Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pictures Galore - Europe

Ok, so I am trying to do this via the Blogger app on my iPad. So we'll see how this goes. I don't know if I have the option to write captions and space the pictures how I want, but basically these pictures are a bit of everything - Rome (the first and 2nd time) including St. Peter's Basilica and bits of the Vatican Museum; the red sand beach of Santorini; sunset in our unexpected overnight in Kusadasi, Turkey; Pisa ; and Athens. Has anyone been to these places? Any recommendations on when I return there over the next couple of months?

Leave some comments and share the blog if you like the pics! Take care everyone. More to come on my adventures in Europe with my sister! Ciao!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"Love in Any Language"

Well, we are coming to the close of our 6th 12 day cruise and as usual, at the end of the embarkation talk, we sing "Love in Any Language" which is at the same time both touching and cliche. Today, however, it was more touching than cliche for me. I think because of what is happening in the world at the moment (with the anti-Islam video circulating YouTube and the subsequent riots and unrest in the countries of Northern Africa and the Middle East and then thinking of the inevitable backlash from THOSE actions to create more fear and hatred in the general American public towards the Middle East in general - which is VERY unfortunate) and the fact that my ship was supposed to be sailing to that part of the world - and can't now because of the violence and the company wanting to look after its passengers and crew - it just made that song hit home.

"I love you" may be said so differently in different places and those places may be so different from each other, but love is love anywhere and everywhere. It is interesting, to me, to think about the inherent differences in the cultures and regions of the world because of their societies and the traditions born of them. Yet, so many things in our human core are so similar. Instinctually and naturally we are all very similar - we have the same needs and same desires.

Now let's face it - culturally, religiously, politically, philosophically we may never agree on what's "right" or "acceptable" but if you look around at the world, people are living and functioning in varying societies that have been in existence for many years. We don't have to agree on everything, but if we could love our neighbor despite our differences and respect one another, imagine the difference that could be made in the world. All of that to say, I was touched by "Love in Any Language" today - it may be pure cheese, but it's got a great message to ponder!

And speaking of cruising, do you all (all 5 of my avid readers :-P) think that people tend to just turn their brains off when they go on vacation, or do you think the average cruiser is just not the brightest tool in the shed? Maybe I'm not talking necessarily about actual knowledge and smarts, but perhaps more about how you act in public around people - manners and such. I hear/see so many people just coughing all over the place without covering their mouths, using hands to touch food and things at the buffet, being rude to their fellow guests and generally impolite to the service staff. It just baffles me - were they not brought up right? Or do you think people pay money for a vacation and the thought is "well I paid for this, I'm entitled" and thus it subconsciously pushes some of their manners out the door?

Anything else of note going on in my life? Well, we've gotten into a general routine now that all cast members are caught up on choreography. Every 3 cruises, we repeat itineraries and most of our ports are Greek and Italian in origin, so it's kind of fun when we come back to Barcelona - tomorrow will only be my 3rd day there! AND…I'm picking up my sister for this next 7 day cruise! She is studying abroad in Munich, Germany this next year and she just moved there earlier this week, but she doesn't start classes until October. She still has some things to do to get fully situated and ready for classes, but she had free time during this cruise!

There are just not enough hours in the day to do everything I want, though. Despite getting into more of a routine as far as waking around the same time, going to bed around the same time, going to the gym or doing tech/shows around the same time, I'm still not able to do everything I'd like as I'm trying to take advantage (at least to some extent) of being in Europe while I have this opportunity. To put things into perspective, we are in the Mediterranean for about 4 months and do about 11 cruises (most of them 12 day cruises) and when we get to the Caribbean, we are there for 5.5 months and do only 7 day cruises…so there will be a lot more repeating, and from what I hear, a lot less to do as far as sightseeing goes. It's more about beaches, water-sports, and relaxing (and, in my case, saving money :) ). That is why blogs have been in short supply lately. I'm trying to maximize my daytime experiences…and typing blogs on the iPad, while possible, are highly impractical without a bluetooth keyboard.

Other updates - I went to Rome again. This time by myself and I only went to the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica. It was gorgeous and a lot less stressful - and I saw rain!! The 2nd time only in about 4 months. I still kinda felt on edge the whole time until I got on a train headed back for the port, but it was much less stressful overall. I also went to The Pinnacle restaurant on the ship for the first time this cruise (and the Tamarind for the 3rd time). It was delicious and nearly everything a nice meal should be. Also, heading back towards Barcelona, we've experienced more fall-like temperatures. While we won't get to watch leaves change, probably, Greece is a bearable temperature, Turkey and most of Italy is just downright perfect as far as temperature (despite higher risks of rain). I think we'll be heading to the Caribbean at just the right time.

We also have lost several friends and a couple of stagehands along the way. Ship life is weird like that - you live in a bubble (a floating hotel) and every 7-12 days the guests change, the staff is constantly changing as well. Peoples' contracts may be 4-12 months long in general, but it's all rotational, so every cruise we are losing people and getting new ones. My life is constantly in transition here and reminds me that my time traveling with this ship and these people is transient. On a deeper level, I suppose it is a reminder that life itself is transient and we are all here for (in the grand scheme of things) merely the blink of an eye. I sometimes find myself sad and feeling even slightly lonely or homesick when I think of how my world is constantly changing and people are coming and going, but whether I'm here or on land, people are always going to come and go at some point in my life. I think it's natural to feel that way, but also healthy to remember to be grateful for the time that you are given with the people in your life and just to be grateful for life and health in general. Amen?

Alright, that's about all of note that I have right now. To the gym I go. I get to see my sister in less than 24 hours!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Take-aways from a performer/frequent traveler

My post from yesterday, Friday, August 24th:

Well, it's the beginning of our 5th cruise! Today marks my 50th day at sea on Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam. Today is also the first day after embarkation day which means it's Cantare day. This will be my 9th and 10th time to do this show for a "paying" audience and it is our new cast member, Casey's 1st and 2nd - so happy opening to Casey! We have been in install mode with him for the past 10 or 12 days and this is his 5th of the 6 shows that we do - all we have left is to do NYC with him!!

As I said 2 posts ago, I wanted to write a blog about what traveling and performing has taught me. Just a few life lessons:

I think one of the 1st ones would be that as important as it is to plan, set goals, and have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to go, it is equally if not more important to realize that you are never completely in control and that you should keep an open mind and be able to go with the flow. This can be applied to many things - travel/vacation, your day to day life's itinerary, and your life/career path over time. It is important to strive for things and have a goal to focus on, but the path that leads you there is never as straight and clean cut as you might imagine or hope for. To say it one other way - with an actor's slant - from your own individual perspective and personal interactions, life is an improv game and not a script.

This leads me to my next point: Detours are okay. You never know what you might find, who you might meet, where it will lead. If you keep your loose goal or plan in sight, you will always find your way back, but you will be richer for having taken the detour…even if it is to learn that there is nothing down that road but houses and a small park or a dead end alley-way. Who knows though - maybe you'll find an awesome shortcut!

I've learned, personally, that you really don't need a lot of things in life. Moving to Japan and living on a cruise ship (twice now) has taught me how to whittle my life down to 2 suitcases under 50 pounds, a carry-on, and a personal item. We truly don't need more! Sure, it's wonderful to have comforts and to build a home and have a personal space that you feel comfortable in and I'm not saying comfort and small luxuries are bad…but you don't NEED more to live. It's taught me to be a bit more on the frugal side and to focus more on life's experiences than the material things of this world.

As important as it is to have a (loose) itinerary in travel and goals to accomplish in life, accomplishing them or following that itinerary and seeing the things you want to see should never afford you the notion that you have "arrived" or that you have seen/know everything there is to know about a place. I suppose what I mean in a career/life-goal-oriented sense is that you will never know everything there is to know about a subject or be perfection at whatever it is you are trying to accomplish…there is ALWAYS room for growth and lest you become stagnant, you should always try to better yourself and strive for a more perfect form of that goal. I guess when it comes to travel, don't assume that you've seen it all or the best things or know everything there is to know about a culture or place or people. Not until you've lived there for years can you truly understand and claim "expertise" on a destination.

Finally, as I've said in another post, so much of this stuff is about perspective. If you choose to have a positive and healthy perspective, humble confidence and striving for more should follow.

…In hindsight after writing this blog, a lot of these life-lessons are fairly performer oriented. I think a lot of performers can get a big-head and think they've "arrived" if they get a big job and then become divas (or divos) and also become stagnant. Much of these learnings, of course, come from my perspective as a performer who travels a lot. The travel tips and musings can apply to anybody though, for sure! See some of the popular things when you travel, but give yourself time to detour and get lost and discover something new and you! And NEVER overpack. Baggage fees stink, plus you leave more room in your suitcase in case a souvenir strikes your fancy. Most places have laundry and in most places, the people you are around won't see you enough to know that you rotated the same 3-4 outfits for 7 days :)

Next post, look for pictures and captions and perhaps a brief update of some comings and goings! As always, feel free to subscribe, leave a comment, and share with friends! :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Okay, so I know that I told you my next blog would be about life learnings from performing, but I have to catch you up on what's been happening since I last wrote. When I wrote last we were almost halfway through a cruise that took us back to Barcelona. These 12 day cruises are great as far as work goes, but you kind of get lost in them sometimes. The way they are scheduled is a 12 day cruise from Barcelona to Venice and then a 12 day cruise from Venice to Venice, and then another 12 day cruise from Venice to Barcelona…so 36 days later, we finally made it back to Barcelona for the first time since boarding the ship. When you think about it that way, it seems like a lot has happened!

I think one of the most eventful days I've had on the ship so far was right before we got to Barcelona. Three days before we arrived, we were in Civitavecchia which is the port for Rome. Now, 4 years ago on my cruise contract, if I remember correctly, we had a total of 3 days in Civitavecchia. The 1st was during install. The 2nd and 3rd were show days and so we weren't able to go to Rome. Lucky for us on this contract, they are wise to the fact that Rome days are long and so our shows would be wasted as all-aboard is merely 30 minutes before our 1st show.

That being said, Jaclyn and I decided we needed to see Rome! And see it we did. My friend, Joey, had a drill in the morning so we told him to meet us at 2 in the square in front of St. Peter's Basilica. In the meantime, Jaclyn and I took a train, had some espresso and a bathroom break, walked to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, actually got on a tour to go into and through the Colosseum, took the metro to St. Peter's and met our pal, Joey (musical theatre reference!!)

We then continued on with him to see the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain (where we tossed a coin in) and at 4pm headed back to St. Peter's (San Piedro) station to hop on the train to take us back to Civitavecchia. Now mind you the walk from where we were took about 45 minutes…but even then, according to the schedule, we could still catch a train that would get us back to the port by 6:30 which then gave us an hour to get back on the ship - plenty of time!! Right?!

One would think……

We made it to the station a little before 5, but with a bathroom break for me and buying a ticket for Joey, we missed the 5:02 train. According to our train schedule there were to be 3 more that would give us ample time to get back. Around 5:30 with no train we were wondering if one was coming at all. Around that time someone told us that some man was laying too close to the train tracks and that that was causing the delay. Great…some crazy, drunk, and/or suicidal man is holding up the trains. I couldn't believe this was happening to us. So by 5:45 we concurred that we needed to take a taxi. 120 Euros and 50 minutes later I can see the ship!! But what I didn't count on was traffic in town. With that to deal with plus the most direct road to the port blocked off, our taxi driver took us the most round-about way to the port. I was sweating bullets and having a mild stroke at this point.

We finally made it to the port with 15 minutes before "all aboard" but the cab driver could only go so far and we followed the last shuttle to the gate…so there was no other way but to run. We were due to depart at 8pm, but all-aboard was 7:30. If you've never been to Civitavecchia, let me tell you that 45 minutes MIGHT be ample time to briskly walk to your ship, but if your ship is over halfway down a pier that can easily accommodate 4-5 BIG cruise ships, 15 minutes is pushing it if you are full out running. As we sprinted past the Pullmantur Sovereign, they were casting off and their decks, full of people, cheered us on as we ran. Next was Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. About this time, we were running out of juice from having walked around all day in the heat, having only sporadically eaten and wasting all of our adrenaline through taxi ride anxiety.

Thankfully, right at that moment, the shuttle bus that had just left our ship spotted us and picked us up…and kept going in the opposite direction. We shouted, "NO NO NO!!!" "We have to be on by 7:30." "We have to go that way - just let us out, please!" He merely kept repeating "It's ok." What we didn't realize is that the family that we sprinted past when we got in the gate was also on our ship and needed assistance as well. So very shortly they got on and we made it onto the ship by 7:27…the closest I have ever been to all-aboard (and the closest I hope to ever get!) So that's my Roman adventure. Pretty crazy, huh?

I suppose the moral of the story is to never rely on Italian public transportation. One of our cast's dancers, Jenna, lived in Rome for 7 months for school and said she had the same problems with Rome's public transportation system. Lesson learned!!

Here's some pics, btw!

top to bottom - Day in Santorini, Day in Dubrovnik, the sea in Dubrovnik, and me cliff jumping in Dubrovnik

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Life After Install


Hello friends and family!

Well, we've had almost 9 days of life after install. I know they didn't leave that long ago, but our install team consisting of Thomas, Gavin, and Erika, plus our lovely costume ladies is gone and it seems like ages since I've seen them already! It's crazy how skewed your perception of time can be when so much of your time with people is so condensed (living, working, eating, and playing with your co-workers all the time!) I think another reason that it seems like a while is because we have been filling the days as much as we can with happenings.

Since being on the ship, I have gone to the night club, had a pool party with passengers, traveled and seen just about every part of the ship that I'm allowed to go, had a massage at the spa (YES!), eaten at one of the specialty restaurants called the Tamarind - DELICIOUS Asian-fusion food that filled me and my comrades to near bursting - and a myriad of other day to day type things.

As I said in my last post, I'm doing some ports that I did during my last cruise and I can't tell you how thrilling it is to step off of my ship in cities that helped change my outlook on life and the world (and finally give me a feel of how Europe truly is for the first time) and have all of those memories come flooding back. In some places, I'm even remembering paths that I took and restaurants/cafes/shops that I visited. I think one of the ports that I'm the most excited about having come back to is Istanbul. That is such a cool city with such a vibrant way of life that is so different from ours back home.

So in brief, since I last wrote, we've been to Istanbul and overnighted. During that overnight, we went out to the hipper part of town at night and walked around and sang karaoke at a bar until about 1 am and made our way back to the ship by 2. We went to Mykonos and had fun at our production manager's hotel and the beach, put up our last show in Kusadasi, Turkey (where Ephesus is), took ATVs out and covered the whole northern half of the island of Santorini, went to a new port for me in Croatia (called Split) and did some complimentary internet over lunch, back to Venice and had a great day and night romping around, went to Dubrovnik and cliff dove for the afternoon and went to a water park in Kerkira, Corfu (a part of Greece). Some of these things are things that I waited to do until the end or didn't ever do on my last contract, so to get to do them now at the beginning leaves room for other things. That makes me REALLY excited for my time here in Europe!


Pic above: Thomas's hotel in Mykonos

We also met a few really cool people in Dubrovnik - both were from Australia. One was Ben (or Dan?…pretty sure it was Ben) who seemed to be about my age and one was Taso who seemed a little older. Ben/(Dan) couldn't stick around long because he had to meet a friend of his, but Taso stayed the whole time we were there. By the end of it all, we had all swapped life stories, jumped off cliffs together, taken pictures, and generally began to feel like he was part of our group. It was truly bittersweet a couple of hours later when we had to part ways and walk back to our ship. For whatever reason we all felt like we were abandoning one of our own. Needless to say, that was one of those cool meetings that it seems is fairly unique to world traveling when people are placed completely outside of their own social/cultural norms and have nothing but each other to gravitate towards to try and make sense of and share their current life experience.

Breakfast in Venice (same place I found with my friend MK 4 years ago!)

Tonight we perform our show, Garage Band. We finished the first show already and considering all of the technical things that weren't quite supposed to happen, I'd say we did a fine job of staying on our toes, listening to each other to figure out what to do, and improvising when the occasion arose. One more to go! I think that's all I have for now. Tomorrow we are in beautiful Santorini and I think I'm going to spend my day exploring the main town of Thira, perhaps buy a piece of art, and sit at a cafe on the cliffs and generally enjoy my time in the sunny Cyclades of Greece!

My friend, Joey, doing the splits in Split, Croatia!

Coming soon - More pictures of my travels and a blog on things that being a performer/gypsy/life-observer have taught me or made me realize!! Check back soon :) Thanks for reading guys and gals!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cruise Life and an Update

Well It has been a long time since I have written one of these things. I will be writing more of them this year though because this is going to be the best way to stay in touch with people that I care about! So, for those who don't know, I have been rehearsing 6 shows for a cruise ship in Los Angeles California from around May 24th - July 3rd. I flew to Barcelona to get on this ship (which is a good deal bigger than my first ship that I did back in 2008 - and just gorgeous!), and we have been installing the shows since July 6th (our "sign-on") date and although we were supposed to have finished the install process a couple of days ago, we had some technical difficulties and were given more time (which, depending on how you look at it could be either a blessing or a curse…I think my perspective changes once or twice daily! Haha - but I do think it is more a blessing, just because this last show is a BEAST. There are so many props and tech things to think about on top of the show itself, so I'm thankful that we have a little more time to play with it and make it feel solid.)

This itinerary that we have on the ship is one that I just couldn't turn down - I thought that doing my first ship gave me some experiences that I might only have once and yet here I am, 4 years later, and I'm revisiting some of these places that I never imagined when or even if I would ever see again! We leave the Mediterranean about a month earlier than I did on my 1st contract, but then we have nearly 4 more months left in the Caribbean! This will be a great way to save money and avoid winter :)

LA was fun and an interesting experience - I had never been to California before or really even lived in a desert before. It was awful adjusting for singing because I always felt dry, but I loved the weather, loved getting to know the area that I was in (despite it being fairly ghetto…no joke!) and loved exploring bits of LA with my new cast and catching up with a couple of college friends who have moved out there. It was a little different than I expected - a lot of buildings had this old '50s feel to them which made them look dated and run down. There were a lot of architectural styles that I didn't expect. I think when I think of big cities, I think of the more urban feel that a lot of downtown business/residential areas have and I never really got that from LA (although I technically never saw downtown LA proper). It just felt like a giant spread out suburb with shops and stuff. And so that was really the only thing about my LA experience that made me not want to live there - the driving that I would have to do and how far everything is from everything else. Other than that, I loved it - it was different from so many places I've been to before.

When I left off before I felt like I had so many things to talk about on the blog - processing coming home from Japan, leaving so many friends behind, my weekend trip with my besties to Seoul, South Korea (and how I just missed seeing my friend Jay who lives and teaches English there), and just the displacement. I lived in Japan for 13 months, I experienced a lot of life, met some special people, felt like I had kind of settled into a community, and was getting to a point with my language skills where I was feeling more and more comfortable about communicating, and like that it was all over and I'm in the Detroit airport waiting for some disgruntled employees to get me a coffee and understanding every word that everyone was saying. It was surreal to say the least. Of course, don't get me wrong - I was SO glad to be in familiar territory and seeing loved ones who I had been away from for so long. It was just a big adjustment.

I've come to realize and appreciate the fact that my line of work is going to be like that. I knew when I got into this profession that I wasn't going to live a "normal" life. I knew I would be uprooted for who knows how long and being all over the country (and now, world, even!) for years of my life. I'm thankful for technology and thankful for the friends that I have that I can just pick right back up with no matter how long it has been.

I had a series of really great conversations with my parents while I was home and one of them was with my mother about this crazy life that I lead (and the fact that I wouldn't be home for the holidays again). The holiday traditions that our family has are so engrained in me that I always have trouble and a bit of self-inflicted guilt (knowing that it was my choice to take a job) when I miss them. I know it's just the nature of what I do and I know that they know - but if you are extended family I hope YOU know that my jobs and wanderings aren't a reflection of how I feel about you :) I love you all dearly and miss you much! Especially for these next 4 months in the Mediterranean, it's going to be difficult to communicate with folks (shady ship internet and exciting ports do not make a good combination for communication). Please e-mail me or Facebook me and I PROMISE I will give a personal response - but I think it's best if you folks take the initiative to update me or ask me some questions if you want a personal response. Other than that, I'll try to make my rounds with Skype and e-mail when I can, but save a few special folks, most of my updates are going to be more general (at least until the Caribbean) and posted here!! So please leave comments, subscribe, and keep reading! :)

That's a general catch up as to what life has been like. In my next post, expect some nostalgic remembrances and my excitement in remembering them from my experiences in Europe from my first cruise and my subsequent recent trips to some of those same places! Good feelings! And perhaps an introduction to my cast

Also, a shout out to my lovely friends in Japan - I think about you all and my time there to some extent every day. I miss you and the life we shared. I can't wait to see you again!

If you don't already have my e-mail or are friends with me on Facebook, but would like a personal update/response to anything, please find me on Facebook or ask one of my family members for my e-mail address. If you don't have ties to any of those people/things but would still like my e-mail, leave me something in the comments and I'm sure that could be arranged somehow!

Until next time - take care!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Saying goodbye is never easy. Most of these people that I've been working with for the past year I will see again at some point - it just is always so bittersweet to see a season pass. These last 7 weeks (is it that soon?!) is going to be me getting some last minute travel in, getting a couple of gifts for folks back home, organizing my life for the next stage, and getting back into a couple of good habits that I let slide most of this year. I think 2012 definitely holds promise to be a great year!

I was talking to one of my best school friends the other day on Skype and we were talking about this year. She asked me how my year was - she proceeded to tell me that her year was a GREAT one. I had to stop and really think about my answer. If I was completely honest with her and myself, this year had a lot of trials for me - some physical, some mental, a couple spiritual, and a couple emotional. My health was the biggest ongoing issue and I think (knock on wood!) I'm past the worst of it - it can only go uphill now! But despite the hardships, this year was a really good year for me, too. I have been blessed so much and even with the ups and downs of living halfway across the world from my friends and family, with language and culture barriers, dealing with doctors who don't speak much English, not always having the small comforts of home (that surprisingly make a big difference), I can't deny or even begin to pretend that I didn't see the Lord's blessings in my life - the job, the people, the place(s), the life experiences, and growth have enriched me so much! So accounting for everything this past year has held, it has been one of the most trying years and yet, still one of the best years!

I can feel change in the air, I feel this season coming to an end and I can see a path that could have been but won't be. As much as part of me wishes I had the option to take that path, I also understand that there are other paths before me which are still open to me and which, I'm sure, will be just as wonderful if not more-so than the closed path. And who knows, as great as the closed path looked, it could have ended up being not so good. As of now, I can only see my path for about 2 months in front of me, from there, it splits into several paths and who knows where they may take me. But that's part of the journey, not knowing what may come, enjoying the ride, and having faith that God will take care of me, providing for me as he always has, and helping to guide my journey. I've had such a wonderful life journey so far - I can only imagine it will get better and more exciting through the years!