Monday, March 4, 2013

NYC: day 1-2 or sleep no more

Hello patient P&Q fans!

It's been a while. My brain has been lazily enjoying the break and the opportunity to rest and read and do what it pleases. As you could guess, New York City was heaven. The people, the sights, the food, the activities... I never wanted to leave. I have recently decided that I just want to be on a traveling vacation for the rest of my life. That's reasonable.

As you can also guess, I took a million photos and have many a story to tell. It's all too good to summarize so I'm going to take you through it day by day. Day by day... by day.

Day 1:
The long trek to NYC. Take a look at my artfully packed travel backpack. That's six days worth of luggage, ya'll. It's all in the art of layering. And the art of wearing the same pair of jeans several times.

Flying into the city was a beautiful experience. Buildings-- everywhere-- stacked right up next to each other! It was like a little board game of tetris skyscrapers. My mouth was agape trying to take in all of the little city details. And the Statue of Liberty-- so teensy yet welcoming. From these moments alone I was quite taken with New York. City love at first sight. I'll never forget it.

After landing at LaGuardia, I was in charge of navigating myself through the city. Rachel had to work late so I tried to figure it out... to no avail. I was completely panicked. I have a terrible sense of direction and am quite famously known for getting lost in simple Tucson shopping malls or the like. 'Luckily' I met a guy on my flight who was a NYC native. Long story short he gave me the worst directions imaginable and I got ├╝ber lost on the subway. I did, however, get to enjoy several subway performers, which seemed like a fair trade. 

I finally found my way out after about an hour of confusion. I wandered out of the warm depths of the subway into the chilly February night air... and saw this. Like a shining beacon!

Bienvenidos, Jenny!
You might not know where you are right now, but at least you know you're in the right city.
Good start.

I met up with Rachel and a big group of her work friends celebrating their Thursday night the right way-- with drink specials. I grabbed a much-needed beer and chatted with her lovely group of friends. We went to leave, grabbed my luggage, walked out the door and stumbled directly into a one Mr. Tommy B. One of my dear friends from childhood and life in general.

Apparently Rachel and Tommy work at the same company, just a couple floors apart, and had no idea we knew the other. What! It was hilarious seeing Tommy, even for the couple of minutes we did. Universe, you crazy.

Rachel and I had delicious late night pasta near her apartment in Harlem before calling it a night. We had a big day week ahead of us!

Day 2:

Rachel and I started our Friday at the New York Stock Exchange! My dearest and most favorite brother Jason called up one of the brokers he works with and arranged the meet. We got there at 8am on the dot-- bright eyed and bushy tailed with absolutely no expectations.

This is Bill. Bill has worked for the NYSE for 49 years. It was the first and only job he's ever had. He was so excited to have guests and we were so lucky to have him as our host. He is one of the kindest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet. 

I took a sneaky picture...
We got there early so Bill treated Rachel and I to the most delicious bagel I have ever had and fresh orange juice. He guided us through the building, pointing out pictures of presidents and celebrities who had come over the years to ring the bell and explaining the inner workings of the stock exchange. We met many different people, mostly men, who looked at Rachel and I like they had never seen a woman before. (Bill pointed out only two women currently working on the floor. Wow). Bill spoke illustriously about the architecture and explained the various lines on the floor. He was incredibly animated talking about the Exchange in its heyday. After the surge of computers and technology most of the brokers lost their jobs. Bill was one of the lucky few who didn't. He talked about the 'old days' with a sad yet inspired tone... wistfully staring off and painting a vivid picture for us. The high stakes, running from place to place, the crumpled up papers littering the busy floor, the first woman broker who made so many men uncomfortable, where he was during 9/11 and how it affected their work. The NYSE has a very rich history and Bill was the best person to hear it from.

In 1967 Abbie Hoffman led a group of activists to the upper viewing part of the Exchange floor, where they proceeded to throw fake money down below towards the brokers in an act of protest. After recognizing that anything could in fact be thrown down onto the floor, bulletproof glass partitions were put up by the windows. Tourists could see but not physically interact with the going-ons below. They have been taken down since then and the NYSE is now only open for private guests and meetings.

This is how it used to look, thanks Ferris Bueller.

When Cameron was in Egypt's land... let my... Cameron.... go.

We also got to see them filming live-- MSNBC and special NYSE clips for the Today Show, etc.


Ringing the bell! My mother told all of her work friends that I rang the bell. Because I sent her this picture and said "dingdingding!". In mother language that apparently translates to "I was the one who rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Be proud, mama." 
Yeah, no. I ain't Ellen DeGeneres or Carrie Bradshaw. Yet.

What an experience! We were so lucky and so grateful to Bill (and my brother) for giving us the opportunity.  We said our goodbyes and endless thank yous to dear Bill and headed out to seize the rest of our day. First stop: more food. We headed right to Once Upon a Tart... and dug in.

Now for more pictures...

My favorite photo of the week.

Chelsea Market. Good thing I was already full of food at this point... this place was deliciously tempting.

Attack of the giant Kate Spade models!!
Of course I had to stop and take my fancy purse to it's mother ship in New York City. Rachel and I were treated very fancily because of my previous full-price purse purchase. I felt very purse-important.

Carrie Bradshaw's apartment. I took about eight photos of me on these steps but they all came out rather creepy.  Yes, apartment by itself is much better. Such a magical street!

Magnolia bakery for some cupcakes! Yum!
Cakes and handpainted sprinkles. I was in heaven.

After shopping and wandering through the city for hours, Rachel and I stopped in to Hill Country BBQ, appropriately located in the Meatpacking District for dinner!

...I felt like I was eating at the Texas T-Bone in Tucson. That's a really dated reference and I don't care who knows it.

You go up and order how much meat you want by the 1/4 pound. My Los Angeles meat-eating eyes were a little bigger than my stomach. I had ribs, grilled chicken, and some of Rachel's brisket. Woof. 
Mac n cheese and cornbread were non-negotiable.

Yum! We had fancy tea and gin cocktails for good NYC measure.

After dinner Rachel and I wandered around the city-- walking off the piles of BBQ goodness in our bellies and waiting for our show to start...

One of my favorite photos-- Rachel and I with some street art.

Now. This show. 

This show is appropriately titled Sleep No More. If I wasn't exhausted from my long day of adventuring and walking thousands of miles, I wouldn't be surprised if I was unable to sleep at all. This show was perhaps one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life. By the end of it I was shaky and sweaty and teary. And I'm obsessed with it.

Let me explain as best I can. It's something you have to experience so I certainly don't want to spoil it for you. So I'll share the details that will leave it spoil-free.

Sleep No More is immersive theatre-- that means you are surrounded by the actors in an interactive and extremely dynamic experience. It takes place in a large four-story building, decorated to look like a 1930s hotel named the McKittrick. (Think Tower of Terror). The story: Macbeth. Comforting? No. This makes it all the more frightening -- for the simple reason that you are probably familiar with the story. Imagine being immersed into that world of backstabbing and murder and lies and insanity. (Shiver).

Everyone in the 'audience' wears these masks:

...I surrounded it by cats so you wouldn't be too scared. It's scary, no??
(Also I'm in love with the Cat Effects app)

There is no talking, no touching (resist Arrested Development reference...), and lots of nakedness. Lots. I was not given a heads up about the naked factor. My first reaction was to turn away or point out to the various actor that indeed, their nipple or the like had made an escape. That was until the nakedness was quite unavoidably obvious and I realized it was a realistic and artistic choice. For minutes on end. ...To look away or not look away? The masks allowed us all to be cheeky bum-lookers in the privacy of our own faces. I'll take it.

This was also a very physical show-- for the actors and us. The show takes place on different floors in rooms of the McKittrick. Characters only come together for banquet scenes or the like, meaning that you are in charge of what characters you see and where you go. Some people choose to follow just one character throughout the length of the 'show' or you can follow various people as you go. My plan was usually to follow whatever character was running as fast as they could up flights of stairs/ if I knew Macbeth was about to seriously murder someone/ if he needed a bath. Makes sense.

Ah! Freaky. Check out the masks in the back. And the blood!

That's it, I have to stop-- even though I could talk about it forever. You have to go see it. It's amazing.

We got out of the show at 3:00am. Everyone and their mom was still awake, cruising around the city like it was the middle of the day. What?! I'm hard-pressed to find an open anything at that hour in LA. Yes, NYC. Bravo. Rachel and I got onto the busy subway home and slept. Somehow.

More tomorrow!

It's good to be back.



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