May 25, 2014

Don't Rain On My Parade

It's always funny to me that on days when I have to wake up early and I'm not going to school, I somehow feel like I've gotten an adequate amount of sleep and am ready to take on the world. That's exactly how I felt Thursday morning. As my second alarm sang "Gone Like That" by Josh Kelley, I took a few minutes to wake up and soon I was putting on my makeup and getting ready.

I watched Glee as I got ready, preparing myself for the very Lea Michele filled day I was about to have. I put my makeup on, said a prayer to bless the day, got dressed and rounded up everything I needed to bring with me, like my camera.

At 8:45, we left the house and hit the freeway. Normally we'd grab breakfast before we go, but today we just had small packages of donuts from home--Saving time and money, which is much more efficient in the end. On the car ride down, of course I played Lea's new CD and some Glee hits including "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Don't Rain On My Parade." My mom and I were gabbing about whatever and discussing possible plans once we made it to The Grove, trying to think of what else we could do before the book signing.

I'm constantly checking my e-mail and text messages on my phone, when I got an e-mail that had me so giddy inside. The Andrew Lloyd Webber play, "Jesus Christ Superstar" is coming to town and I wanted to get a press pass to possibly interview the cast or to at least review the show. Well, it looks like I might get my wish, as one of the "powers that be" said he has added me to the list for press credentials and I will be able to fill out a form to request an interview. So, now we just wait and see. JC Chasez, from Nsync, will be in the play, as well as Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child. Needless to say, my 10-year-old self is freaking out inside at the possible opportunity. The show isn't until July, but it's always great to get a head start and to get things rolling as soon as possible.

My mom and I made it to The Grove around 10 or a little after and met up with my friend, Amber. We actually met at the Lauren Graham book signing and have only been able to hang out one other time since then, so I was excited to be able to spend the day with her. Thankfully, she was able to pick up a book and a wristband for me, because the line was NUTS! We were letter F, and she got there as soon as Barnes and Noble opened. We couldn't believe how far back it was.

For a few minutes, we stood around trying to figure out what to do next, then decided to walk around. We were dragging there for awhile, dreading the amount of time that we had in front of us with absolutely nothing to do. We've been to The Grove so many times that, as fun and pretty as it is, there's only so much to do and only so many stores you can go to. We wandered through Forever 21, Sur La Table, Crate & Barrel, Anthropologie and a few others. I'm obsessed with interior decorating and (the idea) of cooking utensils and being able to host dinner parties. I was having fun imagining how I would decorate my future home or the kinds of things I would make, but didn't actually buy anything. Unfortunately, they don't film Extra! at the shopping center anymore, so things were pretty quiet around there after that.

After a couple hours had passed, we took a short break at one of the small tables with chairs near the Farmer's Market section. If you ever want to just people watch and check out the interesting styles and people of LA, The Grove is one of the best places. We talked and caught up for a few minutes, then decided to have lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.

We were actually able to get right in, with a table on the balcony. Even though it was overcast and a bit chilly, the patio was fairly warm. The three of us were a tad quiet, trying to connect to the wifi on our phones, talking about Lea and deciding what to order. It was quite the dilemma, since there are SO many choices to choose from. Once we were refueled with food in our systems, we were good to go again. And then we went back to our countdown, realizing we still had a good 3-4 hours. It doesn't seem like much time, but when you've already done everything, it's a bit more intimidating.

When we finished lunch, we took a couple pictures in front of the fountain, then decided to hang out in the lounge area by the restrooms. It sounds weird, but trust me, it's one of the swankiest areas. It's right near the parking garage and concierge. There are a couple of large lounges with couches, chairs, mirrors, decorative chandeliers and feel more like a living room than a waiting room. The last time we were there for the Lauren Graham book signing, we ended up in there to charge our phones and kill time, so that's exactly what we did again, and surprisingly, it turned out to actually be the highlight of my day. The three of us shared a couch, charging our phones and checking Facebook and it sounds incredibly boring. But, you add in people watching, laughing hysterically at the most nonsensical things and random selfies...and you have yourself the recipe for one fantastic afternoon. So many people were walking in, that it was hard to keep track or remember whether we had even seen them. It's like more were walking out than had originally walked in, and they always seemed to come out with a stroller or a guy from the back room! HAHAH. We also saw the dad from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." My mom spotted him walking into the restrooms and I thought she was crazy. But, she looked him up on IMDB and sure enough, it was him. We started quoting dialogue from the movie and he walked out soon after. We think he might have heard us saying "Opa!" and "Give me a word, any word, and I give you the root of that word..." So, there was that.

LOL…I don't even know. We were just having too much fun here. 

It's honestly a prime location to just scope everything out. I mean, everyone has to use the restroom, so you never know what you're going to see. We also started looking through Lea's book, which has a lot of fantastic and yummy looking recipes in it, good style tips and other nifty goodies in it. I have a thing for "Lifestyle" books, so I was SO excited when I heard that hers was going to be part how-to and part memoir. We all have our favorite things and stories to share, so it's interesting to read about others and the way they live.

Sitting for a couple hours and laughing about everything was making us even loopier than we already were, so we decided to go exploring. 

We love selfiesssss!
We really just ended up back at Barnes and Noble to take our picture in front of the big poster and to look for Monica Potter's issue of Good Housekeeping, because Amber was going to text a picture to her. We didn't find the magazine, but we did see the dad (Michael Constantine) from "Greek Wedding" again. We were kind of silly and followed him up the escalator just trying to get a picture of him. It was probably the most awkward and obvious thing in the world. But, I'm sure he got a kick out of it. My mom looked up his age and we realized today was his birthday, too, but we didn't see that until he was walking out of the store.

Where the signing would take place in just a couple hours!

Super excited with our books in hand. 
We scoped out the area for awhile, sat in the cafe - devising a plan of how to get a picture with her and the CD booklet signed (since they told us we could have it signed and then took it back today), and also how I was going to get the interviews I needed for the video project I'm working on in my convergence journalism class. Like I said, you can see a lot of interesting people around The Grove, and you can also overhear a lot of interesting things, much like the middle-aged guy asking whether the "girl signing tonight" is hot and single. So, um, yeah...That was kind of creepy. Then, we finally found where our letter was meeting on the second floor and waited. We were the first ones there and figured we would be waiting for hours, so we started getting cozy on a bench by the window.

But, we were not there for awhile. And for the first time, I'm actually kind of sad about that. I'll explain in just a bit.

We sat on a bench to kill time before it started, and we were in the section of pet books, so we were looking at some of the strange breeds of dogs and cats, mom and Amber were busy getting stuck on the sticky seat and again, we took selfies. 'Cause why the heck not?! As time passed, a few more people lined up behind us, but it wasn't anything crazy. We started getting ready...I was preparing a few questions, getting my camera ready and turning my book to the appropriate page that she would be signing later on.

Apparently the time was passing off quickly, because we hadn't even realized (or I hadn't) that it was seven and Lea was already there. It was only 10 minutes after seven, and they were motioning us up to the next level where the event was taking place. We hadn't seen her come in anywhere and didn't hear the cheers and hollers of the crowds when she walked in, like we usually do for the other celebrity signings. As we were waiting in line, I decided to talk to the girls behind me for my interview clips that I needed. I didn't ask anything too crazy...Just "Why did you come tonight?" and "Why is Lea an inspiration to you?" Pretty simple, and they helped me out a lot. Plus, it broke the ice for us and gave me a chance to get to know them a little better.

When we arrived at the next level, they took us straight to the line and it didn't stop moving. That's rare. As we made our way closer, one of the coordinator's started explaining that when we reached the certain point, we were going to have to put phones and cameras away, because there was a "security breach," implying that it was a safety related issue, I guess. Amber and I set a plan with my mom that she would stay back a little and take snapshots of us from afar. No biggie. As we started making our way through the line, we could see how fast it was moving, there were several security members on each side of her and the square area was kind of a madhouse. She was saying 'hi,' signing the book and people were walking off. Some were bawling because they'd just met their idols, but I'm pretty sure a few were left feeling like the experience was incomplete due to the fact that there was no time spent with her. We were almost to the giant table Lea was signing at, when one of the security guards said, "We're already at letter F?" I think someone commented on how fast it was moving or the security lady said, "Oh, that's all her." Hmm

Meeting Lea. 

Finally, it was Amber's turn to meet Lea. And then, if you blinked, you missed everything. Suddenly, it was my turn. The .5 seconds I got with her was such a blur. I said 'hi' when I approached her and she said hi back (making eye contact with a smile spread across her face), signed the book, said "thank you so much," I basically just copied her response because the energy around her was intense and before I knew it, the book was back in my hand again. Like, how did that even happen? You didn't have time to actually take in the moment; see her face, ask a question, wrap your mind around the fact that it was even happening or to get sentimental that I was meeting THE Rachel Berry, you know?? The one that I loved rooting for or getting annoyed with every week since my junior or senior year of high school. And I'm sorry...Does it really take, like, five people to pass the book? One lady passed it to another lady, who passed it to Lea, where a guy grabs it and hands it back to the fan. I stood there for a second or possibly a millisecond, thinking surely she's going to ask something else, or I'll be able to ask about the CD cover, but they were already ushering us out. I thought the Chris Colfer signing was fast, but that felt like an eternity compared to this.

My autograph. 
Lea leaving! 

Amber and I walked away, got our wristbands cut...and then looked at each other, like what the heck?! We met up with my mom and griped for a few minutes. And some of the reactions were the same...Or they were just in awe that they had shared the same air as Miss Michele herself.

I love Lea. I'm a big fan of hers and I've supported her from the beginning of Glee. But, at the end of the day, she is an actress and it just makes you wonder at times. Obviously Rachel Berry was based around her and her life...So, where's the separation between the two? Meeting about 200 or so people (at least) in about 20 minutes is just a little too fast, in my opinion. Especially for all of the previous book signings I've attended. I do have to say, she seemed really nice, but I just feel like it comes down to timing. Maybe that's just me being too picky, I'm not sure.

I think she's an incredibly talented girl and she's a hard-worker, but it also comes down to the fans. People who appreciate your hard-work and talent, and continue to support your art, whether it's the music, TV shows or movies. They're the ones who ultimately keep you around, and if you don't really care, that's going to show. I understand when people have off days or you're out in town with family or friends, and celebrities are human too, so they can't always sign or take pictures with everyone. I can overlook some of those things, because as fans, we can be a bit demanding at times. However, scheduled times that have been planned for awhile are technically part of the job description. You're on a TV show, you travel to talk about it, you meet the fans. You make an album, you go on tour and talk to radio stations. You write a book…you meet the fans to talk to them about it. You can tell when it seems fake and phony and you're just doing it to make money, it's all about that publicity; making sure your name is out there to promote the latest product. A lot of people can. This is one of those cases, and it reminds me way too much of the night I met the Jonas Brothers. It comes down to money and we're too good to spend a lot of time with you, because we're too busy being rich and fabulous over here.

We talked with the same girls who were behind us in line and we all sort of had the same feeling. Like, what else was so important that you couldn't spend AT LEAST an hour in the bookstore or just take a little more time with each person? A few minutes passed, then we decided to hang out by the walkway where she passed to get to the table. Pretty soon, security was making us back up and we knew she'd be walking out. Sure enough, she walked past speedily, waved, said, "thank you so much for coming! I hope you enjoy my book," then walked to the back room, where I'm sure she was whisked away in her fancy black car just seconds later.

Mom, Amber and I left the store after that, reliving it all over again. It's like I wanted to keep waiting around, because there's no way that was all. We drove about two hours, spent money for parking and lunch, stayed there an entire day all for a lousy (not even) five seconds with her???? Ridiculous. I'm sorry.

Our upset faces…But, I really don't know what I was going for here...

I don't generally complain about things like this. I've been to enough events over the years and have met many different celebrities from scattered areas, and I try to always give them the benefit of the doubt. But, I have to say, I'm upset about this. I'm glad I went, as it was still a fun opportunity to meet new people and to meet one of my favorite Glee stars, but had I known what I know now, I wouldn't have gone. I would have rather gone to the American Idol finale on Tuesday night, since we had tickets for that and it came down to one or the other. But, you live and learn. 

Soon after the signing ended, Amber's mom picked her up and we headed home. I was keeping us entertained with the iTunes radio stations, switching between stations until I found the right songs. It was a good thing, too, because we ran into heavy traffic. We were waiting FOREVER on the freeway. We got home around midnight, and we were wiped out. We filled my dad in on our adventurous day, then headed to bed. I started reading Lea's book, and I have to say, I was hooked from the start.  

When my eyelids started growing heavier, I decided to call it a night. All in all, it was a good day and I'm glad I went. I just wish things would have turned out a bit differently. 

Quote of the Day:
"Do not impede the flow" - a line on the info about the signing. 

That's all for now,
Shelby :)

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