Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Misadventures of a Sometime Christmas Caroler

Before I begin this story, here are a few things that you should know about me: I love to sing. I love to entertain. I unabashedly love Christmas. I desperately hate traffic (even more now that I've lived in Wyoming). The thought of being late to ANYTHING gives me a borderline panic attack.

I've been blessed to sing several gigs with Mixed Company this season, although I was unable to sing in a quartet due to our travel plans. It's been just the right balance of enjoying my Christmas and getting my caroling fix in. So far I've been able to see and/or sing with just about everyone in the company, and standing side by side with them in our Christmas velvet has been one of the highlights of my season!

That said, I live in the South Bay. Mixed Company works primarily in Orange County. This results in lots of drive time and too much traffic time. So, for the last three years, I have made a conscious effort to drive early - hours early if need be - to avoid traffic, and ensure that I am not late for a gig. I just wander through a mall, or sit in a coffee shop and read - anything to alleviate the incredible stress that I put myself under if I'm afraid of being late.

Last year, in the pouring rain, I got a flat tire while driving in the fast lane. OF COURSE - I had allotted only an extra half an hour of drive time, and that one night had not left for the gig hours before it was necessary. Still - thanks to the heroics of my incredible husband, I made it to the Summit House and was dressed and ready to sing 5 minutes before gig time. I almost had a heart attack trying to get there on time. After that misadventure, I was neurotically early for every gig the rest of the season.

Fast forward one year. I have been obsessively early to every gig again this season. On Thursday morning, Jason and I picked up his cousin Lara at the airport. To make sure there was space for both Lara and her luggage, I took my costume out of the car. Later that afternoon, I drove to Newport Beach for a gig at the Five Crowns. My call time for the gig was 6:30pm, and I arrived in the area at 3:30pm (SEE? Obsessively early!). At 5pm I left the mall to get something to eat, put gas in my car and touch up my hair and makeup before the gig. As I got into the Jeep, I realized that something seemed strange. My Costume was in TORRANCE!!!!!! And it was RAINING! And the 405 was basically a parking lot going both directions! I would NEVER make it home to get my costume and then back to the Five Crowns in time. Jason couldn't be my hero this time as he was in Burbank with Lara and Bob. My mom wasn't answering her phone. I called my dad and my cousin Mark (who works with Dad), and begged them to bring my costume halfway down the 405, to meet me in Seal Beach. In the meantime, other members of my quartet for the night were stuck in traffic, almost getting in accidents, or calling out sick at the last minute. It was nuts.

Mark and Dad came through for me, though and managed to navigate the traffic and get my costume to me by 6:30pm. I then jammed the rest of the way BACK to Newport, and while we weren't able to start the gig at 7pm (as scheduled), were on the floor, and singing at 7:15pm - IMPRESSIVE considering how far we had to go! And you know? For a night that started so crazily, we sure had a great time! So thank you, Mark and Dad, for being my heroes on Thursday!

As you might expect, this made me even MORE neurotic about being early. The next day, I was singing a lunchtime freebie in Downtown LA. I had also accepted a 2pm gig that I thought was in Agoura Hills (a stones throw from Downtown LA). Of course, I realized too late that it was not Agoura Hills, but the Agora Steakhouse in IRVINE. That's a 50 minute drive with absolutely NO traffic!!!! I thought I was being so helpful, and that it would be NO problem going from one to the other! Boy was I wrong! The freebie ran a little long (but it was awesome to sing with Molly, Reggie and Rene!), and the valet service took an ETERNITY to bring me my car. I hit every light on the way to the freeway, and changed routes mid-trip to avoid traffic. All the while fighting a panic attack, brought on by the fear of being late two days in a row.

I made it. Not by the 1:30pm call time, but at 1:50pm - ten minutes before the start of the gig. And I had a great time!

Still though, I NEVER want to feel panicked like that EVER again! I'm trying to avoid any extra encouragement of my neurotic obsession with being early. Early is better than late, though. And we have a saying in the business, "Fifteen minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is fired." Apparently I've taken that to heart!

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