Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Unexpected Valentines

Before anyone asks, no, I did not have a romantic Valentine's Day weekend. I did, however, have a blast.

Friday night was a test night at the dojahng. I didn't test or midterm, but I did get to help out with it. I "assistant floor conducted" for Mr. R, which basically means that I indicated where testers were to stand when they were called up, held boards for board breaks, and attacked people for self-defense. It was fun. TKD grandson really wanted to go to Klondikes afterwards, but his grandmother wasn't off work yet and most of the regular group had other plans, so I offered to take him down and keep an eye on him until TKD Grandma got off work. Mr. R ended up joining us down there, and it was cool to hang out with him for a while.

Went down to LA on Saturday for what was supposed to be an overnight trip to rehearse with John for the show next weekend. (California Theater of the Performing Arts, San Bernadino, Feb. 21st, 8:00p. Tickets are $20-50, and well worth it! We're doing Black & White, Mom! And Watertight!) Got down there around noon, worked with John, the girls, and a new guy (who I get good vibes from, I think he'll be a good asset for us) until 6:00p or so, then John and I got a lowkey dinner (a Greek salad and a really good bbq chicken pizza - not as good as Klondike's, but good) and went back to his place. He'd been going through some old show videos to find some promo clips and came across a video of one of our first rehearsals together (we don't know WHY this video exists, as cameras of any kind are obviously very strictly regulated when working with John, but it does). I started working with John four years ago this month, for his 2005 SoCal tour. We started watching this video and then just stared at each other. I have NO idea how we did those first few shows - the guys we had on crew were slow, unreliable, and not professional theater people, and that's about the nicest things I can say about them. I, having just started working with John and not having any idea what he needed or what he was like, was also pretty useless to him at that point. It was such a frustrating process, and I'm sure that John probably wanted to kill us all and run away to Barbados or someplace. We'd worked for a month straight, often staying at the warehouse until midnight or later (our record was 4:00a) and it still wouldn't be right and no one knew how anything loaded or preset, and John would have to be supervising all of us constantly. Somehow, though, we managed those five shows, and began slowly weeding out the weak links in the crew and in our own processes, replacing them with new people and new ideas. He told me once that he'd feel like the show was "ready" when he could rehearse once or twice with the crew and then not show up until curtain and still be absolutely certain that everything was set correctly for the show. Well, this weekend, we ran through the show once on Saturday and twice on Sunday, without John touching any of the presets (he does double check them, of course, because that's just smart), and he's not coming to load-in at the theater this Saturday. Our crew now rocks (*cough*including 3 former PCPA interns*cough*) and John's like "Oh, Katie will be there. She'll take care of it." Which is how it should be, quite frankly. It's only taken us four years to get to this point! We didn't get to see much of the video, because we kept getting interrupted by family members coming in and out of the room (again, secrecy is paramount), but it's amazing how far we've come in four years. We have tenative plans involving the rest of the video and a bottle or two of wine and next Friday night. (Of course, SOME of us have to be at the theater early on Saturday while others get to be the diva and sleep in now, so we'll see how that goes! =) )

So that was my Valentine's Day. Sunday was supposed to be a 12:00p-5:00p rehearsal, packing the equipment, and then I was going to come back Sunday night, but we wanted to run Watertight with water, which takes forever to fill (2000lbs is a LOT of water) and then it didn't work right the first time, so we had to troubleshoot it for a while (turned out to be an easy fix). By the time we got done with that, we were cold, wet, and dirty (the warehouse is....not the cleanest place in the world. It's a warehouse.), so we taught the new guy how to pack up his stuff as quickly as possible and sent the crew home, and John and I finished up. We finally got out of there around 10:30p, at which point John refused to let me drive home (plus he needed help getting the dogs back to his place), so we grabbed some food, stayed conscious long enough to get the dogs out, wash our hands, sit at their kitchen table and eat, and then went bed. (To be perfectly honest, given a choice between a three hour drive after a long day or another night in a gorgeous 8+ bedroom mansion - not counting John's apartment over their 8-car garage - where "my" room - I always get put in the same bed/bathroom, which used to be one of his older sisters', John calls it "Katie's room" now - overlooks the swimming pool/hot tub, sauna, gazebo, and full-size tennis court, well, which would you pick? My mama didn't raise no fool!) I was then going to leave Monday morning after John gave me a ride back to the warehouse to get my car, but of course, he comes down that morning with a list of little things that need to be taken care of. So, rather than getting to the warehouse, getting in my car, and going home, we get to the warehouse and go back to work, tweaking some things that had been bothering him, cleaning up some stuff, etc. Then he notices that one of the tires on my car is low, so then every tire had to be checked and filled while he lamented over the scratches on the rims and doors and harassed me about how often I'd had various maintenance things done on it. (John's a car junkie, and openly admits that not many people are as obsessive about cars and their maintenance as he is. He told me once that he collects illusions and cars, because, in the long run, they're less expensive and easier on the body than crack. Hard to argue with that.) Once my poor car finally (grudgingly) passed inspection, we grabbed a late lunch, and I finally was able to make it back to Santa Maria last night.

I have to go back down Friday morning to help load the truck, and I think we'll probably try to kick back and relax the rest of that day. I think he mentioned having to take the dogs to the groomers that day, but that was it. Saturday I have to be in San Bernadino by 10:00a (that's about an hour from John's place, I think) to start loading in, and then the show is that night, with load-out to follow. So I'll probably come back on Sunday - usually I help unload the trucks back at the warehouse, too, but I don't think they're doing that until Monday. Plus, it sounds like I'll be down there frequently in the next few weeks. Danielle (one of the dancers) and I really want to find a time to hang out, just because we never get to, and John, the girls, and I have been talking about doing a Disneyland trip forever now, and it looks like we might have a weekend available in March. John also has been playing around with a new idea for an illusion, and wants us to help him work it out, so there's more time down there. He has a new producer/publicist, too, so there *should* be more and more shows coming up (including a possible gig in France!). He's totally supportive about me being in the Guard and is completely willing to work with that schedule, which is good to know just in case it does get to a more full-time point (which would be awesome!).

It'd be really cool to be able to work full time with John and part time with the Guard (where the only requirements are that I maintain a California residence and show up for the shifts I say I'm going to show up for). I can even continue working on my degree with him because of the way ERAU is set up. I mean, seriously, being an illusionist's right-hand man AND having a military clearance - doesn't that sound like some kind of James Bond-flick type of character? (John teases me that I must be a very trustworthy person to have to keep so many secrets!)

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