Since today was the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park, since the New York State Pavilion was going to be open to the public for a few hours today to celebrate the anniversary, since today was the last day of my boyfriend’s spring break, and since today was my day off this week, I decided that we should go visit.

The pavilion was scheduled to be open from 11:00 – 2:00.  No reservations were necessary, and the only notation was that visitors would be given hard hats before they went in.  I’m guessing they didn’t expect so many people were going to show up.  I estimated that there were over a thousand of us, but according to the Daily News more than 2500 people showed up!

We got there just after 11:00, and the line was already enormous.  My boyfriend dropped me off to find a parking space, and I eventually found the end of the line near the carousel.

Standing on Line Near the Carousel

Eventually, he found a spot and joined me.  I figured that we might be standing on line for an hour or more, but I had no idea that the line would move so slowly that by the time we got to the pavilion entrance it would be almost 2:00.

On the Bridge Over the Highway

The atmosphere on the line was less stressful than it could have been, in part because the family in front of us and the women behind us were nice and friendly.  It was through talking to them that I learned that an episode of McCloud was filmed here, and that an old photograph I thought was especially cool was taken from the plane that was casting its shadow below:

Plane Shadow Over NYS Pavilion in 1981

We would point out interesting things to each other and hold each others’ places in line so that we could peek through fences and take pictures of stuff close up.

Looking Up at the Towers

So what could have been a miserable time on line wasn’t so bad.   Don’t get me wrong — I was exhausted and my back was killing me from all that standing.  But at least I wasn’t miserable.

And then we got to the front of the line.

Okay, we’d had some inklings that this process wasn’t going to go as smoothly as we would have liked.  The line was moving so slowly that we didn’t know how many people they were letting in at a time, especially since we figured that part of the whole point of getting inside the pavilion was to see what was left of the terazzo map that took up the entire floor.  So maybe they were only letting in very small groups, which was going to be a big problem since so many people showed up.  Then there was the guy who approached us when we’d already been standing on line for two hours who said, “I don’t want you to be disappointed, but they’re only letting people into a small area of the pavilion.” But, you know, we weren’t going to give up our places in line, or anything.

Then we got to the front of the line, where we were given numbered tickets.  The good news was that we didn’t have to stand in line anymore.  The bad news was that we would only be let in when our numbers were called … which would be in about two hours.

And OMG, Dear Readers, I felt like I could just pass out then and there.

I needed to go home and lie down with a heating pad.  There was no possible way I could hang around Queens for ANOTHER TWO HOURS so that I could be let into a small area on one side of the building … because yes, we had peeked through the gate on the far side and seen that they were only letting in small groups to an area right near the entrance:

This is as Close as We Got

And while that might have been worth seeing if we just got there, it WASN’T worth a five-hour wait.  So we walked around for about twenty more minutes taking pictures of World’s Fair stuff, and then we packed up and went home, where I bonded with my heating pad for a while and loosened the knots in my back.

And no, I have no idea how many blog posts I’ll eventually fill with pictures of memorable stuff from my mother’s apartment.  Every time we visit, we find more and more stuff … (more…)

We’re getting ready to go to my boyfriend’s parents’ house for Easter dinner this afternoon, which means that we made sure we had a big breakfast this morning so that we’d be able to last through the inevitable delays without our stomachs growling.  Eating a big breakfast before going out to eat is the exact opposite of my mother’s training, which was always to starve us before we went out to eat anywhere to make sure that we would eat unfamiliar food (and presumably not embarass her).

And so it begins.  Or, I should say, so it continues.

It’s hard to get my mother out of my head.  It’s hard to switch from present tense to past tense.  It’s hard not to go out to buy hot cross buns for her (they were one of her favorite foods), because I have to remind myself that she’s not around to enjoy them anymore.  And one of the reasons I was sad when I was cleaning out her fridge the other day was because I found one of the hot cross buns I’d recently bought her, still unopened.

This is a day for feeling nostalgic for different reasons.  I’m going to be seeing my boyfriend’s family today for the first time since my mother died, and since he’s already been warning me about how emotionally his mother reacted to the news I know this is going to be a very hard conversation.  I’m usually able to hold it together unless I’m in the privacy of my own home, but if she starts crying that’s going to set me off.

So I’ve been spending the last day trying to occupy my brain in different ways.  I took more pictures when we cleaned out some more closets yesterday, and OMG I found some more awesome stuff (stay tuned for another photo post soon).

We’re planning to make a trip to Flushing Meadows next week to revisit the World’s Fair site — I’ve been there before to examine the bits and pieces of what’s left behind, but they’re going to have more stuff going on (and more stuff open) because it’s the 50th anniversary of the fair.  There are some really cool articles about the fair out now, including this one from the NYT that I found especially inspiring (ETA: this article is very cool, too!)  My boyfriend, who visited the fair multiple times as a kid, has been sharing some of his memories with me, too.

And I’m also planning a shopping trip to Coldwater Creek soon, because the company going out of business (*sob*) and me losing a bunch of weight mean that I’m going to need to get some new clothes very soon.

Overall, I’m trying to balance out the legal/financial/emotional issues that are all entangled with my mom’s life and death with the day-to-day stuff I need to do, like write book reviews and go back to my regular work schedule.  But for today, I’m going to deal with Easter and all that it entails.

ETA: Actually, it worked out well today.  There was no crying involved, and my boyfriend’s mother got out a box of family photos that I’d never seen before for us to share.  So it turned out to be both a comforting and productive visit.

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My boyfriend got a portable hotspot for us to use, which is how I can share that we just found my great-uncle’s collection of coins from all over the world. I have no idea what’s valuable and what just has sentimental value, so a visit to an appraiser is in our future.

In the days since my mother passed away, my brother, my boyfriend, and I have been starting to tackle the massive task of going through several decades’ worth of accumulated STUFF in the apartment.

Over the last few days, we have discovered wonderful things (cash) and awful things (mice … or, specifically, one dead mouse and one live mouse which was later caught by a glue trap).  We’ve also discovered a bunch of weird / nostalgic / retro things based on my mother’s tendency to take something she wasn’t using anymore and stuff it into the back of a closet rather than throw it out.

Are you ready for this?  Okay, let’s go … (more…)

My mother passed away yesterday, and while we knew that this would be happening sooner rather than later, we still did not expect that it would happen quite so suddenly.

She had been disabled for several years, and while her condition had taken a slow downward turn over the last few months (it was getting harder for her to hold things and her eyes were getting worse), her health took a very steep decline last week.  That’s because she found out that her sister had just died.  Her sister was the last person left who remembered her as a little girl, one of the last people she spoke Latvian with, and basically one of her last connections to her early life.  The last time I spoke to my mother we talked about the usual things like books and food, but she also asked me about whether or not I believed in an afterlife and whether or not I thought she would see her family when she died.  It was a hard conversation, but I don’t know if it would have been easier or harder if I’d known it would be the last conversation we would ever have.

Wednesday morning I got a message from Life Alert while I was at a meeting downtown.  By the time I was on the bus heading back uptown she had been taken to the hospital, and by the time we got to the hospital she had already gone into cardiac arrest several times and was currently in a vegetative state.  Over the course of the next few days I found my copy of her living will and brought it to the hospital, and they disconnected her from the medicines and machines.  She passed away yesterday morning.

Since my mother planned ahead for her own death more than most people I know, she’d already made arrangements for her body to be donated to Columbia University’s medical program so that we wouldn’t have to deal with a funeral or with funeral expenses (thanks, Mom).

Thank you for listening, and thank you for your support.  Thank you also for your advice, on topics like … Now that I found the will, what do I do with it? and What are some good companies/organizations that will accept (and preferably pick up) donations? and What about wheelchairs?  She had several wheelchairs, and I’d like them to go to people who need them!

I’m on bereavement leave right now, and I’m spending the next few days going back and forth between my place and my mother’s place (which has zero internet access).  So if you write to me and it takes me a while to get back to you, I apologize in advance.  My evenings are being reserved for the tougher stuff, like calling family members and reading condolences.  My days are being spent with my brother cleaning stuff out of my mother’s apartment, which is also tough but in different ways.

Once again … thank you, thank you, and thank you.

And now, for all the foodies in the house …

Making Chocolate Kahlua BavariansMaking Chocolate Kahlua Bavarians

Pork Chops in Panko CrumbsPork chops in panko crumbs

Sweet Shopping Spree From H MartSweet shopping spree from H Mart

Sandwich and Salad From The Meatball ShopSandwich and salad from The Meatball Shop

Drunken Garlic Black Bean SauceDrunken Garlic Black Bean Sauce

Salted Caramel KronieSalted caramel Kronie (a present from Betsy to cheer me up on a lousy day)

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