Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: An obligatory photo retrospective.

(Mostly because I can't let all of December go by without a post.)

The highlights:

Moved to Harlem. Welcomed Jess into the family. Said farewell to Harry. Climbed a mountain. Ran a marathon.

I also met a heartthrob and survived a hurricane.

There were some ups and some downs, but overall 2011 was not too shabby. Bring it, 2012.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today and every day, I have a lot to be thankful for--wonderful family and friends, a job I enjoy, and films starring Ryan Gosling. But one thing in particular I've been reminded of recently is how blessed I am to have a strong and healthy body. I've watched loved ones struggle with debilitating cancers, and I've also seen my parents put their children to shame by running, biking, and lifting weights regularly as they approach their 60s. I have had amazing experiences like climbing mountains and running a marathon. All of these things remind me not to take this body for granted, to care for it the best that I can, and to try and use it to its full potential.

Which naturally includes filling it with a Thanksgiving feast:

I am also thankful for the Costco rotisserie chicken which made my first homemade Thanksgiving quite painless. Not pictured: the pumpkin chiffon pie that we will consume for breakfast tomorrow.

Our new roommate is a vegan, so her feast was a little sparse. (Don't worry, there was also cranberry sauce, roasted chickpeas, and my favorite chocolate cake recipe that just so happens to be vegan.) Which reminds me! I am also thankful for cheese.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top of the heap.

This weekend I ran the New York City marathon.

Part of me still can't believe that I did it--I mean, I couldn't really believe I was doing it while I was doing it. And it was especially amazing because as of about a month ago, I wasn't at all sure it was going to happen.

After my trip to Peru I had developed some patellar tendinitis in my left knee (more on this when I finally post about Peru, but basically the Inca Trail includes miles and miles of stone steps both up and down that were pretty hard on our knees). I discovered this after an attempt to run resulted in wrenching pain in my knee. Not really ideal when I was supposed to be hitting my highest training mileage. After a couple weeks of physical therapy I still couldn't get farther than a quarter mile or so without the pain coming back. I did some workouts on the elliptical trainer but I knew it wasn't enough, and I was starting to worry. After another week of no improvement, I almost had a heart attack when the doctor wondered aloud if I could have a torn ACL, but thankfully she was able to rule that out. She referred me to an orthopedist who prescribed me an anti-inflammatory. That weekend I went for a short jog/elliptical workout and the running was still fairly painful. I called Sarah, who was coming to New York to cheer me on, and tearfully told her I didn't know if I was going to be able to do it. I was heartbroken that after working for a year to get into the marathon and then going through months of training, I might have to defer it for another year.

On Monday the following week I went to the gym and tried a slow jog on the treadmill. My knee still felt a little sore but it was so much better than the pain I'd been experiencing for weeks. I nearly cried with joy at my ability to jog a 12-minute mile. Over the next couple of weeks I was able to work up to a few high-mileage runs, with 20 miles being my longest before I started tapering. Side note: any time you think that 12 miles seems like a short run, you know something is wrong with you. I felt ready, all things considered.

Sarah had an awesome jersey made for me. I knew from watching past marathons that it was essential to put my name on my shirt to maximize crowd support, so it was perfect.

On the ferry to Staten Island.

Start village.

The New York City marathon is the largest in the world, with over 47,000 runners this year. They split the runners into three waves, and each wave has three start groups. I was in the Green start of Wave 2, which started on the lower deck of the Verrazano bridge connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn. We got into our corrals and moved toward the base of the bridge to await out turn. Then the start gun went off and huge speakers blared Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York," and the crowd of runners began singing along as they surged forward. It was a moment I will never forget.

For the first 10-15 miles I had a huge grin plastered on my face. The crowds in Brooklyn were great, and it didn't hurt that I had several hundred people wish me a happy birthday. Even knowing that none of these people had any idea who I was, the psychological boost of hearing people cheer your name is amazing. I was smiling, high-fiving children, shouting back at people, and generally having the time of my life. I didn't even listen to music for most of the time, just coasting by on the crowd's enthusiasm.

I knew that the Queensboro bridge at mile 16 or so (connecting Queens to Manhattan) was one of the toughest parts of the race. It's a pretty serious incline, and no spectators are allowed on the bridge so you don't have that support. I took a minute to stop and stretch my legs, which were starting to feel a little tight, put "Party Rock Anthem" on my iPod and kept going with the Manhattan skyline in front of me.

Exiting the bridge onto First Avenue was nuts. The crowds were several people deep and everyone was just going bananas. I was also excited because I knew I'd be seeing Sarah and lots of my friends in just a couple miles, so I had that to keep me going. My lovely friends were there with signs, costumes, and huge cheers. Around mile 19 I spotted Sarah and she started shrieking and jumped out of the crowd to run along next to me, clutching band-aids, chapstick, sport beans, and an array of other supplies. She ran with me for a few miles--through the Bronx and back down onto Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Many people asked me when I "hit the wall." I honestly don't think that I did, and it's because I had Sarah there next to me as my own personal pit crew at probably the toughest part of the race. It made all the difference, and I'm so glad she was there. I stopped to stretch again and then we kept going--thankfully she has a gift for chatting while running so I could just listen and have her distract me. Around mile 21 she did as, "So, do you think you'll do this again?" NOT THE TIME, Sarah.

Taken by Sarah as we ran.

As we came down Fifth Avenue I said goodbye to Sarah around mile 23. At that point I was incredibly tired, and the long hill on Fifth Avenue was pretty brutal. I saw more friends (and some of the same ones who had also been on First), and I wanted to be able to run over and give them hugs and high fives, but at that point I just had to keep moving straight ahead. But having them there helped me keep putting one foot in front of the other. Also helpful was the random dude who shouted, "Laura, you are looking DEAD SEXY!" The course veered into the park for the final couple of miles, and I think it was at that point that I finally realized, "Hey, I'm running a marathon right now and I might actually finish it!" Those last miles felt incredibly long, but soon the finish line came into view. I don't think I had the energy left to cry, but I let out something between a laugh and a sob after I crossed that line. It was a surreal and pretty incredible moment.

To be honest, the worst part of the marathon was probably just after finishing. I got my heat sheet and my medal and a bag of food and drinks, and then began the long, slow walk to pick up my bag. They make you walk almost a mile to keep the flow of traffic moving and to prevent people from just sitting down and passing out. I was cold and exhausted and emotional, and all I wanted was to get out of the park, see Sarah and stretch (although I have to say, I am amazed at how well organized this race is--I can't even imagine the magnitude of planning that must go into it). I finally got my bag and made it to the steps of the Natural History Museum and put on my sweats, and immediately felt a lot better.

Please excuse my giant head and tiny tyrannosaurus arms.

I had originally planned to go home and shower and then get some dinner afterward, but I realized I was ravenous and that if I went home I probably wouldn't want to leave again. I had already selected Shake Shack as my post-marathon meal, so we headed there and gorged ourselves on burgers, cheese fries and ice cream. There were lots of other runners there and the employees were giving out free hot chocolate. After dinne, we came home and crashed on my couch and watched X-Men: First Class, because I had definitely earned some quality time with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.

Anyway, I really don't think I could have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect, I had fantastic cheerleaders, I didn't have any pain beyond what was to be expected, my knee felt fine, I didn't feel like puking, and all of my toenails are still intact. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to top it for next year's birthday.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Here come the waterworks.

It's starting, you guys. Every year, Asics does a great ad campaign in the weeks leading up to the New York Marathon, and banners and posters have been popping up all over the city. Every time I see one, I get a little choked up. Totally normal to get emotional over an ad on the side of a bus, right?

Am I going to weep through this entire marathon? It's a distinct possibility.

Two weeks to go.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Parental advisory.

When my parents come to visit, it always means delicious food and Broadway shows. (And hugs. Lots of hugs.) They rolled into town this past weekend after an East Coast extravaganza of visiting Allison in North Carolina followed by a cruise to New England and Canada. My aunt Nancy met up with us as well and even though they were here less than three full days, we packed it in.

On Saturday, after wandering midtown for a while, we caught a matinee showing of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The show was delightful, and (mostly) independent of my love for Harry Potter, I have to say that Daniel Radcliffe does a fantastic job. His voice is decent, but I was most impressed with his dancing and his general commitment--you could tell he was just going for it the whole time and having fun. And he and John Larroquette were fantastic together. Of course, the whole time I was wishing that Becca and Krissy could have been there. (And of course, my mom texted Becca during intermission to tell her how cute Daniel Radcliffe was. Ha ha THANKS MOM.) If you haven't seen the performance of "Brotherhood of Man" from the Tony Awards, it's worth a watch:

After the show we had a fancy-pants dinner at L'Ecole, the restaurant for the French Culinary Institute (though I did, in actual fact, wear normal pants). And for good measure, we rounded out the night by seeing Ides of March. (I had referred it as "The Ryan Gosling Movie" in conversation with my dad and he pretended to be confused--"Oh, you mean the George Clooney movie?") It was really good. And I probably would have thought so even if it wasn't full of eye candy! Maybe.

On Sunday after church we had a delicious outdoor lunch at the Harlem Tavern down the street from my apartment, followed by an unsuccessful attempt to catch even a glimpse of the 9/11 memorial downtown. Then we headed back up to midtown for our extremely appropriate Sunday evening activity: The Book of Mormon musical. Currently, the only way to get tickets is to pay triple the face value or to attempt the ticket lottery with hundreds of other hopefuls (something my friend Jenny has tried 16 times, to no avail). Thankfully, my dad had the foresight to get our tickets months ago, before Tony mania set in.

I have to admit that my feelings about this show had gone from outrage to morbid curiosity to cautious interest, and when my dad asked if I would want to see it, I wasn't sure. Based on early reviews, though (including a couple from friends), I was intrigued enough to go and I'm glad I did. Fair warning: this show is not for everyone. It has strong language and some very offensive and shocking things in it (there was a Parental Advisory warning, so I guess it's good I went with my parents?). It is also clever and hilarious and quite touching at times. I will say, though, that what did offend me didn't do so because I'm Mormon, but because it was offensive in general. I realize that's a lot of rationalization, so to each his own. Obviously it's not exactly an credible source for information about the Church (it is satire, after all), but I didn't feel it was malicious toward my religion in any way. In fact, I found the Church-related humor to be pretty hilarious and they really nailed some of the missionary jokes in particular. The music itself is fantastic. Aside from a couple songs I could do without, I've listened to the soundtrack a few times this week alone. I dare you to listen to this song and not have it stuck in your head for the next week. It's the opening number and it's great--I swear the missionary actors looked exactly like some of the dudes I knew at BYU.

On Monday we had brunch at Sarabeth's and went to the Tenement Museum down on the Lower East Side. I'd never been there, but it's pretty great--you choose from a few different tours about different immigrants/families and spend an hour going through the preserved tenement housing and listening to their stories. I've been to Ellis Island, so it was sort of a cool follow-up to see how the immigrants lived after making it to New York and some of the conditions they were subjected to.

After our tour, we had time for a quick stop at the Doughnut Plant and a walk through Chinatown and Little Italy before it was time to say goodbye. It's pretty exhausting to be a tourist, but worth it when you've got good company, conversation, food, and entertainment to keep you going.

Also, do I win for most parentheses used in a blog post ever?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


So, Peru was incredible. I have approximately 700 pictures to post (roughly 65% of which are of beautiful valleys, so get excited for that), but that will happen later. For now it feels great to be back in my bed with indoor plumbing. We flew into JFK after midnight and I got to see the always beautiful New York skyline with the Freedom Tower lit up in red, white and blue.

One of the best things about this trip was experiencing such a different culture, being reminded of how different my lifestyle is from so many others, and of how much I have to be thankful for. And as much as I absolutely love traveling, there's still something wonderfully comforting about coming back to the States and having the customs agent smile and say, "Welcome home."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Emergency preparedness.

Things I'm doing to get ready for Irene:

- Having a Provo-style girls' night tonight (California Pizza Kitchen and going to the movies).

- Hopefully fitting in a long run tomorrow morning before the rain starts in earnest.

- Went to the grocery store this morning to stock up on essentials like string cheese and Lucky Charms (don't worry, Mom, I also have crackers, fruit, Luna bars, bread, peanut butter, canned black bean soup, and plenty of water). I also bought a pint of ice cream instead of a big carton so that, should the power go out and I have to eat everything in the freezer, I won't get sick. Foresight!

- Charging up my laptop and phone and putting the batteries in the head lamp I bought for Peru.

- Reviewing highlights from The Day After Tomorrow for good measure.

Melissa and I are planning to spend the weekend watching movies and eating in our pajamas. Our neighborhood is relatively high elevation and outside of even the most extreme flood-watch zones. We have guy friends down the street who have volunteered to come defend us from the zombie apocalypse, should it come to that. If we can somehow get work canceled on Monday I'd say we're all set.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I don't think you're ready.

A couple of weeks ago we had an email go around at work about some upcoming shows that Beyonce was doing at Roseland Ballroom for which we could request tickets. The shows were billed as An Intimate Night with Beyonce, and given that B is used to selling out arenas like Madison Square Garden, this would be a pretty unique opportunity.

I immediately texted Karrie, knowing that she had been planning to take the bus home to Virginia that weekend but also convinced that she was the perfect guest for this event.

L: So you are like definitely definitely going to VA next week right? Because I just got Beyonce tickets from work for Thursday.
K: Omg. Wait. This changes everything.

Soon after that, her original plans were canceled and we were composing outfit ideas. Karrie's main strategy was to "sparkle like a sexy baby on Toddlers & Tiaras" which, I think, was both wise and appropriate. I briefly considered wearing a sequined vest that I had borrowed from a friend at work, but in the end I just couldn't pull it off.

We got to the venue around the time the doors opened to see a line snaking around the entire city block. Eventually we made it inside, got our VIP wristbands for the mezzanine (perks!), and staked out a pretty great spot with a nice view of the stage. A few minutes before showtime, the peasants down on the floor started making excited noises and pointing their cameras toward the part of the mezzanine near the side of the stage. We squinted through the darkness and Karrie nearly hyperventilated, pointing out the be-headdressed figure of Lady Gaga being escorted to her seat.

Beyonce herself came out around 10pm and did her thing for a solid hour and a half in a sparkly gold minidress (proving that Karrie had the right idea all along). She did little snippets of all the old favorites from Destiny's Child (which took me back to memories of junior high and high school) and then moved on to some of the solo hits before focusing on stuff from her new album.

We sang along and pondered the meaning of "Bootylicious" and danced until our little high-heeled feet felt like they would fall off. And for the record, Gaga was dancing and fist-pumping with the best of them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

In case you didn't know.

I wore pants today for the first time in over a month. Like so many ingenious ideas, I didn't really set out to do it on purpose at first, but eventually the idea of No-Pants July took shape. It was especially handy around the time a massive heatwave made even a breeze feel like someone was pointing a giant hair dryer in your face. Things got a little dicey last week when we had a random evening of 70-degree rain and wind, but I powered through. Today I wore jeans just because I could, and when I got to work the air conditioning was broken. Bummer.

Ice cream for dinner at Serendipity during the heat wave. The only choice.

Marathon training also started about 5 weeks ago and is going well so far. There are definitely still mornings when I wimp out (those mornings usually involve something higher than 85% humidity) and I don't love having to wake up at 6:30 on Saturday mornings to get a long run in before it's blazing hot, but I've surprised myself with how diligent I've been. Also surprising is how I manage to get choked up every time I read someone's account of running a marathon or see pictures from a marathon or think about running the final stretch down 5th Avenue (seriously! It's happening right now, you guys!). I guess I'm looking forward to it.

By the way, one month from tomorrow I leave for Peru.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Potterpalooza: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Alternate titles:

Things Fall Apart
How to Fail at Most Things Despite Trying Really Hard
We'll Laugh About This Later

So here's how the rest of the weekend was supposed to go: on Saturday morning, get day-of rush tickets to How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, spend the day shopping, hanging out in the park, and eating before going to the show that night. The next day, maybe a repeat viewing of HP (naturally), do anything else we felt like, and then send the girls off home again. Sounds great, right? Well, it would have been. Now, I should mention that the things I'm going to whine about are all very First World Problems that I realize don't matter at all. But being the way that I am, I don't like it when my grand plans go awry, especially when I'm responsible for other people.

The box office for the show opened at 10am so we showed up around 9:45 thinking we'd be fine, since there were two shows that day. What I failed to consider was that 1) when I've gotten rush tickets before it was usually limited to students so there weren't as many eligible for tickets, 2) Daniel Radcliffe is in the show and is kind of popular, and 3) it was HARRY POTTER WEEKEND. The line was about a mile long, but the girl working there said they often get through the whole line. So we stuck it out. By 10:45 we'd made it up to the front and the only available tickets were a few singles or standing room only. A miscommunication between myself and the ticket lady meant that the girls behind us bought their tickets before we could, and we came up short. Disappointed, we went over to the TKTS booth in Times Square to see about tickets for the matinee, but they had just run out as well.

I was frustrated, but decided that after lunch I'd come straight back to TKTS to wait for when the evening tickets went on sale at 3. We trekked across to the wasteland of East Midtown to eat at this really delicious place Becca and I had found on her first visit to the city a couple years ago. It was a nice little grilled cheese stand that had awesome sandwiches and milkshakes, and I had checked their website that morning to confirm its location. We walked into the little building and the decor looked different, and they just had pre-packaged sandwiches and other random things. "Oh, no," the guy behind the counter said, "the grilled cheese place closed like a year ago." Great. We raced back across town (missing a bus in the process) to eat at Shake Shack which, while crowded with tourists, was delicious as always. Krissy bit into her portobello burger and exclaimed in wonder, "What IS this???" Fried awesome, that's what.

Armed with sunscreen and an umbrella to protect me from the blazing hot sun, I got back in line and the girls went off to shop for a bit. About an hour later, the ticket availability went up on the marquis. Guess what show wasn't on there? Feeling defeated and tired, we headed back uptown to shower off the sweaty day and the stench of failure.

I was frustrated at having wasted pretty much an entire day for nothing, but we still had a really nice dinner with a couple of my friends and some of Krissy's friends who live here. We split off afterwards and Becca and I stopped off to get some cheesecake at Junior's. We decided to go over to the theater, which would just be letting out, to witness the crowd mayhem waiting for DanRad to exit the stage door. It was pretty nuts, although I did manage to get a glimpse of his back as he climbed into a car. Becca was distracted because at that moment a middle-aged guy had tried to run up to Dan and the cops had pushed him on the ground. Yikes.

The crowd.

The next morning, Becca and I had talked about going for a run in the park, but ultimately decided that we'd give rush tickets one last shot (despite the fact that we had maxed out my Times Square tolerance long before). We got there earlier and the line wasn't too long yet, so we figured we had a chance. Around 10:15 they hadn't opened the doors, so I went up front to investigate. FUN FACT: apparently on Sundays, the box office doesn't open til 12. At that point we knew it was time to give up. We had brunch plans for 11 and anyway, I wasn't about to wait another 2 hours in line just to risk being disappointed yet again.

Thankfully we had yet another delicious meal to drown our sorrows in, followed by some street shopping in SoHo. Then it was back to my place for some leftover cheesecake and putting Krissy on the train to the airport. Of course, things couldn't go off without a hitch at that point and Krissy missed her flight by a matter of minutes. I was pretty sure we were being Punk'd. Luckily, she was able to get on another leaving shortly after, and Becca got home without any trouble (or at least she had the decency not to tell me about it).

All in all we really did have a ton of fun during the weekend; I just wish the last two days had worked out like I'd planned. But anytime I get to see these girls is a win in my book, and we've already decided that our next trip will be a beach paradise where we don't have to schedule a single activity. And thankfully it will be nowhere near Times Square.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Potterpalooza: The Pottering Continues.

On Friday we slept off our wizard hangovers until almost noon, and then walked a few blocks to meet Karrie for brunch. She was still smarting from having to miss the fun from the previous night, but thankfully we had some delicious crepes to soften the blow.

While we were in the neighborhood, I took the girls through a bit of Columbia. Now that I live somewhat close, my morning runs sometimes take me through campus and I think it's beautiful. I wouldn't mind pretending to be a student there. Afterward we hopped on a bus to take us across town to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There's an Alexander McQueen exhibit there through the summer and I'd already been once. If you're in New York in the next month or so, it's a must-see.

We got reaaaaaally good at standing in lines by the time the weekend was over.

Once we had had our fill of avante-garde gothic romantic couture (as if that were even possible), we sat on the Met steps for a minute to rest our tired feetsies and eat some cherries to keep our blood sugar up. Then it was on to Times Square for:

The Harry Potter Exhibition at the Discovery Museum. I'd heard about it a few months ago and knew I had to save it for this weekend. They were pretty militant about taking photos inside, but it was pretty cool. They had costumes, props, and set pieces from all the movies, with different scenes playing on TVs throughout. Pretty much nerd heaven. I wanted to steal Hermione's time-turner, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to find my way out before they ran me down (though I AM marathon training right now, which probably would've helped). Also, seeing the costumes really reinforced how TINY Emma Watson is. Also, we sat in Hagrid's chair.

At that point, we were pretty tired and hungry, so we went to Patsy's for some delicious pizza and then walked to 16 Handles (which recently became a hangout of Ryan Gosling's, by the way) to eat froyo and people-watch outside in the lovely summer breeze.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Potterpalooza: The Final Countdown.

I woke up early on Thursday morning after maybe 5 hours of sleep to check my phone. Becca was at JFK, waiting for Krissy to deplane, and then they'd be on their way to my apartment. Soon I was out on the sidewalk as their cab drove up, hugging two tired girls and excitedly welcoming them to New York.

Since they'd both taken red eye flights and I hadn't slept much either, we had breakfast across the street (red velvet waffles, I love you so much) and then crashed for a few hours back at my place. We spent a few hours in the afternoon strolling through the park and lying in the grass, and then it was game time.

"Wait, so we're really wearing our Harry Potter shirts to dinner? Okay, just making sure."

We got to the theater around 8pm to scope out the situation. An employee told us the line was outside, so we went out and saw a line stretching around a city block. Yikes. The good news and bad news was that it was one line for all of the midnight showings, so while we wouldn't be as far back as we feared, there was definitely potential for mass disorganization. We settled in and played some HP trivia on Krissy's iPad.

Throughout the night, a few different TV crews, including MTV and Extra, came through to interview people (not us, since we weren't dressed up). One of the girls in front of us, dressed as a Slytherin, was chosen to be on camera.

TV Lady: Can you shout something at the camera? Like "I love Harry" but something different.
Slytherin Girl: Sure, okay, how about... MAGIC IS FOREVER!
TVL: Um, all right. Maybe... try it again, a little less scary this time?
TVL: That's... good. Thanks.

Needless to say, we had a mantra for the rest of the weekend.

We passed the time talking, texting, emailing, and posting Facebook updates (thank heavens for smartphones--am I right or am I right?). Around 10, two girls appeared behind us, apparently having tried to bribe the family behind us $20 to let them cut in line. The dad wasn't having any of it, giving them back their dirty money and making them leave. Awesome.

Then the mayhem began. A little while later, employees began coming down the line. "Okay, the 12:03 and the 12:08, you guys can come in." Portions of the line began to dissolve as people rushed into the theater and we waited nervously (our official showtime was 12:02). It was so disorganized and illogical that we were convinced we would end up in the front row of our theater somehow. Krissy volunteered to go investigate, which we figured was a good idea--she's pretty and unassuming and stood a good chance of getting us in. She texted us from the front lines that it was insane inside the theater, people on the verge of rioting while employees tried to keep the crowds back. Becca and I held our place in line and listened to Slytherin Girl's companion (a Gryffindor) sing soulfully along with her iPod.

Guess who didn't get the sadface memo?

We started to get nervous when we didn't hear from Krissy for some time. Then we got a text: "I'm inside and have seats. There are only two other people in our theater." VICTORY! Soon after that, our theater was announced and we sprang into action. I joined the massive line at the snack bar (where I ran into my friend Kent and we sent a gloating photo of ourselves to Karrie, who was not allowed to come because she is only on Book 4) and then it was time to get settled in the theater. As the lights went down, the three of us grabbed hands and got ready to say goodbye to Harry.

We loved the movie, and it's always awesome to see it with the midnight audiences because the crowd reactions are just right. The mass exodus afterwards was pretty impressive, and we passed by people in line outside for the 3am showing. We walked along Central Park West for a while trying to find an unoccupied cab, and when we finally hailed one, the driver seemed pretty bewildered.

"Why are all these people out so late? Was there a concert or something?"

Nope, just a nerd convention. It was a good night.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

End of an era.

Tomorrow morning, Becca and Krissy fly in for a long weekend of playing in NYC. We decided it was only fitting to celebrate/mourn our final HP midnight movie experience with one last Potterpalooza (although of course, nothing could top our last one). I honestly don't know if I'm more sad that the series we love so much is ending, or that we won't get to have this tradition anymore, but either way there is a 100% chance that I will cry.

Still, I could not be more excited for my BFFs to get here and for a weekend full of the kind of silliness you can only have with people you've known for 20+ years. We're going to have some fun.

Monday, July 11, 2011

California, Part 1: The Wedding.

At the end of May, the whole fam convened for a week-long extravaganza of eating, laughing, and general awesomeness. The main event was my brother Jeff's wedding, and everyone had a fantastic time. I generally love weddings anyway, but fill the guest list with my favorite people in the world, throw in some beautiful weather, great food, and hours of dancing, and there's pretty much nothing better.

The bride was stunning (am I right or am I right?).

The kids were entertained.

And, if I may say so, my peeps looked pretty awesome.

We gathered for pictures in the afternoon at Murietta's Well winery. The place was beautiful and rustic, and with the sun slowly setting over the vineyard it was just gorgeous.

Then it was time for the ceremony. Donovan was the dapper ringbearer, and Ainsleigh, Emaline, and Gemma were enlisted as flower girls. Gemma, apparently deciding that she had far too much style to merely walk in the procession, opted to do arabesques down the aisle.

When Jess appeared on her dad's arm, Sarah tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "Look at Jeff." His face said it all--happy, peaceful, perfect.

After a lovely ceremony and a cocktail hour, we headed inside for the party. The food was delicious, and when it was time for Jess's dance with her dad, Gemma came over to sit on my lap for a closer look and whispered, "Oh, it's the princess and her father!"

And then, we danced:

After cake-cutting (including the Funfetti groom's cake my mom made that turned out to be wildly popular), it was back to dancing. My older sisters weren't sure how long their kids would last and thought they might have to take them home early. Turns out they were the life of the party and were on the dance floor til almost 11pm.

Unbeknownst to us, Dono is a breakdancer extraordinaire. He also danced with all of the bridesmaids and most of the female guests.

Partway through the night, Gemma was getting tired and went to sit down at her table. Then "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga came on and she ran back onto the floor shouting "JUST DANCE IT'LL BE OKAY!" Later, as the clock ticked past 10pm, she plopped face-down on the dance floor on top of her Ducky. About 10 seconds later, she jumped back up and got right back to dancing. These kids have stamina.

By the end of the night we were all tired and my feet hurt like crazy, but it was so much fun. A great night of partying with my favorite people, and I get a fantastic new sister out of it? Win-win-win.

More pictures here.


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