I have about 3 blog posts in the works, but lately I have been in such a funk that I cannot focus on the content they are about.
There is a confession to make here. I am a former Disney Cast Member. Being one was a badge of honor, performing the roles I had the opportunity to was a gift I cannot even begin to explain, and the joy I had on a daily basis almost outweighed the pain that my body was developing.
When I left, it was because I had limits and expectations on what my life should be that were completely based on what other people thought and what I thought it should be. Not because leaving would make me happy, but because I needed to “grow up.”
There were blessings in leaving: being close to the members of my family who were already diagnosed with Celiac when my diagnosis happened, being able to spend 8 hours with my Grandmother the day before she passed, getting to perform in a variety of productions in the Chicago area while meeting some incredible people, and only being 3 hours from my family. There have been some bad things as well, but that is another tale.
Except, I never really let it go. Every year like clockwork, from 2007-2012, I flew back to work for a week as a seasonal cast member, to recharge my batteries with the love and happiness that I had doing the job I did there, to see friends, to make new ones, and to soak it all in.
April 14, 2012 was my last day as a cast member. I donned my blacks for the last time, took my voyage, and then said “goodbye.” Not because I wanted to, but because the rules on being seasonal had changed, and there was no way I could make it work while living in Chicago.
I miss it. People tell me I need to do what makes me happy and what I am good at, but to be honest with you, I am not sure what that is. I know the things that I enjoy doing, but I know my happiest time was when I was going into work every day and performing. I could be in the grumpiest mood, not feeing well, swear that I was living in a sauna, but as soon as the music started and I stepped onto whatever stage it was, it was like my world receded and for however long I was on stage, there was only that.
If this does not make sense, I apologize. Tonite was a night where I just needed to put thoughts down and get them out. If you want to read about my adventures eating GF as a guest as WDW try this.
And I am going to leave you with the last thing I do on every trip to my happy place:
Last month I attended the P!nk concert at the United Center after forgetting to eat all day. I figured it would be no big deal, since they have a Gluten Free “stand” (ok, actually it is a table) on the main concourse. Except it was closed. Because I am, well, me, I sent a couple of tweets calling out Levy Restaurants and the United Center, plus I sent a couple of emails to Levy Restaurants. Eventually I received a response from Milan Stojakovic, the Director of Operations at Levy Restaurants. Sadly, I don’t know if he is the DoO for the UC, or all their venues, but he did answer all my questions regarding Gluten Free food and beverage options at the UC.
First off, I mentioned that with the addition of floor seating, even with sections blocked off it looked like concerts had a higher capacity then sporting events. Milan admitted that the capacity for a concert was around 22,000 people versus 10-15,000 for sporting events. Other special events like the circus/ice show are closer to sporting event numbers. However, more people does not equal more concession revenue. Ok, I admit that I can see that. Isn’t the point of going to a concert to watch the idiots around you get hammered?? No? Guess that is just one of the perks I enjoy…. =)
Apparently, you can ask the staff during concerts where the GF options are, but when I was there all the staff seemed kind of clueless. And I wasn’t going to ask a security guard where the GF food was, ya know? They have enough drunken eedjits to deal with. So here is the skinny, since the main concourse stand is closed during non-sporting events and the website is shit. Each stand is supposed to have GF options available, but they are not clearly marked and the staff is not well-trained. That being said, Milan told me that sections 316 and 333 always have GF options available.
Here is my biggest beef — the website is no help and if you are in the arena you have no way of knowing if you can eat/buy a beer. You could ring Levy Catering in advance at (312) 455-7412 to find and arrange accommodation. I also left the suggestion that the UC/Levy put a sign on the cart saying: “This location is currently closed. Gluten Free offerings are available in Sections 316 and 333.” Then no security guards would be distracted from their girl watching/guessing who is going to be the drunkest. And us GF’ers can enjoy a beer and a hot dog at a concert/circus/ice show/monster truck rally/whatever.
On my birthday I received this message from my friend, Mel: “Happy Birthday. We are going to see P!nk!” HELLS YEAH! And on Saturday the 9th, it finally happened.
I have to admit to spending a bit of time trying to figure out just what one should wear to a P!nk show. The final decision came down to a tank top or a corset. Eventually I chose the maroon tank as it was in the “pink” color family…kind of.
The Mel and Mel show arrived at the United Center and did a little bit of wandering. Let me tell you, tour tchotckeys are EXPENSIVE!! Much more expensive than I remember. I looked to my right and I saw a HUGE CoverGirl sign (P!nk is their newest spokesmodel) and headed down there where I discovered they were doing free manicures and doing a photo shoot. Hello, I’m in! Since the manicure line was a bit long, I just did the photo. If I ever do one of these again, I don’t think I’ll use any props because I am all the prop I need. On the other side of the arena we found free mascara and could make a video stating your truth about love. You know I did it and maybe I will share it.
As we wandered the concourse, we looking for food and discovered that the Gluten Free Table was closed. Since this show was pretty close to a sell out, this left me hurt, sad, confused, and HUNGRY! This blog has actually been delayed because I sent an e-mail to Levy Restaurants, who run the food locations at the arena. It took 2 weeks but I finally heard back from the Director of Operations at the United Center. Currently we are playing a game of phone tag, but when we connect I will share the information.
The opening act was The Hives. Their backdrop was fun-the face of a mad puppeteer with strings coming off his fingers and onto their set. They had 2 stage ninjas that were fun to watch as they kept cords from getting tangled, playing tambourine, and generally just running around the stage. I wish I could say something good about the band, other than they looked dapper in their top hats and tails, and they had a lot of energy, but after a while it all just blended together and sounded the same. But a bonus was, the lead singer ended up coming up into the stands to the row right below me and stole (and took a bite out of) someone’s ice cream. I was not a fan of the music, but their energy and craziness made them a fun opening act.
After their set, and while their gear and backdrop were coming down to open the stage up for P!nk, this guy came into the stadium at various locations around the lower bowl and began (kind of rudely) interacting with the audience. His costume looked like something Two-Face would wear and just before the curtain dropped for P!nk to take the stage, he introduced himself as the host of a new show called “The Truth About Love.” During random points during in the show he would come out, generally when there was a costume change going on, but overall I do not think he added anything to the show, Eventually it reached the point where I rolled my eyes if he appeared.
When P!nk took the stage. WOW! The stage itself needs to be described as best I can as it was one of the more elaborate stages I have seen. There were staircases on stage left and right with what I will describe as “old fashioned” street lights along the railings, leading to a platform up stage rear (aka the back of the stage). Suspended above this platform was a heart-shaped video screen that was used to best effect during “Give Me Just a Reason.” This platform was an elevator lift that lowered behind a wall so P!nk and the dancers could re-enter the main level through a door. The main level featured ramps stage left and right, a speed lift stage left and right, and a slower lift center stage. Extending from the stage right front was a walkway that went out, then curved toward center. The apex of this was a rose shaped (and painted) piece that doubled as another entrance point. Behind all of the decor were multiple video screens used to great effect, and crowning the stage was a BIG “The Truth about Love” neon sign. Basically, there was a LOT of real estate here, and it was all used to great effect.
One last thing to mention before I go into how amazeballs the concert was. The band, backup vocalists, and dancers rocked out. Earning awesome points right away was the fact that it featured one of my favorite things — a she-bassist. I just love a woman playing bass guitar and I always say that one of these days I am going to learn how to play one. Until then, I will continue jamming and ruling the Bass play on “Guitar Hero” and enjoy watching others keep the rhythm onstage. The rest of the band consisted of a guitarist, drummer, keyboard player, and a rhythm guitar/”other” musician. The 2 back up vocalists rocked the house, and the 6 dancers (3 male 3 female) worked like there was no tomorrow. Did I mention that the male dancers provided some might fine eye candy? This whole group, including P!nk, seemed like a big family who threw a party and invited us all to sit down around the (gluten-free) kegerator and have fun.
So, the show. WOW does not even begin to describe it. I could probably put every alternative for brilliantly amazing in here and STILL feel like I have not adequately described it. From the opening number (“Raise Your Glass”) performed on bungee cords, to her final encore (“Glitter in the Air”) performed on silks, P!nk wowed me and made whatever was paid for my ticket absolutely worth it. While the aerial work is the “wow”, the thing that sets her apart from other performers, I felt like it was utilized at the right moments and for the right songs. The numbers where other forms of movement/dance were used were also properly placed and it never felt like something was done just to do it. One of the numbers that I really enjoyed the staging of was a cover of Chris Issaks’ “Wicked Game.” For this number she stood center stage with a stand mic, and the male dancers moved her around. It was simple, interesting, powerful. During numbers like “U + UR Hand” or “Walk of Shame” for instance, it was just a freaking party. It just made me sad that the singles from her first album were pretty much rolled into a brief medley — even if that medley had a killer dance break. But I also understand that she has grown and evolved from that period of time, and am thankful that she did anything from that album at all.
Most of the night, this was the level I was at….and by the end I probably broke it:
I wish I had the words to describe how much I love the music P!nk creates, how much of it seems to be ripped from my own life. She blends the tough with the vulnerable and finds a way to plant the tongue firmly in cheek. 2 of her more recent songs (“Perfect” and “Try”) are anthems that I play to pick myself up when I have a rough day, while others (too many to name) are ones that I play when I am in a fantastic mood and just want to let it all out and have fun. So, I just want to leave you with this before I go. It is from the concert and it combines the aerial work that blew me away, with the dancing, and the raw emotion that I love.