Weekend: World’s End to Manhattan, with Mahler in between

This weekend was logistically complex. On some level it was “full,” though it also featured a lot of downtime, if not necessarily downtime at home. These things are not in opposition. I kept reminding myself of that when I’d think “hey, there are a lot of moving parts!” True — but still a lot of space for, say, reading.

On Friday night, I drove out to Vorhees, NJ, for the dress rehearsal of Mahler’s second symphony, which my choir was performing with a New Jersey-based orchestra. I was gone from my house from 6-10:30 p.m., but at least 90 minutes of that involved sitting on stage during what was not my part. So I started reading Susan Orlean’s The Library Book. (Thanks to readers’ recommendations! Also, thank goodness for Amazon and the Kindle app — I realized I had time and needed a book, and I could immediately fill that need.)

On Saturday morning I got up on time and ran outside (just 1.6 miles — I didn’t have time for much else.) I got my 9-year-old up and we loaded the few things that I hadn’t already packed into the car — I think packing for camping was a big chunk of my planning fatigue this past week. I wound up packing a lot (and tracking down a lot of stuff) for just one night. We drove north for 3 hours to World’s End State Park, listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me most of the way. The 9-year-old is a big fan.

There, in a rock-strewn section of the Poconos, we found the Cub Scout troop and pitched our tent. We ate lunch and went on a hike that featured a fairly serious rock scramble. After, my son played with another little boy by the river. I read in the tent for an hour, then helped cook dinner. It began raining at 7 p.m. and pretty much rained all night. Fortunately, I’d recognized that might happen, so we both had good rain coats and rain pants and while conditions weren’t great, they weren’t awful either. I got us both to bed a few minutes after 10 p.m. I went in and out of sleep a lot with the rain, and the fact that I was sleeping in a sleeping bag on the ground, and popped up at 6 a.m. with the light; my kid didn’t wake until I woke him up at 7. Youth! At least I got another 30-40 minutes of reading in there.

We got on the road earlier than the rest of the troop, given the logistics of the day. We stopped for McDonald’s breakfast and as soon as we had reception, continued with the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me fun. Another three hours back to the house (kind of downtime.…except for needing to watch the road).

I ran 1.4 miles on the treadmill (gotta keep the streak going!) then showered. I should mention here that G (nanny) was with the other kids for the morning, because my husband was signed up to run the Broad Street 10-miler, which was on Sunday. She was there on time in the morning, and if he’d taken Uber (as we had last year) he would have been fine, but for some reason he decided to drive his car, and then had such a horrible saga with parking that he got to the start as they were opening the streets. So he went to the YMCA and ran 5 miles instead. This was probably a nicer experience, as the rain was coming down in sheets for a while.

Anyway, I found this out when he came home shortly after I got there. I had lunch, and got the 9-year-old off to a playdate. My husband covered a playdate for the 7-year-old at home (he purchased a craft for the girls to do! I will have to get an update on whether this happened or not). The 4-year-old was supposed to have soccer but the township closed the fields because of the rain, so that eased up some of the time line. I hopped in the car around 1 p.m. to drive back out to Vorhees, where I sang in the performance. It’s been fun to get to know Mahler’s music, if it added an extra element of complexity to the week (and a LOT of driving) for only a few minutes of singing. I found myself watching the timpani, which was right in front of me, a lot (and listening to it… it’s kind of a loud instrument).

I was back in the car around 5 p.m. to drive to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. I parked, got dinner (downtime), and got on the 6:13 p.m. train to NYC. That was another 90 minutes of not doing much. Then it was downtown to check into my hotel for the American Society of Journalists and Authors conference. I met a bunch of people in the hotel bar for dinner and drinks; always my MO at conferences. To bed at 11, up at 6 to run with a fellow conference-goer along the Hudson River. It was a good way to end the logistically complex weekend and start Monday!

10 thoughts on “Weekend: World’s End to Manhattan, with Mahler in between

  1. Sounds like a lovely (and full) weekend! My 12-year-old daughter’s youth chorus is singing the Carmina Burana with a local university this weekend. We’ve had weeks of extra rehearsal (after her regular one, so easy logistics) but this Friday I’ll pick her up early from school for a 3-hour dress rehearsal and then the performance is Saturday night. I think she only sings for a total of 2 1/2 minutes so I ran through multiple scenarios of how else to spend that evening but I’ve decided to embrace the downtime of beautiful music!

  2. I want to ask about the time you spend reading while at a kids’ activity. Do you ever get dirty looks or even comments from other parents or are you treated differently as a result of excusing yourself from the activity and not just hanging out with the other parents? My kids are in a variety of activities and I often bring a book to read but almost never read it. It feels rude to the other parents who are chatting and building relationships and camaraderie. And at least to some degree I make myself fee left out.
    Sometimes there are all day tournaments where there are periods of down time built in and it’s not a problem to spend 30 minutes here or there alone, away from the group, but more than that seems to rub people the wrong way. There are always parents who have to drop off/pick up another kid or run an errand, but being physically present and not engaged with the group is a different story. I feel when the kids are younger you want to get to know the other parents because your kids are just starting to form friendships, etc. As they get older (I have teenagers), these parent relationships can be part of the kids’ statuses. What do you and your readers think about this dynamic and what do you recommend?

    1. I’m a working mother of five children. If I want to read a book sometimes, I’m not going to feel guilty about it! One time I was at a swim meet and brought a paper book to read while none of my kids were swimming (even with three on the team, there was a lot of time in between their races), and another mother snidely remarked that it must be NICE to have time to read books. I brightly replied, “It IS!”

      Sometimes it’s great to talk with other parents, and I do think it’s important to know the parents of my kids’ friends, but I don’t think that has to extend to each and every teammate or each and every minute of the activity–especially at a long event. I’ve noticed that people don’t seem to care if someone is on their phone the entire time, even if the team culture frowns on disengagement, so sometimes I will read on the Kindle app instead of with a paper book. But, for the most part, I’m ok with being the parent who has a book anyway. 🙂

      1. @Catherine – I’m with you on this one. And I agree that a lot of parents are on their phones so sometimes being on the Kindle app is less strange (though I think it’s great for people to see people reading!)

    2. @Tracy- I was off in the tent, so no one could see me anyway. That said, I think there’s always a way to do both. Talk for a bit, go off for a bit. I think we all have to live our own lives, and if you’re always worried about what other people think of you, or what they might possibly think of you (because honestly, everyone tends to be in his/her own little world) then you’ll wind up never doing what you want, and that can lead to a lot of resentment and unhappiness.

  3. I’m happy for you to become acquainted with Mahler, surely one of the greatest ever. His 8th is better than the 2nd, and contains choral parts, and the 9th is the best of them all. I hope you’ll listen to them some day.

    1. @Timothy – I have listened to most of them, but not intensely in the way you do when you’re performing a piece. I do plan to revisit them!

  4. I ran the Broad Street 10 Miler over the weekend. While I enjoyed the course and energy, I will say – your husband made the right call.

    1. @Cassidy – I was wondering about this as I was driving in pouring rain back from the camping trip. I think if I’d been signed up for the race I might have wimped out before even trying to find parking!

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