*If by "free" I mean "almost a thousand dollars"
So on Friday morning I'll crumple out of bed when most people are stumbling home, climb on a plane at 6 am with a handful of equally disoriented colleagues, blow our NYC clients away with a kick-ass presentation** and then soak up the local culture until my plane takes me home at noon on Sunday.
And while my airfare is completely free (to me, at least), my tastes in local culture aren't so cheap: I managed to snag some staggeringly pricey last-minute tickets to Avenue Q (which mopped up at last year's Tony Awards), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (which is supposed to be a HOOT) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (a musical version of one of my favorite movies from college—with a score by David Yazbek, whose work on The Full Monty continues to inspire me). (Oh, and while I have the parentheses out, I should also point out that the last two shows in this list got about a billion Tony nominations between them just yesterday, so it's especially rockin' that I was able to snag tickets to them. Go me!)
But since I wasn't able to mooch some free nights at la Casa de the Out-of-Town Hugo, I just coughed up $249 a night for what looks to be a fabulous little three-star boutique hotel at the southeast corner of Central Park. (Which isn't all bad because I kinda want to go running there Saturday morning—just so I can say I trained for the marathon in Central Park this year. I have no idea when I'd ever find it necessary to say such a thing—and I can't think of a single person who would be particularly thrilled to hear it—but it can't hurt to be prepared for just such an occasion/conversation.)
Other (cheaper) things on the docket this weekend: Lunch with Jessica, a woman I've never met but I've gotten to know through repeated phone calls and letters and emails after her college roommate (and my friend) Miriam was murdered over 16 years ago. A visit to the new MoMA or the Guggenheim (or, hell, maybe both). And possible get-togethers with Joe, Jere and any other fabulous bloggers I can fit in my schedule.
WHEW! I'm already exhausted—and I haven't even