Sunday, August 29, 2010

more epic than an andrew lloyd webber musical: my 3day recap


That happened. I did it. I walked 60 miles. Well, I suppose my grand total was about 57.5, due to some nasty blisters and a maybe-sprained foot. But I'm rounding up. And I think that's OK.

I keep describing my first day as "epic." I don't know that there's a better word for it. There were tears, hugs, sleep-talkers, and lots and lots of graham cracker peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I flew into Chicago Wednesday night after racing to the airport to have my flight delayed 2 hours. Loooove iiiit. Thursday was brunch with friends, packing away the afternoon, and dinner with the other Lady Tatas, my wonderful parents, and my amazing grandmother. We carbo-loaded our brains off at Bucca di Beppo and strategized for the next three days. It's hard to describe how much I miss my family. This year has basically been my first away from home. I rarely went home in college, but just knowing they were in close proximity was...just different. And, guys, my family is awesome. They're just the best. There's no other way to put it. They are the funniest, kindest, smartest people I know, and this entire weekend was a reminder of how freaking lucky I am to have them. And how freaking lucky I am we're related, so they have to put up with me.

OK maybe that was a digression, but I think it's all part of this. Anyway, we ate our faces off then headed home to sleep. We had a few things to do that weekend, I don't know if you've heard. Friday morning, my ever amazing mother drove us to opening ceremonies. It was early. Really really early. Everyone was considerably groggy, but it's hard to be sleepy around that much pink. It's just so...bright. Opening ceremonies were...weird. I feel like you're just thrown into this vat of boiling emotion right's kind of a lot to handle. The ceremonies start with some stretching, some motivational speaking, some inspirational music, then the survivor's circle. That's the part that gets you. That's real. You're instantly reminded of why you're here, why you've raised this money, and why you're about to embark on the craziest of crazy journeys. And all of a sudden you're sobbing. Soooo...great. Happened.

We said goodbye to Donna on our way out and got started. Traffic jam! It's a little hard when 1600 people start walking along the same sidewalk, and I was instantly transported back to the AIDS walk -- er, shuffle -- in Central Park, and I was a liiiittle nervous the entire walk would be one big bottleneck. We turned into the Chicago Botanical Garden, which was just delightful, and got to our first pit stop in no time! After that, the walkers started spreading out and everything came easier. But first. Let me tell you about the most magical part of the Susan G. Komen 3Day Walk for the Cure: The Graham Cracker Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. You guys. These. Things. Are. Ridiculous. They come wrapped up like ice cream sandwiches and they hand them out one half at a time (thank goodness or I would have consumed even more than I did). They're good. I'm hoping to recreate them in my life, but I just know they won't be the same.

One of the most pleasant surprises for me was the theming of each pit stop. I love themes. This is a thing that is true. And every pit stop and meal had one. Complete with decorations, costumes, and stickers. Oh, the stickers. I think the Pit Stop #1 theme was my fav, cause it was pajamas...helloooo. And if there's one thing I love more than themes, it's probably pajamas.

So I just realized that if I walk you through ( pun intended) every step of this walk, it will take longer than it took to walk 60 miles. I'm gonna do some highlights (and lowlights):
  • First and foremost, my highlights were named Sari Fine, Liza Finestack, and Sharon Fine. They were hands down the best part of this entire experience. More on that later.
  • Mount Prospect. You guys. Mount. Prospect. Mount Prospect made custom pink cop shirts that the entire MPPD wore all day Saturday. Every block had at least one house decked out in pink gear, handing out food, and generally just making our lives better. It was absolutely overwhelming and incredible. I'm writing a letter. But I will never be able to thank them enough.
  • Lunch on Saturday was in the field next to Olive Mary Stitt School. Some of you may remember this as the place where I did my first show ever in 1996. It was weirdly full circle. I loved it.
  • Katlin, the volunteer nurse at camp. This woman was amazing. She was there because her mother was a survivor and her stepdaughter's mother passed away from breast cancer. And she literally worked the entire day at camp. She helped me tape up my foot at 6am and gave me second skin before I went to bed at 8pm. What? She was remarkable. And we almost had the same name.
  • Silly bandz. That's right, friends, there were silly bandz. For those of you who are unfamiliar, get familiar. AT&T gave out silly bandz at one pit stop every day, plus a few you could get at camp. Not gonna lie, it kept me going.
  • Mount Prospect in Chicago. As if they hadn't done enough to make us love them, a couple of Mount Prospect cops drove a squad car to Chicago, parked along our route, and cheered us on all day. WHAT?! they were seriously the best. Just the best. It was unreal.
  • Blisters. I got a lot of them. They hurt. And were gross.
  • Did I mention the graham cracker peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Still amazing.
  • Foot sprain. Happened. Around mile 52ish. Around mile 53ish, Sari noticed I wasn't laughing at one of our (many) fool-proof inside jokes. She turned to me and said, "You OK?" And I shook my head, started crying, and sat down. I felt like a failure in some way, which I realize is a) a product of my overachieving self and b) ridiculous. Sari and Liza got me a sweep van, which took me to lunch. I got taped up and kept going. Was this the smartest decision I've ever made? Not even a little. Was it the most correct decision I've ever made? Absolutely.
Like I said, so much more happened I just...can't fit it all in. Call me. We'll chat.

Closing ceremonies were a different bag than opening. I will never ever forget walking into Soldier Field and walking through the crew, medical team, and walkers...I'm crying just thinking about it. I've never felt so overwhelmed, exhausted, and proud. We did it.

Speaking of "we," I think this is the perfect time to tell you about the three most incredible women ever to exist in the entire world: the Lady Tatas. I'll never forget getting that email from Sari proposing this and thinking, without a pause, "Yes. Yup. This is exactly what I want to do." I knew if Sari was in, so was I. And I was right. It's really hard for me to put into words what she, Liza and Sharon mean to me. I have always looked up to them. They are stunning, brilliant, hilarious, and successful...of course I looked up to them. And, as close as we are, it's always hard to see each other. Because part of being stunning, brilliant, hilarious and successful is also being busy. What can I say, they're just really big deals. So this 3Day journey was a unique experience to spend time together, and one for which I will always always always always be insanely grateful. I'm just so proud of us. And I just love them really so much. UGH THEY'RE JUST AWESOME.

Other things I will always be grateful for: my parents. They were at every cheering station, Starbucks in hand, constantly in awe of what we had done/were doing. Quite seriously would hot have made it through without them. While I was here in NYC freaking out about my new job/apartment/general life craziness in the weeks leading up to the walk, my mom was reading more 3Day blogs than I did and buying every essential item for me. Un. Real.

And (yes I know I said this in my last post) I am so so so so epically grateful for the support I've gotten from all of you during this process. Now on the other side of my 60 miles, I am even more thankful for those who donated their dollars for my fundraising or their ears for my bitching (and celebrating...). Those last few miles (in the rain, with the sprained foot, along the lakefront path where you're just in the way of the runners and bikers...) were not easy, and if I didn't have your support I'm pretty sure I would have given up way earlier. Maybe after the last silly bandz stop. I really love silly bandz.

And I really love you guys.

LOVE and bandz,

P.S. If you're my FB friend, you can see Sari's album here. If not, I'll get them eventually and post here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

excited AND scared.

Hi all,

I'm sorry I've been the worst blogger ever. I promise I will do a MASSIVE recap after this weekend's walk (AHHHHH.), but for now, this:

In just one week, I’ll be at the closing ceremonies for the 3-Day Walk for the Cure in Chicago. Ahhhh! I can’t believe that. I am excited, terrified, nervous, elated…pretty much running the whole gamut of emotion. But ultimately, I am grateful.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn my new city in a way not many do. I’ve walked uptown, downtown, east and west. I’ve seen hidden rooms, national landmarks, and every pit stop on the west side from 122nd street to Battery Park. Training has taken me to some of NYC’s most iconic areas, but also hidden gems that lifelong New Yorkers haven’t explored. I can’t think of a better way to spend a spring/summer.

I am grateful for the people I have met on this journey. People like Burt, our training walk leader, who will be walking for the 10th consecutive year. He’s doing not one, but TWO walks this year, and has already raised well over his minimums. And he won’t hang up his pink sneakers until there is a cure. Or Liz, a survivor who has walked in a different city in each of the 7 years since she’s gone into remission. Liz is a badass who is in better shape than I will ever be, and has been a remarkable inspiration and resource for all of my 3Day questions. And Jen, a fellow Midwestern transplant, who has three small kids and still makes time to travel, follow her passions, and train for a 3Day. These people have become a kind of second family here in the city. We check in on each other, celebrate successes, commiserate struggles, and, oh yeah, walk a lot. I don’t know how I would have gotten through these 15-20 mile training walks without them. Let’s be honest, I probably wouldn’t have done them, and then I’d be even more nervous going into this weekend. Maybe the best testament to the group is the fact that I’m planning to continue walking with them after this weekend is over. That’s right, folks, I will continue to spend my Saturdays walking 20+ miles. These people are just that awesome. And I could write an entire different letter about the online 3Day community – the blogs and tweets, etc – it is unreal.

Maybe most of all, though, I’m grateful for you. I can’t believe how phenomenally generous everyone has been. For those of you who have donated in the moolah department – I understand the sacrifices everyone is making right now and I cannot express to you how much it means to me that you’ve deemed this cause worthy of your dough. It’s so easy to be caught up in the training and the gear and the hydration, but ultimately this is about saving lives. Like. Really. Your dineros. Saving lives. Real. Everyone else – there’s still time! Ha. Kidding (kind of). But seriously, thank you for letting me complain about my blisters, brag about my mileage, and talk your ear off about the wonders of the 3Day journey. The moral support is every bit as important as the financial in a journey like this. I’ve always known I was surrounded by wonderful people, but I honestly have never felt luckier. I can never ever thank you enough.

I literally would not be walking without your support, and I will certainly need it this weekend! If you’re in Chicagoland, you can come visit us (see cheering stations here)! And if not, know that any time I’m struggling through my 60 miles, my thoughts will turn to you and I know it will give me the strength to keep a-walkin’.

You guys are the best.

Love and love,

P.S. Still interested in donating? Click here!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

sunrise, sunset

I've spent the last 10 minutes straight staring at this photo:

Happy Monday to ME!

This weekend I did my longest training walk to date - 18 miles, plus 2 once I got back to Manhattan = 20 MILES!!! And man am I paying for it. I walked most of the 18 with Liz, a wonderful woman I've met through my training walk group. She is in amazing shape and keeps a pace that is...well I'll call it brisk. My legs might have some other choice words for it. It was a gorgeous day, though, and there's nowhere else I would have rather been than out walking.

In fundraising news, I'm less than $500 away from $3K! I have to think up some creative last-month ideas. Cause I will NOT let a measly $460 keep me from my goal!

I got to have lunch with my Aunt Sharon this week, who is one of the other members of the Lady Tatas. It was so great to see her and made me all the more excited for the event. It's so easy to get caught up in the logistical questions of everything - Have I trained enough? Which shoes work the best? How the hell do I pack? But, at the end of the (3) day(s), I get to spend an entire weekend with three of my favorite women in the entire world. And that alone will be enough.

I feel like I have lots on my mind and lots of potential new beginnings, but only time for a short post today. I'll end with this beautiful pic from my friend Lindsay's "End of Junior Year of Life" party at ink48. Stunning.

LOVE and the sunrises to come,

Sunday, June 6, 2010

a weekend in the city

Another fantabulous weekend! Saturday I went on maybe my most favorite training walk to date. All of my previous long Saturday walks have been with my AMAZING training walk leader, Burt, and other 3Day walkers, but I got some friends interested in walking, so I wanted to take advantage. I was surprised at how nervous I was. Would they hate it? Would they think it was lame? Would it rain?! I pushed my apprehension aside, mapped out a route, and walked with my friends Lindsay and Tavia (with a guest appearance by Andrew, Jess, and Sarah Grace's little brother) from Grant's Tomb at the 122nd Street and Riverside Drive all the way down the west side of Manhattan, across the Brooklyn Bridge, and through Brooklyn to Prospect Park. Our route looked something like this:

Crazy! And long! And awesome! It was great to have friends with so they could finally understand what I've been doing. I loved it. And I took pictures!

Ulysses S. Grant's Tomb. Nothing like a little US History at 9am on a Saturday. But actually it was beautiful.

Somewhere on the Upper West Side...

Also somewhere on the Upper West Side...

This! OK this I need to pause and talk about. There's a new summer arty thing happening in NYC called "Key to the City." Basically, in June you can go to a booth in Times Square and pick up a key. But you don't just pick it up. There's a ceremony involved. You go with a buddy and bestow keys upon each other. It's performance art-y and Lindsay and I loved it. Now this key. This key unlocks secret rooms, bridges, cemeteries, and other random places all over the city. That's right. This one little key. It's like MAGIC. Seriously, I think this is the most innovative and brilliant idea I've heard since I read the synopsis of Spiderman: the Musical (too soon? too late? I can't tell anymore.). So on our walk, we hit our first Key to the City location here at the Trinity Church. The key unlocks a special section of the cemetery that includes Alexander Hamilton's tomb. Yup. We went from Grant's Tomb to Alexander Hamilton's Tomb. It was Tomb Day.

Now our pal Al died in 1806, but some of these graves were from the 1760s and before. That is before this country existed. Wrap your mind around THAT for a sec. Crazy.

While we were there, we popped inside Trinity Church, which was beautiful:
It was interesting inside...all three of us commented on the kind of strange juxtaposition between the sacred history and the flat screen TVs to improve viewing. The ancient stories and the microphones so people could hear them. It was weird. And there was a gift shop.

We trudged along across the brilliant Brooklyn Bridge, which I hailed in a previous post. Lindsay and Tavia both hadn't walked over it before, so that was fun and New York-y.
How sweet is WAS! At this point, we had been walking for a while. OH and I didn't even mention the weather! It was in the high 80s and MUGGY. Like. The muggiest. So we were overjoyed to see that we were on the last leg of the trip. Lindsay and Tavia dropped out as we walked down Flatbush, but I sweated it out. And, thanks to getting a liiittle lost in Prospect Park, I stumbled upon this:

In case you can't tell, that is a huge African drum circle/clump/love fest. This was in front of the Brooklyn Library and it was AMAZING. I took a video on my phone that I'll try to upload. There were instruments everywhere, you could join in, drum along, or just stand. Well you couldn't stand because you'd inevitably end up dancing. It was one of those great New York things. Like...of course there are 40 people drumming outside this library. Of course. I loved it.

So that concluded my big walk. I had delusions of walking back to a train stop closer to the bridge but, well, I didn't. And I'm OK with that.

Phew! I'm exhausted just writing about how exhausted I was!

Sunday I brunched with my friend Eugenio before he leaves to do The King and I in Oregon. Then I did some lounging, some gyming, and some observing of brilliance in the form of HBO's Angels in America. I've watched it before. I will watch it again. But it's also just so much more fun now that I live in NY. One of the first scenes was filmed literally probably 5 blocks from where we were sitting.

I'm gonna say it. I'm gonna say it for the first time maybe ever. I like this city. I do. It's good.

LOVE and revelations,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

on my way (again)

Gah it has been too long. Since I've blogged, since I've trained, since I've fundraised...just too long.

Last week was illness-stricken and travel-filled, but it was wonderful. I went back to NU for Starry Starry Night: Saluting Dominic Missimi. I just can't even tell you how amazing this night was. Gregg Edelman, Kate Shindle, Brian D'Arcy James, Heather Headley, plus half of Chicago theatre and most of my good friends all performing for one of my favorite people, ummm, ever: Dom. Heaven.

I've had another flare-up of my every present foot injury. Friends may remember it from its previous appearances in Ragtime, Girls vs. Boys: A Loud New Musical, or its starring role in Waa-Mu 2009: One For the Books. Needless to say, it's a pain in the ass. Well, foot. You know. Especially in NYC, not walking is just not really an option. So it sidetracked my training, and also just my general activity level, which makes me feel like a big pile of poopy. I got it checked it out by a podiatrist on Saturday and he's basically like, "Well, you're walking completely wrong and your alignment is cray cray caboodles and we should prooooobs fix it." Well, yes. That'd be good. He taped my foot up "like a baseball player" (his words, I loved) and sent me on my way to come back next week. As sad as it is, this does explain my yogi struggles in terms of balance and alignment, so maybe it'll get better now...? Or maybe I'll just be told to wear some really attractive orthopedic shoes 24/7. For the record, I'd choose the ivory color.

I figured I should take advantage of my new athlete status and get a walk in while I felt it was OK enough, so I did! I did what I think is my favorite loop...down an avenue to Battery Park, then back up the west side along the river. You guys. This city is awesome. Hands down my favorite discovery of the day was the Irish Hunger Memorial. Look at the pics on the wiki page, cause it's unreal. This is the picture I took:

I don't even know how to describe this place. It's this garden that's on a slanted platform...just, you know, randomly. On the west side. Of course. It's beautiful. I loved.

So I walked a bunch and man did I feel it. So I took a step back training-wise, but I'll get back on it. I'm not too worried. Mostly I'm just happy I didn't break my foot again, so I can basically do whatever I can on it that doesn't make it hurt. So I'm back in action!

Fundraising has taken a backseat, as well. I AMAZINGLY reached my minimum, which could not thrill me more. But now I wanna get to $3,000! Goals of the week include: sending a letter to my gym for a little corporate support, planning a bar night within the next month or so,sending at least 10 emails to my (amazingly phenomenal and fantastic) extended support system, and sending an update/reminder/follow up/remember me email. Holla!

Random side note: I'm sitting in Starbucks writing this and it a) makes me miss college and b) allows me to rediscover my full iTunes library on random. In case anyone was wondering, Jeanine Tesori's Violet is still my favorite cast album of all time.

You guys! It's summer!

LOVE and warmth,

Friday, May 21, 2010



NEW GOAL: $3,000

Thank you to everyone. I cannot tell you how amazing this is. Let's keep going!!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

a view from the bridge. and the park.

Wow this was a WEEKEND. For so many reasons. I'll go chronologically otherwise I'll get messed up and forget some of the amazingly epic things that happened this weekend.

SATURDAY in the park. I think it was the 15th of May. I mean, it actually was the 15th of May. I got up early and met my fellow 3Day-ers at Penn Station for a 16 mile walk! We walked over to the Hudson, down to Battery Park, around the tip of Manhattan, across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. It. Was. Amazing. First of all, the weather was perfection. I mean really. Like 75 and sunny with a breeze all day. Just incredible. Once again, I loved walking with others going through this. This time, I was the only first timer, and I relished in asking all of the big questions: shoes, socks, sleeping...we covered it all as we covered our miles.

Hands down my favorite part of the walk was the Brooklyn Bridge. Wow. I mean wow. I kept taking pictures because I wasn't satisfied with any of them until I realized the epic-ness of the bridge just couldn't be captured by my measly little BlackBerry. It's truly indescribable. It is massive and beautiful and overwhelming, and I loved it. Even when we got caught up in obnoxious groups of tourists. Which happened a lot. Anyway here are my photos that don't do it any justice:

Almost there...

AMAZING. Also, I felt like Miranda going to meet Steve in the SATC movie. Anyone?

The citay from the bridge.

3Day swag on my fellow walkers!

We stopped for some delightful pizza at Adrienne's on Stone Street. Stone Street is the coolest thing ever. It's like a block long and there are no cars and in the summer it's just filled with outdoor seating for all of the restaurants on the block. What?! Apparently it was the first paved road in NYC and it has this really old timey feel. The. Coolest. Once again, I found myself marveling at the new/old juxtaposition of the Financial District. It is cool.

After we walked back up to Penn Station, I made the smart (crazy?) decision to walk home, too. I took a detour and went to Paragon Sports to look at some shoes, and I bought some! I tried a ton of different kinds, and these were the most cushy and supportive, although I'm sad they didn't come in pink...booo. I also got some double layer Wright Socks, as recommended by our training walk leader, Burt. I haven't started using either yet, but I'm excited!!

SUNDAY morning I participated in the 25th Annual AIDS Walk in Central Park. A group of friends got together a team so I thought I'd hop was a good reason to walk 6.2 miles and seemed like a cool thing to be a part of. I had no idea what to expect, and I was bowled over by the experience. There were THOUSANDS of people there. So many. And it was really cool to walk with so many different people from vastly different backgrounds. I was a little bit frustrated by the glacial pace we kept...not exactly a training walk...and after about 3 miles I cut off and walked on my own, but I was so glad to have the experience and I'll absolutely do it again in the future.

OK this is the big part. During the AIDS walk, I received a notification of a donation to my fundraising efforts. I excitedly opened the email to find out this was the largest donation I've received to date and it took me from 49% to 92%. I immediately started crying. This donation didn't come from the wealthiest person I know. It didn't come from my best friend in the entire world. It came from an amazing human being with a gigantic heart, and I could not have been more honored. The day before I had been talking to Burt about how special the fundraising process is and how each and every donation is a miracle. Yes, this particular one let me breathe a huge sigh of relief as I was getting super nervous about reaching my $2300 minimum, but I felt the same reaction with every $5, $10, or $100 donation I received. I know we're all broke, especially now, so I know every dollar that comes my way has been carefully thought out and accounted for. Each one comes with a lot of love and man do I feel it. So thank you.

Phew! Crying again! So I'm now $80 from my minimum and $780 from my secret goal of $3K. Oops. Guess it's not secret anymore. But yes, I'm going to keep fundraising past my minimum, because I'm realizing the 3Day is not about reaching minimums and squeaking by. It's about walking one more mile and raising one more dollar than you ever thought possible, which is what I intend to do.

Also Sunday, my life got a special guest appearance by Betsy Hogg and we saw Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at The Public Theatre. This show has been getting some MAD critical acclaim and I went in skeptically, as I'm not always ready to jump on these Ben Brantley bandwagons. But it was awesome. Just freaking awesome. This entry is too long and the show is too difficult to explain to make it worthwhile, but just go see it. K? Great.

LOVE and miracles of every size,

Also this is love: