Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Luckiest City of All

   Singers, actress and different types of role models have played such a big role in my life. There wasn't a day i could go by without knowing about their lives. In my point of view, I don't consider myself a fan girl, instead, i really love what they do by who they are and how they stay true to themselves, how they work hard and inspire others, which includes me. I appreciate them, themselves as a person, the personality and their talents and work as such having impacts on my life, as an inspiration. I would like to see them in person, to thank them and simply telling them how much love i have for them.

  As you can imagine, being in a city of actors and actresses means hundreds of opportunities to meet your favorites. As simple as waiting at the stage doors of every Broadway shows or if you were that lucky, (which never happened to me) bumping celebrities on the street. The thought i had was like: I can actually meet .... or ... for they are in town doing things or performing in a play. It was more like a matter of choice whether you would like see them or not. And yes, one time i chose to chill in Central park over meeting Carey Mulligan...You just have to go and wait. And then Voila, list checked.

  So when Ariana came to town, the very first time, in February of 2015, basically she sneaked into the city like a breeze of wind, You'll only know when she arrives at the apartment she's staying in when she talks about it. And that time i was also staying in the city in a hotel about 10 streets away from where she lives for 4 days. But that was also my very first time to stay late in the city, aka. first time seeing a dark New York which was scary enough and it was ice cold. I didn't want to risk the chance of catching a cold for the next day i had to audition for a panel of industry guests including casting directors, directors and agents. And that was also the night i found out she had met the fans under her apartment... No regret. Priority indeed.

 So when the tour started in March, i knew she would come again and stay in the apartment of her brother's, so i spent the day after i attended the tour and i guess several hours of the next 2 days waiting under her apartment, hoping to get a chance to have a more intimate meet and greet experience and take more pictures. It was all fun and game and excitement for the first 2 hours for you got to meet other fans as well and they were mostly very nice and there were some really funny moments we got to involve in.

   Like one time, the security guards asked us, which was always 10-20 people to wait behind the barricade they just carried out of nowhere. So we all stood in the middle of the street behind the barricade they put, And it was like a moment of Les Miserables. Funny enough, Les miserables was also playing several streets away...Also, when we were standing so interestingly on the street, usually people would walk by and look at us and sometime people would ask us what we were doing. Since most of us do not want to give away the information, some other fans would say: We're waiting for church camp. And there you go, people would just be like Ahhs and Ohhs and walked away.

 There was a girl i met during the wait. She had all her hair braided in a ponytail, a Starbucks coffee in her hand. She told me she had been there for 8 times and hasn't met her once. And how i wish she would eventually because that was a lot of time she sacrificed. How i wish we all could.

  So hours and hours and days and days went by, to pass the time, most of us would go to the Starbucks just next door or to the cafe on the other side of the street to get Wifi and some food. So one day when i was in the cafe, i ordered a cupcake and grabbed myself a seat facing the window facing the building. Just like a detective, spotting any sudden move of crowd. It almost felt like i was a cop in a movie, waiting for a suspect to appear, and when she appeared, I would drop anything i was eating and rushed out like it was a matter of life or death. And one day, a staff, a guy wearing glasses who looked like he was French or like a version of Ryan Gosling in his glasses came to me from behind and said, "Has she come out yet?"

   And the thought i had was : "Oh my goodness, he knows about everything and he remembers me." Because who would come here on consecutive days buying veggie pizzas and cupcakes and sit for hours and he could absolutely see me waiting across the street from the store. So i replied, "No, not yet. Just saw her brother and the crew. and the dogs..." And then I started to ask him if he had seen anyone. He then told me he had seen several stars from that building whose names i cannot recall now. Little did i know so many renowned people live in that building.

So days and days passed and i could not wait longer, or put it this way, she had left at last and decided not to do a garage meet and greet this time. (Or actually till now what i know is that she seemed like she had stop doing that) . Yet, i feel like this whole waiting game was a very special experience for you get to meet and chat with other people who are doing the same crazy thing with you and knowing a random cafe staff would come up to chitchat with you and helped you kill some time was amazing. It felt like i have known about more lives and the stories of them. Yes, the time i spent was a bit long, like 10+ hours overall, still, i think i got to experience something i never thought to experience. And hey, i have met Frankie and the crew and the dogs...

This city is lucky to be filled with so many passionate, friendly people who gets so much stories to tell and share.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What's truly feeding us

About a year ago, i became obsessed with supermarkets and grocery shopping. While actually buying things seems like a wallet emptying experience, walking through them is another thing. There is something exciting and calming whenever you see something new, something interesting and something you really love to eat.

  During my weekly grocery shopping experience in New York, i changed my route from Walmart/Target/Stop and Shop to Trader's Joe/Wholefoods and Target remained. There was a change due to a change in schedule and how i found Walmart and Target aren't cheap at all compared to how they have always  appeared to me. 

 Due to my hectic schedule, (but i really liked it). i had to shop on Mondays in the city or sometimes if i were free to go to the mall nearby on Saturday to Whole Foods to stack up all the fresh ingredients for probably every single meal of the week. And let's not forget about home necessities like toiletries and other boring stuff that consume lots of space in the shopping bag. 

  The supermarket i go to in the city is the Trader Joe's that fit just into my route of doing things in the city on Monday afternoons, Normally i would be there at around 5-ish and be ready to stack it up. One thing i really liked going there was basically about its price. There are no supermarkets offering a wide range of fresh ingredients with a cheaper price than Trader's Joe and its quality is also so good that is almost comparable to those of Whole Foods. And for one example, the 29 cents banana. I love bananas, i could be those people who eats banana everyday and still be bananas about it. So Trader Joe's basically is a money saver for i could save more than half of the money of the same stuff i buy when compared to that in Walmart or Target.

  The Trader Joe's i normally go to is the one that sit by the 72 st, Broadway overlooking a subway station which its entrance and exterior looks a lot like the facade of a little house of market or a church and at the back, just one street behind stood the grand and majestic building called the Ansonia (which i found out the name 6 months later) which almost made you feel like you have suddenly arrived on the middle of the streets in Paris because of its style of architecture that features some Parisian-like balconies at each window.

  As you can imagine, the journey of walking down to the supermarket was spectacular. But what's more impressive is the experience i had when shopping at Trader Joe's, right there at the cashiers.

  After filling in my trolley with cabbages, kale, apples, and yes, bananas and all other types of groceries and necessities, sometimes i would grab myself a pot of flower just to travel with 2 bags of grocery with a stalk of flower sticking out on my 2 hour train ride, which seems perfectly normal... I would line up with other fancy women to get to the cashiers. As 5 p.m is more like an off-work hour so sometimes people would just grab their trolley or basket and line up straight away to pick up food on their way to the cashier. I did not choose to do that, i just simply added on the step of grabbing more things during my queue to the cashier. 

Surrounded by the colorful walls of hand drawn painting featuring the drawings of the Upper West Side stood about 20 cashier stands. Each one positioned a staff, wearing the Hawaiian print staff shirt who would greet you with their greatest smile. It not only happened once, but at least three times that i love to go to that store because of the friendliness of the cashiers that i started to wonder if it was written in the staff rules.

  While i was laying the goods on the tiny little cashier table, one time, i remember how a female cashier just started a short but very good conversation. While the other supermarkets' staff usually finish off the whole buying process with phrases like ,"Hey, how are you", "That's _____ dollars", "Debit or Credit" "Have a nice day", the cashiers here were so different and made me feel like i had known them forever and could casually grab a drink with them afterwards. The female cashier began asking what i did just before i came here, asking where i study, what productions i had been in and in turn i asked her if she knew another language and visited another places in the world. That short moment alone really made my day because it turned something ordinary, like paying, into a close human interaction that made you feel like you are a part of the community, that people's experience are intertwining with each other and these kind of conversations made you learn about a new person and other things as well. Like you were reading a brand new story of a person. 
 Like i said, it not only happened once, it happened almost every time i go into the supermarket. Another time i remember is when a male cashier pointed at the corns in my trolley and he went : " Oh there are corns now?" I replied yes (because yes.. the store has it now?) And he went on saying how summer has come early and if they skipped spring. Just like that, i didn't know corns were in great supply in the summer but not winter until he spoke about that. Another lesson learn, checked. More than that, another small talk about which weather he and I like best also went on just at the cashier.

Just like that, I think its not about how beautiful one store is decorated, of course it can't be to shabby, and its a bonus if it's pretty...but the truthful human interaction and conversation you have with each other that can transform something ordinary into something more. Whether it was the rule of Trader Joe's that you have to strike up a marvelous conversation with each customer or it's just in them, i feel like these people are the food source of our souls and every week i would love to go there again to learn a different story, to meet these wonderful and nice people and to fill each other's soul with love and energy. 

(the last 2 photos above were taken from the web)