Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Work and relaxation on the Big Island of Hawaii

As a stage manager/production assistant/event worker in a usually chilly and always crowded New York City, I find myself more often than not in the back of a conference room, the corner of a darkened theater, or a window-less rehearsal space. It's an unglamorous existence, but I do it because I love the work, not the views. It does get a little old and tiresome however - my Vitamin D levels have been on the low side for quite some time, and it's no accident that I choose sunny and slow-moving tropical locations for the majority of my vacation destinations. But a few months ago, I got the phone call I've been waiting my whole life to get - an invitation to work as a production assistant on a giant event in Hawaii. Naturally, I jumped at the chance (no really - I literally spent the whole phone call quietly leaping all over my living room, hoping the woman on the other end of the call couldn't tell how stupidly excited I was). Four months, two flights, and one minivan car rental later, I found myself on the Kona (west) coast of Hawaii's Big Island - and one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been.

There isn't much to say about the work or the event itself - regardless if you're in Paradise or Paramus, an event is always going to need schedules and walkies, water stations and fire extinguishers. But tracking these things down while surrounded by perfect palm trees sure made the days a whole lot more fun and doable. Also, I was officially released from work on Sunday evening, but my flight wasn't until the following Monday evening - and I didn't have to return the rental car until right before my flight. Obviously, that meant getting up as early as I possibly could to drive straight to the tip of the island and then slowly making my way up and down twisty roads with stunning overlooks. I unfortunately hit multiple patches of rain and wind throughout the day (the Big Island has 11 of the 13 different climate zones, and I'm pretty sure I hit all 11 in that one drive) which prevented me from hiking into a photogenic valley like the guide books told me to do, but it was nonetheless a ridiculously fun and picturesque roam through the inner island.


If you go:
*The event was held on the grounds of the luxurious Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island of Hawaii. While I can't report on the hotel as a guest, I did interact with the staff, wander the bowels of the kitchen in search of serving platters, and spend an obscene amount of time driving a golf card around the property - and it was all wonderful and beautiful and perfect. If I had the money, I'd stay there in a heartbeat.
*We were given accommodations at the (slightly) more affordable Islands at Mauna Lanai, two-bedroom condos that came with private lanais, secure gated access, shared use of a well-maintained beachfront and pool/gym, and a small shopping center on the property. If you're planning to stay for any length of time but still want a semi-luxury atmosphere, a condo rental is the way to go.
*A rental car is a necessity if you want to go anywhere off the property, regardless where you're staying. The majority of Hawaii's beauty lies inland - so once you've had your beach day, it's imperative that you see what else the island has to offer. From forest hikes to volcano sightings to coffee plantation tours, the list is endless, but requires a vehicle to get from one sight to another. I went with Enterprise and was more than happy with the service, range of available vehicles, and the quality of my sweet sweet minivan ride. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

status update

I'm between gigs right now and as a result, my brain is a giant jumble of thoughts and schedules and to-do lists and all the things I want to get done and all the things I need to get done and all the things I know I'm not going to get done even though I add them to my list each week and make a truly half-hearted attempt to accomplish. I did manage to knit almost 20 giant squares that I will eventually sew together to become a blanket (which is 20 more squares than I ever thought I'd make) and I treated myself to a float session in a sensory deprivation tank for my birthday where I discovered I could isolate individual muscles and learn exactly what they do and how they operate. Also, we saw Hamilton and I openly wept for the last 1/3 of the show because it was just that damn beautiful. April, yo.

*Building a better sandwich
*I can't stop scrolling
*Count memories, not calories
*How to find the allergen-free product that's right for you
*I thought I loved my Fitbit, but then I got the Alta. Now I'm obsessed.
*Equality parenthood

Monday, April 11, 2016

(new year's res) Ride the Staten Island Ferry

You guys. When I added "ride the Staten Island Ferry" to my list of new year's resolutions for 2016, I a.) assumed it'd take me nearly all year to get my butt down to Battery Park to then actually get on the ferry and b.) figured I'd have to make it a solo journey or heavily bribe an unemployed friend to join me. So imagine my pleasantly quizzical surprise when I found myself on the Staten Island ferry on a blustery April day with friends who were more than eager to take the trip.

I was playing tour guide to three friends from college - two of them had never been to New York but didn't really care what we did or where we went as long as it didn't involve a lot of walking (a recent car accident had rendered one friend fairly immobile), and the third had been here a million times already and was over all the "usual" tourist stuff. And after a disappointing stroll down Canal St., we quickly realized that this city is made for walking and there are really not a ton of options that are affordable and provide seated views of something interesting. Oh, and did I mention that it was pouring rain?

I was about to throw in the towel and tell them to just hang out in a restaurant until they needed to catch their bus later that evening (I was not on my tour guide game) when Brian had a stroke of brilliance. "How about the Staten Island ferry?" he said. "Is that doable from here? I've always wanted to set foot on the 5th borough." And I was like, "YES THAT IS NOT JUST DOABLE IT'S THE BEST IDEA EVER!" because it was a quick train ride away from Chinatown, provided seated and covered views of New York, was free, and secretly knocked off another item on both mine and Brian's personal bucket lists. So without too much further ado or complication, we soon found ourselves on our way to that red-headed step child of New York.

We didn't have time to get out and explore the island (Brian and I put that on our "next time in NY" list) but even without a subsequent romp around town, it was still an utterly fantastic ride. Yes, I realize that if I were using the ferry as my daily commute I probably wouldn't be singing this song, let alone devoting an entire post to the trip. But as someone who once took the Ikea boat just to get meatballs with a view, the Staten Island Ferry is a delightful ride with exceptional views of Lady Liberty and lower Manhattan.  Also, standing on the back of the boat and singing "Let the River Run" as we sailed back to Manhattan is now easily in my top 10 favorite New York moments. Because #werkitgirl