Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Hard Road

Why is it that things that are really hard and horrible, become suddenly hilarious in the past tense? I have just returned from my latest foray to New York. I jokingly told my neighbor that I was going to New York to get beaten-up again. Why beat-up, you might ask? At the heart of my battle, is nothing short of a mission I have long been on, to share my beloved late husband, T. Scot Halpin’s, archive of artwork and music, with the world.

So what’s funny? My trip was to the New York International Gift Fair, which is held annually at the Jacob Javitts Center in Mid-town Manhattan. Every thing was going smoothly this time. I’d made two critical errors when I flew in last May for Surtex 2010. First, I missed my flight. This wasn’t the disaster it could have been as I was able to get out a of couple hours later and I ended up sitting next to the VP of a major concern I’m still courting. The worst screw-up was that I’d booked my room for a day earlier. Since I’d been a no-show, the hotel had canceled my reservation. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I can laugh now because some wonderful people helped me. Showing up at the hotel to check for a last minute cancellation that actually happened, came to make things seem, if not funny, at least ironic. I do have to laugh at myself. Laugh to not give myself enough time to get to the airport for a really major thing. What’s up with that? Laugh that I confirmed my hotel room, for the wrong date! Sorry, where was my planner?

OK, so this year, yes, I ship my booth 2nd Day Air and guess what? Surprise, surprise! There were two humongous snow storms in a row, and my booth DOESN'T MAKE IT! The booth I had driven to my partner Steve’s house in Muscatine, Iowa--a seven plus hour drive, to work on, and then driven home—-another seven plus hour drive (through a blizzard). So there I sat, at the big international art licensing show, with a blank booth. That, as you might imagine, was a real barrel of laughs.

The Licensing Gallery was in it’s second year, and in an effort to showcase the event, the organizers moved the gallery to a new location; one that seemed more central and ... more of a showcase. Unfortunately things didn't work out well. The space was hard to find, and was in fact a main service corridor for Javitts Center catering. It was a regular parade of service carts, going back and forth along the way. Carts loaded with cups, carts loaded with mayonnaise. There was an entire fleet of frozen lemonade and Ben and Jerry carts. I did get to know all the guards who stood by my corner of the Javitts world. I loaded them up with tons of T. Scot freebies that I’d made for the show, which they greedily took home to give to their kids and grand kids.

My last round of laughter started out sort of maniacal when I came out of my house the morning I got home and saw my car. Of course, after having a no show on my beautiful booth, and paying thousands of dollars to set up in a service corridor, why not fly home into the teeth of a historically horrific storm? OK, so things looked clear at La Guardia for take off. I had heard earlier in the afternoon that the ice storm was set to roll into Indy sometime after midnight.

As people do, there were lots of calls being made before the cue to go to airplane mode was made. I got a sinking feeling when I overheard someone say that their son was already putting salt on their driveway in Greenwood, a suburb just south of Indianapolis. This seemed ominous, in the extreme. The flight itself was smooth—above the storm, but coming down, I could feel the question marks arising in all our hearts and minds. Ice is not good. Suddenly the plane pulled back up and the captain came on the intercom to explain that they were going to lay down “just a little more salt downstairs.” Nice.

Needless to say, we landed. The first real hint I had had how truly hideous the conditions outside were, was when we finally got pulled, oh so slowly, up to the gate. My eyes literally popped when I looked out the cabin window and saw the thick sheet of ice on the runway outside. There were humongous ice cycles hanging down off the wings of the planes parked next door! Walking down the concourse, I looked over to the glass wall, and realized—that was not “frosted" glass there. That was honkin’ thick ice. Ice so thick, I could not see out of it at all.

I have no way of describing my feelings when I got off the bus at Shelter 6 of the economy parking lot. If you want a few laughs, imagine a woman trying to drag an over-large suitcase, another small case on wheels, and giant leather portfolio across an ice field. By absolute miracle, I made to my car, without falling down. Yeah! But imagine my horror when I realized that my little truck was encased in a full half inch of glistening ice. There was no such thing as a crack, where the door was. All that was lost deep in the ice.

What’s funny to me is that when I went to the back of the truck to try and find a tool (I realized if I used my key anymore, I’d be stuck in another way), you cannot imagine my amazement, when I reached in and pulled out a piece of curtain rod hardware that was absolutely the ideal tool for the job. Thank you Universe. What makes me laugh about this is that this thing was part of some junk that had been rolling around for months in the back of my truck, and I’d been cursing it, but not doing anything about it? That’s worth at least a chuckle still.

So I made it home. I was determined, just like I am determined to care for and share Scot’s artwork with you all. In the meantime I am thankful to be where I am on this side of another hoop. Thanks go out for all the help I’ve received along the way. Just for the record, here’s what my car looked like that next morning.