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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