Saturday, October 10, 2009

New York State of Mind...

It's taken awhile for me to write, and now I'm worried I can write a novel because I have so much in my head! I guess the best thing to do is start at the beginning...

If you remember, back in June I attended the Southern Living at HOME convention in Dallas (because I'm a consultant for SLAH). They did a video on Nicole, her accident and the fundraising event (Southern Living at HOME party) held at Green Oak Nursery in Jackson to benefit Nicole's medical fund. Gail Pittman, a sweet friend and the creative director of SLAH, came to the party and did a demonstration/presentation. It was a huge party (thanks to all who came!) and the whole story was told for almost 3000 consultants at the convention. After the presentation in Dallas, Nicole and I went out on the stage where our family was presented with a trip to New York--this time to make happy memories!

So, we scheduled our trip for late September to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Nicole's release from New York Presbyterian Hospital. It was a magical trip and many, many happy memories were made! Joe wasn't able to go, because he didn't want to miss too many classes. (He's not a big-city kind of guy anyway!). So instead, Kate, Nicole's assistant, went with us, which was so helpful to both us and Nicole.

We arrived in NY on Friday afternoon, Sept. 25. NYP sent a car to pick us up at the airport and off we went to the hospital. We went straight up to the Neuro-ICU where we had a wonderful reunion with the nurses and staff who took such good care of Nicole. Brian Dotson, the PR director of the hospital, arranged a wonderful reception, complete with a canoli-filling cake that was decorated with the word "Bravo!" The president and vice president of the hospital were there to greet Nicole as she fulfilled her promise to "be back in a year to dance down the halls of the NICU!" And that she did, to a stripper tune she sang...I was dying of embarassment, but everyone else had huge grins on their faces as she shimmied and shook, taking one step after another in between grabbing her breasts and her butt. That's my girl... After her show, the hospital's president presented her with a big bouquet of roses.

Also at the reunion was Fae Moore, a producer with PBS. She was involved in the PBS show "NOW" that aired in October 2008 called "Nurses Needed." The show featured Nicole in the first 5 or so minutes, and focused on the care the nurses provided her at NYP. It has been the most-watched PBS show online and they had plans to run it again this October. Nicole's return to NY was perfect, because the show will now include an update on Nicole's progress. The updated show will run on Friday, October 16. Check your local listings for times! To see the original half-hour show in it's entirety, log on to then click on "Video."

After the hospital reunion, we fulfilled the second part of our promise: to treat all the nurses to a beer at Coogin's, a wonderful Irish pub around the corner from the hospital. Many of the staff members at NYP go there after work, and we ate several great meals there while Nicole was in the hospital. Off we went to Coogin's, where we were met by Peter Walsh, who has run the place for over 25 years. He was the most jovial host, and we had about 12 nurses join us for a great evening of fun and laughs, courtesy of NYP!!! It was so special for Nicole to get to know them in a different way, and for them to get to know her. It was a night for celebration, and it reminded the nurses how important their role is. They were all amazed with Nicole's progress and they loved her personality. To get a taste of Coogin's, log on to

We finally got in a cab and headed to the New York Hilton about 11:45pm...Nicole and Kate were in one room and Larry and I were next door. I think we were all asleep almost before our heads hit the pillow!

Saturday we awoke to a beautiful fall day. Blue skies, cool temps and a slight breeze. It was heaven in New York! We all got ready and went to breakfast at the Starbucks downstairs before heading to Central Park. Nicole had arranged a picnic with all her NY friends in Sheep's Meadow, one of her favorite spots in Central Park. (History note: sheep once grazed at the meadow, and were housed in the sheep houses across the street, in what is now Tavern on the Green!). There were tons of people in the park, because it was such a beautiful day, and luckily a group next to us had a big bouquet of red helium balloons, which was a great way to tell everyone where we were. Kate and Nicole scouted out the perfect spot while Larry and I walked to the Whole Foods on Columbus Circle to grab some picnic grub...gourmet sandwiches, steamed asparagus, mini cupcakes and brownies and other yummy things. Katherine Harber was there with the girls when Larry and I arrived, and then came Ruthie and Jake...followed by Sal, Kermit, Zdenko, Sarah, Jacqui, Emily and several others (I can't remember everyone's names...). There were lots of laughs, reminscing over old times at college, the Berkshires, Actors Theatre in Louisville, KY, and memories made in NY. Everyone was amazed at Nicole's progress--most all had seen her in NYP with a neck brace on and a ventilator tube down her throat. To see her walking, talking, laughing and having so much fun was a joyful event for everyone.

We could have stayed there all day, but we still had places to stop was Chinatown where Kate and Nicole lost their minds! We bought wraps, purses, and other treasures at ridiculous prices before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the night.

It was a quick turnaround for us...we all got dolled up and headed a couple of blocks from the hotel to the Richard Rogers theatre to see the Boradway production of "In the Heights." It was the perfect show, as takes place in Washington Heights, a Dominican neighborhood where NYP is located. For a month last year, Larry and I lived "in the Heights" while Nicole was in the hospital. It's where we ate, had our laundry done, and even had a manicure and pedicure while Nicole was having surgery. The music and dancing in the show was wonderful and we all enjoyed it immensely. Afterwards, we were invited backstage to meet the cast (thanks to a phone call from Gary Wright!!!). The cast was awesome. They knew Nicole's story and they made her feel so welcomed. We visited with them on the stage and took photos, of course. It was just a wonderful experience! Read about the show at

Our next stop was The Bubble Lounge. ( The owner is Fae Moore's husband. It's a chi-chi champagne bar in Tribeca. When we arrived, there were two little tables reserved for us, and a bottle of champagne chilled to perfection. We sat on comfortable sofas and drank champagne and ate tapas (little appetizers)like we were somebody! Nicole's old roommate, Rafi, and his girlfriend, Dana, joined us and we had a wonderful time visiting and catching up with their exciting lives. (They were apprentices with Nicole at Actor's Theatre). I knew I was getting a little sleepy, and when I glanced at my watch, I knew why--it was 3am! We got back to the hotel around 3:30, just as a light rain began to fall.

We slept in Sunday morning and woke up to a miserable wet, rainy day. But we didn't care. The day before had been wonderful, and we were comfortable and cozy in the New York Hilton! Nic's friend Mimi came to meet up with her in Starbucks, and they had a great visit while Kate ventured out in a cab to try to get her Blackberry fixed. In the meantime, Larry visited with the hotel's concierge and got a tip on a good Venezuelan restaurant on the lower east side. We headed out to lunch and met up with Nicole's friend, Lizzie, whom she met in the Berkshires. We ate arepas and drank fresh tropical fruit smooties until we were full as ticks.

Finally, there was a break in the rain, so our next stop was Times Square. Kate took the subway with Lizzie and Larry, Nic and and I grabbed a taxi. We met up in Times Square and had alot of fun people watching and street shopping. Kate bought a hoodie and Nicole got a gangsa airbrushed trucker hat. They were both ready to get their thug on fo sho! The rain started again, so we all cabbed it to the hotel where we settled in at the lobby bar. More of Nic's friends were going to come, so Larry and I headed up to the room to give them some space. Just as he was leaving, Larry said the Kansas City Royals were checking in, and the rookies came in dressed in drag as part of an initiation of sorts. They had been forced to walk several blocks and into the lobby of the hotel. Lizzie and Nicole loved it and told them to come back down to visit after they "manned up" a bit!

Later, Larry went to a pizzeria straight out of "The Godfather," next to the Ed Sullivan Theatre, where David Letterman does his show. He brought back a huge pizza for the girls and the bartender let them eat it in the lobby bar. They killed it! Lizzie ended up staying the night in Nic and Kate's room.

Monday morning we woke up and got ready to head to the airport. It was a beautiful day and we just soaked in all the sights in the city on the way to catch our flight. We made it home with no problems...just lots of happy memories, which is exactly what we were supposed to do!

Many thanks to Southern Living at HOME and to New York Presbyterian Hospital for treating us to such a memorable trip!

Blessings to all who read this!


  1. You are such a talented writer. I feel like I just took a mental/visual trip with you.

    Did you see last week where David Letterman took Madonna to a pizzeria next door while filming the show? It was all live. I bet it is that place! I will have to go find the clip and post it.

  2. Thanks for the post....I've been waiting to read all about it. If sounds like y'all had a fabulous time with lots of wonderful friends. You all are just amazing!!!