Next stop, Europe!

midlifeFirst of all, what the hell do I think I’m doing?! Starting about 2 weeks before embarking on this adventure, and up to this very moment, that question echoes periodically through my head.

As I sit in a bus in a train in the Chunnel (at the bottom of the sea), I think back to my last week, peppered with travel cluster puppies, props broken in transit, and sticker shock: here are some of the highlights. Photos to follow, once the internet on the bust starts up again.

I’m glad I’m only mildly claustrophobic.

My plan, if you can call it that, is to go to Europe, write a new show, work on a novel, relive some old adventures, and break some patterns. I figure I’ll also lose a bit of weight — I tipped the scales in February at 192 lbs, and although that’s not a problem for my skinny ass, — yet —I  figure it wouldn’t hurt to keep tabs on that. Traveling like I plan to will be a lot of walking, heavy lifting, and occasionally missing meals. Like the guy in my novel. I had packed three acts I wanted to somehow fit into a show, or have them split into 2 or 3 different shows, or whatever. This exercise is about the process; the results will follow.

What kind of street act do I plan to do?

The challenge: leave my entire juggling show in the USA and work on new things.

  1. The cups and balls (a magic classic, dating back 5000 years, to Ancient Egypt, at least) which I’ve always wanted to learn.
  2. A slack rope act, for which I’d run down to Home Depot and purchase the rope to save weight allowances in my luggage
  3. My beloved acrobatic baby dolls, a cabaret act I’ve been wondering if I could get it to work on the street. After all, in a theater, the audience inside are already predisposed to like what they see: they chose to pay money up front. The street is a harsher mistress. One with PMS.

…and some assorted other even more half-baked ideas…

Getting there: US Air

First off, let’s start with the positive: My Wednesday flight from Baltimore to Philadelphia was delayed enough that I would miss my connection to Brussels. So on their dime, they put me in a taxicab and sent me up I-95. I got in no problem. Thanks, US Air! 5 stars!

I arrived with plenty of time to get through TSA (where I left my belt and clown nose in a little bin, oops) and went to the Duty Free shop (Duty Free!) to purchase a nice bottle of booze (Amarula) for my friend Christo, who would be receiving me in Brussels. Or so I thought.

After US Air’s second announcement of an hour delay, I realized I’d left my clown nose and belt at TSA. I went to the information kiosk, right next to the TSA station, which was closed. “Can you tell me how to find someone from TSA? I left something in this station.” “Nnnope.” the guy replied, “Duh, derp, dorp, guhhhh.” Thanks, Information! 1 star!

So I walked on and found a TSA agent walking along. I asked her if she could take me for an eyeball-check at the closed security station (20 yards away). She instead took me back to another, open station, offered me a phone number to call, a form to fill out, etc. etc. Another agent heard what was going on and walked me back and found my stuff strewn on the floor, under a scanner. I thanked him. I figured cops have the “good cop, bad cop” routine. TSA must have the “reasonable human TSA agent, lazy, slack jawed imbecile TSA agent” routine. Thanks TSA! 2 1/2 stars

So in hours 3 and 4 of my delay, I considered going to the bar and tanking up, or running over to get some food, but stupid me figured, “they said we should stay near the gate, in case they figure this one out…”

After hour 5, at 11:30pm, they told us our flight was canceled. Then they told us we were on our own until 4pm the next day, and they would not pay for our hotel. Then they offered us FOOD! In the form of boxes of crackers, nuts, craisins, and other “shut up food” you give to children. I presume whomever created the canceled flight policies for US Air has made an in-depth study of Stockholm syndrome. Thanks, US Air! 1 star, just for the crackers, and it’s a brown dwarf.

I rebooked my flight for London on Thursday, to visit Dave, Kristen and 2-year-old JJ.

4 thoughts on “Next stop, Europe!

  1. Keep the Updates coming. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, hanging on your every word. If I have to live vicariously through someone, you’re as good a clown as any.

  2. Rich, I wish you all the best on this adventure. I just heard about your trip from Matthew Pauli.
    Again, all the best.

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