Monday, November 23, 2015

"The End"

The Live Forever Tour has come to an end.  I have finally arrived back home in Atlanta and I am presently curled up in my nice warm bed.  
I've learned and grown a lot over the last couple months.  I've seen myself mature and accomplish more than I thought I could.  I've gained perspective on lots of things and I've helped others to see some things in a different light too. 
I know the last two months was exactly where God wanted me for that season. Through the difficult times, the challenges and the disappointments - it was all meant to be. Through the fun, the excitement and the joy - it was all meant to be. 
God opens doors and provides opportunities. He never promises they will be easy, never promises that they will be fun. But part of it is up to us as individuals to find that joy, make things fun and to find the positives in everything.

1. I've made some great friends through all of this. 
2. I've strengthened a friendship I already had going into this. 
3. I've been reminded on several occasions, that I can't control everything and that I need to remain positive and flexible. 
4. I've learned that I am better than I see myself. I have more worth and value than I place upon myself. Others all around me see that - even when/if I don't. 
5. I've learned to always sit down to pee on a moving bus. 
6. I've been reminded people love me when I'm me. And for being exactly who I am. 
7. I've been able to use some of my creativity in the taping of signs and through a handful of photos. 
8.  And I think most of all - I've gained a new respect for myself by seeing all of the things listed above and growing from them and becoming a better me. 

Thank you to everyone that was on the tour with us. Especially to Jenn. My friend and boss who made me her 'one non-negotiable' because she knows me and believes in me and invites me out on these great adventures with her.  I could not ask for a better friend. 

The End...
And tomorrow begins a new Day One!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Nothing Else"

Today was a great day and a wonderful way to end the tour. It did have its moments of frustrations as people didn't have tickets and numbers and such as we needed them, but we got our stuff done as quickly and efficiently as we could with grins on our faces!!

There were a handful of 'end of tour pranks'...
I gaff taped the toilet paper dispenser in the crew room. 

Catering was...water???

In case anyone was looking for catering, i think it's this way...

The blue sign says, "this way to buses". 
We even played VIP QnA bingo!!  After sitting through 30 QnA sessions, we have heard several key words and seen several situation recur often.  So we made game cards that included things like, Barnes & Nobles, Day One, being from Chicago or mentioning the Cubs. 
The crew turned the bubble machines around on Franny so that the bubbles blew TOWARDS the stage, instead of the typical AWAY from the stage. 

I finally got a picture with Matthew West!!!
And one with Franny too!!!
AND Mr Talkbox!!!!
Just kidding, that's Corn. Haha.  
I got a photo with all three of us. 

Some other random great memories from today include, but not limited to:
Jeff, our truck driver dressed up again in his Alice Cooper makeup just for me to get this picture!  

I drew this on our whiteboard:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Almost "Out Of Time"

Second to last show day today.  It was a really good day.  The venue was laid out great, the stage was a little small but that doesn't affect me, catering was delicious, the people were really nice and were great to work with AND even the 'QnA from hell' wasn't near as bad as we thought it was going to be. 

We woke up to snow. 
Found a wicker rhino. 
We ate a wonderful feast. 
I made a balloon beast. 
Only one show left.  Bittersweet. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

"One Less"

It's funny how a terrible day will make a tolerable day seem not so bad...

It took almost three hours just to assign the rooms. We had options, but it was trying to decide which of the lesser evils would be better for each group of people:
Distance to stage. 
Distance from bus. 
Distance from catering. 
Distance from showers. 
Private bathroom. 
Shared bathroom. 

We ended up building a production office in catering which was on a basketball court in a gym. 
The basketball hoop is just to our left. 
I took both of those photos standing in the same spot. 

This church also had an amazing train that I just HAD to get photos on:

But I think the best photo of the day came two hours into the day when Jenn walked into the "Studio A" dressing room and as I walked in behind her I found a hat that I adorned before she saw me. so when she turned around, she just belted out laughing. 
I think it was a moment we both needed after yesterday. Just a few seconds to disconnect and laugh. 

Mid afternoon I tried to get Jenn to play a game for thirty minutes: you have to sing anything you say while in the office. 
She almost agreed and then immediately piped out a stern, "no. No."
I began to sing, "but Jenn I think it would be fuuuuun"
Then a voice behind me, "what are you doing...?" As Matthew chuckles at me. 
I sing again this time to Matthew, "we at a playing a gaaaame. We must sing all ooooof our reeespooooonses."
Without missing a beat, "is that singing?"
"I tryyyyy.  I tryyyy."
Matthew walks away. 
Jenn just looks at me shaking her head, "you asked right when he walked in. That's why I said no."
Haha. Great moments like these. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"A Few More Days"

One show down. 
Three more to go. 

What was with today, today???
So much was off today. So much was weird today. So much was frustrating today.  I don't even know where to start with everything that just wasn't right.  
The low:
I don't typically get to frustrated with people, but after 8 hours of security letting anyone and everyone just walk into the backstage dressing room area, the put four people in our office unattended.  All of our stuff is in there - computer, clothes, money, wallet, supplies, etc.  
That in itself was annoying. 
Keep in mind we specifically asked them not to let people come into the backstage area and they agreed to that. 
THEN...barely an hour later:
Five ladies come down to use the ladies restroom in the backstage area unescorted.  I left the office to see what was going on.  They told me the security guard upstairs said they could use that restroom. 
"Oh.  Well, that's not really ok since this is the backstage restrooms and they are for our tour personnel."
I go upstairs to find no security upstairs letting anyone downstairs.  So I block the stairwell down to our dressing rooms, not allowing anyone else to wander down into where we are camped for the day. 
Not even two minutes later, head of security comes over declaring, "they can use that bathroom.  This is our building, not yours!"
I'm totally willing to work with nice people.  Don't come at me with an attitude and a power trip though.  

So there was that, then on top of that there was a bunch of other issues all day with runners, catering, more venue stuff, the prohibitation of pamphlet passing out within the sanctuary because one of the elders has a competing company.  Whatever happened to 'doing it for the children' and not 'doing it for the paycheck'. 

Highlight of my day:
I had been eyeing some mats in the corner of our production office all day. I had been running thoughts of how to make the best use of these mats. So, with ten minutes until Byron MrTalkbox had to be on stage, Byron and I built a fort with them!!
We had three minutes to spare. But items at least a minute walk to get to the stage.  But he made it there after we made our fort in the room!!  

This also happened today:
Our monitors guy found a deer hanging out by the gear we were loading in. It almost made it into the building at one point from what I heard. 

If you watch the Walking Dead, and watched last Sunday's episode, you'll enjoy this:
I had to let Jenn know which level to find me on so we could do the autograph session.  Just as they wrote Dixon on the door for Daryl to find them, I wrote Manning on the button for Jenn to find me. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"The Last Ones"

We only have four shows left to go. We have shows in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. As we get closer to the end of the tour, things tend to slow down a bit for everyone. Nobody is preparing or advancing shows. Everybody is less needy of bus stock and snacks since we can't necessarily eat it all in four days. And it all becomes bittersweet as our friends all start to go different directions. Some will stay working with Matthew. Some are going back home to other jobs. Some are going on other tours. Some are just stepping down and looking into other options of work. 
One thing I'm happy about though is how much effort Jenn and I purposefully and intentionally set out to bring some order and unity to this group.  I feel like we did a great job and accomplished what we set out to do. 
Yes, we definitely had our share of struggles, difficult days and challenging situations...but we also overcame every single one of them. We came out not just alive - but on top!!  We accomplished a lot and we both feel we are leaving this camp better than when we found it.  
Of course, we may never know and never realize any of the impact we will be leaving behind. But as of where we stand today with only a handful of shows left to go - we have definitely made a positive impact not only on the lives of our crew and the band.  But we also helped them to make a difference in thousands of people's lives. And that's what it's all about to me.  
Jenn asked me today, "do you think somewhere down the line they (band & crew) will think back to us and say mostly good things?"
I replied back, "We will be in their trophy room!"

"The List" - Final State Count

Final State Count - 33

We visited 2/3 of the states!!!
The remainder of this week we only visit states we have been to already earlier in the tour - Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and surrounding states. 

Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Indiana

Georgia, South Carolina

Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California

Oregon, Idaho, Nevada

Colorado, Kansas, Missouri

Michigan, Ohio

WEEK 7  
Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia

Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas

Oklahoma, Arkansas

33 of 50 states visited for our 39 shows in 60 days.  We still have four shows to go before we come to an end.