The Five!

1. Okay, so I am back from New York for three whole hours and here I am blogging. Why? I have no idea. I am exhausted, my feet STILL hurt and will for a few days from all the walking (I don’t know how New Yorkers do it, I am active/run/do the elliptical and STILL the walking slays me, every single trip). But I had SO MUCH FUN that I have to share. So here I am. Tuesday morning, I got up super early, even for me, at 5am and got ready to go. My daughter was not happy, but since husband had already dangled a trip to Target (read: POSSIBILITY OF TOYS) in the near future, not weeping either. Flight was smooth and foggy. It was surreal to be landing, landing, landing and see nothing but white and clouds, and then suddenly BOOM: there’s the city. Whoa! I dropped my stuff at the hotel, then went off to meet my editor for lunch. We went to a restaurant where lots of actor types hang out (they were shooting something right outside, not that I could tell what it was) and I am SORT of sure Angela Bassett was at the next table. Although maybe it was just someone who looked like her. But we’ll never know, so I am saying it was. Great lunch, then I went to the Disney Store to look for princess gear for my daughter. It was a TOTAL MADHOUSE. Mickey singing overhead, harried parents pushing overloaded strollers, crying children. I barely made it out alive. Now, I had chosen to stay near Times Square this trip, which my editor and other folks later pointed out to me is, for New Yorkers, basically like the seventh circle of hell. They just Do Not Go There Unless Absolutely Necessary. For me, though, it was kind of fun to just see all the touristy stuff. Also, there are a LOT of stores, which came in handy later than night when I needed to make my sign for…

…Good Morning America the next morning. But I should back up. BEFORE I left I, ever prepared person that I am, told my husband I was thinking I’d pre-make my sign and just bring it with me. He said, “Dessen. You’re going to New York. They will have posterboard there. Don’t be a nerd.” (I would like to point out, as an aside, that he says these last four words to me pretty much every single day.) So there I am, on Tuesday night after a wine-filled dinner with my agent, looking for poster board in Times Square. There is NONE. I checked every drugstore within a three block radius of my hotel. NONE! I was sort of freaking out, because I planned to be up super early again to get a good spot in front of the GMA studio. Finally (cursing my husband under my breath) I just bought a pack of manila envelopes and some tape, which I then crafted into a sign using my nail scissors. It was like McGyver, but with school supplies. I did as much of it as I could before falling asleep, then took it with me the next morning to finish while I waited for the show to start.

3. Wednesday morning, 6am or so. It is RAINING. Which is not good when you are carrying a paper sign that is not even finished. I rushed to the studio in Times Square, hoping I’d be early enough for a good spot and..there was nobody there. Okay, there was ONE person there, but I had a feeling he was drunk and/or crazy and had been there all night. But still! I went to a nearby Starbucks for caffeine. There is nobody there either, except this couple wearing cowboy hats. While I was waiting for my latte, the bell over the door rings and this guy comes in. He is VERY tall and wearing a suit and I realize it is Josh Elliott, the newsreader from GMA who I have basically been stalking on Twitter. He looks right at me and points, like he recognizes me and I….totally do nothing. I choke. I stand there, with my big stupid (unfinished, manila folder damn my stupid husband) sign and don’t even respond to his acknowledgment. Then, before I can remedy it, the couple in the hats is all over him, shaking his hand, saying hello. I am mortified and retreat back to Drunk and Crazy out front. Sigh.

It’s starting to rain harder now. Another couple is out there, with a poster board sign (!) they have wrapped in a garbage bag (!!!) and someone from GMA comes out and invites them to come inside. I am standing there with my blue sharpie, madly coloring my sign so they’ll be able to read it, while Drunk and Crazy tries to bum cigarettes off of me. He IS gallant enough to offer me his umbrella, which, when opened, turns out to be all spikes, bent in a million directions. Um, thank you? Eventually a nice GMA staffer emerges and offers me a yellow Good Morning America umbrella, which he then apologetically explains I WILL have to return when I leave. I am just happy to have something over that won’t poke my eye out. I am thankful and keep coloring, while also taking time to update my Twitter feed on the whole embarrassing Josh Elliott choke thing. Moments later, he tweets BACK that he saw me and I didn’t acknowledge him. OH NO! I am dying. And coloring. And telling Drunk and Crazy that I quit smoking in 1990, it was the best thing I ever did for my health, and I have not carried cigarettes since, sorry. A few minutes later, Sam Champion, the GMA weatherman, appears in the window and waves at us. We wave back, and I tweet that I just saw him. (The poor folks who follow me on Twitter. I bombarded them on Wednesday morning. I apologized later.) I go back to coloring (coloring, coloring) and then Sam’s in the window again. He points at me, then mimes texting, raising his eyebrows. Yep, I gesture back. Crazy Twitter Girl, right here. He smiles.

4. Now, it is POURING. Not even joking. I finally finish my sign and am joined by some nice ladies from Indiana, who are coveting my GMA umbrella. Face! It’s getting close to seven now and there are about ten folks outside. More umbrellas are distributed, with same careful warning about how THEY MUST BE RETURNED PLEASE. I have just texted my husband that the show is starting soon when a guy comes out of the stage door and points at me. “You,” he says. “Come with me.” I have a quick flashback to Mrs. Moriarity, my high school assistant principal, who said these same words to me more times than I cared to remember, usually while entire class watched. Yikes! But I go. Then I remember the umbrella. I’m like, “I have to give this back,” and the guy says, “No, it’s fine, just bring it,” and I say, “But he said,” and he’s like, “Really, it’s okay,” and I say, “He was VERY CLEAR ABOUT THE UMBRELLA THING.” But then they are taking me inside. I am still not entirely sure why until another guy in a suit looks at me and says, “This is the girl in the blue trenchcoat? But hers is black.” We stand there. I am prepared to spontaneously change hues, chameleon style, if it is necessary. Because it is COLD and wet out there and now I am inside and Robin Roberts is, like just walking by. Then the guy smiles at me and says, “It’s her, it’s her. Come on.”

5. They lead me over to a corner of the studio where the couple from Texas are standing, very dry and happy. The show begins and I’m just taking in all the hustle and bustle, seeing George Stephanopoulos mere feet away, you know, fangirling like crazy. Then Josh Elliott walks over and says, “So this time, maybe you’ll say hello?” And I do.

I got to stay inside for the ENTIRE SHOW. It was awesome. The crowd outside got bigger, the rain came down harder, but I was cozy and warm and you know, just hanging with my GMA peeps (read: trying to act cool and marveling at Sam Champion’s tan):

Barbara Walters was on first. She is VERY tiny and regal looking. There was also a segment about tech gift ideas AND some baby mountain lions. We were in the background of one shot with them and were warned, very casually, not to make any broad movements. This pic is a little blurry…because the lion never STOPPED moving. He also kept making this screeching noise. A woman beside me was all, “Hey baby!” and reaching out to him. I was like, are you CRAZY?

Then I realized I was stupid to be worried about the baby mountain lions when they brought a REAL LIVE BENGAL TIGER in. He had a collar and a chain and a handler that looked like one good tug would get him loose, easily. He also kept jumping on the handler, which wasn’t making anyone feel very relaxed. Yikes! Finally, there was a cooking segment, during which we were encouraged (and coached) to do lots of clapping and MMMMMMMM noises. Like, every time the person cooking said, “chocolate chips,” this production assistant would turn to us and rub her stomach, mouthing “MMMMMMMMMMMMMM!” and we’d repeat it. It was really quite cultlike. But worth it, because then they gave us cookies and they were AMAZING.

I would like to point out also, for the record, that the cookies were brought to us on a tray BY Robin Roberts. She offered them to us, made sure everyone had one, then followed with napkins. It was just so polite I was floored. I mean, she’s the ANCHOR OF THE SHOW. And she’s serving me like a party caterer. This is why I love this show (and her) so much.

6. Okay, I know this is supposed to be The Five. But I have to move into a bonus round for this last part. So all through the taping, Josh Elliott is checking in on me. He keeps calling out, “Have you gotten your sign on yet?” and I tell him no, not yet. I do not want to be super pushy about it and am really just so grateful to be inside. I think people get a LITTLE glimpse of my sign during the mountain lion segment, but it might have been blurring because I was a little shaky about getting mauled. Finally the show is almost over and I’m fine with not showing the world my jankey, damp, manila folder. It’s all good. But THEN, right as they’re setting up for the last shot, Josh Elliott calls me over. “Stand here,” he says, and puts me right next to him. Then he calls Sam over and says he needs to be in the shot as well. I am DYING as they count down, and then Robin’s reading about the Coats for Kids drive and the camera is on us and Josh Elliott is pointing at my sign and all I can think is I AM ON GMA RIGHT NOW and Y.A. IS GETTING A SHOUT OUT. Yay!

Suffice to say, Josh Elliott pretty much rocks. He did not have to be so nice to me, or nice at all. But he totally was and I will not forget it. I love it when famous people you like are actually REALLY good people. Gives me hope all around.

Now, though, there’s a certain four year old that needs dinner and my attention. I’ll blog again after the Chapel Hill Holiday Parade this Saturday, where I’ll be on a float with Dessen Racing, getting our spirit on.

Have a good night, everyone!!!