My Whirlwind New York Business Trip

The last few days I have been on a business trip in New York City with MTV Insights. It was a Wednesday - Saturday experience with business ending on Thursday and it was probably the best trip of my life. I'm going to explain pretty much everything that happened to me during this trip and I assure you that I was so incredibly fortunate I can hardly believe it all actually happened. So let me tell you the tale.

I went to New York on business as I said. What exactly could a 19 year old possibly be doing in New York that qualifies as business? Well, through Her Campus I got the opportunity to apply for a paid research program with MTV where participants would discuss trends in youth culture, from fashion and music to our changing attitudes on the workforce, politics, relationships, and the media. Several of us sent in proposals for topics to discuss a a research summit and I was chosen as one of 11 participants to put together a presentation and discuss a couple topics with a partner in New York City in from of MTV Producers in both NY and LA-- LA video-conferenced in. MTV paid travel and lodging and I got to spend a few days in the city!

Wednesday I left my home in Williamsburg, Virginia for Richmond where I met up with my fellow MTV Trendspotter, HerCampus buddy, and one of my dearest friends, Chelsea Kubo. Our friend Darryl picked me up from the train station and drove us to where we needed to go. Darryl is such a great friend and he's going to be working at a big ad agency this summer in New York! I'm so excited for him.

Chelsea had to go to class and right after we had to catch a cab to the airport. From her classroom to the cab it was a mad dash. I don't know why I always do this but I'm always that idiot that packs 10 lbs worth of textbooks on trips where I will be doing everything but studying. The stairs were awful and I ended up missing a step and twisting my ankle.

Oh, my life. Of course I twisted my ankle in the city on my mad dash to catch a plane. Of course. I get to have a lot of great big experiences that really enrich my life and my world and my career, but the price I pay is everyday terribleness due to my clumsy and awkward nature. This is the life I lead.

I speed-hobbled to the cab. We had a really good cab ride. The cabbie was a really great guy and if you're ever in Richmond, VA and need a cab, I highly recommend One Brother Taxi. We got to the airport, checked our bags, and dashed off to our plane. It was one of those really tiny planes that is usually used to connect people to places. Chelsea and I were beyond excited, but honestly, I got a little nauseous. I think my stomach gets weaker and weaker as I get older, ha. I much prefer trains. The only advantage to planes is the time.

Our hotel was lovely. We stayed at the Paramount Hotel on 46th street, just a short walk from MTV Viacom where we were doing our business things and right by Times Square. I got to have my own room on the 17th floor with a TV I didn't watch and a phone I didn't use. Who's got time for that when you're in the City That Never Sleeps? Me and the city have that in common, I think.

All 11 of us were put in the same hotel and we'd all exchanged numbers and such beforehand via facebook, but it was still the first time a lot of us met each other in person. Chelsea and I got to our prep meeting in the Viacom building a half our late-- my bum leg slowed us down. We went through our presentations and worked on refocusing them for clarity and time.

It was really great-- we got to see everyone else's presentations and offer our ideas and input. I bonded with Junene Taylor and Jazzie Mercado and they sort of joined our little group. Chelsea, Jazzie, and I are under-age and Junene is 26 and wasn't feeling the bar scene so we drew up a plan to get yummy Japanese food! Chelsea grew up running around New York with her dad so she knew a really great authentic Japanese hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Taisho in the East Village.

We decided to go back to the hotel so everyone could drop their stuff and recharge their phones-- most of us had spent the whole day travelling. On our way home, though, I passed by the Nederlander, the theater Newsies calls home (if you do not know how much I love this show, you have not been reading this blog very long) and happened to catch everyone at stage door.

And guess who I caught at stage door?

LaVon Fisher-Wilson, also known as Miss Medda Larkin, also known as my sassy Broadway aunt. She aunt-dopted me through twitter and we have a special bond (hahaha!). Jazzie almost got hit by a bus running over. I'm exaggerating, but only by a little.

We went back to the hotel and charged up our phones. a couple of us napped. We met back down in the lobby again and decided that we were all very hungry and that maybe the East Village was too far to go for our dinner-- especially since we needed to be back so we could work on our presentations more. The cab would be expensive and we could probably find somewhere else to eat, we thought. So we walked outside the hotel to figure out where to eat when all of a sudden a limo pulled up.

The driver rolls down the window and says, "$20 I'll take you anywhere in the city."

Now, kids, if you are alone, or it there is only two of you, do not say yes. Because it could be something super sketchy. But there were four of us and me and Junene are pretty big girls. The driver had just finished dropping off some fancy people at an event and was looking to make a little extra cash in the meantime. So we hopped in and had him take us to Yakitori Taisho in the East Village. Which, in case you didn't know, is a lot like wearing Balenciaga to an IHOP. It's not a limo sort of neighborhood...

The food was amazing. I would go back in a heartbeat. It's this cramped little hole in the wall and it was amazing. Me and the girls really bonded.

We caught a cab back to the hotel and chilled out. I went to bed late. I woke up late too. I was worried that my oversleeping would screw me and my partner over for our presentations which were that day. My other partner and I ran through our presentations before we left for MTV Viacom. Once we got there we met in a meeting room on one of the MTV floors. They gave us a complimentary breakfast and we actually did really well getting our presentations together and on target in terms of time. The missed meeting with my partner didn't end up being a big deal.

When our time was up we were moved to another meeting room. It was a presentation room with a nice monitor, a bunch of chairs for the producers, a camera for our video conference with LA, and some benches along the side of the room where we all sat. There were probably 50 or so people in that room.

Our presentations went pretty well-- I don't think I should talk about what exactly we discussed, but it related to our work and we talked about our experiences as millenials with certain topics. Somehow, I had the whole room laughing a couple of times, most notably at the end with the Q&A where the whole room was cracking up. I don't really try to be funny, but I guess it was my turn of phrase and my kind of awkwardness that made it seem like I was joking. There was also a point in my presentation where one of the execs interjected jokingly, "I swear, we didn't tell them to say that. We didn't write that," so I guess what I said was something that they've apparently discussed a lot and agreed with. (It was a point on post-internet nihilism and our need to find meaning in our lives.)

After the presentations and Q&A people began filing out. Some people stayed back to talk to me. One of them grew up right near me and we chatted about that. I tried to grab some of the catered food. After that we were sent up to one of the Nickelodeon meeting rooms. They had Thai food for us.

They sent us to run around for 15 minutes to take photos and tweet, facebook, instagram etc. as we normally would, since our discussion was going to be on our use of social media. Naturally I booked it to the Nederlander.

I can't help myself. I ran back and sat back down at Nick-- when someone came into the room. They asked for me and told me that the producers liked me and thought I was funny. One of the producers wanted to meet with one of his people. I was the only one singled out and it was so beyond amazing to think that I caught their eye.

We talked about social media use in our group until I got pulled out to talk to someone in production. It was a good talk. We talked about what I want to do and how I grew up and my thoughts on media portrayals of women. She also talked about a show they were working on. She asked me how I felt about being on camera.

"I-- what-- I-- I"

I basically did one of those things where I am so dumbstruck that I just started talking and hoped I would eventually answer the question. I'm pretty sure it came out to something like, I'm not glamorous or anything, I'm actually really awkward. She said, "That's good! Awkward is actually really in right now, you know?" and I said something along the lines of I never saw myself there but I'd be up for trying. As our meeting was ending she told me to keep in contact with her for anything that I thought might relate to the show or if I published any articles relevant to it all.


After that we went back to the hotel to charge our phones again-- what can I say, we're all social media savvy gals and we were running on 3G! I decided that I'd run over to the Nederlander again to bring LaVon some of the goodies I brought for her. I brought her some snacks and a journal because she loves to journal. So I went over to the Nederlander and waited for over an hour to try to get a hold of her. She tweeted at me and got me to the famously autographed wall behind the staff only door. I accidentally tried to come into the backstage area not understanding her instructions. I'm awkward. I saw Jess LeProtto warming up and Brendan Stimson who probably thought I was crazy.

Sorry guys! I'm not crazy! I just didn't know protocol! I'm so awkward sometimes I could cry. At least Junene was there to wait with me and accompany me on this journey of me being awkward.

Michael Fatica passed me a couple of times and I was pretty starstruck. I finally asked him if he could let LaVon know I was there. LaVon came out and I gave her a hug. She was in the middle of a show and had to run. After that Junene and I decided we felt like getting seafood.

We went to Oceana, which is this really fancy place where they print the menu new every day and entrees are at least $30. Junene and I decided that we were only in New York for a little while, and we had rocked our presentations-- we deserved to have whatever the city had to offer. So we treated ourselve to Salmon a la Plancha. I got it with a side of mixed mushrooms. I also ordered some oysters-- Junene had never had them before! I gave her one of my three. She liked it! She had a screwdriver too.

Ugh delicious, delicious food. We had a really good talk too. It was an amazing night! Afterward we went back to the hotel. Later that night, Chelsea woke up from the nap she took while Junene and I were running around. We decided to go do some karaoke! Junene was about to go to bed when we asked if she wanted to come. It was about 2am. She decided to join us!

So we went to East Village again to St. Mark's Karaoke which is a Korean-style noraebang with private party-style karaoke rooms. Chelsea and I agreed that if we met any cool guys who wanted to sing with us we had to let them. I miss singing with guys! It's a special sort of feeling and I haven't been in mixed singing company for a while. Junene and I sang-- Chelsea decided that she just paid for the show! We had a lof of fun. I sang a weird mix of Broadway and karaoke staples. Junene sang some really great songs with amazing lyrics, many of which I had never heard before. (I blame my weird taste in music.)

Love it. No luck in the karaoke rooms finding guys to sing with. Afterward, at around 4am we were hungry, so we went on a search for munchies. We sort of wandered the streets looking for somewhere that was open. I began belting out "Killing Me Softly" through the streets because, well, that's the sort of neighborhood where you can do that sort of thing.

As I was singing, we were walking and our group sort of merged in with another group of people. And that group of people included a guy (a good-looking guy) who began singing with me. It was wonderful-- he was good! And he began beatboxing after a while to let me do my thing, hahaha. I love moments like that, impromptu jams. They just make me feel so very connected to the world and life. We followed his group (obviously more knowledgeable than ours) into some 24 hour eatery with everything from sandwiches to pizza to cake. We stood outside to finish our number as everyone else filed in. I wanted to sing with a good-looking guy that night and I did. The city was giving me anything and everything I ever wanted. He hugged me after we finished the song and we went inside.

His group ordered and got food a lot quicker than Junene, Chelsea, and I. There was so much to choose from! I picked a chocolate mousse cake and looked for a table. My musical partner waved me over to his table. I sat at a different table closest to him. He talked to me for a bit.

"You have a beautiful voice, you know that?" he says. "You should audition for stuff."

I laugh, "I would but I'm actually not from here. I'm from out of town."

"Oh yeah? Where are you from?"

"DC. I'm here on business."

"How long are you in the city?" He smiles.

"Through Saturday."

"Oh so like, a week?"

"No, like a day or so."

"Oh." He turned back to his table. Chelsea said she thought he wanted to see me again. I got that vibe too.

That's the thing I like about the city though. Everyone lives hard and broke. People fight for a moment with you because in the next second you could be gone forever. Back at home, I know I'll see everyone around again and they know that, too. People I want moments with have to be pursued in New York, and people in New York chase moments with me. Killing Me Softly will always remind me of singing in the streets of the East Village of New York with him though!

The next day was our last in the Paramount. That night we would spend at the home of one of Chelsea's family-friends. We would spend the day running around the city, and that night seeing the one year anniversary show of Newsies. As a result, I wore two outfits on top of each other. This is a skill I mastered for events where I traveled, as well as during some stage plays. I wore a slinkier dress for the night underneath a looser, longer day dress + belt + cardigan. This is actually a really helpful thing to do-- it only requires a little bit of preplanning and it's kind of fun to do a quick change.

Anyway, Chelsea, Lesley, and I went on a journey to the famous Katz's Deli.

It was crazy crowded-- absolute madness. But it was so good, so delicious. I would definitely recommend.

After that, Chelsea and I wandered around while Lesley went to go meet about a job opportunity. We wandered into some cute boutiques-- Blessed Peacemakers was our fave-- and I even scored a vintage Dooney and Bourke and a vintage shop that was having a huge warehouse-style sale. It was originally tagged at $265 and I snagged it for an even $50. Awesome. I'll do a separate post on the bag later.

We also wandered around to different area just to see them.

For example, I just had to see the other Williamsburg! We took the subway-- it was the first day I'd ever taken a subway! In DC we have a different rail system called the Metro, but I'd never been on the New York subway til that day.

Chelsea and I treated it like our girl-date day. Chelsea is that friend who is at once like my mommy and my baby and my sister (older and younger). We just ran around the city together taking photos and eating cakes. Side note: Lesson learned-- you can't find a decent Red Velvet Cake in anywhere that doesn't require a waiter.

After Williamsburg, we went to Wall Street, saw the Trump Building, and went into Tiffany's.

From there we dashed back off to our hotel. We went into the lobby to charge our phones, and I flipped my outfit. We decided to grab dinner at the hotel restaurant and then dash off to Schmackary's to get cookies.

At the restaurant, I got an oyster and a meatball appetizer. Didn't finish the meatballs-- my stomach capacity has significantly shrunk in the past few weeks.

We ran to Schmackary's! We grabbed cookies! We dashed off to the theater! We awkwardly got trapped in a dead-end pedestrian walkway that was all weird from construction and had to wriggle out way through the fence. Down the street and into line at the Nederlander.

We had front row seats. Front and center, the Newsiversary, everyone was there. I could see the pit, and actually had words with the conductor. It was all so amazing. Corey Cott was on as Jack-- he was definitely more charming and comedic than Mike Faist. Mike Faist's interpretation of Jack Kelly is still my favorite though, but Corey still killed it! So did the rest of the cast. Wow!

At intermission I tweeted at LaVon to tell her I was in the audience.

She tweeted back at me that she had signed me for a backstage tour! WOW! I squealed and freaked out a little bit. A lot. Actually it was a lot. I couldn't handle myself for at least 3 minutes. I was going backstage!

The show finished up and Chelsea was in love with it. I'm in love with the show. It's so powerful. I ran out to the autograph wall area. LaVon met me out there and told me to get Chelsea who was going to join us. Chelsea came and we went in!

Wow, I love LaVon guys. I would want to play Medda in the show and LaVon is just such a wonderful, hilarious, kind person. She showed us around and we saw all the set pieces. The stage itself is actually really small and they have to store a lot of things vertically because space is so limited.

They really create a whole city up there. The set is so phenomenally done. And I saw some of the stars and swooned so hard. Aaron Albano, Brez, Ben Fankhauser, and Hogan were some of the few I saw.

I caught Brez on his way out. I introduced myself to him as the girl who sent the vintage Disney valentines. He said they were cool! I also told him I was on that video chat that one time where we didn't believe it was him and wouldn't let him in and we were pretty sure they were all drunk.

He seemed embarrassed by that, but he definitely remembered. What a cutie.

We took some cute photos with LaVon and I took some photos for John E Brady and his group.

I like awkwardly cut into talk to Hogan. I basically just quickly introduced myself and Chelsea and said that I wanted Chelsea to meet him because she just saw the show for the first time and Chelsea is also half Japanese.

He now follows both of us on twitter.

I saw Ben on the way out and quickly did what my girl Jasmin had asked me to do. Get a video shout out. Jasmin was the one I went with to see Newsies for the first time and she loved the show like i did. Neither of us got a chance to see Ben since we went on Corey's wedding day (or the day after?) and Ben was at the wedding. (We did get to see Brez's Davey though :) )

He agreed. He's such a wonderful great guy :) I got Jazz the video shout out. She wanted one from Andy too, but I didn't catch him. A shame because I got him cookies too. But he had just gotten into NYU, so his family probably took him for a great celebration!

After that, our tour was about over. I thanked LaVon again. She is so amazing. She made my year.

Chelsea and I went screaming down the hall, so giddy about it all. I think we scared the bejesus out of Kara Lindsay. I later explained on twitter and she said she appreciated the enthusiasm.

We also grabbed a photo with Adam Kaplan. How dreamy is he? What a sweetheart.

We ran to the hotel to pick up our things and then we ran to the bus station so we could stay at Chelsea's family friend's house. We missed our bus. We had to wait another hour. It was worth the backstage access.

Chelsea's friend Kazuko had cooked us some amazing food and let me shower and stay the night. She is a really interesting and welcoming lady. We were planning on heading into the city again the next day but it didn't work out. Because I was exhausted. and I slept for eternity.

It happens.

We caught a bus to the city and from there a cab to our plane. We were in Virginia in an hour.

Darryl picked us up from the airport (bless him) and we hung out with Chelsea until he dropped me off at the Train station, where I awkwardly walked into a wedding. It was really cute, but really awkward. The train was late. I called home and told them about my adventures.

The train home was uneventful and relaxing. Jasmin came to pick me up at the Train station and we chattered about it all the way home.

The spell was broken.

I'm back in Williamsburg, the colonial one, and contemplating everything that happened to me. I think in that city, I could conquer the world.


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