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janellkaryn's Journal
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Date:2008-06-01 09:42
Subject:change is a-brewin'
Security:Public

Actually, change has been happening for some time now. For those who don't know, I quit my job at Commerce Bank forever on Mar 31st of this year. I am now working as a host at Pierpont's, where Matt works, and as a banquet server at the KC Country Club. I like both okay, but will probably stay with Pierpont's because I have hope of becoming a server and making more money. This has opened my schedule to do things I really want to do. I will be in the next Mystery Train show, "Mighty Muddy Murder," opening June 20th. Super excited!! I may not get to do any puppet shows in June but hopefully in the summer months following. I can work on monologues whenever I want, and not have to worry about being tired at 5:00, not feeling like doing anything but watch TV. My life seems so much more fulfilling now.

Erik and I are going to get our own apt. We are currently waiting for our applications for a place downtown to be approved. They are the Professional Building Lofts at 11th and Grand, right across from the Power and Light District. It would be so awesome if we get this apt. It is income-restricted, which is the only reason I am not sure if we will be approved. We probably will, it's just my worry-wart sensibilities kicking in. They are taking their time (what seems like forever) to finish the apps. We should be moving into the apt this Sat June 7th, so they need to get in gear if they want us to do that. My sincere hope is that we find out on Mon or Tues. I still need to set things up, like rent a truck and call the electric company, etc. and I don't want to do these things, obviously, until we know for sure. The greatest part though is that we only have to be income-restricted for the first year. After that, we can make whatever amount of money and still live there! Sometimes it pays to be poor. Right after I quit the bank, I wondered if I had been too rash, that maybe I could've stuck it out for a while longer, long enough for Erik and I to find a place to live. Now I feel like I totally made the right decision and everything is falling into place.

Erik came back into town from his five-month long tour yesterday. I am so happy he is home. He is too. He loved doing the tour (and will tour with them again Sept through Dec), but just like with the tour we did together, it gets old after awhile and near the end, when you can see the light in the tunnel, you really start to itch to be home with your friends and family.

So things are good. I guess I wanted to post a good entry, unlike the last one where I was oozing with angst about my unfulfilling stint with Commerce.  The show I am in is a dinner theatre murder mystery that is somewhat expensive.  But I will post more about it later for anyone who wants to come see me and have a good meal (it is at Hereford House downtown and they always have a vegetarian option!)  Thanks for listening, or reading, rather.  --Janell

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Date:2007-07-08 19:47
Subject:This weekend
Security:Public

I have not posted since I came back from the tour. This is mainly due to the feeling that I don't have anything exciting to talk about since being home. I took my old job back at Commerce Bank. I totally hate it. REally hate it. Extremely. Something happened to me while on tour. I realized that what I want to do with my life, more than anything else, is act. And get paid, that's an important part. Now that I have that experience under my belt, now that I know I am capable of it, I want to do it more and nothing else measures up. Erik has told me that I should do more and I've always known it. I have just been lazy. And scared. Shitless. I have been on two auditions in the last two months, one for the Mystery Train in Union Station and the other for StoneLion Puppets, the company Taylor works for. Both are paying gigs. The former didn't work out because I am doing a stage combat showcase for the Fringe Festival and the two conflicted too much. She really liked me and told me she was disappointed she couldn't use me, so I was very happy about that. The Christmas show is an all-female cast and I plan on auditioning for that in November. The latter went well also. She said she would put me in the file for the fall work and call me when she had all the details hashed out.

In order for me to work puppets, I would have to either become part-time at the bank or find another job completely. I came home last Tuesday crying becuase I had a really bad day at work and I just couldn't take it anymore. We are either so slow that i want to impale myself with a sharp object or so freakin' busy, which isn't often, only around a holiday, that I feel this huge bowling ball knot in my stomach from stress and doing a job that isn't rewarding, fulfilling, challenging or engaging in any way (except I like everyone I work with and my boss is really cool). So the prospect of lessening my hours is one I gladly accept. I am now just worried if I'll be able to support myself. And the puppet gigs are not regular. It's just whenever a particular show is needed for a festival or whatever she has lined up. What do I do in the times when there are no theatre gigs? Erik's lifestyle is very much like that. Sometimes he makes a killing and sometimes he's very dry. He makes a lot for the amount of time he actually works, but it's sporadic and he never knows where his next gig will be more than a couple months out. But I so envy his ability to completely put himself out there. He doesn't get nervous, or embarassed, or afraid. He will do whatever is necessary to portray the scene to its utmost. He's crazy.

I went down to Springfield, MO on Friday and Saturday for a Ren Fest he was doing near there. He did a pirate juggling show. The fair was fairly tiny, but I had fun. His act was definitely one of the best ones there. The only other show that was better (except the musicians were all very good) was an older gentleman who has been fire-eating and magic at festivals for like 20 years--Dr. Dumpe. He is so great. Just a complete natural and funny as all get out. But seeing Erik perform is always a joy to me. He knows how to work a crowd and keep the show moving. Doing something like that is just too spontaneous and requires too much improv know-how for me to ever be truly successful at it. I have to have things laid out and rehearsed and know them backwards and forwards. I'm not saying I want to be like Erik. He and I have different skills. We work differently and learn differently. He reminded me that my day job allows me to do what I want to do. But if my job exhausts me so much that I am tired and yawning during rehearsals, if its draining me and I don't even like it, that's not good for me. Rebecca said she and I would go over my resume and try to get me another "more fabulous" job, as she put it. She the greatest. I feel sometimes like I've wasted so many years and so much potential by not utilizing my talents and intellect like I should have. In school, I always felt smart. I very rarely feel that way anymore. I know good grades don't make someone smart. I was always a good test taker. I could retain information for only as long as I needed to to take an exam and then it would immediately leave my head. I am 28 years old and I am just now learning how my acting resume should really look like. I have known basically what it should be, but the other day Erik pointed out a whole slew of things that I could do to tweak it. And for the special skills section, I don't feel like I have any, other than dance and stage combat, which I have only recently begun to work on again after a six-year hiatus.

People still tell me what a good writer I am. My family members that read my blog while I was on tour all told me what a gift I have. I can never find the time to sit down and write. I want to. Very much so. Where's the time? And that's what kills me the most about my job. I sit there in utter boredom thinking of all the things I could be doing with my time. Acting. Auditioning. Working on audition material. Practicing my stage combat routines for the show. Writing. Sleeping in with Erik and spending the day with him. But that's the way it is. I work from 9 to 5 so that I can pay my bills and hopefully act on the side for enjoyment and some extra money, which I desperately need.

Anyway, I set out to only talk about my weekend and seeing Erik's show and the nice pictures I took of it, and how I met some cool people who also live in KC. Then my entry took a much different tone and direction. But these are things that have been on my mind and I knew I needed to post again. I am going to get ready for tomorrow. Yipeee!

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Date:2007-05-21 17:34
Subject:New Info
Security:Public

Wanted to say that I although I am currently living in my new residence, my storage unit will not be delivered until next Monday, Memorial Day. I realize that Matt and Erica just moved and Andrea is moving on the Saturday before, but any extra assistance with my larger furniture pieces would be much appreciated (mainly my desk, box spring, bedroom furniture including three antique pieces). They said they will deliver between 11 and 2, but I'm guessing it will be closer to 11 seeing that's what they said when they delivered it in the first place and they came sooner than I expected. I will provide beer or whatever else people desire. Even Boone's if necessary.

On that note, here is my new contact information, with the exception of the landline number that I don't know yet:

4929 Grant St.
Merriam, KS 66203

Cell is still the same 816-309-1244
Email is still the same janellkaryn@yahoo.com

Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

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Date:2007-05-11 23:56
Subject:Bye, bye California
Security:Public

I wrote this entry yesterday in the car but did not post it until today, which is why some of the references to dates may be wrong:

We officially left the Golden state last Saturday, May 5. For our final week, we had shows in San Simon, Phoenix, Clarkdale, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and McNary, AZ. Our very last two shows on tour will be tomorrow morning in Lovington, NM. Then we begin the marathon drive home, driving ten hours tomorrow and the same on Saturday. Incidentally, we drove 500 miles today from McNary to Lovington. We spent last weekend with my aunt and uncle who live in Vista, CA, north of San Diego. On Saturday we went down to the beach (big surprise) and the pier. We had read in the local paper about a Renaissance Fest being put on by some 7th-graders at a catholic school close to the pier, but when we found the address, there was nothing of the nature going on, only a wedding that had just let out in the chapel. It was all good, though; it just meant more time to lie around in the sand. We both got in the water for the very last time for probably a long while, since there is no beach to be had in Kansas City, much to its detriment. It was still Pacific Ocean-cold, but not horribly so, and we got used to it quickly. I love the beach!! I now have a nice tan, not gross-I-go-to-the-tanning-booth-everyday-and-will-be-leathery-in-five-years tan or anything, but healthy. In other words, I don’t look like George Hamilton. Erik and I wonder constantly why he is famous.

Before we left the City of Angels, we did some more sight-seeing I have not yet described. We went to the Getty, the premiere museum of art that is named after J. Paul Getty, an architect who left money from his estate to the city. The museum was designed by Richard Meier. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The central garden is in a maze form and is truly spectacular. They had a cool exhibit where you could sort of interact with the art, and also there was a drawing studio where you could practice drawing from real paintings and sculptures.

We ate dinner one night near Beverly Hills at a place called Real Food Daily, a restaurant serving completely vegan fare. It was opened by a chef whose name escapes me now, but who wrote a recipe book of the same name that I intend to buy. Everything is prepared fresh from scratch every day, using natural and many times organic ingredients. I had a Salisbury steak made from wheat-steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, a Caesar salad with whole wheat croutons, and a chai latte with soy milk. It was all pretty good, and a very good value. This place must be popular too. We went on a Wednesday night and it was packed the whole time we were there.

The Saturday before last we went to an annual book festival at the UCLA campus. It was like the 3rd annual I want to say or something like that. Composed of several hundred booths; at least five stages with various speakers, authors’ discussions, and presentations (such as on the cooking stage); and book signings, the festival lasted two days, was huge, and really cool. We watched Cat Cora of Iron Chef fame cook up some grub. Erik stood in line to buy a signed copy of Fahrenheit 451, even though he already owns a copy of the book, but because it is one of his favorite books he couldn’t miss the chance with Ray Bradbury sitting right there. He was second place in the purchasing line (there was a separate line for the actual signing) when they announced that Mr. Bradbury was no longer signing. I heard a little bit of a talk given by Don Cheadle and the authors of the new book “Not On Our Watch: “ It was very interesting, but unfortunately we had to leave to meet Erik’s friends for dinner. They live in Studio City, just five miles from Universal Studios. Karen, the wife of Erik’s friend Tony, works in the casting department at ABC.

All in all, Los Angeles is a great place to visit, but I would never want to live there unless I had a million dollars and could live in Malibu and didn’t have to fight traffic every day.

I think that pretty much catches everyone up on the goings-on, other than the incredibly stupid story we have of yet another Bureau crack-up that I don’t feel like getting into right now. The story is told better orally anyway. Basically, they again didn’t call us about a matter and promised a school something we couldn’t provide and it was a big mess. Plus they gave us 30 minutes some days to travel 20 miles between shows—in L.A.!!! the place where it could take you anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours to get somewhere. And one of our school shows in Phoenix was scheduled outside in 95 degree heat, which is asinine on the part of the school, but also relates to the Bureau story. But they did pay us extra for our last week, so we are just glad to be done with the whole thing. Fantastic experience, don’t get me wrong, but I personally was done with the show about one week ago.

So, while in Phoenix, we were able to stay with my cousin Donna, which was very nice. Both she and her brother Bob live in the greater Phoenix area. This is completely unrelated, but do you know how annoying it is to type out Phoenix? Not a combination of keys used often. I’m not going to talk about it anymore.

The area north of that city is mountainous and really nice. The temp went down about ten degrees, there is a nice breeze and the scenery and vistas are really spectacular. That is where Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley are. Arizona has many varying climates and landscapes. I prefer the forest to the desert.

Yesterday, while driving to McNary from Chino Valley, part of our route took us on historic 66. In Holbrook, which is right on 66 and I-40, there is a motel called the WigWam, and it is what the motel in the Disney movie “Cars” was modeled after, except instead of traffic cones, these were teepees. Awesome. Almost every car in the lot was a classic automobile.

We just ate dinner in Roswell, NM. Have some good pics of alien restaurants, one of which is called the Cover Up Café, and is the best use of what once was a Denny’s I have ever seen. It had a message in its awning warning us of weather balloons and to report any suspicious activity. There is also an alien museum in town, the street lamps lining the downtown were alien heads, and random alien cut-outs adorn some store-fronts.

So, look for me after Sunday. I hope to sleep A LOT and then take care of all the moving and car maintenance nonsense next week, as well as seeing all of you who I love! See you all soon!

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Date:2007-04-23 21:22
Subject:In the citay...California...yeah it's a partay...
Security:Public

That was so cool--a Malibu resident commented on my last blog! Iwant to ask him how much his house is worth.

We had one show in Encinitas this afternoon. It was crazy. I think we were supposed to perform outside again b/c when we got to the school, we were shown a regular-sized classroom to set up in to perform for 110 kids. The maximum occupancy was probably no more than 50. They were all over our props, because, well, we were sardines in that room and the front row pretty much welded with our stage area. Some were sitting sort of on the side and could just stick their hand and grab some of Erik's props. I didn't have a problem on my side, but we had to stop the regular action of our show and, in character, tell them to let go of our stuff. It was a private academy whose building was pretty small and probably only made up of classrooms. The reason I think we were supposed to perform outside is because the first time we were supposed to, Erik called the Bureau to tell them not to schedule us that way again and was asked "didn't you alrady perform outside once?" to which Erik answered no and then she said, "Oh, that's coming up." and this academy ad an area behind their school that could serve as a stage. Have I mentioned that we hate the Bureau? Because we do.

After our show we stopped at Laguna Beach on our way back to our L.A. motel. The temp. was around 67 degrees and the water was 59-60 degrees. Erik waded in up to his ankles and couldn't go any further. We didn't have towels, but if we had he would've gone in all the way. I, however, am too wimpy and laid on the soft sand. I'm about .07% darker than I was before. Actually I can notice a change, and a few more days of beach bumming will get me on the right track to anti-pastiness.

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Date:2007-04-22 19:53
Subject:Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Blvd
Security:Public

As we drove through the ginormous mansions that line the coast at Malibu and south of L.A., we both asked, "Where are the regular people?" Seriously, the people who work at McDonalds and Starbucks, where do they live? And police officers. They have to live at least in the same county where they work, and Orange County has more huge, multi-million dollar, gorgeous, built-way-up-in-the-hills-above-the-ocean homes than anywhere else I've been in my life. Where do the blue-collar workers come from? I figured most of the workers at the fast food restaurants and gas stations are probably the teenage offspring of the well-off who are responsible enough to teach their children some work ethic. As far as law enforcement who are not taking home a large salary, we have yet to figure that one out.

That was where we were yesterday, at the beach. The water was ice cold, so we read on towels and walked along the beach, and oh yes, drove through the rich neighborhoods.

We also drove through Bel Air and Beverly Hills on our way from Malibu to Rodeo Drive. After window-shopping only, we ate dinner just off Rodeo, a Euro-Asian place where the prices are inflated about 10 to 15 percent. Not outrageous, and everything tasted really good, and it is L.A.--comes with the territory. Tonight we are nearer to the San Diego area; our show tomorrow is in Encinitas. The rest of the week we are staying in the same motel east of L.A., Whittier. We have shows in San Dimas, Pomona, San Gabriel, Norwalk, Glendora, and Covina. I want to see the walk of fame and Man's Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood sign on the hill, and possibly Universal Studios if we have time. There is too much to see. I did Universal Studios when I was a kid on a family vacation, but I could go back. We probably didn't do all of it, and I want to see the movie lots. We have only one show Wed morning and Fri morning so we will have time to do these things. If traffic doesn't totally suck. You never know here. On our way in last Friday night, it took us three hours to get through traffic from Palmdale north of L.A. on I-5 to our motel about 15 miles east of L.A. And that was three hours from when we hit L.A. city limits. It was another hour before that. Then yesterday on our way to Malibu, which is a 40 mile drive at least, we thought it would be two hours, but traffic flew by on the Santa Monica Freeway. Weird. This morning we spent time in Newport Beach, had brunch and walked by some more awesome beach-side houses, I mean right on the beach, and walked through an open house for a $1.9 million home on one of the side streets on the beach. And it wasn't even that awesome. Not crappy, just not what you would get in say, Kansas City, for the price.

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Date:2007-04-16 20:18
Subject:Winchester Mystery House
Security:Public

This is an update on the Winchester Mansion I mentioned in my last entry. We went to tour it yesterday. What a crazy woman she was! I mean coo-coo for cocoa puffs crazy. I had some wrong info. Her husband did not invent the Winchester rifle, he owned the company. When he died in 1884, he left a 20 million dollar inheritance for his wife. She also had stock which guaranteed her an income of $1000 a day. They had had only one child, a daughter, who died 15 years before Mr. Winchester did at only 6 weeks. After these two losses, Sarah saw a medium who told her the spirits of all those killed by the Winchester rifle would haunt her unless she bought a house and never ceased construction on it. If she did this, the good spirits would keep the evil spirits at bay and she would be granted eternal life. So, she moved to San Jose and bought an eight-room house and starting building onto it, for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 38 years. The acreage when she bought it was 160 but is now 4.1. But this is just one of the theories. Another is that she had no training and thus kept making horrible errors on the house. After seeing the house, though, I tend to believe the former theory. There are some just stupid, silly mistakes, such as the most expensive tiffany glass window being placed on the north side of the house, where hardly any sun would shine. The presence of future building obstructs the view through the window anyway. Yet there are also cabinets that open to an inch of shelf space and another that opens to an open room, thus becoming the smallest and largest cabinets in the house. Her favorite number was 13 and she included it in as many ways as she could. She changed the drain-holes in all her sinks she bought to have 13 holes in them. Her favorite bathroom had 13 windows.

Sarah had really bad arthritis, so instead of regular stairs she chose to build easy-risers. She could then follow the progression of the construction and make sure the workers were doing what she wanted. The stairs are mostly switch-back to make it easier for her to travel. In the room that was the hayloft, there are a set of these very stairs, with seven turns and probably 50 steps, and another set of regular stairs around the corner that lead to nowhere, instead running into a ceiling. Weird. The entire house has incredibly wasted space, tons of interior windows that look onto wasted space, tiny doors, and doors that serve no purpose. There is a door that opens up to an eight-foot drop to the ground outside the house. In some ways, however, she was really intelligent. She was very smart, had a good, wealthy up-bringing, and knew four languages. She added some innovative, practical aspects to the house, such as counters in the kitchen that had slats where water could drain into the sink and lessen the work-load for the staff. She wanted to conserve water and on the second floor an entire room was reserved for watering plants. The floor was slanted in one direction and laid in sections that you can lift up. When watering, the plants went on the higher end of the room, and the excess water would run under the remaining sections of floor and drain through a hole that was right above the garden, watering the outside plants. Therefore, no extra water was wasted.

The main reason I believe she was crazy is the seance room. She built a room where only she could enter and she would go there to receive messages from the spirits on how she was supposed to construct the house. She then would give these instructions to her foreman who would try to make sense of it and follow her orders as well as he could. He worked for her for most of the 38 years and lived in his own (normal) house on the premises. Also, after the earthquake of 1906, which toppled the top three floors of the house, she thought the spirits were telling her she had spent too much time and money on the front of the house and so she boarded up those thirty rooms and they were not opened until her death in 1922. (Being from the east coast, she had never experienced an earthquake before, but, seriously.)

Anyway, this expedition provided a very entertaining afternoon and several good laughs.

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Date:2007-04-15 08:31
Subject:the long-awaited entry
Security:Public

Alright, so I obviously have not posted in quite awhile, and in order to not disappoint my fans any longer, I have decided to make an update. We are currently in San Jose, CA. We have been all down the coast from Portland, OR, to Happy Camp, CA (right across the border, down a ravine--hwy 96--the only way to get to the town, btw) to Sacramento, San Fransisco, Santa Cruz, and here. We had some shows in Eugene and stayed with some friends of mine from Hays. They are actually friends of my parents, but their two children are the same age as Rachel and I and we have known each other since birth. The child that is Rachel's age, Emily, came down from Portland, where she lives now, to see one of our shows in Albany, OR. That was nice; I haven't seen her for at least five years, probably more. We didn't see any ocean until we came to San Fran, which we did last weekend. That is a freakin' awesome town. With public transportation, it's pretty easy to get around, but is even navigable with a car, although if I lived there, I don't know that I'd have a car. Parking would be a challenge, not only to find a place to park, but in the actual act of parking. Everyone there knows how to parallel park, it is a necessity if you want to survive, and everyone along the hills knows to turn their wheels to avoid runaways. There are signs that tell you to do this, too. I can't imagine how that would wear on your parking brakes. Other than spend WAY too much money on eating out (you could seriously live there your entire life, eat out at every meal, and still not get to all the fabulous restaurants, cafes, and bistros that line every street; it is a fantastic food town), we took a trolley ride to Pier 39; went up telegraph hill and Coit Tower to take pictures of the entire town and surrounding bay, including Alcatraz; drove a little south to Half Moon Bay to a place that boasts the best brunch on the coast, and after eating it, concluded it probably is (this place was right on the ocean; it was a speakeasy in the 20s that was never raided and thus has been open continually since then; there is purportedly a ghost of a woman who was mysteriously murdered, perhaps thrown off a cliff, who haunts the place; she is called the "Blue Lady"); walked a little bit in Golden Gate Park; walked a little bit in Union Square, which is like a downtown outside mall, didn't buy anything; and ate at a place in Pier 39 called the Buena Vista, which introduced the Irish Coffee to America and really is the best irish coffee Erik has ever had (and he's had a lot, it's one of his favorite drinks and no restaraunt on the entire tour has made one to the level of perfection as this place does). I couldn't appreciate it as much b/c whiskey makes me gag.

I really would live in San Fran. People along the way have asked if there have been any places we've been where we would live. I couldn't really pick any until we started down the west coast. I would live in almost every city here. California, which I haven't seen very much of until now, is really quite spectacularly beautiful everywhere you go. To boot, there is no smoking in any public place! Love that! We went to a blues bar in San Fran, and didn't leave smelling all nasty! It was great. The only real set back is the expense of living here. Especially gas! We thought it was bad in OR at $2.79 but then we got here and saw the $3.59 price tag, which is the highest we've seen. Now it's about $3.25. We stayed with one of my cousins last Wed. in Sacramento, and his theory is that b/c CA is so progressive when it comes to environmental protection, that the gas companies really hand it to them.

Our itinerary has been less than desirable. We were up north of Sacramento a few weeks ago, and when I came back there after the wedding I went to in KC, we were supposed to still have shows there. Monday morning we were scheduled to be in a tiny mountain town called Chester that is like 3 hours north of Sacramento, and my flight didn't get into Sacramento until 11:00 pm Sunday night. So, you can do the math. Erik was able to switch our two shows on Monday, so that we were in the more southerly town in the morning, but they could do no earlier than 10:15, so afterward we had a marathon drive up to Chester, didn't make it until 2:00 (it was scheduled for 1:30), and they let out at 2:45 and canceled the show. So, we drove all 170 miles for nothing! At least the Bureau didn't dock our pay. I'd be livid. We were, however, punished (at least that's the word I like to use) this last week when they scheduled us 15 shows in one week! That was tiring. After being in Chester, we made our way down to the San Fran area, stayed there that following weekend, and then we had shows back up in Sacramento for an entire week, ending up near Monterey Bay. That was just this last week. Now for next week we are having to go from Oakland to just west of Sacramento (Woodland) to the most southern portion of the San Fran area (Saratoga), up to way north of Sacramento (Oroville) and then from there 300 miles to be in Lindsey, CA the very next day. We make our way closer to L.A. at that point. Arrgh! We hate, hate, hate our employer. If the 15-show-week didn't do it, next week's schedule sealed our hatred. More than that, we had a show last week that was scheduled to be outside in an amphitheater at a school. There is no way with all our 5-ounce props that we could do a show outside. And it happened to be windy that day and when we attempted to set up, our stands fell over twice, cracking them in three places that we cannot replace b/c parts of our PVC set are glued together. We can still use our set but have to be cafeful. We were able to move the show to a classroom, but they had to uninvite some of the school. And the best part is this: the woman who booked the show specifically asked the Bureau if we could do our show outside and the response she got was "Sure, they can, that's no problem." Double ARRRGGGHHHH!!! The didn't even consult us, they haven't even SEEN OUR SHOW!!! They just answer questions without the proper knowledge. If a question could have potentially have more than one answer, you should check!!! Erik called them afterward to make sure they don't schedule us outside again and the woman he talked to said, "Why, is the weather bad?" Well, no, but that would be a consideration, now, wouldn't it?! What if it rained and we couldn't do our show, would they dock our pay as according to our contract? They don't know what they're doing. They suck. We hate them.

We stayed Friday night in Santa Cruz, and were going to spend yesterday in Monterey, Pebble Beach, and the famously beautiful 17-mile drive, but it rained all day. So we walked around downtown Santa Cruz, which is really cool, and saw "The Namesake" which was a really good story. Last night we stayed in San Jose, like I said, and today we are going to the Winchester Mansion. It is a 160-room mansion built on 160 acres of land and orchards that Sarah Winchester designed and kept designing for 38 years from the time of her husband's death in 1884 until her own at the age of 82. She was convinced by a medium if she kept up construcion, she would appease the spirits of those killed by the gun that "won the west" and acquire eternal life. It is a bizarre but beautiful home with 47 fireplaces, 3 working elevators, hand inlaid parquet floors, Tiffany art glass windows, silver and gold chandeliers, plus stairways that go nowhere, doors that open to blank walls, and a chimney that rises four floors to stop just 1.5 feet from the ceiling. Mr. Winchester invented the Winchester rifle and his wife inherited 20 million dollars to support her obsession that ran continually, 24/7 for 38 years. It should be wicked.

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Date:2007-03-15 13:10
Subject:Utah and Idaho
Security:Public

We only had one show on Monday (it was in Naturita, CO, way down west) so we travelled into Utah where our shows would be the next couple days and looked into Arches Nat'l Park, just north of Noab, UT. It was really cool. Pretty. We only had a few hours (before driving three or so hours to our motel in Salina, Ut), and were thus only able to drive to a couple of the arches and walk one trail. It was the "Delicate Arch" trail, three miles both ways, takes appr. 2-3 hours to complete. It was a beautiful 70 degree day, with just a slight breeze when we reached the higher elevations and open areas. Perfect. It was listed in the brochure as one of the "strenuous" hikes, yet it wasn't bad at all. There was a slightly steep portion of the hike that left me breathless at the top, but after resting a minute, I was fine. Once we reached the top, where the delicate arch lives, the hike up was totally worth it. To actually get to the arch, one must walk around the top of a funnel-type rock formation, probably a hundred feet around or so, I would guess. Erik wanted to get a pic of me under the arch, but the first time I attempted to walk around this "funnel" I made a fatal mistake by looking down into the depths of this scooped out formation and freaked out and had to walk back to the much wider (and safer) plateau where Erik and all the other hikers were resting. He went over adn I took his picture. Many, many others walked over and were completely fine and didn't look unbalanced or afraid. Because really there was nothing to be afraid of, just my psyche messing with me. My fear of heights hasn't receded over the years, yet when I looked down, I had an almost vertigo feeling. I don't think it was that exactly, but I wouldn't really know. All I know is I convinced myself with one misstep I could tumble down ito the abyss. After watching several people walk the treacherous galant unscathed (I'm grossly exaggerating this if that wasn't entirely evident), I decided that there was no reason I couldn't also succeed and told myself "Just don't look down and you'll be fine." This worked until I made it to the arch, but stopped on the closer side of the arch, b/c to get to the under part of the arch, I would have had to walk slightly downhill, and my fears swelled up inside me again. So, I slidedown the rock and sat for a few minutes until I was calmed enough to walk back to the other side. Erik got a picture of me sitting against the arch and all is good. It really was a beautiful sight up there. Like I said, the breeze was just great for the sweat I had worked up climbing, and we could see the snow-capped mountains to the west and down to where our car was parked and where we began our hike. It was cool.

We had shows in Salina, Price, Huntington and Manti, UT on Tues and Wed. Today we have shows in Idaho, near Twin Falls, those being Filer and Weldon. Tomorrow we have just one show in Twin Falls. Driving here from Utah last night was fun b/c we almost ran out of gas. The great states of ID and UT have the wonderful trait of not having many service stations, and those they do have are few and far between. The fuel light came on and we had at least 26 miles to the next town. We figured my tank held no more than 20 miles worth of gas after the light comes on. There was a small town about 10 miles off of I-84, and it was the better choice than trying to make it to the next town. On the way to this town, Delco, neither of us said a word. As if talking would take up to much air and cause the car to use more fuel or something. But alas, we made it. Turns out my car can go at least 30 miles after the fuel light turns on, but in the future I won't tempt fate, not like that. We've made arrangements to stay two nights with my cousin Eric in Boise this weekend, someone I haven't seen in a long time. Then I think we go into Washington next week.

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Date:2007-03-11 23:00
Subject:Hope I've Covered Everything
Security:Public

I have been quite lazy about updating my journal. Haven't felt like it. But I had better write down my thoughts before I completely forget everywhere we've been. A lot of ground to cover, so bear with me. The week of Feb. 26, after we left KC again, our travels (all in Kansas) included the following, respectively: St. Mary's, Delia, Hillsboro, Ft. Riley (no problem getting on base this time), Plainville, Norton, Sublette, Tribune, and Ulysses.

We spent that weekend in Cheyenne, WY. I had never been to that state before. It was pretty. The weather was really nice. A little windy, but overall nice. Actually the weather has been pretty gorgeous everywhere we've been so far. We have successfully avoided snow storms and closed roads. We visisted the old train depot in town. They have restored all five stations in WY along the Union Pacific Railroad, said the woman working at the gift shop connected to the museum at the depot. After walking through the exhibit, we watched a video documentary. The footage was taken in 1957, one year after they introduced diesel engines, which eventually completely wiped out the steam engines. The number of employees at that point went from 5,000 down to 40 because the diesels required so little maintenance compared to steam. The footage of the film, which was put together in documentary form in the early 90s, actually looked really good, and had we not been told what year it was from, it would be difficult to place. There were still some steam trains in existence in 1957, enough to show how they were cared for and repaired. At Cheyenne, they had a giant turntable and dozens of stalls connected in the shape of a donut, where they housed the engines when not in use. The engines drove into the circular structure on a track, stopping on the turntable. The turntable was in the "donut-hole". Powered hydraulically, it turned the engine around to face whichever stall it needed to go into. They had to keep extending the inner portion of some stalls to accomodate the increasing length of the steam engines. The largest steam engine ever built was the "Big Boy 4000" series. You can still view one of the Big Boys, the 4004, at a park in Cheyenne, a couple miles from the depot. A local man built a wooden model of the 4004, using 9000 parts, 90 of them moveable. It was on display at the museum. Today, all that remains of the turntable are four or so stalls.

Then we went to the Terry Bison Ranch, just south of Cheyenne. Not only did they have 7900 bison, but also cattle, camels, ostriches, ponies, horses, llamas, and goats. We took a bus ride up to where the bison currently live. They require a lot less maintenance than do cattle, and b/c they are naturally roaming animals, the workers keep them together and move them by moving their water source. Other than that, all they have to do is drive up hay for them to eat and give them all shots once a year. Bison and buffalo, we learned, are the same thing; bison is the scientific name whereas buffalo is the common name. Both buffalo and cattle are bovine creatures, and therefore cousins. Buffalo are incredibly strong. The tendon in the back of their neck is so strong that an adult male buffalo can lift another with its head, throwing its opponent 5 ft in the air. The males weigh from 2100 to 2600 pounds fully grown and females are about 1800 pounds. They are mostly gentle creatures but could definitely kill a human. By gentle I mean serene, I guess, because they stand very still and only came over to the bus for the treats the guide threw out the window for them. Needless to say, we were not allowed outside the bus. The guide said they took the door off of the bus b/c the bison could tear it off. The horns on some were twisted, gnarled, and some missing because they like to headbutt each other. Differences in female and males can be found by their size, the color of their fur, and their horn shape. The male horns were less curved and rose farther from their head than the female's. Other interesting facts about bison: can run at 30 mph for up to 3 hours; tail goes up when striking another bison in a fight; can jump a 6 foot fence from a standing position.

We also learned some things about the other animals on the ranch: an ostrich can take down a lion by strangling it, and they have a stride of 14 feet; camels spit up bile that cannot be washed out of clothes and the smell stays in hair for a good week or so. We were all glad none of us found ourselves in such a predicament. With "we" I am including Erik's father and step-mother, who came down from Buffalo, WY, a three-hour drive south for them. We four went to the ranch.

Finding food in Cheyenne was a little difficult for me. Erik asked the front desk woman at our motel if there were any vegetarian restaurants in town. She gave him a very bewildered look and said, "This is beef country." We had chinese.

The following week's shows were mostly in the Denver area, except our monday show in northeast CO, Iliff, and a tuesday morning show in Sidney, NE. We had shows in Littleton, Aurora, Highlands Ranch, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fountain, not in that order.

We visited the Ft. Morgan Museum on our lunch break on Tuesday before doing a show in Weldona. They are known in the area for their sugar beet farming. A large portion of their work force were volga germans emigrated from Russia in the 1850s. They also employed many hispanics, which explains the high presense of hispanic children in western KS. About half the student population in Tribune were hispanic. POWs during WWII were also put to work in the fields and factories. North of town is a rainbow bridge with the most number of arches than any other. At the time of its construction in the early 1900s it was the longest also, but not anymore.

Just this past weekend we ventured into downtown Denver. Yesterday we saw a matinee showing of "Where the Wild Things Are" at the Denver ballet. It took me back to when I was a kid in Hays and the public library had a mural of the wild things painted in the upstairs kids department. It was really good; they make it look so easy! The whole week was gorgeous, as I've said, but it started to rain yesterday and we had time to kill before our reservations at the 1515 Restaurant in downtown, so we milled around in the rain for an hour. The restaurant was just about perfect; food, atmosphere, waiter, dessert were all spectacular. And it wasn't outrageously expensive. Believe, you're going to lay down more than a chain restaurant, especially is you have a bottle of wine, like we did, but not a ridiculous amount. Downtown Denver is quite nice. There is a lot to do, and all the theatre, ballet, symphony, and opera stuff is all in one location, one block. There is also a 16th Street Mall, which is one long stretch of shops and restaurants, mostly corporate, an outdoor mall.

We are now in southwest CO, in Naturita, on 141 just south of 94. Our drive down here from Denver was a long but pretty one. We drove on the Loveland Pass and took pictures of the snow-capped mountains. Further west, when we entered the more southwestern, deserty, canyon area of the state, we stopped and took pictures of the red rock. I have lots of pictures and as soon as I transfer them to the computer I can email pics to anyone who wants them--from the bison ranch to lanscape pics. Our only show on Monday is 0.2 miles from our motel. We only have 8 shows this week!

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Date:2007-02-27 17:59
Subject:Josh, this is for you!
Security:Public

Gas price in Hays: $2.39 a gallon

This is still better than the $2.59 I paid somewhere between Junction City and Abilene.

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Date:2007-02-15 21:59
Subject:Wayward Comes Home
Security:Public

Yesterday we only had one show and it was at a youth museum in Malden, MO, in the bootheel. Pretty cool museum too. We went through it after our performance; learned all kinds of things. Today we had two shows at one school in Kennett. They didn't start until 1:00 so we got to sleep in and be lazy. Then we had to drive six and a half hours up here to Marshall, MO. That was fun, let me tell you. There is no good short cut from there to here, you pretty much have to take I-55 to St. Louis and then turn at I-70 and come west to 65 North to Marshall. It is a delicious 6 degrees here. I heard it is pretty much the same in KC; my mom said it was 2 below with the wind chill. We are very close to you now actually, only about 90 miles. We have a show here tomorrow morning and an afternoon show in Moberly. Then we are free to come back to KC for the weekend and pretty much all of next week, with shows in Lawrence, Eudora, Oskaloosa, and Kansas City. So, who wants to take me in?

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Date:2007-02-13 21:04
Subject:this weather blows (literally)
Security:Public

You in KC must know the snowstorm that has been brewing from your area all the way to east of Chicago. In St. Louis, almost all schools were cancelled today due to the conditions. We were a little southeast of St. Louis, in Belleville, IL. This school was actually not cancelled but our afternoon school in Potosi, MO was. Which sucks again on the money flow situation. What started out as just rain in the morning soon progressed into sleet and then heavy snow fall, especially the closer we got into St. Louis, which was the route we needed to take to get to our motel. It took us 5 1/2 hours to drive down to Kennett, MO, where we are staying tonight. It is not snowing here, but is forecasted to Thursday morning. It's around 30 degrees, which does not feel too cold for us as we have gotten used to much colder temperatures in the last couple weeks.

We took I-55 S to 412 W from St. Louis to Kennett.

Although it continues to be my least favorite holiday, I will yet wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. Thank God White Castle is doing their part in making this truly commercial holiday a success for lovers everywhere.

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Date:2007-02-12 22:20
Subject:Recovering
Security:Public

So this morning we were on our way to our morning program, in Kirksville, MO, and we took a wrong turn, so I called the school to get back on track. The secretary told me there was a discrepancy between the time they had and what we had. She handed me off to the principal. He said that they had us scheduled for 2:00. Our sheet said 8:44. Which is bizarre to begin with, not 8:45, not 8:40. We thought it was a typo. I asked the principal if it was possible for us to do it then anyway and he said no. So I called the second school (which was actually scheduled at 2:00) to make sure that was the actual time and that the Bureau didn't switch them on our schedule. It was correct. So then Erik called the Bureau to fill them in. One of the women who works in the office answered the phone and when Erik told her the situation she was adamant that we "had to do the show." He said well yes we understand that but we can't. "Why not?" "Because the students are doing other things, like probably class." Well, he didn't say the last part, he added that later when he related the conversation to me. Anyway, so she was very rude and insinuated that it was our fault. She eventually said they would call the school themselves. By this time we had found the school by chance and were pretty much circling it while having these various phone convo's. We decided to wait in the car in the school parking lot until the Bureau called to let us know what they had finalized. We let them have fifteen minutes before we would leave. We either had to do the show no later than 31 minutes after it was scheduled on our sheet, or not do it at all. That was the only amount of time we could spare and give us enough time to get to our afternoon program. You see, the Bureau had also scheduled us shows that were 180 miles apart. Lovely. So we gave them until 8:45. We called them before we left town though to see what was up. Same woman answered the phone. "Well, apparently the morning program is not happening and you are just doing the afternoon show. But in the future when a school tells you that, you need to call us before you leave the school." I was like What? I said "We were on our way to the school when we found this out and we told them we would call you and that you would probably be in contact with them. We've been waiting outside the school for you to call us." And "apparently" they weren't planning on calling us. So we owe them a courtesy that they cannot reciprocate? Whatever. They make me (us) so mad. She also said that the principal sent them a signed contract and that he specifically requested the time for 8:44 (again, bizarre!!) and that that angered them at the agency. The thing is the principal had told me that they never exchanged any paper work. So I don't know who is lying, but someone owes us money for the gas we spent on the extra 350 miles we drove to go do a show that didn't happen.

Our actual show today occured in Washington, MO, just west of St. Louis. Tomorrow's shows are in Belleville, IL and Polosi, MO. We go down to the bootheel on Wed. and Thurs. and then closer to KC on Friday (Marshall and Moberly, MO). Hopefully we'll be able to spend the weekend in KC. From Kirksville to Washington we took 63 S to I-70 E to 47 South. From Washington to Belleville we took 47 S to 100 E to I-44 E to I-270 S to I-255 S to 157 to 15 E.

In other news, we spent the weekend in Memphis. I know there must be nice parts to the city, and I've been there once before and know that Beale Street is cool and where I stayed then was a very nice part of town but where we were this time was the ghetto. And where Erik auditioned was ghetto. I'm talking ghe-he-he-to. Our motel was cheap, but it was terrible. Neither of our two doors closed. Well, our outside door closed but only when you gave it a He-man thrust. The bathroom door was one-half inch from such an accomplishment. The front desk staff was completely useless and lazy. Every time I went down to the lobby he was watching TV with his feet up on the coffee table or talking on his cell phone. I've already said I felt like crap this weekend, and whenever I needed something I had to go get it myself. Our room was not serviced on one of the three days we were there, and when I called to complain I was told that they were done for the day. I said, "But, again, I would like our room to be serviced." Then I was informed that the housekeeping staff had knocked and didn't get an answer so that's why they didn't enter. Exasperated, I said, "We were out! That's why we didn't answer." What, are we supposed to wait in our room until they come? And if they were not there anymore, how did he know they knocked? He then told me he would send someone up. Never did. Several hours later, I took my used pillow cases and towels down to get clean replacements. He looked at my pile with confusion and said that I had to go downstairs to get more. I said, "You should go and get me more." "I can't. I have to watch the front desk." I stalked off, not feeling up to arguing. I should have reminded him of his unkept promise, but was still sick and cranky, drugged and not thinking straight. I started to feel much better Saturday evening and am nursing myself back to health. I still sound funny when I talk and it makes the show difficult to do, what with the congestion and weak vocal chords. We'll see how we do with our three shows tomorrow. Wish me well.

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Date:2007-02-10 12:38
Subject:Slow News Day?!
Security:Public

Yesterday I pretty much slept and watched TV (b/c I feel like I'm at death's door), and seriously, every time I turned to CNN, they were talking about Anna Nicole Smith. For like five hours. What the hell?

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Date:2007-02-06 11:23
Subject:Pipes in laundry busted and we couldn't do laundry last night; not an issue anymore!
Security:Public

Yesterday as we warmed up the car to go to our morning school, which was thankfully about two miles from our motel, the thermostat in my car read -9 degrees. Awesome. We are now back in Wisconsin, this time Racine. With wind chills as low as 20 to 30 degrees below, schools all across the area have been closed today, including ours. This means a rest for us and a day to goof off, but unfortunately also a dock in our pay, which will most likely be reflected in next week's paycheck. We figure they pay us $70 per show, with an average of ten shows per week. I will miss that $140. It sucks. We already have this Friday off, which Erik requested so we can drive down to Memphis for his auditions on Saturday. He wanted one day of rest before the big day, when major professional theatres from all over the country gather in search of new talent. Getting a couple jobs from these auditions would mean a huge boost in his career and his resume. He could even get his Equity card should he choose to. Equity is the theatre actor's union. You have to obtain so many hours or shows from working at Equity theatres, and $1000. That's all it takes. Being an Equity actor in Kansas City, however, is not always an advantage like it would be in say New York or L.A. It actually could be a hindrance because the Equity theatres in Kansas City are pretty set in the actors they hire each season, and do not often revert from that.

Anyway, so we will have a $140 deduction for not working Friday and then another one in the same amount for today. Won't be saving money this month. I'm planning on purchasing a plane ticket this week for the end of March when I will fly back to KC for my friend Vanessa's wedding. That will set me back about $350, which I have already allotted the pay I received from working at the bank over break to cover. Several friends have offered to help me in the cost of the plane ticket. I am so blessed with such great friends. I love you all so much, and not just for that but for supporting me and just being you. I don't know where I'd be without you. I listened to a report on NPR the other day by a psychologist who has done studies on what keeps people happy, such as whether family or friends or money or jobs make people happy. He has found that family plays a larger role in people's happiness than friends. In fact, friendships score rather low on the scale of happiness-inducing factors. I'm sure they are talking about people's own families, not ones they are born into, but I still had to disagree with those findings. Obviously I don't have my own family, but I still say that my friends are a major contributor to my health and happiness.

Tomorrow we have a morning show in Kenosha, WI, and an afternoon show in Cary, IL, again closer to Chicago. Then on Thursday both our shows are in Waukegan, IL. The bureau had told Erik that they would schedule shows this week, at his request, south of Chicago and on down closer to Memphis. So much for that. I shouldn't be too annoyed, since I have no idea how difficult it is for those ladies to sell shows, and I certainly would never want to have the job of calling schools day in and day out, working out schedules so that we aren't all over the place. They just have been kind of dumb in other areas, that I am prone to make fun of them for this also. They didn't even watch our show before selling it, so we keep performing for middle schools, which is not the ideal audience. It is torturous to try to get them involved in something that is obviously too young for them, but it isn't our fault, nor is it theirs, that we were scheduled at their school. I don't blame the kids for acting their age, except that they can be very disrespectful sometimes. I should be grateful that the bureau was able to sell our show, otherwise we wouldn't get paid. Yet, there have been several occasions when they clearly didn't know enough about our show. Try selling something that you have little information on. It's frustrating.

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Date:2007-02-04 19:25
Subject:Our laundry detergent was frozen!!
Security:Public

We are now back in the Chicago-ish area. It is 1 degree outside and with the wind chill at least ten below. When we drove from Saginaw halfway here yesterday (staying last night in St. Joseph, MI, on the western border on Lake Michigan), I had to drive 50 mph almost the whole way because the wind was blowing all the existing snow so strong that visibility was really poor. We saw several vehicles down in the ditches, which seems kind of stupid to me b/c as long as you drove slow enough you were fine. Today's drive was much safer, visibility was no problem.

I watched "The Queen" this afternoon. I hope Helen Mirren wins the Oscar. Very interesing movie. And by that I mean that I learned something I didn't know before about the British culture. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

The picture I've posted, which looks better and has more detail in real life, was taken at Navy Pier in Chicago. It was sunset and I thought the view was just beautiful.

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Date:2007-01-31 17:30
Subject:
Security:Public

It’s amazing what small treasures we find in some places where we think will be nothing. In Michiana, the Amish presence is seen everywhere. Only a short drive from our motel in Howe is a village of 650 people called Shipshewana, IN. From March to October, that population swells to 45,000 because of a Flea Market held on Tuesdays and Wednesday. This tiny town has four motels including a Comfort Suites with 110 rooms that probably is not open in the off-season. Not being able to shop the 250 vendors at the market, we instead went to some little shops and bakeries open year-round. There were at least a dozen furniture stores filled with beautiful Amish-constructed dining tables, desks, sofas, armoires, and cabinets. The craftsmanship that goes into these pieces is utterly stupefying. We also went to a “mall” type place with four floors of shops; the oak staircase inside was completely constructed by hand and was built around a tree. So there was a giant tree in the middle of the mall. It was cool. We had homemade pie, I bought hormone-free cheese, local honey, and wasabi peas. Erik bought pear butter, bread, sausage, and peanut butter cheese fudge. Yummy in my tummy.

Today’s shows took place just outside Sturgis in Nottawa, which is on 86 just west of 66, and in Mendon, which is just north of Nottawa about 6 miles on 60. We are traveling to Saginaw this afternoon, taking 60 to I-69 North to Lansing, there switching to I-69 East to I-75 North to Saginaw. We will stay there at least the next two days because our shows are there, the only exception being one tomorrow afternoon in Midland, which is not too far away.

We haven’t had any crazy principals or teachers or any interesting stories to tell of our schools so far this semester. It’s a little boring actually. I think everyone internally wishes their life was a soap opera, at least until their wish comes true. Peaks and valleys, that’s what life is. Janell, signing off.

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Date:2007-01-30 18:08
Subject:Out of curiosity....
Security:Public

You may be wondering what it is that you are viewing in the above picture. It is from the best motel room we could have ever hoped to stay in. There were donuts and bread for breakfast, no wireless internet, no laundry, and yes...even mold on the bathroom ceiling!! If I develop a lung disease, may I sue this motel? Just curious.

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Date:2007-01-29 18:54
Subject:Chi-ca-go
Security:Public

I finally got what I’ve wanted this entire trip—Chicago, the great Windy City. We spent the weekend there, in Glenview, a suburb a little northwest of the city, very near O’Hare. Both Friday night and all day Saturday we took the train in and explored. Train ride took at least 45 minutes with transfers and waiting; the ride to the loop took 30 min. in itself. Friday night we bought tickets for Second City and ate near there before-hand. For those of you not in the know, Second City is improvisational theatre; the actors write their own material, somewhat like SNL. They have two stages, a main stage and a second stage. We saw a show called “Disposable America” on the second stage principally because the main show was sold out by the time we looked it up online, and because our show sounded more interesting to me. Besides being affordable at $24 a ticket, it was very enjoyable and I had a great time. The cast, three women and three men, were quite hilarious. It wasn’t as improvised as maybe Erik hoped it would be. Rather, it was obviously rehearsed and followed a pretty strict model. I had no problem with this because I thought everything was very smooth but Erik would have liked more spontaneity. They interacted with the audience a lot and that is when they were most off-script. A couple actors lost it a few times, and could not help but break character and laugh at the silliness of their fellow actors. They were quite inventive but not crazy and all over the place. That would be my only criticism, that some of them, pretty much all the guys, were kind of stiff, but I think that has more to do with how they are trained (as far as following a particular style) than how they are as performers. All of them possessed the talent of improvisation and could go with whatever might happen; they were very tuned into what was happening on stage and with one another, which is hard to do. I am not one to judge improv because I have not attempted it much and can say with confidence that I am terrible at it. One of those skills I should definitely develop. It would benefit my acting in a number of ways.

So after the 11:00 show Friday and with the train ride home, we didn’t get to bed until after three a.m. Slept in the following morning, took our time, and then made the trip back in. This time we ate lunch at the Navy Pier, and I have a couple nice pictures of the sun starting to set on the water (I used the word “lunch” quite loosely since it was after 4:00). It was a light meal and then we had real dinner around seven. In between, though, we walked by Grant Park and a sculpture in the shape of a kidney bean, a huge kidney bean. It has a reflective exterior, so you can see the skyline of the buildings from across the street in the bean. Erik and I tried to take pictures, but something about it being dusk made this task impossible. He got a few okay pictures, but mine either turned out too dark or blurry. But it was cool.

Now to the best part of our weekend. We went to the theatre where “Wicked” is playing (The Oriental Theatre in the theater district) to find out if they sell any last-minute tickets an hour or two before the show. See, tickets are $90 for orchestra seats, by far more than we could afford or would want to pay, even though we both really wanted to see it. They were having a drawing to award twenty people front row tickets for a discounted price of $25 a piece. We both entered and they pulled Erik’s name. So we both got tickets in the front row for a total of Fifty Dollars!! It was totally freakin’ awesome. Now, the front row on the side is not the best place to sit, but still, totally awesome. The show was, needless to say, spectacular, and I now love it. I actually didn’t even know anything about the show prior, not even a basic storyline, and had only heard the soundtrack once when Erik played it in the car, and then I wasn’t listening closely to the lyrics. I really hope everyone can listen to the music or even see it someday because it is worth it. I will probably burn Erik’s copy and anyone who wants to borrow it or wants a copy may have one. In short, it is about how the Wicked Witch of the West became so. It begins after her death and then flashes back to when she was born and goes to school and meets Glinda, another character from the Wizard of Oz. It also explains how the tin man, the lion, and the scarecrow all became the way they are. The woman who wrote the book for “Wicked” also created “My So-Called Life,” wrote for “ThirtySomething” and was a co-producer for “Once and Again” which is still one of my and my sister’s favorite shows on TV. It was a crime when they cancelled it. A damn shame.

Anyway, I digress. The show was great, I had a very fulfilling weekend, and I am happy to also report that we have a light load with only eight shows this week. One today in Royal Creek, BFE Indiana, and one tomorrow in White Pigeon, MI. We spend the rest of the week in Michigan, ending up in Saginaw. It’s going to be frigid. I will also remind those of you who may be calling me that we are now again in the eastern time zone.

Our morning show today was at 8:15 a.m., one of the earliest shows we've had. Therefore, we had the whole rest of the day to screw around. We are staying in Howe, IN, at the intersection of state roads 9 and 120, tonight and tomorrow. It is just a couple miles south from Sturgis, MI, our Wed. school, and about 20 miles from White Pigeon, MI, tomorrow's school. On our way to our motel, we drove through South Bend, IN, home to Notre Dame. We drove through the Notre Dame campus and viewed the stadium and the "Touchdown Jesus" as it is apparently known. I learn such interesting stuff from Erik. It is a painting of Jesus (with his arms up in a touchdown pose) on a tall building next to the stadium, facing the home end. When players score, they face Jesus and can spike the football in honor of the messiah. We wanted to park and take pictures, but the college is not too keen on visitor parking, and we were out of luck. Then we figured that in a university town with a nicely-sized student body we should have no problem finding some cool college type boutiques or coffee houses. Nope. Nothing. Not a single thing to do in South Bend. Major disappointment. So we went on into Sturgis and had a less-than-ideal Italian dinner, which is most likely the only "real" restaurant in town, and then indulged in chocolate truffles and coffee in their downtown. Tomorrow our show is at 1:30. Our plan is to visit a famous flea market in neighboring Shipshewana, visit Amish country, tour an art gallery in downtown Sturgis, have some lunch, do the show and then maybe catch a matinee movie. And I'm getting paid for this!!

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