Sunday, November 21, 2010

NYC October 2010 Part One

It's been a month since my trip to New York City for Crystal Chappell's fan luncheon and I'm just now blogging about it. It took me a while to come back down to earth and edit all the photos I took there and decide what to share online. But more about that later. First, let me tell you how the weekend unfolded.

I met my friend, Jill Lorie Hurst in front of Brother Jimmy's restaurant on E 16th St. I'd first met Jill, former Headwriter of Guiding Light, via Twitter and Facebook and finally met her in person when we took our daughter, Jackie, to New York City to celebrate her 18th birthday a couple of months ago. Jill met our train at Penn Station and spent the day with us and we couldn't have had a better tour guide. Jill has become a wonderful friend and an honorary member of the family. I could say more about her, but I'll save that for another blog post!

Brother Jimmy's on E 16th street is a great barbecue restaurant run by Jessica Leccia's husband, Brian Malloy and that's where the Venice and CcandFriends fan luncheons were being held. I saw Brian there and he called me by name when he spotted me. He recognized me from my picture on Facebook (he accepted my friend request after I'd sent a handsewn purple teddy bear for Ivy) He talked to me about the teddy bear and how he liked the photos I'd included of it in progress as a sort of biography of the bear. He also talked about the "Dimples" design I did for my Zazzle shop. He said when he first saw it he thought it was really cute, then he did a double take and said, "Wait... that IS Jessica's smile!" I told him how I'd done a pencil sketch of Jessica's smile from a photograph first and then finished it up in my graphics program. He told me Jessica would be at the CCandFriends luncheon the next day. I was hoping she would be because I really wanted to meet her.

The Venice luncheon had been over for a while but some of the fans were still there. I saw some people I knew from Twitter and Jill and I talked with them for a while, then she took me out to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants. I have no idea where we were walking but it's always fun to wander and explore and my favorite thing to do in New York City now is to just spend time with Jill! We walked through Washington Square Park and I could have spent a day or two just taking pictures there but I didn't take even one. I had my new DSLR, but I was trying not to go into "crazy photographer" mode too soon!

After a lovely dinner and delightful conversation, Jill walked me to the RF Lounge, the lesbian bar where the free Venice event was held. (She wasn't staying for that but we planned to meet at Brother Jimmy's again after the luncheon the next day.) We had just arrived and were standing at the top of the stairs in front when Kimmy and Crystal came in right behind us. I tugged on Kimmy's coat sleeve because I've talked with her a bit on Twitter and via email and I didn't think she'd mind but I didn't want to bother Crystal. Kimmy turned around and recognized me, presumably from my Twitter avatar, called me by name and gave me a big hug. She thanked me for everything I'm doing to help Crystal. Then Crystal turned around to see who Kimmy was talking to, saw it was me and she also knew who I was and gave me a big hug. She thanked me for everything, saying she sees what I'm doing, that she's keeping an eye on everything (and I have no doubt she is... she's a very smart lady). If I'd had to leave right then, after an afternoon and dinner with Jill, plus hugs from Kimmy and Crystal, I would have gone home happy, but the weekend had just begun!

Outside in front of the RF Lounge I found Sasha (@Cubfnatic) the CcandFriends president, and @Winwitter and @catikins9 (who might actually be a cousin of mine!), longtime supporters of Crystal. I also met @oliviagotjokes (Venice Fan Club president). She was dancing around and talking to other Venice fans. I went up to her and said "Hi, I'm Donna". She stopped and just looked at me for a second and said in a little voice, "You're Donna?" Then she grabbed me up in a big hug, lifting me off the ground, and said "You're so tiny!" OK, she's about a foot taller than me, so I'll give her that! It was great to finally meet all of them in person because we've had some amazing heart to heart talks via Twitter and email and the CcandFriends weekend chats.
As I made my way through the crowd at the RF Lounge now and then somebody would say, "Hey, you're Donna!", again, recognizing me from my avatar on Twitter. I recognized most of their Twitter names when they identified themselves. I had a couple of really interesting talks with girls there (and also at Brother Jimmy's earlier) thanking me for being involved with this fanbase, since I'm a minister's wife, telling me about the issues they'd had with their faith and their churches when they came out to their families. I really appreciated what they shared and told them there are a lot more accepting "church people" like me around, you just don't hear as much about them as the anti-gay ones.

I also met Leslie Penny, Crystal's publicist and Cindy Tingley, who is part of the technical/website part of Team Venice (aka "Team WeFixSh*t"). They found me before I had a chance to look for them and introduced themselves. They were very gracious and I was delighted to meet them. Each person I met who works closely with Crystal was really as sweet as could be. Very welcoming, too, putting everybody at ease, making sure everything was taken care of at the events. And all my new friends took very good care of me as I was looking for the lady who was letting me share her hotel room. We had planned to meet there but as it turned out, she'd gone on to the hotel. But my new friend and native New Yorker, Betty, got a cab for me (thank you, Betty!) and it whisked me away to the hotel where I met my very generous roommate, Valerie. We stayed up talking for at least a couple more hours about Otalia, Guiding Light, Venice, politcs, religion, and horse farms (she manages one in Kentucky)! 

This only covers my first few hours in New York City that weekend and there's plenty more come! But for now, I'll leave you with a few of the photos I took at the RF Lounge. I decided to shoot with available light as much as possible to try to capture the feel of the place and show what it looked like if you were really there.