Stolen mezuzot and the comfort they provide

This past Shabbat, I had the honor of delivering the D’var Torah (sermon) at Beth Hillel Congregation B’nai Emunah in Wilmette, the synagogue where I grew up and am now a member. 

I thought I’d use my blog this week to share the sermon with all of you.

D’var Torah for Va-etchanan – Aug. 20, 2016

Almost exactly a year ago, while at work, I received a text message from my friend Alyssa. She asked if my mezuzah was still on my door that morning.

Alyssa is one of several friends who also lives in Hawthorne House, my apartment building on Lake Shore Drive in Lakeview. That morning, the mezuzah on her apartment door and that of our friend Debi were taken. It turns out our three front door mezuzahs were among several that were taken that morning from our building.

It was a bit unsettling, especially because it is the only instance in my entire life where I’d knowingly been a target of anti-Semitism. My friends and I contacted the local synagogues, the ADL, the building management, and the police. The thief was never found, and it didn’t bother me too much after that. There are some bad people in this world who do mean things, but I can’t let it get to me. We all hung up new mezuzahs and continued being proud Jews, inviting other Jewish friends for dozens of Shabbat meals and services since then.

I had almost forgotten about this story until I read through this week’s Torah portion, Va-etchanan. Va-etchanan is almost like a greatest hits collection of Jewish text — we read the 10 Commandments, the Shema, and the V’ahavta. As we read in the V’ahavta this morning, our portion reminds us that we should “take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead. Inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

These words are so important to our people that we should literally affix them to our bodies (in the form of tefillin) and to our homes (in the form of mezuzot).

I’m sure that many of us in this room have mezuzot on our door posts, but how often do we really notice them, or remember what they say? Inside of most mezuzot is the text from this week’s Torah portion — the Shema and V’ahavta, plus a section from next week’s portion, the “V’haya im shamoah” paragraph taken from Parashat Eikev.

Through the Shema, we are reminded to listen, to hear, to affirm our faith in the one and only God. V’ahavta reminds us to love God, with our hearts and our souls (little-known fact that the first song we all learn to play on the piano, “Heart and Soul,” is actually a piece of Torah!). We are reminded to teach this to our children. And if we obey these laws, we will be rewarded.

These words, of course, are so important to the Jewish people, but it is nice to have a reminder.

The funny thing to me about the custom of mezuzot is that it is not enough to have a reminder on our front door. It is our custom to have that reminder on every door in the house. It’s as if Judaism requires us to put up little Post-It Notes throughout our house. Good morning! You’ve made it to another day, waking up in your bedroom. Have you remembered to thank God yet? Time for breakfast in the kitchen! Don’t forget to think about your Judaism. Want to spend time with your family in the living room? Here’s a friendly reminder to follow God’s laws and be grateful we’re Jewish.

We all know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but the excessive number of mezuzot a Jew might run across in any given week makes me think that it’s what’s on the outside that counts, too.

Mezuzot are like a secret code that we “members of the tribe” can use to tell each other that we’re here for each other. I love to go on neighborhood walks in the city with my husband, Adam, and we always get a kick of counting the mezuzot — especially when they’re on old, elegant, magnificent Lincoln Park mansions. It’s exciting to feel that those homeowners and us have something in common — we’re part of the same team. Even though I don’t know them, we are connected in an unspoken way. It’s comforting.

And boy, do we need comfort sometimes. This week is also known as Shabbat Nachamu the first Shabbat after Tisha B’av. This Shabbat, we read the first Haftarah of consolation, the first of seven leading up from Tisha B’av to Rosh HaShanah. Like a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy night, these Haftarot take us from our darkest times of tragedy recounted on Tisha B’av to our yearly opportunity for a fresh beginning, the chance to start anew. “Nachamu, nachamu, ami.” “Comfort my people, comfort them!” God says to the prophets, instructing them to comfort us with words of hope in this week’s Haftarah portion.

I feel that comfort when I see mezuzot. In a world with so much persecution — both in the times of the destruction of the temples and even now — it is inspiring to see mezuzot on doorposts. We are telling the world that we are here, we are strong, we are united as a community. We are proud of our identity and will show it on the outside of our homes. What could be more comforting?

As I think about mezuzot as ritual items that go on the outside of our structures, I think about other items on the outside of our structures. As a Jewish professional, my passion is building community, and specifically making everyone feel welcomed. Our Jewish institutions all have mezuzot on our exteriors, but how big are our proverbial welcome mats?

BHCBE is probably one of the most welcoming congregations I’ve seen, doing an excellent job at making newcomers feel at home. But I often like to remind members of any community that our work as welcomers is never complete.

On our synagogues, our community centers, even on secular places — how easy is it for people to find us? Is the name of our congregation clearly labeled? Where is the front entrance? How easy is it for people to find a parking spot? Many of you I’m sure will recall fondly BHCBE’s quirky parking lot sign — “No right turn; right turn permitted on Shabbat and holidays.”

Once inside, are newcomers greeted by a friendly face, a security guard, or no one? Upon entering the sanctuary, will they know what is happening in the service? I absolutely love our congregation’s new laminated seat cards explaining the most mysterious parts of our service, and I hope that other congregations follow this model too.

Sometimes even a synagogue building can be intimidating to someone who is not an integrated member of the community. Can we as a Jewish community do better at rolling out the welcome mat when we’re at the grocery store or on the soccer field?

Thinking about mezuzot, I hope that together, we can think about other kinds of symbols we can put on our physical building that send a message of welcome and comfort.

After the Great Hawthorne House Mezuzah Incident of 2015, I felt a little uneasy and a little unsafe. But the overwhelming emotions I felt were those of comfort and support. With the support system of my neighbors and the Jewish community at large, it felt nice to know that Jews stand up for each other. And every time I see a new mezuzah go up in my apartment building, I get a little twinge of excitement. A new neighbor has moved in, and my community — OUR community — has gotten even wider. Shabbat Shalom.

Gluten-friendly?

glutenI’ve noticed that many restaurant menus indicate that certain foods are “gluten-friendly.” It is so wonderful that these places are trying to be inclusive of people of all allergy and intolerance levels — welcome to 2016! — but I just have to correct these menus. You do not mean “gluten-friendly.” You mean “gluten-free.”

Gluten is the item that these people cannot eat. So if the item is gluten-friendly, then celiacs should run as far as they can away from this food!

The term “gluten-friendly” would be more appropriate to describe, well, ME! I am very gluten-friendly because my favorite foods are pizza, pasta, and grilled cheese. I am the FRIENDLIEST to gluten! Gluten and I are more than friendly, we are besties! We hang out all the time!

Are the restaurants trying to indicate that their menus, their staff, their philosophies are friendly to people who cannot tolerate gluten? I love the warm, cheerful attitude conveyed by the word “friendly.” It just makes everyone smile. Who doesn’t want a friend?? But, come on, restaurants, let’s at least write, “gluten-free-friendly.” Or, “These items are friendly to people who are gluten-free.”

Some websites are showing me that the term is sometimes used to mean that items do not have gluten in them, but may have come in contact with gluten. Well, for someone intolerant of this substance, it does not seem very friendly to me at all. Maybe a better term might be “gluten-almost-free” or simply “may have come in contact with gluten.” Personally, when I open a restaurant someday, I may even list it as “gluten-frenemy,” frenemy being the word that describes a friend who is also sort of an enemy.

Gluten-free people, sorry that you have to deal with all of this! But, dear, gluten, I love you so so so much and I hope that I will never have to worry about eating you. You wouldn’t want to miss me, your friendliest friend!

Hosting the Olympics

Olympic-logoI have this really great opinion about a topic, but somebody else already wrote it.

So I’ll just share it here.

There is no reason that Olympic host cities should have to spend billions of dollars to create structures that will only be used once. Remember when Chicago almost got the 2016 Olympics? We were all devastated, but in hindsight, it seems that we actually dodged a bullet in terms of having to deal with the finances and the aftermath of hosting the games.

“What If the Olympics Were Always Held in the Same City?” asks Uri Friedman in The Atlantic. Read his full article here.

And even though Chicago isn’t hosting the games this year, you should still come visit us! I wrote an open invitation to the world back in 2009, check it out here.

Standing up taller

lumo_I have been standing up much straighter lately.

It’s all thanks to my new obsession, my Lumo Lift, which has finally helped me achieve the better posture I know I need.

The Lumo Lift is like a Fitbit for posture. The small device slightly bigger than a quarter gets attached to a shirt or bra clasp, and you press the button when standing up straight. When you’ve been slouching for two minutes (or any amount of time you choose between 10 seconds and 10 minutes), it buzzes at you.

It’s like a little version of my mom in my head all the time. “Sit up straight, Lia!” “You’re slouching!” “You’d look so much more confident if you had better posture.”

When it vibrates at me, I often didn’t even realize I was slouching, but a quick glance in the mirror shows me that I was. The goal, eventually, would be to live normally without the device, but until then, I am training my body and my brain on how to stand properly.

It comes at a good time, too. The Chicago Tribune published an article yesterday about the effects of “text neck,” where phone users develop back and shoulder pains from staring at our phones. I am sure I am guilty of this, too.

This post isn’t intended to be an advertisement and Lumo Lift is not paying me to write this, though I should really look into how I could make that happen! But I’m excited about it and I thought you might be, too.

So now I have my Fitbit monitoring my steps, my Varidesk monitoring when I sit and stand at work, and my Lumo Lift telling me to stand and sit up straight. Any other recommendations for devices that will tell me what to do?

The long way home from NYC with “lemonade”

Coming home from a fun weekend in New York took a bit longer than planned for Adam and me.

What should have been a brainless 100-minute flight turned into 24 hours of flight after flight being delayed, delayed, canceled, rebooked, canceled, rebooked, rebooked, and delayed. Did you follow all of that?

Travel troubles make most people very cranky, and I don’t think there’s enough money in the world you could pay me to work as an airline customer service representative. Oh, the horror!

But lately, I’ve been consciously trying to be present in every moment and to be grateful for everything. So, I made up my mind to be okay with our flight being canceled and all the trouble that caused.

 

Instead of being sulky, frustrated, and angry, I decided to make the most of our situation. We were stuck in New York, frowny face, became, WE ARE STUCK IN NEW YORK, happy face! The city that never sleeps! And yet, we can sleep if we want to!

So, we started off our extra evening by enjoying delicious burgers at a kosher restaurant. Then, I remembered Broadway. Many shows are “dark” on Monday nights but some weren’t, so I called the theater. It was 6 p.m. and The Phantom of the Opera was playing at 8 p.m. with tickets available. I snagged them.

phantom

After an amazing show, we took the opportunity to, together with our cousins and wonderful hosts, watch history being made on TV with Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. We went to bed, slept ’til 9 a.m. (a rare luxury for me), and took a nice walk to a diner for brunch.

I’ll never be able to explain why our rebooked flight had us flying from Newark to Minneapolis and then to O’Hare, but it did. We didn’t have enough of a layover for us to leave the airport and visit Adam’s Minnesota family, unfortunately, but we did have time for me to grab my favorite hot chocolate from Caribou Coffee (the closest location to Chicago is more than 50 miles away!).

And we made it home safely.

I keep thinking of how many things COULD have gone wrong. But for the most part, it worked out okay. Mostly because I decided that it would be.

Please join in with me — and help remind me when I need to be reminded — that life is going to happen as it happens, but it’s much more enjoyable when you look on the bright side and make lemonade out of life’s lemons.

Oh, I’ll definitely remember to blog about this

This is what my life looks like.

Lia: [says something witty]
Brother/parent/husband/friend/dentist/bank teller: You should totally blog about this!
Lia: Yes, I will! You’ll read about it next week!
Lia: [forgets]

Grocery store / person on radio / electronic item / weather: [does something interesting or annoying]
Lia: I’m going to write about this and it’s going to be great!
Lia: [forgets, and it isn’t]

Lia: I have so many blog ideas, I should write more than once per week! I have so much to say! There is so much in this world that is begging to be scrutinized by a blogger!
Blog: [waits patiently]

I can remember what I was wearing the last time I went to a certain restaurant. I can remember a story you told me six years ago. I’ll remember names, faces, facts, and especially the phone numbers of my closest friends in 1996. But when it comes to remembering a blog topic I had previously thought of, I’m hopeless.

I should have written about this topic weeks ago, when I first thought of it. But, I forgot. Luckily, I was near my “blog post idea list” when I saw this graphic on Facebook:

So, I’m going to appeal to you, both my in-person friends and my keep-in-touch-through-the-internet’s-nice-long-wires friends. Have I said something funny? Have I been talking in what my brother, Michael, refers to as “Blog Mode” (where I sound slightly reminiscent of a whiny Jerry Seinfeld)? Are we together in an unusual situation that deserves to be recognized?

Tell me I should blog about it … and then actually watch me e-mail it to myself, text it to myself, enter it in my Google Docs list, voice record myself, write it on a napkin, write it on my arm, or hire a messenger pigeon with the message.

If I say, “Oh, this is so funny, I’m sure I’ll remember it,” DO NOT BELIEVE ME. I’m deluding myself. But together, we can make a difference!

A touristy day off in Chicago

Chicago friends: You don’t have to go far to get the chance to be a tourist in a world-class city.

That’s what Adam and I did last week. Taking advantage of the summer weather and a vacation day, we spent a day as Chicago tourists. It was a great way to break up a normal week, and I think you all should do it too!

Need an example of what to do? Just do what we did.

BRUNCH
Kanela Breakfast Club, 502 E. Illinois St., Chicago

We started the morning with brunch at Kanela, which is conveniently the closet brunch location to Navy Pier that isn’t actually IN Navy Pier.

2016-07-07 10.11.10

Kanela turned out not to be our favorite restaurant, so if we could do this again, we’d probably recommend Yolk instead, just a bit west of Kanela at 355 E. Ohio Street.

 

SPEED BOAT TOUR
Seadog Cruses, Chicago Lakefront Speedboat Tour, departs from Navy Pier

I’ve been on dozens of boat tours around Chicago, but never a boat as fast as this. Notice how pretty and neat our hair is in the photo above? Check us out as we’re speeding through Lake Michigan:

2016-07-07 11.15.04

And the after photo:

2016-07-07 11.25.49

Chicago’s heat was definitely turned on that day, but speedboating on the lake almost made me wish I had brought a jacket … and a comb.

 

NAVY PIER CENTENNIAL WHEEL
Navy Pier

Navy Pier’s new Ferris wheel opened this year in honor of Navy Pier’s 100th birthday. Bigger, taller, and faster than the old ride, this one has enclosed compartments that each seat eight guests.

We enjoyed chatting with our new friends, tourists from a town of 6,000 people in Nebraska. I loved the chance to see my beloved city through their eyes!

2016-07-07 11.46.56

2016-07-07 11.58.48

 

TASTE OF CHICAGO

We ended our day of fun by eating every single food item offered at the Taste of Chicago.

Just kidding.

2016-07-07 12.52.10

But we enjoyed popsicles, pierogies, cheesecake, corn on the cob, and more at Chicago’s annual eat-your-heart-out event.

And then, we went home to collapse.

 

So, Chicago friends … take a vacation day, go explore the zillions of things offered in our home town, and then let me know how it goes. Okay, or just invite me to come along. Have blog, will travel!

Yoga under the stars

2016-07-02 08.28.12This past Saturday morning, while doing Sun Salutations in a yoga class, Adam and I got an up-close view of the sun — and the moon, the stars, the planets, and, well, as much of the universe as our scientists know about right now.

We had a blast (a big bang? a supernova?) participating in the Adler Planetarium’s monthly “Sun Salutations Yoga (And Stars Too)” and it was definitely the most unique yoga class I’ve ever attended.

The class took place in the museum’s Grainger Sky Theater, where museum-goers normally sit in seats to watch 3D educational movies. For our class, the seats were gone, and the room was filled with yogis who love science (or scientists who love yoga?) and their mats.

Class began and the lights dimmed. In the front of the room, the instructor led the class, directing us to different poses and postures; and in the back of the room, the man operating the projector screen interjected with descriptions of what we were seeing.

The graphics were dazzling and the colors were fantastic. Our instructor told us we’d be doing as many poses as possible that allowed us to look up at the massive dome above us, which was quite the experience. It was incredible to be doing this class under thousands of stars but in a temperature-controlled, mosquito-free indoor room.

The class is held on the first Saturday of the month and appears to be sold out through the summer, but Adam and I just bought our tickets for the October session. Maybe we’ll see you there!

He is not throwing away his shot … to see Hamilton

Benjamin Singer, my longtime friend since my sophomore year at Northwestern University, really, really, really likes the Broadway musical Hamilton. He obsessively memorized the musical’s soundtrack, he’s organized Hamilton karaoke nights in New York, and dressed up as Hamilton characters for the Jewish dress-up holiday of Purim (pictured below, left).

Monsieur Hamilton. Monsieur Lafayette. #Hamilton #Purim #RiseUp #YayHamlet @hamiltonmusical

A photo posted by Benjamin D. Singer (@benjamindsinger) on

But, due to the show’s immense popularity (and most recently, its 11 Tony awards), he hadn’t actually seen the musical. He has entered the show’s ticket lottery more than 100 times, to no avail. Upon hearing that show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda would be leaving the cast July 9, Benjamin took measures into his own hands.

That’s why this past Friday, when Benjamin and I were scheduled to have our weekly phone call, he was calling from the cancellation line to get last-minute Hamilton tickets. The line where he’d been for 72 hours straight. At the time of our call, he was hoping he’d get into that night’s show. (Did he get in? You’ll have to read the end of the interview!)

Learn more about Benjamin’s fascinating experience in this Hamilton line in my interview with him below.

Can you try to describe how big of a Hamilton fan you are?
When I was moving to New York, I started listening to the show. It resonated with me a lot. I was moving to New York and working for a revolutionary political organization, and there are a few common refrains in the show — “In New York you can be a new man,” “I am not throwing away my shot,” “They are asking me to lead,” and Hamilton’s desire to “rise up.” I started obsessively listening to the show and by the end of my first week after discovering it, I had already memorized the songs. I thought, wow, it would be a lot of fun to get together with other people who are also obsessed with this powerful uplifting show and sing it together. So I decided to host Hamilton karaoke in my apartment. We used YouTube videos people had created for karaoke and sang Hamilton songs all night. I’ve proceeded to host it three more times in public places and it’s a lot of fun. Then for Purim I dressed up as a founding father of America, and I co-wrote a Hamilton Purim parody.

Tell me about your week.
Well, I have been stopping by the Hamilton cancellation line over the last few months to see if I could get tickets but I was always too far back. There were always two or three people who were lining up for the next day’s line. I thought, if I show up at my usual time, at around 5 p.m., I could probably be the third or fourth person in line for the next day, which means I’ll get in. It’s a crazy idea, to camp out overnight on 46th Street to get a ticket but if that’s what I have to do to avoid paying $1,000 and seeing the original cast before they leave this summer, then I’m going to do it.

When did you get in line? [Benjamin and I spoke on Friday, June 17, 2016]
I got in line on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and I was the 28th person in line. As of now, Friday at 4 p.m. EST, I am the fourth person in line.

Why haven’t you seen the show yet?
I’ve not seen the show yet because it’s sold out through March of next year, and tickets on the resale market are several hundred dollars to $2,000 each. I’ve entered the lottery every day since it has gone online and I’ve been in town and I’ve never won, plus many times in person.

How many times do you think you entered?
Between in person and online, I probably entered it 100 times.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in November!
Yes, with some of my best friends [editor’s note: ME!], 22 of us are going to see Hamilton on Nov. 17, 2016 in Chicago. But I want to see it now because I want to see as much of the original cast as possible.

What kind of a line is this?
This is a cancellation line. They generally have about four and 10 cancellations per performance. These are because VIPs don’t show up, or people who won the lottery online don’t show up. Occasionally someone legitimately calls and cancels, too.

If you get in, how much will you have to pay?
Standing room tickets are $40; regular tickets are around $200; VIP tickets are about $500.

And you’re prepared to pay that amount?
Yeah, at this point, it’s the only way I will be able to see the original cast. The biggest reason for this is so that I can move on with my life! There are so many great shows I could be seeing, so many friends I could be spending time with, so many things to explore while I live in New York. I just need to see the show so I can move on and do those other things.

Who are some of the other people in this line?
The first guy in line is named Adonis. Adonis is a professional line sitter — he is getting paid $12 an hour to wait in line.

Who is paying him that money?
There are line-sitting companies that send people to wait in line on Black Friday, or when you need a new Social Security card, or when you want to see Hamilton. These people will sit in line for you. The client pays $20 an hour, the company takes 40%, and the line sitter takes 60%.

What does Adonis do in the line as a “professional”?
We call Adonis (pictured below) our “camp counselor” because he is our charismatic and capable leader. Adonis serves many roles — he keeps up morale, he keeps everyone orderly, he makes sure we’re in the right place at the right time to keep the order of the line. He is the liaison with the theater to ensure that we are cooperating with what they need from us so we can keep waiting in line.

If he gets in tonight and you don’t, who will do those things tonight?
There’s another professional line sitter named Ben, he’ll probably do it.

The theaters don’t care about these line sitters?
The theaters do care; I don’t think they are technically allowed by the theater but they tolerate it because the line sitters help keep order in the line.

How have you been taking care of eating, sleeping, and going to the restroom while in line?
The important thing to keep in mind is that we have basically formed a mini society in line. We take care of each other. We bring each other food, keep each other’s spots in line while we buy food or while we charge our laptops and phones in the Marriott next door. Another fun thing is that Adonis and some of the other line sitters buy memberships at Planet Fitness so that they can shower. I went with Adonis because he’s allowed to bring one guest, so I was able to shower there on Thursday. Or was it Wednesday? The days all blend together. OMHashem is it Father’s Day on Sunday? Oh crap.

Where do you sleep?
Our sleeping arrangement has been constantly evolving. The first night was a really new experience for me. I don’t have a sleeping bag right now. Nina had blankets I could use but I didn’t really have anything to sleep on. A few of us went foraging for cardboard boxes, and we found some in Times Square. Over the next hour, I adopted a new mindset looking around the street, wondering, can I sleep on that? Can I sleep on that? Then last night I slept on an inflatable pool.

Are you able to get good sound sleep?
I’m not sure how much sleep I’ve actually gotten each night, but I’m guessing around four hours.

Have you been able to get work done?
Yes, I’ve gotten a lot of work done. I normally work remotely, so it’s not that far-fetched of an idea for me to do this as long as I can talk on the phone and use the internet. I actually feel like I’ve been a pretty good manager while I’ve been here. I had a lot of calls set up with people who I work with, so I was constantly on those calls. When necessary I’ve gone over to sit in the Marriott’s lobby for a meeting or two so I could have reliable wi-fi. I’ve been designing graphics, working on our press strategy, and answering e-mails.

How do you know your place in line and when are you allowed to leave? Do you get a number like at a deli counter?
There are two things to remember for leaving the line — one, we take care of each other and we self-police; two, we use video documentation as a reference. We line up periodically, especially after each show starts and each morning. Someone holds a phone and takes a video with people calling out their numbers. That video can settle any disputes, like if someone claimed they were fifth in line even though we never saw them before. We record a new video each morning and periodically throughout the day because our numbers change after each show when people get tickets.

Are passersby confused by what you’re doing?
Yes, they are constantly asking what we’re here for. They ask us if we’ve tried the lottery to get tickets. Of course we tried the lottery! The lottery is almost impossible to win. More than 10,000 people enter it every day for 20 tickets. This is our last resort.

How excited are you for the show?
VERY excited, though I’ve tried to manage my expectations since I’ve listened to the soundtrack 100 times. I wonder if seeing it live will only provide a marginal increase in pleasure.

Are people singing songs in the line?
We occasionally sing out loud together but it’s mostly pretty chill. I would say there’s not too much excitement — most people in line aren’t getting into the show that day. But for those of us in front, there’s excitement and anticipation.

Did you have to cancel any plans this week to be in the line?
There have been one or two things I’ve needed to reschedule, but otherwise, I’ve been able to keep all of my commitments.

Have you gone home at all?
During the shows, we’re not allowed to be in front of the theater because there are hundreds of people waiting for the cast to come out. So that’s a time when whoever is in charge tells us — okay, everyone, be back here by the time the show ends, and that is a time when I was able to go home for a super fast shower and to gather more supplies. We basically have two hours of a break in the line.

How many people are behind you in line?
Right now, about 20-25.

And some of these people will be out there for days?
We’re telling people it’s a three-night wait.

Has it rained at all?
Yeah, it rained the second night, but luckily we were under the awning, but basically I stayed mostly dry.

Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself, about society, about culture from being in this line?
I think the power of the crowd to self-regulate and come up with rules that benefit the whole is one thing that this line demonstrates very well. I’ve also noticed Adonis’s leadership qualities. I’ve always said this, but the people you meet in the Hamilton cancellation line are the best people. I’ve been in two or three Hamilton cancellation lines but I’ve never slept overnight. I always have fantastic conversations with people — about theater, about government, about life. They’re just very thoughtful, smart, interesting, fun people.

Why did you leave those lines?
I wasn’t prepared to stay overnight. I had just stopped to wait for the day, but I didn’t have toiletries or a sleeping bag or anything. I thought the idea of staying overnight was crazy. But now, desperate times call for desperate measures.

 

EPILOGUE

We made it into the “room where it happens”! About 25 minutes before the show on Friday, after 73.5 hours of waiting in line, everyone ahead of us had gotten in. Then a theater staff member walked towards us with a big smile on her face, and took the rope aside. I said “One or two????” And she said, “Two!” We were so excited to find that our seats were front row, in the center section, and we were sitting by our friends from line! These were lottery tickets, so the winners must have not checked their e-mails. We had to pay $199 each, but of course it was worth it to sit front row center. We took pictures in front of the stage, then I went to buy a bunch of merchandise before the show, and then the magic began.

Everyone around me sobbed and laughed the whole night. The emotional impact was dulled for me because I already knew the whole show and its ups and downs. But there’s no substitute for seeing Lin’s acting up close, and having the actors look you in the face. My favorite part was Burr’s dance at the end of the Room Where It Happens. That man is so graceful. I could watch him dance all night.

Ultimately it was so worth the 74 hours waiting to get to sit front row, center, for the world’s hottest ticket to the most incredibly entertaining and uplifting show, and not have to pay an arm and a leg. I will never forget it. And, thanks to Lia’s “Bril-lia-nce” blog, neither will you! Thanks for reading.

“The world will never be the same.”