Hartford, city of...Starbucks that are closed on the weekends, crosswalk signals that are unpredictable, and parks that are dangerous to traverse at night. However, I put an exclamation point behind Hartford(!) because for ME, "Hartford" was really more about "West Simsbury," which is where Melissa's lovely parents have a lovely home, which they allowed me to share for the week. So, Hartford was kinda crappy, but fortunately, West Simsbury was beautiful! I stayed in a beautiful home, slept in a cozy bed, played with a huge soft sweet dog, walked in the fields and in the mountains, ate home-cooked meals, slept late, awoke and had tea by the Aga stove, and drove to and from work every day through incredibly beautiful countryside. It was incredibly rejuvenating and peaceful and relaxing in so many ways -- a break I really needed, and a peace that has been hard to find recently. So, the show was fine, and the actors are all fine, and we celebrated Estelle's birthday with a big ole party (and about four cakes), but the best thing about Hartford for me was West Simsbury.
Toronto, city of...maple leaves and geese and people who say "Sowry" and "Eh?" Toronto was not my most favorite city thus far. It seemed to be sort of a generic "big city," vaguely British, vaguely not, filled with big buildings and shops and movie theatres and our hotel. I flew back to Raleigh for a chemo in the middle of Toronto (much easier to get in and out of the country with a passport, incidentally), and so I did spend a few nights just lounging around in my hotel room resting and taking hot baths, instead of seeing the sights and painting the town red.
There WERE some fun things that happened in Toronto, however -- Johanna Day, who played Barbara on Broadway for many months, came to visit, so I got to spend some fun time with her. We took a trip to the agricultural fair, so I got to pet some sheep and horses and goats. And, I took a crazy trip with Amy Warren to Greektown, in search of a magical dessert parlor where we had ENORMOUS ice cream sundaes and could barely waddle back to the taxi to take us home again.
So. Short and sweet, that was Toronto. Pics below.
Seattle, City of Rain. And that big needle thing. My time in Seattle was mostly confined to the room at the Springhill Suites, but I did manage to get out and about a little bit. I was pretty sick for most of the week, but we had a few days off between Seattle and Toronto, and this is when I did my exploring. Of course, this is also when I realized that my passport was safely stowed in a suitcase on a truck somewhere in the middle of Canada, instead of in my purse where it should have been. So, I spent lots of time on Monday and Tuesday freaking out and making phone calls and having documents FedEd-ed overnight to me, and basically ensuring that I would be able to get to Toronto and keep my job. I was assured by many different authorities at many different government and airline agencies that I should be just fine, so I did manage to squeeze in some fun. I went down to the market by the water, watched men throwing fish, and bought trinkets and local honey and donuts. I wanted to send some fresh salmon to my mother, but since the salmon cost $20 and the shipping was $80, I decided against it. I also went to a great restaurant on the other side of the water (bay?) from Seattle, called Salty's. Contrary to the image the name might conjure, it was actually quite a lovely place, with fantastic views and complimentary limo service. The fact that I felt well enough to enjoy the coconut prawns and white-chocolate mousse cake was a bonus.
So, armed with my birth certificate, a photocopy of my passport, a letter from my employers, and various other legal documents, I went confidently to the Seattle airport at 5am on Wednesday morning, only to be immediately denied a boarding pass by a cranky old battleaxe at United Airlines. Apparently, neither the Canadian nor the American government cared if I went into Canada without my passport, but this woman did. So, I was shuttled back and forth from United to Homeland Security to Horizon Airlines, I did a lot of crying and a lot of telling my story and a lot of big-eyed sorrowful gazing, and finally bought a new ticket on a new airline and landed myself on a teeny-tiny plane to Vancouver, where I caught my original connecting flight to Toronto, and around 11pm that night, landed safely at the Pantages hotel, exhausted but triumphant. My passport is now taped to the inside of my leg.
Portland! City of...something. Bridges? Rain? Not sure.
Portland was quick but lovely -- we all oohed and ahhed when we walked out of the airport into the crisp, cool, damp air, and saw before us all these strange colored pointy trees. After 6 weeks in plastic Los Angeles, it was wonderful to be dropped in the middle of autumn. The hotel was lovely, by the river, with a charming cozy bar and restaurant downstairs. I spent a lot of time running back and forth to the clinic and the pharmacy, but also managed to have a nice time roaming the streets, seeing movies, eating brunch, and of course, working on that show I'm doing.
The show is a well-oiled machine by now. We move in and out of theatres seamlessly, do our show, wow the locals, have a great time, and move on. We're getting great audience response, good reviews, and the show continues to grow and change and deepen. People are getting closer, making friendships, finding their niches and groups and coffee-buddies. Everyone is playing very nicely with each other -- we go out for drinks post-show, we hang out in each other's rooms and watch movies, we shop together, we eat together, we complain about our shoes and our hair and our tumors together. It's a really great group of people, and I feel lucky to be with them.
Okay, I am incredibly behind with my city posts! Here goes:
Los Angeles, City of Angels, City of the Silver Screen, City of Stars....
City of incredible heat and no sidewalks and plastic boobs and lips and everything else. I am not a huge fan of Los Angeles -- too much traffic, too many highways, too little reality. I didn't really get to see much of the city -- most of my time was spent in my (albeit lovely) bed in my red room in our apartment in Los Feliz, recovering from chemo or resting up for a chemo. I went to Santa Monica a few times, walked on the pier, ate seafood, went to a fancy restaurant, dipped my toes in the Pacific for the first time. I walked on Hollywood Blvd, saw the stars, drove sloooowly past Gromin's Chinese Theatre, and shopped in fancy stores.
The best part of LA was that I had some wonderful visits from friends. Jenn and Lisa came out to see me for a few days, a trip that was unfortunately truncated by a chemotherapy session (certainly not part of the fun they had in mind when planning this vacation). But we managed to make the most of it. They stayed in a stunning hotel in West Hollywood called The London West Hollywood, where I rode in an elevator with some famous guy I've never heard of. (Wait, I'll look him up....ah, here we are -- Justin Bobby from "The Hills". They had their season premiere party at the hotel, and despite Jenn's best efforts and our keenest paparazzi skills, the closest we got to stardom was my elevator ride with sullen sunglasses-wearing (at 11pm) Justin and Jenn's encounter with...umm...some other chick who's not-so-famous from the show. The boss lady. Jenn will be disappointed in me when she reads this)
We did some shopping in Beverly Hills, ate lunch at The Ivy (for those of you who don't know (like me), The Ivy is a very chi-chi place to eat overpriced salads and drink champagne underneath umbrellas, while being gazed at by people walking by on the sidewalk, and gawking at those around you who may-or-may-not-be celebrities. I clearly can't pick them out of a crowd, but Jenn can -- we had another reality-tv-celeb siting here.
Anyway, then we were off to San Fran for chemo -- but we stayed at The Westin, and we ate dinner at The Cliff House -- that's one thing about Lisa and Jenn; they can turn any occasion into a lovely event!
Johanna, my closest childhood friend, who used to ride bareback with me and fall off with me, also came out on business, and I got to spend a really fun day with her, which included shopping, fancy dining in Santa Monica, and In-N-Out burger, which was a highlight of my trip to LA! She continues to be a wonderful source of encouragement and support and laughter in my life as I go through this journey. And, she gave me the lovely news that she and her longtime boyfriend Michael are engaged!!! She was planning on telling me a few weeks before, over the phone, but then I called and said I had cancer, which is kind of a major buzz-kill, so she wisely chose to save the news for in-person. It was really great to see her.
Melissa and Tillie also came to stay for a few days, when I called bawling about all my hair being on the floor of the shower instead of on my head. They swooped in, and we shaved my head. We also slept in, ate out, played with Matilda, and took her to the beach so she could dip her toes in the Pacific as well. They hung out backstage with me at work, and the entire company is now as thoroughly charmed with Tillie as I am.
And of course, there's been Jane, my constant support and guardian angel through this, who has flown out and cared for me, worked for me, and generally made my life possible during the crappiest of times. She was out several times, keeping the show (and my job) going while I was away, helping me in the post-chemo days, and hopefully occasionally having a good time!
So LA was a whirlwind of a lot of things, most of which revolved around my diagnosis, but many of which were lovely and fun and thrilling and exciting. That's LA -- a lot of crap, but a lot of glitter too.