In Which We Finally Succeed in Seeing ‘The Nutcracker’

What a busy time of year.

Thursday, I met my mom up at the outlets to tackle some Christmas shopping, then we went to dinner at Max and Erma’s. Then she stopped off at a Walmart and took forever to get home because apparently, the roads back there were covered in ice and there was a wreck somewhere.

I worked late Friday and ran some errands before Paul finished up, and he’s now working 10-hour days, so it was later than we both would’ve liked and I headed over to his place, where we went to eat at Primanti’s before another brief round of Christmas shopping. My mom and I had picked up these cute little hot-chocolate cups from Harry & David at the outlets but were short a few, so I was on the lookout for a couple more to gift to Paul’s siblings. I went up and looked every day this week and with little time left, settled on getting a different neat Harry & David for the boys and stuck with the hot chocolates plus Christmas cookies for the girls, as well as Kelly.

We lounged Saturday, then met Kelly and Brandon in Pittsburgh for dinner and The Nutcracker.

Now, the past two years trying to see the damn beloved ballet have been a disaster–the first was the infamous year in which they all stayed home due to a snow storm and I went anyway without a working phone, and last year we got stuck in traffic and were really late and had to sit in the back of the theater until intermission, because the back of the theater is where they stick late jagoffs.

So I was a little apprehensive about it this year.

Brandon and I decided if we were gonna eat, we’d best do it either near the theater or in the North Shore, which is close enough to the Cultural District that eating there was pretty easy. And then he filled me in on his city secrets I always forget about but really need to commit to memory. He suggested we park at the casino, which is free, then walk to restaurant of choice Grill 36 a few blocks away, then walk to the subway station between the restaurant and casino and ride it over to the Cultural District because riding the subway to downtown destinations is free. And the subway station in the Cultural District is right across from the theater.

Now, I started getting worried when Paul and I hit traffic on our way into the city. Brandon and Kelly got an early start to Christmas shop and were gonna get a table, but still–I started to get concerned that we’d be late enough to throw things off and that Brandon misjudged the timing of our walking, despite him insisting we wouldn’t need to adjust our eating time of two hours before I wanted to be at the theater. I had a feeling we were doomed to be late yet again, which would’ve been particularly horrible this year since I sprung for Director’s Circle tickets when they were on sale and got us second fucking row of the balcony, which ballet fans will recognize as nearly the best seats in the house.

But we had a great waiter, who made sure we got our food fast–and I don’t think he even knew we were going to the show, although the fact that they were already busy and the Pens were playing that night might’ve been factors. I wanted to be done eating by 6–we’d arrived between 4:30 and 5–and we finished well in advance of that and got to the subway station just in time to catch it over to Wood St.

I wanted to be at the theater by 6:30, and we made it by 6:20. I have to give Brandon credit on this one–he had a good, cheap plan that worked out perfectly.

And the show was fantastic, as it has been the previous two years. I love The Nutcracker so fucking much, it’s ridiculous.

I’d plan to stop at Sarah’s Christmas party later that night, but by the time we got back to Paul’s, it was late enough that I didn’t feel like driving out there then driving to my parents’ to crash, so I spent an extra night at Paul’s, which he certainly didn’t mind.

On Sunday, after having made plans to go to my mom’s Aunt Elaine’s annual Christmas party, Paul was informed that Emily had a Christmas concert to attend, so he did manage to squeeze in both. The party was nice, I hung out some at my parents’, and now it’s off to work tomorrow to wait it out until it’s time to leave and enjoy Christmas festivities.

Oh, and I stepped down as features editor for IYS.


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