Saturday, June 30, 2007

Car Explodes at Airport in Scotland

GLASGOW (Reuters) - A four-wheel-drive vehicle rammed into Glasgow airport's main terminal on Saturday and exploded in flames in what police described as an attack, a day after a twin car-bomb plot was foiled in London ... (more)

I know the T-shrt slogan "we're creating enemies faster than we can kill them" is so 2004, but it's even worse than that. We're creating enemies faster than they can kill themselves. There's no way we can expect to keep up.

I think my entire family and I walked past that exact spot a little over three weeks ago.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Calvin Harris is the new god.

Toni is out of town until Monday, and I can't procreate.

Line forms on the left.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Day Seventeen: London to Cleveland - Transatlanticism

Photo: Cyberman on Leicester Square.

I don't like summing up. Summing up is for the book, the article or the play. A blog is life in motion, and trying to draw any grand conclusions at the end of a long journey is as pointless as trying to draw one at the end of any given day.

Often I do exactly this when composing a blog entry, and I generally find myself simply dropping the last paragraph before publishing.

"Publishing." That's funny. Getting paid is nice, but what the hell, we'll call it publishing.

Non-stop from London to Cleveland. That's my idea of luxury. Once we arrive at Hopkins, Toni will turn around and board a plane for Vermont. It is year two of her work at Goddard College and she has a week on campus in Plainfield, that leaves me alone with the kids until next Monday. Well, alone with Kelly, my parents, and anyone else who will help.

Yesterday was a frazzled attempt to bring things to an enjoyable close. I had floated the idea of getting half-price tix to take Z. to see Mary Poppins. While Henrik drove most everyone and our bags back to Battersea, Toni, Kelly and I took a way around Leisceter Square - which in the middle of a Saturday afternoon was an insane crush of tourists and opportunists. The lowest ticket price was £32. We called home and said the show was sold out before lingering around some bookstores.

Henrik made curry, and we had an amazing relaxed evening around the vicarage, drinking, talking, watching Monsters Inc. (Zelda just loves that movie.)

Yesterday morning I took a six o'clock run around Plymouth. Today I rose in London. Tomorrow I get up at dawn in Cleveland Heights, take the kids to school, and embark on an arts camp for disadvantaged Cleveland middle school students.

I could really have used a weekend before starting in on that.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Day Fifteen: Plymouth - Blood and Fire

Photo: Orson joins Nick for a bite.

The schizophrenic weather of Plymouth kept us on our toes all day. The folks took a lovely boat ride in the harbor, while it intermittently pissed rain and shone bright, warm sun. Meanwhile, Kelly and I met Nick at the hall for tech.

It's a big room, the Salvation Army meeting hall, and Nick had high expectations. There were twenty seats purchased in advance, there were notices in local papers and he did an interview which was played several times, yesterday and today, on the radio station, Plymouth Sound.

I asked him what the pitch was, remembering the kind of comments which were made on BBC Lincolnshire. Nick is quite familiar with the show, having seen it last October at the AGM, and listening to the radio drama several times. Describing it over lunch (he helped us all find a great cafe near the boat dock where we were able to escape the rain) Nick made I HATE THIS sound like a gripping, exciting drama, one that anyone could get into. So that sounded great.

They'd set up chairs for maybe two hundred on the main floor, with overflow capacity in the balcony for another fifty. I know he was being cheeky when he suggested we might need all those seats, but I alos know he was holding out hope for a large turnout.

You can see where I am going with this. In fact, if you have any previous knowledge about the history of this production,the fact that the house was small shouldn't surprise you. It didn't surprise me, and I was not disappointed by it, I only felt bad for Nick and his wife Tracey, whom I knew had spent a lot of time and effort putting this together. I believe it was particularly upsetting that almost half the people who had made paid reservations did not show up, though there were a few walk-ups.

That included one very tall man (sorry I didn't catch the name) who had made a reservation for the Exeter performance, and called the day-of to ask for directions, and was surprised to find only that way that the event had been cancelled. He said he drove like mad to get here tonight.

It was challenging balancing the small crowd (I am thankful they were asked to move to the front of the house) and the large space. There were points where I stepped down off the stage and stood right in front of them (Memorial Day, The Future) and I was ready when they did not laugh at the "Cloisters" joke - as most do not. Sometimes I say, "Huh, they love that joke in New York."

Tonight I said, "Huh ... they loved that joke in Belfast."

I thought that was funny. So did Kelly.

Following tea and cake, our Q&A was almost like a group session, we treated it as one. Toni and I weren't up on the stage, we were down with everyone, talking about our stories.

That reminds me of an interesting thing ... yesterday, after we'd split into two groups, Nick and Kelly and I were wandering through Drake's Circus. Kelly went off to the loo, and Nick and I were just standing there in the middle of this busy mall.

I just blurted out, "So, Nick, what's your story?"

He blinked, inhaled, and told me about Sarah Louise. And that was good.

You know, over the course of the past two weeks, Toni and I took a little time to grow into our role as child loss ambassadors, or whatever you might want to call us. In Carlisle we were a bit too scattered to be as personable, or sensitive as we might have liked. I'm not saying we were impolite, but my interactions with Libby were very business-like - I need this, I need that, do you think these things can be taken care of by tomorrow - and we spent most of the intervening time relaxing, making sure the kids were adjusting, and so on.

We'd even showed up late that first afternoon, because we were enjoying ourselves in Glasgow, and didn't bother to call her to let her know.

Photo: The famous Plymouth King Prawn.

It wasn't until after the performance that I had a chance to chat with her husband Ian about their little boy, and then say something to her some time shortly before we departed for the evening. I can make excuses about being wobbly, nervous and uncertain, but I still wish I'd started off better.

And yet, "What's your story?" I don't think I'd ever asked anyone about their child so bluntly in my life. It didn't hurt that Nick (being so much, you know, like Nick) seems like aguy who you can talk to like that. I also wondered after the fact if it's because I don't usually ask guys about their children, I usually start with the women and the approach is much softer.

The discussion was very warm and everyone was very kind. There were an awful lot of men in that small crowd, and it was good to see them, sitting so stoically in their seats. But when the time came I heard what I am always glad to hear, that this story is like theirs, there is so much in common in my story to theirs.

Toni observed a few days ago that she sometimes feels it is odd, sitting up on a stage, talking about our loss, and having so many people ask us about it, as though our loss is more significant than theirs. I don't see it that way. Maybe I am the guy who stands up publicly to tell his story not because my story is more poingnant, it isn't, but it's a story, and I tell it and people can point to it and say, that's my story. Like, it makes their story more poignant, because of the great similarlities of emotion and circumstance, and they can share it with friends and say, see, that's what I am going through. That story is my story.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day Fourteen: Exeter to Plymouth - In the Air Tonight

* The folks at Pegasus House recommended a restaurant up the street, Rubie's at the Red House, which was more than adequate for us.

* We departed Whipton without ever visiting Exeter.

* Nick met us at the train station in Plymouth. Toni, Kelly and I all noticed almost immediately, and indepedently of each other, that Nick is just like Nick. This identification only became stronger as the morning went on, and as we watched him interact with the children.

* Nick took Kelly and I to the Salvation Army Hall, where we will be performing tomorrow night, our final performance - and for all I know, my final performance. After this, I got nothin'. It is a great space. I'm really looking forward to this.

* Plymouth has a mall named after Sir Francis Drake, Drake Circus. I find that entirely bizarre.

* As Nick showed Kelly and I around the town center (we would meet with the others for lunch) it began to piss down rain, which would continue for the rest of the afternoon. Welcome to the coast.

* We hit a Virgin Megastore and an HMV where I picked up Calvin Harris' I Discovered Disco and the soundtrack to Life On Mars - the DVD of which is unfortunately not universal but only Region 2.

* Lunch was had in Dingle's department store.

* As promised, the kids were looked after by everyone else, and Toni and I toured the quay, had a few pints, enjoyed fresher than fresh seafood for dinner (where I forgot where I was and hideously overtipped the waiter) and finished up in the hotel bar where Toni confessed her newfound appreciation for Phil Collins.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day Thirteen: Lurgan to Exeter - One Day at MacCool's, One Night in Whipton

Photo: The road to Torr Head.

Nap time at the Pegasus Guest House in Whipton, outside Exeter, and plenty of time on our hands. I had been apprehensive about this day, the only one that involved travel and a performance on the same day in the entire journey. What if something went wrong? What if we were missing something, something were wrong with the tech, I left something behind - there would be no time to care of of unseen mishaps.

It also occured to me that this was the one city where I would get no time to take in the surroundings before moving on the next morning.

Well. Toni and I went to the Lurgan Public Library to check email, and received an urgent notice from our contact in London that the Exeter show has been cancelled, due to lack of interest. They had only had confirmed reservations for five, and decided it wasn't worth the effort.

Photo: Lonely boy on an Irish road.

I have performed the show for five before. I've performed the show for one. I would have liked to have been consulted, I guess. Maybe if I had been in better contact and could have gotten back to them yesterday, instead of today, I could have communicated that fact, but it was a little late by the time I got the message and we had a plane to catch.

I contacted our host here, figuring we could at least be in touch, maybe have a drink or dinner. I was surprised to find (via text message) that they had already made plans for themselves this evening, and that maybe we would see them in Plymouth. So we don't even get any contact here at all, or suggestions for where to go or what to do.

Disappointed? Sure. Maybe more than I expected. I'm here, in Exeter (well, Whipton) with nothing to do, and there's at least five people who wanted to see my show.

There was a reason we scheduled travel and performance on the same date - we wanted an extra day in N. Ireland. It was well spent. Steven and Jackie picked us up around 10.30 and we took the scenic route along the coast (the Torr Head route) to Giant's Causeway.

Photo: Steven and Jackie.

Giant's Causeway is this bizzare, unique rock formation along this one, relatively small area of the northern coast. Where the stones have been worn down, it looks like carefully arranged hexagonal boulders have been neatly fit together. Where they are taller they are like great columns. Each stone section is maybe eighteen inches wide.

At different short levels they make little thrones to sit in. In one area in particular, where there is this section of great, tall pillars all clustered together by the seaside, they contribute to the legend of Finn MacCool, the giant. There was a great bridge, or causeway, across the sea to Scotland. Finn MacCool set across to defeat a giant on the other side - but when he got there, he found the Scottish giant to be much larger than he, so he ran back across, in fear, to tell his wife.

Mrs. MacCool (I missed the name) told him to calm down, dressed him up in a bonnet and gave him a binky and put him in the baby crib. When the Scottish giant came over to fight MacCool, the giantess said, "He's out right now - but don't wake the baby!"

Photo: Thrones for little ones.

The Scottish giant took one look at the great, hideous baby in the crib, and thought - if that's the baby, how big is the father! In a panic, he ran back across the causeway, tearing up the stones as he went so the monstrous giant, Finn MacCool, could not get at him.

Steven told me that one. "Not a story of great courage, iss aht, Steven?" I observed, "Finn MacCool wearing a diaper and a bonnet?"

"No," he admitted, "but it's a story of great cleverness."

After almost two weeks of urban living, dining and recreating, this day was a blessed departure. And the weather was perfect - we were warned to bring rainjackets and be prepared for great wind and waves, but the sea was calm, the skies were sunny and clear, and it was quite warm. But not too warm, there was a lot of walking.

On the drive into town Toni and I compared notes on the last two cities we'd been to. Birmingham is a lot like Cleveland. It's not a city with the ancient hisoty a lot of the rest of England does, it's an industry town - only the industry dried up decades ago. A lot of people, including some in N.I. spoke disparragingly about Birmingham, but what I saw is a modern city that is trying very hard to become a center of arts and activity, with a number of new shopping centers and entertainment venues. I never learned if any of the canals caught fire ... but it wouldn't surprise me.

According to Steven, it's only been five years since things have settled down to what you might call normal in Northern Ireland, especially in and around where we were staying, so close to Belfast. The time we spent there wasn't nearly enough to really take in what effect those decades of war (for what else can you call it) have had on the people's psyche, but it can't have been good for business. Driving on the roads (as opposed to say, taking trains, which we have been doing so much of) watching all the farms, the livestock, the people, Toni was reminded of her home in Appalachia.

Our lives being how they are, it is hard to imagine the circumstances where we would be able to return to N.I. Perhaps we will need to make some up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day Twelve: Lurgan - Town Hall Meeting

The view outside our window this morning.
I make it a habit during long journeys never to log what will happen, but only what has happened. In that way I don't repeat myself ... or have to explain how something I said was going to happen, didn't.

Yesterday was not filled with the luck of the ... there were unfortunate incidents.

 While everything eventually worked out, there were difficulties getting the computer to recognize the projector. BBC Belfast cancelled our radio interview. And I seriously bonked my head on one of the low-doorways in our cottage, leaving a nasty egg on my crown.

I found a fairy princess in the garden.
Having said that, we had a very fine performance at Lurgan Town Hall. Steven brought his teenage son Matt in to take care of the computer difficulties (of course.) It was the first old-fashioned "stage" I have performed on here, instead of looking up at the audience, or straight out, I actually had to look down at them.

There were some seventy people in attendance. I have grown used to audiences not laughing, at all, at anything, during the performances this week. Maybe it is because of the language barrier (that ironic American humor, you know.) Maybe it is because of my delivery, who knows.

Last night, however, they were laughers. Not huge, belly-laughers, no one does that, not that kind of show, but they did laugh appreciatively. I might make some kind of sweeping observation about the Irish knowing something about dark humor, but, well, I guess I just did.

Feeding the ducks at the nature center at Lough Neagh
There was this one woman in the front row, she had these great glasses, she looks just like Toni's friend Andrea from New York (Toni said the same thing!) She was seated right in front of the phone, and was cracking up at the muzak - when "Lonely Boy" came on she was my anchor, she thought that was hysterical and I just smiled at her for several seconds before giving her the "I love this song," line.

Of course, I knew it was going to be a good performance when Steven introduced it as "Ah Heet Thass - a plee wi'oot tha baybeh."

One of the most interesting questions we received was, "What did you hope to get out of doing this?" Toni and I talked about it later, I think she was concerned at first that it was an accusation, but I wasn't. One thing that was great was that it was a question we could pass onto Steven, who joined us on stage. He had the chance to share the idea SANDS had for bringing me here, to raise awareness of the issue, and of their organization.

Toni also got to speak about the kind of fact-finding work we have been able to do, hearing other people's stories and making observations about the state of health care in different parts of the country - ours and theirs.

And for my part, I took it back to the beginning - what did I hope to get out of doing this, meaning writing it. Which was nothing but my own need to tell this story, as a theater artist. At first, I had no idea that this play would take me to such places. I didn't envision it being used as an educational tool, for nurse and doctors, certainly not to be a touchpoint for the parents of other dead children. I wanted to see if I could make my personal story into a good play.

# # #

Zelda came walking into the bathroom with a pair of underpants on her head. "I'm a butthead!" she declaimed.

"Hmn," I mused, "who made up that joke?"

"I did," Zelda proested, leaving the bathroom. "Kelly and I made it up."

If my four year-old is going to use correct grammar, she is allowed the occasional vulgarity.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Day Eleven: Lurgan - Cottaging*

Sorry for missing an entry yesterday, it was a big, big travel day with no internet at the end of it. We left Birmingham via air to Belfast. I am pleased and amazed at how well the seven of us have been coping, shipping from city to city like this.

SANDS Chariman Steven and his wife Jackie met us at the airport and helped us get situated with the Big Red Van we've rented. Yes, a rental. Yes, I am driving on the left, seated on the right - and shifting on the left. The 40 minute drive from Belfast to Lurgan, where I will be performing tonight was quite a thrill. Steven reported that I only almost got us into an accident twice.

Steven and Jackie have put us up in cottages for our stay. It's an extended saty, we are taking the risk and traveling and putting on a performance on the same day on Wednesday so I can have a full day to myself tomorrow, touring N.I.

At present I have snuck away from Kelly (actually, I asked her permission) to visit the local library and check email and write this. Just after lunch Steven and I will drive to Belfast for a radio interview (that's an hour's drive each way) and get home in time for dinner, and the show.

I am only slightly disappointed I don't get to see as much as my fellow travelers, but what I do see I will remember. The cottages were a very thoughtful touch, it's fun, you know, staying in a hotel for a short while, but it's also quite constricting. The restaurant situation has also begun to wear on the children.

Last night Toni and I got some basics from the market, and we all sat about, cooking, drinking, cleaning (I broke a glass) eating and just relaxing. They even have a DVD built into the set, and a small selection of movies available. We started watching Love, Actually, which is utter crap.

* Yes, I know what 'cottaging' means.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Day Nine: Birmingham - Backtalk

I had an honest-to-God actor's nightmare last night! Great Lakes was producing The Importance of Being Earnest. I was playing Algernon. (Scoff if you like - I said this was a nightmare.)

I have never been in a production of Earnest in my life. I found myself backstage, fifteen minutes before curtain, almost entirely in costume, and I didn't know a word. I picked up a script in the valiant attempt to cram some lines, but they were incomprehensible. They certainly weren't pithy.

The first act was a mess. I remember at one point, during an awkward pause, D.A. stated rather exaggeratedly, "Maybe David Hansen would have something to say about it." I believe I had missed a cue.

Laura Perrotta was pissed. So was Eve Michaelson, but that was just normal.

Meanwhile, during waking life ... last night I realized I had come up short (no pun) on y-fronts. As a result, the folks here in Birmingham have pulled ahead of the pack in one very important respect: they did our laundry.

Ooh, that was lovely.

Photo: Camping out in Nottingham Station.

You see, the weather had turned the day we left London, and continued raining pretty regularly the entire time we were in Lincoln. We took the short train to Nottingham ... where we discovered our train to Birmingham had been cancelled. All the trains to Birmingham had been cancelled. The trackes had been flooded, or maybe it was just the electric signals. We sat around the station in Nottingham, making calls to our contacts in London and Birmingham, and waiting for the rail situation to change.

We began speculating on a night's stay in Nottingham when they suddenly announced a train would be going through, but by the time we arrived in Birmingham, all other trains had been cancelled. So in that respect, we were lucky. Except Toni had planned on spending the afternoon doing laundry, and now there would be no time, if we could even find a laundrette in the city center.

Lisa and Elaine, the two main organizers of our event here for SANDS joined us at the hotel for some late night libations ... and asked if someone couldn't wash my underpants.

The performance today was the end of the local SANDS conference, sharing the new Guidlines. There was a larger percentage of medical health professionals than bereaved parents, or so it seemed, and the Q&A included the first comment I have had on this tour from an offended nurse, one who didn't appreciate my presenting only the negataive aspects of our time in the hospital. It was a respectful exchange. I think everyone knows my opinion on this subject, the character I am playing the show is who I was at the time, and that's how I felt. I understand it can be harsh, the play is called I HATE THIS.

What was unique about this talkback was that not only was Toni joining me, but so was Connie. As a nurse, as a woman who trains obstetric nurses, as Toni's mother and as a bereaved grandparent, she offered a rich point of view to the proceedings.

As a result the discussion with the audience had nothing to do with the history of the play, less to do with our lives since 2001, and so much to do with caregivers, what assistance is available (or not) to parents who have lost children in both the US and the UK, and issues regarding grandparents and other relatives.

It was an intimate gathering, maybe thirty audience members. A lot of them knew each other, and aspects of the discussion were, not so much a debate, but a mutual agreement on certain points regarding patient care and communication. I probably said the least during this talkback than I ever had, and I think that was a very good thing.

Photo: Zelda loves to pose with otters.

In the five-year history of this play, I have never performed it many times in a row. The fringe festivals were five perfs each. And though I have performed this show for hospitals and conferences before, it has never been incorporated something like one help organizartion's two-week schedule of events. What this has done for me, and also for Toni, is to really challenge our participation in perinatal bereavement and counseling. The extended dialogue we have participated in through all of these talkbacks has thrown what we have accomplished, and what we still hope to do into some kind of relief. Today was particularly helpful in that regard.

The kids had a good day, we took them to National Sea Life, an aquarium which is so totally geared to kids. There can't be a fish tank without there's a ship's anchor in it, or a statue of a mermaid.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Day Eight: Lincoln to Birmingham - Children of Us


While we were riding the London Eye, Adrienne and I had an uncomfortable conversation about the movie Children of Men. I think that, among other things, it is about how humans go insane when they can't have children. Adrienne says it's a dumb chase movie with a pregnant woman in it, and the guy dies at the end.


I was flabbergasted. I know Children of Men is not everyone's favorite movie, Toni and I were both not a little put off by John Ewing's condescending characterization of it. For those who are unaware, the premise is that people have stopped being able to have children. The last person to survive childbirth was born eighteen years ago. The very first action of the movie is the announcement that this person has been killed.

When Clive Owen's character, Theo, walks into his office, everyone in their little cubby is watching the news on their computers and quietly (or not quietly) weeping. All of them. And every cubby, especially the ones of the women, but not exclusively, are festooned with baby figures, ribbons, little mementoes of lost children. They are everywhere.

If director Alfonso CuarĂ³n doesn't have some personal experience with child loss, all I can say is he did his homework. And once that world was set, I could clearly see what a world where no one could have children might look like. I see it in some small, manageable version every time I do this show. It's our experience, without end, times everyone else in the world.

So you will excuse me if I have little patience with someone who doesn't "get" that movie. In fact, I surprise myself at my reaction to people who don't "get" that movie, it makes me feel like they can't "get" us.

But then again, you know, it is just a flick with a lot of stuff blowing up.

From beginning to end our experience in Lincoln has been just fabulous. I've been here 36 hours now and I'm going to miss it.

Terry O'Toole Theatre
The show went extremely well, from a technical standpoint. It's a great, new black box theater. It's small, maybe two hundred seats, and it's kind of octagonal. The seats angle to the sides. I was thrust out into the audience, looking to my left and right during a lot of it, which was new and different and took some time to get used to.

Tech took a very short period of time, and we even had lights fade in at the beginning and out at the end. It was like a real play!

The performance was just a little difficult. There was virtually no sound from the audience. None. They laughed when I said sh*t, that was about all. And yet, I knew they didn't hate the show, just that they must be taking it all very personally. This silence no longer affects me in a negative way, only I adjust most "punchlines" to be less of a grasp for laughs, I just say them and move on.

However, this lack of vocal response normally translates into a brief, awkward Q&A. This was not the case in Lincoln. Our post-show discussion lasted maybe a half-hour to forty-five minutes. The questions kept coming, and they were very good questions. A lot of times the questions are about the show, and the show's history, but last night there were so many about the details of child loss - about our own experiences, to be sure, but then also about the exepreinces of the people in the audience.

A number of new, fascinating questions arose when they learned we have had two subsequent pregnancies. What was it like when you were in labor and giving birth to your first living child? Where do you tell them Calvin is? Have you thought of incorporating the fact that you have Zelda and Orson into the play?

This last was from a very meaningful woman named Tracey. I had to handle this question with care, because I remember all too well the strong reaction I got from other parents of lost children when it was suggested (thanks, Tony) that I had changed the play when my first living child was born. If I understood her correctly, the ending was so painful for her she wanted some kind of release during the play to let her know everything was all right for us. I explained, as well as I could, that I just don't feel like giving anyone that release during the drama, and she accepted that.

Besides, that's really what the Q&A are for.

I have been accused of being "dispassionate" in my performance, but when one mother shared that her living children believe their dead sibling is with the Man in the Moon, I almost teared up. It was something their grandmother had told them, and she didn't disabuse them of it. I wouldn't have, either.

We found out more details meeting people face to face afterwards. Julia's mom had made scones, and there were strawberries and coffee and tea, and we stayed in the lobby a long time, talking to so many people.

We took a particular delight in meeting Julia's girl Heidi, who is fifteen, and desperate to be a star. She hung out with us backstage before the performance and we made jokes about American and British accents and asked her about her plans. She's done a lot of theater in the Lincoln area, and will be a featured extra in The Golden Compass with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.

She does a very amusing American accent. But then, so do I.

Check out the new raincoat.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Day Seven: Lincoln - So Hollywood

Already received feedback from the SANDS Conference on Tuesday!

Out of 98 forms:
Please evaluate, scoring from 4 - 1
( 4 - e x c e l l e n t ; 3 - g o o d ; 2 - f a i r ; 1 - p o o r )

“I hate this” A play without the baby a solo performance – David Hansen
4 - 88.88% 3 - 9.10% 2 - 2.02% 1 - 0%
Comments: Fantastic / Amazing / Awesome/ Inspirational / All nurses should see this/ Unique and exceptional / too intense / too personal

I agree, it is too intense and personal. I'm an intense and personal guy.

Enough about London. LINCOLN. We are staying at the White Hart, which is this ... okay, I have an insufficient vocabulary for things opulent and beautiful. It is enough to say Kelly refuses to leave tomorrow, and her room is half as nice (and a quarter as large) as ours is.

The picture at your right is the view from our window. That's what we get to wake up to and go to be at night looking at, or at least I would, if I were allowed on the canopy bed which faces the window with the other three members of my family, instead of the roll-away by the fireplace.

I am not complaining. Oh no, I am not complaining, not about the roll-away, not about not having to sleep with a two year-old's foot in my crotch.

Last night at dinner at the Wig and Mitre (what's up with all the mitre's?) I noticed a number of photos of Tom Hanks from local papers, laminated and hanging on the wall in the staircase. As I was managing small feet up and down the stairs each time, I didn't read it up close, and just figured Tom Hanks had spent a vacation here.

Well, no. As Westminster Abbey refused to let Ron Howard film the relevant scenes from The Da Vinci Code that take place there in their actual location, the people of Lincoln Cathedral were only too happy to provide theirs as a substitute. And so the entire city played host to a major Hollywood picture for a few days in August, 2005.

But hey, they filmed lots and lots of Spider-Man 3 in Cleveland, right? So we know what that's like.

This morning Toni and I met with our contact Julia, who took us to the studios of BBC Lincolnshire for a noontime interview. I don't think they were planning to have Toni on the air, but we pressed for it, which I think is a good thing. Like having her participate in the post-show discussions, when we are fortunate enough for that to happen, she provides perspective that I forget ... or have difficulty articulating. I don't know what's happened to me that I have totally lost the ability to answer a simple question in a short period of time.

So the three of us were interviewed by Martin Daniels, and he asked some very intelligent and thoughtful questions. I think we got the show over pretty well. There was this amusing (to me) exchange where Julia was explaining, quite rightly, that the show is about a serious subject, and that it's not necessarily "night out" material. Later she further clarified to us that she was concerned the free ticket price may encourage folks out for a lark to check it out, and wanted to be sure people knew what they were in for. On air, Toni did her best to also point up that it is a play, and an entirely appropriate form of entertainment for people who are looking for a good drama.

Everyone is so polite here, it rubs off.

We stuck around the offices for a bit to chat - and wait for Martin Brewin (a different Martin) to get back on the air. I met Martin and his partner Suzanne at the SANDS event on Saturday, they lost their boy Barney last November, and have put together their own stillbirth awareness organization as a tribute. This week, Martin is taking six days to walk the 150 miles from his home in Grantham to London, and as Martin Daniels was trying to get him on the line with me, he was on the road, walking. The weather took a turn for the wretched in the past twenty-four hours, all over Britain, and so the wind and rain made him impossible to hear. By the time Martin B. got to a pub to have an intelligible interview, our time was already done, so I didn't get to talk to him directly.

Sorry I missed you, Martin! Hope the weather clears up for the rest of the walk! (Here's Martin's blog, all you bloggy people.)

Julia got to share with us about her daughter Holly, whom she lost seventeen years ago. She's worked so hard on this mission, has been involved with SANDS for many years. One interesting, and potentially helpful anecdote; she had occasion to relocate the meetings she was organizing. They couldn't be at her home, and having them in a church would be problematic. So she hosted it at a restaurant, a kind of a pub. And the attendance of fathers went up dramatically. She says she believes the possibility of having a drink - not the drink, per se, but the reason for being there ("I'm not going to a support group, I'm having a pint,") was probably what brought them out.

And I think she's right.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Day Six: London to Lincoln - Bad Busker

Photo: Royal College of Physicians performance. Big big screen.

Yesterday started well enough, with a well-anticipated 5 mile run. Things quickly soured as the getting-out-the-door ritual was unfortunately stressful. I was exhausted (hmn, going to be at 1 am and waking the next morning at 6 for a five mile run witll do that) and highly anxious about the performance at the Royal College of Physicians. But parenthood took precedence and we took the children to Coram's Fields.

As if the stroll to the park wasn't already stoked with thoughts of anger and indequacy (a rocking chair? hello?) Toni informed me that Coram's Field - a lovely playground (one with a policeman at the gate, to keep anyone without children out) with expansive sandboxes for the toddlers (like Orson) a wide variety of climbing contraptions (for people like Zelda) and even game captains to lead older children in more advanced play - was formerly the site of the Foundling Hospital. The bad historical juju, coupled with the sight of my own children playing without a care in the world made something inside of me crumble and I just had to sit and stare.

We arrived at the RCP in plenty of time to set everything up - including a lovely, wooden rocking chair. I didn't want to get into it with anyone, I was about to collapse. I realized I hadn't had anything for lunch, so Kelly and I breezed into the crowded hall where the food was, avoiding eye contact with absolutely everyone, loaded up a small plate, snatching an apple, a hunk of cheese, and bunch of grapes, and escaping back to the little room to the side of the stage.

There was a couch, some chairs, a table. I ate and whined about my life as Kelly, dutiful as always, listened patiently, and then went out to get everything arranged on stage and in the booth.

A large painting, a portrait, of Edward VII hung on the wall. He looked like my Dad, except for the suit.

Photo: The panel discussion.

I had never been so unsure of myself before a performance. And this wasn't even such an unusaul event, but I was so shaken, exhausted, overwhelmed and unhappy, I had no idea how I was going to be able to do this. Toni came backstage and we talked. I just resigned myself to my fate, the show would go on, of course. I just hoped it wasn't terribly awful.

The music started, Calvin's Theme, if you will (check my "Profile," it's there) and I stepped out and did something I never did before. The lights were on full, and I took my time walking to my place in the center of the stage. I usually just keep my eye on that spot, move to it, and look at my hands. This day I looked at everything. The table, the phone, the stepladder, I turned to look at the rocking chair. I took in this room of memories. It gave me confidence.

The room was a lecture hall, maybe three hundred seats, with an estimated 170 attendants, but they were spread evenly throughout the seats. The seats were steeply raked. I was mic'ed (I wasn't in Carlisle, they could hear me whisper in the back of that room without one) and when the opening music faded, I looked up and said, "WHAT?"

I surprised myself, and everyone else, by the volume. Good start, though.

And it was a good show, craning my neck up to the top, taking in the entire audience. Why has it taken five years to become so comfortable with this play? It's like something new, I am looking at the audience, not over them. I feel I am talking to them, not performing for them.

It was warm in there, some people were slouching a bit in their seats, but I didn't mind. The show was working. There were groans, laughs - the British jokes work.

It's become "We had a real English breakfast; eggs, bacon, sausage, turkey rashers, meat, meat and meat," as a complete list, not as commentary.

Photo: Nice shirt - and just in time, too.

The line, "Have you ever noticed, there are newborn babies everywhere ... even in Britain," always gets a laugh in London. It got a bigger laugh in Carlisle when I said, "even in London," which is what I will no doubt repeat tomorrow in Lincoln.

After a short break for coffee, there was a panel discussion about the entire conference, and Toni participated in that. After we stayed and shook hands with a number of folks, including some young couples - two couples each lost a child just this past November. They all impressed me with the way they had already incorporated their children into their lives, though they all had stories about how difficult some family member was being in ackowledging their lost babies.

The rocking chair thing, it turned out, was simply a last-minute error. The chair that they did in fact have at the SANDS office has recently been picked up, unbeknownst to those who knew they still needed it, by the owner who had since left "on holiday." The whole, "throw a blanket over an office chair" was a last-minute fix, an attempt to set things right, without realizing how important it was to me, or the show. A mistake, not some intentional (or even unintentional) slight. But hey, I get so few opportunities for diva fits.

For dinner we joined my brother and his family at a Giraffe close to our hotel. I was practically brainless, but the cocktails were scrumptious and I did my best to be personable. However, this 5 mile running, nervous breakdown having, solo performance acting twit was not through yet. I felt I had earned some joy, and so I left bedtime to Toni, and went out pub-hopping with Kelly and Adrienne. Adrienne finally got to hear the true story of how her sister and I hooked up, which seems creepy since I've know her since she was ten. However, as has been previously mentioned, she is now 23 ... which was how old Toni was when we started dating.

Oh Jesus Christ am I old.

Anyway, the pints were tasty, the conversation was blue, and I went to bed shortly before 1 am.

Photo: Zelda learns a fun magic trick from a complete asshole.

We caught the 5:50 out of King's Cross on our way to Lincoln, and I am writing this on the train. The day was spent quite liesurely, largely in Regent's Park. Con and Adrienne set off on their own the explore Westminster Abbey, and we just strolled through the park, paddled out on the pond to get a closer look at the baby birds, and took a nap under the trees.

We made a brief trip to Covent Garden where we saw the worst magician ever. I have seen buskers make fun of the crowd before for not applauding, but this guy was a legend. He actually stopped his act before it was over, to chastise us for standing around like dummies, and backed away without taking any money.

What a dick.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Day Five: London - Totally Wrong

The children were left in the care of MP and Auntie Adrienne last night so that Kelly, Toni and I could steal off and see The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare's Globe on Bankside. For my wealth of knowledge of the place, I have only seen one show there, and it was hardly a model example - though I have to say, the "Fancy Dress Party Macbeth" remains the best production of the Scottish Play I've ever seen.

The performance of Merchant couldn't have been more traditional, and pretty much what I would have done if I set out to create a faithful - if patently offensive - production of this unapologetically anti-Semeitic work (though that word would not have meant anything to Shakepeare, blah blah blah, it's a hate-filled play.)

Instead of rationalising that WS was some kind of foreward thinking egalitarian (he wasn't) they chose the other route, which was to make everyone grotesque. Shylock is an evil, hunched, bearded, withered old Jew - and played by John McEnery, the guy who played Mercutio in Zeffirelli's R&J the year I was born. I didn't make the connection util I was looking over the program at the best hole-in-the-wall Indian restauarnt in the world (no wonder the British lost to those people.) The Duke of Morocco was a grinning, strutting, stuffed-codpiece jutting cartoon of an African, the Spaniard an English-mangling braggart, and they even managed to squeeze in a joke at the French where one doesn't exist.

As for the Christians, the masque featured what could almost be constued as a Black Mass ... if it was taken seriously, because really it was more like a bunch of frat boys dressed as priests and bishops and popes in devils' masks, performing an obscene marriage. They profess Christianity, but flagrantly ridicule the its leaders.

Which means they aren't truly hypocrites. They mock the trappings of Christianity - Catholicism, to be precise - but espouse pure love for Christ. One of the funniest moments in the play is when Antionio insists Shylock must be made to convert. To Antionio it isn't a punishment (it wouldn't have been to Shakespeare, nor his audience) but a blessing. However, the look on Shylock's face can't be described. It was hilarious. And that's offensive. And I laughed really loud and I don't feel bad about that.

The one stereotype that remained untouched was that of the (if you believe this sort of thing) homosexual Antonio, and his affection for Bassanio. There is no question that that was his subtext, that that was what he was feeling and thinking - but in a play with such obvious mockery, of everyone, that minority alone was treated with subtelty and respect. And I found that a double-standard. I don't want to sound like one of those people who get bent out of shape, like "man, you can't make fun of gays anymore." In fact, you can, and people do - hell, gay people do - every minute of every day. So, like a number of production elements I found jarring and ill-advised (which don't warrant mentioning) I found the omission disappointing.

I am not suggesting they should have had a mincing Antonio. But if the Duke of Morocco could be made to look and behave like Muhammad Ali, Antonio seemed like he was from a different production.

Big ups to Kristy Besterman and Pippa Nixon, who had to step up from (respectively) the roles of Nerissa and Jessica to the roles of Portia and Nerissa (with Ms. Nixon doubling in her usual role of Jessica) with book in hand to cover for the woman usually playing Portia. The book-in-hand thing was distracting for about two seconds as Ms. Besterman did know and awful lot of the part and was very good in the role.

God bless the understudies, without them we'd all have to go home.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Day Four: London - Rocking With It

Photo: That's a man, baby.

Good God. The children's television is worse here than at home.

It was a long day yesterday, taking the train from Carlisle to London. We were taking a first class coach, and lucky me, I got the odd single seat a few rows up from everyone else. I read and dozed on and off for four hours. They do have an awful lot of sheep here.

The sheer excitement of being on a train eventually wore off for the kids, and Zelda simply could not get comfortable or get to sleep. Hideous breakdown in King's Cross.

Toni, as ever, finds the best places to eat. We took a great early evening walk through Bloomsbury to Abeno, a Japanese place that specializes in egg pancakes called okonomi-yaki, which they cook in front of you on the table. Big metal hoit plates in front of my kids make me very, very nervous. So I drank a lot of sake.

This morning we led Adrienne and MP on "the basics" tour of London. Yes, there was a ride on a double-decker bus, and a trip around the Eye.

That's my third go-round on the London Eye. I almost pulled a Dad and told Toni they could go, and I'd stick my nose in Foyles for a half-hour, but I didn't. There will be no fourth trip on the London Eye for me, even if someone puts a gun to my head.

A walk past Buckingham to St. James Park, where we got sandwiches and camped by the river where Toni can make those noises she makes when she sees water fowl. Z. and O. got very excited by chasing pigeons, but I didn't think they'd catch one. I had to warm them against the larger birds that might not find flying away worth the effort and choose instead to bite them.

Goose bites hurt, you bet.

(Thank you.)

Sue from SANDS met us back at the hotel before three to walk Kelly and I to the Royal College of Physicians so we could tech the show. The auditorium we will be using is quite big, and they hope it may be two-thirds full. The acoustics are super, but the lights aren't really made for performance, it will be a number overlaping spots. The screen is possibly the biggest I've worked with and that's saying a lot.

Thanks again to Nick for re-engineering the slides and sound. Our lives are so much easier, it's ridiculous.

I was a little stunned to hear there wouldn't be a rocking chair. Someone apparently decided we didn't need one, I could just use an office chair with a sheet thrown over it, it's not that important.


I hate to be rude, I really do. And maybe airing this in public is inappropriate. But seriously ... have you seen the show?

Regardless, I insisted to Sue that we need the rocking chair. Any rocking chair, but a real one, one that rocks (I mean rocks, not rawks.) And I know she's doing her best to find one and to get it to the RCP.

It's a simple show. I don't ask for much. Except the rocking chair.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Day Three: Carlisle to London - Macking on the Dead

Last night Z. & O. treated us to their own rendition of To My Brother Russell, Whom I Slept With. Blame jet-lag if you like, it was irritating.

The performance at St. Cuthbert's couldn't have gone smoother. Technical considerations can be such a headache, we do not have a large operation and to make this work, every venue agreed to provide everything except me and Kelly and a disk full of cues. The set has to be cobbled together at every site, and they have to be sure to have PowerPoint capabilities.

Since the beginning, every site has needed to provide their own rocking chair, even if I bring everything else. As a result, it's always exciting to see what the chair is going to look like. Carlisle set the record for "Shortest Rocking Chair Ever," but it sure was cute.

Friday my biggest concern was the screen - the projector was no problem but there was no blank wall to cast them on. Libby tried very hard to find one and came up short. I was also concerned that the light fixtures, electric candelabras, were too dim. Lots of bulbs at the "stage" end of the room were burned out.

Well. Night of, Libby arrives with her husband Ian and sister Sue and co-group member Angela. Toni was also on hand and between them and Kelly and I, figured out every concern in short order (including dinner, which I always forget to eat on performance nights.) The room was set up with about thirty chairs, they did succeed in finding the only screen in Cubria so we had that to work with, and Ian "pinched" the lights from the fixtures in the back of the room to fill out those in the front.

There were something short of thirty people in attendance. I was feeling surprisingly relaxed in my delivery (Kelly said she could tell - whenever I am comfortable I "mess up" a lot of lines, but f*ck her, she's just the f*cking stage manager, what does she know. F*ck.) and I felt confident delivering some of my alterations to the "British" text.

I still feel stupid saying, "ice lollies" however.

Toni joined me for the discussion after, and we met some lovely people over tea and cake following that. I had neglected to ask our contact about her own experience - I sometimes need to remember, when dealing with bereavement groups (as opposed to, say, medical institutions) that many of the people I am working with have also lost children. And even when I do, well, I guess I wait for them to bring it up, shame on me.

Libby and Ian lost a boy named Kiran just shy of one year ago. I had a long talk with Ian about the boy, and about the way he has dealt with it. Saying our good-byes I wished Libby a good day on the 28th and that's when the tears started. I felt bad, the way people do, for "bringing it up," which is ridiculous when you think about what I have been doing for the past six years. It also goes to show how ingrained these reactions are.

St. Cuthbert's is a great little church. The sides are lined with old tombstones that, for all appearances, were uprooted from the field next to the building. It's a nice, open space, walled-in. The entire time we were there, all evening, there were young people lying about, eating, drinking, making out, on that space.

I thought it was odd, that they had moved the stones, to make that field. "Why?" Toni asked.

So many of the stones included references to babies that died in infancy. I heard Philip Roth on Terri Gross last week, talking about his book "Everyman." The subject was cemeteries, and he noted there how many stones were for children in the old days, and that you don't see that much anymore, because it isn't as much of a problem. I like Philip Roth, but he's been around too long to be that dumb.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Day Two: Carlisle - Street Walking

Sitting in our hotel room by the window, overlooking Greenmarket Square, praying two children take their naps sometime soon. There is a community band playing in the gazebo.

These kids are craking each other up, each in their own beds. There is also a carousel knocked up in the square, which several family members have indulgently taken them on four times each - and at £2 a pop, too. No wonder they can't get to sleep.

We are staying at the Crown and Mitre, surely the best hotel in Cumbria. The service is just excellent. I forgot, you don't tip room service here - I left a pound on each of the three beds ... and found a pound sitting neatly next to each pillow upon my return this afternoon.

We had an extremely indulgent birthday dinner here atthe hotel for Adrienne last night, each of us at different intervals struggling to keep our sanity and our lunch as we struggled to fight off jet lag. The wine didn't help in this regard, but it was an excellent meal. I thought Zelda did particularly well, she had convinced herself that she had had a full night's sleep the night before because she slept until the sun came up. But her behavior at dinner, at bit fractious at the beginning, was merely as loopy as the rest of ours by dessert.

Orson did what he usually does, which is eat everything in sight. Especially soup. He really, really loves soup.

My family was in bed by ten. We woke twelve hours later when Kelly came knocking at the door. So much for the complmentary breakfast. It was switfly decided that Toni would join the rest of the women to catch a bus to see Hadrian's Wall, and that the kids and I would skulk about Carlisle.

I am sure Toni felt guilty about my missing the wall, but there was no time to get the little ones fed and bathed and clothed and on the bus. For those who are unfamiliar, Hadrian's Wall was the outer edge of the Roman Empire, a great barrier to keep those maurauding Scots out. The greatest empire history had ever known, under attack, nearing its end, running out of ideas, decided to put up a big old wall.

Insert ironic statement here. What I said was, "Nah, I don't need to see it, I'm living in it."

I had no idea what to expect from central Carlisle, but we couldn't have picked a better day to spend time out in it. It's warm and sunny, and the place is just crowded, there's lots of shops, and as I mentioned, plenty of outdoor entertainments.

There are several arcades (I mean walk-throughs that have shops in them, not he game kind) and one featured this lovely not-fountain with bronze otters playing in it. I say not-fountain because the center circle is glass made to look like water with light beneath it.

We had lunch at the Prior's Restaurant, in the former Friary of Carlsile Cathedral. Orson wanted the "pizza" which was actually a red pepper and ricotta quiche, and lentil soup. He ate his and Zelda's. She had cheese on toast and part of my salad. Some women who were seated next to us assured me it wasn't a long walk to Carlisle Castle, but suggested it might not be too interesting for the small ones. I wasn't too sure about that, and I hope I didn't err by not going, because the cathedral was right there and we opted to look at that, and that was brief and interesting. All trips to churches are interesting when your children aren't being taught to worship anything. That and all the dead people under the floor.

Last night we met Libby, our contact for the performance at St. Cuthbert's Church, where we will be perfomring tonight. The crowd is expected to be small, so we will be in a room roughly the size of the fellowship hall I was in last year in Wandsworth. As always, I am concerned about tech. There's no screen for the projector, so we will be setting up something like an easel to cast the slides onto. Also, we haven't had to work with an integrated computer system since Nick incorporate the sound into the PowerPoint presentation, so it will be a mystery as to how acceptable the sound will be coming from the projector. But it is, as I said, a small room.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Day One: Glasgow - A Walk With Death

Photo: Happy 23rd birthday, Adrienne!

On the train from Glasgow to Carlisle. The girls are all making "awwww" noises at the nursing sheep on the hillside.

Okay, something is seriously up with the airlines. Three of the last four flights I have taken have been seriously delayed. On the tramac in Newark we waited a good hour and a half to take off. Nothing like the six hours we waited to board the flight to Lousiville, but aggravating nonetheless when the pilot kept chiming in with promises of "10 minutes" then (15 minutes later) "5 minutes" followed by (a half hour later) "20 minutes." A passegnger was chided to return to his seat or we would miss our place in the take-off queue. How? Does the airline have hall monitors who report on such things?

On numerous occasions in the past tne years, Toni and I have dined at the Garden State Diner, located in Concourse C. It's a diner, there's diner food, and previous the worst service you could find anywhere. But when you want an actual sandwich and your other options are the Clown or Nathan's Famous, we opt for wet fries that take forty-five minutes to arrive.

Photo: An infant cemetery turned into a car park?

HOWEVER, they have really gotten their act together. We walked up - all seven of us - and were seated right away. And it was crowded. Our server met us in two minutes, took all our orders, and they came out fast. We were able to relax, and catch our flight in plenty of time ... more time than we accounted for because of the aforementioned delays. But at least we digested our fried food well.

Z. had a Trans-Atlantic Freak-Out last night (hey, that's the name of my new album, Trans-Atlantic Freak-Out!) She'd fallen asleep, but kept waking herself up, kicking MP and whining terribly. It last maybe twenty minutes, she was just inconsolable until she finally fell asleep. Toni reminded me that the exact same thing happened a year ago, last spring, when we last made this voyage. Weird. Just too much stress, exhaustion, the adrenaline rush of an anticipated trip winding down, turbulence, cramped space (the seats have gotten smaller for her, you know) and who knows what else.

Arriving was a great relief, and we soon settled into what I hope is a regular part of our journey together - not rushing to do anything. We sat around, drinking coffee for a while before we set off to catch a bus. It's Adrienne's birthday today, and sister remembered to bring a present. There's too many bags and people to dash off anywhere, we almost left Toni's bag on the first bus. Heck, we almost left my passport at home.

Photo: The hat is a dead giveaway - it's Sylvester McCoy!

The kids are awesome travelers. At least, they are at this age, I hope they don't lose that. We talk about all the things we see, and don't linger over stuff they don't express much interest in. And hey, today was a walk with death.

Any trip to a British cathedral is a festival of dead people, and I'm not just talking about the torture victim hanging from the tree. There are monuments to fallen soldiers, dead bodies uunder plaques under your feet, and tombs all over the place. But St. Mungo's is a very special place. Not only is there there cathedral (featuring Blackadder Aisle, but it's not what you think) but next to it is the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, which we unfortunately did not have time to really explore - though Toni did take a moment to tie a ribbon to the Couty Tree to remember Calvin and to give the tour some good juju.

Photo: A shining Necropolis on a hill.

And then there is the Necropolis, a cemetery set into, running up and set high on a hill overlooking Glasgow. Hundreds of prominent Glaswegans are resting there, including the William Miller, the man who wrote Wee-Willie Winkie.

(Toni keeps asking me if I am watching the scenery. Everyone else is asleep, but me, I've got to keep an eye on the livestock.)

Before we had even begun the trek up the hill, we came upon a small plot dedicated to dead children. The stone reads, "I will not forget you ... I have held you in the palm of my hand." - Isaiah 49:15 and there were a large number of soft animals and other soggy mememtoes left there. That was an auspicious sight, and also very sweet.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My name is Toni, and I will be your Cruise Director ...

In a day and a half we begin the UK tour. I have not had time to blog recently, I am aware that most of these posts are just reefers to obnoxious YouTube videos or newspaper articles. I got no time for anything else, I have been juggling three projects at work with a number of other personal and artistic endeavors which may or may not be interesting. May if any of them come to any kind of fruition I can take a moment to reflect on them.

The trip, however, I will be documenting as much as possible, maybe even with pictures, who knows. I do like recording how the performances go, wherever they are, and this should be just fascinating.

But it's not just me going on this trip. Kelly will stage manage - and Toni is coming with the kids. And as if that weren't enough, so is my mother-in-law Connie and Toni's sister Adrienne. So, every plane, every train, every bus will have seven of us getting on and getting off.

This would concern me. But like my father before me, I married someone who is as good at making plans as I am at being largely oblivious to what is going on two feet from my nose or where the hell I am. Pictured above is an actual binder with tabs for every day of the journey. She has listings for everywhere we are staying, everywhere I am performing, all of our boarding info and tips on where we should spend what is actually going to a large amount of free time ... at least for everyone except me and Kelly.

Mom takes good care of us. I am a man who calls his wife Mom.

Monday, June 04, 2007


9 Jun: Carlisle, England
St. Cuthbert's Church @ 7 pm

12 Jun: London, England
Royal College of Physicians @ 2 pm

14 Jun: Lincoln, England
Terry O'Toole Theatre @ 8 pm

16 Jun: Birmingham, England
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Post Grad Suite @ 2 pm

18 Jun: Lurgan, Northern Ireland
Lurgan Town Hall @ 7 pm

20 Jun: Exminster, England
Exminster Friends Centre @ 7 pm

22 Jun: Plymouth, England
Plymouth Salvation Army Hall @ 7 pm