Friday, June 13, 2008

Me N The City: Part 8 – Is That All There Is?

As we stood outside – in the sunshine – holding our now useless umbrellas – we realized we had no stinkin idea where E 57th was and whether #1 e 57th was anywhere near Park Ave. Not to worry, I had my Verizon Navigator GPS activated on my phone. I typed in the address and found it was only about a mile away. But in which direction? For some reason the GPS thought I was heading South when in fact we were facing West. I tried walking half a block so it could get oriented based on my forward movement. Wait a minute… it suddenly said “you have arrived at your destination on the right”. Ummm I’m pretty sure I didn’t. After trying for a few minutes to power down and reload the route, attempt to recalculate the route, and to generally get its proverbial head out of its proverbial a--, I slammed the phone closed and threw it in my purse. Of course it wouldn’t work. Why would it work? Karma does NOT want us to get to Louis Vuitton. Is my husband behind this somehow?

Going “old school”, we decide to simply follow street numbers until we reached E 57th and then just start-a-walkin in one direction to see what we found. Within a block we saw the golden L gleaming from the side of a building. It was almost like a mirage. We had found it! Saints be praised! As we approached the imposing glass doors it suddenly struck me that after our day of adventure, we were well past the damp phase and now officially looked like bedraggled street people. I had been so focused on getting to this moment I hadn’t thought about what we would do once we got here considering the shape we were in. I was pretty sure that the doorman wasn’t going to let us in. Even if he did, no one in the store would be likely to so much as glance our way. Luckily, Sarah had been able to maintain some level of polish (mine was toast) so she went in first. I have to say it was beautiful and breathtaking. I touched scarves, mooned over handbags, caressed wallets, made mental wishlists in my head. Sarah looked at few new handbags since she was on the prowl for a new daily companion and luckily the service staff did allow her to peruse the latest and greatest. I just tagged along quietly in awe. All in all we spent maybe 20 minutes there. And Sarah didn’t find what the bag she was looking for after all – they didn’t have it. After everything we had been through we left LV empty handed and Sarah was relegated to finding her Louis love online via eLuxury. It was like the day after Christmas. It was depressing. After all that work all we had to show for it was a 20 minute memory. In my head I kept hearing the chorus to that old song "Is that all there is?"

Standing outside once again on the sidewalk it dawned on me that I had spent 24 hours in NYC at this point and had only baby clothes and an umbrella to show for it. This is clearly unacceptable. I thought about all the lovely shops we had passed either on foot or via cab while on our mission… Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Dior, Chanel, Bergdorf’s, and on and on. But looking at the time it was now 2:00 and we still had to get on the subway to get to Century 21. There would be no alternative… we were NOT missing Century 21 – where we may find something fabulous we could actually afford – just to shop in places where we’d be able to find nothing we could afford (or things that if we did “afford” would put our husbands into orbit). I sadly said adieu to my high brow dreams and focused on getting downtown.

We pulled out the NYC subway map and, too tired to avoid looking like tourists, started trying to figure out how to get where we needed to be – the financial district. At a loss, we (again too tired to care about looking touristy) asked the Burberry doorman. Luckily he knew just where we needed to be – “take the E train all the way to the last stop” - the World Trade Center stop. Century 21 would be right as you come out of the subway. Yay!! We walked the one block over the subway station, bought our 2 way passes and hopped right on the waiting train.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Century 21, I am soooo not talking about yellow jackets and real estate here. Century 21 carries last season or overstock couture at rock bottom prices – of course we’re still talking about couture here so basically instead of a dress being $1200 it might be $300. It is a huge multi-floor department store which has women’s clothing, men’s clothing, children’s clothing, shoes, and more (all of which we intended to hit).

As the subway doors chimed their closing warning and the car lurched forward we found our second (or third, or fourth) wind and chattered with giddy excitement about what we might find at our fashion Mecca.

…to be continued.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Me N The City: Part 7 – Oh Louis Wherefor Art Thou?

We stood in the rain weighing our options. So much for trying to look cute or trendy. Shortly we would just look soggy. We knew we’d have to go one block over to Park to get anywhere. With the theme music for Mission Impossible running in our heads we darted down the sidewalk from doorway awning to doorway awning, each time getting a little closer to Park, but also a little more drenched – at this point it was pouring! Standing under the last awning before the corner of Park we realized that at least one of us would have to get not just damp, but downright soaked if we were going to get a cab (due to someone having to stand on the corner of Park to hail one).

I took a look at Sarah and realized that she was in much better shape than I was – she had on designer denim slacks, her hair was perfectly coiffed (or at least it was when we left) and her makeup was still intact. I On the other hand had taken on the SoHo vibe of “I am so trendy I don’t even have to try” with indigo capri jeans, a tunic sundress and my hair in a little messy pony. The one to run the gauntlet was clear – I had a lot less to lose considering I already looked pretty “rumpled”. I told Sarah to stay put under the awning and made a dash for the corner. There I encountered a nice young Arabic man selling pretzels and hot dogs from a stand. His stand was covered by a lovely red and yellow umbrella! I jumped under and announced to him – “I’m just going to share your umbrella for a minute while I find a cab, OK?” Luckily he was not only sweet but he was good natured, and he looked up from reading his paper and said “sure”. Then he offered (jokingly) to let me take “his” BMW 7-series parked right on the corner if I’d bring it back when we were done shopping. If only.

Let me cut this down considerably – after 20 minutes of either hunting for an available cab, or seeing someone just half a block up take the one I was gunning for, we FINALLY got a cab to stop. This was after watching some woman order a pretzel only to see her turn her back on the nice cart guy to take a cell phone call causing him to have to stand out in the rain (only part of the cart was covered) and hold her pretzel waiting for her to turn around for about 3 minutes. Sometimes people are losers. But I digress… We hopped in the cab and told the cabbie “350 Park please”. As we pulled away from the curb Mother Nature thought it would be funny to stop the rain. Nice joke. But just content to be warm and dry (ish) we zipped down Park until we got to our stop, hopped out, paid the cabbie and started looking around slightly bewildered. As the cab pulled away we realized once again fate was mocking us. Either LV had once been at 350 Park and was no longer, or once again we had hit an office location of the fashion giant. There was no retail Louis to be found anywhere around. As we stood next to the giant skyscraper and I thought of about a million ways to apologize to my friend for this wild goose chase, Mother Nature piped up again and the skies opened. Once again it began to pour. I think we would have laughed had it not just been so soul-crushingly ridiculous.

Sarah remembered spotting a drug store two blocks back as we whizzed by in the cab. Our plan was to try and run under building overhangs as much as possible, head to the drugstore and pray they carried umbrellas. Enough of this – we were giving in to nature. Run we did as fast as our cute but comfy shoes could carry us in the rain. We arrived at the Duane Reade drug store looking like half drowned Chihuahuas. After Sarah grabbed a bag of much needed gummi bears, we spotted the umbrellas. Just to defy Mother Nature I grabbed a bright yellow one. If she wouldn’t give me any sun, I’d create my own. Sarah rang up her purchases and happily munched gummi bears while I got ready to pay for mine. Without any exaggeration, no sooner had I swiped my credit card through the machine then it stopped raining and the sun instantly came out smiling. It didn’t rain one drop the rest of the day. Sarah and I started to wonder if we were in some sort of twisted alternate universe.

We stepped out into the new, damp sunshine and tried to decide what our next step was. It was now 1:00, we hadn’t eaten lunch, we hadn’t found Louis and our day was slipping away like rainwater along the curb. I pulled out my web phone one last time, and in a last desperate effort typed in "Louis Vuitton Retail Store, NYC." Bingo. A direct hit. 1 E 57th Street. But we had no idea where that was. No worries – I switched to navigation mode, fired up the GPS and found out it was less than a mile away. Did we dare try it? We had come this far… hesitantly we decided we’d give it one last shot – but this was it. If Louis wasn’t home at 1 E 57th, we were moving on…

…to be continued.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Me N The City: Part 6 – In Search of Louis

As we munched our crepe, we decided the best place to start was to go visit our friend Louis. I pulled out my cell phone, hopped on my “mobile web” and went to Nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing happened. Then, I noticed in very tiny letters on my very tiny screen, it was telling me that since the LV website is done in Flash, and since my phone’s web browser doesn’t support Flash, I was out of luck. Let me just mention that most websites now-a-days have a Flash component. I quickly realized just how useless my phone would be for viewing actual websites.

Undaunted, I simply went to and typed in Louis Vuitton, New York City. Aha! I had about 10 listings from which to choose. We were at 50th and Lexington, and the store I found was at 625 Madison Ave. Madison Ave is only two blocks over from Lexington and we didn’t figure 625 could be that far away. So, we walked over to Madison and tried to determine which way to head. After a little trial and error (i.e. walking one way, realizing the numbers on the building were going the wrong way and then turning around to retrace our steps) we started heading the right direction.

Along the way we stopped in an adorable children’s boutique. While we weren’t exactly greeted at the door with a warm smile and a hearty hello, I didn’t really notice at first. Then I started looking at clothes – and at prices. Baby shoes for $195. Sweaters for $250. Pants for $120. My friend Sarah turned to me and quietly whispered “Who shops here? Madonna?”. After looking around for a respectable amount of time, we headed out and back to our mission at hand.

After walking for what seemed like forever, we realized that we were in the 700 block of Madison and that somehow we had missed it. We backtracked a bit until we finally found 625 Madison Ave. Now I could see why we missed it... it was an office building. Not one retail shop in sight. Just an expansive marble lobby with a lone security desk and an elevator bay. We had found the offices of Louis Vuitton. Not the shop. Argh. I pulled up Yellow pages again and did a second check for LV. I quickly realized that the next reasonable entry was at 350 Park Ave. Where we had just come from. Alllll the way back where we started. Perfect.

At this point, having wasted an hour in our hunt, I thought perhaps we should check and see where Petite Bateau was located. It was listed at 1100 Madison Ave. While we were close, we had learned that city blocks in NYC don’t operate like other cities (i.e. addresses in the 400s are not all on one block followed by a block of 500’s… you can have 400s stretch for blocks). So we did the smart thing, hailed a cab and headed to Petite Bateau.

Luckily for us, it was right were it was supposed to be, and we got to go peruse all the adorable French fashions for our little ones at home. Since these clothes were not at the exorbitant prices of the other shop we had visited, I was able to pick up a couple of outfits for Coco and smiled to myself while imagining her having fun with Daddy at home.

After ringing up our purchases, Sarah and I headed out of the store discussing our plan to hail a cab to take us all the way back to the LV store on Park, and then to take the subway all the way downtown to the financial district to hit Century 21. Our chatter came to a halt the minute we stepped outside the store. It was pouring down rain. As we stood under the scaffolding surrounding Petite Bateau we looked at each other in almost amused exhaustion, realized we were umbrella-less, and started to weigh our options…

…to be continued.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Me N The City: Part 5 – Oh Come ON!

Back to our regularly scheduled program…

Sarah and I went to bed Friday night (ahem ok Saturday morning) in NYC with the quiet joy of knowing we would not have to get up overnight to soothe a little one, that we would not have to share a bed with little limbs flailing everywhere, and that we would not have to rise at 6:00am to the sound of a little one stirring. Ahhh the sheer elation.

So of course the fire alarm in the hotel went off at 5:00am. Not only did we wake up to the ear splitting buzzzz buzzzz buzzzz of the alarm, pumped full of adrenaline and in a total panicked daze, but we woke only four hours after we’d gone to bed. What divine force did we piss off and how do we fix it? We stumbled around throwing on something that could pass for public clothing - in case we ended up standing on a sidewalk watching our possessions burn - and took turns asking “what should we do” as the other stared out the peephole into the hall. We finally decided on calling the front desk (along with about 70% of the hotel guests I would imagine). We were told it was most likely a false alarm and to stay put until the all clear. We were sooo tired we were torn between thoughts of becoming a horrible headline, and thoughts of putting our heads back to bed. Bed won. We decided there would be another alarm or announcement if we actually needed to evacuate and so we tried to settle back down and go back to bed. We did finally drift off, and woke for our day at around 8:00am. Not exactly the relaxing start to our day we had imagined, but as it turns out, very telling of the day that was in store for us.

We had only three real objectives for our day of shopping: 1) Hit the Louis Vuitton flag store, 2) Hit the children’s clothing store, Petite Bateau, 3) Hit Century 21. With our dinner reservations at Butter not until 8:00 this seemed like it would be a piece of cake and we’d have plenty of time to peruse other shops as we came upon them. In fact there were some that we passed on our trek to the Regal the night before that we thought would be lovely to check out.

As we peeked out our window before heading to the lobby, we noticed the sky was overcast. While we mourned the loss of the sun, we agreed it would be nice not having it be so hot while walking around all day. As we walked out of the lobby into the street, lo and behold the street was blocked off and there was a "farmer's market" of sorts right there on Lexington ... and the booth almost smack in front of us… French crepes made with fresh banana and Nutella. Surely this was a sign that things had turned around and that today would be a fantastic day.

We spotted a cute local diner on the corner and headed in for breakfast. After a great greasy spoon breakfast we hit the crepe stand to split some chocolate banana happiness and decided to start plotting our day. I had signed up for web access on my phone before the trip so I would have both GPS navigation while walking the streets, as well as the ability to pull any shop’s webpage if we needed location info. We were ready to take on Manhattan. Or so we thought.

…to be continued.

Cutest Birthday Girl Ever

'Nuff Said.