Laundry Day

3/3 actors drink Jack Daniels

Dinner at Fast Jack's in Tulahoma, TN

Well we’ve been staying in an econolodge in Morristown with shakey internet, so posts this week have been few and far between. As in, there haven’t been any. So now that I’m at the Red Roof Inn and have the best suite ever, let’s catch up, shall we?

Nashville with Michael and John was lots of fun. We had many adventures.

Friday night started with a crawl in downtown Nashville with the boys. Having come from Eastern Time Zone and driving 4 hours, I was pretty exhausted early so we turned in early for a full day on Saturday.

When we woke Saturday, John and Michael’s car, Prudence, had a flat tire. Several hours later, she was in good shape thanks to the boys at Firestone, and we were on our way to Lynchburg, TN to visit the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. The distillery was awesome, but it ended in a whimper instead of a bang – because Lynchburg is still a dry county. Instead of a taste of Jack, we were rewarded with lemonade.

Can you tell we were hammered?

In front of the Ryman in Nashville

To quench our thirst, we went the next county over to a bar and steak house called Fast Jack’s. The locals told us it was the best, and they were not wrong. The food was delicious and the whiskey flowed.

We made it back to Nashville and went out again to the downtown scene. Saturday night was much better, because I was far from tired. John sang Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” with the beautiful songstress Morgan, and we all danced. The next morning I had a blister the size of a nickel on my toe. Success.

Headed out early Sunday morning to catch up with Andy in Knoxville and set up for Week 3 of tour. We have spent the last week in great schools with great kids. We did, however, have a challenging show where the entire audience wouldn’t stop chatting. This included the teachers. Afterwards a Kindergardener approached us and said “I wish you would have done it better because that was horrible.” Despite her remarks, we had other encouraging words from other children – so perhaps not all was lost.

We stay in Knoxville again this weekend. Shenanigans will ensue. I’ve heard tale of taxi cabs and dancing. And my blister is gone, so it’s time to make a new one.

The Little Things You Do Together

Tonight is our last night in Johnson City, TN. We move on from here westward a bit, towards Knoxville.

I swear I have a dress on.

Karaoke at Numans

Last night we had a time. We decided to treat ourselves to some Red Lobster, I rekindled a friendship with one of my near and dearest, and decided to celebrate by going to the swankiest place in town. Karaoke was had (Andy sang ‘Rock this Town’ by the Stay Cats and I ironically belted out some ‘Maybe This Time’ a la Liza Minnelli) and drinks were consumed. We made an adventure to a liquor store for some cheaper alternatives to bar drinks, but found that a distillery in Gatlinburg, TN had started taxing and bottleing (Mason-jar-ing?) moonshine. When in Rome one must listen to Dixie and drink Moonshine.

The stuff smelled awful. A “close friend of mine” (read: myself) has had real, honest-to-god, can’t-tax-this-shit-because-if-you-drink-it-you-might-die moonshine from a jug, which was delicious. This was NOT that kind of moonshine. But the girl in the liquor store said that it was the best that she could offer, so we made it happen.

I really don’t like to waste my liquor, but damn – I’m not letting that stuff touch my lips again.

This weekend will be fun. I’m leaving Andy to have a solo mission in Nashville. I’ll meet up with John and Michael in Franklin and fun will be had in Nashville on Friday night. Come Saturday, we will travel to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, TN (a DRY county, by the way. What is this world coming to?) and then I’ll head back to meet Andy and start Week 3 of Tour.

I know I say this a lot… But I love my job.

Live in Living Color

The Happy Couple

One of my nearest and dearest, Kaytee, got married this weekend – and I was only able to attend in spirit. She fell in love with Sky, and fell in love hard, and Sky would have been a fool not to put a ring on it. I’m living through her photos of the beautiful wedding.

Kaytee and I were paired together as acting partners on the first day of our Intro to Acting class at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. We found that we had lots in common quickly – and a friendship grew that continues to be strong. She is so real. And she’s a fan of this Sky guy, I guess.

Sky and I met when he transferred to Southeastern. This was before they started dating. (unlike Max, who transferred as we were dating… perhaps made a difference in how he was perceived, perhaps not) He was a cool cat, and I remember vividly the day that Kaytee told me that she thought he might be a good catch. We were walking down the ramp by UC300 to work on a big project for tech theatre.

The Blushing Bride

Kaytee was such a beautiful bride! Everything looked spectacular at the wedding. I wish I could have been there to give the happy couple my personal congratulations.

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Pettett

Missing out on days like yesterday is the hardest part of this job. I take that back, it’s the only hard part of the job. But man, it hurts. Luckily I will return home for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday – but it’s the days in between that I’m missing most.

I had a dream I was back in Oklahoma last night and no one remembered me. I know this won’t be the case – and I feel silly for even fearing it. I wish I could brush off my homesickness today, but I guess it’s part of the job and something I’ll have to deal with. Of course, Andy and I are having lots of fun – but some days I just miss the familiar face of home and that’s all there is to it.

So what I’m saying is: feel free to Skype me.

Put on a happy face

So, I bought a ukulele. 

I’ve been learning a song a day – to keep things fresh. So far I know “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, “Let It Be” by The Beatles, and “Creep” by Radiohead. This means that my chord knowledge is expanding as well.

This morning we had a very early start, because we had to drive around the large lake. While the sun was coming up and while Andy was driving through the Cherokee national park, I played ukulele. It was refreshing. It was almost surreal.

It’s the weekend, thank goodness. Doing this show takes a lot out of you every day. Today was especially challenging. We had a long drive to our first school. When we got there, we found out that we had arrived before some of the office staff had – and school wasn’t even going to start until 15 minutes before our show. No big deal, we’re flexible. We did two early morning shows to an attentive audience. However, in the younger children’s show, one little girl in the front row got scared and started crying. Her friend next to her calmed her down and she eventually warmed up to the show. She was in the pre-K class, so the whole experience was probably brand new to her. Also, our volunteer in the second show decided to kick Andy when he was playing the Sneaker.

At lunch, my stomach became very upset and I had to retire to the car to lie down. I’m not sure if it was the germs from kids or the sketchy chinese place we ate at – but something was not right in my stomach. I got over it pretty quickly in time to drive to our afternoon school.

In our afternoon show, we had more challenges. We were only able to be in the space 10 minutes before the show started. It was a race to put up the set. Then the students were under strict instructions to sit in the bleachers, so we had to move the set so they could see the show. No big deal, we’re flexible. The show was kinda twilight-zone. The kids enjoyed it though, and they seemed to learn lots. The volunteer was the tiniest 3rd grader I had ever seen. When I gave her the scroll to hold, she looked like it might tip her over.

Fridays, so far, have been the most strange days of our tours.


We had the best show today.

With Andy and the Orange Moose of Wisconsin. Not taken today, but I thought it was too good a photo to pass up.

It all started with a drive up the mountains on windy roads. When we got to the town, I went in to meet Principal Richard. Richard is a kind older gentleman, the kind of man you want your children to know. He treats every single one of the kids as his own. He plays with them, jokes with them, gives them hugs.

We set up for the show and we were finished about 20 minutes before go-time. Richard came in and asked if we wanted to start early. We always say yes to that question. So he started bringing the classes into the gym.

The entire pre-K through 6th grade school came to see the show. They were the best audience we’ve had so far. So attentive and excited. When we got to the ‘volunteer’ section of the show, I say the following.

“Looks like I’m going to need some help to defeat the Sneaker! Who wants to volunteer?”

Before I even said the word help, a young boy in the back with an orange sweatshirt on raised his hand like a shot. I typically pick the first hand that goes up, or the child that looks the most excited about answering questions. This boy beat me to the punch, so I immediately went to him.

“What’s your name, mister?”
“You need a super-hero name, Channing! How about Super Channing? Sound good!”
“Guess so!”

As Andy and I play our scene, occasionally I turn to the volunteer to ask him or her a question pertaining to the information we learn throughout the show. Things like ‘should we turn off the light when we leave the room?” and “Should we ask our parents to replace old lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs?” They are all “yes” answers, but the kids feel like they are contributing and are very excited to be a part of a show.

Channing was no exception to the rule. In fact, he was the rule.

He expounded on the importance of saving energy, interrupting me several times to tell me why we should save energy and how to do it. Teachers were laughing so hard. One of them wiped tears from her face. Another teacher took out a camera and started snapping pictures. The other students were cheering Channing on. It was a lot of great energy.

At the end of the volunteer section, Channing took his seat and he beamed with pride as the students around him gave him high fives and pats on the back. We wrapped up the show and told them they were our best audience. The principal asked us if we could take a photo with the kids, so we posed with them for one smiling shot, then a silly shot. Then they returned to class.

As we were tearing down the set, Richard came back and asked if we wanted some refreshments. He brought us bottles of water and homemade cupcakes. I think it may have been the best cupcake I have ever had. Then he asked us why we chose Channing. I told him simply that typically the first kid to shoot their hand up was paying the most attention and deserves the shot. Then we learned that Channing was autistic. Richard told us how he really came out of his shell with us and how cool it was to see him do that.

We were thrilled to learn that we made such a difference in this young boys life. Beyond that, it was a thrill to share the stage with him! His knowledge of energy conservation put us to shame! He was the best kid ever.

I love my job.

We all lead such elaborate lives

When last we left our heroes, they were travelling to Reedsburg, WI for the night.

Upon arriving in Reedsburg, we went to check into our accurately named hotel – the Hotel Reedsburg. We pulled up to what Andy accurately described as Sketchburg – and proceeded to be checked into the hotel by a ten year old boy named Ben Patel. (it should be noted that we assumed his name is Ben because the wireless password for the joint was benpatel) We walked into the office, where he was sitting on a couch doing his English homework. He got up, went behind the desk, and confirmed our reservation. He gave us the keys and sent us to our room.

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. It gets weirder.

We opened the door of our hotel room to find a 1970s chic room with a great view of the parking lot. I’ve always wanted my very own bright orange sink. After unloading bags into the room, we went to the picnic area – complete with merry-go-round and slide. We set off to see the sights of humble little Reedsburg. We found a few gems, to say the least.

Bent and Dent Groceries - a family favorite

One of these such gems was the Bent and Dent Grocer, a shabby shack that sold unwanted food items. I picked up a box of Slim Fasts for a mere 1.99, the only thing wrong with them was that the box was, you guessed it, bent and a couple of cans were, right again, dent. All in all, a great deal – and it has saved me mucho dinero in meals.

Upon returning to our palace, we settled in for the night and (except for the paranoid fear of bed bugs, which was unfounded in fact I should add) had a decent first night of tour.

The next morning we packed up and got the hell out of there as fast as possible. We had sights to see. On the way to House on the Rock, I read aloud chapter six of American Gods. Each page was a mouthwatering teaser for the glory that was awaiting us. We pulled up as we read the last sentence of chapter 6.

The Infinity Room, about 8 feet from the tip of it. Prospective is a bitch.

The House on the Rock is a roadside attraction in Spring Green, WI. Basically Alex Jordan built this house in 1950 and started charging admission for people to come inside. It is worth every cent.

I can’t tell you why it’s so awesome. It just is. It is home to the world’s largest carousel, a life-size sculpture of a whale being attacked by a giant octopus, mechanically played orchestras, and a million random trinkets and stuffs. The highlight of the tours (of which there are three sections) is the infinity room, a needle-shaped room that jets out over a valley. It creaks when you walk on it, because it is suspended in mid-air. I’m sure it’s safe and supported, but I wouldn’t want to be in the infinity room with too many people (though it would make an excellent wedding location….)

The ticket taker estimated it take three hours to go through the house. We got to the House on the Rock shortly after they opened at 9 am and left at 3 pm. It was amazing.

The Red Room, it's orchestra, and ourselves

One disturbing part of the House on the Rock is the fortune-teller Esmeralda, who is a mechanical mannequin who dispenses fortune cards. There are two such machines in the exhibits, and they are mentioned in American Gods so we couldn’t resist either of them. Andy’s fortunes were pleasant. Mine, not so much. In fact, they are downright awful. I suppose I should watch my back.

Esmeralda's First Fortune

And the second Esmeralda foretold the following:

Esmeralda's Second Prophecy

It was a good time, regardless of my fortune (or perhaps because of it) and afterwards we set off towards Tennessee. Along the way, I’m reading American Gods aloud to Andy, who prefers to drive. We have many more adventures to cover in the next nine weeks. We arrived here, in Johnson City, TN around 7 and have been prepping for our early morning performances tomorrow. Get ready, TN, because we are ready to rock your world.

Did I mention that I love my job?

It’s bad for me

Famous last words: “Let’s see what kind of trouble I can get myself into.”

I know I needed to relax a bit, which is why I went out in the first place. I was too nervous to twiddle my thumbs. In hindsight, drinking was a bad idea. I told myself I would just have one. But one turned into “Hey, Becca – let’s chug this water bottle of liquor before we go in to the club!” and “Hey! I get a free drink for checking in on facebook! I might as well,” and then “James bought me this shot and I don’t want to seem ungrateful” and finally “well, I did say I would just have one drink… but I haven’t technically paid for a drink yet tonight. I should buy a round for Koya and James too!” Koya took care of me though. We walked to Jimmy Johns, had a sandwich, then hailed a cab to get back to the hotel. I went upstairs, drank lots of water, and took a bath to calm myself.

I woke at 7 this morning to pack up my life in a duffel bag and nurse a hangover. I’m a champ though, as you very well may know, so I didn’t get sick. At 8 am, I drove to Andy’s apartment to pick him up and start our tour together. We drove to Chaska and arrived just before 9. Our show wasn’t until 10:30, so we made our way to the nearest Caribou coffee to kill some time. When we got to the school, we unloaded the set and made our way to a classroom where we would be performing.

I think this morning’s performances were the most quirky that we will have. The classroom that we were performing in was too small for the set. Which is to say that it was very small because the set isn’t large at all (about 16 feet wide) but we solved that problem by striking one of the flats. Usually we will be performing in cafeterias or gymnasiums. This show is created for audiences of 100+, and we were performing to a group of 30 so they were quieter than I expect a larger crowd to be. In the second show, when I ask for a volunteer from the audience, no one raised their hand. It seemed like forever before a young lad named Caleb timidly raised his hand. What seemed like forever was actually about 5 seconds – but five seconds of silence is a long time in a presentational show like this.

However, the kids enjoyed the show and fun was had by all. In short, our tour has opened and we are on the road. The main purpose of this post it to say I’m alive and in Reedsburg, WI. More on that tomorrow though – I’ve got a good book to read.

Two by two

Andy and I leave for Tennessee tomorrow, right after we open in Chaska, MN to open the show. We have already been warned that the school does not have a cafeteria or gymnasium, so we will be performing instead in their classrooms. This might prove difficult – our set may or may not fit into the space. We’ll see how things go.

I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m eager. I’m nervous. Did I mention I’m nervous?

As for my last night in Minneapolis, Koya and James, NTC veteran actors, are taking me out on the town. Let’s see what kind of trouble I can get myself into.