Saturday, April 30, 2005

A Heaven of Peanut Butter Cups

My dear friend Greg has joined me on my road trip. We left early this morning and headed North. When Greg got to my apartment I was crying. It was so much harder to leave than I had prepared myself for.
The truck is packed to the ceiling. I’m moving both Elizabeth’s stuff and mine. When I moved to Atlanta 8 ½ years ago everything I had fit in the back of a car. I don’t know where I collected so many things…but I have.
It is suppose to be 10+ hours from Atlanta to Richmond, VA. Greg and I allowed for 11-12 hours. Somehow we made it in about 7 hours. I don’t think we were going that fast.
We stayed with my brother Tim and his wife Janet. They have a great townhouse just North of downtown. We relaxed and played with Regan (their 5 month old chocolate Labrador Retriever). He’s gotten SO MUCH bigger but still has a lot of puppy characteristics.
We had dinner and then went to Friendly’s for dessert – my only request. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup sundae (with extra peanut butter and hot fudge)…HEAVEN. The ultimate comfort food when you're leaving behind your friends, family and everything secure in your life.

Friday, April 29, 2005


I said goodbye to Ken. He’s one of my best friends and has been my roommate for the last 4 ½ years. There is so much more to us than sharing the rent. We’ve seen each other through some of the best and worst chapters of each other’s lives.
My heart hurts.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Someone's in the Kitchen

Yesterday my friend Arleta came and helped me pack up my kitchen. I don’t have a lot of kitchen stuff but it’s the one I’ve dreaded starting and finishing. Arleta came and packed the entire kitchen while I worked on the bathroom. The packing went a lot faster with two of us at it.
Today, I was up early to pick-up the rental truck. As I drove back to my apartment it really started sinking in…tomorrow will be my last day in Atlanta.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Diet of My Days

I live, sleep and eat packing. Well, I guess "eat" isn’t true. I started and ended yesterday and today with more packing. In between I met friends and family members for lunch or dinner. I’m running out of time. I have so much left to do but still know that there are so many people I want to see before I go.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Home - for a Time or Lifetime

Earlier this evening at my church, Circle of Grace, we had a wonderful service in the home of my pastor and friend, Connie Tuttle. The service was simple and wonderful. Connie asked if I would sing His Eye is on the Sparrow as our call to worship. I had sung it a couple of weeks before but said I would love to sing it again. The last time I was nervous. There was no one there to play the piano. It would just be my voice. Me, picking a random key and hoping for the best. As I sang the song I realized I was perfectly on pitch and that it sounded just as it had the evening before in my concert. That moment gave me assurance and I sang with all my heart.
Two weeks later I called on that same assurance. I would be singing alone again and I had just walked in the door. I wasn’t warmed up or ready but I rested in the moment and realized it wasn’t about sounding perfect. It was truly about singing "because I’m happy" and singing "because I’m free." It was a wonderful feeling. To just let go and let it all unfold as it should.
In the second half of the service there was a Blessing for me. Connie spoke the most incredible words as she invited Circle of Grace to send me forth. "It is a rite of passage and like all rites of passage it is challenging, difficult, emotionally grueling, and ultimately transforming," she said. She lovingly described me as, "Kind, creative, honest, open-hearted, gifted, and a courageous God-lover." It didn’t take long for me become emotional. I was so moved by her words and how she and the congregation of Circle of Grace saw me.
When she finished, one by one members came up and anointed me with Jasmine oil. They spoke to me as the dipped their fingers in the oil and touched me. My mind, my heart, my feet, my smile and my voice were some of the areas blessed. Each spoke such tender words to me.
It is an evening I will always remember and I will hold on to Connie’s words that reminded me that I "will always have a home to come to – for a time or a lifetime."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Martini's and more Goodbyes

Two dear friends of mine, Kevin & Brian, threw me a small going away cocktail party. It was a small gathering that included my current roommate, Ken and my future New York roommate, Elizabeth. Martini’s made the rounds and we laughed and exchanged stories.
I LOVE my friends. I’ve always said that without any forethought or planning I have surrounded myself with such wonderful people. I have some many different people in my life. People who are so different from me…people who offer and bring balance and alternative perspectives to life. I am so grateful for their input in my life.
When I think about taking off for NYC a week from today, I keep coming back to my friends. I know that we’ll always be friends…it is the distance that scares me. I know that I will make new friends in NYC and add other wonderful characters to my life – but it is that in-the-meantime and in-between-time that I don’t like.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Leaving the Peaches

Well, today was it…my last day in the office at Peachtree. Yesterday they threw an amazing going away party for me. There was a precious book they put together of letters, photos, quotes, stories, etc. I was so touched as I flipped through the pages. It will be a little while before I can read it. There was an impressive spread of food - each dished tied into a Broadway show. All the Peaches were gathered and several surprise guests were also on hand to say goodbye - Peachtree authors, Lester Laminack, John McCutcheon and Carmen Agra Deedy. Though my future work for Peachtree is cut out for me, it was still terribly hard to say goodbye today. It is a wonderfully rare privilege to work with your friends. I feel truly blessed that I have spent the last eight and half years working beside people I trust, love and admire.
I was very emotional leaving. Everyone packed themselves into my office for a group photo. I didn’t try to hold back the tears. As I collected my things everyone formed an impromptu receiving line of sorts in the hall outside my office. As I passed person to person, the tears ran. As I hugged each neck, thousands of stories and memories ran through my mind.
I drove home, crying most of the way. It was like I could physically feel a chapter of my life closing. I could feel the unknown.
I was emotionally and physically overwhelmed by the time I got home. I decided to take a nap. I stretched out on my bed and woke up 3 hours later.

Friday, April 15, 2005

And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City
Until you've seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge while people run you through
And I thank the Lord there's people out there like you.

Those are lyrics from the Elton John hit, Mona Lisa & Mad Hatters - one of my all-time favorite Elton John songs. As I explored apartments in Spanish Harlmen today that song kept coming to mind as I walked the streets.

I found an WONDERFUL apartment and think it will be the perfect first home for Elizabeth and I as we get our feet on the ground and become New Yorkers. I looked at 5 or 6 apartments in Harlem and the last one just felt like it. The kitchen is very, very tiny (so is the bathroom) but the living area and bedrooms were bigger than the other apartments I had looked at. It was on the fourth floor, the floors had recently been refinished and the whole apartment had been repainted.

Something spoke to me saying that this would be the one.

My dear friend Damon was able to accompany me for day and as a New Yorker of 9+ years he had a lot of vaulable insight. We spent an hour in the park working the math, thinking outloud, and me on the phone to Elizabeth in Atlanta. After 40 minutes on the phone and bad sunburn on the top of my bald head - Elizabeth and I decided that we'd get it.

Damon and I started the paperwork and they started the Credit Checks. Within a few minutes we were approved and I was paying a security deposit and the apartment was being taken off the market.

By late afternoon Damon and I were back on the 6 (the subway line closest to the new apartment) heading downtown and I was one step closer to becoming a New York resident. I was on CLOUD 9.

Damon grabbed a nap before going into work and I changed pants (when I sat down on a park bench to talk about the aparment - I sat squarely in a wad of pink gum.) and celebrated becoming a New Yorker by heading back into the city and calling my brother to tell him about the place.

Between talking off and on all afternoon with Elizabeth and then my brother - I ran down my phone battery and missed connecting with my friend CeCe who was in the city for the day from Providence.

I was walking through Times Square with a dead cell phone and decided to continue celebrating on my own and see if I could get a cheap ticket to a Broadway show. I did. I scored a ticket to the new stage musical version of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

After the show I did my homework. Elizabeth asked me to check out the apartment again - at night and report on the neighborhood and how I felt there at night. Smart girl. Gotta love her.

So tonight I went back to the 116th Street stop on the 6 Train and walked the two blocks to the apartment. It was great. People were still out and about but no one was really loud. I saw four policemen walking their beat. The streets were well-lit. So, I headed back to my friends place here in Astoria.

I feel like soon we will have a New York address.


MONA LISA & MAD HATTERS (lyrics: Bernie Taupin/music: Elton John)
And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City
Until you've seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge while people run you through
And I thank the Lord there's people out there like you
I thank the Lord there's people out there like you
While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can't and that is why
They know not if it's dark outside or light
This Broadway's got
It's got a lot of songs to sing
If I knew the tunes I might join in
I'll go my way alone
Grow my own, my own seeds shall be sown in New York City
Subway's no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found

Thursday, April 14, 2005

ATL to NYC (Finding an Apartment)

I'm flying out in a few minutes to NYC. The goal this weekend is to secure an apartment. I've heard and read hundreds of nightmare stories about finding housing in NYC. Several friends of mine who live in Manhattan or one of the surrounding bouroughs have reassured me that these stories are TRUE!

I have apointments lined up all weekend. I'm looking in Astoria (in Queens). I have dear friends, Damon & Arnold, who live in Astoria and I've always loved staying with them on my trips to NYC. Astoria is a great area. Tree lined streets. Delicious Greek bakeries.

I've also discovered a couple of places in Harlem which is now being touted as the next up & coming neighborhood of Manhattan. The city is always growing and now the growth is moving through Harlem and the whole area is being reborn.

So...there are a lot of options and choices. I just want to find a place. It doesn't have to be perfect . I just want to know that I have a place to go when I pull out of Atlanta on the 30th.

Fingers crossed...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

...morning after.

Last night was the last concert here in Atlanta. I was absolutely incredible. Everything flowed perfectly. Elizabeth & I were both relaxed and settled into the evening. We were both greeted by a resounding amount of applause. Several people stood and applauded as we walked to the stage. It amazing to get that kind of acknowledgement when you've yet to sing a note.

It was great seeing people's reaction to different songs. People got excited when the heard the opening to a song they'd come expecting to hear. Songs like His Eye is on the Sparrow, Elaborate Lives, Defying Gravity, Whistle Down the Wind, and Stars and the Moon got the biggest response. Elizabeth sounded wonderful and stole the first act with Girl in 14G.

The whole evening...and the experience of both something I will take with me. I will miss Atlanta audiences. Their love and support is tangiable from the moment you hit the stage.

Friday, April 08, 2005

...After the Show

I'm just getting in from the first of my final shows. It was a great show.

The show was so different. It's more bare bones. Simple. It's all about the music. Style-wise it is a departure from the ones I've staged before but people still seemed to really respond to it. Everyone loved the new music and seemed happy to hear familiar songs.

It was great to see so many friends, fans and family sitting out there. Some had driven hundreds of miles to be here. That still amazes me. That people would want to travel to hear me sing is an incredible feeling. Looking out there sometimes I think what could I possibily sing or say that would make it worth the trip.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow night...but it will be hard to say goodbye to people and the music. I don't know when I'll sing some of these songs again or when I'll see some of these people again. Both are such wonderful parts of my journey.

I'm so grateful.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Between Faith and Fear

Since this is my online journal and a journal is where one should bare their desire is to do just that. I want to be honest and open. Which means I have to share the good with the bad.

For the last few months I've been overwhelmed by Faith - which is a WONDERFUL place to be. When thinking and planning my move to NYC, I was relaxed about everything. I wasn't worried or stressed out. I knew in my soul's core that I was right where I needed to be - doing what I was meant to do. Even down to the last month I've been fine.

Out of no where things shifted. Maybe I glanced at the calendar one to many times and my upcoming departure came alive...I don't know when it shifted but it did. Suddenly I became overwhelmed by Fear - which isn't such a wonderful place to be.

I had a panic attack this morning. I hadn't had one in a couple of years but it's feeling was still way too familiar. Between worrying over the sell of my car, finding an apartment in NYC, packing up my apartment here, the concerts, allergy problems, etc. my body and mind flooded with anxiety.

I am incredibly blessed with great friends. Friends who can and do talk me through moments of fear and uncertainity. I also have a wonderful family who prays for and with me. As all of us stepped through the anxiety and panic I was dealing with, some very real truths about the expectations I put on myself came to the surface. Very rarely do I allow myself the right to be afraid or admit to being scared. I become frustrated with myself if I don't get something right the first time. The truth is...I've never moved to NYC before. I've never had to leave the stability of a great job with people I love and admire. I've never uprooted my life and moved to a place with some many unknowns. When I came to Atlanta (8 1/2 years ago) - I didn't have a job but I was moving to a city I was familiar with and would be living with my Grandparents. Things are different this time...MUCH different.

So, I'm trying to embrace all the aspects of moving. The things that I'm looking forward to as well as the unknown things that scare me. I'm very aware of the fine line between faith and fear.

After the sermon at my Sunday Night church - Circle of Grace - we shared our favorite verses with each other. The following verse from Jeremiah 29:11 was the first to come to mind.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

I know that. I believe that. I need to rest in it.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Steroids & Baby Cheeks

Yesterday I said goodbye to the closely trimmed beard I’ve been sporting for the last couple of months. Since my headshot is on the concert flyers around town and on the website…I thought I should look as much like me as I can for the shows this coming weekend. So, the baby cheeks have officially returned. The beard didn’t really hide them but it did act as a distraction.

After struggling through a rehearsal Saturday afternoon it was evident that I needed help with my allergies. It hurt to talk or sing and I had an incredibly painful sinus headache that wasn't letting up. After church yesterday I decided to embrace the beauty that is my insurance co-pay and see if I could get back in singing shape in time for the concerts. So I spent most of the afternoon at my Dr.'s office. The verdict: A sinus infection was settling in and the only chance of getting over it and being able to get my voice back was steroids.

So, the nurse gave me my first round of steroids by shot and I was sent on my way. Of course I didn’t leave empty-handed. I had a week’s worth of steroids and prescriptions to hopefully get me over the infection.

I'm taking a small break from packing and resting as much as I can. Hopefully the steroids and antibiotic will do whatever they're suppose to do.

Friday, April 01, 2005


No April Fool's day prank...this is it...the COUNTDOWN BEGINS!

God-willing, a month from today I will be moving into my new digs in New York City. The plan is to pull out of Atlanta on Saturday, April 30th and get half-way there. On Sunday, May 1st I'll roll into "the city that never sleeps."

The OTHER countdown in my life right now leads up to my last shows here in Atlanta. A week from tonight I will be taking the stage with my good friend Elizabeth in two special concerts. Rehearsals are going well even though I'm battling allergies. I walked out the other day and saw my first dusting of yellow pollen on my car. I quickly called my closest CVS and got my Allegra D refilled. I'm hoping that I got a jump on it. I'm congested and coughing quite a bit - but both are slowly subsiding. Allergies are the price I pay for my favorite season in Atlanta - Spring. I LOVE Atlanta in the Spring. The dogwoods, azealas and so many other flowering shrubs, trees and flowers. It's a gorgeous time to be here and I'm soaking in the beauty before I leave.

I'm trying to equally emerse myself in both the show and my move. When I'm not rehearsing, I'm packing - and vice versa. I've got my music collection boxed up and now it's on to my books (which will be a HUGE undertaking - not mention a heavy one.). I've done my share of moving around but there is still something about seeing your life reduced to boxes.

THANK YOU for the letters, phone calls, emails of encouragement and support. You have no idea how much they mean to me. Also, many people have written that they are looking forward to these journal entries which will chronicle my move to NYC and my adjustment to life there - which is VERY cool. I'm excited about keeping you posted.

Until next time...