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Friday, July 29, 2011

just a building next to a grassy knoll

when the teen found out that we were going to visit the ILs in dallas, her first request was for us to visit the spot where the 35th POTUS had been assassinated (this being even more interesting than the idea of being in the birthplace of her beloved nick jonas).  morbid, perhaps.  but like her mother, she's been captivated by the idea of american royalty that was the kennedy family ever since she learned about it in school.  to us, that magical era that was camelot was rather enchanting, which made the tragic ending of it all the more sorrowful.

we were more than halfway through our visit by the time we finally got around to dragging my poor MIL down to downtown dallas for the museum housed in the former texas school book depository.  i knew she'd been there before and wasn't particularly impressed by it, but because she is a saint, she happily took us to check it out.

there was a strict "no photography" rule.  although i thought i could get around it with my phone, the security guards sprinkled throughout the museum looked imposing enough to keep me from trying.  the exhibit consisted of mostly pictures, video, and a few carefully preserved artifacts anyway, so you're not really missing much.  and i'm sure you've seen that zapruder home video about a bazillion times anyway.

the window that oswald shot his rifle out of had been restored to look exactly as it had on that fateful day in november 1963, and the entire scene was enclosed in glass to keep it pristine.  maybe it's because i'm a sappy fool, but i was sad and a little teary as i looked at that window, listened to the audio tour, watched videos and looked at the rest of the exhibit.  the teen was a little ways ahead of me, but my guess is that she felt the same way.

like other museumgoers were doing, we went outside after our tour and checked out the grassy knoll.

see that open window, second from the top and on the right?  if you don't buy into any of those conspiracy theories that are still being debated almost 50 years later, that's where the shots rang out.

it was rather surreal to be standing in the same area that we'd seen so many times on video and in history class and such.  and as we'd been told, there were two Xs painted in the street where the president had been shot.  i waited for traffic to clear before i scurried out to take pictures of them and the view of the book depository building from each one.  it was so bizarre to stand there and reflect upon what had happened in those very spots.

we rejoined MIL and the bean, who were cooling off in the air-conditioned car, and decided to drive around the corner to the john f. kennedy memorial plaza.  i'd already read that it wasn't really something that necessarily required a stop, but at least we could see it as we drove slowly by.  luckily, there wasn't much traffic and we could get a good look at it without having to rush.  first, a last look at the street where the assassination had taken place:

and then the memorial - originally dedicated in 1970 and then restored in time for its 30th anniversary.  according to the website, it's designed as an open tomb - four walls with no ceiling, to symbolize the freedom of JFK's spirit.  inside, there's a slab of granite with his full name carved and painted gold.

on our way back to the freeway (highway?  turnpike?  i was never sure what to call it), we passed reunion tower, where FIL had taken MIL for her birthday dinner last month.

while it wasn't what you could really call "fun," we really appreciated the opportunity to visit a site as historic as this.  we didn't take any pictures of ourselves, because well - it really wouldn't be super appropriate to smile, now would it?  but it was fantastic education-wise, and we were impressed with all the knowledge that rock-ell managed to soak in during our short visit.  she takes a crapload of teasing from us over her sporadic bouts of slight ditziness (love you, r!), so it was good to see that she'd really paid attention and learned some shit.  like me, the teen really gets a good appreciation of history when she gets to see and touch and hear it all in person, and i think it would be a blast to take the girls to similar sites over future vacations.  if she's home with us for spring break next year and things fall in line in other areas, maybe we can talk the hub into taking us somewhere really cool and historic.

we'll see.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

well, fancy meeting YOU here!

i SWEAR, it was a total coincidence.

see, MIL, sensing a need for some retail therapy (or simply some air conditioning in a place other than the house), took us to her favorite mall.  there is a ton of retail in her neck o'the woods, so there's quite a lot to choose from.  and hey, we weren't complaining about going shopping.

as she and the bean wandered off together, the girls and i ended up browsing through the shoe department at nordie's.  when the teen headed out the door to toss her empty starbucks cup into the nearest trash can, she came back in a tizzy and summoned me out into the horrific heat.  and why?

well, she'd heard some familiar music...and then saw this:

as we took this picture, the people working in the trailer came out and asked if we wanted to take a picture with a faux nick.  we posed in the blaring sun and accepted a little card with a code to retrieve the photo online, which would have nick's image photoshopped in next to us.  cheesy and lame, i know. 

as we headed back to the mall entrance, another employee came by and offered us some free granola bars (nick jonas is working with quaker chewy granola bars on some promo to find "the next superstar").  but the real gift was when she offered up this golden nugget of information:

"he's going to be here tomorrow, you know."  and at our blank looks, she said "nick jonas.  you guys are fans?  he's making two appearances tomorrow with us, at the sam's club and then kroger's."

i thought the teen was going to faint dead away, and not because she (like me) was sweating her ass off in the sun.

then the lady looked around and leaned in conspiratorially.  "between you and me, like, don't facebook it or anything, but make sure you get there early."  and when i told her we weren't locals and didn't know where we needed to be, she told me to check the website for all the details.

and when we finally had a chance to check it out, we learned that the trailer was making stops all across the country over the summer - but nick's only appearances happened to be right there in texas during our trip.  mere minutes from the ILs' home.  the very next morning.  and the first 150 people to arrive at the venue would get into an exclusive meet-and-greet with the young jonas.

with the first appearance about a half hour away (at a sam's club, so random) and MIL more than happy to be our driver, we created our plan of attack.  heh.  and with our body clocks still on california time, we had to drag asses out of bed super early the next morning.  but it paid off, as we arrived about three hours ahead of time and managed to get the green wristbands that gave us access to the precious meet-and-greet.

the sam's club employees were rather bemused at the mob of excited teenagers (and more than a few moms), but were really friendly and helpful.  the guy who gave us our wristbands even set aside one for the bean, who'd stayed in the car with MIL.  we were amazed - if this were at home, no way would that happen.  plus, they offered us cold bottles of water and told us that since we had our wristbands, we were free to go inside the store and stay cool instead of stand in the line.  didn't have to tell us twice.

we managed to kill a couple of hours and then found that he'd arrived ahead of schedule.  we got back in line outside - and it took about 2.75 seconds before we were all sweaty and gross.  yuck.  luckily, as we got to the front of the line, we were allowed back inside for long enough to cool back down.  i imagined poor nick having to hug a bunch of sticky chicks. 

just like the first time the teen got to meet her man, no personal items were allowed inside.  the event staff took one picture of each fan with him, to be uploaded to their website within a day or two.  the bean and i went together, and he smiled down at her as she approached him with big eyes.  she was speechless, and so i introduced her to him as he shook her hand and greeted her by name.  i totally had stuff i'd thought of saying to him, but i admit it - i was rather like the bean, starstruck like a mofo.  he shook my hand too as he thanked me for coming, we turned and posed for the camera, and that was that.

the teen went next, and i felt her giddiness as she walked on clouds towards him.  they exchanged big grins and a few words, took their picture, and then it was over.  although i watched him as she turned away to accept an autographed photo of him and the little card with the password for the online photo.  his gaze followed her as she walked towards me, and i smirked as that gaze went from her head all the way down her body and back again.

yup, that's right.  nick jonas totally checked the teen out from head to toe.  i told her so in a stage whisper, and she damn near melted into a puddle.  we watched rock-ell (who has zero interest in the brothers jonas, but didn't turn down the chance to meet a celeb) as she got her turn to meet the teen's dreamboat and then we were ushered right outta there.

i love how sam's busted out some jonas merchandise and placed it right as you exited the meet-and-greet area.  so strategic.

we turned and watched through the open curtain for a while to catch another glimpse (haha at the price tag above where i took this shot), and then we left.

we had enough time to hop in the car and scurry to kroger's, another super random spot designated for his second appearance.  yeah, we sure did.

but unlike the highly organized and much more comfortable sam's club, this one was complete chaos.  not to mention, we didn't get there in time to receive a wristband.  we were about 25 people behind the last lucky purple-banded fan, with no guarantee of getting that second chance to say hello.  there were others there with the same green wristband as ours, but they obviously didn't dillydally as that prized purple band was also fastened securely on their wrists.  and we were standing in direct sunlight.  despite the umbrellas we'd had the forethought to grab from the car, it was blazing and we were literally sweating buckets in no time.  it was gross.  and we could see the setup for the photos - right out in the sun just like we were.  i couldn't believe they were going to have him stand there in the miserable heat for over an hour, greeting fans who were bound to be hot and nasty.  ick.

and, unlike the first appearance, he was about 15 minutes late.  by that time, even the teen was ready to throw in the towel.  we stayed long enough to watch him drive up, with screaming meemies running to the car:

watched him emerge from the limo-tinted tahoe:

and we gave it about 15 minutes before we realized that the line wasn't moving, the clock was ticking, and we'd likely not get lucky like others had at sam's.  because he'd gotten there early, he had time to spare and a bunch of fans who didn't have wristbands still got in to see him anyway.  obvs, given the less-than-comfy atmosphere, he'd be there just for the exact amount of time necessary and then bone outta there.  hell, i would.  i scurried up with my phone to get a shot of him for the teen, and that was enough for her.  "i already got to meet him once today, i'm good," she said wearily.  THAT'S how hot it was out there.

inside the kroger, where the bean and MIL were kickin' it, i was amazed to see that there was a jewelry store and a full-on furniture section in there.  in the grocery store.  my pics are extra fuzzy because i was delirious from the heat, you see.

the bean and MIL were quick to fill me in on the awesomeness of this cart - it had a little screen in it that played disney junior tv shows.  fan-shee.

and so where are those prized photos, you ask?  well, you knew i wouldn't leave you hangin'.

see you at the hollywood bowl in a couple of weeks, nick.  make sure you come by our section to say hello.  you know, since we're like that.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

grubbin' like texans

one word:  BBQ. 

that pretty much sums up our eating experience for an entire week in texas.  heh.  and our first crack at it was at a place not far from the ILs' home:  rudy's.  it's a gas station, restaurant, and general store all rolled into one.  the hub was...shall we say? - less than excited.

inside, the ILs explained that it wasn't like restaurants we typically frequent.  here, you choose your meat(s) and order them by the pound, and add whatever sides you want.

the girls had fun choosing OG bottled sodas from the giant cooler, while i explored the chip options.

the bean made herself comfy at one of the picnic-style tables.

the grub came in a plastic crate with an entire loaf of bread.  sheesh.

oh, and despite the fact that rudy's is a chain, i gotta say - best creamed corn EVER.

i broke out of my box and tried a soda flavor i'd never heard of.  it was good - kind of like a strawberry cream soda.

the next day MIL took us to a mall, where we got to sample a cupcakery she'd been holding off on trying till we got there.  the deceptively bland-looking cheesecake flavor was really good.  well, okay - the chocolate was, too.

that night's meal was at nearby babe's chicken - fried chicken and a lot of it.  but really tasty.  i do love me some fried chicken.

during a visit to sam's club (i'll explain later), my mouth watered at the sight of these.  too bad it was a super duper ginormous bag - i'd have liked to try them.  i never did find a smaller bag anywhere else.  probably for the best, anyway.

i definitely got my fill of bbq'd brisket over the course of a week.  i love me some brisket, but damn - i ate a hell of a lot of it.  prairie house was the site of yet another texas bbq dinner.

 the bean got a kick out of the decor outside.

our last stop for bbq was at hard 8.  i was amused at the "first-timers guide."

uh...brisket, anyone?

the bean was confused at the "plates" - what looked like a piece of butcher paper atop a tray.

good gracious.  and when i got home, i discovered that i'd picked up a souvenir from all that eating - five extra pounds.  not even kidding.  FIVE POUNDS!

damn you, texas bbq. 

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...