Monday, October 31, 2005

Lost At Halloween & Oscar Goes Pumpkin

Happy Halloween!

Well, I had heard that Halloween was huge in New York City, but I had no idea it was as big as it is. There is spectacular parade through the Village that televised and attracts close to a million people. Everyone knows about New Year’s Eve in Times Square but Halloween in the Village dwarfs December 31st by comparison.

I worked all day while Eric went around town with Nathan & Elizabeth. Robin, my boss’ daughter decided to be Dorothy Gone Blonde 2005 for Halloween (I got to order the ruby Ruby Red Slippers). Since she's a blonde, and Judy Garlend was a burnette - Robin had to make changes to the name. Too cute. Oscar was Toto Gone Blonde 2005 (since he's a light brown color and we all know the original Toto was black). With this change, the early costume choice of a pumpkin (see pictures below) was scrapped.

After work, I jumped on the train to meet up with Eric, Nathan and Elizabeth. I got down to the Village and was overwhelmed by the throngs of people packing the streets. Different roads were blocked off. Security was tight. It was huge. After trying for almost an hour to get through it became evident that I would never reach the other side of 6th Avenue to meet up with Elizabeth, Nathan and Eric.

I finally gave up the ghost (pun intended) and headed home.

Little depressed about it not getting to take part in the festivities and not getting to meet up with Eric, since Halloween was the whole reasoning behind planning his trip up this weekend.

But, what can ya do?

Oscar Models for Halloween

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He is the GREAT Pumpkin

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The Eyes HAVE it!

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Changing Leaves & Imagine & Trailer Park

Eric and I met up with Eric’s friend, Mark O’Donnell for brunch in Hell’s Kitchen. Mark wrote the Book for the Tony-winning BEST MUSICAL hit, Hairspray. It was a nice, low-key brunch that was peppered with a lot of theater talk.

Afterwards we lost the WICKED lottery for the third and final time. We kept our chins up and just stepped onto a random bus to see where we’d end up.

We rode up Broadway and got off at 73rd Street and walked across to Central Park. We passed by the famous residence, the Dakota, where John Lennon was murdered and then crossed into the park where I saw, for the first time, the mosaic memorial dedicated to John Lennon.

Eric and I strolled through the park with no real rhyme or reason to our day. It was perfect. We discovered three of the only trees beginning to turn. Finally! There’s color in upstage New York, but so far I haven’t seen much here in Manhattan. I don’t know why but they say the leaves take longer to turn here in the city.

The sunlight and trees were beautiful. Everywhere we turned was a new gorgeous piece of Central Park to try and capture.

We kept walking…visiting my favorite spot, the Bethesda fountain and moving along through the Mall and back down into Time Square. Then we took in The Great American Trailer Park Musical. We were front row, center. I don’t know how it happened, but there we were.

Eric LOVED the show, as did I (it was my 4th time seeing it!). We were hooting and hollering and laughing all through the show. The cast was interacting with us quite a bit and at the end one of the actresses leaned down and wanted to shake my hand. Afterwards I introduced myself to her and she was absolutely delightful.

Eric and I collapsed into a cab and headed home. It had been a LONG day. More so really for him than me – he was out until 3am with Nathan and Elizabeth.

We got home and as we unwound, I introduced him to the First Lady of theater, Elaine Stritch. I had told him about her yesterday and since we were having a low-key evening, I popped in the DVD of her one-woman Broadway show, At Liberty.
He fell in love with Ms. Stritch. This weekend has been Theatre 101 for him.

The Dakota

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Memorial to John Lennon

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Inside Central Park

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Sunlight filtering into Central Park

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Spotting the First Hope of Changing Leaves

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The Color UP CLOSE!

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Me with Autumn (and a Newly Engaged Couple) as the Backdrop

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My Favorite Spot!! Note the Classical Quartet playing at the base. Free Beauty!

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Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd...

Eric and I tried for the Lottery to see WICKED this afternoon. It was the first stop of our day. We were hopeful, but our names weren’t drawn.

We walked Times Square and toyed with the idea of seeing a movie. Saw II – the follow-up to the grotesque thriller I wrote about a couple weeks ago. The weather was chilly and we were ready to get inside somewhere.

As we walked down Broadway, crossing 49th Street, we talked about Saw II and discovered a kinship of things dark. The timing couldn’t have been better because we passed Eugene O’Neil Theater where the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd is running.

We continued down Broadway and I gave Eric a brief synopsis of Sweeney Todd and the more I talked, the more intrigued he became. It was sounding more and more like his kind of show.

I had wanted to see the show since it opened for Previews a few weeks ago. Sweeney Todd is one of my favorite shows by Stephen Sondhiem. There’s been a lot of mixed takes on the revival. The show has been completely re-imagined and staged. It is unlike anything that’s ever been done before. Normally the show is huge, large scale musical with a full orchestra. This production is done on an almost completely bare stage, with ten actors who are also the show’s musicians. Each character – lead or ensemble – plays several instruments throughout the show and none ever leave the stage.

I thought the concept sounded fascinating, though I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it without a full orchestra to capture the score. I still wanted to see it though.

Eric piped up and said he’d be interested in seeing it if I was. We got in line at the TKTS ½ Price Booth in the center of Times Square. It was 15 minutes to showtime, so there wasn’t much of a line. We got up to the window and I remembered that, at the actual theater, they had cheap seats in the Mezzanine. We decided to stay in the TKTS line and see what they had to offer. TKTS had $55 “obstructed view” seats up in the balcony.

I thought we could do better going to the theater, so that’s what we did. When we got to the theater people were already piling in. We went to the ticket counter and found $35 tickets in the Orchestra section, just off to the side. They were also slightly “obstructed” but the price was better and the seats were closer.

We took them.

From the moment the show started, I knew we were in for an amazing. The music and acting was superb and the show on a whole, completely captivating. It was also great to see theater legend Patti LuPone on stage. Patti was the original Evita on Broadway years ago and has also starred in many other musicals. I was also completely taken by Michael Cerveris’ portrayal of the title character, Sweeney. He brought different nuances to the character and made him even more dark and heartbreaking.

At intermission Eric and I talked non-stop about the first Act. He was loving it and said the show was a perfect choice for him. I confided in him that I have short (very short) list of “Dream Roles” that I would love to play.


Proctor is one of the greatest roles written for the stage. Arthur Miller, the show’s playwright, is one of my all-time favorites. I love his play The Crucible. I been in one production, as Rev. Hale, and I look forward to having the age and talent under my belt to play Proctor.
Sweeney is one of the deepest, most tragic, and powerful characters in musical theater. Sondhiem writes for brilliantly for actors who sing. I love the layers and facets to the character of Sweeney Todd.

When the show was over it received a well-deserved standing ovation. I thought it was incredible. The stark bareness of the staging only added to the compelling thrill of the show.

Eric loved the show and sang bits and pieces for the rest of the day.


We had sure-thing tickets to SLUT: A WHOLESOME MUSICAL tonight, but we tried the lottery for WICKED anyway for the evening show…and again, lost.


We hopped on the C Train and headed down to Chelsea to eat at Dallas BBQ on 23rd. I had been craving BBQ for days and Eric obliged my craving. After dinner we were back on the C heading back up to see SLUT.

When we got to the theater I was greeted warmly by the House Manager who recognized me as a repeat patron. She was happy to see me bringing someone else to see the show.

Eric and I enjoyed SLUT. There were a couple of understudies in tonight and they did a good. I noticed several things that were a tad bit off, but overall they well. I know being an understudy has be crazy…you rehearse and practice just waiting for the possibility of going on.


Afterward, Eric wasn’t quite ready to call it a night. He sprung for a cab and we rode uptown to my apartment, dropped off our stuff and then met up with Nathan and Elizabeth at G – the slick martini bar on 19th Street.

The place was PACKED and the spirit of Halloween was everywhere. More than half of the crowd was sporting their costumes a day early. All the bartenders were pirates…half-dress pirates.

I was exhausted from working all day and spending all day about town, so I made it an early night and headed home to bed.

Sweeney's Marquee

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Eric Arrives Pre-Halloween

A friend from Kentucky, Eric, arrived tonight…late. He’s here for a long weekend to take in all the Halloween festivities.

It will be great to see him again (he was my first semi-house guest when I moved up May 1st. We hung out during his layover on the way to Paris.) and together we’ll explore Manhattan.

I met him at Port Authority and we headed home and met up with Elizabeth for dinner at Orbit (a great jazz restaurant literally just around the corner).

Eric and I caught up on the train ride. I filled him in on my future/hopeful work on the Julie Taymor film. As I started talking I saw all these pieces coming together in my mind that I hadn’t really considered…

On Broadway a month or so ago, I saw the musical Lennon which was based on the life of John Lennon. Then I went to the Paul McCartney concert with Arleta. Two weeks ago I ordered the first two Beatle Anthology CD sets.
I kinda feel destined for the Julie Taymor film…can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

A Soldier's Play

Tonight I got a last minute ticket to A Soldier’s Play starring Taye Diggs.

It was an incredible play centered around a murder investigation on a Louisiana Army base during World War II. The victim, Sergeant Vernon Waters, is a black NCO. The investigator sent by the Army is a black officer (Taye Digg’s role) is forced to square off against Waters’s white commander. It confronts prejudice and internal racism.

The play was also the made into a movie years ago. I haven’t seen it, but I’m told that if I watch I’ll see a lot of African-American actor’s making their film debuts – including Denzel Washington.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Major disappointment.

Because of traffic and having to work late, I missed the fitting. They can reschedule me for Monday, but again work interferes.

The dilemma of wanting to work in the arts but also needing steady pay to actually live.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My First Film ????

I got a call yesterday about the Julie Taymor Beatles musical-film. I went to the Open Call a couple months ago. I’ve gotten two calls. One for a work that would be filmed in December and now a second call about Peace March scene that will be filmed next Tuesday.

They’re interested in me for an extra role that would be semi-featured. They’re interested in me because of my size and presence.
I am thrilled! I have a fitting tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Ark (NOT a Commentary on All the Rain in NYC of Late)

Elizabeth came back late last night. She’s been in Atlanta celebrating her birthday with her family and boyfriend, Nathan. She worked for a couple of hours in the morning and then had a dance glass.

I returned my furry little friend and took the train to Brooklyn to make a Target run. I met up with her afterwards and the two of us ventured off-Broadway to see a new musical called, The Ark.

The show is a rock, pop, r&b, and gospel musical re-telling of Noah and the Genesis’ story of The Great Flood. The show is now in Previews, I think it opens next month. The show had some rough spots (which will probably be worked out over the next couple of weeks) but what problems it had it made up for with a talent and heart. I think this show is an ideal family show. It’s great for kids but has enough power and pull to keep adults enthralled.

You can hear some of the music on their site. Check it out if you have the time and the inclination. If you’re planning a visit NYC any time soon…ask me about getting tickets.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Puppy Love!

It rained for 8 days straight last week. Didn’t let up at all. Never even got down to a drizzle. It was solid sheets of rain for 8 days. When it finally did stop it, it was gorgeous.

Then…MORE rain. It’s raining now.

But, I’m not minding too much…because I’m spending time with a special someone. Yep, I’ve fallen for someone…hook, line and sinker. It is more than a crush…but not more than pure puppy love.

This weekend I’m puppy-sitting Oscar. Oscar is my boss’ daughter’s pup. He’s about a year old and is as sweet as he can be. He’s a chewing, playful puppy who has a passion for taking naps. He’s also quite the cuddler.

We became fast friends at work…since I work in a home office he stays close to me all day. When my boss and her family made plans to be away this weekend, I offered to take Oscar.
It ended up being a nice change for both of us.

My furry houseguest, Oscar. It was pouring rain outside, so he posed on my new SWELL duvet. Posted by Picasa

Too cute for words...Oscar. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Africa Bound Grandmother

Still raining…it’s stopped for a minute or two here and there, but that’s

Today my Grandmother…at 82…is on her way to Kampala, Uganda in Africa. It is amazing.

She is very excited to be spending several weeks with my Mom & Dad. I am so proud of her for not letting age or her blindness keep her from traveling around the world.

My Grandmother and Me at EPCOT this past Christmas (2004) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Rain, Rain Go Away & Seeing a SLUT

As gorgeous as last week was when Elizabeth’s parents were here and Arleta arrived…this weekend is the complete opposite. There’s more rain. It is overcast and, for the first time, cold. The kind of day when you have to wear a jacket to go outside.

I woke up this morning to find Elizabeth’s friends sleeping in the living room. Talk about great houseguests - I was asleep before they got in and I never heard a peep

I slept in for a little bit - which is really what my body needed. I had been on the go for over a week…working 10-11 hours a day, shows, flying to Atlanta, out with my girl Arleta, hitting the town with Elizabeth’s parents, etc. I needed to sleep. And sleep I did.

I revisited the new off-Broadway show, Slut: A Wholesome Musical Comedy. Elizabeth and I saw it opening night of the show’s preview. We laughed and enjoyed the show a lot. We were a little put off because the theater’s a/c was broken and we were sweating as much as the cast up on the stage, but still we had a good time. There were parts of the show that didn’t seem to gel and holes that we figured would be fixed during Previews.

Seeing the show for the second time (for under $5!) – this time with the a/c working – was much better experience. The show was more entertaining and the cast seemed to be completely in sync. The show is shallow but not without heart. Very entertaining and the music and lyrics are so catchy that I left the theater STILL singing a long.

Andy Karl, the show’s leading man, was also in Altar Boyz and it is nice to see him helming a show on his own (with a lot of talented support from a great ensemble – an ensemble that includes another Altar Boyz alum.).


SLUT's show poster Posted by Picasa

Leading Man: Andy Karl Visit: Posted by Picasa

A True Lady's Man Posted by Picasa

The Bar Scene's ULTIMATE Player Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 07, 2005

Rain and Pain

Yuck, yuck, yuck. The rain has arrived. It is officially ushering us toward Fall. There has been a constant drizzle all day.

We have more guests arriving. Two of Elizabeth’s teacher friends and past My Fair Lady and State Fair co-stars, Ginny and Andrea. They’ll be here for a LONG weekend.

I got another cheap, cheap, cheap ticket – this time to the much heralded total monologue play, Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) which is running off-Broadway in a tiny theater off Union Square.

I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew that everyone who had seen it, loved it. But I didn’t know what it was about. I don’t think I can explain it either except to say it was brilliantly written and acted. The entire show, a one-act monologue, is just a man standing on stage with a full pitcher of water, full glass, small table and one folded chair. He begins telling his story and from the first moment to the last you are with him.

It was incredible.

He invites you, no demands you, to visualize a child…and you do. He plays off the whole, “Don’t think about a Pink Elephant.”

Check out the website below to find out more about the show. It is SO worth seeing. I have a list of Dream Roles to one day play…Sweeny in the musical Sweeny Todd, Proctor in The Crucible and now the role of Thom Pain.

Off-Broadway Show Poster for Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kinsey Scale

Elizabeth and I worked at our respectable jobs all day and then headed off-Broadway to see a respectable show about sexual relationships. Actually, it is a musical comedy based on the life Alfred Kinsey and his research into human sexuality. Its called Dr. Sex and it has been hailed as the most wholesome musical about sex on stage in New York City.

Alfred Kinsey led a fascinating life and his pioneering efforts in the areas of human sexuality led the way to opening a lot of doors to new understandings in science and sex. His life was also the subject of the Oscar nominated film Kinsey that came out last year starring Liam Neeson.

I LOVED the film and the way it explored the facets of Kinsey’s life…the censorship he faced and the truths he brought to light. I knew very little about him and now I’m really intrigued by his life…especially his religiously repressive childhood and the sexual frontiers he charted.

The musical was very entertaining and the cast boasted some great New York talent . I wasn’t blown away by it but I am glad that I got to see it. It didn’t have the depth of the film or his life…but hey, it was a musical comedy. Thanks to a great connection we have, Elizabeth and I were on the front row for under $5 a piece. Just after getting the tickets it was announced that the show will actually close this weekend because of another show coming into the space and another off-Broadway house isn’t available as yet.


Dr. Alfred Kinsey, His Wife and their Boyfriend from the musical, Dr. Sex Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Producers on Bway & Sir Paul at The Garden

I haven’t stopped in almost a week. It’s been one red-letter day after another and it just keeps getting better!

I worked all day yesterday and today. Both days went straight from work to something fabulous. Arleta said she couldn’t come to New York and not see a Broadway show. I tried on and off all day to get really cheap (read: free) tickets but it was too late of notice. So I hit the TKTS booth in Times Square and I got ½ off tickets to The Producers. The show has been around several years but, believe it or not, I haven’t seen it.

We had good seats in the Mezzanine but all the theaters are so old in New York that most of them aren’t equipped with elevators. So the stairs (down to the bathroom and up to the Mezzanine) were murder on Arleta’s knees. We managed and really enjoyed the show. It was the perfect choice for Arleta…it encompasses everything people expect from a big Broadway show…like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – there’s dancing, singing, acting…lots of lights, great costumes, etc.

We had a great time.

Then tonight, after work, I met Arleta at her hotel and we went to Madison Square Garden to see Paul McCartney in concert. I’ve been to a lot of concerts but I must say, I’ve never seen anything like this. At 60+ he’s got the most amazing stamina. He play for close to 3 hours. It was remarkable. He went so long that I treated myself to a cab so I could get home and get in bed.

I had a great time with Arleta and she’s gotten great seats just off to the side of the stage. I had a good time dancing and singing along with the thousands of people there. I glanced over at Arleta a couple of times and I could swear that I saw a teenage light shining through her. She was screaming and singing at the top of her lungs.

It was a magical.
It is late and I have to be at work early in the morning…so this is quick.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Back to Work & Dinner with Arleta

Monday’s are my early days. Yuck.

Two days ago my friend Arleta arrived from Atlanta. She’s never been to NYC and I’m so glad she’s here. This is a BIG trip for her. She’s been wanting to come and visit me and when she heard that Sir Paul McCartney would be playing Madison Square Garden for 4 nights…she decided to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

She got here on Saturday afternoon, probably about the time I was trying to figure out how I would repack all my clothes plus my Target purchases. She’s spent the last two days exploring NYC at her leisure and tonight we met up for dinner.

She met me just outside the Apthorp, the apartment building where my boss resides, and we rode across town on the M79 bus and ate at small place on 3rd Avenue. It was a quiet restaurant with a small crowd – perfect for us.

We ate, drank a bottle of wine, ordered dessert, and caught up on each other’s lives.

She gave me two wonderful books call Manhattan on Film (volumes 1 and 2). They are great books that I’d heard about but hadn’t picked up. The books provide you with walking guides around NYC to places where some of the most memorable scenes in film were shot…where Barbara Streisand said goodbye to Robert Redford at the end of The Way We Were…where Audrey Hepburn shot Breakfast at Tiffany’s…and hundreds more

More reasons to keep exploring this great city.

Today was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. It was cool and crisp. The sun was out and there was just a great energy in the air. I’m so glad it is nice while Arleta’s here.
All the energy in the air plus my body playing catch-up from the weekend has left me exhausted. So, I’m heading to bed early tonight…

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I was up early today and I started vocalizing the moment I stepped into the shower. I could feel some tightness from the rehearsal yesterday afternoon. I wanted to be warmed up for the morning rehearsal with the choir and the service.

As I got ready I got a little nervous for the first time. I usually don’t get nervous but I was. If I do get nervous it usually never has anything to do with the actually singing or audience. It has more to do with pressure and expectations that I put on myself. As I was getting ready, in a spacious hotel room in downtown Decatur, I started thinking about the hotel room and the flight. I thought about the amount of money that individuals – not the church – had paid for me to be there. A lot of money was shelled out for me to sing one song, roughly 4 minutes long. When I break things down like that I started psyching myself out and worrying that I would let someone down.

I continued warming up in the car and headed for the church. I made a quick trip through Eckerd’s to pick up some water. On the way out of the parking lot I hit a terrible pothole and blew out the one of my rental car’s front tires. I was only a couple blocks from the church, so I slowly drove on the flat tire in that direction.

The moment it happened all I could think of was how glad I was that I had purchased the extra insurance. Now that I don’t have a car, I also don’t have car insurance. So, when renting a car, I had to buy insurance as well. I am SO glad I did.

As choir members made their way into the choir room it was like a mini-reunion seeing lots of familiar faces. We ran through the song and it was great to once again be singing. I felt

The service was mostly comprised of music and one song blended into the next creating a really nice atmosphere. As I started to sing, I looked out to into the congregation and saw many familiar faces.

I was surprised and happy to see Michael, Traci and Madeline White there. Also my dear friend Deanna, my Grandmother and many others. It is always a wonderful feeling to look out and see the faces of friends and family members. It is empowering and uplifting. Afterward there were more hugs all around. I hugged Michael and Traci and Madeline lifted up her arms for a hug too. Madeline is about the cutest thing ever. She would always tag a long with Traci whenever she came by the office. She would explore the office and look for the cats but she was never really affectionate toward me – so, needless to say, her request for a hug was warmly accepted.

There was a Dinner On The Grounds after the service and I was able to catch up with my Grandmother and visit with friends (while waiting for ALAMO to come fix my tire).
I said my goodbyes and headed to the airport. Now I’m on my way back to NYC and really glad to be going home. My last trip to Atlanta stirred up a lot of emotions in me, I feel really good about this trip. I’m am happy that I got to come back for a visit but I’m also looking forward to being home….my New York home.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Back in Atlanta - Hitting Target HARD

I got in late last night…really late. For reasons never explained to us, the airplane taxied around the runway for almost thirty minutes. It wouldn’t have been half as bad if the pilot hadn’t just said, “We’ll push off, have a short taxi out to the runway and be on our way to Atlanta in an hour and forty-five minutes.”

Anyway…we finally got in to ATL

I got settled in to the hotel.

Once again…my first stop on a Saturday morning in Atlanta:


I laid low today. It has been a crazy week and it’s catching up with me fast. I didn’t get around to see many people but I did swing by my old bookstore.

I also did some shopping.

Elizabeth and I shop at a Target in Brooklyn and we usually go together to help each other. After just one trip and buying more than you can comfortably carry and manage on a train – you learn how to plan out your shopping and really know what you need.
Elizabeth recently went to Target without me and bought way more than she needed. Actually it was all stuff she needed but it was way more than she could manage. She had fought with oversize Target bags all the way up the 5 train to our apartment at the opposite end of the island of Manhattan. She’d called me from the sidewalk to ask for help getting the bags up the stairs.

Of course I helped her…but not without picking on her for buying more than she could handle. Sometimes she and I still shop like we’re in Atlanta and can leave a store and throw everything in the back of our cars.

While in Atlanta I hit my old Target – which has things my NYC Target doesn’t have. I stumbled across a sale on bedding. I found a $65 duvet I had been looking at marked down to $22. So I had to get it. Then I found matching pillows that were $4 a piece. I needed those too. Then wandering through the Men’s Department I came across new “vintage” t-shirts. For $10…so I picked a couple of them.

As I walked out of Target I realized I was walking to a RENTAL car and going back to a hotel, where I had just one bag to put everything in. I can no longer say ANYTHING to Elizabeth about schlepping stuff from Brooklyn to the upper, upper East Side of NYC…I was planning on trying to FLY with my abundance.

I met up with Dennis and we ran through tomorrow’s song twice. It all came back to me…like riding a bike. As I sang I felt a little out of shape vocally. It has been so long since I have had to rehearse and sing.

I’m trusting and believing that tomorrow will go well.

After rehearsing I had dinner with Dennis, his wife Gail, their daughter Katy and a sweet lady named Meg. Meg has been a loving and wonderful support to me any time I’ve been in Avondale. She’s just as sweet as she can be. I was honored to sing at her husband’s funeral several months ago. Meg’s husband, Si, loved to hear me sing. He loved Gospel music and I was so touched to honor him at his funeral. Over dinner I shared New York stories and we all stuffed ourselves.
It feels good to be home.