Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meet Me in the Megabus to St. Louis: There's a Story There

I'm not one to pass on a good bargain. So when I discovered I could get to St. Louis, Missouri for my friend Jason's 30th celebratory birthday weekend for the price of a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, how could I refuse? My primary concern was that it would be a 13-hour ride on Megbabus. But again, two bucks is two bucks and I was comforted in knowing that if it did turn out to be hell on wheels then at least I had 4 friends along for the ride to co-wallow in my misery.

The day I was all set to being the journey North did not start well. And by not start well, I mean I woke up just in time to throw up everything I had consumed the night before for dinner/bedtime snack. It was horrible and I'll never look at Fig Newtons the same way again. Kinda the same way I look at maple bars. As a kid they were my favorite treat, until one day I blew chunks after eating one and I've never had the stomach to indulge in one again. Some wounds just never heal. The remainder of the afternoon was spent worshiping the porcelain goddess/suffering from cold sweats/fantasizing about finally reaching my goal weight. After nibbling on saltines and small gulps of blue Gatorade all day I mustered enough energy to board the Megabus because God as my witness I was not about to let an upset stomach stop me from have having a gay ol' time in the 3rd most dangerous city in America! Spring Break with pepper spray wahoo!!!!

The fellow travelers on the Megabus were about what I expected. Young. Smelly. Loud. Annoying. Poor Bart got stuck sitting next to a girl who assured him within seconds of meeting that she wasn't a creeper. Her high pitched and constant laugh that resembled that of a baby sheep failed to back up her claim.  My concern the whole time was that I didn't want to throw up on the bus. Luckily some other guy beat me to it but unfortunately the sorority sister sitting next to him on her way to spring break ended up in an unplanned wet t-shirt contest at 3 in the morning. All 6 of us had boarded the bus at 7:45 PM in Dallas and 13 hours and half a bottle of melatonin later we arrived in St. Louis, AKA Nelly's hometown.

The next three days of middle America shenanigans proved to be chicken noodle soup for this weary Texas soul, dontcha know!? Few of us had ever spent time in the city so there were plenty of new sights and sounds to be seen. The architecture of the city was pretty cool with lots of old brick buildings and enormous catholic churches that looked like they had been helicoptered in from Europe. We took a free visit to the local zoo where we saw elephants, monkeys, and shitting penguins, oh my! Nearby we did a drive by of the 1904 World Fair Pavilion, which was surprisingly much smaller than it appeared in "Meet Me in St. Louis". But of course that didn't stop Bart and myself from bursting into a rousing rendition of Clank Clank Went the Trolley, Ding Ding Went the Bell!! We nailed it, and I'd like to think we done Judy Garland proud.

For Jason's birthday dinner we met up with his rather large family (his grandmother birthed ten babies) in one of my favorite chain restaurants ever. The Old Spaghetti Factory. There I got my first chance to try the St. Louis delicacy known as a toasted ravioli. Top that off with spumoni ice cream and bottomless strawberry lemonade and this guy who hadn't had a full meal in two days felt like Jesus must have felt having his first hot pocket after 40 days in the desert. Another delight and life fulfilling dream was sneaking into the restaurant's cable car with Kristin and pretending to be on a first date as we giggled and contemplated eating the leftovers from the couple who'd been sitting there. It took all the strength within me to resist finishing off the melted spumoni. After dinner we went to Three Sixty, one of the city's trendiest rooftop bars, where we were able to convince management that our friend Andrew was Zachary Quinto. The similarities really are uncanny, especially when he's wearing my glasses. Sadly it proved pointless because we still weren't able to get a table let alone a bottle of champagne even though he offered to sign autographs. Clearly none of the bartenders were Trekkie's.

Our final hours in the city were spent wining and dining on Bloody Marys, biscuits and gravy, and bowls of maple syrup while our elderly waitress Beverly took a smoke break every two minutes and talked to us about watching the arch being built. She really dated herself with that statement.  Afterwards we did the most touristy thing possible, which I am always down for on a trip, and went up into the city's infamous arch that has been coined "The Gateway to the West". It's something I've always wanted to do but I can't say it was exactly what I was expecting. Although you are able to get a nice view of the city there was no open-air deck, no gift shop, and the pod you had to ride to get to the reminded me of something off the show LOST. And word to the wise, if you suffer from any form of claustrophobia I suggest doing as my mom does at all amusement parks which is find a nice bench, hold everybody's jacket, and wait for your family to get off ride.

P.S. A special thanks goes out to Kristin for her St. Louis hospitality in letting 4 boys invade her lovely little apartment for the weekend. You're a treasure and a saint!!!

Monday, February 11, 2013


Over the past few years The Grammys have weaseled their way into my affections and become my favorite awards show of the entire year. Last nights show proved to be an interesting one since there weren't any artists who completely swept up all Grammys like my beloved Adele and Beyonce have done in the past two years. It was generous of them to spread the wealth because clearly there are lots of worthy musicians who deserve to be awarded for their musical efforts. Music is something that's always been a special part of my life and whether I'm hitting the stair monster, getting ready for a night out, or sitting at my desk working I almost always have music playing. These days I don't have as much time and money to keep up on movies but luckily my 10 dollar a month Spotify account keeps me up to date on what the whipper snappers are listening to on the radio.

Last night I debated doing an intensive live Twitter feed of the nights big moments but then I remembered that I only have 22 followers and half of them are probably robots so it would have been pointless. Although big shout out to Tamara for throwing me a few favorites and re-tweets. Love you boo boo! Thanks for making me feel a little less alone in the Twitter-sphere.

So the following is what would have been my hypothetical twitter feed if I was in fact twitter-famous....

Taylor “Uncle Sam” Swift. You realize you are no longer able to call yourself a country artist, right? Also, “ I’m sorry but I’m busy opening up the Grammy’s” might me the best “stick this in your pipe and smoke it” line I’ve ever heard #suckitharrystyles


Ed Sheeran. I have the biggest friend crush on you.  When I begin my music career would you be so kind as to pen a few ditties for me? #thanksboo #littlethings2.0

Elton John. I don’t really like it when you sing Ed’s songs. There’s not enough room on that tiny, circular stage for two gingers and while you could sing “Candle In The Wind’ all day long without a complaint from me, I’m really not feeling your take on the “A Team”. #sorryi’mnotsorry

Testicular Cancer/Valentines Day commercial. Really? Really?? I thought you were going to be just another K-Y commercial. You sure showed me. #livestrong

Katy Perry. You was robbed!!! Not by Adele because she actually deserved the best Pop Performance Grammy but aside from making my most listened to song of 2012, Wide Awake should have won an award for something!

Adele looks like she's wearing a couch cushion from an old ladies house which makes me love her more than I thought was humanly possible.

John Mayer. Your suit is glowing. Where can I get me one of those!?!?!

Miranda Lambert. Step away from the Bedazzler before you lose an eyelid.

Carrie Underwood. Everybody gives a shout out to God when they win a Grammy. But I actually believed you. #onwardchristiansoldier #thislittlelightofmine

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. You give me hope! And when did ya'll get so skinny!? #trimspababy

Fun. You’re leading me to believe that man-capris are coming back in style. Can you give me a firm confirmation that I can pull them off before I have all my current pants tailored?

Justin Timberlake. I’ve got a bone to pick with you. “Futuresex/Lovesounds” was flawless. FLAWLESS And since you dropped it in like 2007, I’ve waited patiently for 6 long years for you to drop a new single. I’m gonna be honest. Suit and Tie is not what I waited for all these years. But I have faith the rest of your album is going to make me a very happy man. #notimpressed #bringsexyback

Kelly Rowland. Did you not get the email from CBS? You know, the one about not wearing revealing outfits? Check your spam box. #iknowyougotit

What does Urban Contemporary even mean? All I know is I’m so glad that Frank Ocean won, even though your acceptance speech was awkward.

Adam Levine. You sound amazing on your albums. And if there was someone who’s recording voice I wish I had it would be you. But then you go and sing live and…..well…..it’s a good thing you’re pretty.

I pity the person who got stuck sitting behind Solange’s Afro. Seriously, most obstructed view in the house thanks in part to the fact that Gaga was a not in attendance.

I fucking love Kelly Clarkson. She is so genuine. So talented. Clearly surprised as we all were about winning, even though she clearly deserved it. #stronger

Rihanna. Spill. What did you cut out of your diet to get that body because seriously, I have a high school reunion coming up and I need to know. Also, you killed that performance. #thatRihannarainjustwon’tletup #stay

Love Frank Ocean. And love that he’s basically wearing the same outfit I wore when I gave a presentation on the Civil War in 5th grade. #A+

How is CBS still America’s most watched network?? Touched by an Angel Dr. Quin Medicine Woman has been off the air for over a decade!? America. Just tape The Big Bang Theory for once, for crying out loud! #tinafey #damnu2andahalfmen

Jack White. Get in touch with the person who does beyonce’s weaves. You can do better. You deserve better. #itgetsbetter

Best quote of the night goes to Katy Perry when presenting Best New Artist. "If you don't win, don't worry. I was never even nominated in this category and I have my own eyelash line,".

Fun. If you’re saying you’ve been doing this for 12 years then how the hell did you just win the best new artist award? #confused #idemandarecount

Why did none of my prom dates ever have Carrie Underwood’s light up dress?? #regrets

Gotye and his lady friend winning Record of the Year and getting all sorts of choked up when getting the Grammy handed to them from Prince was touching #I’mfeelingverklempt

Alabama shakes lady seriously looked like she took a time machine from the 1930’s to get to the Grammy’s and I love her for it. #vintage #oldsoul

Frank Ocean. Best entrance and exit of the night. #youcandonowrong #forestgump #seamless

What did Mumford and Sons say that was censored?? And am I the only person who didn’t know they were British? #so2000andlate

Monday, February 4, 2013

Beyoncé Bowl

It pretty much goes without saying that I'm not much of a sports guy. Lord knows the last time these baby hands of mine tried to unsuccessfully grip, let alone throw, a football. Truth be told I begged my parents before starting my Freshman year of high school to let all 105 pounds me try out for the football team. Like everyone else, I was a delusional adolescent with big dreams of being popular and having ripped abs. Clearly it wasn't meant to be. George and Cathy quickly shut down that teenage dream with a big fat "NO" which quite honestly probably saved my life. Since then I've shown little to no interest in the sport. Truthfully I had no idea which two teams were even playing in the Super Bowl this year until Alicia Keyes finished her 20 minute rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. How she took a song that my highschool choir could finish in 30 seconds flat and turned it into the length of a Laguna Beach episode is still blowing my mind.

Clearly the one and only reason I tuned in for this years game was for the much hyped halftime show. Or as it has been labeled, the Beyonce Bowl. The past years shows have been hit and miss with a lot of miss. Sure Madonna's was awesome and maybe the best ever, but it came after years of some pretty boring shows. Anybody else remember the less than rousing performance by Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers? More like Tom Petty and the Heart Pacers but that's neither her nor there. All I know is whoever his caretaker is should be ashamed of themselves for letting him up on the stage without a walker and oxygen tank. The man was clearly strugglin'.

Beyonce Bowl started off strong. Great entrance. Fierce pose. You really can't go wrong with a burning silhouette of yourself off in the distance as you rise from the darkness. Loved the lace and leather outfit which left little to no chance of a repeat incident known as Nipplegate, although I'm sure One Million Moms gave a collective shriek when she whipped off the leather jacket. Please. Give Beyonce a little credit. You know she probably used the equivalent amount of double sided tape that JLO has consumed in her lifetime just for that one outfit. Haters to the left to the left.

After loads of dancing, hair-flipping, and vocal runs (just to make sure the people at home knew she was singing live) came the big moment. The Destiny's Child Reunion. Even though I was never a huge DC fan I got a little giddy seeing them together again. My first thought was one of concern for Michelle Williams who as we all know has had problems with hand eye coordination in the past. Exhibit A:

As seen above, it's every woman for herself in Destiny's Child so it's a good thing Michelle was able to oh so shakily land on her feet after being thrown on the stage for her entrance. My focus then shifted back to the woman of the hour who for some unknown reason looked pissed beyond all get out.

My theory is she was jealous of how great Kelly's bangs looked.  What I say to that is "Gurl. You just got paid enough by Pepsi alone to end AIDS, cancer, and world hunger within 24 hours. Why you mad???!!!" If anybody had any right to be mad it should have been Kelly and Michelle. On top of getting thrown on stage by a linebacker out of a hole in the floor, their mics were obviously turned down to at least 30% volume. That's show biz kids.

I'm not convinced that the show topped last years halftime extravaganza and I think the ending could have used a little more oomph and girl power than "Halo" offered but it was worth the two hour wait just for those 10 minutes of pure pop bliss. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if JT had come out for a quick duet of "Till the End of Time". Had this dream become a reality I would have lost my shit. So it's probably for the best it didn't happen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Skip!!!

Today my dear friend Skip turned 30 freakin years old. In celebration of this momentous day, Robbie and I whipped together a little video to show how much we lurve him.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My First Year in Dallas

Howdy! Hope ya’ll had a very happy Labor Day! This is my second Labor Day Weekend in Dallas, which means I’ve officially made it a year in Texas! Still a little shocked I survived this long, especially with the ever looming fear of contracting West Nile from the pesky, murderous mosquitoes you’ve probably seen on the news.  It’s kind of turned into a problem and I’ve taken extra precautions this summer by wearing nothing but turtlenecks, cargo pants, and mosquito nets fashioned into a Burka for when I go on my evening runs. I don’t mess around. I mean people are dying and I’d like to think my immune system is stronger than that of a 95-year-old man but let’s be real, we all have our off days.

Despite the fact that this recent holiday usually implies that people should take a break from working I have done quite the opposite. This weekend was moving time so I have had my hands full convincing strangers on Craigslist that they should buy my cheap Ikea furniture, boxing up my belongings, and spraying 409 on everything in sight.  I am pretty excited about my new place because not only do I finally have access to a pool and exercise facility, but for the first time ever I have a washer and dryer that doesn’t require quarters to start a cycle ! It really is the little things in life.

 Looking back this has been quite the year in Texas. I really don’t think I had very high expectations when I moved south last July with my friend Robbie (also known as Vobbie when I talk in my second language of Svedish) but I must say Dallas has had it’s unexpected surprises and it’s provided me with a host of new opportunities and experiences. Some of the top highlights would have to be:

1.     I finally got my first job as a Graphic Designer, which alone made the move worth it. At age 26 I was really starting to stress about how this whole career thing was going to get started but I feel like I’ve learned a lot this year and that I’m finally catching my stride as a designer.

2.     I ran my first marathon!

3.     After years of devoted television watching I finally met the talented, beautiful and New York Times best selling author Lauren Conrad. I’m talking about LC of Laguna Beach and The Hills and yes, meeting her was definitely on my “unwritten” bucket list. Where my fascination and love with her stems from I’ll never know. What I do know is I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in my life than during the meet and greet at Barnes and Noble to promote her new book “The Fame Game”.  I swear every teenage girl in the Dallas/Fort Worth area was there and I was a one out of five guys, three of which were boyfriends who were simply there to document the whole thing. Luckily I had my office BFF Marlee to provide moral support, take pictures, and she may have packed a few smelling salts in the likelihood that I passed out in front of Lauren. Fortunately I kept it together despite the fact that girls were literally in tears at the thought of talking to her and I was being asked questions such as “what are you going to say to her!?!?!” or “will it be weird if I tell her she’s perfect, because I think she is!?!?” When my turn came to approach the book signing table I literally had an out of body experience. I completely forgot my monologue that I had rehearsed and I had such bad cotton mouth that I could barely squeak out a hello. Even though things didn’t go as planned and I was reduced to acting like every other school girl in the room, Lauren was the sweetest and hopefully at the next signing I’ll be able to keep more cool, calm, and collected. 

4.     I joined my first softball league! My friends Bart and Jason somehow convinced Robbie and I to join their team, Taddy’s Terriers, despite the fact that all games were held on Sunday morning, which can be a bit rough for an A-List socialite like myself.  Not that I was worried at all about my talent because I used to be a pretty big deal in the Walla Walla Valley Farm League. Granted it was over 15 years ago but age is just a number. After my coach made the mistake of thinking I was cut out for the outfield he put me on 2nd base for the remainder of the season and I must say it was a much better fit. Turns out my hand eye coordination with fly balls ain’t what it was in 3rd grade. But the end of the season I was voted the distinguished and sought after title of Most Improved. By now I’m used to accolades and critics choice awards and obviously I saw myself more as the Team MVP but beggars can’t be choosers. Robbie got Best Defensive and although you can’t count on him to throw a ball to first and have it be in the general vicinity of the 1st baseman he sure knows how to hit a home run.

5.     I survived my first twister!

6.     I’m fairly certain I’m on a reality show and no one told me/failed to have me sign a consent form.  Literally everywhere I turn I see a cast member from  A-List Dallas and Dallas Most Eligible. The person I see the most is Matt Nordgren from Most Eligible and I’ve run into him buying jeans at the gap, watching a charity fashion show, and most recently at a Tuesday night worship service for young professionals. We of course haven’t talked but I assume it’s because the producers are trying to start of feud between us. Last week I went for a run on Katy Trail and ran by Glenn Pakulak from Most Eligible and I debated talking to him about the whole thing but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t mic’d  and there didn’t seem to be any cameras in sight so I didn’t see the point of having the conversation. Bravo recently confirmed that Courtney is going to have her own show soon and I’m expecting a letter from producers begging me to be her sassy male friend. I”ll consider it, but I may need to call LC to get her blessing before making any final decisions.

But most of all, thank you to all the wonderful folks I've met during my year here. It wouldn't have been half as fun with you :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Katy Perry: Part of Me

Today I had a "me party". An entire day where I was free from work and social obligations and got to do whatever the hell I wanted. Well…for the most part.  I’d been needing some introvert time and seeing as the roommate was peacin’ out for the weekend I decided to take full advantage of my Saturday.

First off I stopped by my local library and got a card. I really should have done this long ago because I could have been saving a small fortune from the money NOT spent on Redbox and iTunes downloads. I was a little bummed because my main goal of going to the library was to come out with some Dusty Springfield music, who has become my recent pop obsession, and the book “Perks of Being a Wallflower.” My tiny neighborhood library had neither but they are being ordered and should be here soon. I can hardly wait. I did come out with the Joni Mitchel album Blue so it was not a total bust.

After that I was itching for a good ol’ thrift store run. The two years prior to moving to Dallas I went through an unhealthy addiction to thrift stores. While I was in AmeriCorps I am fairly certain I visited every salvation army between Michigan and Louisiana. Damn I had some good finds back then. I really just love the challenge of looking through tons of shit to find an inexpensive diamond in the rough, be it vintage t-shirt or fun vinyl from the 60’s. Today I went to a St. Vincet de Paul and I can’t say that I was that thrilled by the selection I saw there but I did find a great framed daisy cross hatch from the 70’s that’s gonna go great with my duvet cover and strangely the green frame matches my dresser perfectly. And all home décor was 30% off so I spent a total of 2 bucks. Hollerback girl.

I decided I needed to take some time out of my day to be productive so I ended up going to work and doing stuff that we graphic designers do. I won’t bore you with the details but it ended up being time well spent. As a reward to myself for being diligent and productive on a weekend I decided it was time to see me some Katy Perry: Part of Me in 3D. And considering the fact that my newfound friend Matt Jarrell is the only person I’ve met who was equally excited about seeing the movie as I was, I figured I was best off seeing it alone. Plus, I kind of have a weird thing where I really enjoy seeing a movie alone in theatres despite being told by most people that it is awkward and a form of social suicide.

Ever since “I Kissed a Girl” was the free iTunes song of the week I’ve been a big fan of Katy Perry. I’ll admit, I assumed that she was going to be just another one hit wonder but she has certainly proved me and a lot of people wrong. Since 2008 I have bought both her cd’s, seen her in concert, lost sleep on nights before one of her music video’s premiere’s on Vevo, and  learned how to play “Thinking of You” on my guitar. You can see now why I was super pumped for the documentary to hit theatres. Sadly I don’t think it’s been as much of a success as people were thinking it would be. I can verify this because for the first half hour I was the only living soul in the theatre….which was kinda great/awkward all at the same time. But I am here to say that the film is good and worth the 10 bucks! The thing that really comes across in new movie and the thing I appreciate most about Katy is she’s very different from a lot of other pop singers out there these days because she kind of seems like the only normal one. Gaga? Anything but normal. Britney? Heavily medicated. Christina? Diva. Rhianna? Hot Mess.  The main premise of Part of Me was to show the kind of work that goes into making a world tour and to show what it took for her to get to this point in her career. It as pretty crazy to see how far she’s come. I know when I saw her in concert back in 2009 it was at a small venue in Seattle where I think she had two costume changes at the most and played all her songs on guitar. It was awesome by the way but these days her shows are played out in huge arenas with extravagant sets, costume changes, and cannons of whipped cream. 

One thing that is really interesting about Katy’s life is the fact that she was raised Pentecostal in a very conservative Christian home. I can totally relate. Not the Pentacostal part because I would say we leaned more Baptist but there were things she would say that totally resonated with  my upbringing. Luckily for me I was still permitted to watch “The Smurfs” and eat my Aunt Carol's “Deviled Eggs”, although I wasn't allowed to browse through my latest issue of National Geographic until my parents had torn out the pictures of naked tribal women...let me tell ya it made reading articles about Aborigines in the Outback very confusing and challenging. Another thing Katy and I were both limited to was listening only to only Christian music. Now don't get me wrong, I loved me some DcTalk and Michael W. Smith but a little Michael Jackson or Madonna here and there would have been a nice change of pace. One time in 5th grade my friend Tim came over and brought a Limp Bizkit cd with him and he insisted we should listen to it. Right away I was intrigued because the cover had a sticker that said Parental Warning. I had no idea what that meant but I knew it couldn't be good. Pretty sure I locked my bedroom door, popped the cd into my boom box, and played it just loud enough so we could barely make out the lyrics because I was worried Mama Sesser would barge in with a fresh plate of cookies at any second...to this day I've never felt so rebellious/terrified in my entire life. Obviously Katy has taken aspects of her life in a different direction than the one it seems her parents had in mind. That’s something I can also relate to and it was great to see that despite differing opinions, at the end of the day her parents are still very supportive and loving of their their little girl.

Going into it, I knew Katy Perry: Part of Me wasn’t going to measure up to the masterpiece that is “Britney: For the Record” but it was still very well done and fun to watch. I would say that having this sort of film made was a bit premature. Mainly because her career took off hardly 4 years ago and she only has two albums. That and there really hasn’t been that much tabloid drama in her life aside from her recent divorce which is what a majority of Americans hope to see in these sorts of things. Still I think it shows the importance of having dreams and working your butt off to achieve them. It also showed just how much talent Katy does posses as an actress, songwriter, and singer. So if you missed her California Dreams Tour and are wanting a taste of the Candyland empire she’s built and the road she took to get there, you won’t be disappointed.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rob, Heather, and Jess take Manhattan

This is a sad, sad, day in my life. My East Coast vacation has come to a close. Too soon. Far too soon! It was a glorious 4 day adventure that I got to spend with two of my all-time favorite travel companions – Jess Miller and Heather Swanson. We’ve shared many a West Coast excursion together, including our Idaho Chrismtas Holiday of 2005, the Disneyland  Roadtrip in 2006 and the great Sisters, Oregon adventure of 2008. After a four-year hiatus, we figured it was time to spread our wings and take a jab at the east side of the country. Jess has been living in Hartford, Connecticut for the past 3 years and now that she is one month away from returning to her Pacific Northwest roots, Heather and I figured it was time to make the journey.

I touched down in Hartford early Thursday afternoon and we filled the day with the best that Hartford had to offer. Jess and Heather had been busy filling their time as they waited for my arrival by frequenting nearby museums where they would enter and chat it up with old men who claimed to be besties with Igor Sikorsky...you know? The guy who invented the helicopter?? Don't worry, I'd never heard of him either. Jess and Heather never made it very far into the museums however, because they weren't willing to pay money for a chance to view an assortment of old radios at the "Vintage Radio and Communications Museum" that Jess claimed looked like they had been dumped off by an old man who had cleaned out his attic.  I had never been to Connecticut so I was chomping at the bit to learn more about the local history of the area. The biggest surprise came when one of Jess’s coworkers informed us that Hartford was the home of Mark Twain and that we could take a tour of his old bachelor pad! This was news to Jess but I wasn’t that surprised, seeing as she only frequents places that have the word Cupcake, Whole Foods, and American Girl plastered on the outside of the building.  As fast as you could say Samuel Clemens, we were all piled into her car with Justin Bieber's smash hit "Boyfriend" cranked up full blast and on our way to see to see the crown jewel of Hartford tourism.  We were only a mile down the road when I happened to glance out the window to my right only to see an old tattered, white, picket fence. At that moment the wheels started turnin, the light bulb turned on and over the sound of Bieber's angelic voice I screamed “Do you think this is the fence that Tom Finn painted in the book!??!?!!” Jess and Heather of course shook their heads and rolled their eyes and set the record straight that Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn were two separate fictional characters. Turns out in the heat of exciting discoveries I become borderline dyslexic. Same thing happened in LA when I saw Matthew Fox but instead yelled, "Look, it's Matthew Broderick!!"

After setting the record straight on Tom Finn, we made it up to Mark’s home only to find the tours had ended for the day. However, we did get to look around the outside of the house which was pretty amazing and I was quickly regretting my decision not to pack my white pant suit and Great Illustrated Classic copy of Tom Sawyer. Mark spared no expense on his lavish dwelling place but it wasn’t at all what I had imagined the home of Twain to look like. For one thing, I had always imaged there would be huge white pillars and assumed it was somewhere in the deep south. It was pretty cool just hanging out on his front porch where he most likely spent many a night puffing on cigars and thinking up memorable quotes that people like me would eat up and somehow work into every school research paper imaginable. Harford was just full of historical surprises and one being that Harriet Beecher Stowe was Mark’s next door neighbor. Pretty sure their neighborhood book club would have blown Oprah's out of the water!  I can’t say I’ve read a single word of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, however I am a big fan of the creative interpretation of the story in Roger’s and Hammerstein’s “The King and I”. Big fan. Huge. Even in spite of the fact that the Simon character gave me nightmares as a small child.

The next day began the part of the trip I was looking the most forward to…..the journey to New York City. I had only been once and it was on a family vacation in 2004 so I was excited to experience the city as a young adult. After a two and a half hour bus ride and a hard lesson learned regarding the importance of sitting down when attempting to pee on a bus, we arrived at what a fellow passenger called "the heart beat of America".  Our first stop was Washington Union Square where were we going to start a guided walking tour. We got there with time to spare so the three of us decided to go hunt down some grub. We had just left the park when Heather mentioned that the area looked a lot like the neighborhood where the TV show "Will and Grace" was set. Literally within 5 seconds of her saying this I am looking ahead and notice two men walking towards us and one of them bears a striking resemblance to Eric McCormack who played Will on the show. Serendipity!!!  Before you know it, we were walking right past Eric McCormick and I am freaking the frick out and kicking myself for not having my my iphone out so that i could Instagram the crap out of this moment in time. So while I'm  envisioning what sort of filter I would have used for my first celebrity sighting (Nashville and Toaster are my go-to's) I am assuming Jess and Heather are making the same discovery. Turns out they were not. Turns out Katniss could have been riding by on a chariot with her dress on fire without them noticing. All I can say is that it’s a good thing I was there. Once Eric and his friend had passed by I grabbed Heather and Jess and asked them if they saw Will (who by the way is incredibly handsome in real life and had quite the tan going…..oh, and I really want his jacket). As usual, no one believed me although just to be safe Jess took off sprinting (one would have thought Bon Jovi had been sighted) back towards the park where she did indeed verify my claim. We were pretty tempted to follow him and ask him if he knew where Debra Messing was filming SMASH but turns out Eric McCormack  is quite the speed walker and we decided it was better to save our strength for the walking tour.

Soon after grabbing a quick lunch, we met our tour guide under the Washington Arch. From first glance I had concerns. For one thing, we were the only people there for the tour, which is never a good sign. Secondly, our tour guide, Dennis, probably hadn’t showered in a few days.  Thirdly, he had a badge that looked like it had been made in Microsoft Paint. And lastly, it was a three hour tour...a three hour tour...anybody else seen Gilligan's Island? Yeah, didn't work out so well for them, did it!? All my worries were in vain because he turned out to be a hilarious and quite full of fun new york facts. The tour took us through the historical highlights and beautiful old homes of Greenwich Village which included:

  • The oldest tree in New York, which was used as a hangman’s tree back in the day.
  • The Triangle Building...which was a bit of a downer.
  •  The “Friends” home ( Jess was beside herself).
  • The apartment Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR lived in after the presidency because it was wheel chair accessible (fun fact: the ghost of her dog allegedly lives across the street where there used to be a dog run in the park…all dogs don’t go to heaven?
  • The restaurant where a young Norah Jones worked before getting her big break.
  • The hotel where the Mama’s and the Papa’s stayed when they wrote "California Dreamin"
  • The home of Washington Irving, Jr. who is best known for writing “Sleepy Hollow”
  • Bob Dylan’s old apartment the street where he shot the famous cover for "The Freewheelin Bob Dylan…Dennis felt it was necessary for Jess and I to recreate the famous album cover and I must say the resemblance is uncanny.

Our remaining 24 hours in the city went by like a true New York minute and we did our best to make the best of it. My dear friend Lyndsay from AmeriCorps met up with us and took us on a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was going down which gave us some gorgeous views of the city. By this point in the day our feet felt like they were about to fall off but when you only make it to NYC once every 8 years you gotta keep on keepin on. After that my other friend from AmeriCorps, Janine, met up with us as we took in some Brooklyn and NYC nightlife. We had a very "Sex and the City" moment where we got into a bar based solely on the fact that Lyndsay knew the bartender. Yeah. We were sooo Carrie Bradshaw. Although, word to the weary and thirsty traveler...the price tag to my Long Island Iced Tea could have paid off this months electricity bill. Ah well. When in Rome!

For the short amount of time we had I feel like we took a fairly decent sized bite out of the Big Apple. Out of it all, what probably was the highlight of the trip for me was getting to see a Broadway show. Must be the choir nerd inside of me. We had decided to do the thing where you buy tickets the day of the show and Heather was pulling hard for Newsies but I had seen Christian Bales weak attempts at singing/dancing/jersey accents a few too many times so I was in no hurry to see the Broadway version. Luckily for me, the tickets for Newsies ended up being way out of my price range so we went with How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, starring the one and only Nick Jonas. We barely made it to the show before the curtian rose because Jess and Heather had somehow found the All American Girls store near Times Square and thus I was stuck on bench watching our luggage and making small talk with dads while they ran around reliving their childhood. Heather and I were out of breath and sweating once we finally entered the theatre and to our surprise the usher guided us to the first row of the theatre. Not too shabby! Pretty soon the lights went down and Nick Jonas sweat was dripping onto Heather and I as he climbed up a rope dressed as a window washer. It was rather ironic moment because Heather and I had paid good money ($15 bones) to see "The Jonas Brothers 3-D Concert" but this was the real deal!  I. WAS. IN. HEAVEN. The show turned out to be amazing and although I had my doubts about Nick’s acting chops  (let’s be real, he wasn’t about to win an Emmy for his work on the Disney Channel series "Jonas") he did a really great job and the cast had a lot of well known actors which was really cool....Jeff Bridges brother, Michael Urie from Ugly Betty, and Tammy Blanchard who played the young Judy Garland in the movie “Me and My Shadows”. I went into the show not really knowing much about it so it was great to have little expectations. The music was great.  The dancing made me want to enroll in Julliard. The costumes looked like something out of Mad Men (so hot these days). Michael Urie was HILARIOUS. And Rose Hemingway, who played Rosemary,was the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. After the show Heather and I waited backstage along with all the the other teenage girls and their mothers for a glimpse of Joe but despite the loud and incessant screams whenever the door opened he never showed. That's show business for ya. 

P.S. I just want to say thanks so much to Lyndsay, Stephon, and Janine for meeting up with me during my trip. It meant so much to see you guys after long two years! And Jess and Heather - thank you for never failing to fill my days with surprise and delight :)