Darumas & Chumbawamba

daruma
daruma

I love Epcot, especially at Christmas.  They show holiday traditions around the world.  One of the traditions I learned about from Japan, was the Daruma.  He is modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism.  He is a good luck symbol for the Japanese.  Darumas are sold with blank eyes.  When you make a wish or set a goal, you color in the left eye.  When the wish or goal is realized you color in the left eye.  What’s interesting, is these dolls when tipped roll back upright.  This goes with a saying, “Get knocked down seven times, get up eight.”  It’s the Japanese version of “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”  In comedy, it’s “Get drunk seven times, throw up eight.”

The Traci Cave
The Traci Cave

Personally, my life is in a bit of an upheaval.  My husband and I are separating after 19 years.  I’m moving to an apartment in St Petersburg, FL later this month.  As I was leaving for Michigan,  as in my car was packed and I was minutes from hitting the highway,  I called to check on my Mom and she didn’t answer the phone.  I had a strange feeling, so I went to see her and found her in very bad shape.  I called the paramedics, and she was rushed to the hospital and admitted.  I ended up canceling my first show because I needed a few extra days to prepare for my mother’s extended absence.  Knowing she was going to be in the hospital for a few days and getting proper care, I left for my sold out shows in Michigan. Now add to that stress…shitty, cold, freezing weather, as low as -12 at times.  My first show, I discovered my keyboard was missing an adapter and I had to run back to the hotel room to get my other keyboard (luckily I brought a spare).  I upset the club owner for doing material she thought was offensive (although if a male comedian did the same material, it wouldn’t have been a problem).   The heater in my car broke, and it took all day to fix and 3 trips.  One of my better paying gigs in New York got canceled.  I had a mammogram just before I left, and the hospital called asking for additional images because they found something that looks suspicious (this will be followed up on in a few days).  All this…while my mother was in the hospital.  I spent a day or two straightening out her finances which had been neglected.  When I called to check on her, I found out she gave my husband  access to her progress and long term health care and denied me access, because she was afraid I was going to lock her up in an assisted living facility.  The hospital recognized my mom had memory issues, but felt she was still competent to make her own health care decisions, even

A quick stop at Tony Packo's in Toledo, OH
A quick stop at Tony Packo’s in Toledo, OH

though she might consistently make bad decisions.  I ended up flying home from Flint, MI and renting a car so I could get my mother out of the hospital ($800 in expenses I hadn’t planned on).  Only to find she was less than appreciative of my efforts and told me flying home was a waste of money.  I have spent some of the rest of my trip trying to mend our fractured relationship.  When I went back to Flint, I ended up backing into a pole.  The heater in my hotel room broke, at 2am.  I called the front desk, no answer.  I got dressed and went to the front desk and they reassigned my room.  When I went back to move my stuff, the heater in my hotel room was working again.  While I was doing laundry at a friend’s house, their washing machine broke and flooded the utility room.  I ran out of t-shirts.  They were supposed to be delivered during the time I went to Cleveland…but had to go without them 3 more shows.  I tried to use my trusty keyboard of 4 years and found an adapter.  The jerk at the music store sold me one and got it to work long enough for me to buy it…ultimately it was the wrong one and non-returnable.   Two days later, someone slammed on the brakes in front of me, and the keyboard I bought the “wrong” adapter for slammed into something in my car and broke a few keys.  Did I mention it was freaking cold?

Jan & Bernie’s dog Aspen making doggie snow angels

I kept getting knocked down, over and over and over.  Thank goodness, I had several wonderful “angels” help keep my spirits up.  I’m not used to accepting help from angels…I like to be the angel coming to the rescue.  But I decided to not interfere this time…and just let the angels do their thing.  It made all the difference… My husband, Mike:  Even though we are separating, we are working hard to keep our friendship intact.  It was nice to be able to pick up the phone and ask Mike to check on my Mom, check my PO Box and other little things that I needed help with while I was gone.  I hope as we work through things, that we can still do this for each other. Duke & Tina:   They have been true friends for a long time.  I needed to get clothes to my mother while she was in the hospital, and Tina was able to run to Beall’s and pick up a few cute outfits for her. Patty & Danny:  Also friends for some time.  I needed a pet sitter for my Mom’s cats at the last minute – and Patty and Danny stepped in like they always do! Al & Ginger:  I needed a place to stay in Nashville, TN on my way to Michigan, one night, and Al & Ginger treated me well and with very short notice.

IMG_1308
Bernie & Jan (pic taken August 2014)

Jan & Bernie:  the wonderful couple I stay with in North Royalton, Ohio when I’m working near the Cleveland area.  They let me takeover their beautifully refurnished basement, which I now call the Traci Cave.  They let me raid their kitchen – and in return I make sure their dog Aspen gets his potty breaks.  They also pull together a party and invite 100+ of their friends to pack out one of my shows at The Funny Stop in Cuyahoga Falls, OH…this takes hours of work on their end and I can’t thank them enough for doing that…for 4 years running now!!!

Mark, Cindy & Traci
Mark & Cindy Riddell

Mark & Cindy:  I met Mark and Cindy Riddell while having breakfast the other week in Flint, MI. They are natural introverts, and confessed to me they have been working on becoming more extroverted and told me all about the cool people they’ve met since making this effort. They had no idea I was not only The Princess of Parodies, but the Empress of Extroversion! They are the nicest people I’ve ever met, and I sure enjoyed getting to know them.

Terry at Tim Horton's
Terry at Tim Horton’s

Terry:  For Valentine’s Day weekend,  Terry, a wonderful new person in my life, flew in to Flint, MI and spent Valentine’s Day weekend with me, giving me a much needed break from the drama.  We had a really great weekend.  Terry helped me with my shows, picked up my hotel room and meals for the weekend, and made sure I had things I needed in Michigan (but don’t need in Florida), like a snow brush, fuel additive, and Tim Horton’s donuts.  🙂  Of course, I made sure he had a few things he needed:  Tonic, Bombay Sapphire, and Marshmallow peep minions.  🙂  When I ended up having to fly home to check on my mother, I booked my flight to depart about the same time as his…only to find we were both on the same flight to Chicago.  We were able to rearrange our seat assignments so we could sit together, prolonging our time together just a few more hours.

Karan, John & Traci
Karan (Squirrel Killer) and John Raynor and Traci

The Disgruntled Clown and his wife, Karan (Squirrel Killer):  I was able to share a few buffet meals with my “comedy husband” and his lovely wife, Karan. The Clown and Karan always have some great insights into comedy, as well as buffet restaurants!  The Clown may not always have the best way of sharing those comedy insights with me…but I take his message to heart because he’s always spot on.   I made one big change he suggested for my show – something I didn’t even see – and it made all the difference in my shows for the rest of my trip.   I don’t know what I’d do without them. Ken Scott:  He did a great job as a feature and it was a pleasure working with him.

Dave, my newest friend in Flint, MI

Dave:  When I came back to Flint, MI from Florida, I stumbled across a really nice gentleman named Dave who listened to my road trip troubles, bought me a drink and picked up a few meals while I was in town.  The Lebanese meal was especially delicious!  What a great guy.

Traci & Todd
with my dear friend and high school prom date, Todd

Todd:  I had dinner with my prom date from high school, and we had a blast catching up.  Todd usually catches the late Saturday show, but this time he got to see the early Saturday show.  I think he was impressed.  🙂

Traci & Tammy
with Tammy, my friend since 7th or 8th grade
Thanks to Jan at Complements Hair Studio in Garfield Heights, OH who colored my hair on her day off!
Thanks to Jan at Compliments Hair Salon in Garfield Heights, OH who colored my hair on her day off!

Special thanks to Jan at Compliments Hair Salon in Garfield Heights, OH.  She came on her day off so I could get my 50 shades of grey back to black! Tammy:  I shared a lunch with my friend Tammy at my beloved lunch establishment in Berea, Ohio, The Polish Village.  I couldn’t believe how one of her nephews, who was just born when we started hanging out, just turned 30!  She and her Mom came to the Wednesday night show. The Polish Village:  I love that I can walk into The Polish Village after being away for years, and 3 people yell out “Hey Traci” like I was there just yesterday.   The chicken noodle soup was to die for…and The Dolla Burger (bacon burger with cream cheese and grilled onions) was delicious!

with the lovely waitstaff at The Funny Stop

Pete & Nidal, and everyone at The Funny Stop:  What a great club!  Thanks especially to Nidal, who tied up my corset every night.  And what a surprise walking in to the club Friday night and seeing all the waitresses wear the shirts I had given them on previous visits!  They are the best.

Dwayne Duke, Krish Mohan & Traci
Traci getting “picked up” by emcee Dwayne Duke and feature Krish Mohan

Dwayne Duke:  He rocked as my Funny Stop emcee!  And it was great that he’s now “picked me up” in two states.

Traci & Krish Mohan
Traci & Krish Mohan

Krish Mohan:  He did a good job as a feature!  I look forward to seeing his material and persona evolve.

Traci & Jeff Blanchard
Traci & Comedian Jeff Blanchard

Jeff Blanchard:  When I got to Cleveland to perform at Funny Stop, local comedian and celebrity Jeff Blanchard reached out to say hello, and we had a blast hanging out.  We stumbled across a great Thai restaurant in Stow, Ohio and then discovered Luigi’s, the best pizza Akron has to offer.  While waiting for Luigi’s to open, we ended up getting coffee at a little place that was sponsoring an event called “Big Love Fest.”  I had to laugh, because there was “pro-Vegan” booth there, and both of us do material that is “anti-Vegan.”  I’ve respected Jeff’s talent for years, so hanging out with him and experiencing the rapid fire improv mind of his was really awesome.

I love my fans!
I love my fans!

Comedy fans:  I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t perform.  Because performing is the one hour, that I can forget all the crap in my life, and just “be.”  I’m thankful for those who shared with me how much they enjoyed the show.   I’m thankful to everyone who saw me this month and bought CD’s and t-shirts.   I’m thankful for the people who came up to me and said “I’ve seen you 4x, 5x, 6x…and we love you every time.”   The Disgruntled Clown told me “No matter what goes on in your life – you have your comedy.  Focus on your show, and it will save you.”  He’s absolutely right.  Thank you Michigan (Fenton, Owosso, Perry, Columbus, Durand, Clio, and especially Davison) and thank you Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio for a great month of comedy. “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down…”  ~lyrics to Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

UPDATE:  March 5th

I wrote this before I left Cleveland…and the hits kept coming…

I called my mother to see how she was doing…and I heard the same garbled speech I heard before.  I asked my husband to check on her, and he called the paramedics on her.  The infection had returned but luckily they caught it in time and she was sent home later that evening.  But there’s nothing worse than sitting in a hotel room 1000 miles away, unable to do anything to help.

The next morning, I loaded up my car to leave for Florida March 2nd.  My car wouldn’t start.  My battery died…delaying my trip another 3 hours.  Thankfully Triple A sent a little Cougar Cookie Justin Bieber lookalike who figured out the problem.  Once I got on the road into warmer temperatures, I realized my heater (the one that didn’t work at all 3 weeks earlier) now wouldn’t turn off.  It was 80 degrees in Georia/Florida, 100+ degrees in my car and there was nothing I could do except drive home.  I now refer to my car as “The Rolling Inferno.”

I got and went straight to my mother’s house – she’s doing okay but she’s going to require a lot more care than I can give her.  Sigh.

Before taking my car into the shop, I scheduled those “additional images” to follow up on my mammogram.  They found some cysts, but they are benign, so I’m thankful.   My car is at the shop now, and hopefully the Honda Pilot Repair Gods will smile kindly and take pity on my financial situation…

The Fire & Ice Tour is now, done.

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