My Google Map for NYC
This will definitely not be my most beautiful post; there are a lot of iPhone/Snapchat photos because it was easier, and, let’s be honest, there aren’t a ton of strikingly beautiful things to photograph in NYC, so my iPhone did just fine documenting my food (which is the vast majority of what I photographed).
FYI Ben was in Israel and Belgium for a work trip prior to this, so he didn’t meet up with me (on his way back from Belgium) until mid-Day 3.
I took a red-eye flight from SLC to JFK (barely slept) and took the subway into Manhattan, arriving at my friend Maura’s apartment on the UWS at a brisk 6:30 a.m. She was so nice to meet me in the dark of night, and I just crashed on her couch. She and her roommates got ready and left, and there was crazy-loud construction right outside their apartment, but I barely stirred because I was so exhausted.
I finally rolled off the couch around 9:30 a.m. and decided to go take a ballet class at Steps since it was fairly close to the apartment. I ran into one of my friends from the Cincinnati Ballet summer intensive (circa 2005?), so it was fun to take class with her again some 10-ish years later. I then made my first of many stops at Levain Bakery, grabbed a walnut choc-chip cookie, and sat in Central Park and people-watched.
Wendy Whelan at the Guggenheim
I wandered around the Met for a while after that, and then my friend Garrett called. Garrett was also in the city, working for a few weeks as a choreographer at New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute. As a choreographer there, they gave him tickets to lots of different shows, so he called and asked if I wanted to go with him to see Wendy Whelan and Jack Soto in a show at the Guggenheim Museum that night.
“Yeaaaaaaah I do! Anything with Wendy Whelan will be beautiful!” I thought. Oh, how naïve we were . . .
This performance, called Hagoromo, was part of the Guggenheim’s “Works and Process” series, so they were showing the early phases of a new theatrical/dance work and then having a discussion with some of the creators between each act/number.
Listen. I am a contemporary dancer. I have friends who write contemporary operas. I am open-minded when it comes to art and am very accustomed to and comfortable with “weird.”
This was WEIRRRRRRRRRRD.
I won’t go into all the details of the story, mostly since I can’t remember any sort of storyline anyway, but there were two operatic vocalists, puppetry, musicians making crazy noises with their instruments and own vocal chords (I kid you not, one of the flutists during one the numbers was making the weirdest gasping/orgasmic noises into her mic between phrases), and the “dancing” was just walking patterns. I was so sad that all I got to see beautiful, beautiful Wendy Whelan do was walk around on the stage. I think there was maybe one small lift in the whole performance.
Anyway, Garrett and I were trying to suppress laughter throughout the whole second number, and we couldn’t wait to get out of there so we could talk about what we just witnessed. We walked to Pio Pio on 1st Avenue and got some yummy Peruvian food.
The next day started out pretty chill. I was trying to decide what show to go see that night and eventually decided on The King and I. I went to the Lincoln Center to talk to them about some sort of discount I had read about if I remember correctly? I talked to a really friendly guy in the office for a while, but I think he said my best option was to do rush tickets a bit before the show.
I got some Magnolia Bakery banana bread pudding and people-watched at Lincoln Center—one of my fave locations because of the Julliard/SAB students roaming about + other performance artists. I remember talking to my friend Arianna on the phone for a long time there, too.
I then met my friend Brock at his office in Midtown and we got lunch at a restaurant a block over. It was fun to catch up and hear about his job/life in Midtown. I then popped into St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a few stores along 5th Avenue while I was in the area.
I decided to try my luck at the Hamilton lottery. I got in line, and a few minutes later, a girl approached me and asked if I was entering the lottery by myself, and would I want to partner with her to double our chances of winning?
“Sure?” I said, not fully understanding the advantage of that tactic. But she told me her name, and I told her mine so we would know that if either of our names was called, we had won.
There were probably 500–600 people that entered the lottery. There was no Ham4Ham performance for the lottery entrants that day, but it was fun listening to the groups of people get excited and talk about how many times they’d come and entered so far (some as many as 20+ times already).
They pulled all the names for the lottery (which is on the front row and requires $10 cash for the ticket), and no luck. They then announced that they had X amount of standing-room-only tickets for that night’s show, which cost $40 each and had slightly obstructed views. They pulled a few names until there were two tickets left. The last name they called? “Isabella.” I looked at the girl who was jumping up and down and suddenly realized it was my friend! They asked if she wanted one ticket or two, and she said two, so I was THE LAST PERSON TO GET A TICKET TO THAT NIGHT’S SHOW.
I had some time to kill after I got my ticket, so I grabbed some food and made sure my phone was charged. I got to the theater (which was smaller than I’d expected. Never had seen a show at the Richard Rodgers before) and went to my assigned standing location (at the back of the main floor), where I stood next to Isabelle on one side, and the brother of one of the cast members (who was going on for Samuel Seabury that night) on the other. There were two open seats right in front of us in the very back row, so cast member’s brother went and sat down during the first number, and I followed him after about the second number.
The performance was so fun. There was so much energy in the theater, especially since this show was Lin-Manuel’s first night back after being out sick for a week+. Everybody cheered at his first line/appearance in the opening number, when he says “Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton.” The staging, choreography, direction, and performances were brilliant. I was also surprised by how attractive I found Lin-Manuel?? There are some people whose hotness is completely heightened by watching them perform, and that was definitely the case for Lin-Manuel as Hamilton.
The next day was a rainy one; I met Garrett and his friend Becca for breakfast at a GREAT place I randomly found on Yelp or TripAdvisor called Cafe Luxembourg (which, I later found out, has the same chef as Balthazar). Had yummy broiled grapefruit and this super yummy sourdough toast topped with sautéed mushrooms, poached egg, and Broadbent ham.
I stopped over at Strand Bookstore near Union Square for a bit, where I browsed and bought some socks for Ben, then got a soup at Num Pang Sandwich Shop.
I then went and saw a matinee of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I’d had the book for several years and finally read it about 6 months before seeing the show. The book is so, so beautiful and heartbreaking, and the play had just won practically every Tony, so I made it a priority to see the show while I was there.
The play exceeded all of my expectations and was one of the best stagings I’d ever seen. The choreography and direction were brilliant, and the acting was incredible. It had been a long time since I’d seen a straight-up play, without music, and I’d forgotten how powerful plays can be. I was so immersed in the story and the acting, and I was just sitting there by myself, silently sobbing throughout the second act. Hamilton was a blast and brilliant in its own way, but honestly (and I know I will be ostracized for saying this), I would choose to see this show live over Hamilton. HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND to anyone seeing shows in NYC or London.
Ben was making his way from the airport into the city (via some horrible shuttle that took forever), and we met up at Maura’s apartment, where I grabbed all of my stuff and said bye to my lil’ home for the past few days.
We were starving, so we took the subway down to Greenwich Village and got pizza at two different places: Joe’s Pizza (we split a huge cheese slice for $2.75 to tide us over) and then John’s of Bleecker St., which was about a block away from Joe’s. Both were amazing, especially since we were so hungry.
Then we made our way to Queens, where we were staying with our friends Madye and Dustin. They have the cutest studio apartment and were so nice to let us sleep on an air mattress and take up 80% of their floor space.
On Thursday, we headed south and got bagels at Black Seed Bagels inside Brookfield Place (shopping center in Battery Park City). Ben also got an Umami burger and made the mistake of ordering it rare. Apparently “rare” means “raw” at Umami burger, so he didn’t finish that one.
Then we took the Staten Island ferry for a little joy ride:
Next was the 9/11 museum, which was fascinating and devastating. The last part of the museum, where they show/explain the series of events in chronological order, was so well done. It was so interesting to see how everything unfolded from the perspectives of different people, e.g., news stations, civilians, workers, the president, etc.
I think the most heartbreaking part was listening to the voicemail recordings of passengers on the planes. At the end, you could also listen to voicemails left on the phones of victims—family, friends, and even distant acquaintances calling to see if they were okay.
Next, we stopped in the Chelsea Market and shared a few small bites—some tacos from Los Tacos No. 1 and a sandwich from Num Pang—before walking along the Highline.
We finished the night with our first-ever Shake Shack experience. We split a meal, and it was good, but not that much different from In-N-Out, IMHO. Maybe we weren’t quite hungry enough to fully appreciate it.
Breakfast the next day was at Ruby’s Cafe in SoHo (HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and a croissant at Balthazar Bakery.
When we were planning our trip, Ben told me that the only thing he wanted to do while we were there was go see the Seinfeld restaurant, so to Seinfeld restaurant we went.
Next, it was time to head to 30 Rock for Jimmy! I’d had our tickets for over a month and a half, and it was a miracle we got them. It’s quite the ordeal to get tickets, but we lucked out with the help of an acquaintance/friend who lives in the city and had been to Jimmy before.
We had to get there about 1–2 hours before filming started and then stood in a line upstairs for about 20 mins (from this point on, you weren’t allowed to even have your phone visible or they would kick you out, so no photos of this whole process). After you handed them your tickets, they would give you a quick glance and then give you another ticket with letters and numbers. If I remember right, ours had letters first, which someone told us was a good thing. We then sat for about 45 mins in another waiting room with photos and videos of some of the guests on the show. Someone came and took our photo and then emailed it to us so you’d have something official to remember/prove you were there ha:
Then all the people with letter-first tickets (us) lined up and took the elevator up to the studio in small groups. Then we waited outside the studio for another 15 or so mins (they REALLY wanna build the anticipation). At the doors of the studio, the head honcho “casting director” I’ll call him looks at us and tells us where to sit.
The studio is so fun! They just play funny clips from the show and get you pumped. They also have a warm-up act to get the crowd ready for Jimmy. It was fun to see all the people involved behind the scenes (and in front of the camera, like Higgins and The Roots). The Roots were SO fun live! By the time the opening credits started playing, all the cheers that came from me were authentic, and when Jimmy came out I remember I LIT-rally could not help myself from screaming my face off. It was so fun to see him live! I didn’t realize how tall he is.
The guests that night were Dana Carvey and Demi Lovato. Dana was hilarious, and Demi was great live. She did have to tape her performance (she sang “Confident”) three times, though. I’m convinced the second time was because she made a too-blantly-sexual dance move the first time around (this is a FAMILY SHOW, Demi!!!!!), because she didn’t do it in the next two recordings. They said they had to do it a third time because of some technical/lighting issues, but I think it was because she wasn’t happy with her belty high note. It was funny to see her entourage of friends there all with matching jackets (Demi gave one to Jimmy during the show) talk with her and help her out when they weren’t rolling—same with her vocal coach.
Then we met up with some of my oldest and dearest friends I grew up with in Minnesota, who all happened to be living out here at the time. So fun to see everyone and hear about their lives out here.
Saturday we started the day off at the Brooklyn Bridge, walking toward Manhattan.
An American in Paris
My friend Garrett and I had wanted to see An American In Paris while were there, because duh and Robbie Fairchild. Robbie is actually from Utah and Garrett knows him, so I convinced Garrett to send him a message letting him know he’s in town and that he wanted to see the show while he was here (at least to make sure Robbie would be in that night’s performance and let him know he’d come see him afterward). He messaged back and said he’d have two comps under his name that we could pick up at the theater! We were stooooked, and the seats were amazing—maybe ten or so rows back, just left of center.
The show was beautiful, but Robbie really made the show. He is seriously a star. I’d never seen him dance live before, and he was so captivating to watch. Every movement was effortless, smooth, and seamless. Leanne Cope was stunning to watch as well—she’s incredibly clean with superb technique but also a very beautiful mover. It’s definitely a dance show—the entire ensemble are or could be dancing with ballet companies—so I loved it.
We then went to the stage door and met Robbie in his dressing room. We sat and talked with him for a while, and you could tell that he was everyone else’s favorite in the show, too: people who were down to see other cast members or crew would stop by his dressing room just to gush about his performance.
It was interesting to hear him talk about how much more grueling this was compared to NYCB (as he dropped his legs into two massive buckets of ice water). Doing the same exact show (i.e., choreography) six days a week with no breaks is a lot different from rehearsing many, many different works and performing less frequently. I can’t imagine the strain of doing the same choreography, working the same, tired muscles, every single night.
On our last day, we went to church with Madye and Dustin (which I slept through almost entirely. Idk why I was so exhausted, but I could not stay awake), and then took them to brunch at Balthazar.
According to my friend and other locals, getting a table for Sunday brunch is near impossible, but we somehow lucked out and were able to get one within five minutes. Balthazar is also known for its abundance of celebrity sightings—none for us that day, though.
We went back to the apartment and finished cleaning and packing before getting one last meal of pizza on our way to the airport.
BYE NYC LYL.