Last Wednesday, while sitting at my gate in the Baltimore airport en route to Nashville, I noticed two fire trucks sitting on the runway. Their sirens weren’t blaring, but their lights flashed. They weren’t dashing towards an emergency; they just idled, expectantly. I thought about taking a few minutes to see what the fire trucks would do, or to watch the planes roar into the sky, but instead, I reached for my phone, checked my emails, sent a few texts — and missed the moment.
The fire trucks were there to salute a plane filled with WWII veterans, who were being flown to Washington DC to see the WWII memorial. There’s a special organization that flies the veterans to the memorial for the day, so they can honor their fallen colleagues one last time, before they die themselves. As the plane taxied down the runway, the fire trucks sprayed huge streams of water that arched over the aircraft, to pay tribute to the veterans and their service.
At least that’s what the man sitting next to me said. I didn’t see anything. I was staring at my phone.
I would have liked to have seen that ceremony, to witness heroes bowing to other heroes, to watch history go by, even from the distance of an airport waiting area. Instead, a technological wonder/nightmare held my attention. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a fan of the smart phone. I like immediately accessing information; communicating with business colleagues, friends, and family anywhere I am; and viewing the occasional pet video. But it’s a slippery slope. I must be vigilant not to miss those magic moments of connection that unfold right in front of me.
It’s Been a While Since We Talked
And speaking of connection, I’ve been wildly out of touch. I’m not sure why. It all started last December, when all four wheels started falling off the car. Literally. After years of trusty service, the Self-Esteem Wagon retired to the salvage yard, replaced with a new-to-me Honda Fit. And then it was the holidays, during which time our beloved Andy, our 17-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, started to decline.
We were frightened we would have to let him go, which consumed most of our mental and emotional energy. In a heroic rally, he received a last minute reprieve, but sadly, a month later, we said our final goodbyes. At some point, I will write a blog about that wrenching and beautiful moment, but I’m still a bit too raw.
All the while, I was preparing to go on a two-month sabbatical to Nashville, which became a three-and-a-half month sabbatical, and by this time I had abandoned my blog writing routine altogether.
Instead, I was eating my weight in lard, sugar, and salt (the food of my Southern people) and refueling my creative well. Along the way, I taught a storytelling workshop for the Global Poverty Project at the amazing SXSW Conference in Austin; opened for Ira Glass, famed host of NPR’s This American Life, at WBUR’s Gala in Boston; performed with Out by 10 in NYC; opened for The Moth in Birmingham with the lovely Catherine Burns, The Moth’s artistic director; performed How to Draw a Nekkid Man at the Nashville Sideshow Fringe Festival; and revised my book proposal (AGAIN). I collapsed in a small heap in August, but not before growing some fabulous tomatoes and painting a room in our home purple.
Plans for the Fall
Along with writing a regular blog (fingers crossed), I’ll be performing my show at the prestigious United Solo Festival in NYC on October 18 at 2 pm. Buy your tickets here! While it’s a huge honor to be selected for this festival, the privilege comes with significant production costs — marketing; travel to NYC, for rehearsals and the performance; director, stage manager, and board operator fees; audio visual equipment rental; and festival administrative costs. If you’d like to help produce the show, tax-deductible donations can be made here to I Will Be Good Productions, my company that is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas. Thanks in advance for helping me bring this story to a community of theater producers, agents, and media who have a special interest in solo performances — and to reach a whole new audience.
And speaking of new audiences, I’ll be joining my dear friend Amy Grant, multi-platinum recording artist and Grammy Award-winner, and hit songwriter Leslie Satcher for a weekend of creative discovery, October 23-25, at the Ritz Carlton’s Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee, Georgia. I’ll kick off the weekend performing How to Draw a Nekkid Man Friday evening, with workshops on Saturday followed by concerts by Amy and Leslie, all the while surrounded by amazing scenery and enjoying fabulous food. Interested in giving your creative self a nudge? Read more here.
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