Christmas Break

The two weeks off for Christmas were really nice. I spent a few days driving down to Fort Lauderdale, via Winston-Salem, NC (where I stayed with my dear friend Ryan Hill) and Savannah, GA. I parked my car at the airport in Fort Lauderdale and flew to California, where I spent ten days with my family in Sunnyvale. It was my niece’s first Christmas, and I am so happy that I could be there to share it with her! It was also great to see so many of my old friends from high school, and to meet some of their new babies, as well 🙂 It was a much-needed break from work, but I was definitely excited to get back to the show after two weeks away from it (and excited to get back down to warm, sunny Florida!).

Tormenting Lucy with reindeer antlers

No, she wasn't happy about the antlers

Lucy big eyes

Smiley bear

With some of her Christmas loot

And of course, any trip home to Sunnyvale is not complete without a trip to Cicero’s pizza (check) and also a trip (or three) to the Duke (check). The high school gang was of course out in force whenever a trip to the Duke was in the plans.

Mary and Steve

Erika

Me and Mare

Craig-o

David and Mary

I also loved all the awesome girl time I got while in town. I actually was able to be there for the gift exchange with my best girlfriends, we had a mani/pedi day, and had a night of baking Christmas cookies at Fin’s. So great to spend time with my girls!

The day after Christmas it was back to work, though, and although I had a great time and miss everyone terribly, its not too difficult to be waking up every morning to this:

Happy new year all!

Of Course I Know the Way to San Jose!

It was great to drive back up to the Bay Area on Monday and go straight to Mom and Dad’s house in Sunnyvale and just be immediately comfortable – period. No grocery store runs, no sneaking the cat into a hotel, no need to make the room homey. It was heaven. I spent the week in one of my old bedrooms (I think all us kids have called all three of the bedrooms in my parents’ house “ours” at one point – we sort of rotated through them at different points in our childhood). Tallulah and I were upstairs for the week, thanks to my lil bro Simon being kind enough to let us take over his space up there so that Tallulah could have some room to roam, since she couldn’t mingle safely downstairs with Jack (my parents’ Jack Russell terrier) or more specifically, Val (my brother Nick’s pit bull, who is staying with my parents for the time being). It was kind of fun being back in a twin bed and going to sleep under a ceiling of glow stars, which are still up there from when we were younger.

My parents' house in San Jose

My parents' house in Sunnyvale

I had a mellow evening at home after the long drive, sorting through all the boxes of my crap that I had sent to my parents over the past couple of years every time my trunk got too full to close. I packed a box of winter clothes to travel with me as it will be cold when I get back to New York. Typing this from Tucson where it is 100 degrees out today, it seems impossible that I might need a parka and snow boots in just a couple of weeks’ time, but it could happen. Last year it snowed on the east coast before Halloween – just look back at my photos from my stay in the Berkshires last October.

My mom made a yummy pork roast, and I was able to catch up with my parents over dinner.

It was funny driving down to San Jose the next morning for load-in. I don’t think I had been to downtown San Jose since I stopped working at the Rep around 1999 or 2000. Downtown is surprisingly clean and appealing, and lots of new restaurants have opened up. It’s not super hopping or anything, but there’s a movie theater and a yoga place and a Safeway and plenty of places to eat, so at least I didn’t have to be embarrassed to have our company staying there 🙂 Way to go, San Jo!

I know I’d seen shows at the San Jose Performing Arts Center back when the Civic Light Opera still existed, but I had never worked in the space. Its a big enough building, with plenty of dressing rooms, and a really nice crew. The Broadway series is a new development in San Jose, so everyone was very inviting – we had a cake given to us by the presenters at sound check, and a really nice opening night party afterward at a nearby restaurant (which had the best party food we have had in a while). There was a bit of a snafu – well, kind of a big snafu – at the box office prior to the show. The line of people picking up tickets extended around the block, and we had to hold the curtain a half an hour before they could get everyone in their seats. Needless to say, the crowd was quite restless by the time we finally got started, but they ended up being a very fun and receptive crowd.

Me in the lobby at the Performing Arts Center

Me in the lobby at the Performing Arts Center

The next day I met up with my best girls at Santana Row, an outdoor shopping center, in San Jose. Mary, Fin, Tristan and I had lunch and then shopped for a couple of hours. It was great to see them all – Mary, Fin and I have been close friends since high school, and I think I’ve known Tristan for close to ten years now, too. Fin is expecting her first baby in December, and it was so cute seeing her with her baby bump!

Mary and Fin

Mary and Fin

The next day I met up with an a friend who goes even further back than Mary and Fin – Shawnee and I went to elementary school and have been friends since we were seven years old! Crazy that we have known each other almost thirty years – yikes! We went to elementary, junior high and high school together, and although we don’t see each other very often now, I am so glad that we are still in touch and get together from time to time to catch up. Its always just as easy to be together as it was when we were kids – I love friendships like that. You just pick up where you left off. Shawnee made lunch for us at her house in San Jose and we hung out in her gorgeous backyard all afternoon. It was also nice because I was able to spend a bit of time chatting with Shawnee’s husband, Shawn, who I had only met once before. They are a really great couple and seem very happy together – a perfect match.

On Thursday night my parents came to see “Spamalot” for the fifth (!) time – they saw the Broadway and Vegas companies, as well as our company in Portland and San Francisco (and now San Jose). They brought Rick and Barbara with them, who have been our neighbors ever since we moved to the house on Prince Edward Way in  1982. I grew up with Rick and Barbara’s daughters, and their middle daughter Gina is one of my best friends. Sadly I didn’t have time to catch up with the girls this visit, but it was great to see Rick and Barb, and it seemed like they had a great time at the show.

On Friday I got up early and drove downtown to pick up Suzanne so we could go hiking. It had been a couple of weeks since we had done a hike, and I had missed it! We went to Rancho San Antonio in Los Altos, where I have been dozens of times before with my friends. We did a really pretty five mile hike – it was a great morning.

Crossing of trails at Rancho San Antonio

Crossing of trails at Rancho San Antonio

At Rancho San Antonio

At Rancho San Antonio

In the afternoon I worked on finishing a couple of projects up – a pair of knit pants and two pairs of cotton bloomers for Fin’s baby. All were very easy, fun projects that I will definitely be making again .

Knit Pants for Baby Draeger

Knit Pants for Baby Draeger

Baby Bloomers 1

Baby Bloomers 1

Baby Bloomers 2

Baby Bloomers 2

On Saturday we had two shows, but I met up with my family in between at Cicero’s for some of my favorite pizza and some family time. Everyone was there – my parents, Simon, Nick and Morgan and Becky and Dave. Love my family. Love. Love. Love.

Me and my sibs at Becky's wedding (I totally didn't take any photos of us this trip!)

Me and my sibs at Becky's wedding (I totally didn't take any photos of us this trip!)

My parents (when they came to see me in Portland)

My parents (when they came to see me in Portland)

After the show I met Mary and Erika (who wasn’t able to come shopping with us on Wednesday because she was being responsible and working!) at the Duke, my favorite pub on the planet. We had a couple of beers and caught up on the gossip before saying goodbye. Hopefully we’ll see each other again soon!

Two shows on Sunday, and we were done. It was fun seeing familiar faces on the crew throughout the week – the hair local I had worked with at San Jose Rep and Shakespeare Santa Cruz, as well as the Lady of the Lake dresser who used to be the wardrobe supervisor at the Rep. We also had some of our local dressers from the San Francisco run on the crew, and it was nice to see them again, too.

On Monday I packed up the car and headed to the airport to fly to Tucson – my last air travel of the tour! (thank god!) For someone who is terrified of flying, I am pretty proud of myself for surviving over fifty plane flights in the last three years, and only chickening out on one of them! That’s a pretty good track record if you ask me. I still don’t like to fly, but I’ve learned to tolerate it if I have to 🙂

I waved good bye to my parents and brother again as I set off – it never gets easier. Why can’t New York City be in California? Hopefully I will be back again before too long.

Goin' Back to Cali

The first week in Vancouver whizzed by. After celebrating Canada Day, Ryan had to go back to work to begin the load-in. I had one more glorious day off. I took the bus over to Kitsilano, a beach neighborhood west of us. I did some shopping, sat in a coffee shop for a while, and walked down by the beach. It was a nice ending to our few days off.

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On Thursday I was back at work. The Centre Theater is plenty big for us and although the local crew are non-union, they are pretty good, so the load-in and opening went smoothly. We aren’t sold very well here in Vancouver, unfortunately, due in part to a mistake on the Broadway Across Canada website, which claimed we are sold out. Not so. The enthusiasm of the audiences have made up for their small size, though.

Friday was spent packing and organizing, because after only two days back at work, Ryan and I were heading out to California for the weekend to celebrate Jen and Mike’s wedding, having been allowed a couple of personal days from work. We dropped Tallulah off at her gay uncles’ apartment (Ken and Jeff) on Friday afternoon. They took very good care of her all weekend while we were away.

So on Saturday we headed back to my hometown of Sunnyvale, California, where we first met up with my family for lunch at the best pizza place in the whole entire world, Ciceros. Ryan agrees that it is really good pizza!

After that we went back to our hotel to get ready for the wedding. Jen (well, we call her Fin – a shortening of her last name, Finney) is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met when I was fifteen, when we were all taking catechism classes to prepare for confirmation. Out of those classes developed a youth group, and I am still very close with all of my friends from that time. So Fin met Mike a couple of years ago, and while we were in Salt Lake City, she called to tell me they had gotten engaged. I’m so happy I was able to make it back to California for the wedding!

Ryan and I met up with Bryan (another of my good friends from youth group) and his lovely girlfriend, Erica, at the Saratoga Country Club for the wedding. The ceremony was short and sweet and touching – both Mike and Fin got a bit choked up…and I did too! It’s very overwhelming to see one of your best childhood friends get married! It was a beautiful setting, in a gazebo overlooking the valley.

The reception was held at a hall at the Country Club, and I had a blast at our table, catching up with Mary and Erika, who were both bridesmaids, Tristin and her husband Ross, and Bryan and Erica. We ate, we danced, we laughed. It was great fun. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and had more drinks at the hotel bar!

Mr. and Mrs. Draeger

Mr. and Mrs. Draeger

Erika, Mary, Fin and Mike

Erika, Mary, Fin and Mike

M, Mary, Fin, Erika and Tristan

M, Mary, Fin, Erika and Tristan

Bry and Erica

Bry and Erica

On Sunday, we woke up early-ish and met up with Fin and Mike and their families, and some of our friends for brunch. Then Mary, Ryan and I headed off to San Francisco for the day. Ryan and I got a great deal on a convertible at the rental car place – perfect for sightseeing around northern California!

We had plans to meet up with Laura and Neil at their place in Oakland later in the afternoon, so a stop in San Francisco seemed like the best way to spend the earlier part of the day, especially since Ryan had never been there! We first drove along the coastline in the Sunset district, stopping for a minute in the Richmond district to see my old apartment building, and Mary’s (how I miss living there!), and then set out across the Golden Gate Bridge to the vista point on the other side. Unfortunately, there was typical San Francisco fog, so the bridge and city were hard to see, but Ryan got the idea. We then went back across and into the city, and drove down windy Lombard Street. Then we went over to North Beach, my favorite neighborhood, and walked around a bit and got some gelato.

Foggy Golden Gate

Foggy Golden Gate

The view from Lombard Street

The view from Lombard Street

Mary in Washington Square Park

Mary in Washington Square Park

Ryan in the convertible

Ryan in the convertible

Me outside Vesuvio in North Beach

Me outside Vesuvio in North Beach

After a few hours in San Francisco, we drove over the Bay Bridge to Oakland for a BBQ at Neil and Laura’s. It was the first time meeting their beautiful son, Quincy. What a cute kid! It was a great surprise to see that Laura is pregnant again and expecting their second son in three months time! We also were able to catch up with another old friend, Chris, and his wife Lorin. And then Jason surprised us, showing up for some good eats and good company as well!
Laura, Neil and Quincy

Laura, Neil and Quincy

With Mary, Chris, Jason, Lorin and Neil

With Mary, Chris, Jason, Lorin and Neil

Baby Q

Baby Q

After stuffing our faces, we got back in the convertible and headed back to Sunnyvale, to one of my favorite bars, the Duke of Edinburgh, to meet up with David, who was in town for a hot second before flying to Austria to play with the opera for two months (he’s a bass player). Erika, Bryan and Erica also joined us for a couple of pints. It was great to see David – and to hear about his exciting opportunity in Austria! I can’t wait to see the pictures he takes!
David and Mary at the Duke

David and Mary at the Duke

After drinks, we had to say goodbye to all of my friends. I love them so much! Until next time!

On Monday, we had to get our priorities straight. Ryan needed to have his first In-N-Out Burger experience. It did not disappoint.

Then we got in the convertible and drove over the hill to Santa Cruz, which is probably my favorite place on earth. I spent two blissful summers there working at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and many days lounging on the beach. It is just such a cool town, with such beautiful surroundings. We drove through the UC Santa Cruz campus first, and I showed Ryan the redwood glen where I did two shows with SSC. We saw some carpenters working on building the current set.

After that we drove along the coastline to the lighthouse and visited the Surfer Museum. We watched the surfers outside for a while. Then we drove over to Natural Bridges Beach and chilled out for a bit before heading downtown to check out the shops. It was a great afternoon. 

Pigeon Cove

Pigeon Cove

Catching a wave

Catching a wave

Ryan at Natural Bridges

Ryan at Natural Bridges

Me at Natural Bridges

Me at Natural Bridges

That night we had another BBQ at my parents’ house in Sunnyvale. We had some delicious burgers, and it was nice to catch up with all my sibs and play with the dogs. I love you guys!
Drinking beers with the fam

Drinking beers with the fam

Simon and Jack

Simon and Jack

Nick

Nick

The next day we had to go back to Vancouver. After a torturous day at the airport (our plane was inexplicably 3 and a half hours late leaving), we made it back to Canada in time for the evening show. Tallulah was very happy to see us when we picked her up afterwards.

So that’s the story of our lovely mini-break to California! It was an amazing weekend filled with friends and family and lots of love and laughter. I can’t wait for the next time!