Sunday, May 18, 2008

Living the Dream!

Steve and I both were hired by the Second City National Touring Company after we did our stint on the ship. It is something that both of us have wanted to do since we were wee. The Touring Company has a website ( and encourages its members to contribute to the content. For example, sometimes we donate .jpegs of us on the road - like this gem of myself in Edmonds, Washington (not quite Olympia, I know) meeting RICK STEVES, the travel guru who purred into my ear buds as I listened to his podcasts about Turkey and Italy and beyond while I was on the ship.

They have a section called "What's It Like to..." and they asked me to write a bit for it. Here was my question:
"So Katie, what's it like to... Travel and live with 7 other people for extended periods of time?"

And here is my answer:
I know You. You love The Second City with all your being. You think it is the End-All-Be-All of Comedy. You know that no other institution boasts such an esteemed roster of Comedians. You know Your life will have reached an apex if You were ever to be a performer in the Second City Tradition. And You know one of the first steps in reaching that apex is to wrangle a spot on the Second City Touring Company.

And if this doesn’t describe You, thanks for actually reading this, Mom*!

Dude, I have some news for you: Being a member of The Second City Touring Company is…well…What It Is.

Listen - I am in no way trying to detract from the opportunity I have been given, but let’s be real for a second. My job is to tool around the country in a van with seven folks who have nothing to do with me except that we share a common Bottom Line. Seven random people that I hadn’t really interacted with prior to our first rehearsal together.

This isn’t a Real World-type situation where you get to live, rent-free, in a palatial loft in an urban paradise with these seven strangers. Granted, sometimes you get to go on some killer trips (Vienna, anyone?) But, a lot of the time you get to stay in motels in towns the size of your college Physics class. And not a major university Physics class – a small, Liberal Arts Physics class.

In short, you get stuck with another Family. Another freaking Family that you didn’t have a lick in choosing.

And you can’t move out of this Family’s house. In fact, when you are Touring, you have to live with, eat with, work with, cry with, laugh with, drink with, fight with, play with, write with, compose with, and create with the human beings that the Touring Company Gods of Fate have brought you.

Sometimes you are stuck for 8.5 hours in a van with people who flaunt their staunch Republican values (Tim Sniffen*), or pass gas openly and with gusto (Brian Jack*), or talk too much and too loudly about inane things in the most intolerable, high-pitched, grating voice imaginable (Katie Rich*). And you want to murder those people as soon as you get to the next rest stop.

But, when you’re on stage all of that B.S. doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the Work.

Here’s the beautiful, gorgeous, tremendous Bottom Line that we all share - The members of the Second City Touring Company have been picked to do a very unique and important job – To Remind People That Life is Funny. And, in the end, when it really counts, we all have each other’s backs.

If that’s not the definition of Family, then I don’t know what is.

(Here is my Touring Company - called The Blue company, or BlueCo - at a very Family-Friendly destination - Mt. Rushmore.)

*Names haven’t been changed at all.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Read This First.

About 7 years ago I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder. In the simplest of terms, your nervous system has a gas pedal and a brake. The gas pedal kicks in when there is danger (i.e. you have to fight and/or run away from a tiger) and the brake kicks in when the danger has passed. My gas pedal is broken, and tends to floor itself even when there isn’t a “tiger” in the room, like when I am watching a movie or simply sitting at a restaurant with my friends.

Wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

So, this little story about my travels has a bit more going on than just anecdotes and snapshots. The stories are about someone who, in the simplest of terms, is doing IT. IT! Things that people like me aren't supposed to do! Like live in a tiny cabin that is often in the middle of the ocean or docked at a very remote island with no hospitals or cabs or warm beds to hide in. Or riding a camel. IT!

I am so grateful that my reward for my good fight against my body’s inability to know when it is time to fight is this beautiful adventure, with old friends and new. You might even say it was all worth it. You might.

I hope you enjoy IT.

Now, go start at the beginning of this blog. It will make much more sense that way.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Re-visiting Olympia

As many of you loyal friends and family know, I absolutely adored my trip to Olympia, and touring the site of the original Olympics. So much so, I decided I wanted to go back. So much so, that I decided I didn't want to lead tourists around or do head counts, but that I wanted my head counted by someone else.

Cody, Steve, and Dave Keeton agreed, and we all shelled out $72 of our (hard earned?) dollars to take the excursion to Olympia in Muggle-fashion.

I may have said this before, but the Olympics reduce me to a sniffling, snotting mess every year, making me beam with pride at what humans, in their peak perfection, can accomplish. I sort of expected the same thing to happen when I waltzed back into the Olympic Stadium not having to worry about whether Snappy McTakesTooManyPictures is lagging behind.

But, instead, it was sort of just calming. It was a very serene feeling, retracing those steps. I still cannot get over the cypress trees that surround the Olympic site. And the quiet - a quiet that you cannot achieve in revered places like the Vatican museums or the Parthenon. It is the quiet that cannot possibly be man-made.

I realized that a lot of the facts that I had tried to piece together from my previous tour guide's speeches where a bit off. First, anyone caught cheating in the Olympic games was forced to commission a statue of Zeus to line the pathway into the Olympic Stadium. The statue had the cheater's name on it. So, it wasn't just any criminals, but athletes that were forced to endure the humiliation. Take that, Barry Bonds.

Also, the fire-pit that houses the Olympic flame was reintroduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics. It is lit by the reflection of sunlight in a parabolic (fancy word for curved in a precise, mathematical way) mirror and then transported by a torch to the place where the games are held. A fella by the name of Carl Diem introduced the modern-day torch running during the Berlin Games of 1936, as part of an effort to - get this - turn the games into a glorification of the Third Reich!

Horrible, lesser-known associations aside, they boys had to do the "I raced my pals at the original Olympic Stadium" race. Steve won! However, all were quite winded, and much water and panting was needed to recover.

Not too long ago, the fires that ravaged Greece reached these places. Flames licked the edges of the original Olympic stadium and scorched the yard of the museum. Even though we were all separated by many miles, Cody and Jennine and Dave and I all corresponded about how horrible it would be that a place we had all mutually appreciated was so close to destruction.

To be honest, had we not gone there, I probably wouldn't have batted much of an eye at the news story.

That is happening a lot lately. Faraway places have become friends I want to keep in touch with.

So, there's that. I can sure thank my travels for that.