I did a short NYC blog not too long ago, but didn’t get in to much detail on, well, anything! As I had promised a number of people a fully detailed outline of our adventure, I thought it best to try again. It’s taken me a few weeks, but I’ll blame that on grad school and not my own laziness. Although there’s a chance it is a bit of both ; ). Warning: This is going to be long. That’s what she said…
The Lead Up
So, as many of you know at the end of last month Sally and I ventured to New York City. After a rather terrible 2012 for both of us, we decided we needed a good holiday much sooner than our planned summer road trip. Looking at our schedules I saw that I finished my semester at school in late April, and had about a week and a half off before starting the new one. And that that time just so happened to line up with when Jenna Fischer and Lee Kirk were going to be in New York City premiering their film “The Giant Mechanical Man!” (In case you don’t know, Sally and I run the website Simply Jenna Fischer, so this is very exciting to find out!) Anyway! Sally found a very cheap flight to Toronto from London, I finished up school and some family stuff, and before I knew it I was at the airport waiting for her to arrive!
This was Sally’s first time in Canada, so I had planned a million and a half things for us to do. Unfortunately we only got about two and a half of those things done, but we didn’t stress about it as she’s coming back in June. And we really got the most important things done, anyway. That is, everything involving food!
Sally’s very first meal in Canada: Queen’s Coach Restaurant in Niagara Falls. The feast we ordered included perogies, poutine, onion rings, garlic bread, and, of course, salad. We had to feel less guilty somehow, right?
We spent Friday and Saturday in Niagara Falls (where I’m from) seeing the sites (although we never actually got down to The Falls… Heh) before heading off to New York City. Sally got to see the Niagara Gorge and Parkway, and finally meet my gorgeous niece, Miss Lily!
Sunday – The Adventure Begins!
Both Sally and I have been to New York many times. This was actually my third trip of 2012. So, we weren’t overly concerned with doing any big touristy things in the city. We just wanted some time away to relax and have some fun. As we weren’t strapped for time, but were very much strapped for cash, we decided to drive. The price of regional flights in the US seems to have tripled this year, so driving seemed like a good alternative. Plus, I saw it as a bit of a test run for the big road trip this summer. So, bright and early Sunday morning we packed up my Focus and hit the road. We got through US immigration with a lot less grief than I was expecting, which was a nice start to the day. And once we hit the highway there was no traffic in sight.
As Scranton was on the way, we decided we couldn’t not stop for an hour or so.
The Steamtown Mall? Meh.
Back on the road, we made our way to Long Island. I totally jinxed us with my excitement over no traffic. We hit the George Washington Bridge and there we sat for 3 hours. When we finally got across to Long Island it was torrential downpour, resulting in the highway flooding and being closed down. So, another 2 hours of sitting in the car. Eventually we made it to Bellmore, NY where we met up with Sara (norsk_heks) and her new beau for dinner at the International Delight Cafe. Which was delicious! We had mac and cheese, followed by gelato. Really can’t go wrong there!
After that we ran some errands (a terrifying trip to Walmart at 10pm) before FINALLY arriving at our final destination- Casa de Frankel. Our wonderful friend Carly* (VanFan) offered up a spare room in her house for us to crash during our trip, and we could not have been more grateful. After a very long way we were welcomed by her and her amazing family (seriously, they are the warmest, funniest, kindest people! We absolutely adore them!) before crashing.
*Remember the name Carly Frankel– She’s an über talented actress who I’m sure you’ll be seeing much more of in the future!
Monday – Did That Really Just Happen?
Oh, Monday. There are so many words I could use to describe you! Instead, I’ll get on with it though…
Monday morning we headed in to the city with Carly. After arriving at Penn Station we walked with Carly to Times Square where she headed off to work, we wandered, and had brunch. By the afternoon we had made our way down to the Tribeca Film Fest area, where “The Giant Mechanical Man” would be premiering that night. We then spent a couple of hours walking the entire length of The High Line, one of my now favourite spots in New York City. I talked about it a couple months ago, when my friend Tara and I ventured there in February. I’m sure with the nice weather it would be crazy up there, but thankfully I’ve only been in the cold, so I’ve not had to worry about that!
After killing most of the afternoon there, we headed to the theatre. As Sally is visually impaired we had made arrangements with the theatre to go early and avoid the crowd. Unfortunately that didn’t quite work, and we had to go and sit outside. But, a super-sweet volunteer from the festival (so wish we’d caught his name!) made sure we were alright, and checked in with us often.
When we made our way in, we were able to get centre/centre seats, which was perfect! Being first in we were able to spend the pre-show time people watching, which at an event like this was just way too much fun. Zach Woods, Topher Grace, Jenna and Lee!
Lee Kirk (writer/director) went up front to do a short intro, and then the film began. I absolutely loved the film. I thought it was funny, endearing, and enjoyable from start to finish. While there were some problems here and there, overall, I thought it was great.
Following the film the whole cast got up to a Q&A, which was about 30 minutes total.
At the end of the film something happened that profoundly changed me as a human being. Okay, okay, not really. But, it was a very cool moment! Have a listen:
A few minutes before the Q&A started I thought “Oh, I should record this for the site!” I had no idea that I’d be capturing such an epic moment! But, we now have it forever and ever. Which is good, as my brain stopped working and I had very little recollection of what happened after! And, apparently Sal and I talk in pitch and tone unison a lot. It was recorded a few more times during the trip. *Facepalm*
Anyway… After the Q&A ended we went down towards the stage and stood off to the side, as it was a bit chaotic, and we’re both terribly anxious! But Jenna waved us over, so we headed up on stage. She introduced herself, her husband Lee, and her publicist. She said we should get a picture, and chatted away, and it was all very exciting. I have no idea what I said in response to anything, but I’m sure it was embarrassing! At one point Sally whispered that she was going to look so short in the photo, and Jenna leaned in and asked if she wanted a chair. Ha! She was so very sweet and said such nice things about the site. We were completely star struck!
Jenna had a look at the photo and insisted we take another, just in case we didn’t like it. She then asked if we wanted to come to the after-party. Umm… Yes! Her publicist gave me the location, we swapped numbers, and she said they’d be there shortly. We then wandered, slightly disoriented, outside. I’m sure we were also giggling in a completely humiliating manner. I have no idea how, but I managed to walk us to the party in Chelsea. Fred Armisen passed by us on the street on the way, so I figured we were headed in the right direction!
The party was at a roof-top bar in Chelsea called Catch Roof. We arrived and someone from the PR company came down to bring us up to where the event was being held. She then led us back to Jenna, who was, once again, insanely sweet. She told us to make sure we get drinks and food, directed us to the coat check, and told us to have fun. So, off we went!
I must say, for being exceptionally awkward creatures, Sally and I fared well. We made our way back through the bar to the coach check, got drinks, and found a place to stand. We even had a few people come up to us asking if we were the girls from the website. That was strange! But, again, very cool.
Later in the evening we found a seat and befriended two lovely older ladies. They were probably the only senior citizens at the party, so it seemed fitting that we found ourselves hanging out with them! They were the aunt and mother of one of the producers (Molly, I believe), and were in town from Oregon. We chatted about theatre, sites around the city, all that jazz. It was fun! Oh, I also accidentally elbowed John Slattery (from Mad Men) in the head about four times. Woopsie.
Around 11pm they turned the lights on in the bar and started frantically tidying up. Obviously, time to leave! We headed to coat check where we waiting with an interesting couple! Honestly, no idea who they were, but I did recognize them from the theatre earlier (we sat in front of them). They guy started asking us about our site. He was a little tipsy and was having trouble entering the URL on his phone. It also didn’t help that he thought Jenna’s name was “Jenny Frasier!” We corrected him, and he apologized saying he wasn’t really familiar with anyone from the film. He said his date was somehow involved with it, which is why he was there. He then gave us a very informative lecture on the art of “star fucking”, to which we politely nodded and smiled. What else do you do in that situation?! Heh.
By then the bar had started to pretty well clear out, so we thought it would be okay to make our way back to Jenna to say thank you for the invite and good night. It turned out they were throwing everyone out, and there was only one elevator down, so we ended up just waiting in line with her to leave. We chatted about the party (she was happy we got to try the dessert!), the website, upcoming events for the week, and if we were able to make it to them. She showed up pics of her son, introduced us to her in-laws, asked us how we were getting home, and what else we were doing while in town. I must say, it was the best line-up I’ve ever stood in!
We then all rode down the elevator together, and as we neared the front doors Jenna got excited and put her arm around Sally. She said we must walk out together, in case there’s paparazzi. We came out to find a camera-free street at which point Jenna sighed and said “No one ever follows me!”
We said good night, their entourage got in to their SUVs, and we happily skipped along the 20 blocks back to Penn Station!
Tuesday – The Big Apple
After deciding to not head back in to the city with Carly that morning on 4 hours of sleep, we spent the first half of the day snoozing at her house on Long Island. We then enjoyed lunch out with her dad, and the comedy stylings of Rosie at the Chateau Coffee Shop in Woodmere, NY, before catching the LIRR back in to the city.
We wandered from Penn Station down to the 14th Street Apple Store in Chelsea to find out how the Tribeca Talk Event that was scheduled for that afternoon with Jenna and Lee was going to work. We then hung around, taking advantage of their free wifi. The store was three floors, and had a winding glass staircase. We went up to the top floor, where the event was taking place, only to be asked to leave shortly after so they could set up. Sally has some vision trouble, so the winding glass staircase was not an easy feat. Unfortunately, the elevator was out of order.
We sat at the front of the line, and made friends with a very nice security guard. He must have noticed Sally having trouble with the stairs, because he quietly called her over to see what was up. She explained to him, and he said he’d get us sorted out. Before the event started he returned and took us to the back area of the store to the buildings private elevators, where he took us upstairs. He’d even hand-made two “Reserved” signs and taped them to chairs in the front row for us! Honestly, he was so nice!
The event was a Q&A with Jenna and Lee about the film, which was recorded for a Podcast. We, as usual, did our own recording for the site. On a whim the week before I got us SJF t-shirts, which Jenna commented on during the event. We felt super lame, but, whatever. The shirts are cute! We also spoke is tonal unison again…
After the event there was a mob of people who descended on Jenna. She seemed to be feeling a little rough that day, so we thought we’d just head out. But then we realized we needed to get through the mob to get to the back area where our security guard buddy was waiting to take us down in the elevator! Woops. So, we hung out to the side and waited for things to calm down a bit.
Our line buddy, Elizabeth, was debating saying “hello”, but after we got a little wave over from Jenna’s publicist we all went over. Elizabeth got her picture and after the publicist said we should get a picture in our shirts for the website. So, we grabbed a quick one, and moved out of the way. Seriously, I don’t know how celebrity’s do that. It felt like some kind of ambush!
As we were walking back we saw Lee standing to the side, so we said a quick hello to him too. We ended up chatting for a couple of minutes with him and our security friend. Jenna, Lee, and entourage headed in to the back, and the security guard said we just needed to wait a minute before we could follow.
Though I’m not sure what use that was, as after going back we all ran in to one another at the elevator anyway! We headed down first, and the security guard took us out to some kind of private side exit. He stopped us and said to take a second to put our jackets and scarfs on, insisting that we not rush. We knew what he was getting at! And while embarrassed, we went with it. Sure enough, we heard Jenna behind us call out “Hi girls!” We very likely said “Hi” back in our super-creepy unison voice. We all walked out together and chatted for a minute as they got in to their car, and then we headed off to find some food.
Wednesday – Sally’s Birthday!
I was awoken on Wednesday morning by the buzz of my phone, which turned out to be a text message from Jenna’s publicist asking if we wanted to go to watch Jenna on Live! with Kelly the next morning. Why, yes, we’d love to!
Unfortunately the rest of the day didn’t go quite as smoothly! We missed our train in to the city and had to wait about 40 minutes for the next one. We had tickets for a 2pm Broadway show, so of course we’d be running late! But after running from Penn Station to Times Square we managed to get to the theatre about 3 minutes before the show started.
We saw Once an absolutely amazing show based off a the 2006 film by the same name. The film was filled with music written and performed by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who also starred in the film. If you haven’t seen the film, go rent it stat.
And if you’re in New York, definitely go see the musical!
After the show we met up with Carly and all went for dinner and cheesecake at Junior’s. Knowing we’d have a super early start the next morning (had to be at ABC Studios by 7am), and that Carly and I both had some work to do, we decided to call it an early night and headed back to Long Island.
While Carly and I both attempted to get a bit or work done, that morphed in to watching the audio commentary for Bridesmaids, followed by Jenna’s appearance on Watch What Happens Live.
Thursday -The One With Broderick, Bullies, and Baked Mac&Cheese
On Thursday we woke up at 4-something to head in to the city for Live! with Kelly. We caught a train in to Penn, and a subway uptown, and managed to not get ourselves lost! Go us. We got in line, but a couple minutes later someone came over to ask for our ticket, and we said we were on the list. So he took us to the front of the line and we got right in. They gave us a card and sent us to the VIP line. Oh-la-la!
I went and found the person who would be taking us in to the studio and told her about Sally’s vision. So they let us hang back from the crowd, and reserved two seats for us right up front.
Now, we couldn’t actually see the show, as the enormous camera machinery was directly in front of us most of the time. But, that’s okay! It was still a fun experience. And our pal zerohhero had a copy of the segment (including the camera panning past us!) waiting for us when we got back to the house that night!
After the show it started to rain a little bit, so we headed across the street to an AMC to see what was playing. Low and behold, there was a 10-something AM showing of Bully! Yet another must-see. Although Sally was a little angry that I made her sit through a showing of such a sad film before lunch time! Seriously though, it was a great film.
After that we walked back down to Times Square and had lunch at Carly’s workplace. We then spent a couple of hours there stealing wifi and eating appetizers before heading back to Carly’s house.
Friday – But We Don’t Want This Week To End!
Friday was probably the best day of the whole trip. We had an absolutely great day. We actually hung around Long Island with Carly for most of it. Sally had her first experience at Panera, we did a little shopping, and just hung out.
Later in the afternoon we got ready and headed in to the city for the commercial premiere of The Giant Mechanical Man. Yes, we’d already seen the film, but Carly and our friend Danielle (DeedleDee) weren’t able to get a ticket to the previous showings, and we thought it would be fun to all go together. Plus, Sally and I had nowhere else to be, so didn’t mind spending an extra day in the area!
We were meant to all go for dinner before the film, but our train was delayed so we didn’t get there in enough time. But we made it in plenty of time for the show, and were all able to sit and chat in the theatre.
And to our surprise while waiting, in walks comedian/actress/artist, the wonderful Jennifer Eolin! We were meant to meet up with Jennifer for dinner earlier in the week, but it didn’t work out. We didn’t realize she’d be there that night, so it was a great surprise! We got to chat with her, although I’m afraid might have weirded her out a tiny bit! Heh. I hadn’t slept much all week, and was stressing about a million different things, which may have made me slightly delirious! And when I’m slightly delirious I tend to shout talk about just about anything. It’s a really endearing quality, as you can imagine! ; )
Just before the film started a theatre employee came in to tell us that following the show Jenna and Lee would be popping by to a Q&A. Yay!
The film started, and the calmness of that crashed with the delirium, resulting in me having a panic attack about halfway through the film. Now, this is a very common occurrence for me. That week I was probably having about 2 panic attacks a day, so I was more than use to it! It was really warm in the theatre, so when I felt the panic attack start to simmer a bit I headed out to go and splash some water on my face.
I rushed out and as soon as I entered the hallway there was Jenna and Lee! AH!
Now, if it’s not painfully obvious, I adore them. But the last thing one needs when they’re having a panic attack is to also be completely star stuck! I have no idea what I said, and I vaguely remember Jenna saying that she liked my dress, and I pretty much ran past them, clutching my chest, down to the restroom. Graceful, I know.
So, I was mortified! Logically I know it probably wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’m thinking. It may not have even been weird at all (though I find that unlikely!). But after a couple minutes the panic episode had subsided and I headed back out. I apologized for being rude and rushing past, and they waved it off. Jenna asked when we were headed home, and told her the next day. I said we had driven and was hoping the traffic wouldn’t be too bad. Someone they were with was asking what route I take back and said that it shouldn’t be too bad.
Jenna said she wasn’t feeling well, so she’d stay back, I rambled on about who-knows-what (I remember saying something about the Steamtown Mall being lame… *facepalm*), and eventually remembered that there was a movie going on that I should probably get back to! I did ask Jenna if she might have a second after the show, as we got a little something for her. She said she would, and I headed back in. And then promptly fell! *Facepalm* yet again.
Carly, Jenna Fischer, Me, Sally, Jennifer Eolin, Danielle
About three seconds later we were booted out of the theatre, as they needed to get it ready for the next showing. We headed out to the hall first and loitered for a minute or two. Jenna, Lee, et al, came out and Jenna said something like “You have something for me!” We handed her the gift bag and she started to open it saying she knew what it was. Shortly after adding in an “or not!” I asked what she thought, and she said one of our t-shirts, as she thought they were cute. Nope!
She opened the gift and said she needed a second as she thought she might cry. Sally told her to check out the back and she replied with “I can’t!” Heh. She seemed to genuinely like it, so that was good! Lee came over and checked it out at that point, and got excited about the font. That made me laugh!
She started to open the card then, and I told her not to worry about that now. If you couldn’t tell by this point, I’m not a short and concise writer. Shocked? I know! Let’s just blame 7 years of post-secondary for that, shall we? Anyway! I apologized for writing a mini-essay. If she didn’t get around to reading it, I don’t blame her at all!
We all chatted for a while. Jenna talked a bit about filming Watch What Happens Live and her excitement over the Real Housewives video and tweet earlier that day. I said something about trying to do a paper while watching and was later told by everyone that I received a serious mom-glare from Jenna for that! I remember mentions of SNL, and some other random stuff. And then we got another picture. And hugs!
We talked a bit more about the site, and then all walked out together. As we were standing awkwardly outside trying to decide where to go and get food Lee came over and thanked us again for coming and promoting the film. He’s such a nice guy!
After that Sally, Danielle, Carly, and I all walked away, completely giddy. I remember Danielle saying something about how she didn’t say a single word but that was still the best thing ever. We had a late dinner, and then all headed out of the city.
The Weekend After
After receiving an enormous brunch from Carly’s mom on Saturday morning Sally and I started the long drive back to Niagara Falls. And it thankfully took a good 6 hours less than the drive there! We were back at my house by 10pm.
In the next few days Sally headed back to London and I headed back to school. It was back to the real world!
It was an absolutely fantastic trip, and I am so, so happy that we were able to do it! Meeting Jenna Fischer was a dream. I had no expectations going in (hoped, of course, but nothing more), and she seemed to go out of her way to make us feel welcomed. She didn’t have to do a single thing that she did, yet day-after-day there it was! I never in a million years expected the trip to be what it was, and I am just so overjoyed about it. She is a genuinely kind, warm, and sweet person.
And to have her be so enthusiast about the website was actually overwhelming. I am so thrilled that she likes what we’re doing, and hope we can keep upping the game as time goes on.
If you’ve made it this far in the post- Thank you! I’m sorry for it being such an unreasonable length, but I wanted to make sure I got it all down! This was an experience I want to remember forever, so the details were important to me.
And now the words you’ve been dying to hear for a while now…