1 - This mega trip had multiple layers for me. It's been so amazing that I'm going to split it into several Thursday Thirteens, which I'll post in the coming weeks.
To begin with, this was the start of a two-week vacation from my day job. I had a very challenging winter and spring as my department switched capture software for my scanner. I was really, really up for this break.
Everything began with an overnight stay at my cousin's, because we had to leave very early for the airport. She treated me to some Jameson's Irish whiskey as we settled in to watch TV. Her husband and their dog Molly joined us, as Molly was very keen on demonstrating proper chillaxin technique.
2 - Having had a bit of a journey to obtain my passport, due to replacing lost documentation, my true enjoyment only began after we were safely through security and customs.
I sat next to my sister during the flight. She came to New York with my cousin and me - we're very silly at the best of times, and this handy tip on the instructions-in-case-of-emergency card aboard the aircraft had us in giggles. Apparently, using alien x-ray vision will be very important in a crisis.
3 - Our cab driver took us from Newark Airport in New Jersey into midtown Manhattan.
Destination - the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Times Square.
4 - The hotel was massive. Very Matrix-like interior. I adored it.
5 - But wait.
It gets better.
We opened the door to our hotel room and this is the view we found. For someone like me who thinks bigger is better when it comes to things like metropolis cities, castles, cathedrals and that sort of thing, our hotel room and view were beyond what I'd ever expected.
If you notice in the second photo in the upper left corner, those are the giant Blade Runner billboards revealed by the open curtains.
6 - On our very first day in The Big Apple, a red carpet premiere broke out in Times Square directly below us. It was for the third Transformers film.
7 - New York is highly associated with film and television for me, so I was pleased when we strolled by a film crew on our way to Rockefeller Center and we saw a camera crew mounting a heavy camera on a crane attached to a car for travelling shots.
I also stopped to chat with Romantic Times magazine's website editor Morgan Doremus, who was interviewing authors during the writers' conference.
8 - We passed by NBC studios and CBS studios during our city treks.
9 - Being the complete dance freak that I am, I tend to think of New York in dance terms.
Also on our way to Rockefeller Center, we passed by the hallowed Radio City Music Hall. There was a touring production of Cirque du Soleil during our stay, so no Rockettes. I had the incredible pleasure of seeing them on tour in Toronto, so I'd love to see them in their home venue some day.
Even though this trip was 90% writing conference, for me the performance of Swan Lake by American Ballet Theatre on our last day in New York was the highlight of the trip.
Some of you may remember that very, very high on my bucket list is to see the top ballet companies of the world perform in their home venues. As a surprise early birthday present for me (a few months early) my sister and cousin purchased tickets for the three of us to see Swan Lake while we were in town.
American Ballet Theatre is second on my all-time dance company bucket list (after the Mariinsky Ballet in Saint Petersburg, Russia.) When they gave me the ticket at dinner back home in Cole Harbour, I seriously wept with joy for a solid hour. I had no idea what could be in the gift my sister was handing me, and when I folded back the tissue paper and saw the words 'The Met' in the upper left corner of a ticket, I lost it completely.
I made sure I didn't wish away the whole week, but in reality I was counting down the seconds until the curtain opened. I was so excited all day, I couldn't eat. It felt exactly the same as my wedding day.
10 - Having been an usher myself, I knew there were no flash pictures allowed inside the house. So I snuck these available light shots during intermission.
What a GORGEOUS theatre.
11 - Also from my usher days, I didn't get too attached to the scheduled principals, knowing the dancers may be changed at the last minute due to injury.
We did have the scheduled Odette/Odile - Julie Kent, dancing in her 25th anniversary season.
But the prince was recast with Jose Manuel Carreño, who elevated the exceptional performance with a stellar turn as Siegfried. He had great chemistry with Julie Kent, and together they gave me chills.
I'll never forget his passionate leap from the cliff at the very end of the ballet. The audience gave the two principals three curtain calls. I LOVE curtain calls. During the final one, he took a personal moment between them as longtime company members and gave her a tender kiss. It's giving me shivers right now, thinking about it.
12 - Of course, the real reason for this trip was to attend my first Romance Writers of America's Nationals convention.
I've been a part of RWA for eight years, but never had the pleasure of going to the conference because I was never in a position to pitch my books before this year.
Of course, any member can attend, at any stage of their writing career, but I never wanted to go until I could pitch.
I am very pleased to report that I got requests for partials from both the agent and editor. Partials are the first 30 or 50 pages, plus synopsis, of your manuscript.
13 - That's my celebration Lemon Drop Martini at the airport on the way home, and my dog Xena greeting my sister on our return.
Join me next week for an in-depth look at the conference itself. An amazing, info-loaded experience that required a decompression period when I got back.