Sunday, April 27, 2014

No Longer Sad But Glad: Hotlanta, SoapWanderlust, & Dough Bakery

Atlanta skyline from the view of a not so clean Greyhound window.
So long ago, my mom, youngest of eleven chipmunks, born in Atlanta, Georgia, left state capital around age four and never returned. Now years later, I come along on a twenty-one hour journey straight from Philadelphia, stopping in Baltimore, Maryland, Washington D.C., Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, passing through my born state South Carolina towards Mama's former roots to attend my final soap opera convention at the Sheraton Hotel.
Whilst waiting for Lynn at the free internet station around 11AM (left Philadelphia around 5PM Friday), I stumbled across a startling itinerary schedule of a DCE crew member, which included times of lunches, airport details, and etc. It's not something that should be lying around- especially at a soap event where craziness tends to occur. Instead of using this information to some kind of crazed fangirl advantage, I merely folded up findings and inserted paper into journal as a keepsake memento.
Ruby Tuesday's has an excellent spaghetti squash. Too delicious! Yes, I admit to being surprised.
After a short refresher, I met the Forbidden Love ladies (Lynn, my roommate, Dsintra, DD, Leslie, Katie, and Patty) at Ruby Tuesdays for lunch where we dished all things Days of Our Lives. It felt extremely good, in that moment, to be surrounded by those who understand soap opera addiction. I got to catch up- for those who don't know I don't own a TV and barely have time for Youtube. This event was a means of meeting not just the men, but find out juicy tidbits on/offscreen from the women.
First, at 3:00PM began the Meet and Greet Autograph Session. Lynn, DD, and I joined with Dawn and Diane stood in long, long line for Shawn Christian (Dr. Daniel Jonas) and Greg Vaughan (Father Eric Brady), playing Truth or Dare to pass the hour.
Finally Shawn upon us, I seemingly leaped out of my skin, scaring him in the process, whilst jumping up and down in raucous excitement. One would think I never met the former As the World Turns' Mike Kasnoff before.
"Whoa there!" He exclaimed, laying a calming hand to my shoulders, steering me gently towards earth.
We shook hands and everything became normal again.
Calming down a bit after nearly killing Shawn Christian who never stops smiling.
Greg next, I can truly say that demure nature rose again like a startling thundercloud, booming so loudly in startled ears and making vocal cords unable to function accordingly. My own eyes darted towards feet and earth toned floral patterned carpet, forgetting earlier innuendos about confessing sins and playing coy. Unfortunately, coy woman isn't a role that I have to pretend to be.
Stunned into silence, he completely guided me into hug central.
Romance novel cover?
"Just place your hands here..."
He gently took my hands, led each one towards the sides of his hips, and wrapped around him, all whilst laughing.
I thought it over until....
Without warning, Greg cups my face into his hands and tells me, "look up. I want to see your face."
I couldn't believe it was happening. A ruggedly handsome, blue-eyed, dimpled Texas man, former priest on a soap opera, touched my suddenly hot cheeks smeared haphazardly with foundation. I thought death was surely on the way- until hug 2.0 came next!
Epic hugging right here!
Yes, I received another hug. One that made embrace history. Depressing emotions about James Scott's absence drifted away like it never arose. That abyssal dark tunnel of regret and heartbreak turned into a tunnel lightened with an intensity brighter and richer than gold.
I was over the moon afterwards. Just completely over the moon!
Before getting to Eric Martsolf (Brady Black), my critique hit me. This whole following of soap opera actors and trying to form a piece about phenomenon wanted to be art. I came to Eric, asking if he would do a "Soap Opera Digest" inspired cover photo with me and he kindly obliged. I loved the end result and cannot help laughing! He has certainly mastered craft. This (well all of this) will be part of SoapWanderlust: The Short Documentary. One woman's quest to see all her serial favorites wherever they may be- a real treat with soaps dying off one by one. She goes out of her way to events like soap conventions, theater stage readings, little league games, and movie premieres, but at the same time has shyness disease like wouldn't believe! So excited. I plan to work on this during the 21 hour journey home. Hopefully, it'll be a winner on Wednesday's critique however rough it may be.
Anyways, back in Atlanta, one thing must be said about Eric- he's definitely a man filled with personality, especially humor. We had a great time just staring at his varied expressions (One Eyebrow Raise King, yes!) during Tony, the event emcee's monologues containing jokes about various Salem characters- Brady an easy pick. 

Striking a future "Soap Opera Digest Cover" with Eric Martsolf!
Met Blake Berris next- who complimented my head scarf. Our little photo appeared the usual typical- stand there and smile, but I beg to differ. Amongst giddy expressions and that big thumbs up, a certain mischievous cheekiness is depicted somewhere in between these happy people. And no, don't bust out the Pharrell tune please.
I think he's incredibly talented as well as adorable. What a sweet guy! Wish we could have talked more. *sighs*
Blake! Blake! Blake! So much nicer than that creepy Nick Fallon.
Bryan the sweetest man who just welcomed a daughter. Surprisingly a very gracious spirit.
Bryan Datillo (Lucas Horton Black or something like that), last but not the least, an all-around warm man. In just the five minutes of being near him, I think in another life, sans the glitter and the swoony women that come along in soap opera stud status life, we could have been friends.
This morning, Lynn said it best- "he just has the nicest smile. It's a trusting and infectious.Makes everyone want to do the same." His smile does contain these genuine qualities. I groaned when she told me he didn't like it. Why not? He must be joking. But then again, even actors have these pesky confidence issues. We're all human.
After afternoon shenanigans, I momentarily escaped soapy entertainment and headed rogue, strolling to bus stops and riding Marta metro trains. In my destination of Reynoldstown, found Target, a Kroger (yes please come to Philly!!!!!), and Dough Bakery (highly recommended via Twitter)- an all vegan eatery that features prepared sandwiches, deli "meats," and specialty raw "cheeses." It was all heaven to me. Just a dream come true.

Dough Bakery was definitely the place to be- for a vegan!
Not your typical dinner fare, but I enjoyed the soy sausage,"egg," and "cheese" biscuit sandwich with a Bolthouse Farms Acai+ Superblend Juice (which was buy one get one free at Kroger!). Very, very tasty! For breakfast, the incredible cheddar-jalapeno bacon scone hit all the right notes. Not too crumbly, not overly salted, perfect myriad of flavors and textures. Pitch of cheesy goodness kicked by spiciness and delicious "bacon." Started my Sunday morning off terrifically paired with a Bolthouse Farms Vanilla Soy Tea.
Yummy closeup.
Delectably moist chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting. Sweeter and far more sinful than the eye candy.
I did briefly attend the cocktail party, arriving late and leaving early. It felt like a soap opera, watching the soap men swarmed by low cut dresses, big guns blazing and wicked scheming on sight. Other than that, I fled to the hotel room to plot out my homework, still holding onto Eric wishing me luck earlier.
Alas, I am back on the bus, delighting in the beautiful, lush greens my born state provides. Gorgeous, glorious South Carolina offers such a wonderful background writing and focusing on Wednesday's last group critique, thoughts of beguiling yesterday still fresh on hazy mind. I feel like the happiest afro vegan chick alive more enthusiastic than a Christmas morning child. Not only has this final soap venture been an rewarding experience, but meeting these women, strengthening foundations with them has made it all worthwhile.
Hugest thank yous go out to the actors who took time out of their busy schedules to grace us with their presences, making a majestic event an intimate, candid, and fun leisure. Thank you to Lynn and Dawn for holding my heavy tote bag and taking my photos. Also Lynn again for letting me browse through her copy of Days of Our Lives Better Living to capture cast recipe ideas and photos. If I could bottle appreciation, I would and split it amongst those who truly made Saturday more than just an ordinary day of the week.
42 hours spent traveling via bus isn't such a wasted sacrifice after all.


  1. Another marvelous adventure and I just knew something magical would happen with GV. A lot of women rave about him, and it sounds like the other men were just as delightful!

    1. Thanks Jess!!! I wasn't sure what to expect. Came through the door, crushed and disillusioned- just a little perked up by FL ladies. However, each man turned that same misery upside down. :)

  2. Jealous of AND happy for you Janyce. Greg with that face cupping move was something else. What's a girl to do with that? Striking a soap mag cover pose with Eric was too cool. We aren't vegan at our house, but I do have enough of an interest that I take inspiration from your suggestions and recipes. It's good to see that there are more and more places where one can eat out and find selections that suit their needs. Thanks for sharing your adventure.