It is 5:34 a.m. and I am sitting at IHOP. The International House of Pancakes- for my international readers who may not be familiar with this is amazing 24 hour a day establishment of pancakery bliss.
I have not been able to sleep a wink. At 1:57 I woke up with a million thoughts streaming through my mind. I tried everything to shoo them away. Counting sheep. Counting backwards. Breathing deeply. Relaxing all the muscles in my body. Reciting the sinners prayer, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” And I even tried sleeping in my closet. When that didn’t work, I took out my computer, in the closet, and planned out our set list for the fall tour. It ends with an acoustic jam session and an impromptu choir wearing white robes that have sunshines painted all over them coming on stage with candles, handing out cupcakes to the audience while singing “This Little Light of Mine” with the band.
You’re welcome Addison Road.
Obviously my best moments of creative brilliance comes somewhere between two and three a.m.
Did I mention I’m at IHOP now and my waiter is singing the words to the 80’s power ballad, “Can’t we try just a little bit harder...” I’m trying not to smile, but seeing a guy with dreads and a gold tooth sing this song is really making my groggy morning quite delightful.
I have spent the last two weekends in Montana. The first weekend was for a show that didn’t happen. It fell a part in a million pieces and the promoter wasn’t able to honor the contract and pay us. We lost thousands of dollars on the airlines tickets we paid for and the anticipated income that never came in. Am I allowed to tell you that? Well, I just did.
Sometimes people ask how we stay “grounded” and “humble.” That’s when we say, “You remember that time we paid $2,000 to fly to Montana and no one showed up and the promoter didn’t pay us and the ‘chicken dinner’ was a partly-deboned rotisserie chicken with a butcher knife stuck into it and no plates to eat off of?”
It happens to every one in our industry and it’s cheaper not to fight it legally. And, truly, the promoter doesn’t have the money. How can you force a brother or sister to give you what they do not have? Grace must abound. Even in business. At least that is what I keep repeating to myself.
There was some good that weekend though, because I met my first real live worm farmer. Well, he was a worm farmer. Now he’s just a worm poop farmer. He realized that once he and his buddies invested into a worm farm, the grass and makeshift gardens around their land started growing exponentially. It took him a while to figure out it was the worm poop, but when it occurred to him, he started to save the stuff and sent it to a lab to be tested. Sure enough, a little dime bag of his worm poop was more potent than three bags of miracle grow. And so, there he was, at the not-so-music-festival in a tent sifting through worm poop that he would try and sell for four dollars a bag. A fantastic bargain if you ask me.
“Feel of it. I tell you Jenny, just feel the stuff, feel of it, it feels like silk.” I tried to just look with big eyes and say, “Wow, that does look soft!”
“No, really, just run your fingers through it.” He picked up a mound of silky poop in his dry, cracked hands and poured it all over my hands. I had no choice. I was feeling this dude’s worm poop whether I wanted to or not.
So, as a storm blew in and the guys took cover in a dingy, un-air-conditioned RV, I sat and talked to worm farmers. And I felt so much smarter. Like a green, energy efficient, organic scientist that is against all corporate farming; just chatting it up with the other fellas about the evils of mass production, harsh chemicals, and the lack of good worm poop in the world. I looked out over a vast expanse of beautiful land and thought, “What in the world am I doing here?”
What a strange life.
We passed on the sort-of chicken dinner and went down the road to an old green building with no windows and cracked paint. The door was thickly padded, like a football player might want to practice running into it. And an old sign hanging above the door said, “Bar. Food.” So we went in. Two sisters were running the joint. We sat in a room with dear heads and box fans. At a picnic table. And I watched as one sister stirred away at three different pots on a normal white stove in plain site of the dinning room. It was truly bizarre. A bizarre weekend from start to finish. Started with Tiger the day before and ended with worm poop farmers and dear heads in a dark bar on Saturday.
This past weekend we were in Great Falls, Montana and it was quite the redemptive Montana experience.
High of 67, low of 43. I went straight to Ross and bought a jacket. No sales tax in Montana. Gotta love it. Our hotel was in an old downtown area and on Saturday morning they had a farmers market and a crepe-mobile. How cute is that? Quaint stores and a beautiful river. A huge turn-out for the festival and a paycheck in hand before we even played! I was in love with Great Falls, Montana. The people were amazing, the show felt special, and the trip was undramatic. Always a plus in my book these days.
Yes, I was in love with all those things, but to be perfectly honest, I was mostly in love with my mission while I was there.
My mission? I’m glad you asked. My personal mission was to find the escaped Arizona convicts.
They were last spotted in Billings, Montana and I knew they were still in the area. I could feel it. Our hotel was by a homeless shelter, a bus stop, and the river... there were lots of suspicious characters. So, I went to the river one morning. By myself. With a picture of the fugitives pulled up on my phone. And as people slept under the morning sun, I inched up as close as I could to examine their identity. Every car that passed by got a complete stare down. I even found myself on stage that day scanning the audience for persons of interest...
Y’all, I read one too many Nancy Drew books as a kid.
I really believed in my little heart that I would crack the case while I was in Montana. I was being so vigilant. While everyone else went about their normal day, they had no idea I was there for one reason and one reason alone: a citizens arrest.
When I woke up this morning at 1:57 a.m., after reciting the Sinner’s Prayer and trying to count backwards from 100, I crept into my closet and read the news. The Arizona convicts were apprehended.
All kinds of things are plaguing the world this morning. Flooding and a massive humanitarian emergency in Pakistan. A debate over whether our President is a Muslim or not. The indictment of Roger Clemens, the baseball star who may have lied about drug use. North Korea threatening the United States with unseen retaliation. Iran and Israel perhaps blowing each other to smithereens. All kinds of craziness in the world that usually stirs my heart to prayer or urges me to write a congressman about signing off on this or that bit of legislation....
But today I am just eating my whole grain harvest pancakes at IHOP and mourning the fact that I was not the one to find the escaped convicts while they were traipsing around Montana.
I really thought that case was going to be my big detective break. I would make Nancy and Bess and George so proud. But maybe I should pay more attention to my music career. Or worm farming.
Worm farming seems pretty promising.