Monday, November 26, 2012

Renee's Birthday / Justin Bieber's Believe Tour

I really wanted to do something big for Renee's birthday this year. I'm so proud of her and wanted to do something that would be a huge shock and a something she'd remember for a long time. When Justin Bieber announced that he was going on tour, I realized what a perfect opportunity it would be. At first I bought tickets for the show in Brooklyn, but then realized it'd be easier and more convenient to get tickets for the show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

I bought the front row tickets of section 5 a few weeks before the show. I knew that we'd have an amazing view of the stage. Eh, it's just money. A lot of money, but still just money. After a harrowing trip home thanks to Zipcar, the stage was set. The family sat down for dinner and cake and then began opening presents. When it was my turn, I simply told Renee to close her eyes and I put the two tickets in front of her. When she opened her eyes, she started crying and screaming. When she realized that the show was that night, she really lost it. She jumped up, hugged me and began to tweet and her text her friend. All the planning and money for the tickets was all worth it in this one moment.

I had a checklist of sorts for the night of the concert. The first thing on the list was making sure that we got to the venue safe. That one went off without a hitch. The second item on the list was making into the venue because I bought the tickets on Stubhub and I've had issues with fake tickets in the past. Check this one off. No problems with these tickets. Phew. Next on the list was making sure Renee didn't get kidnapped. Sure, she's 15. Sure, she's got a cell phone and probably could kick and scream and get away. But that still didn't really put me at ease. After we found our seats and went to go get souvenirs, we each went to the bathroom before the show started. Since it's a round rink, I couldn't see the line for the women's room while I was walking to the men's room. The men's room had no line. No surprise there. After a minute or two, I walked back to where Renee had been waiting in line. She was gone. A sane person would just think that the line moved and she was in the bathroom. Not me. I instantly think of the worst possible scenario. I text her and she doesn't respond. Now I'm spinning. Luckily she walks out of the bathroom in her new Justin Bieber t-shirt with her hair in a ponytail. I checked my phone and she was only gone for 3 or 4 minutes at the most. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

Let's start the show. Carly Rae Jepsen performed as the opening act. She did a decent job, but the crowd could not wait for Justin to take the stage. The screams and shrieks were deafening. I actually thought my ears were being damage from all the teenage hysteria.

Once Justin too the stage after a panic-inducing 10:00 countdown, it was 90 minutes of pure entertainment. He did all his big hits and most of her newer material. The dancing, lights and pyrotechnics were so impressive. His voice sounded good and mature. I give him credit for dancing and singing most of the songs. It wasn't the type of show where you could show that he could just wing it. You could tell it took hours and hours of preparation. Renee and I were having such a great time! Just took to a crane above the stage and flew over us. It was pandemonium. He even took his shirt off for one song. Wow. Renee screamed and I secretly had inappropriate thoughts. Eh, he's 18 so it's fine. The Believe Tour was must more impressive than both Britney Spears' tour that I've seen. He's a true professional and a class act to his fans.

As the show ended and the lights went up, I could tell that we both had a great time. It was nice to share something with her that was just the two of us. I can't be around that often since my life is now in New York. I'm just trying to be a good big brother.

Now I have one big, nagging question. What am I going to do when she turns 16?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Election 2012

Even from the start, I figured that Obama was going to win the election. New York is a blue state so there really wasn't much need for me to vote. But I thought it'd be fun. I also thought about people in Africa who walk for miles and days to be able to cast their vote. All I have to do is stand in line for a while and press a few buttons. I woke up on Election Day. I took the train from Josh's apartment and decided to pop into my polling place and vote real quickly. I didn't shower, brush my teeth, etc. It's only going to be a few minutes, right? I walked the one block and found a relatively short line. Phew. I waited no more than ten minutes to get into the gym at the local middle school. Then I walked inside and saw a crazy series of zigzagging lines. It was utter chaos. I had never voted before so I didn't know the protocol. Apparently, I had to get in the line for my district (I live in district 38). Who knew? That line took about 30 minutes. Not bad.
They handed me my ballot, which basically looked like a scantron. I went behind the little privacy booth and cast my vote. Obviously, I voted for Obama. But then there were so many other elections - councils, representatives. Oops. I had no idea who these people were and I didn't know if I was allowed to Google them. It kinda felt like it'd be cheating on the exam. So I did what anyone would do - I picked them based on their party. If I had to pick between more than one Democrat, I went with the person with the friendliest sounding name. That's how Democracy is supposed to work, right?
After you fill out your ballot, you have to get in the line to scan it. It didn't make much sense to me, but what do I know. I start meandering through the crowd. The line is out the gym. Ugh. This is going to take longer than I thought. The look on my face when I saw that the line actually went through the hall, down some steps and outside must have been priceless. Are you kidding me?
I was standing in a tight, U-shaped line. I wasn't dressed for the weather because I expected to be inside for a few minutes, not roughing it outside. The line moved slowly. The crowd's mood went from comical to outraged. The system seemed very antiquated. I took a series of pictures as the line went from a long, U-shape to something that extended around the entire perimeter of the tennis courts. Phew. I'm glad I got there when I did. If I had waited, the line would have been much longer.
It just keeps growing...
And growing...
And growing...
(This poor lady had to hobble along to the back of the line. She claimed to have a doctor's appt and couldn't wait. Sorry lady! Nobody wants to be here. Get to steppin').

As the line moved and we made our way back inside the building, the tension started to fade. Everyone just wanted to get in and out. The volunteers, on the other hand, were very frustrated and cranky. When I was next it line, I stood there like a deer in headlights. I was afraid of making a wrong move and then being yelled at and told to go to the back of the line. I walked up, put my ballot in the machine and received a friendly pop-up saying "Your ballot has been cast". That's it? That's it? I waited in line for an hour and 45 minutes and that's all I get? Ugh. I didn't even get a sticker. Eventually I made my way to work and went about the rest of my day. After work I went to Equinox and was bombarded with election coverage. I made my way up the endless steps on the stairclimber with five huge monitors in front of me. It was a barrage of news. Fox, MSNBC, CNN were all had talking heads predicting and and debating election results. It was overwhelming. It also didn't make sense because most polling places didn't close until 7:00 or 8:00 PM. I guess they just needed to fill the time. After my workout and shower, I went home and took enough cold medicine to take down a baby elephant. I missed all the meaningful election coverage and victory parties. I briefly woke up around midnight. I turned on the TV and saw that President Obama won his second term. Great. Good. Now back to bed. Let's see where the next four years takes us...