The Beypocalypse [or, Spontaneous Chicago 2.0]

anigif_enhanced-buzz-21988-1386931584-0[This is my favorite GIF of all time. Also, just FYI, this is a LONG post. Enjoy.]

I used to get annoyed at Oprah when she would endlessly chatter on about her spiritual evolution and all the blessings she found in life. I could never understand why she insisted on blathering on this way when life is obviously rather miserable. I have discovered, though, in a rather unexpected course of events over the past few days, that life can be rather marvelous and wonderful and needn’t be a sad promenade to the grave. Happiness is a hard thing to cultivate, but when it descends upon you — well, it is indeed rather spiritual. 

For me, happiness has always been a rather greedy thing:  knowing what I want and getting it. Nothing fills me with greater joy than acquiring some skill or product or embarking on some adventure that I’ve planned out. It’s very fulfilling for me. This, I think, is what Oprah was touching on. The Universe does seem to listen, it does seem to be a thing. You’re not going to get a pile of cash from the Universe, of course, or even what you’re asking for, but it does give in strange and unexpectedly glorious ways. It gives you what you never knew you needed.

And now, for this narrative to make any sense at all, we must start at the very beginning (like the wise and perfect Julie Andrews once sang).

On Black Friday, Jessica and I were overjoyed when we bought tickets to see One Direction next August in Chicago. We are going to scream until our throats bleed. We’re going to be unbearably fashionable and have a marvelous time. When I was buying the tickets on Ticketmaster, I saw that Beyoncé was still on tour and had an upcoming show in Vegas. I seriously contemplated going, since Vegas is quite simple to get to from Des Moines, but an annoying sense of fiscal responsibility came over me and wouldn’t allow me to go through with the transaction.

I regretted it.

You should never deny yourself things that will cause you happiness. It’s one of my cardinal rules. Money comes and money goes and you should never stress too much about it. We all have moments of wealth and of poverty, and then moments when the only answer is to whip out the credit card. I should have done so, but I hesitated and I felt a fool. A complete and lackluster fool.

Then, to my alarm and delight, I received an email that showed that my darling Beyoncé was putting on a show in Chicago on the 13th. I lost my shit a little bit and worked hard to get a ticket, but they were all sold out. About half an hour later, I secured one and gladly typed out the numbers on my credit card. I would not feel regret again. I booked a seat on the bus and took Friday off work and was perfectly content. I didn’t book a hotel because the concert surely wouldn’t get out until after midnight and I’d have to get the earliest morning bus to make in back to Iowa for my best friend’s wedding. I thought I could perhaps read in a twenty-four coffee shop or linger in a lobby or befriend homeless people at the YMCA. (Can you still live at the YMCA? Is that just a thing from my old movies?)

Then, the angels descended upon me.

I remembered it was winter. I hate the winter, as you well know, but as I thought about wandering around Chicago for hours, I realized there was a real possibility of dying from exposure or hypothermia or getting jacked for my bling. (I try to use that phrase as often as possible) Those are all unpleasant way to go, surely. I spoke to my father about my plans for the morning — going to comedy clubs (like Second City — I want to go to one of their summer courses, I think I might be good at it), going to very late movies, just trying to find anyplace to stay warm. He was not amused by this plan at all and offered to pay for a hotel for the night. Thanks, PA!

Where else could I book a room but the Drake? It’s been a fantasy of mine for ages now. I don’t even know how it started anymore. It’s an enigma in my mind, much like the Chateau Marmont, which was everything I could ever have dreamed. Anyway, I wanted nothing more than an elegant stay at the Drake with some afternoon tea and hardcore shopping. That’s not what I’m getting this trip, though, since I have so much to do while I’m here (Don’t worry, I’ll get a bit of shopping in for sure. THERE’S A CHANEL BOUTIQUE IN THE DRAKE. I’M DEAD.) and because that damn tea room is booked for the entire month of December. How early do I need to get a reservation? Madness! In a huff, I reserved a table at my favorite place, the Ralph Lauren Restaurant which is absolutely perfect.

Reveling in my elegance, I have rarely felt more content. I was going to see Bey, go to a great restaurant, shop a bit, and stay at a hotel that has seen the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Judy Garland, and Marilyn Monroe. Life could not be any better, I knew, and I knew that the comforts of wealth are the secrets to happiness. People who say that money cannot make you happy are complete fools who have never experienced the drunken contentment of getting what you want. Money can certainly buy happiness. The paper and silver won’t do anything themselves, they can only do so if they are transformed into dreams come true. Money causes happiness. We all need more money.

I was so happy as I prepared my bag for my overnight stay…and then it happened…the world went mad, the BEYPOCALYPSE struck.

Out of the darkness with zero warning, unexpectedly and triumphantly, Beyoncé launched a brand new album with zero promotion. The world lost its shit. I lost mine. I still have not fully recovered. I immediately bought the album and agonized over the slow download. The entire world was downloading it, so I’m glad it worked at all! I listened to a couple of the songs that managed to finish, like her amazing song, “Heaven,” cried joyously a little bit and went to bed.

(Now, I must point out something that I’m sure you’re all wondering about. You will recall the blog posts in my reverend series that detail my close, deep, and real friendship with Bey. We’ve been inseparable for years, but after my trip to Hollywood this summer and twerk-off with Miley, Bey has not been happy. You’ll also notice, I’m sure, that she has put off releasing the album we worked on this summer in Nice on the yacht when she tricked me into holidaying with her. Finally, you should also notice that the album has finally been released. Yes, Bey found out that I was coming to see her, forgave me for befriending Miley, and then immediately released her new oeuvre. So, you’re welcome, world.)

The album is a stunning triumph and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s mature, personal, provocative, beautiful, and addictive. What’s more, every song has an accompanying video and they all came out at the same moment. The videos are all high quality, well thought out, beautifully shot, and perfect — like everything on the album.

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In “Haunted,” Bey embodies 1930s realness and it’s perfection with her coiffed hair and the Art Deco hotel she checks into. I’m obsessed. Then she dances in a sheet in “Ghost” and it’s flawless. Then she looks gorgeous in “Jealous.” Then she looks fabulous as she has a good time at a fair and rides a roller coaster with more class than we can ever dream of in “XO.” The album is gorgeous and made me weepy twice. In “Pretty Hurts” she talks about the very real struggle of beauty and then later she tragically sings about a dying friend in “Heaven.” I put that one right on my funeral playlist — do you have a playlist for your funeral? Get planning.

I’m listening to it again right now. Currently, I’m halfway to Chicago sitting at the very front of the Megabus with a great view of the colorless, snowy landscape surrounding me. I can’t wait to get to Chicago, get a coffee at Lavazza, shop at Chanel, eat at Ralph Lauren, shop at Zara, then go see BEY. Oh, reader, this is the greatest day of my life. You should always treat yourself. Life is too short to worry.

*****

I don’t know where to begin, reader. It’s the day after the Beypocalypse and I’m still reeling from it. It really was the greatest day of my life, dreams could not have been more memorable or unique or wondrous. Let’s pick up from where we left off, shall we?

The bus ride was long as always, I’ve never been content to sit in moving vehicles. I’m fine to sit about at home, but when I’m going places, I suddenly develop ADHD. I listened to the album and watched the videos for about three hours, but then I still had three more hours to be patient…so I listened to them again.

As we passed through Iowa City, I was delighted by the lovely architecture on some of the historical houses. I saw a widow’s walk on one and about passed out from an architecture-gasm. I need this one:

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Finally, we arrived in Chicago and I was quickly out onto the streets. I just adore big cities. To me, there’s something comforting about that smell of pollution, rot, restaurants, trees, and a river. It doesn’t sound at all appealing, but I love it. I love the monstrous size of these places, the way you can be seen by the world and yet be totally anonymous, do something brand new everyday, be a different person if you want. I need to move, probably not to Chicago, but somewhere.

I bought myself a day pass and I was soon on the train. As always, I was charmed by the warm and caring staff of the CTA, the people who operate the public transportation. Chicago probably has one of the best systems I’ve used — aside from Paris, since the Parisian Métro is absolutely flawless — because the stations are beautiful, the stops are well laid out, the staff is genuinely kind and the buses make sense. This flabbergasts me since I usually can’t make heads nor tails of bus systems. For some reason, I get it here. Anyway, the day passes are now the type that you just tap on a sensor, like a Navigo or an Oyster card. (Do you even know what those are, reader? Are you well-travelled? No? Sad.) This pleased me after my confusion was sorted.

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Very soon after this, I hopped out of the train and walked into my favorite restaurant in the city, the Ralph Lauren Restaurant. It’s my third time here and it’s as perfect as ever. The dark ambiance is rich and elegant and I want to have a small writing cottage that looks like this. There are heavy oil paintings hung on the walls, each with an individual light, there are black and white prints of glamorous Hollywood stars of yesteryear, there are charcoal sketches, moulding for days, beautiful light fixtures, and the crispest linens of any restaurant I’ve ever been to.

Seated next to me was a woman dripping with fur, which is loathsome of course, but I couldn’t deny that she looked amazing. She was knowledgeable of the people dining and I had the most delightful time listening to her take notes with her little tape recorder for her social column. THEY STILL EXIST! I wrote the names down, but none of them seemed to be anything well-known, one of the younger girls was the socialite daughter of a newspaper mogul, but nothing more impressive than that.

I ordered a cocktail from my annoying waiter that was obviously loathed by the rest of the staff and who looked remarkably liked Vince Vaughn. Then, opening my menu, I gasped delightedly to see the goat cheese and onion tart that I had fallen in love with on my first visit here. Of course I ordered it and it was absolutely heaven. That is a winning combination and the salad made me want to pass out. It was perfection. I ordered tomato bisque for my second course to see if it was any better than before, but this is still lackluster. PULL IT TOGETHER, RALPH. Tomato soup is admittedly a difficult thing to get right — shouldn’t be, but it is. This soup is too acidic, they need to purée it with a potato or perhaps add some sugar. I well know the struggle of making the perfect tomato soup, so I can’t complain too much.

When I had finished with this, one of the busboys came by to do that wonderful thing they do at expensive restaurants where they take a blade and clean the crumbs off the tablecloth. This delights me every time they do it, it charms me.

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For dessert I had a chocolate ganache cake. When I ordered, the waiter said, “You sure? It’s a big portion.”

My side eye was surely frightening in response. My stomach, though it doesn’t look it (thank you Beysus), is a cavernous void. I could eat for days and still eat some more. I need to eat competitively. Anyway, the cake was fine. It was absolutely gorgeous, but there was nothing exceptional about the flavor, which was a bit of a disappointment, but I still gorged myself on it.

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After paying, I headed down Michigan Avenue to the Drake and checked in. I was finally here! The room was absolutely perfect, simple and elegant. It reminded me very much of the Chateau Marmont, which is a very, very, very, very good thing. The Chateau is the standard of elegance I compare everything to. Amusingly, though, or alarmingly…depends on your point of view, they charge you for wifi! Madness! I’ve never understood this phenomenon. The nicer the hotel is, the more likely it is you have to pay for wifi access. It’s just silly. I have my phone, so it’s not a big deal, just an irritation.

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IMG_0165[Lobby ceiling.]

IMG_0167[Elegant Elevator Selfie.]

IMG_0168[Six different elevators to choose from.]

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I had a bit of time to kill, so I went down to the arcade of shops and happily went into the Chanel boutique. There is nothing more peaceful than wandering around a Chanel boutique. If you’ve not experienced one, what are you waiting for? I had a great time, as always, being pampered by the elegant staff and having cologne samples thrust at me for my sniffing pleasure. I selected a big bottle of my favorite, Pour Monsieur. It’s a more concentrated version and I couldn’t tell a difference right away, but we’ll have to see how it wears. As my purchase was being wrapped up, I chatted with the most elegant of all the shop assistants; she had a raven black bob and I wanted it on my head. We discussed school shootings (why?), working at a Chanel shop (she loves it), and my desire to meet Karl. The manager wanted me to work there since she was delighted in my knowledge of all things Chanel. (I totally would. I just want my summers off, you know?)

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“You should have been in Dallas,” she said to me, “for his big show,” as if I wasn’t aware of where Karl is at all times. I follow his people on social media…I’m no fool. Also, Texas pisses me off and it will for some time.

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Chanel bag in had (speaking of Chanel shopping bags, the construction of them is so much nicer in Paris…just saying), I went over to Lavazza and had a real double espresso and pondered my elegance. Finally, it was time to get myself together and into a cab for the show!

When it comes to getting places like concerts, I have a dilly of a time. (Why don’t we say dilly anymore?) Every cab in the city was taken or booked and I should have realized this earlier. It’s a Friday night in one of the largest cities in America. Poor planning, that. So, I went off to find a bus, which, sadly, was not as simple as I first thought. After what felt like a thousand miles, I found a bus that seemed to be going in the right direction. It wasn’t going that way for long, though, so he gave me instructions to my next stop. I made it there, just as the bus took off. The next one that came told me I would have to wait about twenty minutes for the one I needed.

What follows is completely true.

“BUT I’M GOING TO MISS BEYONCÉ!”

The driver did a double take. “Did you say, Beyoncé? You going to Beyoncé?”

I nodded.

“Get in.”

Alarmed and enthused by this reaction, I hopped aboard and he took off before the door was even shut. He then recklessly left the bus lane and we chased down the #20 bus for about ten blocks, going far too fast. He didn’t make any of the stops along the way and I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed. It was terrifying and wonderful and we were soon catching up to the bus.

“Now, I’m going to stop and you’re going to run, okay?”

I looked over at him and nodded. And in the middle of traffic, he stopped the bus just long enough for me to leap out with a, “CHEERS, THANKS A LOT.” There was a lot of honking, but I got on my bus and smugly took my seat. That was awfully fun.

There was so much traffic! When we were about ten minutes from the United Center, an entire troupe of fashionable Beyoncé fans and I exited the bus and hurried to the entrance. I was just in time, the opener began within minutes of taking my seat next to nobody on my left and an elderly couple on my left. What a crew, I thought. I never get tickets next to fun people who won’t look down on me for my poor dancing. Whatevs, yolo.

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Luke James opened the show and though I’ve never heard of him before, I will certainly look him up. He has a beautiful voice and a stunning falsetto and he’s also unreasonably attractive…like I might have added him to my future husband list. I did.

 

After he finished singing this stunning love song straight to me, we were left to entertain ourselves and sadly for Luke, a member of the audience got more uproarious applause than he did. Being the opening act on a tour must be the most soul-sucking job in the world. People don’t listen, they don’t know who you are, they don’t sing along to your songs, they’re texting, they’re buying merchandise. But what’s worse is when a random man in the audience starts to do an amazing dance number that involved a lot of twerking, which caused all of us in the audience to lose our collective shit, Poor Luke. The twerking guy was amazing, though. We were all transfixed and yelling, “YAAAAASSSSS,” and snapping and wagging our fingers. Security came out to see what was up. When it appeared they were asking him to stop, we yelled, “NOOOOOO,” then a member of Bey’s team took him backstage. Guys, I told you that twerking is an important skill. Lucky bitch.

I took a quiz to find out what Beyoncé I was. The results were no surprise:

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I enjoyed looking out in the crowd and loved seeing the slutty ensembles some of the people had put together, but an elderly woman outshone us all. Quite literally. She was in a silver sequined catsuit and looked divine. I was in awe, but none of the pictures turned out and my soul is crushed and I want her to be my grandmother.

Then, out of nowhere…fitting when you think of the earlier events of the day…QUEEN BEYONCÉ emerged and I just died.

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I lost it. It was too much for me. I’ve been to a lot of concerts, but none have ever made me emotional in quite this manner. I leapt to my feet at once and started singing along and doing that awful concert dance where you shuffle from one foot to the other and sway your arms. What else can you do in two square feet? Well, the twerking guy managed it, but I’m not quite on his level.

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As I looked around me, none of the peasants in my section were standing. I was the only one. What fools were these people? You do not sit in the presence of royalty, in the presence of a religious deity, in the presence of a living legend, in the presence of a national treasure, in the presence of such an icon. I turned away from them in shame and continued to fangirl shamelessly.

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I was singing along and quickly taking on her mannerisms (hip swivels and staccato movements), and I was overwhelmed by how happy I was to be there in that moment. Beyoncé has been an icon to me for years and years. I used to sing straight through her albums while I ran on the treadmill back when I was in shape. For me, I always thought the epitome of health was the ability to sing an entire album while running. I doubt I could do it now, but I thought back on it and I started getting misty eyed.

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Then, when she began “Get Me Bodied,” I just lost it entirely and tears were falling down and I wasn’t ashamed. I didn’t care. This was a big deal. I was in my own world and have rarely been happier in all my days.

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As the concert continued, I recall saying things like, “OH NO SHE DID NOT!” “THAT BITCH IS GOING TO FLY, LOOK AT HER FLYING.” “WHERE CAN I GET THAT WEAVE?” “NOOOOO! NOOOOOO! YAAAAASSSSS.” I single-handedly brought the spirit of Beyoncé to section 233. I’m sure they’re thankful.

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She didn’t say much about the fact that she tried to give us all heart attacks that morning when she dropped the surprise album, but she did say that there was more on the way and I about puked from joy. There’s going to be a second part and I simply cannot wait. Who knows when it’ll drop, though, it could be dropping now or in two years. I’m stressed at the thought. As much as I love her new album, I need some new solid dance tracks. Here’s hoping for that in part two!

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She sang “Grown Woman” and there were people acting like they’d never heard it before and I was all, “What? Are you for cereal right now?” She disappeared for a moment and then sang “XO” for us. I was there for the first performance of her new material and I feel even more special than ever. Only a few of us knew the words to that one, I did, of course!

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Oh, I sang and I danced and I jumped and I cried and I wagged my finger and it was just absolutely perfect. Even at the end of the night when she sang “Happy Birthday” to an audience member, I was blown away by her ability to transform that simple song into an amazing expression of her talent.

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And that’s what I took away most from the concert, her unbelievable, undeniable, and ethereal talent. It’s ridiculous. It oozes from her. She did not make one wrong step, every note was pitch perfect, each run made me feel spiritual. Anybody who dislikes Beyoncé is an absolute moron and needs to reevaluate their life. She is the most talented artist alive and after what I witnessed last night, it will take an INCREDIBLE amount of skill to persuade me that she’s not forever the best. I will never be as skilled as her, but I don’t care. I’d be terrified to be as flawless as she was. Also, can we just talk about how ridiculously beautiful she is? Like..damn.

Also, I’m glad that I went by myself because I made an absolute fool of myself. No regrets.

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I bought a t-shirt, too! I never do that at concerts, but I refused to deny myself.

Here I am, stunned and in shock at the conclusion:

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I waited in two lines for a bus, but they both filled up at once and then it seemed that no new ones were coming. This was annoying, but there was nothing else to do. Nowhere else to go. I certainly was not going to walk through Chicago at one o’clock in the morning with the snow coming down and the temperature quickly dropping. I’m not a complete idiot. Luckily, I befriended a group of people who were all trying to get to Michigan Avenue and we considered getting a couple taxis a few blocks away but the taxis were again booked. UGH.

Creepily, a limo pulled up and asked if we were waiting for one. “No,” the girl we pushed out of the group to talk to the driver said, “but are you available?”

He was and we all piled into the white limousine (which was dangerous because I was incredibly tempted to break out in song. MANDATORY DOLLY INTERLUDE:

I haven’t been in a limo since I was in school and we won a prize to go to Burger King in a limo. It was kind of amazing, all of us strangers were packed in tight like sardines giggling about how strange this was. We were a group of young girls, foreign exchange students, a quartet of elderly women, and me. Strange time, but a fun time. As I’ve said before, spontaneity is important.

When we finally got to Michigan Avenue, the driver tried to argue about the price he had offered, which was scary, but we bullied him, which was stupid since we were in a dark alley, but we all lived and were on Michigan…so…it worked out. YOLO LOLz.

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It was about a fifteen minute walk back to the Drake, which wasn’t bad, and the sidewalks were covered in slushy snow, but it was kind of pretty since every tree on the avenue was wrapped with beautiful clear lights and in the falling snow…it was kind of magical. WHO AM I?

Having eaten only once, I was famished, so I went into a restaurant that was supposed to serve until two in the morning, but they said their kitchen was closed. ASSHATS. So, I tried ordering room service, but nobody would pick up the phone. This pissed me off, but I decided that a bit of fasting wouldn’t kill me. I’ve been eating too much lately anyway. Annoyed, I took a shower and wondered if some of Beyoncé’s good looks had rubbed off on me because I felt irrationally gorgeous. Then I decided to nap a bit since I had to be up in a few hours to catch my bus home.

I woke absolutely gloriously to Bey’s new song, “Partition,” which might be my favorite. THERE’S TOO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM! I’m always curious when I sleep for only a little like this. I feel more awake and alert than when I sleep for seven or eight hours. I just need to find a sleeping schedule that works for me. I’ve battled sleeping all my life. It’s just such a complete waste of time!

It was snowing gracefully and I decided to get a cab, but when I got outside, I remembered that there is a bus that goes straight to Union Station from Michigan Avenue, so I caught that and was soon in the historic train depot looking for food. NOTHING WAS OPEN. I thought I might pass out and die. Finally, and with great joy, I came across a Dunkin’ Donuts that was just opening, so I got a nibble there. Vile, but it was food. With nourishment in me, I was more willing to take in the beautiful details of the main hall. I’ve never gone in there before and it’s so pretty! No wonder homeless people sit there all day. I would.

The bus finally came and I’m on it now typing to you. I credit the success of my trip to Beyoncé, for in her all things are possible. Some people might look on my spontaneous trips as poor fiscal decisions…but I’ve learned that you have to live a little. You can’t sit at home and then go to work, scrimping and saving, doing nothing at all — you have to go out and explore the world. Life is about discovery and finding what you love. If you’re afraid to spend too much or worried about being somewhere you don’t know, you’ll never experience the thrill of spontaneity and the great satisfaction that comes with it. If I can recommend anything to anybody, it’s that:  get out and do things, anything, break out of the ordinary. I’d also recommend you go see Bey because that bitch is flawless. An example follows.

I have started sobbing thinking of the years I've power walked to her music on the treadmill. My life is complete.

A post shared by Benjamin Phillips (@bdphillips) on

Praise our lord and savior, Beysus Christ.

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