Back in Business

Back in Business

A whole lot of stuff has happened since last we left our heroes – get ready for lots of exposition.

The first Trivia Night at Finnegan's Wake in Winston-Salem.

Firstly, Winston-Salem shenanigans.

Well, we didn’t do as well in Trivia as we thought we would. On the first trivia night, Michael and I came in third with the grand score of 9. On that night we were 1/6 teams, the only ones competing as a pair instead of a group of four or more. We thought we could simply take the gold if our team was larger, but unfortunately it was not the case. 1, there were more teams competing that week, and B, adding Andy, Tiffani, and her friend Crista actually made it more difficult to decide on answers. But since when do I play to win? NEVER (read: all the time) Seriously though I play to have a good time, unless I don’t win.

Trivia night redux, with Meagan and Michelle!

No really, but in all seriousness, though – it really was a good time. Meagan joined our group after her rehearsal in Greensboro – and when her shift was nearly over our new favorite server in the entire state of North Carolina joined us. Her name is Michelle, and watch out world – because she’s working hard and is going to be freaking fantastic.

Towards the end of the week, Andy and I were torn back towards the mountains once more and ran into a familiar face and his new tour partner in Jonesville, NC. Joe and Dan joined us for a Saint Patrick’s Day Eve Eve celebretions at a small little wine and beer bar called “Fiddle’s Pub” that was full of older gentlemen chess players that may or may all not have owned the now appropriate public house. Afterwards we all enjoyed a Double Ukulele and Melodica jam session in the pool room. And with that, we said goodbye to North Carolina.

Marilyn is about to get pinched for not wearing green.

Hello, Chicago. It’s me again. I told you I would be back in the spring, now didn’t I? No, shh… don’t cry. We don’t have much time – let’s just get down and dirty.

We rolled into town in time to make the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Andy went to carouse with newly successful grown-up Bill, and I sought out everyone’s favorite Michael. No, not Fox. No, not Bolton. No, not Jackson. Venske, people, Venske. Stay with me, kids. We caught the tail end of the parade, and explored the rest of the city. I may or may not have had an anxiety attack, my knee felt like it was gonna blow, and we had a delicious fish sandwich at a thankfully quiet lunch counter before heading back to the hustle and bustle of it all.

Even the river got the memo.

You wouldn’t believe it. There were gingers everywhere and everyone was wearing green and stumbling. I felt like I was in an episode of the Walking Dead by the end of the day. We travelled to Wrigleyville, where the sea of green was just as large but remarkably younger. One such zombie in that sea was offered a drink of water from my water bottle after stumbling into me. She poured half of it down her throat before I could tell her to take it slow. She brought the bottle back down and looked for a moment or two like she might get sick. How can being this drunk in public possibly be glamorous? I know I’m the pot calling the kettle drunk, but cha’mon mon – get it together! I can hold my own with the big leagues in Wrigley Field!

Tourists, amirite?!

We split ways before sundown and I went to join Travis and Kristi for Commedia Beauregard‘s Bard Fiction at the Greenhouse Theatre Center. Words can’t express how funny it was. And I know it was a holiday, but they had an unreasonably small house. Take a look at the trailer, and tell me you don’t want to go see Bard Fiction! I dare you! I double dare you vile Oedipus! A spectacular cast made this show – I couldn’t believe the work I was seeing. Hope I can work on their level in the near future.

Afterwards, wine and dining at a Mexican restaurant then couch crashing with the Barnharts.

So now I’m in between a rock and a hard place. I love you, Chicago. I want to be with you. I really do. But I gotta go right now. We’ll catch up again soon, okay? I’ll hurry back. xoxo

A beautiful sunset ride through Wisconsin later and we’re in Minneapolis unloading the tour vehicle and popping champagne and hugging new friends. The people I have met during my time on tour have shaped me for the rest of my life. I’ll never forget it – truly… And I can’t help but wonder where I’m bound. But for now, I’ll take some time for friends and family at the city I will always call home, whether I live there or not – Tulsa.

Say It Somehow

I’m rarely at a loss for words. But in the last few weeks I have been speechless.

Lunch at Oceanic comes with a view of the beach in Wilmington, NC

I returned to tour, happy to be back teaching, educating, and inspiring as my uniform proudly states. But I know I am taught more, I am inspired more by the people I meet. The smallest child who tells me how he feels about his parents fighting while I try to remind him to eat his lunch. The vast ocean that makes me feel so small and powerless. The words of a all-too-poignant service on fear at a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston Salem. All these things, they take my words away from me – and I am left searching for something to say.

“So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” A Litany for Survival, Andre Lorde.

Q: Where am I? A: Breakfast, Of Course! *

My weekend in Wilmington was refreshing. I think it’s safe to say the bed and breakfast I stayed at was a five star resort. Uncle Mark hooked me up with delicious eats and treats during my stay. I can’t rave about it enough. Wilmington is a dream come true. Every time I return I fall deeper in love.

An unfortunate candid shot *

This weekend had some great memories too. Michael joined us in Winston Salem to paint the town. To be honest; Winston Salem may never be the same. Great people, good conversations, and sweet drinks. So many good times were had that on Sunday we went to church. Services were on fear – a topic that has overwhelmed me recently.

The beginning of the evening. *

It’s difficult for me to remember sometimes how absolutely lucky I am to be alive and on this amazing journey. In spite of, or maybe even because of my fear, I will make it a point to celebrate each day as a gift.

* Photos courtesy of the great Michael Venske

River In The Rain

River In The Rain

I will be returning to Tulsa for the summer for work. This is fortunate for a number of reasons – I love the work I do and I get to spend time with family. It’s a win-win scenario. It also gives me time to prepare for the next chapter in my life, whatever or wherever that may be.

Crossing o'er the river in Bat Cave, North Carolina

April showers will bring May travels – Max and I go to the United Kingdom. We’re tentatively planning London for 3 days, then Stratford upon Avon for 2 days, then Scotland for the rest of our vacation. We will take a double-decker bus/walking tour of London, see some shows in the West End, and perhaps even eat some British food (Oh! The humanity!!!). In Stratford we will (what else?) pay our respects to the Bard and see some more theatre. And then Scotland is calling with good friends and good food. Haggis, anyone?

I’m very fortunate for all of my travels. I hope to never stop visiting new places. I suppose at some point in my life I will run out of places to go. Should that point come, I will revisit my favorites. All the world’s a stage.

Guess he kinda likes me, huh?

I must tell you all of the horribly romantic, no-good, silly man who came to visit me last week. You may have heard of him. They call him Max. He surprised me last Friday by showing up in North Carolina of all places.

We had talked in the past of doing a long distance date. I would go to a movie theater here in NC and he would go to a movie theater in OK. We would see the same movie, then skype while having dinner to talk about it.

After our shows on Friday, he asked me to pick a movie and he would go see it too. I looked up times for the town we were in and we decided on Woman in Black at 4:30.

We crossed on huge boulders and stopped to take this picture in the middle of the river.

When I arrived to the movie theater and went to the box office to purchase my ticket a handsome man in a grey sports coat approached me. I was having a bad day and didn’t pay much attention to him, until he said “hey there” in the most familiar voice.

I could not believe it! I didn’t suspect a thing the entire time and here was my best friend and confidant, showing up out of nowhere on a white stallion, looking like a million bucks, holding me up so my knees wouldn’t give out because I was so shocked. Okay, so there wasn’t a white stallion, sue me. Still – you cannot imagine how shocked I was.

“Well, forget the movie!”

The Basilica St. Lawrence

He insisted we go see it anyway. He bought my ticket and we walked into the theater and took our seats half way up and center. (I don’t know what I was thinking – there is no way I could have seen that movie on my own. I screamed at least twice.) After the movie he took me to a delicious restaurant where we shared delicious mussels and a meatball/mushroom Calzone. It was a beyond-romantic evening in Hendersonville, NC. I’m still shocked.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew XI, 26)

The next day had hiking in Chimney Rock State Park in Bat Cave, NC and a decent ghost tour of Asheville with Andy. Every step I took was a skip.

The next morning I got the news that my grandmother had passed. I’m sad to say that Facebook was the one to tell me. It was the worst way to receive the news, but hindsight is 20/20 and I have nothing else to say on that matter. Still, Max was a beacon of light in my sorrow. Without his support, I don’t know what I would have done. We had breakfast, then Dad called and we chatted and I started making plans to return home for the services. NTC was very good to me in my grief – I am so very fortunate to work for such a great company. The rest of the rainy day was spent in Asheville – with a visit to the Basilica St. Lawrence. She would have loved that I found my way to a church that morning to pray/meditate. 

I wanted to tell her all about the Seminary and tour. I wanted her to be at my wedding. But she was so sure of her place in Heaven – I can find my own comfort in that. It is selfish to wish her to suffer more for my sake. She even said that she was ready to go home. Not home to her house in Tulsa, but home to her Lord. She’s leading the choir by now, if I know her, and I think it’s safe to say I do. I sure to miss her though.

Anyway, it was good timing for Max to join me for a number of reasons. Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts during this time. Most of all – I love you, Dad (since, let’s face it – you’re probably the only one reading this. And it’s true anyway so I may as well say it.)

 

The Beauty Is

The Beauty Is

Sometimes, I’m a lucky girl.

North Carolina is always kind to me. On our last tour, we had shows in  Raleigh and then had a weekend on the beach in Wilmington. This tour, we’re surrounded by the mountains in the western part of the state. Beautiful isn’t the word that describes it, really. Awesome would be closer. Sometimes I just look at the mountains and say ‘woah’ – You would have to be a fool not to think it’s magnificent.

The view from our hotel in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Armed with my Ukulele and a Nature Valley Oats n’ Honey granola bar, I took to hiking the Smoky Mountains near Cherokee, NC the other day. The 3 mile trail along the river was breathtaking. I took some inspiration from the mountains to write some children’s songs, but I left plenty inspiration for those who come after me. After some productive writing I headed back and came across some wild elk that had ventured into the clearing to graze. It was magical. It was epic. It was good for the soul.

The elk

The park was wonderful, but it left us wanting more. We ventured deeper into the forest and found a more secluded trail that climbed the mountains. These purple mountain majesties help to remind me how amazing this country really is, which is vital because I have felt so disenchanted with America for quite some time. It’s only February, but it feels like spring. I feel healthy, happy, and lucky, albeit a little homesick. I think Shakespeare took the words out of my mouth best in Sonnet 98:

Only one hand rail. Don't lean on it though - it's wood attached to the log by rusted nuts and bolts.

 

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress’d in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing
That heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue
Could make me any summer’s story tell.
Or from their proud lap pluck them while they grew;
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
These were but sweet, but figures of delight;
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
    Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you away,
    As with your shadow I with these did play.