ourselves at an outside table and drank tea, coffee and I watched her eat disgusting calamari as we kept an eye on the clothes spinning out of control across Avenue C. Pretty exciting stuff. It was...not my idea of how to spend my first night in NYC but hey, at least it was short-lived.

Before long, my cell phone rang and I instantly recognized the familiar French accent on the other line..."Susie, this is Michel, I am at the hotel. Where are you?". YIKES! We grabbed the clothes and sprinted up to Katie's closet (aka apartment) and high-tailed it back to my midtown hotel and after six long years, it was great to see Michel! He hadn't changed a bit - maybe a little more handsome, but not one single year had stuck to him. He looked fantastic. It was wonderful to see him again. Warm hugs all the way around.

John soon joined us and off we trekked back to the East Village and we found ourselves at an Australian restaurant where Michel and John dined on kangaroo sausages (yes, real kangaroo - I tried to pretend it wasn't happening thinking that the poor kangaroo would have preferred not to be on their plate as well.). I had a salad, similar to the one I'd had an hour earlier at the Italian place a few doors down.

John still looked incredibly tall which, at 6'6", he is, but he looked positively thin! I guess walking all over NYC day after day will do that to you.

Friday morning, Michel and I walked down the street to Starbucks where we met up with Alan Levy, CEO of Blog Talk Radio, and we were fascinated as he told us about his new venture, how much it had grown since its late July launch, and he filled us in on his upcoming interview with Arianna Huffington. It's an interesting marriage of blogs and talk radio and I personally think it's poised to be the "next big thing" in cyberspace. Michel also found it an interesting venture and we both enjoyed meeting and spending some time with Alan. Alan's enthusiasm is infectious and his brilliance is obvious. Blog Talk Radio is definitely worth investigation and is already enjoying impressive growth. Alan Levy thinks outside the box AND the blog. I knew he was a cyber trailblazer the first time I spoke with him on the phone about a month ago. Meeting him only reconfirmed my initial impression.

After coffee with Alan, it was on to Ziff-Davis Media where we were joined by features editor Erik Rhey. When he asked me where we should go for lunch, I offered that I really enjoyed the place we ate at in May - great! We walked over to where it USED to be, only to find that it was no longer there. Fortunately, across the street was another restaurant and it worked out fine.

It was very nice to see Erik again and introduce Michel to a NYC magazine editor who is on top of his game. Erik filled Michel in on the differences between PC Magazine (US Version) and PC Magazine (European Version) and how it all worked. Erik also explained that his girlfriend was flying over to Paris the next day and that he would loved to join her. Michel told Erik that when he did finally make it to Paris, he would be delighted to serve as a tour guide and show him around. I think Erik will probably take him up on it and I can attest that Michel KNOWS Paris and makes a wonderful point person and suggests places that are better than anything Fodor's suggests in their guidebook.

Erik invited us back to ZD so that he could give me some extra copies of the magazine featuring my article and, as we made our way through a torrential rain, we arrived completely soaked and dripping, in spite of Michel's gallant effort to shield me with his overcoat. We basically looked and felt like drowned rats which is why my hair style works so well - it's always messy, so you can't honestly tell if I've been in a rainstorm, wind, or just didn't bother messing with it.

Erik graciously took some time to give Michel and me an impromptu tour of the magazine and soon we found ourselves peeking into the lab where equipment is tested, visiting the photography studio where equipment is photographed and checking out all sorts of areas where people were busily engaged in the business of putting out a top-rated, widely-circulated magazine. It was fascinating and so nice of Erik to take the time to give us an insider's view of the process that makes PC Magazine such a great read.

At one point, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and find a way to dry off just a bit and left Michel and Erik discussing Flaubert and the many works of great French writers. When I returned, Erik gave me a great assignment with a swift due date! (November 1st!). I was thrilled with it, but Monday and Tuesday will find me hustling. So what else is new?

Soon it was time to thank Erik and leave him to his work. We found our way back to the streets of NYC and headed into a suddenly chilly wind bound for an address that Michel thought might be the store of one of his cousins. It was now FREEZING! We walked...and we walked...and then we walked some more. Michel is accustomed to a LOT of walking and I'm pretty sure it's his favorite method of getting from point A to point B. Me, however, American that I am, thought it would make so much more sense to grab a cab, but not Mr. Le Seac'h! No, no, no, New York City, he felt, was best discovered by putting one foot in front of the other at a rapid gait.

I still have blisters. I'm not kidding. I was in Doc Martens and I still have blisters. Yes, we walked THAT much. I basically thought I was going to die. I still can't believe how much we walked. Now I know how Michel can eat that rich, delectable French food and still stay so thin. He's a hyperactive walker. I may be able to keep up with him when he's 80, but probably not. I don't see age ever slowing Michel down. Michel walks at two speeds: Fast and Blur. He's usually stuck on blur. Michel will never understand the concept of "stroll".

I don't know, maybe it's a French thing.

We arrived back at the hotel just in time to get ready for dinner with John's mother, Nina, her sisters (and John's aunts) Daria and Melanie, Daria's husband, Bill, John's sisters, Katie and Kimberly, and Kimberly's friend who's name I can't remember right this second, but was lovely. Dinner was at the handsome and perfectly appointed NY Athletic Club on Central Park South. We all congregated in the bar and then went up to the 11th floor to discover a breath-taking view of the city, and a menu that contained everything I loved and things I didn't know I loved, but apparently do. To say it was delicious, doesn't do that meal justice. Memorable. What a fantastic introduction into New York City dining for my French friend! Michel was in culinary heaven.

Fortunately for me, I was seated directly across the table from Nina (John's mother), and though we live a mere two hours from each other in North Carolina, we had to fly to NYC to actually get together! It was fun catching up with her and trading news about our respective lives, but we didn't finish which can only mean that there's a beach trip in Nina's future and she'd better not wait too long! We already have at least two dinner's worth and possibly a long lunch's worth of conversation and a wide range of topics to cover. Nina - if you're reading this - get with the program. It's time to head south.

What always strikes me when I see Nina and John together, is how in the world this petite, gorgeous woman could have given birth to a young man of such impressive height! I mean, 6'6" is pretty darn tall and Nina looks so very dainty! I'm not questioning his parentage, I just don't see how! It will remain an eternal mystery, I suppose.

As always, it was a special treat to spend time with John's wonderful family. His mother and aunts sort of just take you in and you almost instantly feel like you belong. They are warm, gracious and eclectic in the best sense of the word. We were privileged to share a great meal with even greater company. Thanks again to Bill, Daria, Melanie and Nina for sharing their time with us and making our Friday Night in Manhattan more than a little mesmerizing.

I felt extremely honored to be the "token blond" and honorary sister of the clan.

We took a few post-dinner photos and then we were off again and arrived back at the hotel around midnight, filled up and spent, all at the same time. I personally was never so happy to see a bed. Any bed. A park bench would have looked inviting.

Part Deux to follow!

13 October 2006

ABC News bought it...and I'm not even Mel Gibson!

I was pleased to see that ABC News picked up the story in the current issue of PC Magazine on "Living With Technology" for obvious reasons.

I mean, if you're going to "come out of the closet", as it were, about an addiction, one might as well do it on a grand scale and I think I've accomplished that! If you would have told me three years ago I would be writing about this in an international publication, I would have wondered what YOU were drinking.

It's a good stepping stone, however, in expanding a topic for which I have a great deal of personal interest in, and it's a nice writing credit. I hope to have the opportunity to write in more detail and with as much candor as I can about my own experience with getting sober. I'm very grateful to have been offered the opportunity to launch this timely topic in the unique venue that PC Magazine has provided.

I always thought it would be so easy to write about what it was like to go through those years and, in a sense, it really is - until you realize that what you are writing will quite possibly be read by more than a few people. That's where the intimidation comes knocking on the door but I do have a choice in opening it, and I choose not to. I think it needs to be discussed openly and I know that three years ago, I would have given anything to read the words of someone who had been where I was, and to know that there's hope and a better life on the "other side". But I couldn't find anything like that after hitting bottom. I'm going to work very hard to change that.

Thanks to everyone who has sent such nice comments and congratulations. It means more to me than you could ever know. I wondered how I would feel in the days following publication of this story - if I would feel any regret in allowing the exposure of my experiences, but I can honestly say, I am so glad I followed what my heart was telling me, and what my heart was telling me was to write it. I'm glad I listened. If it opens one pair of eyes that might be searching for an invitation to feel better by completely overhauling their lifestyle, it was worth the small amount of time it took me to pen this piece. I plan to pen more in the near future.

But now it's time to look at the week ahead and get ready for New York, New York!

12 October 2006

PC Magazine Hits The Stands...Again

New News!!

It's going to be even more fun being in NYC and having the story I wrote, brilliantly titled by my editor, "The 12-Click Program", on a newsstand in Manhattan. I was really pleased with how the the final product turned out, except for one thing - I'm not an "AA Grad" - because as any self-respecting person in recovery knows, and as we've all seen by the recent relapses of Mel Gibson and Robin Williams, no one ever "graduates" from this addiction. We stay sober, just as we have learned to live, one day at a time. There is no cure, there is a daily reprieve and for that, I am most grateful. Everyday since I began my recovery journey, even the most challenging and frustrating days that occasionally visit, without exception or question, are far better and more pleasant than any day "pre-recovery". I feel blessed. Life is absolutely wonderful.

In the meantime, what I thought was a tooth waiting for a root canal turned out to be an inflamed maxillary sinus that nearly sent me through the roof and had me running to my favorite doctor, emerging with a definitive diagnosis and a handful of prescriptions. Ahhhh...relief. I really didn't want to find myself waiting tensely in the waiting room of the endodontist who left more than a bad taste in my mouth a few years ago. I'll take a sinus problem any day...as long as surgery isn't involved.

Thanks to a wonderful delivery man/freelance photographer/jeweler/restaurant critic par excellence "guy" I know, I discovered that I like the combination of Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist. The jasmine tea was an unexpected but sweet bonus. Thank you - and if you're the "guy" reading this, you know which "Guy" I'm talking about. You rock...in more ways than one.

Vanessa and I had a field trip this past Monday - some friends get together to do lunch, shop or exercise. Vanessa and me? We go to the radiologist together! That Vanessa sure does know how to spend a day off. Vanessa, I love you for making me do something I really didn't want to do, but needed to take care of. You are the finest kind of friend, even if you are sometimes a pain in the... Like I said, I love you woman, but could you try not to enjoy it so much when you put me in a situation or setting which I'd just rather not be participating in? Huh?

Vanessa is an up-and-coming radio star. If you're local, listen to the radio soon and you will hear this dynamo extol the virtues of extensions.

More later...

03 October 2006

Get a life. Get a grip. Get away somewhere, take a trip...

Take a break, take control, take advice from someone you know... ~ Shania Twain

My desk is a study in chaos. My desk is ALWAYS a study in chaos but right now it's more so than usual. Time is flying by and the days are ticking off the calendar and soon it will be time to head north - and I am completely excited, but overwhelmed with everything I have to finish in preparation for this trip! But don't worry, I really do have a plan.

I'll play a few games of Sudoku, drink some coffee, drink some tea, definitely get my nails done, restring my guitar, go see a movie this weekend, probably write a little, take some pictures, take some time to check out the full moon this weekend...maybe even howl, and then, I'll definitely think about getting things together. Everything in due time...

I'll just wait until the last possible minute. It's what I do best.

I have so many things unfinished, and a few "to do's" not only "undone", but not even on the list yet! All kinds of loose ends, but as the days count down, I'm sure it will all kick in and hopefully at some point, I might even know what I'm doing.

My day-timer is filling up faster than I can type (and I can type pretty fast!), but at the top of my list, the thing I'm looking forward to most, is to spend some real time with my daughter, enjoy tagging along while she plays tourguide for Michel, and just hang out with her - soak up being in her presence, and listen to her opine about a wide variety of topics, as only Katie can. We might have to make some sweet iced tea. I don't think she's yet found a good source for it in the "most exciting city in the world!".

I'm looking forward to meeting some very interesting folks in the communications business, and hooking back up with a fine editor who's been kind enough to send me two fantastic assignments. I know that my friend, Michel, will find it interesting to sit in on these meetings and lunch, and I will be most proud to introduce him to some special people with their finger on the pulse of communications in both print and broadcasting. What I know for certain, is that I will NOT be bored.

And OH MY GOSH - the 17th October issue of PC Magazine will be on the newsstands in just a few days. I can't wait for that one! I've definitely got to take some photos of a few newsstands in New York City! I'm so easily impressed...

In calling around to various hotels around midtown Manhattan, it would seem that there will be a toy convention going on during the same period of time that we are scheduled to be up there. Which accounts for nearly every "reasonably" priced hotel being booked solid, leaving only the unreasonably priced hotels with offering a vacancy. I wonder if they planned it that way?

Oh well, I can't be bothered with that. In less than two weeks, I'll be reconnecting with an old friend from France, meeting a gentleman who has just recently launched a business venture that involves both blogging and broadcasting which seems poised to take on the "blogosphere", eating lunch with a favorite editor, sharing a lively dinner with friends, both old and new, meeting up for breakfast with an artist who has become a new buddy and, best of all, reconnecting and getting the chance to catch up with my best (and only) daughter - and I can't express how happy that makes me...most of all. I need a Katie fix in the worst kind of way. I haven't even seen her since she turned the ancient age of 23!

So today, in addition to working about ten hours downtown, taking a walk in the slightly cooler fall air and warm sunshine casting a special glow on downtown Wilmington (it's all about chasing the right light, isn't it Guy?), and trying to talk anyone who will listen into lunch at Roudabush, I need to pin down my hotel and airline reservations. I'm not allowed to go to sleep until I have taken care of that business. I've been warned!

I'm still wondering when fall suddenly fell, and continue to be so grateful for all of the blessings and opportunities that each day offers and those offers continue to tumble in and amaze me. And a very special thank you to my newly-hitched best buddy and top-notch attorney who has eliminated any separation anxiety and illuminated the new path set before me. Little did I realize when I met him three years ago that this man would play such a pivotal role in my future. Thank you for being my friend.

How in the heck did so much change between May 17th and October 17th? I still look at that span of time and think..."WOW!". I never thought I had it in me, but I am so thankful that I did, though I must acknowledge the love and support of angels appearing from places I would never have guessed. And, in yet another example of parental prescience, I remember with clarity what my very wise parents said when I told them that I believed I needed to prune a new branch from the family tree. "What took you so long to figure that one out?", they asked. Now I see that's a really good question! What took me so long, indeed. I'm not always as smart as many people give me credit for, but I eventually get to the place I need to be.

Fire up that tea-pot Miss Katie Jane...I can't wait to see your smiling face and hear your latest rants on anything and everything. Honey, don't hold back.

My gosh, when did I start listening to Shania Twain? Should I be worried?