27 December 2017

There Was a Time When

Well that was a farce wasn’t it? Six whole months without blogging (here) and it looks like I’m gonna have to get back in the habit. The good news is that I won one of my fantasy football leagues — behind the force that was Todd Gurley — but the bad news is I lost the other one on Monday Night Football. I was ready to quit fantasy football, go out on double top, but alas that was not to be. Most of the time markers this year has been sports related for me actually, because I guess that’s what happens when the months blend together otherwise.

From the Falcons’ crushing (all time worst) Super Bowl defeat in January to the ecstasy, and wild off-season, from the Celtics. And then onward to Gordon Hayward’s horrific ankle injury six minutes into the NBA season... These moments have been the ones that mentally partitioned out my year, for better or worse.

I had stated that 2017 was the year I’d quit following football and instead focus on some world politics, but that didn’t exactly pan out. Still, stuff happened I guess. The brief recap basically goes like this: June was a short trip to New York, in July my sister had a second baby, August I surfed and hung out by the water, September I moved into my house, October we had our friend-family from San Francisco come visit, November was the San Diego Asian Film Festival, and then December I ran out to New York again for a second.

As always, I need to figure out how the next year may unfold, and it’ll start with hurtling off again. I’ve been in San Diego most of the year — something I'd promised myself I’d do because 2017 was the year to #adult, to remodel the house, and to get things settled down as much as possible — and now I’m ready to travel again. So it’s off to Asia for a few months. And oh yeah, of course I was supposed to write this year, with all this downtime, but instead I’ve only got an outline or two and a half-finished proposal. So, um, yeah...

The good news is, I’m back in on New York! A year and a half ago I said I was out but then I went this past June, for a magical ten days, and I was all the way back in. Each trip to New York always unspools in unpredictable fashion and this time I ended up hanging out with mostly film people, some of whom I'd just met. Also, I briefly volunteered for the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum this year — before major drama unfurled — and spent that trip visiting as many New York museums as I could. Overall, I want to recommend The Tenement Museum, which turned out to be a treat as it was only my friend (who works at SFMoMA) and I on one of the tours, and our guide just happened to be into Chinese art and history. Coincidence?

Actually let’s just skip ahead to probably my greatest day of 2017, December 11th. I start the day running through the Guggenheim to see their China exhibit. Then a dinner in K-Town with my old roommate, where we caught up and tried to scheme up how to hook up our most eligible single friends. Then I headed down to Club Cumming, Alan Cumming’s newish club, which was featuring a musicals night. That all would have been great in itself but not all-time worthy. But the night continued...

Around midnight, looking for more musicals, my friend and I popped over to Marie’s Crisis, a piano bar in the West Village that only plays show tunes. And my goodness, if I thought I knew musicals, I was soon proven wrong. A crowd of twenty or so people stood around the piano and sang along to like every song, with nobody looking at lyrics or anything. These were true musical geeks! And sadly, my Sondheim knowledge is weak, as 90% of the songs they played that night flew right over my head.

However, right when we got there, I noticed that Darren Criss of Glee fame was standing right near us, by the bar. I was 100% certain it was him despite a shaved head, and if you’ll recall, a video of Criss and Lea Salonga singing "A Whole New World" went viral in 2013, and they were at this very bar! Frankly, I was very excited, very very excited. You know me and (early) Glee. Anyways, I assumed Criss would just be hanging out and not joining in or anything but when Patricia Clarkson and Edgar Ramirez walked in about an hour later, I got giddy with anticipation. “There’s more than one celebrity here, they’re totally gonna make him sing!”

And sing Criss did. After doing some Hedwig and the Angry Inch — which Criss starred in two years ago — Mr. Teenage Dream himself sat down at the piano and then proceeded to lead everyone into that "A Whole New World," and then launched into a moody version of "I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Mis. Me and my friend, obviously also a fellow musical fanatic, were on the verge of tears. My friend captured all of this beautiful stuff on video -- usually a no-no -- and really, did this really just happen?!?

I know, musicals, C-level celebrities, it ain’t much in the recounting. But seriously, this kind of magic night does not happen to me except in New York. You think Blaine is hanging out at a piano bar on a Monday in San Diego? Certainly not! Anyways, as it turned out, Criss and Ramirez had come straight from the premiere of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, also starring Ricky Martin. Can you imagine if Ricky had been there to sing along too? Ugh, dreams!

Afterwards, as we stumbled home at three in the morning, I was so hyped up I was almost shaking. “This is it,” I thought. “This was a top five moment in my life!” And okay, maybe that’s hyperbole but just a little bit. A top moment of 2017 though, that's for sure. So yeah, it’s been a long year of in/out feeling awake and engaged, but my two trips to New York infused me with kismet and energy for the next thing.

I’ll start 2018 with a stop in Taiwan, and then I hope to jet off to Bali, Vietnam, and eventually land in Japan for a few months. Is this the most advance planning I’ve done in awhile? Heck yes! But the world calls you know? See ya 2017!