Two Broadway Babies Meet Harry Potter

 

About a month ago Imali called me at 9am to ask if I wanted to go see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Broadway. Ever since the play touched down in New York it’s been sold out. If we wanted to spend 10 hours watching the “Harry Potter” legacy continue we needed to act fast!

Needless to say I gave her all my savings and we bought tickets for a Wednesday afternoon in May. My boss jokingly told me last month I should take more vacations and who am I to argue when Harry Potter could potentially be in my future?

Now I knew very little about this play beforehand. When the book first came out I was so psyched to read it but then life — and 115 other books — got in the way and I told myself I’d pick it up in paperback one the moment was right.

For a bit of background this play is actually two plays broken up into a part one and two. Because we went on Wednesday, both parts were on the same day with one starting at 2:00pm and the other at 7:30pm. By the time we finished the last show we had been absorbed in the world of Harry Potter for nine hours — with an hour ramen break in between.

The play begins 22 years after we last saw Harry Potter. Now he’s a father and his middle son, Albus Severus Potter, is heading into his first year at Hogwarts where, following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Albus doesn’t quite fit. But, befriending Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpious on the train, the two set out to write their own story and make a little change in the world their father’s feud helped define.

I won’t reveal any more because it wouldn’t do the play justice. Plus I promised the ushers I would keep the secret, they even gave me a button that says exactly that. But I am not exaggerating when I say this play was the most incredible experience of my entire life.

For nine hours we watched magic happen on stage, magic that swirled around the entire theater and brought to life this world I’d grown up enamored with. When the play wasn’t blowing me away with its special effects, it’s exploration of friendship and fatherhood and grief and love was knocking the wind out of me. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this play is worth every single penny. It’s proof that magic is real and proof that imagination can never be contained.

In part one, Moaning Myrtle was just *blows kisses into the air* and Scorpious’ monologue about his mother had me crying in my seat. Plus don’t even get me started on the exchange between Harry Potter and Dumbledore about fatherhood. This play is marvelous in its special effects but it’s the heart of the characters — the unconditional friendship and chemistry of Albus and Scorpious — that drives this play. Every person in the theater — who was a huge HP fan to begin with — was just losing their minds by the end. When those dementors flew around the theater, just game over!

^^ I almost got hit by a car trying to take this picture but totally worth it. ^^

But perhaps my favorite part of this entire experience was getting to do it with Imali, my person and the greatest “Harry Potter” fan I know. Numerous times during our nine hours of Potter binging, Imali would lean over to me and whisper, “Aren’t you so glad to be alive right now?” It was the same wonder she held in her eyes all those years ago when she’d pull all nighters to read the latest “Harry Potter” from Barnes and Noble.

For me, Imali’s sweet sentiment best captured that entire Wednesday. Just me and my best friend inside a world that inspired and shaped us growing up. I’ve had a Harry Potter hangover ever since and every time someone asks me about the play, all I can do is say, “It made me so very glad to be alive.”

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Dear Winter 2017 Carly

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Walking through my neighborhood tonight, at that perfect moment when families are turning on the lights of their townhouses and all you need is a flannel, I decided it was officially spring. I’ve been hesitant to put a label to Mother Nature’s current mood after last year dry cleaning my snow jacket only to be hit with a surprise storm a week later. These last couple of weeks all I want to do is be outside at all hours of the day. It’s almost painful to work inside for 8+ hours and see the world blossoming and tourists milling outside on the Highline just beyond my reach.

But before the warm weather completely erases my memory of ever having endured a winter of any kind, I thought it best to write a letter to 2017 Carly about all the lessons I took away from this year’s festivus.

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Dear Carly,

Hello from the other side … of winter. That joke was really big in 2016, not now? Are you wearing that giant red and black cat sweater as you read this? Because I specifically put it on to write this letter. That and a Kermit the Frog baseball hat which I sometimes employ in the midst of writer’s block.  This year we learned some big things, some little things, but mostly we learned that you’re horrible at remembering any life lessons pertaining to winter. At one point you believed if you didn’t carry an umbrella with you it wouldn’t rain? What are you, Storm from X-Men?

So consider this my gift to you.

  1. Take Vitamin D pills! Last year we went weeks without sunlight. It was clouds then rain then snow and back again until it felt like being heavy and sluggish would be our new norm. A daily vitamin won’t cut it, without Vitamin D your energy levels are crazy low and you need those to win a skiball championship in Williamsburg this year!Also, be better about taking your vitamins.
  2. Stop wearing those mismatched gloves. My first year in New York, I lost my left glove midwinter. I was so distraught I wrote a eulogy to the beautiful bastard here but like the ending of any tragic love story, I knew I had to move on. This year, I lost the right glove of my new pair and instead of buying a new set, just combined the two pairs which were entirely different sizes, shapes, colors. Things got real jenky, real quick and reminded me that this year, 2017, I would buy a new matching pair of gloves and try and be a somewhat together adult. I also decided I would try and check the weather more instead of just guessing from my window everyday.
  3. Go ice skating in Prospect Park and travel on the Staten Island Ferry. For the past two years, I’ve cheered anytime anyone has brought up ice skating and yet, I’ve never pursued the idea any further than that. Still unchecked on my bucket list (a four page deep document I will share on a later date), this is the year! Bring some spiked apple cider for you and your friends, and after an hour of falling and laughing and getting your socks drenched in a mixture of sweat and slush, invite them all over to warm up and watch “Clue” with the cats.
  4. New face cream, new shorter snow jacket, new you.
    Some days just don’t call for a full length, sleeping bag-inspired snow jacket. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of days do! Even when you’re walking the block and a half from our front stoop to the subway station, traveling in anything less than three layers is amateur. With another shorter snow jacket in rotation, you can better prepare for those snow days that are a little chilly and sunny at the same time. And face cream, you need something thicker that can stand up against the wind burn you endured the last two years. If not, you’re going to keep arriving at parties looking like beef carpaccio.
  5. Embrace the benefits of having a snow day.
    Growing up in Valencia, I only experienced “fire days” in which the school would shut down due to the smoke and ash from our yearly brush fires making the air quality too unhealthy for kids to stay outside. Fire days were fine but nothing like the magic snow days held on 90s sitcoms. This year, hunker down and use your snow days to experiment with recipes, bake, taste test a variety of Netflix shows, catch up on writing. Let the snow fall outside while you appreciate the warm cocoon you’ve created for yourself inside. Think of it as a 24 hour staycation. Unless it’s a blizzard, then fill a bucket of water and pray.

Bonus: Find who is serving ice tea all year long and offer to be their hype-woman.

Now go out there and follow the sun. Just so you always remember, while you wrote this post at 1:32am, you were surrounded by two slumbering cats both having dreams about chasing squirrels.

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NYC Life Lesson #10: Ice(d) Tea in the City

So … I have  some thoughts. Thoughts about ice tea to be precise.

And before we continue this walk and talk any further, there are two things to note: One, until last year when M gently broke the news, I had been calling it ice tea instead of the correct spelling/pronunciation of iced tea. Since then, despite knowing this new knowledge, I’ve refused to give up my original mistake even though people probably think I’m an idiot and can’t spell.

(I can spell! I mean, not well, but that’s only because I can’t understand phonics which is another story for another time.)

Two, I’ve drank ice tea everyday, multiple times a day, since I was in junior high. It’s always been the drink of choice for my family, as each gathering wasn’t complete without our large strawberry painted jug of sun tea being drained in a matter of hours. But at 13, I decided to give up soda — it always made me feel a little sick — and started drinking tea as a substitute. It’s been pure love ever since.

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So you get it, I like tea and luckily I live with someone who loves coffee just as much so making four to five cups of our caffeinated beverage of choice isn’t met with any confusion or side eyes. But you know who also loves ice tea? Los Angeles! Say what you will about it’s traffic and sometimes superficial culture, but you can go anywhere and get an ice tea. No questions asked! It’s always unsweetened because passion tea is an entirely different beast all together.

But New York City, well, that’s a different story.

The minute the seasons start to change, ice tea becomes more scare than Mexican food in this city. Most orders of “Just one large unsweetened, ice tea” is met with “We won’t make that for the next six months because who the hell wants to drink a cold drink in the snow/ice rain/early spring?”

I do judgy hipster barista! This girl right here with the bangs she’s trying to learn how to cut herself!

“Can you brew a hot tea and then just put it over ice?”

“No.”

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There are some places that nail it every time — Little Zelda’s (one of my favs), Konditori, Milk Bar, Stumptown, Gorilla Coffee, Toby’s Estate, the Google kitchen where I make my own ice tea every single morning. These places are an oasis for writers and caffeine addicts alike so if you’re in their neighborhoods, give them a try!

And then there are some places where it’s a toss up. Some days Hungry Ghost, Donut Plant, and 61 Local are feeling my tea vibes, some days they’re scoffing at my life choices. So to the people who continue to tell me, “New York City, the place you can get anything at anytime,” I call false! Lies! But I appreciate the sentiment.

So until summer arrives and everyone can officially serve ice tea at all times, I will be binge drinking the pitcher of tea in my fridge, day dreaming of a day when coffee and ice tea drinkers can spend a winter afternoon, sipping and sitting next to each other in total bliss.

One of my favorite videos in a long, long time.

NYC Life Lesson #9: Go to the Concert

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There are three things I love talking about more than anything else: My cats, consent, and self-care. I could go on and on and on about these topics for days because not only are they important, but super interesting! At least to me. You might like to talk about dominos, I don’t judge.

On Wednesday I went to see Leon Bridges at the Beacon Theatre in the upper west side. M and I had gotten the tickets months ago and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, suddenly the date was upon us. As each hour of the day progressed, my excitement became more and more burdened by my growing to-do list and inability to get out of work on time — which is crazy because I adore Leon Bridges! But I felt tied to my desk even as the subway doors closed and was left questioning if going to this concert was how I should be spending my night when I had deadlines waiting for me at home.

Thus bringing us to the secret lesson I learned while dancing in my seat on a Wednesday night: Go to the concert. Or play or dinner with friends or book club. Say yes more than you say no — your to-do list will be there tomorrow but this specific night will not.

While having a routine is something I deeply value, I’ve also been using 2016 to lessen its rigid structure by reprogramming my mindset to value spontaneity the same as a deadline or a yoga class.

This weekend, I bounced from dinner with friends to museum visits to brunch to embroidery classes. Coming home, I felt so full of friendship, from the tips of my toes to my topknot, and also ready at the end of the day to dive into work before embarking on another adventure tomorrow. It’s a balance I doubt I’ll ever be perfect at but one I’ll continue trying at none the less.

Probably to the sweet serenades of Leon Bridges in the background.

 

NYC Life Lesson #8: Things People Not From NYC Find Funny About NYC

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Moving to the city in my early 20s, I would say the California way of life is pretty engrained in my 5’5 frame (5’6 on a good day). I get claustrophobic walking within large crowds (ahem, Times Square), I have to see some sort of nature once a day, I consider it a successful day when I can wear sandals and sunglasses, and I’ve almost gotten use to the lack of space constricting every corner of the city. But no matter how long I chose to live in NYC, there are some things that will never stop being ridiculously funny to me. These are those things:

Home Depots in the city.

I stumbled upon a Depot the other day while looking for an animal romper (obviously!) in the Flatiron District and immediately found my curiosity drawing me inside. How can this store exist here?! For one, everything is so large in this store there is no way it can be carried home. Not one thing is small enough for a normal person to take from the store to their apartment. And second, who is doing home repair in the city? Who can afford to own their own place and THEN afford to renovate it themselves? It’s a puzzle that will never be solved.

Children on the subway.

For me, watching a kid navigate the subway is like watching a red panda tap dance, it’s unnatural and yet, I can’t turn away.

The annoyance everyone has at fire trucks.

There is nothing drivers/ pedestrains seem to dislike more than having to get out of the way for a fire engine blaring down the street. People actually sigh in annoyance! What are you people doing?! Do you think that engineer wants to drive his un-parkable engine down 10th street for the fun of it? Sorry, this companies’ saving of lives is making you 25 seconds late for your appointment with a Starbucks barista and a fancy gluten-free/non-fat/non-diary latte.

How $4 for a small coffee/ice tea quickly becomes normal.

Sometimes, right before the barista calls my name for the tiny ice tea I ordered, I find myself reminiscing about the days when an actual large ice tea cost only $2.50. Now I just find myself arguing with the cashier that this dixie cup is in no way a large unless you’re a squirrel and your paws are abnormally tiny. But in the last month, I’ve stopped questioning the coffee/tea antics of NYC and come to just enjoy the fact that people have stopped trying to serve me Snapple or passion tea. Tiny triumphs.

How drivers speed up when they see pedestrians.

While Los Angeles is known for its soul-sucking traffic, it has nothing on New York City, whose drivers never slow down no matter the amount of pedestrians trying to cross the street. It’s almost like my walk to work is a continual game of Frogger that always ends with a semi-truck blocking the entire cross walk because he didn’t want to miss the light.

The smell of urine is always just around the corner from your romantic moment.

For example, I’m a huge HUGE fan of the rain. I firmly believe it can cure any bad luck, sadness, or heartbreak. But in New York, the rain is accompanied by the most intense smell of dog (or human, it’s NYC) urine possible. It just seeps up from the earth as though to say, “Oh, did you want to reenact ‘Singing in the Rain’ or that one steamy ‘Notebook’ kiss? Ha, just try! I dare you!”

 The greatest lesson one can learn is to always walk behind tall people or people who smell really good.

The reasoning: Tall people will part the crowd anywhere from 10th street to Times Square, and due to their long strides, you’ll never find yourself wishing they would just move a little bit faster. Good smelling people on the other hand, well they’re just so hard to come by that you need to hold onto these moments while you can. Because trust me, the minute you leave that little perfume bubble they created for you, the smell of subway sweat, cigarettes, pigeons, and bus exhaust will be back and more powerful than ever.