NYC Trip Day 1: Potentially Lovely, Perpetually Human

Wow… I can hardly put into words how amazing this trip to NYC was (she says before writing two separate, lengthy blog posts.)

In early September, I found out that Regina Spektor was going on tour. Actually, she was already mid-tour, but I’m also slow on the uptake about these things. It happened that her show in New York City, on October 24th, was the one that was easiest for me to get to. I bought tickets- with my own money! Because I had no idea when the show would end, I knew I’d have to stay overnight- my first night alone in NYC, ever. I booked a hotel- with my own money! (Many people have pointed out that New York, like most cities around the world, has hostels. A little tip from me to you: some hotels, like the one I stayed in last night, are actually cheaper than the hostels and unlike the hostels, you don’t have to share a bathroom.) Then I found out that my favorite author, Libba Bray, was also on tour for her new book The Diviners and was doing a signing the day after the concert. So I nixed my plans to leave the city in the afternoon, extending my stay until 10:30 that night.

As epic as being there for the signing was most definitely going to be, it did make things slightly more complicated, since there are no parking garages that allow you to keep you car in the same spot for 48 hours, and the last train to where I could park my car (about half an hour outside of the city) left five minutes after the bus I booked arrived at the train station… and these buses often arrive late. So I sent out a plea disguised as a Facebook message, begging a few of my friends to consider driving into the city at 12:30 in the morning to pick me up and drive me to my car. One friend said she could do it, but on Tuesday, thought better of it because she was in rehearsal until eleven. So I texted my friend Beth (yes, the same one who tested me for the tour guiding job) asking her if she could do it, and she blessedly said yes. So I was set.

Then I added a little more awesome to the trip, as if seeing one of my favorite performers and my favorite author weren’t making the visit almost unbearably awesome: I asked two of my friends to meet up with me, on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. You must understand what a huge deal it was for me to do this. As an introvert that has an intense fear of rejection, I rarely invite anyone to do anything, in case they say no. But I really wanted to see both of my friends, so I mustered up the courage and asked. Both of them said yes.

So off I went Wednesday morning for NYC. It’s only the second time in about four or five years that I haven’t gotten up at five a.m., at the latest, to get there, and it was very nice to sleep in. I got to New York around 1:30 and went to my hotel, hoping they would allow me to check in an hour and a half early. They did. I will say here that my hotel room was not pretty. It was plain and sparse and outside my window was a roof containing a lot of garbage and a pair of sneakers, but it was clean, and there was the added glow of it having been paid for from my own pocket.  At 4:15, I left to go meet my friend Molly for dinner. We were meeting at 5:30, but I’m glad I left so early, as I had to figure out the subway system and walk a bit, and I got very lost.

Something you have to understand about me meeting up with Molly is that, to me, it’s almost the same as meeting up with, well… Libba Bray. Yes, Molly is my friend. But she’s also a writer I admire greatly, and because I knew her first as a writer of whom I was a fan, I sometimes forget that she is a regular person who, like, breathes and does things other than write amazing plays. It also doesn’t help that I haven’t seen her in person in over ten months, though we’ve e-mailed back and forth a good number of times since then and talked on the phone a time or two. So I was pathetically nervous as I waited for her outside the restaurant. But then she arrived and was somehow more normal and still way cooler than me. Eventually, though, I relaxed enough to talk to her friend to friend and we talked of many things, including writing and Annie and post-graduate life. She also asked me if I was planning on moving to New York, and gave me a few tips on how to do so. All in all, the dinner was awesome and the restaurant, a Mediterranean wine and cheese place, was cool and I was able to find something to eat on the menu, which was very good.  When our phones struck 7:30, we paid and left so that I could get to the concert on time. Of course, it turned out that I had the wrong address for the theatre; thankfully, Molly had the right one and I made it to the theatre on time.

The concert was… magical. That’s the only word for it. I’d never been to a concert before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t think Regina Spektor fans are mosh pit-ers, but I thought they might be people who sing along, which is equally annoying. (My sister and I debate this point all the time; she says that singing along at concerts is acceptable and expected. I say that I didn’t pay to hear you or myself sing.) But everyone stayed in their seats (well, mostly. The people in my row kept getting up to get drinks which then made them have to pee. I swear they missed half the concert) and no one sang along. The band Only Son, with whom Regina Spektor has collaborated on a song, opened and I enjoyed their music, particularly the song It’s a Boy.

After the intermission, during which I bought a t-shirt, it was finally time for the guest of honor. And holy crap, she was AMAZING. I didn’t cry because I was in her presence or anything, but I understood the impulse- it’s incredible to be in the same room with someone so talented. Her songwriting and vocal skills are a marvel, and I never wanted the concert to end. Since I’m a new fan, I thought she might play some of her earlier stuff that I’d never heard and I’d be a little lost, but I knew all of the songs she played. It seems strange to call a thirty-something woman “adorable,” but that’s really the perfect adjective, besides, of course, talented. She’s not very tall (5’2″, according to Google), with hair that makes me want to let mine go natural more often, and a very youthful speaking voice, though her singing voice is very mature. And she was so nice and humble- the first thing she said when she got onstage was “I feel extra at home and extra nervous.” She was very gracious to both her band and Only Son, saying before she performed with the latter, “I seriously head-banged through [your] whole set. With clips in my hair, which is why my hair probably looks funny right now. But it was worth it. Because fuck hair.” One thing that surprised me about the concert as a whole was how casual it was- both bands talked to the audience a lot and Regina (’cause, you know, we’re on a first name basis) started Dance Anthem of the 80s over again. Before she started Ballad of a Politician, Regina said, “I’m so pissed off that sanity is becoming a lost cause. It’s pretty obvious who wants to support women and artists and basically everyone  who is fucking cool.” (She swore a lot.) After she finished and said goodbye and we all gave her a standing ovation for so long that she came out and did four more songs, ending with Samson, which is one of my favorites. It was just an amazing, amazing show.

After the concert, I walked the thirty or so blocks back to my hotel; it was a nice night and I was jazzed from the concert. I was pretty exhausted, so I went to bed almost right after I got back. On Sunday, I will report on my second day (I work from tonight until forever :p)

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