Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What a.....day.

It's all about perspective. Yesterday, Alex and I were en route to a meeting with my Patsy Cline collaborator to discuss getting the show produced, anywhere, anytime. I love this show and want desperately to have many chances to perform it again, so this meeting was an important and exciting step in getting the ball rolling. And then I got a flat tire. No way could we make it to the meeting. I was pretty upset. This was my first flat tire experience, and it happened at a terrifically inconvenient time. So, there we were, pulled into a parking lot off of highway 99, me grumbling about the unfairness of it all as Alex talked through our story to AAA. While he was using my phone to call them, his phone rang and he handed it to me. I answered, "Alex's phone" without looking to see who was calling, then went on to tell the caller that Alex was in the middle of talking to AAA because we were stranded in a parking lot with a flat and woe woe woe is me was the basic message from my end. I heard a faint reply, "I'm sorry about that, just have him give me a call at his convenience." And that was when I recognized the voice. "Is this Max?" Yes, it was, and I apologized to him for not knowing who I was speaking to, then asked how he was doing. "Oh, I've been better." And I stopped. Because I knew what Max had been dealing with for some days now, a sick parent many miles away. "How is your dad, Max?" I asked. "Well, he passed away a few hours ago." Oh. Oh. OH! "I'm so sorry, Max," I said, and we spoke for a bit, as he told me that his father lived a full life, was married 54 years, that his death wasn't unexpected. You know, the talk of a man in mourning but trying his best to be brave. But there was no denying the pain in his voice. He just lost his father. And all I had was a flat tire. We got a flat tire on one of those rare sunny November days in Seattle. There happened to be a security guard in the parking lot that we pulled into, and his last job was at a tire store. He happened to be an expert tire changer. He helped us figure out not only that we had a donut (I had no clue) but also where to find the mini-jack that would allow us to access the donut (who knew there were so many nifty tools in my PT Cruiser?). He then changed our tire for us, in a matter of 10 minutes. He said he always feels bad for people who blow a tire on the road, so he keeps tire-changing tools in his car, along with flashers and traffic cones, and he truly enjoys being able to help people who are in a scary situation, like being stranded on the side of a highway. He said he would be happy to help us, he didn't need any money. His name is Adam, and he is awesome. In short, we got a flat tire in the most ideal location ever, with a happy-to-help, tire-changing guru at our disposal, on a sunny day in Seattle. I spent most of yesterday feeling incredibly fortunate. Yeah, I had a flat (which has since turned into a need for a new alternator) and missed an important meeting. But the flat got fixed, the meeting got rescheduled, and my family is alive and well. There are so many moments in Life that can knock us down, but when we put it into perspective, we're still pretty freaking lucky. Don't you think?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

On Wednesday night, we opened the Northwest premier of the off-Broadway hit (and the Broadway non-hit) BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON at ArtsWest Playhouse. I have loved working on this wacky show! It's fun, it's funny, it's irreverent and relevant, it's kinda something special, in my book. It's a large group of people, and somehow, everyone is pretty damned awesome, both onstage and off. I felt like the new kid coming in, since it seemed like everyone knew each other and I knew no one, but I was welcomed into the fold and now I've got new theatre friends that I look forward to seeing every night.
The script is a mix of fact and fiction, telling the story of the 7th President of the USofA in a manner that weaves the politics of the early- to mid-19th century into our current political and cultural landscape. It shows how hope can turn to despair, how change can be painful, how the voice of the people should sometimes be ignored. Andrew Jackson is an incredibly important figure in American history, but his legacy is a difficult one. There are those who see him as one of our greatest presidents, and there are those who see him as an American Hitler. What BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON attempts to do is show him as a human being, flawed in many ways, but attempting to do what he truly believes is best for the country. There are many parallels between Jackson's politics and current politics (one example: he won the plurality of the popular vote for the presidency in 1824 but was denied the office as a result of the Corrupt Bargain) and at times AJ speaks like a leader of the Tea Party and at others he speaks of HOPE and CHANGE a la Obama. 2012 is so 1828!
I play Rachel, Jackson's older (yet totally hot!) wife, who shares with him a love of bloodsports (yes, you read that correctly). Rachel is swept up by his energy and charisma and leaves her other husband to marry Jackson (though she didn't leave him soon enough, resulting in the ugly distinction of being a bigamist). But alas, while AJ is all the man Rachel will ever need, she will never be enough to satisfy this larger-than-life figure, which leads her to sing one hell of a rocking song, "The Great Compromise", before dying of grief (yes, you read that correctly).
This play is a true ensemble show. Kody Bringman plays Andrew Jackson, and he is freaking fantastic! The rest of us play numerous characters throughout (talk about a show full of quick-changes--you should see me transform from poor dead Rachel to a super-busty cheerleader!) and wow, there are some incredible characters on that stage. The cast is strong, the band kicks ass, and this whole crazy thing is helmed by Christopher Zinovitch, Artistic Director at ArtsWest. He cast this thing flawlessly, and the designers he pulled together have created a truly stunning world. I am honored to be a part of this production, I wish you all could see it, and I hope that Seattle audiences take a break from the current campaign season to get a little perspective on how crazy this whole Democracy thing is.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Teachable Moments

Over the summer, I taught a class called Step 2: Acting with Text, a 10-week, basic scene study course. This past Sunday was our last class, and the students were able to invite people to come see their final scene presentations. We began class with a warm-up, as we always do, and the room was filled with nervous energy. It was clear that the students were thinking of the next hour, when the audience would arrive, and the feeling in the room was one of pressure and anxiety. I wanted to help them remember that, while it's natural to feel nervous before a performance, it is vital that one not allow that nervousness to remove all the pleasure from performing. And I just happened to have a personal story to share with them in regards to the Patsy Cline concert I had sung the night before, and I'd like to share that story with you now: ************ I have performed many roles on many stages over the course of my life, but "Foolin' Around with Patsy Cline" was the first time I'd ever sung a full concert by myself. And while I was terrifically excited about it, as September 8th approached, I found myself getting more and more nervous, to the point of pure terror. I was afraid of forgetting the lyrics to the 41 songs I'd be singing; I was afraid that the between-song banter I'd written was lifeless and stupid; I was afraid of feeling amateurish in front of the band and the audience; I was afraid that I'd either hang on to the mic stand all night or bounce all over the stage trying to "entertain"; I was afraid that no one would show up; I was afraid I'd look ugly (finding the right dresses was a challenge); I was afraid that I'd discover, in front of a room full of strangers, that I really don't have any talent as a singer. I had spent months working on the music, but in a vacuum: I didn't get any rehearsal until running through the show with the band on the night before the performance. And for me, this was the scariest part, relying on my performer's instincts, not having a director's eye and ear to guide me. The week leading up to the show, I was in a state of panic, singing Patsy songs all day and rehearsing Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at night, and my voice was fried, along with my nerves. Friday morning, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably, unable to be soothed by Alex's reassurances that I would be great, unable to believe my friends, who had seen me perform many times over the years and had no doubt that I would know exactly what to do once I was on that stage. I was having a minor nervous breakdown, and I needed a Valium and a nap to be able to get myself to that band rehearsal. And then, finally, I met the band. And they were all so nice to me! And we started working through the set list, and I knew all the lyrics! And since my voice was fried, I didn't sing out, I just sang through the material and got a feel for what the band was adding to the melodies I'd been singing solo, and it was really cool! I tried on a couple of dresses, and I looked good in them! By the end of rehearsal, my excitement far outweighed my nervousness, and I felt like everything would be okay. ********** The day of the show, I spent 6 hours in rehearsal for Bloody Bloody, then drove down to the theatre to do another short rehearsal with the full band. My voice was tired, which was scary, but there was no turning back now. Finally, 8 o'clock rolled around, and the band played their overture, and I stood in the wings dancing to the music. And then came the announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, Miss Meg McLynn! The band began playing the first song, and I walked out onstage, and...I completely forgot what I was supposed to sing. Totally. Blank. I waved at the audience, then I looked at the pianist, David Duvall (who threw this whole thing together with his production company, Purple Phoenix Productions, as well as doing the arrangements for vocals and all 6 instruments), and he gave me a look that said, "You're supposed to be singing!!" And the look I threw back to him said, "And I'll sing, as soon as I remember what song I'm supposed to be singing!" While it was probably less than 15 seconds that I stood up there clueless, smiling and waving to no one in particular, it felt like an eternity while the band was vamping, waiting for me to get to the mic and sing my first line...COME ON IN AND SIT RIGHT DOWN AND MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME! I remembered!! And once I started, I was right where I needed to be. I sang through 2 songs, the crowd was enjoying themselves, and then I got to my big intro, a page of material I'd written to introduce myself, the show, my connection with Patsy Cline, and Patsy herself. I wanted to crowd to get a sense of who I am, and so I talked about being force-fed Patsy as a child (the crowd loved that) and how I came to eventually fall in love with her music. And then, I blanked, for the life of me I couldn't remember what I was supposed to say next. So, I looked at the crowd, held up the "give me a sec" finger, walked to my music stand which had my cheat-sheet of song order and banter, found my place, and smiled at the audience to let them know I figured out what came next. And they laughed, with me not at me, and that was the moment I needed: No matter what mistakes I might make, the audience was there to have an experience, to hear music they love and share that with people, they were NOT there to see a polished piece of performance perfection. From that moment on, I was on fire, completely in my element. There was no fear, no concern when I hit a funky note or mixed up some of the lyrics. No, this is what LIVE performance is all about! Those little mistakes, as long as they are handled with grace and/or humor, those moments are endearing for an audience; they turn a performer into a real person, and it's much easier to connect with a real person than with a performer. Oh, I had such a good time up there! I knew exactly what to do, with my body, with my voice. I knew the audience was with me on those songs that broke my heart, and I knew they were with me when I was dancing with joy. 2 hours flew by, and when I came out to take my curtain call, the crowd rose to its feet, an almost sold-out house of 220 Patsy fans who were now my fans as well. They liked me, not because I had a nice voice or because I looked pretty, but because I shared myself with them, I didn't shy away from my imperfections, and there was no doubt that I was having a good time. THAT is what an audience wants, THAT is why people see live performance. ********* And THAT is what I told my students: you've worked on these scenes for weeks, you know this material, these characters, the world of these plays. Now is the time to trust in all the work you've done, trust that it will be there to support you, and let it go, let yourself live in the moment and surprise yourself with what might happen. Don't turn the audience into the enemy, don't think of them as your critics; instead, know that what they want, more than anything, is to have an experience, to share something intimate with a room full of strangers, and they want you to have fun. The more fun you have, even while doing a scene from a tragedy, the more the audience will be able to get out of their own heads and enjoy the ride. This is the advice I gave them, and I think it helped, a little. And while there were mistakes made along the way as they performed their scenes, they also did the best work they'd done over the entire 10 weeks. They became actors. And afterwards, they were all buzzing with excitement, so proud of the work they had done, so proud of each other. I, too, was proud, as their teacher and as their friend. Getting onstage is a scary thing, but the payoff can be amazing. The performance I gave the night before is one of my favorite performance experiences of all time, one of the only performances that I didn't follow with a slew of self-criticisms. Sure, I wasn't perfect. But man, I was golden. And I am so happy to be able to say the same of my students. Congrats to all of us!!! ************ Also, a big THANK YOU to the boys in the band: Carey Black on bass; Don Dietrich on drums; Fred Speakman on guitar; Doug Zanger on steel guitar; Nathan Brown on violin (or perhaps it's called a fiddle in a country setting?); and of course, David Duvall, who gave me the chance to have an experience of a lifetime. Thank you, my friend, I hope we get to do it again!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Foolin' Around with Patsy Cline

This Saturday, ONE NIGHT ONLY!!
When I was growing up, I listened to Patsy Cline. She was my dad's kind of singer. Patsy, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson: this was the soundtrack of my childhood. And I hated it! For a kid growing up in New Jersey, old-time country was a torment. My cousin and I would cringe as we listened to the music of our fathers: banjos and fiddles and yodeling, oh my!! Please, oh please, put on some Bon Jovi or Poison or anything ELECTRIC!! But at some point, my dad's music became my music. And it started with Patsy Cline. I can tell you exactly when Patsy started to appeal to me. In 1994, Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" was released. An excellent movie, with an even more excellent soundtrack. The soundtrack was produced by Trent Reznor, the man behind Nine Inch Nails, one of my favorite bands at the time. I figured, if Trent Reznor likes it, it must be kinda cool, right? One of the songs on that soundtrack was Patsy Cline's "Back in Baby's Arms", and the more I listened, the more I was hooked. That song began my love affair with Patsy's music. And now, almost 20 years later, how lucky am I, to get to sing a whole concert of Patsy Cline material? I'm talking 41 songs, in under 2 hours!!! It's gonna be a whirlwind of music, covering her biggest hits and some songs that are sure to be new to our audience, as they were new to me when we started working on this show. David Duvall (my director from "The Who's Tommy" and musical director from "Pinocchio") is the man behind this whole she-bang, with his company, Purple Phoenix Productions. Tonite is our one-and-only rehearsal, where I get to meet the band and hear what my voice sounds like on top of keys, drums, bass, guitar, steel guitar, and fiddle. So excited!! I've been singing these songs by myself for months now, and it sure will be nice to share them with a band and an audience. Wish me luck and tons of fun!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mama!!

This is a very belated post. But the birthday was right on time!
On June 30th, Alex and I helped Mama McLynn celebrate her birthday. (I won't tell you which birthday, not because she is in any way resistant to people knowing her age, but because she looks young enough to be my sister, which means I can get away with telling people that I am in my 20's. Late 20's. Veeeeeeery late 20's.) Mama had never before been to Las Vegas, but after seeing a mailer that I received offering some free tix to see Celine Dion in Sin City on her birthay, Mama felt it was about time she ventured to the desert to party.
And boy, does that woman know how to party!! She was there for less than 48 hours, and we covered the town. Walked all over the Strip, headed downtown to see a little seediness (and witness rock bands, both rad and sad), ate at a couple of NYC restaurants that are tough to get into in NYC (Rao's and The Homestead), hung out with Caesar and Cleopatra in the Diamond Lounge, saw Celine from KILLER SEATS (thank you, Alex, for working your magic), ate coconut gelato and chocolate-covered strawberries while sipping champagne, rode the roller coaster at New York New York (as soon as she saw it, she said "I have to ride it!" though it had been decades since her last ride on a coaster--she challenged the quivering 40-something in line behind us who wondered if he was too old to ride by telling him her age and saying "If I can do it..."), had photos with a questionable Elmo, imbibed at the sports book at Wynn, lounged in jacuzzi tubs. Phew! And the cherry on top was watching the Bellagio water show as June 30th turned to July 1st (which meant Mama had only hours left till hopping her plane back to Jersey to party with the rest of the family and BOTH GRANDDAUGHTERS). What a way to celebrate!
I have learned much from my mom over the years, and the newest lesson: LIVE!!! Enjoy every second of every day, and don't ever let your age determine what you can and cannot do. Hell, my grandmother was 80 when she went to Vegas for the first time. And she loved it!! I've got good genes.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Backin' Up Bobby D

Last night, I decided I have a new career path to pursue: backup singer. Why, you might ask, would someone who so clearly loves a spotlight want to give focus to someone else? Why would I want to hang in the background, adding one of many colors to a soundscape being provided for some other singer? I can give you two reasons: 1) There's very little pressure put on a backup singer. After all, I'm just background noise (albeit BEAUTIFUL background noise), and if I get a little lost or hit a wrong note, chances are good that no one in the audience will know something is off (and if they do, chances are good they won't know WHO is off). And 2) It's so much fun!! I was asked by David Duvall (who is the best thing to happen to my career in Seattle since, well, since I came here) if I would sing backup for a one night event, "Singin' and Swingin' with Bobby D". It was a tribute concert showcasing the work of Bobby Darin, performed by the fabulous Seattle actor and singer, Bob De Dea (that's 2 Bobby D's for the price of one). I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Bob last December in "Pinocchio", though in truth, our characters never interacted. In fact, this is the only photo I could find with both of us in it: I'm the blue one, and Bob is standing just behind me wearing the big blonde wig. (He might be in the background in this pic, but in reality, Bob was pretty much the focal point when he was onstage, with his larger-than-life costumes and larger-than-life Gepetta.) And so when David invited me into this project, I was thrilled to have a chance to actually work with Bob. And it was nothing less than thrilling! I knew little about Bobby Darin going into this. I could have named one song, "Beyond the Sea", and I knew that there was a Kevin Spacey biopic some years ago, which I never saw. Bobby Darin wrote dozens of songs (his first hit was "Splish Splash", which he wrote in 12 minutes) and made the works of other writers his own. He sang in a variety of styles, had pop hits and country hits and folk hits and R&B hits (he did a whole album of Ray Charles covers which helped bring Mr Charles into the consciousness of white America in 1962). And last night, we got to sing them all! Well, Bob sang 40 songs, and we backed up about half of them (we being myself, Kim Maguire, and Cheryl Massey-Peters, two top-notch singers that I was humbled to share a rickety little platform with). David played keys and did all the arrangements for a 9-piece band, and man oh man, did he put together a show! The spotlight, of course, was on Bobby D, and the crowd adored him, as they should have. All in all, it was a fabulous evening of music, and I can only hope that we get to do it again. If you'd like a little taste of the event, here's Bob and David performing "Mack the Knife" (I haven't figured out how to add a clickable link to this blog, so you'll actually have to cut-and-paste the following address, then click PLAY on the video--technology is so wonderful, when I know how to use it): http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/Bob--159725155.html And while I had a great time being in the background last night, I am incredibly excited to be in the spotlight again for a one night concert event on September 8: little ol' me singing Patsy Cline!! I have David to thank for this (thank you!!), and we're calling it "Foolin' Around with Patsy Cline". We'll have a 4- or 5-piece country band, and I don't expect to have any backup singers (or "angels" as I like to refer to them, having seen Leonard Cohen in concert where he referred to his backups as such). That spotlight will be white hot, and it will feel just like home.

Monday, June 11, 2012


It took him 4 years, but Alex finally caught up to me last week by stepping foot in his 50th state: Alaska! We took a cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage, and while this was my 6th trip to the state, the first 5 visits were to Anchorage in the darkest days of winter, so this trip offered up a very different experience for me. For one thing, DAYLIGHT!! The Alaska I'd previously visited was covered in ice and saw sunlight from about 10am til 3pm. Last week, we saw spring in full bloom under sunny skies at 3am! Sunset technically happened around 10pm, but nearing midnight, we could still make out the edges of the mountains we were sailing past, and a few hours later the sun was back for another day. Awesome!! And while this was certainly no tropical vacation, at least I didn't spend my time outdoors thinking I might freeze to death (I have very little tolerance for cold, and those Anchorage winter winds whipping off of the water made my tears freeze on my cheeks more times than I'd like to admit). Alaska in the summer is the way to go! Here are some highlights from our trip: 1)We could walk to the cruise ship from our home! That's West Seattle behind us, as we took a pic off of our balcony (which was another highlight: our only other time cruising, we had a windowless room, which was rather dark and uninteresting, but having a full view of the world going by made our room on this ship the best place to be). Not having to spend money on plane tickets and hotel rooms in another port city dramatically reduced our expenses and travel-hassles. Where else can we cruise from Seattle, I wonder? 2)Wildlife! Okay, I didn't actually take any wildlife photos (I decided it was better to SEE the wildlife, rather than try to frame a shot of it), but we saw black bears, mountain goats, bald eagles, otters, seals, humpback whales, and even baby orca whales!! 3)The State Capitol! There's Speaker of the House Alex sitting in his chambers. We took an impromptu tour of the Capitol building in Juneau, which was pretty cool. We learned some things about how government runs in a state with a land mass equal to a third of the continental US but a population equal to a large town in New Jersey. Turns out, the state government is in session only 90 days a year, during the winter months when much of Alaska is too frozen over for much else to be done. Congresspersons make about $50,000 for those 3 months (most of them have jobs throughout the rest of the year), and it is required that all of them be present during voting sessions (to the extent that if a congressperson is NOT present, they will send state troopers out to get them--no joke!) and they must all take a definitive vote (AYE or NAY)--no voting PRESENT. Which sounds smart to me!! We also learned that every citizen of the state of Alaska gets paid every year for the oil that is drilled there (they get paid somewhere between $1200--2000 each year), which seems a bit socialist to me, but that's a dirty word up there. 4)The Railroad! We took a trip on the White Pass and Yukon Railway, on tracks that were built over a hundred years ago as a result of the gold rush. We had a tour guide giving us some history on the area, mostly centered around the gold rush of the 1890's. I used to teach a bit of this history when I was touring with Living Voices, but to put myself in the place where it happened...zowee! The scenery was stunning, but more impressive was the thought of what it took to build these tracks, with 30 feet of snow on the ground and granite hills to wind through and grizzly bears to contend with. Anyone who has a chance to get to Skagway should take a ride on this train!! 5)The Yukon! Before we boarded the train, we took a 2.5 hour bus ride from Skagway into the Yukon Territory. We travelled from sea level, where the snows had melted and spring flowers were everywhere, up 3000 feet to mountain lakes and treeless tundra. A magnificent change of terrain, with a brief stop at the world's smallest desert: 6)Caribou Crossing! Okay, any place that I walk into and have a 2-week-old goat thrust into my arms is gonna be a winner in my book! Caribou Crossing is a museum/native arts store/petting zoo/sled-dog training facility just outside of the town of Carcross (a shortened form of it's original name, Caribou Crossing) where we stopped for lunch on our way to the train. As soon as we got off the bus, we were handed plates of BBQ chicken and homemade donuts: awesome! Then Alex and I made our way towards the sled dogs, only to be stopped by a baby goat chewing on my hair: double awesome! And then, there were husky puppies: my head almost exploded from all the awesomeness!! There were puppies as young as 3 weeks old, curled up with each other and their mama behind a fence. But the 3-month-olds were out and about and looking for love, which I was happy to give. Now, I've never been sure what to think about sled dogs. On one of those trips to Anchorage a decade ago, I was staying at the same motel as a number of Iditarod teams (this being the week before the annual 1000-mile race), and I couldn't help but worry about those dogs being chained up on a frozen parking lot night after night. Supposedly, these dogs are made for frigid conditions and love to run. But...really? Well, we had a chance to ride a sled pulled by a team of huskies (most of whom had run the race several times), and as huskies are Alex's favorite dogs, how could we say no? There were dozens of dogs, and they all were barking and pulling on their chains as some were being hitched to the sled. It became clear in watching them that they were all pulling because they wanted to be on the team! And once our team was hitched and we were on our way, their barks were silenced and they just ran. It was fun! Alex and I were on the back of the sled, so we were able to talk to the woman in charge (I'm sure there is a title for her position, but since I didn't think to ask it, I'll call her The Musher). The Musher had run 3 Iditarods with many of the dogs on our team, and she clearly loved what she did. She said she considered the dogs her best friends, and they clearly loved her. Somehow, I managed to get back on the bus without slipping a puppy under my coat. 7)Glacier Bay! Wow. I don't have many more words to describe it. We spent a day slowly making our way through inlets in Glacier Bay, and this is where we saw otters and whales swimming alongside the ship. Glacier Bay National Park is huge, we saw only a small section of it, but it was nothing short of stunning. We witnessed huge chunks of glaciers splitting off and thundering into the bay below, and it was impossible to know just how large these glaciers were, except for an understanding that they were so much further away than they seemed, as was evidenced by a solid 2-second delay in when we were seeing the ice bursting into the bay and when we were hearing the resulting BOOM! This was an excellent time for us to appreciate our balcony room, as it was cold and rainy on the deck, but we could just open our balcony door and enjoy the view while curled under a blanket. Put this on your bucket list! 8)Ketchikan! This might have been my favorite port town. It actually felt like a town, rather than an outdoor mall for cruise ships. The history of the place was evident everywhere. And, we took a tour of Dolly's House, a brothel from back in the day, and I swear, Dolly was serving meals on the same dishes that my grandmother used (tell me if I'm right, Mom): All of the ports were cute and had some unique charm to them, but this one made me want to see more. 9)Traveling to new places with my best friend in the world! We've now completed the 50 states (plus Puerto Rico--and why is that not a state yet???) so now it's time to start checking off countries. There's no one else I'd rather be with as I take my first steps into the unknown. How lucky are we?? And finally... 10)Coming home!! We loved every moment of our trip, from the towel animals left by our superstar room steward Nelson and the "Happy happy washy washy" song which greeted us every time we hit the buffet (ask me later)--the staff on Norwegian Cruise Lines is seriously stellar!!--to the wonders of the 49th of these United States (which is SOOOOOOO much bigger than Texas, and yet I didn't once hear of anything referred to as being "Alaska-sized"), to the joys of just sitting and watching the world drift by as I hold the hand of the man I love...it was all wonderful. And yet, we were so very happy to come home. Home, to a city we love. Home, to an apartment we love. Home, to the friends we love. Home, to the kitten-horses we love (and oh, how we missed them, and they missed us too, as they let us know by not leaving our sides last night). Home. The perfect ending to a perfect trip. I've got hundreds of pictures to share, but I'll leave that for another post. It's time for me to get my land-legs back in action!