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. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Out Of My Hands"

Today was...weird. 

The runners were great!  That was a splendid change from the norm. All was wonderful this morning too. Both Jenn and I planned on getting showers this afternoon thinking it would be a slower day at a really nicely laid out venue.  
Just as the afternoon began, I found out that this venue was mostly run by newbies. I think several were students learning to do their job.  What better way to learn than by experience, right?  "Let's just do shows, and you can screw them up now so you don't make the same errors when you work at a real show"
Maybe I'm far off base on that, but it definitely felt like that. There were so many errors and unanswered questions and huge rookie-like mistakes. 
For example:
The venue set up a meet & greet that was to run from 630pm-7pm...with 150 people attending...and didn't tell us ahead of time...and didn't tell the 159 people anything about how or where or when. 
They told us around 2pm. At which point we have a few hours to figure out how to get 150 people through a line in 30 minutes!!!
Mathematically, that's one person every twenty seconds!!  Barely enough time to just take a picture, let alone a signature or a "hi, how are you doing?"
We were able to work it all out and fix everything, but that should have never happened. 
We also got pranked tonight!!
The girls decided to play pranks on us. Jenn and I were asked to check out our bunks, so I warned Matthew as we opened the door to the bunks, "be ready. And you might want to film this..."
As the door slid open and Matthew started walking back, I screamed as loud as I could. He literally jumped about a foot off the ground. I can't blame him though, my screams are loud and frightening. All of those years working at a haunt finally paid off. 
What I found was that the girls had gaff taped my bunk so I couldn't get into it.  It was gaffed like a spider web. I could barely get one foot through any of the gaps.  
Jenn luckily only got streamers. She got more decorations than prankage. 

I'm sorry, I don't care if your age is still single digits, or barely double digits. Payback will be paid back!!  
Oh, and it was:
We left a nice little note on the door for the girls, and gaff taped their shoes to the ceiling.  It's tall enough they won't be able to reach their own shoes - I could barely reach them standing on the seats. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Do Something"

This morning started with sleeping in. We are in Dallas and have the day off.  I also had nothing planned - the possibilities were endless!!!

First things first: breakfast. Two bagels with cream cheese!!  I bought the bagels two weeks ago, so it's good I finally ate some of them. 

Second: a quick trip to the bank.  Luckily my bank had a branch right across the street!  The difficult part was getting across 6 lanes of traffic with no crosswalk.  I made it safely both directions!!  But I also had to wait for a clear space for a few minutes both times. 

Third: lunch with friends. Six of us went to lunch today at Chuys.  Two of my favorite moments: 
1. We all belted out "oh baby baby!" When Britney Spears played on the radio. 
2.  Restaurants started posted reading material in front of urinals for some reason.  This place had some concerning graphic novel pages written in Spanish. I couldn't tell what it said but the photos were quite disturbing. 

Fourth: the mall. We saw the biggest tree I have ever seen up close:

Then I thought we were going shopping, but instead we went and got pedicures. 
My feet hurt during the process, but tonight, they feel so nice and soft! 

Fifth: thank you dinner. Matthew took out the production team, the crew, merch and the drivers for a thank you dinner.  We all had a great time bonding with each other and our boss.  Throughout the normal working day, none of us typically have time to spend doing anything together other than work. So getting this time for us all to talk and laugh together and tell stories was great!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

"Stop The World"

What was different about today?

I woke up early this morning and needed to use the facilities. Our bus doesn't have the ability to deal with the solid waste deposits in our restroom so I went into the venue to use their toilet. 
As I snooped around, I found out our room was large and had a large bathroom. But it also shared that bathroom with another artist AND the bathroom doors could not be locked.  We have too many ladies with us for that to be acceptable.  So we ended up switching rooms with some guy from American Idol, Gokey. Idk who he is, but he got a huge dressing room today so he could share a very open toilet with another artist.  
It wouldn't had been so bad if the catering lady wasn't so demanding of immediate answers and yelling at me. At one point I just turned to her and very straightforward said, "I am not authorized to make these decisions. I will give you answers as soon as I get them."
She didn't appreciate that, but oh well. I got her an answer and we swapped our rooms and the world was still alright. 

Then my world got pulled in half a dozen directions as everyone started asking me for everything all at once...passes, meal tickets, packets, schedules, sign changes, arrows, start times, ice, drinks, locations, cases............
I did my best to do what I could as fast as I could. I feel like I dropped so many balls trying to get it all done at once, but some people were just going to have to wait. And they did.  And the world was still alright. 

By the time I got things up and running, we had to go straight into a media blitz with Matthew.  First was a radio interview. 
We did that for about 20 minutes and then went right into a meet'n'greet at a different location.  Where we were was an amazing view of the show: Spotlight world. 
Twenty minutes there and we were off again to do an autograph signing. 
There was a line over 1000 people long that wrapped around the stadium wanting autographs.  
It was odd how they set it up. One continuous line for all the artists. The artists would take turns in 30 minute increments.  Whoever was signing when you got to the front of the line - that's whose signature you received.  Regardless of whom you actually were hoping for in line.  
We signed for about 45 minutes since we showed up early and the next band was late. Matthew loves these sorts of things, so this was a positive opportunity for us. 

Then a breather.  Lunch time. 

Soon as lunch was over, it was back at it full force.  Make sure towels and waters are at the stage.  Make sure Mr Talkboxis ready to go on.  Then I sat with some repairman for 30 minutes as he never got our satellite fixed on our bus. 
Then it was time to get Matthew to the stage.  
 Soon as he was done: DINNER TIME!!

This was the longest dinner break I've had on tour.  About an hour. I was already exhausted at lunch at 2pm. Now it's 6pm and I am beat!!! 
I literally felt my body trying to shut down. 
An hour later in the dressing room, I passed out. I fell asleep for about an hour or so. I woke up at 9pm, just in time to catch the Third Day show. 
What a great show, as always. 

During the encore, they pulled everyone on to stage that was side stage. Jenn came out with me for ten seconds before she disappeared.  I stayed on stage and sang my little heart out with them. 

Twas an ok day, but it was definitely a great night. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"I Was Made For This"

Today was a good day. I got started a little early and took the bull by the horns. It made for a nicely paced day from then on. No rushing, no fast walking, no sense of urgency.  I was able at one point to just sit at the edge of the loading dock for 20 minutes waiting for our bus groceries to arrive.  
It was a nice day out.  The sun was shining, the temp was perfect. It gave me some time to just reflects little bit, to pray a little bit, to appreciate where I was, where I've been the last couple months and appreciate things I don't typically find time to.  
I spent quite a bit of time in the morning pondering this sign:
I couldn't make a decision if 
1. I shouldn't enter. 
2. If I should leave it open. 
Why was I being forced to decide between the two options?  Which choice was better?  Who will be affected by my decision and in what ways?  
The pressure!!!!!!
(I ended up breaking both requests. The door stayed open all day. It was also catering - I entered a few times...and I don't regret it one bit)

Anyone else see something wrong with this picture...?

We also had a birthday party today!  Sharon, Matthews mom!  I had to order a cake for her, so I ordered an ice cream cake. Probably the best decision I've made in a while. Everyone loved it and I even had them write a special message on it for her:
She loved the message. I'm glad nobody thought it was too immature or something.  You know how some people can get sometimes.  
It was chocolate chip ice cream too!!

I started using the cardboard pieces in our 24 packs of water for shopping lists. I have been tempted to make the runners use this list because of its ginormous size, but nobody can read my writing. I'm afraid they would look at this list and come back with just Funyons and Hi-C. 
(I end up having to type it up and print it)

And lastly, today's fashion award goes to the wearer of these boots:

State Count - Week 8 - 31 and counting...

I know it's a little early, but we stay in TX tomorrow again and on Monday.  

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

31 states so far...only 6 more shows until the end...

"Hello, My Name Is..."

David Trask is still covering for Jenn.  Yesterday at our 'VIP QnA with Matthew West', David introduced Matthew as, "Please welcome, Matthew West!!".

Matthew played it off great!  "I'm not Michael W.  I'm Matthew W."

At the very end of the QnA, Matthew played one last song for the crowd: Day One.
A lady in the second row shouted out just as he finished, "You just gained a fan!"
Matthew: "Excuse me...?" a little confused at the situation.
Lady: "I came here with no idea who you are.  I've never heard of you or your music.  I'm here with a friend.  So you just gained a new fan - I love that song!!"
Matthew: "Well, thank you ma'am!  It's nice to meet you - my name is Michael!"
The entire crowd breaks into laughter.

Friday, November 13, 2015


I cannot even begin to describe today's mood. It started out as a decent day. Decent other than runner issues again:

"We have three runners today."
"Cool. Can one of you run Emily to Starbucks and The other run Papa Joe to the showers?"
"We only have one car."
"One car and three drivers??"
" is only 17. She's with her mom here. And I'm here. I don't have my car."
"This isn't going to work. We need runners WITH cars. Their own vehicles."

I don't get how people think this could even work. The only job of a runner is to drive places. It's not a relay. It's simultaneously and separately.  

In other news, the terrorist attacks in France happened today. Several people massacred at a concert. It's really sad and scary. 

Right after that news broke out, I received some somber news in a phone call from a friend. My heart has shattered today from all the heartbreak. Especially for my friend.  

There's too much anger and hatred in this world. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Road Stories

Stayed up late talking with David Trask. He asked me some film questions at first. 
"The reason I am asking is because when i was out with Waylon Jennings, he was on a TV show as The Balladier and we would have to find recording studios as we travelled..."

I also got to listen to stories about Denver Pyle and Ron Howard and James Best and so many other great people from back then.  

It's been an incredible day of stories. 

...and just before going to bed, he stops and turns back to me, "you never know -if I ever go back on the road again...I'm going to call you to come out and be my assistant."  

::I blush::
"Thank you" 

Call The Cops...Cuz I Killed It Today!!

Day one of Jenn not being here on tour for a few days.  I have the honor of working with David Trask for these few days. If you don't know who he is, you should google him.  

I've basically been put in charge with the office side of things. I've spent most of my day doing my job, and on top of that I've been directing David on the how, when and where's of his his job (besides settlement and runners). Every tour runs differently, so since I've been here for two months I can let him know the artists preferences. 

Best example today:
We were planning after show food.  We found a pizza place that was recommended by our runner and the promoter.  I looked at the menu online and wrote down what we needed for our buses. I also asked Frannys manager what they needed for their bus. I wrote that down too. Along with the times we needed to order them. 
An hour later David sat down and said, "I'm going to start on after show food."
Me: "I already did it.  
David:"what do they have?"
Me:" It's all written down here."
David: Who gets what?
Me: also written here. 
David: "can you write down the times I need to order at too?"
Me: "it's right here and here and here."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

No Hero. Just Human.

Decided to ride in the jump seat and talk to our bus driver Jay tonight. One hour down the road, we pulled over to the shoulder of the interstate and jumped out to sprint on foot to an overturned vehicle on the side of the road. We were able to get her out of the car with the assistance of a nurse just in time for the EMTs to get there and offer real assistance.  

Three Days To Kill

Had three days off again this week. This is the last three day stretch off before the tour ends.  
I decided to spend this last stretch doing the least amount possible. I ended up watching a lot of movies and DVDs, and napping a bunch. 
The Peanuts movie was really cute. The end of it made me think of myself as I related to Charlie Brown:
Charlie: "why would you want to be pen pals with an insecure, bumbling fool like me?"
RedHead: "because I don't see you that way.  You're a very funny, humble considerate person..."
It's funny (not in a humorous way) cuz Jenn and I just had this conversation together.  I told her how I see myself and how I've accidentally gotten to where I am.  Then she told me how she saw me and how I've worked hard and have done the right things to get where I am.  

Perspective makes a difference. 

A great movie about one mans journey as a prisoner of war in Japan.  Such a great story and very well told. Even though it was slow at times, it was still intriguing and inspiring. 

I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie. I thought it was pleasantly delightful. I'm not much for movies where the moral of the story is saving the environment, which I thought that's where the movie was heading, but it became so much more and bigger than that.  I thought it was worth watching. 

Bridge Of Spies. 
Tom Hanks as a lawyer for an alleged Russian spy during the Cold War. Again, based on a true story.  I loved every bit of it.  Again, a slow paced movie, but the drama sucks you in and the characters were great!  So many funny parts. 
"Aren't you worried??"
"Would it help...?"

American Horror Story: Freak Show
Tv series. 
I think this entire series is so well done every season. The writing isn't always the best, but the actors are so good at what they do it more than makes up for when the writing isn't as spectacular as normal. I think this last season of Freakshow has become my favorite. Jessica Lange gave an amazing performance all the way through.  Kathy Bates and Evan Peters also gave very strong performances as always.  

Horrible Bosses 2
Not a terrible movie, but definitely the least favorite movie I've watched the last few days.  I'm ok that I watched it, but I don't think I'd ever watch it again. Not good enough for a second viewing. 

Beyond the movies, I got to spend a great dinner conversing with one of my set friends, Rachel.  She lives in Nashville, so it wasn't a common event that we would be in the same city at the same time with a few hours off. So we took advantage of that at BurgerUp. 
We will probably get to work again before the end of the year.  Got a couple more projects before 2015 comes to an end!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wheeling & Dealing (With It)

Some days go great and all is right in the world. Other days nothing is good and it's miserable as you wait for the day to end. 
Today was a...beautiful(?) mix of the two. 

The area we were in was picturesque!

Even the venue was spectacular!

But then, we get dressing rooms the size of broom closets. 
The only way in to the venue from our bus was a two block walk, left into a dark alley, open the scary door next to ledge and hope nobody mugs you along the street apparently known for its prostitution at one point in time.  
All the rooms are in the basement. It looked and felt more like a cellar. The design of the basement may have been based on The Cask of Amontellado when it was originally built. 

We got everything done we needed to. The show went well. All was good...other than catering for dinner. I couldn't eat what we had, so Jenn bought me dinner from elsewhere. (I pretty much just ate my after show food for dinner instead of at midnight).  
Mmmm, country fried steak!!
Let me tell you...if you've never had a country fried steak from West Virginia, trust you me - feel free to order something else on the menu. It'll probably be more impressive.