Choose your own adventure, bring your own ginger

Hello, neglected blog!  The last time I wrote in you it was about something important.  This is the opposite of that, but my mother has been asking for an update on the past month.  I can’t remember that far back, though, so here’s what happened last weekend, when Favorite Guy: Ginger Division and I went on a little adventure to the east coast.

Day 1: In which we are awake for 22 hours

The flight was at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, which meant nervous-flyer Rachel was awake at 4.  We got to the airport too late for my usual pre-flight Necessary Calming Beverage, and the Ginger decided to regale me mid-air with tales of bad flights he’s been on in the past.  Luckily this was the only point during our trip when I thought about destroying him.  We got off the plane and a few train rides later we parked it at our first destination: a margarita!

Brooklyneer bar sign

Sesame Street: Influencing my decisions for over 20 years.

Also, the margarita was in New York City.

During the course of the first day of the vacation, it went bar/food, five-minute nap, shopping, bar/food, shopping, walking the High Line, food, five-minute nap, bar/food.  We stayed with some friends in the Upper East Side and had a pretty excellent time; there wasn’t a lot of sight-seeing what with all the sitting and eating, but we did manage to see  a whole lot of the subway and stay awake for 22 solid hours.

supergrover

Some of the details of this evening are best kept between me and Super Grover.

Day 2: Crazy in Connecticut

We woke up, showered, brunched, and bused to Hartford to visit the wanderluster herself, Sabrina!  The Ginger has a thing for suburbs, so Sabrina took us by one of the oldest in the country before showing us a good time in West Hartford.  And really, it was a good time.  There are in fact things to do in Connecticut.  Who knew?

Day 3: Bean Town

Our planes, trains and automobiles adventure continued with a drive to Boston.  The three of us stopped at the Onyx Hotel (highly recommended, and not just for their animal-print bathrobes and faux-fur bedspreads) before hitting Quincy Market and the Harbor and catching a bit of the Freedom Trail.

Nice donkey

No, I don't know why there's a statue of a donkey on the Freedom Trail, but I do know it's important for every tourist to sit on it, preferably while a stranger stands just off-camera and says "nice ass."

A little bit of shopping and eating and we were on to the Haunted Boston tour!  This was a highlight of the trip for the two ghost-loving non-redheads among us.

Later, out to the Oldest Tavern In America (or so the sign says) – The Bell in Hand – for a bit of live music and dancing.  Sabrina and I each picked out our “boyfriends,” and it took all night for us to realize our boyfriends were actually each others’ boyfriends.  Yep; in a room full of burly Bruins fans, we gravitated towards the two waif-y hipsterish guys with excellent floppy hair.  I have been in the Twin Cities too long.

Day 4: Family, Fenway, and Farewell

A few of my Massachusetts family members met the gang and I for brunch at the Eastern Standard.  It was great, but too short for a once-in-a-decade visit.  They took us around the corner to a little place called Fenway for a photo op.

Fenway

Then it was goodbye family and Sabrina, hello Old Ironsides/excuse to make Anchorman references!

Old Ironsides

It really is an old, old wooden ship!

She’s 214 years old and she’s still afloat and still commissioned – it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Next up: Tavern on the Water for a nice view of the city and a little interaction with some real Massachusetts folks, who told us Happy Hours are illegal in Massachusetts but that they had danced on the bar we were sitting at before.  I should note these were two 60-ish couples.  I liked them.

Last stop before taking off: Giacomo’s, or as The Ginger keeps calling it, “Giergamo’s? Guillermo’s? Gargamel’s?”  We waited in line for about forty minutes outside, during which time I realized I needed to find a bathroom (bear with me, this story goes somewhere).  So I went to a pharmacy across the street and asked the employee if there was a bathroom.

“Not here, but at the fire station down the street.”

Naturally I left, assumed I heard her wrong, and went a few doors down to another store.

“Try the fire station next door.”

Sure enough, there was an actual fire station next door.  Full of not-unattractive firemen.  Who I had to ask to lead me to the bathroom (“It’s right back theah, sweetheaaaaht”).  My only regret is that I did not buy a t-shirt to commemorate my time at this fine establishment.  Or, you know, one of those calendars.  You know the ones I mean.

Firemen Calendar
You knew what I meant but I wanted to put this here anyway.

Anyway, back to the restaurant!  Or actually the line out in front, where we met another awesome local couple (the guy talked about his twenty years of working for Phil Collins and building a stage for Steven Tyler at Fenway) who pointed out when a local hero walked past us: Zdeno Chara, captain of the Stanley Cup-winning Bruins and tallest dude in the NHL.  Yes, I googled all of that.  I had no idea who he was.

Zdeno Chara

Although if he had been dressed like this even I might have recognized him.

Dinner, Necessary Calming Beverage and flight: our whirlwind tour of the East was over.   Now I’m back and it’s taken me the better part of a week to get this blog post together.  My goal is to have my next vacation planned before I completely unpack from this one; at the rate I’m going that shouldn’t be too difficult.

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Best Things of the Past 2 Weeks and 2 Days

Here’s what I’ve been up to in roughly the last 16 days, Ma!

1. Volunteering and forcing my family to volunteer, too

Along with some alumnae of my college, I painted a fence and house in North St. Paul with Hearts and Hammers last week.  It was pretty fun — I mean, I don’t want to come paint your house, or anything — but getting to know different people and wearing my sweatpants in public without fear of judgment is always a good thing.  Until the next day when I could barely move my legs or neck.  I really, really won’t be coming to paint your house.

The next day I (somehow) went to Feed My Starving Children again, to another special session for the Horn of Africa!  This time I brought my mother and sister-in-law for some girl bonding.  There are no photos of this girl-bonding because no one looks good in hairnets.  Except, of course, my gorgeous sister-in-law.  I look even more ridiculous standing next to her, so really: no pictures.

2. Brewery Tour-ery

As alluded to in this post, I somehow managed to schedule myself for two brewery tours on Saturday: the Summit Brewery (again) and Flat Earth Brewery.  Did I have a great time? Of course I had a great time.  Was it a ridiculous decision? Of course it was a ridiculous decision!  Is there any other kind?

3. SKOL VIKINGS. SIGH VIKINGS.

Well, Lacy and I went to the game.  That much is true.  And our seats were not really that bad — we could see every blown opportunity just perfectly!

Jared Allen

We could also see Jared Allen's butt perfectly, so that's something.

Actually, that’s not nice.  They played thirty minutes of great football!  And then whatever happens to them at halftime every week happened again, and it was like the second they came out of the locker room — with a 20-0 lead — everyone in the place felt it.  It was no longer a winning football game.

I still managed to have some fun.  Being there with Lacy, for instance, was great.

Rachel and Lacy at football

This picture was taken during the first half; notice the absence of tears.

The, shall we say, tight ends are always appreciated.  Seeing my name on the back of about half the people in the stadium is a weird kind of thrill, too.  Chris Kluwe’s ricochet-style tackle was about as cute as a tackle can be.  And Jared Allen showed up, even if some of the rest of the team (or coaching staff) didn’t.

My throat hurts from 3.5 hours of screaming; my soul hurts from a lifetime of caring.  I’m not a sports analyst (or a movie critic, clearly); I just love the Vikings a little too much.  I don’t know what’s going on with them right now, but I will continue to cheer them on, lose or lose worse, season after season, because that’s just the kind of idiot I am.

Who wants to go to the next game with me???

Best Things of the Week!

I’m not feeling super great today, so this will be both a short post and a way to cheer myself up.

1. I’m Certifiable!

A few weeks ago, I took a class at Dakota County Technical College; this week, I found out I passed — I am now a Certified Master of Social Media.

Social Media images

Internet, you just got owned.

Does this mean I know everything there is to know about social media? Obviously not. But I do have a good knowledge base and a good idea of how to keep up on this world. (’90s Rachel still can’t believe this is her life, by the way)

2. Lazy Saturday – my life isn’t all pedicures and shoe shopping

Look, sometimes a girl just wants to kick back with an old friend, grab some beer and some delivery Chinese, and play some SuperNintendo.

SNES control

As a Master of Social Media it's important to keep up on new technology.

3. Boooooo!

My love of ghost tours is already established.  I fell in love with the Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul during a tour last year.  The speakeasy/gangster history gets me (Tommy gun marks in the fireplace!), and it’s on the list of most haunted places in Minnesota.

front of the caves

My fellow ghost-hunting enthusiast Sabrina flew in for a visit this weekend and we decided to visit the Caves for the monthly “All Souls” Tour.  It was almost more fun – and creepier – than last time.  I absolutely recommend this place and can’t wait to go on the other tour offerings.  Particularly the gangster tour.

John Dillinger and Rachel

John Dillinger, you can be my ghost boyfriend.

 

Fabio on a piano will sell this deodorant

Last week, one of my social media classes talked about the concept of “going viral.”  One of the best examples was all about this guy:

No doubt, a very successful ad campaign that completely exploded on YouTube.  It’s funny and memorable and has made a star out of Isaiah Mustafa (aka the man your man could smell like).  There’s no way Old Spice can reach this level of viral success again; they also have to retire this ad campaign before it outlasts its welcome and becomes a failed TV sitcom.

In that spirit…there’s this now:

I’m left with the feeling of “is this real life?” I can’t tell if it’s going to be a successful campaign or not, but the comments suggest no one was begging for a new Old Spice guy.  Still, I spent the past ten minutes Googling Old Spice, and I still kind of can’t get over the way Fabio says “Old spices.”  Or, you know, anything.

Fabio modeling for the cover of his own book

Also, I once caught my 79-year-old office mate reading this book. Note Fabio is the author AND the cover model.

What do you think?  Is this the definition of trying to hard?  Is it funny anyway?  How old is Fabio and does he even have a last name?

#NKOTBSB (New Kids, Old Technology, Backstreet Boys)

Honestly, I haven’t thought that much about the New Kids on the Block in the past two decades. It would be weird if I did. But you cannot unlove the things you loved before you were twelve, and I loved NKOTB, hard, from about ages 5-7. There’s a reason I never got rid of that t-shirt – and not just because my brother bought it for me (he was 9 and I was 5, how adorable is that?). It was so I’d have something to wear 21 years later when I finally saw the, um, “New Kids” in concert.

Rachel in the NKOTB tshirt now

Once again not wearing pants; that's a skirt.

It gets better, of course, since the men of my childhood dreams are on tour with the men of my teenage dreams, the Backstreet Boys.  They have combined into some new entity called, and I still wonder if they’re kidding about this, “NKOTBSB.” Really guys?  Are you sure you want to go with that?

I dragged my “but I was an NSYNC girl” best friend Lacy* along for the ride.  I think I wore her down with repeated viewings of this video:

She could not resist those moves or outfits.

Lacy and I arrived at the concert in time to see the opening act, Matthew Morrison (yes, the guy from Glee), which would have been more exciting if either of us liked Glee.  And while he is amazingly talented, he was not in a boy band from our childhood, and couldn’t quite hold our interests.  Instead, we people-watched and joked.  Lacy posted a few of our choice statements on Facebook through her BlackBerry, and I thought, “this would be a great event to live-Tweet.”  Unfortunately, I seem to like my cell phones like I like my boy bands: from the ’90s.  My phone makes and receives calls and texts (most of the time), but that is the extent of its power; Tweeting was not an option.

I’ve been thinking of upgrading my phone for a while now, as I live in a world where instant communication is expected and goes beyond just phone calls or texts.  I’ve resisted out of a strong desire not to spend more money on something I’ve lived without so long (for a social-media-expert-in-training, I can be a real curmudgeon).  I can check my email at home; I do not need to “check in” everywhere I go because if it’s fun or awkward I’ll just write about it here later; and GPS? Try a paper map from 1989 that doesn’t even include the Target Center.  I’m all set!  Right?

There’s also the benefit of paying attention to reality.  Had I had my eyes on my cell phone, I would have missed the nostalgic magic.  And a strange kind of magic it was; the kind that can only exist in a room of 15,000 screaming 20-40 year old women.  The kind that made me realize I will never not be five years old, because the second Jordan Knight came on stage I lost my damn mind.  If I had been able to Tweet, there’s a good chance I just would have gone “Squeee!” and then forgotten about it anyway.  So here’s a more coherent translation of what I thought during the event:

1) All of these dudes aged really well.  Surprisingly well.  I did not come into this evening expecting to develop a crush on Donnie Wahlberg, but these things happen, right?

New Kids in Minneapolis

Donnie Wahlberg, commanding the Target Center with his abs.

2) I know all the words to songs I forgot existed.  Good job, brain.  You could be doing other things, like remembering your friends’ birthdays, but no, this is clearly a better use of your time.

3) Donnie wore a “Public Enemy” t-shirt, much like the one he wore in the “Step By Step” video, except glittery.  Drink that in for a second.

4) I’ve never heard Howie from Backstreet Boys speak before, and it turns out he sounds exactly like the cartoon character Phineas from Phineas & Ferb.

5) Like every musician who comes to Minneapolis, both bands referenced Prince and yelled “Minneapolis” a lot.  To which I say “I’m not from Minneapolis! Give some love to the right side of the river!” If I ever become a major pop star and play the Target Center, I promise to give St. Paul a shout out, too.  And reference Prince.

6) There’s Jordan Knight again, SQUEEEE!

7) The Backstreet Boys wore white suits during “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” then threw the coats on the ground during “Incomplete.” White coats are for complete people!  Or doctors!

8 ) Near the end (but before “Hangin’ Tough, much to Lacy’s annoyance), the Kids introduced the Boys and vice versa.  This is a nice idea, but I’m fairly certain that if you’re at an NKOTBSB concert, you know the names of the band members. And possibly their birthdays, star signs, marital status, hopes and dreams as described to Teen Beat in 1989, etc.

9) 12 year old girls who are currently obsessed with Justin Bieber…we are your future.

10) This was so much more fun than I expected.  Really, I bought the tickets out of a strong desire to giggle and experience ridiculous things, but the reality was even better.  Oh-oh-OH-oh!

What do you think? Was the Twitterverse at a loss without these deep thoughts on Friday night?  If the New Kids on the Block can’t convince me I need a smart phone, who will?

*At this point I should add that Lacy is a good sport, a great friend, and usually has way more “highbrow” tastes than me. But she also appreciates the silly side of life, which is how we’ve stayed friends for the past decade.