I woke up Thursday morning excited for the day ahead. I met up with Gerry and headed to Barnes and Noble, figuring we could kill some time, and get some hot chocolate from Starbucks. After wearing out our welcome, we headed towards Central Park to walk around for a bit. The weather during my trip so far had been beautiful, but Thursday was a bit too cold for my Florida blood. As Gerry and I wandered through Central Park I attempted to stay out of the shadows, but with the wind, it was pretty unbearable. Here are a few pictures I took before we went in search of a nice warm place to squat.
We checked the showtimes at the AMC but as fate would have it, it was that wonderful time when everything started thirty minutes earlier, and nothing would be starting for an hour. We didn’t have that much time. So our journey continued as we walked down Broadway until we came upon Cafe Eighty Two. We were both hungry so this would achieve several of our objectives. I was surprised, and a little disappointed, at how quickly our food came out. I realize that normally it would be a good thing, however as I was trying to milk my comfy seat for as long as possible, this certainly wasn’t helping. My grilled cheese (see below) was absolutely delicious. I plan to go back to Cafe Eight Two for a grilled cheese every time I visit NYC, thank you fate!
Another slight detour- During Worlds: Memphis 2008 Tim Landale and I ventured out into the city in hopes of finding a grilled cheese. We were successful in finding such a place; I ordered my sandwich, then Tim ordered his. Somehow Tim, and everyone else we were with, got their food before me. This made absolutely no sense as we ordered the exact same thing, but no big deal. He demolished the food and returned to the counter to order another one. At this point I mentioned that I still hadn’t received mine. He managed to get his second one before I even received my first! So as I sat in this NYC cafe I sent this picture to Tim Landale as we have a tradition of both enjoying delicious grilled cheeses and try to do so while enjoying each other’s company as much as possible.Tim hurt his knee and had to have surgery so he hasn’t been at too many events, but every time I eat one I think about him and the fun times we had that weekend. Thankfully Tim has been doing better and I would see him later that weekend.
The time had come to go meet up with Ben Hayes so we returned to the cold windy streets once again. The three of us made it to Katz’s right on time, which of course meant before almost everyone else. When we walked in we were handed a food ticket which would be presented at the register when we left. As the “host” of the event Steve Sadin was already there, accompanied by Patrick Sullivan and Gavin Verhey. The others joined us soon after including BDM, Gerard Fabiano, Matt Boccio, AJ Sacher, Drew Levin, Nick Spagnolo, Lewis Laskin, Matt Ferrando and a few more that I don’t know as well.
As we were about to leave, Ben Hayes realized he had lost his food ticket. After a few moments of panic Patrick Sullivan pulled an “extra” out of his pocket like it was no big deal. Gerard’s ticket had also gone missing, but Gerard didn’t panic. In his typical fashion, he simply talked to the manager and convinced them that he hadn’t eaten and therefore shouldn’t have to pay for anything. I don’t think that everyone could pull this off, but then again, this is Gerard. With the ticket situation under control it was time to make plans for the rest of the evening. Ben wasn’t feeling well so we headed back to his place, joined by Bing Luke. The rest of the group headed out for some drinks. (I’m told there is video from their evening of fun but I have yet to see it myself). We hung out for a bit at Ben’s, they playtested a little, we ordered pizza and it was time for bed.
Friday was pretty low key compared to the rest of the week. I visited with Kitt’s grandparents before grabbing lunch, then headed over to Ben’s with all my stuff. Ben still wasn’t feeling well, so while he slept most of the day I caught up on the latest episode of Survivor, read a little more of The Diamond Age and listened to Pandora. Later, Yoni Skolnik arrived to join casa de Hayes. With the tournament in the morning I went to bed around eleven, while the others stayed up for awhile playtesting, finding cards for their decks, etc.
Saturday morning arrived and it was time for another adventure. The four of us hailed a cab downtown to wait for Josh Jacobson to pick us up. Rather than taking a train, Josh offered to drive us from the city to the site in Edison. We were a little concerned about being able to fit five people and all of our bags into Josh’s not-so-large car, but we were successful. The site was as you’d expect, full of people trying to decide on last minute card choices, looking for that obscure uncommon that they think is the sick tech, chatter about the bar-hopping that had been done the night before. It was the start of another awesome weekend!
Round one was about to start and AJ mentioned he still needed three Jaces. Fortunately we live during a time when anything is possible. I hopped on Twitter sending out the request, and shortly thereafter Thea Steele told me AJ could borrow hers if he still needed them. This is such a wonderful community to be a part of. I had never met Thea or her husband Justin Treadway but we’ve interacted on Twitter in the past. We spent some time chatting about various things and Justin even gave me one of his Nope shirts. Little did he know just how perfect that was, as it would save me from having to do another load of laundry before my trip home.
During lunch on Tuesday BDM had asked if I planned to make cupcakes for this event. Before I could even answer, he told me was planning to make several dozen cookies and if I wanted to I could pass those out instead. How could I refuse such an offer? I found Brian who happily handed over the bag of dark chocolate-cherry cookies. As I was giving Rashad Miller a cookie, Jacob Van Lunen also wanted one. Apparently he hadn’t heard me say there were cherries in these cookies, as he is allergic to them. If you watched SCGLive that weekend you know he was ok. He managed to spit it out and no harm was done. This is part of the reason I try to stick with the traditional chocolate and vanilla, harder for someone to accidentally eat something they are allergic to.
The event hall itself was chilly and I didn’t have the luxury of going outside for reprieve. On the way to the site I made a mental note of the Starbucks at the hotel nearby. Joshua Ravitz likes him some Starbucks, so at least once a tournament we go together for a yummy beverage. He finished his match with some time to spare so we hopped in his car. It was heartbreaking. Apparently the Starbucks is only open Monday through Friday. This makes no sense to me as it is in the lobby of a hotel and resulted in us driving back empty handed. On Sunday Josh, being the super awesome person that he is, drove to the mall and brought me back a delicious hot chocolate. I couldn’t go as I was the coverage runner, so not only did he go alone but he also went in the pouring rain. I look forward to repaying Josh for this favor at an event in the future.
Saturday had come and gone quickly. With the unfortunate two-hour delay (ok not ALL of it went quickly) the entire top 8 would be played Sunday morning. While no one in our room had made top 8, I wanted to be there to support my other friends who had. Congrats to Patrick Sullivan for winning the Standard Open! You can find photos from the Standard portion here.
Sunday was another action-packed, fun-filled day. In addition to the usual festivities we were introduced to the young superstar AJ Kerrigan during a feature match on SCGLive. Later I caught AJ and Gerry chatting. These types of interactions are wonderful to watch and what I think this game should be about.
Most of the day was spent waiting for Alix Hatfield to finish his current match. After the swiss rounds were over we headed back to the city. There was something wrong with Josh’s GPS, although he refused to say that it was “broken” even though it wouldn’t work, which resulted in a bit of a scenic route home. It was still raining and at one point we drove through a street so flooded Josh wasn’t sure we’d make it. I realize I’m dealing with gamers who like to be risky, but I’m not sure if I was driving that I’d risk my car or the chance that I’d get stuck in the middle of the road. Anyways, we made it but had to pull over several times to check the GPS on the phone trying to find our way. Finally safely back at Ben’s house we watched the rest of top 8. And by “we” I mean I fell asleep several times throughout the top 8 and couldn’t believe that it was still going on each time I woke up. Congrats to Alix Hatfield for winning the Legacy Open! You can find pictures from the Legacy portion here.
Monday was here again and it was my last day in the city. I met up with Kitt’s grandma to take her to the doctor. The difference in her spirit since the last time I saw her (only three days prior) was remarkable. She was happy and smiling, much more relaxed, and obviously in significantly less pain. Her doctor appointment went well, again the cancer was improving. I couldn’t have asked for better news as I was about to return home. I took her back to the apartment, said my goodbyes, and with tears in my eyes, made my way towards Ben’s.
For my last night in the city, Ben, Izzy, Gerry and I met up with Steve Sadin, Drew Levin and AJ Sacher for dinner. Those three had attempted to go see The Daily Show, but it hadn’t worked out. While they were waiting however they had a discussion that they were nice enough to share with us over dinner. Name the best Johns ever. They briefly told us who they had already discussed. Obviously Jon Stewart came up, as well as John Hodgeman and John Oliver. We threw out names like JFK, Jon Bon Jovi, John Bonham, John Lennon, John Steinbeck, etc. I’m sure there are some greats that we missed, but it was a fun conversation none the less.
After dinner Ben was very excited to take us somewhere. It was cold and I needed to use a restroom so I was really hoping it was worth it. We arrived at Video Games New York and while I think it was worth it, I knew I couldn’t truly appreciate how cool this place was. I took some photos for those of you who are more in the know about these sorts of things.
I woke up Tuesday morning with a smile on my face. I couldn’t wait to get back home and see Kitt, sleep in my own bed and slightly less important- have my laptop once again. I arrived at the Tampa airport to find my handsome husband with a fresh haircut and a new outfit; this made it a tad harder to recognize him, but I could never mistake his smile. We walked outside and the wonderful Florida heat engulfed me. I was home!
I want to thank Kitt for all of his encouragement, support and understanding. I am so fortunate to have found such a wonderful man and blessed to spend my life with him.
Drew and his family were so accommodating and I hope that one day I can show him the hospitality that was shown to me.
Thanks to Ben, Izzy and their parents for allowing me to crash at your house. I can’t wait for the next time Kitt and I are in NYC so we can take you guys out to dinner.
Lastly, thanks for reading this. It has been an experiment, one that I hope you enjoyed