Last Tuesday, I was at Hannah’s house meeting her cat. You may have seen a picture I’ve posted. Here’s another one, just in case.
We were hanging out, watching the kitten when I got a text from my cousin Pam who lives in London. This is what it said.
Yeah you guys.
That’s what it said. Did you see it?
A long time ago my cousin said they were doing a thing so they’d be in virtual line to get tickets when they went on sale and wondered if I’d be interested in going, so I kind of knew it could happen, but it was a long time ago and I pretty much never thought about it so it was such a surprise. Seriously.You see my reply.
But then I remembered I do live in the real world and need to give it a bit of serious thought. I came home, talked to Danny and realized I could actually do it. I mean I have been saving and always trying to figure out a way to go back to Europe, so I was feeling like Abraham Lincoln:
And so yeah. I’m going to Hamilton.
In the West End. Of London. With my cousins.
I spent the first couple days stuck in “Is this real life?” mode. And then I started telling people. I got the same excitement adrenaline every time I told it. But now I want to start talking about it (maybe all the time and obsessively, I’m not sure yet) so there you go. That’s probably my biggest news this year. That might even be like top 3 best news I’ve ever heard? Is that crazy? I don’t know man but top 5 for sure.
I don’t know much about this trip yet. I know which day I will for certain be in London. That part is easy. And I’m pretty sure I’ll do that at the beginning of the trip. It’s also possible that I can work it to fly roundtrip to NYC for free with miles - a flight from there to London is much cheaper than from Kansas City. Not only would that be cheaper but I’d get to see several friends that way. Seeing friends is one of the very best parts of traveling - the fact that I’m going to spend time with family I love that I rarely see is a huge part of what makes this so fun. (And honestly the fact that my cousin loves me enough to think of me and make that offer makes me feel super loved you guys.)
So! Now I get to plan. When I’ve gone to Europe in the past I’ve spent over a year planning the trip and now I’ve got a handful of months! But I really love the planning parts. I tend to make the people who see me regularly crazy by telling them too many details of my plans so I think I’m going to try to get all that excitement out here and tell you guys. Because you can opt out if/when it gets to be too much and maybe they won’t get so tired of me that way :).
Oh also, of course I have been on Hamilton overload for the last week. Don’t be shocked when you see me re-obsessing. (That poster came from here.) In fact you should expect it.
Chances are you've never been in my art room, but I will tell you it has been a mess. Like a big crazy ugly mess.
It never got set up right in the first place. It was a mess, so I added storage drawers and storage things, but it still seemed impossible to organize. I knew there was enough space for everything to have it's own home, but I needed blank space somewhere to put things as they were being sorted. It was like one of those puzzles where there's a square missing and then you have to slide it around to make the picture or whatever -- except there wasn't a missing piece so it just stayed where it was.
It bugged me. I would sit in my chair and daydream about how good it could be. And that was the start really. It starts with the desire and intention. And then the baby steps. And then boom.
I wish I had a photo that would adequately capture the chaos that was going on in here, but of course I do not. This is a slight idea (yes that is General Hospital on the tv):
That's one side of the room, but there's another. It was full of clutter piles and cupboards shoved full of things with not much rhyme or reason.
I started getting rid of stuff months ago. I was trying to make the empty square, so to speak.
I was unhappy with the empty collage spaces on that wall so I started clearing things out to get to them and add more stuff. These are the shelves to the right and left of the art table in the midst of being collaged up.
I fell in love with the emptiness of these spaces. 2 totally empty shelves and all that floor space! Having everything empty so much made me not want to put anything back on/in place, so I started getting rid of even.
That's kinda where I was when I was woken up really early one weekend. I hadn't slept well and was counting on the fact that I could sleep in. And then the phone rang way before I was ready to wake up. I tried to go back to sleep but it was pointless - and I got cranky.
Lucky for me, negative emotions motivate me to clean like crazy. I'm not sure why, but it is always true. I'm upset? What needs to be scrubbed?
Now this may sound funny, but I had a new mop sitting in my garage. It had been there for weeks, and that morning I kept thinking about it. I was trying to get back to sleep but I keep thinking about the mop and the dirty, dirty floors in my art room. I gave in, got up, and found the mop.
I got rid of a lot of piles. I pushed furniture around, I swept and I mopped. Twice.
It got really messy at some in between points.
That was so nice I started emptying all the drawers (and there are many), organizing and only putting back the things I really wanted to (or already did) use. I labeled them with descriptions like "distress ink" and "pokey things."
I've mentioned before I never remember to snap before pictures, but I hadn't gotten too far into the process when I realized I was going to clean out and organize all these cupboards too and took this picture. Imagine all the spaces full of messy.
Later that day it looked like this. It's almost full now but still looks tidy. One cupboard is for adheisves, one for water color based media, one for punches and scissors, etc. I also added some labels to the inside of the doors.
The Girls Kick Ass drawer? Brilliant idea, if I do say so myself, to velcro the remotes to it. They're for the big speaker that I listen to music/audio books on, the tv and the Roku. I love having a place they always go that's up off any surface.
Lots of the drawers under the desk are still empty as well. It feels really good. There are a few piles in my room waiting to be sorted but I have more than enough space to fit everything I want to use back in here and stay orderly.
My 50th year was not my favorite, so I've been working on ways to change things and get back to having a life that makes me happy. One essential part of that was to straighten up my art room and make some daily movement in that area every day. Art is good therapy. Art is good for your soul. All of that art stuff, it's true.
The first step was to get the art space in some kind of working order. I started getting rid of junk and supplies I don't use, while moving my favorite things into places easy to access. I got my desk cleaned off and covered part of it with this endless roll of pink butcher paper my dad gave me decades ago.
I didn't take a photo of my art table when it was all fresh and starting out because I am the worst at before photos. This is pretty close to how it looked though, just minus all the junk.
I found an old mostly empty art notebook. This was one of the few things already in it. It's pretty much representative of what stuff I was doing when I stopped doing anything. I'm interested in doing something totally different now. Much more messy.
I opened it to a pair of blank pages and started making it not blank a little teeny tiny bit at a time. I found a lot of good supplies in my redo, but I had also discovered most of my beloved ink sprays were not spraying. I had to think of an alternative for adding color in the background and I started thinking about stencils. I had a few so I tried them out with ink pads that still worked. I may have also bought a few more stencils on Amazon because they are fun, and look cool.
I went a little crazy trying stuff out, but that's kind of the idea.
I love to stamp words on stuff. I found my best alphabet step set ever. It was part of a kid's set of stamps that probably cost ninety nine cents. They are perfect. In retrospect, I wish I would have stamped 'element' because that's what I called those giant animals when I was a kid. Next time.
Then I found the gesso. It was in a vapor lock tub from 1998 and there was still perfectly good gesso in it. I'm not even kidding you. I know when it was from because there's a sticker on the bottom. I felt like it was a sign from the art gods. The gesso miracle. I started gessoing up all the pages. It made some cool effects on the ones I had already spayed with ink ages ago.
I kept trying supplies out as I found them and really messed that page up. By that I mean I don't like it right now. But it happens. Maybe it'll end up turning out anyway.
After a few days of playing with stuff, I started to make some pages I like.
I like what this one became.
I love a white pen. I love white on top of the intense colors. This is an example of what Hannah diagnosed as Compulsive Outlining Disorder. She's not wrong.
And then this part of a blue page? Oh, I love it. For real. I have to never forget that doing this, even a tiny bit at a time, is necessary for a happy life. I mean for me. Although you would probably enjoy it too.
A lot of days I post various bits of my daily art making on my Instagram stories. Follow me there. It's fun (and there's no drama).
The rest of my story about my most recent trip to Orlando -
We left off Monday morning with a Game of Thrones hangover and nothing on my schedule all day. I spent most of it wasting time in some of my favorite ways - talking about tv on twitter, eating donuts I only eat on vacation, petting the dog and chatting with people via the (type)written word. When Adrianne got home from work we ran to Publix to get stuff for dinner.
My brother grilled out in the crazy rain for us and we tried to find a movie he wanted to show me. It was his bedtime before we made it through one. I curled up with my iPad and read every twitter post about Game of Thrones while I continued to listen to podcasts.
On Tuesday morning, my first friend from the DCP Adam brought his wife and his super tiny baby to pick me up and take me to Disney breakfast.
We ate at The Wave, an underhyped restaurant tucked away on the first floor of the Contemporary. We had talked about eating there or at Trail's End. Both are buffets that cast members get a good discount on, but they had never been to The Wave so that seemed like the best choice. I've done their breakfast buffet a few times in the past and am a fan of the sweet potato pancakes. It was good and they were glad they tried it, but unanimous consensus was Trail's End is better (just in case you were looking for a Disney breakfast recommendation).
Dianne came to pick me up that night when she got off work. We were looking for something quick and tasty for dinner so she took me to Tijuana Flats. Delicious giant tacos, great guacamole and an entire hot sauce bar to can check out. I didn't even think I liked hot sauce until I tried some of those.
On Wednesday, we went back to the parks. My two Disney goals for this visit were to see the new fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and check out the new land of Pandora at the Animal Kingdom. I was determined to get both done that day.
My DCP roommate Dianne (who I was staying with) had to get a different roommate since I left so now shares an apartment with a guy who works in the Festival of the Lion King show at the Animal Kingdom. He's one of the always entertaining Tumble Monkeys, and he is such a sweet guy, he put us on a VIP list for the show.
We sat on the front row and this was our view. I've seen this show many times but wow, it looks different from down on the floor. I mean it's always fantastic in this theatre, but the different perspecitve was exciting. For example I noticed the costumes in that show. They are so intricate and fascinating. It's the kind of attention to detail that gives things depth and make them interesting.
After the show we were rushed out by an usher behind the theatre for a chance to chat with these kind animals and have our pictures taken with them. Huge thank you to these guys (who will never read this). That stilt walker? Yeah. He's way up there.
After the show we rushed to Pandora to ride Flight of the Navigator before we headed out. I wanted to slowly wander around the new area, drinking it in, but it was way too hot for that kind of nonsense. Next time I go I will check out every inch, but in August? No thanks. So we headed straight for the ride.
The wait time was over an hour, but we were prepared for that. I'm pretty sure it's always that long. Since the main point of my trip was to visit we figured chatting in line (and we had some great chatting) instead of in her living room would be fine.
On the left below you'll see a hidden Mickey Dianne found. It's in the queue, near the entrance. The other shots are from inside.
Let me just say that ride was incredible. Incredible. I screamed and laughed and had the best time. It was way worth the wait and I can not wait to ride it again.
After the ride we headed out to the Magic Kingdom. It didn't feel anything like fall but I love these decorations the most
We realized we hadn't eaten. Fireworks time was close so we decided to eat at the closest place - Cosmic Rays. Not either of our favorite places but they have chicken and fries so there we were. It was insanely crowded. Beyond. Dianne was going to grab something somewhere else and meet me back there but decided not to because of the crowds. She hung out with me while I ate but as we fought the crowd back to Main Street she decided she was going to bail. The crowds were pretty out of control, but I was willing to endure them for new fireworks.
I found a pretty good spot in the middle of the street outside of Starbucks. It was so hot I found myself wondering "Hmm, I wonder what would happen if I passed out right here" but I was fine.
The fireworks were amazing. I am a fan. I didn't take any pictures because I wanted to just experience it since it was my first time. It was gorgeous. I felt inspired. And fireworks!! There were lots and lots of them. I loved it. And honestly, seeing fireworks all alone on Main Street is probably the very best way to see them.
I knew Dianne had been waiting for me. And I know right after fireworks at the MK is a crazy rush time, especially with this many people watching. But I also knew I as already halfway down Main Street, and I knew that one person in a hurry can cut through crowds pretty quickly when motivated. I didn't leave early, but as soon as the show was over I booked it out of the park and out toward the ferry. I made it on the first boat out of the park, and then onto the first tram to the parking lot. Trust me, I was super proud of myself. I told just about everyone about it and no one seemed as impressed as I was. Whatever. I consider that quite an accomplishment.
I was firework drunk by the time I made it to Dianne's car. I was still so excited and in love with everything. Dianne said later she had never seen me like that and I admit it was kinda crazy. I couldn't stop smiling. I was glowing. I was in love with the world. And I wouldn't stop talking. We were in our pjs checking FB one last time and I kept stopping her to tell stories about every friend who had posted. Firework drunk. It's a thing.
There were a couple places I was hoping I'd get to eat on this trip. One was Flippers, another Via Napoli, and another D'Luxe Burger. None fancy, but oh so good. My flight out wasn't until early evening so Dianne suggested we stop by Disney Springs for late Burgers!
We left for the airport after that. She dropped me at the skycap and he got me all checked in. I hate saying goodbye, but it helps knowing I'll be back in January.
I had to check in with a Princess before they let me leave the city.
Oh and here's my favorite TSA story ever. The lines were crazy. Once you got past the person who looks at your id the line snaked around for about ever. There was a sign that said the wait was about 45 minutes. I like to be super early to everything flights so I wasn't worried but I bet some people were. I heard a worker guy ask someone how long the line was, and then he shouted out for everyone to empty their pockets, keep their laptops on their bags and leave their shoes on because they were bringing in a canine unit!! The mood of the crowd instantly changed. A dog? Suddenly we were all excited and chatting with each other. Really? We can leave our liquids in our bags as long as we get sniffed by a dog? What's the bad part?
When we made it to the dog, he was inside a little rectangle made from the stanchions. His handler was there and the dog would walk around sniffing us as we made our turn past him. After that the rest of security was as breeze. Can was always just have dogs? Seriously.