Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Adventures of Touring – A Christmas Story

Often when I tell people that I’ll be spending Christmas on the road, they give me the sad face. In a half of a second expression, I read their thoughts which are clearly saying, Aw, you poor little gypsy girl with no stability, no presents and no family to bake christmas tree shaped sugar cookies with. Fuck that. I began enjoying Christmas the year that I stopped giving a shit. I’m no Grinch, I love Christmas, I just believe that people put way too much pressure on holidays with their empty traditions and obsession with consumerism.

I would roughly guess that it was 2006 when my Dad hit me with one of his very many wise thoughts. He essentially said that he doesn’t stress over buying presents because he would never want anyone to stress over buying him presents. While that doesn’t sound particularly profound, it definitely changed my outlook. I hated that panicky feeling that consumed the days leading up to Christmas when you still had presents to buy but you don’t know what to buy and time is running out. When my Dad said that, I realized that I truly would rather NOT receive a present than have anyone stress over what to buy me for a holiday. I think for the past 8 birthdays, my dad has simply given me a card and a six-pack of beer. Like father like daughter.  I’m now the same way.  Unless I know exactly what gift I want to get someone, I just don’t worry about it.  Or I’ll make a donation in their name.  I’m a pretty big nay-sayer of gaudy consumerism, so I like giving charity gifts.

Excuse my rant that is only slightly related to my original topic, which is to tell you how my 2014 Christmas went, and to set the record straight about holidays on the road. Sure, they can be lonely if you let it, but here is why it doesn’t have to be.

Christmas Eve started like any other show day. We loaded into the venue at 6:00am, I did a baby wipe shower in the lobby bathroom and applied some make-up and attempted to not let my hair look like a bee hive, but I stopped with that attempt when I remembered that I hadn’t washed my hair in five days so there was no helping that mess. I broke down a couple pallets and went back and forth between the stage and lobby with two hand-trucks and gave a guarded to smile and a coy comeback to the stage hands who insist on making some of type of chivalric comment about a female doing any type of manual labor. Then I took a nap on the lobby floor.

Me and lobby floors have a special relationship.

Me and lobby floors have a special relationship.

I woke up to the children in the lobby and decided to document the mild absurdity of the fact that our photographer/videographer who I will call Monterey; his job is to take pictures of little girls in tu-tu’s everyday. He appreciates the humor in this as well.

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We had two early shows that day, so load out happened earlier than usual, meaning that we had time to go drink. We started on the bus, as Monterey took one for the team and walked to a liquor store and brought back some christmas cheer. He got us all bottles and then also got some mini bottles that I’d like to think of as stocking stuffers. We didn’t have stockings, so a dirty tupperware would have to do.

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Then we all went to The Griffon, the best bar in Charleston and coincidentally, where we went last year at Christmas. A new, unconventional tradition. Last year, we were just about the only people in that place, so we hit it off real well with the bartender, whose name is Ben, and chatted it up with him while we drank our Christmas spirit into existence. This year, we went back to the same spot, and Ben was still there and he miraculously remembered us.

The Griffon

The Griffon

So It felt good to be back at the same place with the same individuals on Christmas Eve. Sitting next to Sue, as she told me about her ex husband, and sitting next to Monterey as we bullshitted about the geography of the middle east in relation to psychology, sitting with Laura as she shares her love for Gone with the Wind and sitting amongst all seven of us as we discussed what kind of drink each person would be (we decided Lucy is peppermint moonshine, Monterey is a mint julep, A-dog is an IPA and no one could come up with what I would be) and sitting across from Ben as he filled us with christmas cheer (a.k.a. liquor), it felt good to be in that dive bar with a makeshift family celebrating Christmas Eve like a band of misfits.

Somehow we all made it back to the bus alive and I woke up to nothing other than a truck stop on Christmas morning. I think that is wildly appropriate and semi ironic considering my life this past year. I was not complaining because I love shitty gas station coffee and I even treated myself to a splash of the machine made peppermint mocha in my luke warm holiday coffee. Merry Christmas to me.

I am almost always the first one awake, so I try to be quiet in the mornings while I get my start. I was absolutely still drunk, as it was 7:00am, and I was thinking oh fuck… here comes the part where you need to spend 15 minutes trying to get your life back in order from the night before. Nope. Everything was exactly in its right place. I love when that happens. More often than not when I’m wasted, the next morning I am consistently impressed with myself that I did not lose anything, and even managed to get my coat, boots and phone in the same exact place that they always are. I felt I deserved a high-five for that one. No one was awake yet though, so I settled for an inner congratulatory on being a professional drinker. A-dog and Monterey both woke up in a panic that morning, thinking that they left their phones at The Griffon. Anyway, I got my coffee and beef jerky and sat in the jump seat while we cruised down I-95 in the rain and finished the novel, “Half Broke Horses” until Monterey and Sue woke up at around 8:30.

Merry Christmas! Shots? Yes please! We dug into the stocking stuffer basket and the three of us did a shot of whiskey for breakfast while flipping through the television channels to find the station that plays A Christmas Story for 24 hours.

Then the waiting game. It was a day off, so that means we get a hotel room. We arrived at the hotel around 10:00am, and rooms were not ready, so we sat on the bus and waited while taking a consistent flow of shots from mini dixie cups while still in our pajamas and listening to terrible christmas carol covers.

Keepin' it classy.

Keepin’ it classy.

We were all too disgusting and hung over to try to do anything more serious than going to 7-11 before getting a shower. Monterey and I managed to get a load of laundry done, which was the one appropriately domestic thing we did that day considering that it was christmas and the general public is participating in mostly domestic behaviors while we fight over junk bunk space and brush our teeth using water bottles. So Monterey and I sifting through laundry together, getting excited about detergent pods and bantering in bunk alley about whose shoes smell worse was a true domesticated christmas event.

Once showers were accomplished, we went to go see a movie, because what the hell else are you going to do on Christmas? Then we got back to the bus and drank a bottle of champagne from the bottle (we’re too gangster for glassware) as he taught me about the “Rossi Toss” and we listened to Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Him and I have discussed so much over the tours that I can’t believe we still find new subjects to talk about. He’s a true rarity. Without a doubt, one of the most intelligent people I know and can absorb information in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I think he may have a photographic memory… or something close to it. He knows a lot about a lot, so the conversational possibilities are endless. I know a little about a lot of things, which is one quality that I think gives me the ability to be able to talk to just about anyone, but Monterey knows A LOT about a lot. So a quick stop at the bus before continuing on with our night, turned into an hour and a half conversation over a bottle of champagne that came in a fitted champagne koozie.  Brilliant.

The crew had originally planned to all be together on Christmas night, but on this particular tour, the girls always end up doing their own thing, and then I end up with the boys and we just end up going to a bar.

Somehow on this night, Monterey and I got separated from the pack, so him and I went to the beach for dinner. It was great. If anything, it was a really nice christmas present to not be in the freezing cold for a change. We were in South Florida because the show the following day was in Miami. We’ve been on tour mostly up in the northern states, and it’s been friggen cold, so the beach and shorts for christmas was very welcoming to us all. Sand is not Monterey’s thing, but he sucked it up while I frolicked on the shore and splashed around in the water underneath the moonlight. I needed to get that out of my system and he was a good sport about it. More drinks. More laughs. More conversations. Bus. Pass out. And that was Christmas. It was a good one.

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I missed my family and I do feel guilty sometimes about never being home, mostly because of my sister, but I think that the Christmas season should just be about enjoying people rather than things and that’s exactly what I did. While it felt like a normal day off while on the road, it was a particularly good day off. I didn’t have a christmas tree, gifts were not exchanged and there were no homemade dinners and pies, but I did have a great friend by my side, a bottle of champagne, the beach and some good laughs… and who needs more than that?

“He who has not christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

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My Sister Says that I’m Mean to Strangers: A Merch Girl Rant

My sister informed me that she thinks I’m mean to strangers. She’s probably right. I wasn’t always this way. I think the change occurred when I was managing a bar in Hollywood. Everyone in Hollywood is an asshole and it’s contagious. On top of that, this bar was located in the sketchiest part of Hollywood. So it was assholes mixed with the seediest crowd I’ve ever consistently seen in one place. By far. Every patron that was in their during the day, you couldn’t tell if they were homeless, or a successful millionaire director who has gone off his rocker and now wears ARMY surplus clothes, spends his time doodling pornographic storyboards on cocktail napkins while drinking pints of Smithwicks. Everyone in there at night was either looking to get laid or using the establishment as a mafia meeting point. And everyone, no matter what time of day, got wasted. You did not go to this bar without the intentions of getting hammered. Half of the staff was drunk most of the time. Needless to say, it was a goddamn mess everyday.

Everyday I had stories ranging from needing to call 911 because a strange man looked at me blankly and threatened to come back with a gun and kill all of us basically because the bartender didn’t suck his dick, to little mob men making me go into the safe to give them cash that I was instructed to write off as “credit card reimbursement.” The point is, I dealt with a lot of bullshit at this job and it turned me mean because everyone just pissed me off. The only person who had any sense at all was Nick. He was one of the other manager’s and him and I were our own little two man team because everyone else seemed to be fucking stupid. Nick is a delight and a whole other story that I will tell one day.

Now, I’m a merch girl. My 2014 New Year’s resolution, almost a year ago now, was to learn how to build a fire with my bare hands, and to be nicer to strangers. I really do think that I’m making progress on the latter, but this is why it’s so damn hard…

A woman asks to see a medium shirt.
I hold it up for her as she examines.
Woman: “Is the large going to be bigger than the medium?”

It’s times like these that make my resolution very difficult. What I really want to tell her is that that is the most embarrassing question I have ever heard. However, I refrain. Not so much because I’m trying to be nice, or because of my resolution, but because I am working, and I try to be a professional, so I hold my tongue. I know that if I open my mouth bitter sarcasm will involuntarily come vomitting out, so I usually don’t say anything at all when I hear a question that is so profoundly stupid. I just look at the person in silence for a moment, and generally they will catch their mistake. In this woman’s case, after suffering through my blank stare for a few excrutiating moments, she said, “Yeah, I guess it would be.”

Here’s a very common one…
Person: “How much is that shirt?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”
Person: “What about that one?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”
Person: “And that one at the end?”
Me: “All of the shirts are $25.”

I hate to be sexist against my own gender, but women at the merch table are a catastrophe. First of all, they toss their purse onto the table, and due to most female bags being the size of a small panther, it covers half of my display. They then proceed to study every single size t-shirt, holding them up to one another for comparison, checking the tag then asking me what it’s made out of even though they just looked at the tag. Then they ask their boyfriend what he thinks. Then they tell me that they like my hair. Then they tell me about their hair. Then they tell me about their friend’s hair. Once we’ve finally come to the part where a currency exchange is about to take place, they start shoveling through their obnoxiously large purse and pull out everything from glittery lip gloss that has gross strands of shed hair wound up in the goop, to fucking thongs before finally finding their cash. Here’s what happens when most men appraoch the merch table.
Man: “Do you have that shirt in a medium?”
Me: “Yes.”
Man: “I’ll take it.
He hands me the cash. Done.

I have worked on tour for a ballet company two years in a row. We sell a DVD of the performance, and we also record the performance every night because there are different local children in it at every city, so the parents like to have a copy of that specific performance. With that in mind, I cannot believe how often I get this…
It will be BEFORE a performance. Doors have just opened and someone will point to my DVD that is on the table and ask, “Is this of tonight’s performance?” Holy fuck. Again, I just don’t say a word, and let them come to the realization that they just sounded like a friggen idiot. Almost always, after a moment they say, “Oh duh, I guess that’s not possible,” to which I’m thinking, Jesus Christ, thank everything that I never have to deal with you in my life ever again. But I smile instead. My sister would be proud. Actually, my sister would probably not be able to hold her tongue, and she would just unapologetically laugh in their face.

This one always makes me chuckle and I swear that short pale boys are the biggest culprits.
Boy: “Can I get that Chevelle shirt?”
Me: “Dude, they’re all Chevelle shirts.”
Boy: (Obviously semi-embarrassed) “Oh yeah, the black one.”
Me: “Dude, they’re all black.”

And here’s my all time favorite and I swear to God that I have got this more than once…
“Is this stuff for sale?”
I have never felt superior to others, except for the three times someone has asked me that question. I will say with little regret, that I felt superior to them as a functioning human in that moment.

I think because my annoyance cannot be present while I’m working, it infiltrates my non-working life. So my sister may be right… I’m kind of a bitch to strangers, but only because they made me this way! Not that it’s relevant, but it’s always fun to blame the accuser… my sister, who is 19, is mean to people she actually knows. Friends. I think it’s badass and it cracks me up.

For example, a male friend of hers was over the house and I guess he was kind of drunk and Raven was not at all. The next day he texted her asking, “On a scale from 1-10, how annoying was I being last night?” Raven’s response was, “Definitely 10.”
I would have sugar coated it and been like, oh you weren’t too bad…. blah blah blah. Not Raven. She also told her very good friend that he should be gay because he never gets girls.

She is the opposite of how I was at her age. Back then, I was so concerned with making everyone happy that I would spout out lies. Raven doesn’t give a fuck. It’s beautiful. She has said to me on more than one occasion, “Cait, you are not lookin’ good today.” So funny.

We all have our flaws, and I for sure have a lot of them. One thing that gives me slight solace in my sea of shortcomings, is that I can own up to mine. So I’m sorry to the Target cashier whom I was short with, and the mechanic who tried to make small talk with me but I sort of rolled my eyes, but the stupid people at the merch table made me this way!

Raven at work, not giving a fuck.

Raven at work, not giving a fuck.

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