Christian & I did ourselves a solid and booked a few nights away from the internet post-election. After volunteering on Election Day & a pit stop at QED to watch results, we trekked up to the Adirondacks for some fresh air, hiking & history.
Along the way, we stopped in Saratoga Springs where the Woman Suffrage Association was formed to pay some respects for my right to vote & tell them the good news about Kamala. Thanks ladies (& gents) who fought so hard to enact women’s sufffrage. I know that VP-elect Harris will make them proud. And as a fellow Gen-X(ish) career woman with no children, I’m stoked to have some representation.
At Lake Placid we stayed at the darling Van Hoevenberg Cabins, hiked a mountain (only 3100 elevation so not hard), walked around the lake, ate outside The Pickled Pig thanks to unseasonably warm weather, visited the 1980 Olympic cauldron and rode a bobsled roller coaster along the original 1932 bobsled track. We passed the training facility for bobsledders who were out warming up and practicing various exercises. Pretty neat. That night at the cabin the sky was clear to see the Milky Way & so many planets and stars. Dreamy.
On our way out of town we stopped at abolitionist John Brown Farm State Historic Site and burial grounds. The farm has acres of trails and a self-guided audio tour via calling a phone number. I studied the Civil War and Reconstruction at Columbia with historian and Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Foner for two years (2017 – 2019) so was very familiar with Bleeding Kansas and Harper’s Ferry. It was nice to bring history to life and share my knowledge with Christian who already knows so much about everything. It was a first for me to be able to school him. On the farm, we were entranced by the mirrored lake. You could actually see the moon in the reflection (I highly saturated one pic so it’s easier for you to spot).
From there we stopped in Saugerties for a hike along the Hudson River then Kingston where I showed Christian the church my Dutch ancestors founded in 1661. We left a prayer on their wall, popped into a book shop and then ran into Joe Garden. Running into an old comedy pal from NYC should be wild but I just knew I’d see him. I really did. The last time I made a random trek through Woodstock I ran into him, and when I suggested a stop in Saugerties I told myself I’d see Joe. Just turns out it was in Kingston instead. We had a great dinner then drove home in the dark so slowly and dodging deer but made it in time to catch Kamala Harris’s historic speech and also Biden.
We were there between fall and ski season so much was closed but the weather and hikes and history were all that we wanted and needed.
I was offline last week because I hiked the Grand Canyon again. It’s a pretty great place and I hope everyone gets to see it in real life. I was alone on the trails for long stretches so didn’t take many pics. But it was amazing. I took the South Kaibab Trail down and somehow managed to destroy the Bright Angel Trail on the way up finishing it in 6 hrs 8 mins. Really surprised myself with that one as I took many breaks, chatted with people I encountered along the way, meditated and cried and thanked the heavens many times.
If I do it again, I hope Christian will get to go with me. Now, though, our travel and vacations are separate thanks to QED and the dogs. It makes me sad, but it’s how it is (for now) and so we’ll enjoy the travel times with friends and family instead. Thanks to Christian and the QED crew for keeping the ship sailing, so I could go clear my mind and enjoy some dirt and rocks.
I made some pitstops along the way at a Native American pueblo Acoma Sky City, drove through the Petrified Forest and spent an afternoon in Jerome, AZ. A town where I would love to own a shop. So full of character and history. I got a cool kaleidoscope to keep as a reminder even though it wasn’t actually made in Jerome.
I had hoped to go on a hot air balloon ride during the sunrise in Sedona but they called the morning of (5:30am) and said there wasn’t enough wind. Bummer. So I went on a hike instead and lo and behold, what do I see in the distance? Balloon after balloon launching. I was so fu*king pissed and disappointed. The company said that those balloons were w/ a different company and that, although they launched, they almost immediately drifted into the side of a mountain and stayed stuck there for 45 mins. So, yay? It was still a bummer.
On the way out of Sedona on the drive to the Canyon, I stopped at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff hoping to do a night tour / star gaze / telescope look-through. Their telescope discovered Pluto! I got there at 4:30 only to find out it closed at 5pm on Sundays while there is still daylight out and, therefore nothing to see. Again, I was so upset and disappointed. I felt like Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Vacation. I just needed to scream and cry and punch a cartoon mascot in the face.
The Grand Canyon made up for all that and then some. The Canyon went above and beyond in making sure I was rewarded and paid back for my bad luck in Sedona. I planned to hike but hiking to the bottom of the Canyon and back up on the same day isn’t advisable. It’s highly recommended that if you hike to the bottom, you have a plan to stay overnight. To do that, you have to have a camping permit and, well, camping gear (tent, etc.). I certainly don’t have that stuff and wouldn’t get it for just one night as a solo traveler. There is also a set of cabins / dorms at the bottom called Phantom Ranch. It’s booked so far in advance and so popular that the only way to secure a spot in a dorm or cabin is to enter a lottery 15 months in advance (they’re taking lottery entries for Feb 2020 right now).
My friend Robin had joined me part way thru my trip and she & I talked with a park ranger named Ron Brown at the visitor center to get his advice on what to do/see in two or three days. He mentioned taking a mule ride. I said how I’d heard mixed reviews from other customers so decided against it. He said, “Doesn’t matter anyway, because the mules are sick with a respiratory infection…but, hey, you know what that means? It means you could probably get a last minute spot at the Phantom Ranch.”
Since people who either can’t or don’t want to walk down to the bottom and hike up again, getting down by mule is the only way. So, if you were planning on going down by mule to stay at the Ranch you’re S.O.L. Lo and behold they only had two slots left and they were both in the female dorms. !!! Robin and I high-fived and made our reservation and headed back to tell Ron the good news and thank him for the tip. He was so thrilled he loaned us his walking sticks saying, “I’ve been loaning these out for 15 years and they always come back to me.” NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT BE THE PERSON TO LOSE RON’S STICKS!
We had even better luck the next morning when we checked with the Phantom Ranch people stationed at The El Tovar Hotel. We found out they could upgrade us to a private cabin. A private. Cabin. At the bottom of the canyon! WHAT?!
We had the best breakfast in the fancy El Tovar dining room where I fell in love with the artwork and Mimbreño china then hopped the shuttle to the South Kaibab Trailhead to begin our descent.
To be continued…
Since opening QED in 2014, I haven’t been able to travel save for the occasional trip to upstate. My mind, body & soul were aching for a vacation. I have major wanderlust and it’s been straight-jacketed for over 4 years as I nearly killed myself with exhaustion and stress opening and running my little theater and going through cancer treatments.
This past August, Christian announced he’d be enjoying a full month in Edinburgh, Scotland to stage his solo show “My Goodness” as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I was jealous. Utterly, completely, unabashedly jealous. It also meant I was left to care for two dogs and QED solo in the heat of summer for a full month. Doable, obviously, but not ideal. As a thank you, Christian promised me a full week of being “me” at QED while I took a vacation.
September and October were jam-packed with QED stuff, of course, but I also threw my whole heart, soul and body into working on the midterm elections. Win, lose or draw, I decided that the morning after Election Day would be the perfect time to unplug. Where best to do this? Why, Santa Fe, Sedona and the Grand Canyon, of course!
Our election night party at QED was bumping, packed to the gills and full of excitement as the results came in. I left at the crack of dawn for LaGuardia. People love to hate on LaGuardia. But I was out the front door and at my gate in 21 mins, including a pit stop for coffee and a banana. Not my record of 12 minutes (!!! Not joking. I once did this in twelve minutes.) but there was construction and it was a busy work day during rush hour. Seriously.
I got in late thanks to a layover and needing to get a rental car. Driving in the pitch black backroads of Santa Fe was a little scary, but I was checked in to my hotel and had a great travel day of reading and writing and last minute work stuff.
In the morning I realized those backroads were not back at all, they were pretty regular and very near the city center. They just don’t have street lights or giant buildings and people must go to bed with candlelight or something. I was thrilled to discover I hit the sweet spot with fall colors, too. I always think of the northeast for “leaf peeping” season but, lo! The cottonwood is a showstopper.
I love a good walking tour, so I found one that started at noon leaving me time for breakfast in the town square at the Plaza Cafe.
Chiles are everywhere here. In restaurants, they’re in practically every dish (even dessert) and ristras (dried bunches of chiles on a string) are hanging all over the place. There are two kinds of chiles: green and red. But the red is simply a ripened green chile. At I ordered a breakfast burrito which was served covered in peppers. When I ordered they asked, “Do you want red, green or Christmas?” I opted for Christmas which is a mix of both types. Tis the season and all that jazz.
Since it was nearing the actual Christmas and not just the fun name for a chile mix, the town square was being decorated with red hatch chile ristras. I told you! The chiles were EVERYWHERE.
Waiting for my walking tour to start and found a cozy nook in front of a fabulous fireplace at the La Fonda Hotel which was designed and decorated by the architect Mary Colter.
Have you heard of her? I hadn’t. But the tour guide mentioned her and another tourist asked something about The Harvey Girls and The Fred Harvey Company. They all seemed to know what that meant but I wasn’t in on it. The tour guide noted how it was usual for a woman to be an architect –there was no law against it, it was just something women did not do. So Colter got her start by working as an interior designer. When the guide discovered I’d be headed to the Grand Canyon, she said I’d learn lots more about her there as she designed and/or decorated many or most (all?) of the original structures including The Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon.
Her work as an architect and designer was highly influential — her style of “parkitecture” became known as National Park Service Rustic— and yet I’d never heard of her! How is that?! Everyone has heard of Frank Lloyd Wright and yet Colter is arguably more influential than he was. The fu*king patriarchy, man.
Big thanks to the folks of North Platte, Nebraska for inviting me to speak at their Town Hall Lecture Series. Past speakers have included some very big names including my inspiration, the lovely Jeannette Walls, author of THE GLASS CASTLE.
My sister-in-law drove all the way from Missouri to meet up and brought my nieces along for the trip. It was great learning how to loom rubber band bracelets, teaching them how to make things with Bucky Balls, touring Buffalo Bill’s ranch and, generally, just seeing their pretty faces. The girls were mostly happy about my hotel pool and seeing their cousins while I’m pretty stoked about my bull horn turned beer bong necklace.
BUT…the reason I was in town was to give a speech about my life turned memoir and what BURN DOWN THE GROUND means in the literal and figurative sense. There were about 400 people in the lovely Neville Center, including students from the special high school for “troubled” kids. I had no idea they were going to be there but was overjoyed when I found out they were. I hope my story and message about choices and reinvention resonated with at least ONE of them.
Huge thanks to Keppler Speakers and the amazing ladies of North Platte. Who knows if our paths will ever cross again but I will carry the experience with me forever and always.
I seriously don’t understand why people hate LaGuardia Airport so much. I had another amazing travel day with them. One of, gosh, a hundred or so over the last few years. Got there in 10 minutes, got through security and was sitting at my gate 5 minutes later. Along the way, I heard “good morning” a few people and an offer for assistance by two others. Sure, the place could use an update for outlets and added bathrooms, but really, how long are you there? My flights are almost always on time or early, too. Haters gonna hate.
I made it to Green Bay, WI and was greeted by a lovely lady with the Fox Cities Book Festival. Good grief Midwesterners are seriously the nicest people on earth. Well, maybe second to the Irish, but it’s a tight race. If you’re in the Appleton, WI area, I’ll be giving a presentation tomorrow and some entertainment at Friday evening’s Mix & Mingle.
While on a layover at O’Hare, I lost a new tube of lip gloss, but I found Captain Kangaroo. He wears glasses now and enjoys a pint of beer at 11:30 AM. Good for him!
Continuing from my post / idea to remind myself of the positive plans I have in a nutshell, here is my post for what’s in store for March:
* Stay at our cabin at least once, probably twice.
* Submit my solo show to All For One.
* Travel to Rochester, NY and give presentations at RIT/NTID, the largest deaf school in the country. !!!
* Promote Christian’s dates at Gotham Comedy Club, his new hour special THE FUN PART debuting on Netflix & his solo show at The PIT.
* Tutor my protege twice a week to prepare her for the state’s standardized tests.
* Go ice skating with my protege.
* Work on a new solo show idea for myself and a full-length play I’ve been tossing around in my head for a while now.
While January 2014’s plans went as expected, February, yeah, not so much. The TV pilot moved shoot dates to a day when I was in DC, so I couldn’t be an extra. DC was great, though. I enjoyed the Newseum and the Ford’s Theater and Lincoln Museum plus a gorgeous walk through the National Mall which I had practically all to myself because of a snowstorm that shut the city down* I also enjoyed a decadent, incredible lunch at Jaleo (pics below) with the lovely Jennifer Tress, author of You’re Not Pretty Enough. She makes me happy.
But then I got sick AGAIN for another full week of being laid up with a fever. Very upsetting and turned all my plans upside down. This winter has left me feeling negligent to my needs personally & professionally, but looking at what I *have* done I can say the last two months weren’t wasted.
Hopefully March will be illness free and include some fun surprises. Mostly, I’m excited to go to Rochester to share my story and meet tons of hearing, deaf, HoH, & CODA staff and students.
Wanna shot? Yeah, no.
There is no debating, I do not want to party with the fools who’d buy one of these. Not here in San Francisco. Not anywhere.
San Francisco introduced herself to me with crystal clear blue skies and a swanky hotel in Union Square.
Either middle-aged, middle-management white males of Grand Rapids aren’t getting laid enough or I’ve found a new target demo. I am HOT in GR! Like “grown men walking into poles” hot.
I checked into my room at the Amway Grand Plaza (yes, the Amway. I haven’t heard of them in years but they’re inescapable in GR.) which is grand, like the name implies and like everything else in the city, and sprawling. They really need to install a map kiosk like in a shopping mall. Even after two nights there, I got lost trying to find my room.
I was a sweaty mess in my jogging clothes after having gone for a run and had a confused look on my face. A man who worked at the hotel (I assume as he was wearing maintenance type clothes but no name tag) cut his conversation short on the house phone and offered to help direct me. But he wouldn’t just tell me exactly where the main lobby was. He gave short vague answers like, “You’re headed the right way,” and kept asking where I was going. “The main lobby, just tell me where the main lobby is.”
At one point he asked for my room number. Now, I’m sure to him he knows the hotel like the back of his hand and having my exact room number would tell him which tower (yeah, they had towers, like we’re all Rapunzel or something. Crazy big!) I needed to be in and which elevator bank within that tower would take me to my room. But, dude, here’s the thing: No matter how nice you are, how helpful you think you are being and how innocent you know you are, if you have a penis don’t ask a woman who is a stranger to you for her room number. I said I’d trace my steps and start over and thanks anyway and left him standing there. I’m 99% sure he was not a rapist but that 1% is what keeps us ladies always on guard. I can hear his argument at the imaginary rape trial now, “I thought we had a date. She gave me her room number…”
Eh, you know how the victim-blaming story goes. So, anyway, back to Grand Rapids! The hotel gym had a full size pool, hot tub, tanning beds, tennis courts and, my lordy, I wanted to move in! My room had a balcony with an incredible view of the river (What river? Why the Grand River, of course.) and the gorgeous fall colors. I was so happy to be traveling all over the midwest & northeast during peak leaf changing season. This picture just doesn’t do it justice. I could also see native golden boy Gerald R. Ford’s Presidential Museum which I decided I needed to visit simply because of how close it was to my hotel.
My first day there was to give a speech at Grand Rapids Community College as part of the Diversity Lecture Series. I had a quick breakfast and returned to find that housekeeping had left me a note and a voice mail. I had the “do not disturb” sign on my door but apparently they couldn’t believe that I didn’t want service because they called again! I’d been here one night! What could possibly need to be cleaned?! So I said sure, I needed service and had the housekeeping lady zip up my dress instead. Now THAT’s useful!
Sidebar: don’t kill anyone in a fancy hotel. They do wellness checks and just won’t leave your room alone, “do not disturb” sign be damned. I’d recommend the Best Western on Highway 105 in Montgomery, Texas. I stayed there five nights and not once did they call. There were no security cameras, lights, nothing. That is SIX days of getting to Mexico time, people!
Dress zipped, I met my host from the college for an early dinner and to go over the itinerary of events. The speech itself was held at the gorgeous Fountain Street Church. I’m not a religious person –I think most organized religion is a little too cult-like and abhor anyone who selectively uses Bible passages to justify vilifying and/or discriminating– but I could see myself attending this church. It’s non-denominational and reading their mission made me want to hug an evangelical and say, “It gets better.” That’s me pictured on the left sitting in the preacher’s (? preacher, minister, I dunno what you call them) chair and a big rainbow stick. Not sure what that’s for but it made me happy the way rainbows should.
My host said I was joining a distinguished list of speakers of the series and warned me not to get intimated when I saw the church’s green room. I thought she was pulling my leg until I laid eyes on the photos of Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Gerald Ford (duh) and so many more. I was almost embarrassed to add my name to the list. Almost.
The church was filled to the rafters and the speech was an A- (a technical glitch where the laptop with my PowerPoint suddenly died prevents me from giving it an A+ but it was pretty fun). I met some truly remarkable people, especially those working with the college and the diversity series. They love their jobs and make a difference and dammit to hell I’m getting choked up again!
I’m so glad I elected to spend an extra night there because it allowed me to take in some sights and sounds of this lovely riverfront city. I visited the lecture series’ corporate sponsor Steelcase (WOW! I want to go to design school just so I can work there. The building and people were amazing!) and gave a short presentation and Q&A. Afterward, I had the day to play tourist.
I ate a quick burger at Flanagan’s Irish Pub. I’m sorry to say I didn’t try out more local-centric restaurants in GR like I did in Madison, but I wanted a greasy fat burger and pubs are good for those. They didn’t disappoint. Happily stuffed, I walked to my first stop, the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM).
The GRAM had a special exhibit called Real/Surreal which compared works of realism vs. surrealism with most of the paintings on loan from NYC’s Whitney. DOH! Along the way, I caught a glimpse of this building reflected in another. I don’t know if they planned it this way but it looked like a life-sized, glued together puzzle picture. I couldn’t get over how perfect and real it looked. Talk about Real/Surreal!
But they also had on display some of the winners of this year’s ArtPrize. Man, did I luck out on seeing these. Without these pieces, I think I would’ve felt the museum trip to be a bit of a bust. Instead, I was bowled over by “Elephants” by Adonna Khare, a giant penciled mural overwhelming with it’s detail and humanity and, my lord, how does one person possess so much talent?! Please, please check her and her prizewinning piece out. You won’t be sorry.
Excited to learn about ArtPrize and in love with “Elephants”, I asked the security guard where I could find more winners. He directed me to “Origami” by Kumi Yamashita. This gem tricked me at first. I was directed to find it and walked passed thinking it was just a bunch of square papers on a wall. Oh, how wrong I was. It’s so clever in its simplicity and very thought provoking. I thanked the guard and laughed with him how I thought it was stupid at first.
Then he asked, “Did you see me?” Wait. WHAT? He’s one of the origami pieces? GENIUS. Click on this link, and you’ll understand what I mean. So cool.
Thank you to GRAM and ArtPrize for introducing me to these talented women artists. Never in my life have I left an art museum so excited to share my experience with anyone. If you have a chance to go before December 31st when the ArtPrize pieces will no longer be exhibited, I highly recommend it.
Finally, my last stop on the grand tour was of the aforementioned Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. It takes only a few hours in Grand Rapids to realize that they looooooove Jerry. He is the pride and joy of this town. His name is plastered on everything. I’m surprised there’s not a Ford Fun Park or a burger named after him. After learning about our 38th president and getting a free ruler with my gift shop purchase, I, too, loved Jerry. He seemed like a really nice guy. I guess it is his museum and burial site so what are they gonna say? I couldn’t tell you since I’ve not been to Nixon’s. I started openly weeping at the section covering his death and funeral.
Sidebar: Is crying a lot a sign of perimenopause? Because if you haven’t noticed, I’m crying or getting choked up at everything?! That said, I found myself transported to my early youth. I remembered vividly watching news reports of Nixon’s impeachment and Ford’s ascent to the highest office. I love our country, and the process, while flawed, does work.
I left the museum feeling immense pride and even more grateful that our country wasn’t created and founding fathers didn’t live in the late 60s/early 70s or else we’d forever be barraged with its clothing. Egads.
Holy mother of god, you guys. I need to buy a pair of stretchy XXL pants and move to Madison, Wisconsin already. Every meal is a gastronomical orgasm! I even ate a pickled turkey gizzard, y’all! It look like the wrinkly vagina from a cadaver, but I’ve eaten tripe so figured this couldn’t taste much worse. It wasn’t. It tasted like dark meat. Who knew?
[Picture at right: Beefeaters and company. Not a euphemism.]
My first day in town began with breakfast (cheese & sausage quiche & Wisconsin Amber from Capital Brewery) at Marigold Kitchen. Afterward I took my shuttle driver’s advice to use the Wisconsin State Capitol as a shortcut to get to my destination, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. I breezed in and wandered the halls. “Huh,” I thought. “Haven’t they heard of terrorism and mass murderers? Where’s my full body cavity search? I demand to be delayed and felt up by a stranger! Someone touch me in the name of security!”
As I meandered aimlessly, I heard a voice echoing but couldn’t make out the words in the cacophonous stone and marble building. It sounded like someone giving a speech, so I followed the disembodied voice’s direction until I found the source. A man in full marine dress blues was speaking in the rotunda to an audience filled with others in military dress uniforms. I did what anyone should do: I acted like I was invited, grabbed a program and took a seat. As it happens, it was a ceremony in honor of Veterans Day and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the keynote speaker.
It’s not often one finds themselves inches away from a state leader, and stranger still that never once did I go through any security checkpoint. Given how hated the Governor of Wisconsin is in Madison (and the whole state?), I found this doubly surprising. I guess with all the soldiers around us, he was purportedly safe.
The governor gave a thoughtful speech in honor of the Wisconsin veterans that have served this country. “163,” he noted. “The number of Wisconsin men and women who paid the ultimate price in service of their country since 9/11/01.” We had a moment of silence, which made me start crying. If you’re not choking back a lump in your throat during any moment of silence I have to wonder how silent are you being, really? Shut out everything and think –truly think– about what the men and women before us have done to give us the liberty and justice we have come to expect. Like I said: Lump in throat.
I watched as First Sergeant Timothy LaSage was honored and Larry Stanczyk was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the Vietnam War on July 11, 1969. Then as the crowd dispersed, I took photos, shook the Governor’s hand (his real hand! What if I were a spy?! Don’t spies go to Wisconsin? How about UNION spies?!) and left for my original destination: the Veteran’s Museum. How apropos.
After the museum, I enjoyed a pint of Hopalicious by Ale Asylum at The Coopers Tavern where I flirted with my bartender, a Jeffrey Dahmer doppelgänger. I always thought Dahmer was kinda cute, but I guess no guy would take it as a compliment so I kept that part to myself. After settling the tab, I visited the Wisconsin Historical Museum. It was okay. I was a little tired at this point and museums start to be a bit of a drag when you’re by yourself. Sharing a learning experience is part of the fun. I was surprised at just how many inventions and pop culture things got their start in Wisconsin. That’s all I took away from that. Oh, and there’s a huge section on Native American stuff which is in every museum ever so I kind of skimmed that and now I have more White Guilt than before.
After that, I shopped along State Street where I stocked up on postcards and nerdy writing/journaling stuff (!) at Anthology (bummed I was missing their free workshop the next day where they planned to make these fun travel/adventure folder thingies. Yes, that’s exactly what they called them.) & dark chocolate covered cherries & salted caramel (!!) at Kilwins. I finished my jam-packed day with an organic burger (!!!) at Graze where I met Christian Finnegan‘s buddy from his NYU days. More amazing farm-to-table culinary delights, friendly people, affordable prices and lovely experience had me trying to figure out how to move to Madison without ruining Christian’s career.
Then, as I waited for my hotel shuttle, I saw this sidewalk sign (see left) for a jeweler and thought, “Gross, Madison. You almost had me but this is really gross.” I wish I’d had my Sharpie with me, dagnabbit.
The next day was not as packed since I had to perform that night as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. It started out with breakfast at The Old Fashioned. I’d heard they were good for fried cheese curds and more than one person said they’d de-friend me if I didn’t try them while in Madison. I ordered ham and eggs with a side of fried curds and a bloody mary to start. There was so much food in my drink, I wasn’t sure I’d have room to eat much else.
But then my plate arrived, and I vowed to get fat in the name of GOD and AMERICA. Wow, wow, wow! I was only three bites into my meal when I decided that I would eat here again before I left for NYC which meant within the next 18 hours or forever hold my peace.
Cheese curd needs to work on its PR/marketing image. Curd sounds repulsive. I eat cottage cheese but “curd” makes me think of discharge from an infection. In reality, fried cheese curd is like miniature mozzarella sticks only made with better, different kinds of cheese. They’re pictured on the lower portion of my plate in the photo at right.
Around this time is when I befriended an ex-Marine (’73-’76) named Peter who was celebrating the Marine’s 237th birthday by drinking a gallon of Beefeaters. He was recovering from prostate cancer, on his way to visit his daughter, bought me a bloody mary and introduced me to turkey gizzard (again, not a euphemism).
After we parted, I wrote a bunch of postcards and wandered the largest farmer’s market in America where I loaded up on fresh, homemade jerky which was the only thing I could expect to stuff in my suitcase that wouldn’t reek, rot or take up too much room.
I got to the hotel and posted the above photo of my eggs & ham touching off an Internet storm (okay, a slight breeze) of people warning me that being fat is not good and to change my dieting habits. Ummm… SCUH-ROO YOU! A little tipsy from my two bloody marys I made a video about how you should not be fat because that, apparently, is the worst thing you can be EVER. Here it is:
I napped, sobered up, showered & dressed for my main event: a 45 minute presentation at the Rotunda Room of the Overture Center. If I may bitch a little (more), I was pretty annoyed at the onset. I got to the venue to meet with tech early per instructions since I was going to have a slideshow. The Overture Center’s cafe was closed even though there were three shows going on, my books weren’t available for sale at the “book store” and they didn’t even have it on the list. ($@#%^*& !!!!!!!!!!???????)
I was also directed to the wrong floor, so was annoyed, hot and winded after running up and down three flights of stairs when I finally found the Rotunda Room where the tech person wasn’t there. So I said F this and went outside to literally and figuratively cool off. I spotted a bar across the street and downed a glass of Pinot Grigio and headed back to muscle through what I was now expecting to be a huge waste of time.
Thank whatshisface I was wrong. Tech showed up (I was totally fine to go without the slides, but nice that it worked out), a few minutes before showtime a man from the book selling company showed up with books that they promised to add to the pop-up store for the remainder of the festival, and there was a huge, SRO crowd. The event itself went swimmingly though I do think my being overheated and annoyed affected me. I’d give myself a B-minus.
The best part for me was meeting Facebook-turned-in-real-life friends Stu Gilkison & his wife Jessica. They graciously treated me to a post-show drink & snacks (again, the food here is crazy good. A simple appetizer of stuffed olives had my eyes rolling in the back of my head.), and even gave me a ride back to my hotel. As we walked to their car, we passed Coopers Tavern where they are regulars. Luckily, the Dahmer doppelgänger was tending bar. They agreed: total twinsies.
Bonus: We made a pit stop to view Holiday Fantasy of Lights, a cheesy, drive-through Christmas display. Sure, I suppose it’s a “fantasy” if what you dream of includes five minutes of looking at a Lite Brite. The world needs to legalize marijuana before this can be considered entertainment. Priorities, people!
If you turn your radio dial to a pre-set AM station, there’s holiday music to accompany your “tour”. The fact that it was only November 11th and Thanksgiving was over two weeks away kind of made the whole thing surreal. Seriously America, it’s okay if you enjoy Thanksgiving first. Everybody just RELAX for a GODDAMNED MINUTE!
And though I snark, it was fun. A wee bit too much fun, in fact. The next morning I was hurting but happy dreaming of a white Christmas. As I packed, I got weepy (again) at the thought of leaving. (Why can’t I live everywhere and do everything?) I mean, I cried watching a clip from Saturday Night Live as Anne Hathaway & the SNL cast sang a parody of “One Day More”. Seriously.
I’ve had a whirlwind tour for my book Burn Down the Ground. My last out-of-state event in Cleveland for the regional conference of the National Black Deaf Advocates was amazing, but I’m happy to take all of August off to recharge. Dates booked for this fall are below and details are on my calendar. If you want me at your event or store –especially if it coordinates with dates already booked below– email me at kambricrews@Gmail.com
17 – NYC for Bare! at the PIT
19 – NYC for That’s What She Said at Public Assembly
26 – NYC for the How I Learned series at Happy Ending Lounge
13 – Portland, OR – Wordstock Book Festival
13 – Cannon Beach, OR – Cannon Beach Library
18 – Winstead, CT – North Connecticut Community College (Free & ASL interpreted)
20 – Cincinnati, OH – Books by the Bank Book Festival
23 – Lansing, MI – Schuler Books
24 & 25 – Grand Rapids, MI – Grand Rapids Community College (Free & ASL interpreted)
27 – Texas Book Festival (Free & ASL interpreted)
29 – Montgomery, TX – Montgomery Middle School
30 – Conroe, TX – Hauke Alternative School
1 – Austin, TX – Book Woman book store (Free & ASL interpreted)
7 – Washington, DC – Bare! at Black Fox Lounge
10 – Madison, WI – Wisconsin Book Festival
14 – New York, NY – Administration for Children’s Services
17 – 20 – Jefferson, TX – Girlfriend Weekend – Pulpwood Queens Book Club
My milk just came in.Getting a private tour of Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch in Texas.
For Christmas 2010, Christian & I went to Peru for a 10 day, adventure-filled vacation. I won’t bore you with a long travelogue (What? You don’t want to read about the intricacies of foreign bathrooms and whether hot water was available in each place? No? Okay, fine.) But let’s be honest, this mostly for me, so I will only bore you with it for as long as you allow.
After 24 hours of travel (flight to Miami, then to Lima, then to Puerto Maldonado where we got on a bus that took us to a boat that took us to the lodge!), days 1 – 4 were spent at Libertador Tambopata Eco Lodge and camping in the jungle. Lots of boat rides, treks into the jungle and spotting of wild animals like capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), caiman (alligators), boars, birds of every shape. We saw four different species of monkeys (capuchin, squirrel, tamarin and red howler) that were so abundant we hit the Monkey Load. Heh.
The more exciting thing involved a less glamorous animal: a wild boar. We came across a couple of hundred of them crossing a path in front of us, froze and watched in wonder. No problem. After it seemed they were all done crossing, we continued along holding our breath along the way. I have never smelled anything so bizarre and rancid. Our guide kept blowing his nose and hocking to try to get rid of the stench that lingered. Suddenly we realized there was another herd of boars still crossing. Again, we froze this time a boar caught sight of us and came TOWARD us. It stopped, raised its nose and wriggled its snout to get a good whiff of us as we stood as still as possible. I was in front of Christian & our guide trying to stay balanced as I was squatting with my camera aimed at the boar afraid to hit a button for fear that the boar would see me moving. I was having a staring contest with a wild boar while a couple of hundred of its buddies crossed our path!
It then made a few more steps to get CLOSER to us and was joined by another pal. Oh no! They’re on to us. But as soon as the last boar crossed, the two watch pigs departed. Coast clear, we all burst into relieved laughter. “We never discussed what we should do in this situation!” I guffawed. Our guide then gave us a rundown on what to do should we come across any other beasts like pumas.
We camped in the jungle one night at least 9 hours away from the nearest town. Our site was monitored by six vultures and two macaws that were tending to a nest. This would have been fun in a scary way but ended up being horribly terrifying because of an INTENSE, ALL NIGHT thunderstorm that was so dangerously close. Our crew of four included a boat driver who had to sleep on the boat to make sure it didn’t wash away. Our guide, cook and “errand dude” for lack of a better description all stayed in one tent while Christian & I stayed in another. I purposefully typed “stayed” instead of “slept” because sleep was nearly impossible. The lightning was so persistent it was like a lantern was blazing in our tent and the sound of breaking trees, thunder and cracks of lightning were so close that we all wondered if we’d make it through the night. It was so scary that no one said a word. Have you ever read about how in crazy plane situations witnesses will recount how passengers were strangely calm and very quiet? It was like that. There are no words. Christian & I know that no one will ever understand the fear or the surreal danger but we know. We stared at each other in the morning with an all knowing look and then got dressed for breakfast.
Days 4 – 7 were spent in Cusco & a train ride / hike up to Machu Picchu. There’s not much I can say to adequately sum up these two places other than fun and beautiful, respectively. Cusco was decked out for Christmas and people were in great spirits. They love their nativity scenes there! The views of city lights against the mountain range was awesome. We toured Le Catedral and the Museo Inka, shopped at the local market which had such nasty stuff for sale (a bowl of raw cow mouths, anyone?) that it put Chinatown to shame and ate a lot, happy to be back in civilization with electricity and a phone line. I was disheartened by the hundreds of stray dogs but after a few days it was clear the dogs weren’t like regular dogs. They had no interest in humans, were immune to touch and were doing just fine thankyouverymuch. Still, I would have liked to have seen more of them with green collars which the city puts on to indicate they’ve been fixed.
Then we took a train ride to Machu Picchu (we would have loved to do the full hike, but we really wanted to do the jungle and Lake Titicaca so time wouldn’t allow). Every other second was a picture worthy moment. Lush farms, rivers and streams, animals everywhere, women carrying bundles of harvest on their backs (one had a puppy nipping at her heels for crying out loud!), sheep frolicking, just too much beauty in one place it isn’t fair. We hiked up to the top of Machu Picchu in the rain but within 15 minutes the clouds parted and the sun came out. We really lucked out. Pictures don’t do it justice but, well, we took lots of pics anyway. Llamas were in charge of trimming the grass and I loved being near them even if they could have cared less about me.
Days 7 – 10 were in Puno & tours of the islands on Lake Titicaca which included visiting Isla de los Uros (the famous floating islands made of reeds) and staying with a family on Isla Amantani. The latter was a really unique experience that just puts in to perspective how different our lives are. Sure, you can see that people dress and speak differently, that poverty is the norm and hard work is a must. That’s a given. But we totally understand why Angelina Jolie is always scooping up kids…it’s very hard to not fall in love with them and want to give them more opportunity. But to live with them made us stop having so much white guilt and feeling like they’re living beneath their means and appreciate that they are blessed with such wonderful families, communities and togetherness that we’ll never have. They are filled with joy and love.
Lucia and her brother William entertained us while their mother and grandmother cooked for us. All six of us were in their one room kitchen/living/dining room while their lamb Ñeñe looked on from their patio. They dressed us in traditional garb and took us to a dance where we laughed and sweat and carried on like kids.
We met some really nice people from around the world, hiked a mountain (Pachatata aka “Father Earth”), ate lots of new foods like alpaca and cuy (guinea pig), and I managed to read two books and start a third on my Kindle. So I definitely got every ounce of pleasure and relaxation out of my 11 days. Getting upgraded to first class both to/from Lima/NYC sure helped. I wish I knew the magical reason we were upgraded (TWICE!) but the mystery is unsolved.
Photos arranged in order of our trip. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kambricrews/sets/72157625701155196/
Due to the failed bombing attempt of a Delta plan flying into Detroit, the TSA won’t let you stand, retrieve personal items, use the restroom, or even read a book for the last hour of flights now. That means on a 5 hour flight terrorists will have only 4 measly hours to work with.
Gosh, how will they ever find the time?
I feel like I’m on a “This is Your Life” tour! Having a whirlwind week in Texas with Christian who’s here touring with his DVD “Au Contraire!” We hit Austin Monday, did radio there yesterday, then he performed at the Alamo Draft House. But not before we had a great dinner with some of my long lost high school friends and a Tex in the City pal. I’m seeing most of them again very soon when we return to Texas for my birfday. But the show was good, decent crowd for a Tuesday at a non-comedy venue. It’s actually a movie theater so the setting made for not ideal lighting and sound for comedy but it was great nonetheless.
Speaking of Tex in the City, this Friday is the last First Friday Roundup at Comix. We’re taking July and August off but we’ll resume in September. We’ve already raised loads of cash that will go towards helping Texas theater students come to NYC. More on that later but it’s a dream project of mine and Scott Ramsey‘s and how easily it came to be makes us know we’re doing the right thing. I love Scott so much and doing this with him has warmed the cockles of my heart.So, back to the tour. We were on The 950 radio this morning talking shop with Outlaw Dave. That was fun. Tonight we’re at the Improv where Christian will headline in front of a pretty large crowd, I think, which includes my mom and a bunch of friends from Ft. Worth (where I attended high school) and Montgomery where I grew up. Then we have to leave at 2:15 in the morning. IN THE MORNING!? To drive to Dallas for morning radio on KZPS 92.5. Oh, Christian pre-taped a segment for Dallas radio with a guy I graduated with. Will have to find the name of the show (some alternative rock show?) but while Christian was getting interviewed we all figured out the connection and now I’m Facebook friends with him. Fun.The Dallas show is the only dicey one on the tour. At 10:30 on a Thursday night it’s a tough spot and, on top of it, the club has a FREE show beforehand. Arrrgh. Hard to compete but hopefully there will be at least 30 people – that’ll make it fun and goofy. Some of those folks will be high school friends, too, but my camera is FULL. Bring cameras, pleeeease? All of us are meeting up for dinner beforehand so we’ll probably be giddy and tipsy.No time to visit Dad in the clink, unfortunately, but at least I’ll get some laughs with Mom tonight. Thanks to everyone who bought tickets and sent notes of support. Hope to see you soon somewhere out there.
Hey friendlies! I’ll be traveling to Atlanta with my husband Christian Finnegan when he headlines the Punchline May 1st thru 4th. If you’re around, come on out to a show and hang out afterwards with us. Show details are here: http://www.punchline.com.
See you soon!
Christian and I didn’t take too many pictures in Paris. We didn’t even bother bringing our video camera. We wanted to enjoy the sites and soak them instead of worrying about the perfect photo op. But we did take a few pictures (26 to be exact), most simply because they were things that we knew weren’t available in a postcard form or available online like the photos I snapped of two sculptures / headstones in Cimetiere de Montparnasse.
I started to write some quick highlights of the things we did but found myself wanting to elaborate so here’s a brief summation of our trip:
1st Day – Took a bus from the airport and checked in to the Hotel des Artistes. Walked through the Luxembourg Gardens and had our first Parisian dining experience with no problems. Christian’s high school French got us bemused, appreciative smirks.
2nd Day – As the sun was rising, we walked through the Cimetiere de Montparnasse which, although not the more famous one with Jim Morrison and the like, was amazing and houses the most beautiful, touching, sad, haunting sculpture. We tried to visit the Catacombs – the site I was most interested in seeing, actually – but it was closed for renovations. Bummer. We had coffee before heading out to our first walk with the aforementioned Paris Walks book that took us from St. Germain-des-Pres to the Musee d’Orsay. We stopped at Deyrolle, a 170 year old taxidermy shop that is surreal. I bought a gorgeous blue morpho butterfly of the lepidoptera order that I can’t stop staring at. Then we hit the museum to feast our eyes on an impressive collection of paintings by Renoir, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, et al. You know…the usual.
3rd Day (Christmas Eve) – We embarked on our longest walk of the trip by starting at the Louvre (the Paris Walks book gave us a useful tip about a relatively unknown entrance to the museum that let us avoid all the lines) where we saw the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Both, while lovely, were difficult to enjoy because of the ridiculous over-use of cameras of every size and shape. I wanted to snatch them away from everyone and make the people just stop for a moment to savor the view. The museum really should do something about this…something along the lines of the Hope diamond. I recall seeing it by filing up to it in a single file line, having my solitary moment with it then moving on.
We moved away from both and went to the more quiet exhibits of amazing sculptures and Egyptian artifacts. But the most beautiful thing of the Louvre, in my opinion, is the Louvre itself. There were moments where the building, the ceilings the courtyards were dizzying. Also in my opinion, the glass pyramid constructed above the main entrance is hideous. Apparently many others agreed but some have come to appreciate the merging of modern and ancient design, including Christian. From there we continued a Paris Walks walk that took us off and on the Champs Elysees till we reached the Arc de Triomphe.
After a short nap, we ventured out again to the Eiffel Tower where a full moon shone. It was a bit too cold to stand in line to travel up to the top and, as we had found at other places, due to the clouds we weren’t sure that we’d see anything from up there anyway. Instead we walked along the Seine and had a leisurely meal at a bistro where Christian was served the saddest salami and pickle sandwich. I think the kitchen was mad at our late arrival (it was due to close in 10 minutes) and decided to scrimp on his meal as punishment. I hope Christian has the photo of it that I can share. It was hilariously bare of meat and pickles.
4th Day (Christmas Day) – We had a cozy breakfast nearby our hotel where the most ridiculous U.S. couple confirmed all those stereotypes about rude, loud Americans. They were so awful they were an exaggerated caricature of the stereotype. Christian snapped a pic on his iPhone that I’ll have to post later but the pic will not do any justice. They were absurd. So absurd we apologized to our waiter on their behalf.
We trekked to Notre Dame where we partook in Mass. It was lovely –both the building and the Mass– but religion is baffling to me. Stand up, sit down, chant in unison…it’s all very cult-like and creepy. The heeby jeebies set in after a few minutes so we skedaddled over the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, on which the above photo was snapped. We completed two walks from Paris Walks that day and just generally enjoyed being out and about with no agenda.
Christmas dinner was at Villa Spicy near the Champs Elysees which was bustling. You would never have known it was Christmas. The sidewalks were packed as if it were any other shopping day and the trees along the street were brilliantly lit with blue twinkle lights.
5th Day – We doubled back to the Conciergerie (really not as interesting as a museum as it could and should be as the prison that housed Marie Antoinette among others due to much of the building still being used for the Paris law courts) and the Pantheon which had been closed for Christmas the day before. We somehow managed to time out longest and most difficult Metro experience with rush hour which made for squeezing into the train car an experience in itself.
We finished our day with the Arts and Tarts walk in Paris Walks. This was, by far, our favorite as it was the most romantic and quaint and uniquely Paris walk of those we had completed. It took us to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart which was breathtaking. The views were spectacular and we were constantly delighted at seeing the domes of the church suddenly appear again as we walked around the winding, hilly roads. We vowed that if and when we return to Paris, we will stay in this area or arrondissement.
Our last meal in Paris at Sensing was our most decadent and was a fun experience. A man’s job was just to stand and watch us eat. If a crumb fell, he was there. Water? Of course. Last bite eaten? Plate promptly removed. It was weird but fun and delicious and adventurous. We had a nightcap at a pub where a regular was trying to make moves on every woman in the room. He convinced one to dance with him and as their dancing continued she clearly became uncomfortable and abandoned him as he tried to tuck his obvious boner into a less apparent position. Awkward and awesome.
Lots of little details have been left out, but this sums it up nicely, I guess. The next time we visit will definitely be in Spring or Summer where we can truly enjoy the gardens and outdoor cafes. But for our first time and as a way to spend Christmas, we had an amazing time.
Ready for ’08!
What a beautiful city you are, especially when the last sight of you is followed by the drive home from JFK down Steinway Street in Queens. Ick. But it is good to be back home with the animals and Paquita is sporting her brand new Parisian harness. She would have loved you too with dogs being welcome anywhere and everywhere. And now, I cross you off the list and hope to see you again soon . A la prochaine, moi.
There is too much to write at this late hour on so little sleep. We did the touristy things, of course, but we incorporated them into walks courtesy of “Paris Walks,” a useful, easy guide for first time visitors. I have only one or two minor, nit picky things about the book’s practicality and some snarky editorial but wholeheartedly agree with the two reviews on the Amazon page. We never took a cab, even from the airport to the hotel, but instead relied on our feet and the freakishly perfect Metro system. It is pristine and a cinch to navigate.
While I enjoyed the sites where we, for whatever reason, felt we needed to go / see to say, “Yes, I have seen the [FILL IN THE BLANK],” the fun parts were more about the culture, the joie de vivre and the drunk and disorderly. The best way to get a sense of how “things are done” is to see how people react to situations like an over packed subway car at rush hour, post office lines, the drunk unsuccessfully trying to get served another drink, the drunk handing another drunk with a Santa hat a half empty bottle of wine, the drunk trying to make a move on every woman in the bar whilst tucking away his obvious wood, and the like. Maybe over a vin or two I will tell you about the trip but until then, joyeuses fetes.
First class on international trips is ridiculously, ridiculously amazing. I am still full nearly 9 hours after landing.
So we got married, blah, blah, blah. That doesn’t take any talent or special skill, so on to other topics of interest.
We missed seeing my pal Mandy of the NY Post at our nuptials; but I suppose if you’re going to miss a wedding, getting bitten by Andy Dick while covering the roast for William Shatner then having it covered in Page Six makes for an excellent excuse!
We also missed our friend Adam Felber because he was out in LA for his new book Schrodinger’s Ball which also happened to get a great review in the NY Times. In a bummer turn of scheduling, he’ll be in New York this weekend while we’re out in LA and Utah. This means we’ll miss the private shindig hosted by his friend, NPR co-worker and co-blogger Mo Rocca at Mo’s pad celebrating our mutual friend’s milestone.
Faithful readers will recall that Mo popped in for Edith Layton’s book launch party. Why? She’s Adam’s mom, that’s why! She also happens to be an amazing woman and multi-award winning romance novelist with her own book coming out soon. That family is sincerely talented and awesome and funny with her daughter Susie Felber adding to the talent pool as an accomplished comedian and writer and gorgeous mommy-to-be. She also happened to capture the (thus far) only photo of me smiling too wide whilst descending the stairs at my wedding party thingy.
There’s plenty more of our friends who we need to congratulate — more books, CDs, marriages and what not — but right now I’m just bubbling with joy for Adam and for Mandy probably not being “too AIDS-y“.
I can’t stop laughing slash sweating slash snorting slash blushing when I look at this hilarious slash sexy slash embarrassing photo of me & Erik Estrada as my fiance’, comedian Christian Finnegan, sulks nearby:
Video taken at the 2006 TV Land Awards right before we hit the red carpet:
Here are a few photos from the TV Land affiliate’s cocktail party at Shutters in Santa Monica that took place the night before the awards ceremony. It was a small little gathering with Christian performing and Marion Ross, Tom Wopat, Christopher Knight, Adam West & Erik Estrada as the other celebrity guests. There’s a cute one of Marion Ross & Christian embracing. She’s so cute. Gotta get my disposable camera developed for the pic of me & Erik. I hope it turns out!
During the aforementioned cocktail party, Larry, the president of TV Land, told us a funny anecdote about musical guest Diana Ross. While setting up the stage in preparation for her performance, she told a production crew member she wanted a speaker moved.
“Yes, Ms. Ross. I’ll try to do that for you.”
“Now you know I don’t like the word ‘try’.”
How awesome is she?!
Flew home with Adam West & Mary Tyler Moore.
If you had told the 13-year-old, tin trailer living, outhouse using, raggedy clothes wearing version of me that her life would come to this, she would have wanted to believe it with every fiber of her being but couldn’t possibly have imagined it coming true. I swear I wished on many a bright star, birthday cake candle and 11:11 clock read-out that I would have a life & career that allowed me to have a night like I had tonight. And the awards haven’t even happened yet!
Tom Wopat told Christian, “Your fiance is beautiful.” And he was totally serious. And he was talking about ME! Later, I “made out” with Erik Estrada (picture forthcoming) with Christian’s blessing. Erik is by far the most gregarious, charismatic person I have ever met solidifying my impeccalbe taste in men even when I was pre-pubescent.
Marion Ross is the most awesome, touchy feely lady ever.
Adam West is witty and vibrant and clever and handsome. He also lives in Idaho which made Christian bite his tongue to abstain from making a bat cave joke.
Chris(topher) Knight was without Adrianne which made me sad because I think she’s adorable, but he was enthusiastic and gracious all the same.
I fear for this site’s future because I can’t really honestly talk about half the crazy, surreal, jaw dropping moments and, well, what’s the point of writing about them if I can’t really write about them?
Tomorrow is going to feel like the ULTIMATE Battle of the Network Stars!
We arrived at 5:00 the morning of the 8th and by 8:30 AM we were napping at the beautiful Westin located right in the heart of all the Dublin action. After lunch near the River Liffey, we met the film crew and director and headed over to the Guinness Storehouse for a walk through of the film schedule. With a big day ahead of us, we took it easy that night by eating and drinking from 7:30 till midnight with the crew.</sarcasm>
Day Two was spent filming which went so smoothly we actually finished early. That’s gotta be a first. Highlights were Christian crawling through a pit of barley before dropping and making a barley angel, Christian bantering with the Guinness Brewmaster Fergal Murray (no joke) and learning how to pour a proper pint of Guiness and lots of free food and drinks with the Comedy Central folks.
Day Three we grabbed breakfast and walked over to O’Connelly Station where me met up with our tour guide Brendan, an older Irish fellow wearing a tam-o-shanter and smoking a pipe. Brilliant. We hopped in our private car on the train headed to the Wicklow Mountains where we were treated to some breathtaking sites and quintissential Irish photo opportunities: Half deteriorated stony buildings situated on a lush green cliff overlooking the ocean…cows, sheep, mossy stuff. Highlights included the monastic ruins in Glendalough founded in the 6TH Century by St. Kevin and watching weavers weave on dusty old fashioned weaving “machines” for Avoca in a tiny, old little building located in Ballykissangel. It was me, Christian and four workers just working away without a care in the world that we were staring intently, filming and wandering around. So fascinating and intricate we bought two sweaters and a scarf.
We got back in time for a quick nap before meeting up with the musicians of the Musical Pub Crawl. They treated us to two hours of traditional Irish music: jigs, reels, ballads and taught us the difference between them, the types of sets we could find around town and the various instruments used. Assuming I get my movie together, I’ll use tunes from their CD as the background music.
Day Four we bought a ticket to one of those “hop on, hop off” double decker bus tours. We had a few destinations in mind for the day so the bus ends up being cheaper than cab fare, plus you get the tour to boot. (I’ve always thought that, although they seem a little cheesy, these bus tours are the best way to get a good understanding of the lay of the land, a brief history of the city and a cheap ride.) We toured around the city seeing various sites of interest such as the homes of Oscar Wilde and Arthur Guinness, his wife & 21 (!) children, Phoenix Park, Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and so much more.
We hopped off at the stop for the Kilmainham Gaol where we paid 5 euro each to get a guided tour. It is a sad history of mostly political prisoners but also of severe punishment for small crimes. Women and children were housed in the same facilities as men and overcrowding and illness were a constant problem. The names of the prisoners are still etched above the doorways with some attempts at humor such as “O’Brien Hotel” and “No Vacancy”. Incidentally, Kilmainham was used in the filming of the Daniel Day Lewis movie In the Name of the Father.
A quick hop on then off again this time to drink a pint at Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland dating back to 1198. There we watched Ireland make an amazing attempt at a comeback against France in a brutal match of rugby. Quite possibly my favorite three hours of the whole trip.
Day Five was only 1/2 long as our car was scheduled to pick us up at 1:00. So we did some early morning filming for my movie idea which entailed me standing in front of various pubs doing intros. We then packed and napped till it was time to walk across the street to Trinity College where we paid 8 euro each to see the oldest book in existence the Book of Kells and the most amazing library I have ever seen. It literally took my breath away. It is called the Long Room and made seemingly entirely of oak with a barrel-vaulted ceiling at least four or more stories high. We were thisclose to a Bible from 1632 that is just sitting there on a shelf collecting dust along with a gamillion other books.
Afterwards, we walked back across the street to see our driver David waiting for us. We loaded up the car and headed home to JFK where we seemingly garnered all the luck of the Irish as a record setting blizzard hit New York yet our flight left on time, arrived safely and about ten minutes early.
I’ll be taping behind the scenes and “reporting” from Dublin. I had great fun brainstorming ideas for my shoot yesterday with my dear friend Scott and am now so damned excited to get there. The worst case scenario is that I’ll have lots of fun footage for our memories, my Ballyhoo Newsletter, Christian’s newsletter and my “reel”. The best case scenario is that I develop a really great “movie” that can be sold or used elsewhere in some capacity. We shall see.
Either way, look for Christian on Comedy Central the night of St. Patrick’s Day for the end product of our trip.
More than a wee bit psyched.
I am happy to report that Christian is doing really well headlining at the DC Improv. The shows have been sold out and he has been in top notch performance mode. I am excelling in my role of “enthusiastic and supportive girlfriend” by eating and drinking for free, hanging out in the green room, flirting with old professors and generally not getting in the way or on his nerves. Part of why I’m here this weekend — aside from the reasonable cost and ease of traveling here by train, that it’s a long weekend, I haven’t been in DC since ’96 and I had nothing better to do — is because yesterday marked our two year anniversary.
We celebrated with an okay lunch at Smith & Wollensky. On the whole, S&W is supremely overrated. Or at least this one was. Christian’s filet something provier was tasty, but the service was inattentive, my lemon chicken was dry as a bone and bland to boot, and our Bloody Marys were the worst tasting spicy alcoholic crap. On the upside, their salads — both the Caesar and the mixed greens — were amazing as were the whipped potatos. Dessert was overly generous and scrumptious and the price was extremely affordable due to the $20.05 Restaurant Week fare we enjoyed. Would I go back? If it were Restaurant Week, yes. I would simply stick to their specialty: red meat, make sure my server wasn’t sick or they weren’t going through a shift change, and stick to wine.
Having an anniversary that falls during a season of new beginnings affords us the opportunity to look back at the year together, acknowledge our amazing milestones and fun times as well as set goals for the future 12 months. We did this last year, and I’m pretty certain that one of Christian’s goals was to have his own 1/2 hour special (CHECK!) and one of mine was to start my own production and PR company (CHECK!). I can’t wait to see if this year’s goals are checked off with similar success. Stay tuned for January 15, 2006, for an update.
Today we woke up early — well, early for two people sleeping in a dark, cool hotel room after hanging out till the wee hours — and took the Metro to The Smithsonian’s American History Museum for four hours of absorbing our Nation’s history. We thoroughly enjoyed the Star Spangled Banner exhibit. Since 1998, it has been undergoing an extensive and exhaustive reconstruction and cleansing. A process you must see to believe. There is also a relatively new exhibit, open since November 11th, about the U.S. and all of its wars called “The Price of Freedom.” While the Civil War and WWII exhibits were extensive, I was disappointed at the lack of anything about 9/11 other than a giant steel beam and a phone from one of the planes. That was it? Seriously? I suppose more perspective must be gained to have an unbiased and less emotional influence on the display. History, after all, is still being made with regard to that day. It is strange to think, however, that 50 years from now that 9/11 is reduced to just that…a big beam and a mashed up sky phone.
Tomorrow on the Daily Dose: a trip to the National Archives!
Back in New York and am happy to be home. I went to the final taping of The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn. Christian’s friend, Chris Deluca, is a writer for the show and did a bit in the beginning where he choked on pastry and Craig gave him the heimlich. Then Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Adam West, Marlee Matlin, Martin Mull and Nikki Zeiring did some stuff and then Christian’s other friend, Julius Sharpe (Goldy on the show) danced with Craig, et. al. and then it was over.
We chatted in the hallway with Chris & Julius awhile and turned down offers of free food & booze in the green room so we could wander the hallways of CBS’s various studios in “Television City”. We ventured down one floor and I cracked open the door — not locked?!?!?! — to find a giant glittery green price tag about the size of my apartment with the words The Price is Right emblazoned on its face.
Had I died? Because this is HEAVEN!
We were THISCLOSE to doing “it” on a giant red and white boat about the size of my apartment named the “S.S. Price”. And by “it”, I mean screwing. I’m not sure if Bob would have been angry or impressed to know that his ship had been christened (yeah, right, like no one else has), but we decided to pick up our stuff from security and dine on Mexican at El Compadre rather than “rock the boat” during our last night in LA. Live mariachi bands and refried beans vs. sex on oversized, sequined prop piece I’ve seen on television since the day I was born. Hmmm…not sure I made the right choice.
I forgot to tell you that I met Jay Maynard, aka “Tron“, in the Jimmy Kimmel Green Room. Although he lives in Minnesota now, he’s originally from Houston, Texas — hence his southern accent — and knew all about Montgomery, Texas, the tiny little town I called home during my youth.
Too tired to write proper.
I enjoyed my days poolside so much that my feathers were ruffled nary a bit when three of the most obnoxious sounds happened in unison: a motorcycle so loud it set off a car alarm precisely at the moment a baby screamed at being placed in the pool. I remained completely zen-like. I sipped my margarita and merely commented on the timing.
At the airport, all things that could go wrong did: My bag was flagged for security after the x-ray operator enjoyed a big old laugh with the guard as they eyed the contents of my bag. Said guard then manhandled my “back massager.”
“It’s so hot in here,” I complained to Christian as the guard got warmer and warmer to the hidden valuable. Point = +20 to Murphy’s Law.
After that little incident was over, we got caught behind the entire Ecuadorian Little League Baseball team. “I’m glad I’m not going to Ecuador on their plane; it’s practically doomed to crash.” Turns out they were going to NYC. Yep, you guessed it, on our plane. Point = +50 for me for kicking fate in the balls and saying “fuck with me”.
After eyeing the 50-plus identically dressed little boys and men all chatting excitedly in Spanish, I glanced back at Christian. The exasperated look on his face that said, “This flight is going to suck royal ass,” was priceless. Point = +30 to the boys for proving us wrong.
Turns out, the boys were very well behaved, unlike the Hassidic father who sat to my right and his three boys and wife sat in the aisle across from us. The man smacked gum in my ear the whole way. He literally leaned over (to look out the window) and would smack, smack, smack without regard. He took his shoes off and hiked his leg up on the seat so I got a real close glimpse of the shine on his toenails peeking through his worn black cotton socks. Who puts their feet up on a chair when smushed that close to a total stranger? Point = -100 to Miss Manners…that bitch didn’t teach him shit.
At one point I looked over at one of the dad’s boys just in time to see the large contents of his tiny mouth getting sloshed around wildly. Apparently he learned his chewing habits from his dad. Later the father scolded the same youngster for staring and pointing. Point = +5 to Dad for attempting some sort of guidance.
Looks like I win with 50 points. Woo! Here’s my prize, a picture of me & David Alan Grier in the Improv green room.
Still very, very zen.
Jack’s China trip is proving exciting and worthwile for him. He called me twice over the weekend to let me know he lost his insulin pen and needed backup fast among other demands. Why he was calling me at 3:00 in the morning is beyond me. He’s at a five star hotel, the concierge gets paid to cater to high maintenance blustery guys like Jack. It was all in control by this morning, he was given needles and drugs galore with no prescription necessary. These Commies sure know how to operate.
It was good to hear his voice though and not from the confines of a dank prison cell. We must have chatted for twenty minutes about the food alone. He made me laugh with tales of his refusal to eat fish lips and the like. In fact, he was calling me from a Mongolian restaurant where they have baby lambs wandering through restaurants. “You pick the one you want, just like lobster! Then they take it in the back and prepare it for you. So fresh!” Followed by, “Baaah Baaah” in the background. Later when giving him a phone number he said, “Give me another pen, this one’s got blood all over it.” I was mortified.
Thankfully it was all a ruse. All those “Baaahs” were courtesy of his new Chinese friends following along in his joke. Say all you want about Jack — how he’s rude, crude, bossy, mean, high maintenance, demanding — but people love him and no one ever forgets him. These new Chinese friends of his have already started inundating his inbox with emails. They will miss him, but not as much as I do. I need a free lunch!
I have never encountered more snags and silly stresses in basic travel than when travelling with Christian. He says he’s never had this much trouble except when with me. Are our travel juices mixing to create a disastrous formula? Considering I’ve been to Europe and the BVI’s, all over the US and Mexico and he’s never set foot out of the country, I’m more than happy to blame him. Besides, I wasn’t with him Friday when he had one of his worst airport experiences.
Part of it, though, is that he gets very riled up at the smallest hiccups whereas I tend to just stay silent and think, “Hmm, this sucks, ooh, that coffee smells good. I wish I had coffee. My ass itches. If I lean up against that pole I can scratch it unnoticed, but will that pole leave schmutz on my pants?” You get the idea.
I think the Travel Gods look down on him and think, “Let’s halt all subway service into Manhattan. Can you just picture the fury on his face? MMWWAHAHAHA!”
When they see me, they think, “Aaah, why bother? She’ll just meet a taxi driver willing to drive her to Manhattan in exchange for a Stoli light up pen because he’s already headed to Manhattan, and why should he charge her for a trip he’s going to take with or without her?”
I suggested Finnegan make a sacrifice to the Travel Gods: like buy a Metro Card and give it to a migrant worker. He queried, “But what if I do that and then my travel karma doesn’t change? Can you imagine how pissed I’d be then?!?!”
See. He’s destined for delays. You just have to trust that when you put the goodness out there, it will come back not to smack you but kiss you lightly on the lips and ask, “Mmmm, is that Dentyne Arctic Chill? It is?!?! Then, please accept this first class upgrade. I insist.”
Honestely, though, the MTA can suck my dick.**
**Just kidding, MTA God!
Boy, it’s great to be home! We had a terrific last two days for several reasons: a light agenda,Christian got to headline the last show (Richard must be atoning for Yom Kippur), bonus spending money, free movie passes to see School of Rock (simply darling and genuinely amusing) and, most importantly, each other’s company. Gross, huh? Ah, what can I say for myself? It’s true.
At one point, we were gazing so cheesily into each other’s eyes, the Emcee for the weekend interrupted us by demanding, “Get a room!” The thing is, we weren’t groping or tonguing each other or anything else grotesquely physical; we were being intimate. Christian observed that intimacy is more uncomfortable for others than just flat out public grope sessions and that the Emcee should have said, “Get a candlelight dinner!” Which we did. We used the extra cash to treat ourselves to a deliciously private and tasty steak dinner last night, full of long gazes, teary toasts and, yes, even a kiss or eight or thirty.
We said goodbye to our free stay at the Strand this morning. I woke up feeling a little blue about having to leave but excited to see Paquita again and have places like Rite Aid and the liquor store all within spitting distance. On the way home, our cabbie was on time, our flight arrived in New York 15 minutes early and even though they required passengers to remain seated due to a medical emergency in the back, they let my and Christian’s row de-plane anyway so I had time to get Paquita to take her with me to the bank before it closed. I love New York and its efficiency at handling the flow of people. That inadequacy of Florida is what frustrated us for our first day or two there — we need a vacation!
— Now that I’m back in civilization, I’ve added photos to the past links.
Another terrific performance by Christian rounded out a day full of intense highs and lows. This place, West Palm Beach, is clearly not meant for tourists. There are no sidewalks, not a single drugstore and the cab service wouldn’t pick us up without knowing the exact name of the building we were at even though we told them we were at the beach and gave them an intersection and physical address of the nearest building. The worst part, though, is the exorbitant amount of construction. They are building anything and everything from scratch here. You know, because the natural landscape isn’t pretty enough.
We frolicked in the waves and I bronzed my skin while Christian turned a bright pink. Later at the Improv, I snapped a few photos of Christian on stage. When he viewed the results he remarked, “I look like I’m doing comedy on Mars.” The lights were red, his shirt was a burnt orange and his face matched them perfectly. The red planet was never this fun.
It wasn’t all frustrating and fruitless, though.The views are stunning, the sounds of the ocean are so calming and the shoes here are cheap! This library from where I type overlooks the Intercoastal and is surrounded by palm trees and fountains and bright cheery colors. It beats my local library by a long shot, unless you prefer piss smelling books, cramped spaces and tattered books that are outdated and useless. Well, I’d love to keep a travel log, but this isn’t very exciting and my bed awaits. Bye!
Well, after a pleasant and easy flight from LaGuardia on Delta Song, we arrived in sunny and warm Florida. There was much to do about nothing trying to get us into the proper condo, but we finally got settled in to our spacious two bedroom, two bath condominium complete with a dining room, huge kitchen, cable television and a balcony. We’re even high enough for me to push Christian off the edge if he gets out of line.
The place is great and so close to everything. We asked a guy where the nearest grocery store was, letting him know we didn’t have a car and he gave us directions saying, “But it’s pretty far.” We said our thanks and not to worry about the distance. Turns out, it was about as far as the R stop from my apartment door. Far? You call that far?
We ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, one of several chain restaurants we have to choose from, and I warned Christian to not order anything but an entree as their portions were obscenely large. He took my advice and we both ordered sandwiches. These things could feed a horse and horses don’t know when they’re full. We both finished just one half of our portions and got the rest to go. Who eats that much food? No wonder this country is a mess. We drive to the grocery store that’s around the corner after we’ve eaten about eight pounds of cheese and bread.
I brought my Pilates DVD so I wouldn’t get out of the routine and actually DID Pilates before going to Christian’s first of six shows at the Improv where he’s featuring for Richard Lewis and headlining on Saturday night. Knock on wood, I’ve never seen Christian eat it on stage and he didn’t fail last night. He kept the audience in a steady rolling laughter including a bit of sexual bantering with a 60-some-odd-year-old lady and some war of the words with a guy who was very excited to see Richard Lewis — who, in my opinion, wasn’t really trying very hard because the audience was pretty sparse for his standards. I guess when you’ve been doing comedy successfully for 34 years, performing for anything less than 300 people is a drag. But tonight should be a packed house, and I fully expect Christian to do well again and Richard to bring it tonight.
Okay enough comedy reviews, I’ve got free slushies to drink, a pool to lie near, and a boy who has called me “beautiful” about 58 times since we left New York. Hey, if this is what clean air does to his senses, I’m going on vacation with him as often as possible!
Post Walden Pond, Christian’s great set at the Regatta Bar in the Charles Hotel and many beers, buffalo wings and chicken fingers, we crashed our pretty little heads on the best fu*king bed and bedding ever created on earth. I tried to stuff the down comforter in my bag, but the lush towels and terry cloth robe were hogging up too much space. Who wants that nasty old comforter anyway? We already used it once; time to move on. So move on we did.
We hustled back down to Boston’s version of Chinatown (whatever…they have no raw meats and/or fish visible anywhere. Even here in Astoria, we hang out skinned goats and rabbits for the world to see. Chinatown, schminatown) and plunked down our $10 US Currency.
For four hours and thirty minutes, I was the girl in junior high I always wanted to be. I was seated in the back seat of the bus where all the cool people sit* with the most popular, cutest boy who could see only the good in me.
We made out for a few minutes then ate apple pie and Coke for breakfast. Then we napped for a while. Then we made out for a few minutes before we played a few rounds of the slapping game. Then I re-told Christian stories about how I once stole a girl’s purse and kissed a nasty old cab driver to save $1 on my cab fare. Then we made out some more. Then we made up stories about Fung Wah, a bus driver afflicted with anal polyps, and Willie Booker T. Washington, the world famous basketball player with no arms. Then we made out and almost had sex on the $10 Chinatown bus. By then we had reached the Bronx, and the bus was bouncing too much; so Christian chickened out, because he didn’t want to have a scandalous report in Page Six right before he goes to Montreal for the biggest annual festival in comedy. I tried to convince him that the only bad press is no press, but he didn’t buy it. So instead I flashed all the truckers with http://www.christianfinnegan.com/ written across my boobies. **
Five hours later, we found ourselves back in Astoria and I was all grown up again. I returned my boss’ voice mail to tell him the name of the restaurant he wanted was not called Chez Glue but rather la Gouloue, unpacked, French kissed my dog and met with my business partners about a very important book launching party that we are hosting. During the meeting, I had cappuccino and French fries for dinner.***
P.S. If you ever have a chance, be sure to check out the lovely Kelly MacFarland. She is one spunky, funny chick. She’d better get her ass to New York soon and bring all her fabulous wooden toys with her.****
*Rosa Parks excluded.
**This is a lie. It actually read: www.christianfinnegan.com/TowerofHubris.htm
***I said I was grown up. That was a lie, too.
****This is not a sexual reference. Wooden sex toys could be problematic, what, with all the splinters and all. Simply put, she is from Maine. They make wooden toys there.
It’s physically painful being away from my computer, and, of course, my little lover Paquita. Here I am back where I belong . . . not really rested, but feeling stress-free.
Monday included a walk around Walden Pond — the Walden Pond — and, other than crowds, cell phones, numerous visitor parking lots all packed full, an ice cream truck and souvenir shop, Walden Pond is just how Thoreau left it. It is lovely and peaceful and woodsy.
To protect Christian’s reputation, I will not post the photo I snapped of him chatting on his cell phone on the very spot where Thoreau’s cabin once stood. (In his defense, he’s a very popular man and was in town on business. The Walden adventure was a spontaneous suggestion and a diversion of his primary purpose.) I will merely tell you, dear reader, how the call was dropped due to poor reception. It seems a cell tower has yet to find it’s way into the woods, unlike the land fill that resides next door. Yes, I said “land fill”. Some urban planning genius, in his basest form of civil disobedience, thought it would be a good spot for the accumulation of massive amounts of waste. Genius, pure genius. He’s on the road to the Presidency, I tell you!
After handing over the keys to my apartment to Bob so she can take care of my mini-zoo (tiny little Phish, wee Larry Bird and the sweetest, smartest petite girl with the big name: Paquita Borgito Borgato Chorizo Jimenez), I met Christian for our mini-vacation to Boston.
It took us four subway transfers to get down to Grand Street in Chinatown, where we paid $10 to board a bus and entrust our precious mini-lives with the mini-driver for four and a half hours. The cynic in me kept waiting for the bus to fill with women carrying live chickens and lots of filthy crying babies. Instead we were surrounded by a mish-mash of people that were, for the most part, like us: bargain-hunters looking for a cheap ride.
Aside from the queeny black guy who dropped the “F” bomb every other word while dripping sweat all over the seats as he searched for his ticket he seemed to have misplaced during the 25 feet trip from the ticket booth and his bus seat and the overweight Asian women who ate a full platter of the smelliest Chinese food in her seat before the bus (and, therefore, ventilation) was turned on, the passengers and the trip was smooth sailing and comfortable.
Mad Libs littered with such classics as:
“Ballet companies are springing up like the Chinese;”
“My hobby is collecting boobies”;
“Remember, the baby gets his warm he sauce around six o’clock”; and . . .
a telephone conversation in which Christian’s dad asked for the definition of camel toe.
I think I’m going to enjoy this trip.
A few short days in the suburbs was all it took for me to be reminded just how awful it can be living there. They are stifling and unimaginative. Rows and rows of identical homes in various shades of browns, creams and yellows are separated on occasion by an odd colored abode just to provide a directional landmark. “Turn right once you see the big blue house.” Or… “We’re the fifth house on the right. If you see the purple house, then you’ve gone too far.” Neighbors make themselves seem unique by planting more shrubs or mowing lawns in checkerboard patterns.
Luckily I escaped before I began wearing muu muus or started thinking pantyhose with open toed shoes were acceptable. Can you imagine? Whoo…I just got chills.
Off to Missouri, or as pronounced in New York City: Misery. A wedding and $400 later, I’ll be back. That’s Tuesday in lay terms.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July. I’ll be in Marina Cay, otherwise known as The Republic of Cuervo for 7 months out of the year, until the 10th. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it! Until then, take care!