Thursday, October 23, 2014

We Own the Pennant-Giants NLCS 2014

Last week, for the potentially title-clenching game of the NLCS championship, I really wanted to go to the game.  I threw my Romo shirt into my bag and planned to monitor StubHub all day, hoping to find reasonable tickets.  Standing Room only was registering at $180 at the start of the day, and that just seemed like a bit much.

So the thought occurred to me to start a social experiment and tap into my network: Boxers.  I put out a container with the following sign:

Now this could have come off in one of two ways: 1) fun, or 2) deeply pathetic and embarrassing.  Fortunately, it was the former.  I steeled myself to be shameless, plugging my cause with laser focus.  The responses were amazing, and people who weren't going themselves for cost-prohibitive reasons gave money so I could go.  One Boxer sent out an email to the entire office nudging them to participate.  People even donated from afar, in other offices, over the internet-as much as $50.  It was incredible!

I twisted Angelica's arm about one degree and she immediately agreed to come with me, and pretty soon we had $220 SRO tickets.  And my office had paid for my entire ticket, and then some.  I raised over $350!

The energy at AT&T park was crazy.  We grabbed our beers and started seat-hopping around the bay side, posting up somewhere until we got kicked out by the rightful owners of the seats.  

Eventually, we found D'Arcy, another Boxer, who has season tickets right at the K's.  We spent most of the game playing musical chairs with the people in this area.  It was so fun!

It was a pretty quick game, and relatively close.  But by the 9th inning Ishikawa hit it out of the park for a walk-off win.  The crowd went crazy!

The whole day was a bit surreal, from the donations to the spontaneous ticket purchasing, to winning the pennant.  The next day at work, so many people said they were thinking of me being there while they were watching the game, and lived vicariously through me.  We all banned together, putting positive karma into the atmosphere, and the Giants won because of it.  I was certainly feeling the Box Love.  Thanks again to everyone who donated to the cause!

Now time to start a World Series jar...

Friday, October 17, 2014

The City that Never Sleeps

When they say that New York is the city that never sleeps-they mean it.  I used to think it was just because there was always something going on, some fraction of the population always awake, doing something cool-but no, I think the people there flat out don't sleep, ever.  They're like crazed fun-zombies, because there is just too much fun to be had to waste any time doing something as trivial as resting, ugh.

I had been planning a fall trip to NYC to visit Shawn ever since he moved out there earlier this year, and I was able to convince a few of my college girlfriends to come out and join us, too!  Amanda, Kristen, and Brittany were all there-and suddenly it turned into an amazing reunion weekend.  Google doesn't have enough memory space for me to tell you everything we did/saw/experienced over our long weekend there, but here are some highlights:

Straight from Italy: Grom gelato!  Plus I got to order in Italian.

First time we four had been reunited since graduation!
I finally understand what the heck "The Highline" is-an elevated park that weaves 
through the west "coast" of Manhattan on abandoned train tracks.  So cool.

Beauty & Essex-the delicious, speakeasy restaurant whose entrance is a pawn shop.
They had a lounge in the women's restroom where they gave free champagne.

Going out that night included pickle back shots, dancing to 90's hip hop for Rachael's birthday, creepers, 8-Mile style rap performances, pizza wars, and an underground cave.

That pizza was seriously the WORST.
They loved it.

Brooklyn Bagel.  Nom nom.
I have five words for you: kalamata olive feta cream cheese.

We went to see The Dance Cartel perform at the Ace Hotel.
It's kind of impossible to describe, but there were about a dozen dancers performing interactive, theatrical dances with a lot of high kicks and glitter makeup: everything from an interpretive "I'll Make Love to You" by Boyz II Men, to a ballet-choreographed "Turn Down For What", plus a live latin-reggae singer at one point, as well as a drumline.  Try to figure that one out.

This drunk guy.
He bought us a round of drinks, but also spilled them on us.

"Mom", me, and Amanda on the Staten Island Ferry.

Lady Liberty!

Chillin' in Brooklyn.

Amanda recommended Milon, a kitschy Indian restaurant covered top to bottom in light strands from every holiday, as well as ornaments and international flags.


Monday was Shawn and Kelly's Day of Fun! (Cue Janice voice from Friends)
I think the highlight of the day was going to the Met (Shawn kept us on a tight schedule so I only got to pick one wing), and the most beautiful view awaited us at the top.  Lounging on the grass up there, we joked we were in our own French Impressionist painting.

Awesome things I experienced over the weekend that are not pictured:
  • Seeing Chicago on Broadway
  • Shopping and lunch at the Chelsea Market
  • Ogling beautiful men, all of whom apparently live in New York
  • Strolling through Central Park, and witnessing part of the Columbus Day Parade
  • Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda", the soundtrack of our trip, playing for us everywhere we went
  • Brunching at Oprah-approved Sarabeth's, eating Macaroons from Laduree, pizza and pasta at Eataly (this was all in one day)
  • Drinks on the roof of the Standard Hotel (there's a hot tub in the bar!)
  • Visiting the 9/11 Memorial at night-I can't imagine anything that could've been created that would have been more beautiful and appropriate than the massive, plunging, glittering double waterfalls they selected.  There's this somber weight that hits you as you walk up, and tears welled in my eyes immediately.  It was a beautiful experience.

I don't think it will take me another ten years to get back to New York this time around-I loved it!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sam Smith Flyaway Sweepstakes

There comes a day in every woman's life when she wins a sweepstakes.

Well, maybe not.  But if only that were true!  By some grand stroke of luck, a couple weeks ago Dorian from Amazon called me to tell me of my win, and obviously I thought it was a joke, or a scam, or a dream.  Turns out Dorian was for real.  I won Amazon and Capitol Record's Sam Smith Flyaway Sweepstakes, meaning I was going to be flown to LA, put up in a fancy hotel, and not only go to Sam Smith's concert, but meet him!  I was at work when I found out so I ran into the storage closet to do a happy dance and squeal the news through the phone to Brittany, who was going to get to come with me.

Suddenly I felt like celebrity by proxy.  Everyone was so excited for (albeit jealous of) me.  Half a dozen people commented, "I've never even met someone who's won a sweepstakes!"  I didn't know people actually won these things either.  I can now attest that they do.

The whole thing happened because the radio in my 2000 Camry crapped out.  I was on Amazon to kick it throw back and buy my favorite CD of the moment: Sam Smith's In The Lonely Hour.  I ended up entering this sweepstakes instead because I was so upset that the Oakland show's tickets were sold out and scalping for 6x the original price.  Needless to say, I don't really mind that the radio doesn't work in my car anymore.

On October 29th, Brittany and I took off on our AA flight, waved goodbye to SF, and promptly landed in LA to be met by our driver, who was standing at baggage claim with a luggage cart and a sign with my name on it.  We climbed into his spanking-new Escalade (no big deal) and headed to the W Hollywood (again, totally the norm for us) where we picked up our fourth-row concert tickets (always have those).

Ian and his girlfriend Kelsey met us at the hotel and we headed to a nearby gastro-pub for dinner and beer.  Always so nice to see them and catch up!

The next day was Tuesday Poolsday, where we enjoyed cocktails, people watching, a couple dips in the pool, and generally just not being at work.  The Hollywood Hills were right on the other side of our hotel!  Before the trip, I kept saying to Britt, "I'm so excited to go to LA!"  People hadn't really heard me say that before.  I think my conceptions have changed thanks to this trip and I'm starting to see the value in that place.

Soon enough it was time to start primping.  We got our hairs did and our makeup as well.  Then a high school senior photo shoot ensued.

We were running out of time before our driver was going to pick us up for the show, so we stopped on the way back to the hotel at Sadie's, a delicious, stylish, art-deco restaurant near Hollywood and Highland, before even going home to change.

Later, after the costume change, our driver sped us over to The Greek, and we couldn't believe how close our seats were to the stage!

When Sam walked out, I think I had chills just in anticipation for his voice.  He has such poise, and is incredibly mature and calm in the face of thousands of screaming fans for being a 22-year-old whose career has skyrocketed practically overnight.  He never faltered, and his show didn't disappoint-in fact, he exceeded my highest of expectations.  So soulful a tone, with an incredible range.  He's like the male Adele, with just a dash of Justin Timberlake in his upbeat moments, and I wish he would serenade me every night.

He opened with "Nirvana" and then performed most of his debut album, on which there is not a single bad song.  There's not even a maybe-I'll-skip-this-one song or a that's-a-good-one-but-it's-not-my-favorite song: they're all fantastic and mostly heart-wrenching, so it's as if you don't even mind that you feel like weeping.  

"Like I Can"

He told us about how "Lay Me Down" was the song that caused Disclosure to discover him on YouTube and feature him in their song "Latch" which really launched him into the limelight. 

He left the stage to a wild standing ovation, which brought him back for a (planned, of course) three-song encore including "Latch" and finally "Stay With Me".  I was so sad to see him leave the stage, but of course, for us, this wasn't the end of the evening!

"Stay With Me"

We had been given the direction to go to Stage Right and find Matt Shelton, whose name will forever be engrained in my memory.  There was a huge crowd of groupies trying to get in, and no one from the venue knew Matt Shelton.  We didn't have a special pass or anything, so we simply had to find him.  We ended up trying Stage Left, where the guitarist was talking to a couple other girls and we were able to sneak in the door.  And low and behold, there was Sam just a few yards in.  So even after the whole sweepstakes win and the fact that we were supposed to be there, we ended up having to sneak backstage.  Which really is even more badass.

We stood around awkwardly for awhile, thinking that we 1) must track down Matt Shelton, and 2) had to manage to get a picture with Sam.  A couple other stars were hanging around with him, including Nicole Scherzinger and Dianna Agron, the latter of whom was in Sam's most recent video,  "I'm Not The Only One".  We kept asking around for Matt Shelton, and at one point the security guard, totally deadpan, said, "You've been standing next to him for the last five minutes."  At that point I began to assume Matt Shelton was a ghost and we moved on to Sam.  We got our couple of quick shots, and the only comment I squeezed in to him was that I can't wait for him to make a duet with Adele.  

We finally tracked down Matt Shelton, who had apparently been looking high and low for us, getting multiple people claiming, "I'm Kelly!" at Stage Right.  He gave us VIP bracelets and we hung out at this little side bar at the venue before heading home in our Escalade.

The whole star treatment after the show was exciting, but a bit rushed and awkward, as I assume these things often are.  The highlight of the whole trip for me remains the spectacular show, which was the whole reason I entered in the first place. Oh, and the Escalades.

Big thanks to Dorian and everyone at Amazon, as well as Matt, Rebecca and everyone else at Capitol Records for this opportunity!

Landing back at SFO, there was no one waiting with my name at baggage claim, and we didn't have a chauffeured car.  I'm telling you, the real world is harsh.