Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Ride Mellows Out, Praise Be

Hello friends and family!

Since Bunring Man, things have been incredibly busy with lots of travel and visits and yes, big life adventures so excited to push the latest update out to you. And it only covers half of it. Wow! On the flip, Doug has been really stable for the past month or so- which is why we are chasing the adventures pretty hard right now, while we can. #enjoyeveryday

Doug is currently at the height of his treatment. The radiation should have penetrated all his cells by now, and we have had one complete cycle of chemo with more on the way. Pill management is the most complex part of it, and we continue to tweak it to help keep him comfortable in any way possible. His memory is getting weaker, so we find ourselves repeating what is happening, where things are, when he needs to go to the doctor, etc. quite a bit.  He is still hilarious, cracking jokes when you least expect it, so laughter remains a big part of our lives.


A few important notes if you are visiting:

  • Please, please keep coming to the diligent and dedicated Catherine Lake to get on the schedule. Pinging me or Doug about it adds lots more steps to coordinate and increases chances by 1000% for fucking up the schedule. She can be reached through visit.klowntown@gmail.com   THANK YOU
  • And if you need to cancel, please let us know as soon as you can. It is totally cool to cancel, but no shows really throw us off and upsets Doug. 
  • I find myself in the middle of most social interactions with Doug, and it is drains me. Please don't be offended if I want to take off once (or even before) you arrive, or busy myself with tasks around the house when you are here.
  • And a reminder that if you have a cold or a cough or anything contagious, please don't come over till you are better.
Me, Anneke, Sean, Doug, childhood friends Keith Cobb & Ruthie seeing Led Zeppelin cover band on a boat

We all feel this is happening WAY TOO FAST so are purposefully jamming our schedule with fun activities while we can. We are working with Clara to make sure she understands that Doug is on a short timeline, a fact that hadn't really sunk in for her until last week. Our sadness is deepening, for sure. Thankfully, her school counselors have joined efforts with me to convince her to attend a grief group for teens, so looking to do that in the new year. She has been so engaged in her new school, just got the best report card of her life, and has a sweet boyfriend who brings her comfort and escape. Keeping her stable as she adjusts to all of this has been our #1 priority and lining up help for her is next.

NEW YORK CITY
But on to the fun stuff. We had an extremely magical time in NYC right after Burning Man. For years we had discussed taking our kids for a Manhattan adventure with the Lake family, and made fast decisions to just book it since I had a work trip scheduled there anyway. Thanks again to the Lakes for using Jetblue points to get Doug and Clara there! The weather was perfect, the leaves just about to turn, and three nights was the perfect bite-sized snack of a vacation cross country to the most electric city on the planet.


In Times Square on way to see the show 


Photos were forbidden, but....

My cousin Dolph Ramseur, who manages The Avett Brothers, graciously offered to hook us up with tickets to the new Moulin Rouge production on Broadway since he knows the team behind the scenes there. To see the show that made the words TRUTH BEAUTY FREEDOM and LOVE take on a whole new meaning for us couldn't have been more perfect.

All seven of us sat together five rows from the front, and we remained on the edge of our seats the entire time. As people filtered in, the performers (who are one helluva sexy bunch- MEOW), strolled slowly across the stage making direct, lingering eye contact with the audience. It really set the mood and we knew right away it was going to captivate us.

The best part for me happened when the curtains finally went up. Clara exclaimed in a serious, hushed tone, "Mom, I want to be up there." Now, I have always hoped she would find the performing arts as a calling, and am totally ready to click in to stage mom mode the minute she gives me the green light. Really hoping she evolves in that direction.

The show mesmerized us, and the singing and dancing was top notch by extremely accomplished actors. And they got the diversity memo; people of all shapes and ethnicities and orientations were up there on the stage. The set design was so sophisticated, too. I want to go again right away. Strongly recommended!

We got two big loft suites at The Ace Hotel, a fun and reasonably priced place to stay. It has a thumpin', lamp-lit lobby where freelancing hipsters and travelers hang out glued to their devices and serves up a tasty menu from The Breslin which is attached to it. The coffee from Stumptown Roasters also makes this place a hot destination. It's a hotel I have returned to many times over the years, so being there with family was easy and fun.

She's not too old to enjoy jumping on the hotel bed


Hanging with Clara in lobby of The Ace
We were able to sightsee in Central Park and also walk the Highline along the Hudson. We met up with Auntie Helga for drinks at The Standard- a super stylish hotel. Clara's friend Annie showed up to whisk her off on the subway to have adventures in Brooklyn, and all the kids shopped for new sneakers at the funky Vans store across the street.

Hellga, Doug, Guy, Catherine, Una, Me, Berch at The Standard

The four adults also had the dinner experience of a lifetime at Le CouCou. I first read about this place in The Cut (such a good culture site from New York magazine). A faux German heiress named Anna Delvey regularly held fancy dinners there and never paid her bill, which I found intriguing.  And it just got a Michelin star for 2020!



Guy, Doug and Catherine

If you want classically prepared French fare with a few surprise menu items thrown in, go here. But save your sheckles because it will cost you. It is the kind of place you don't really mind throwing down big bucks for because it is THAT GOOD. Like, shamelessly-lick-the-plates good.  Guy Lake and I had dined there before when we realized we were both randomly in NYC for business, and pledged to bring our spouses next time. We made friends with the sommelier, and I contacted him to tell him we were going to return for a special dinner with Doug. Yes, I play the cancer card whenever it seems like it might help and it typically does. He hooked us up by seating us next to the open kitchen and the "decanting station" for all the fine wines on offer so we were in the middle of the action. Guy and Catherine selected a Chardonnay from Meursault that blew our minds. Naturally, we ordered two bottles. And the service was better than what we experienced at Quince, which had held top ranking before we came here. We had a lady who kept the bread coming (to sop up the rich sauces), a man who kept the water glasses from ever reaching empty, the somm, and our head server, Ethan- who regaled us with stories of dining in Paris and made sure we made smart selections.

Doug fared quite well in the chaos that NYC can bring. The only thing that bugged him was getting jostled while walking on the crowded Highline - not easy to be there when you use a cane.

LAS VEGAS
The travels continue while we are in the up phase. This weekend, I am taking Doug to Las Vegas for a big party that our friend Polly Superstar is throwing. We are celebrating his 57th birthday there, and many other friends/klowns are flying in as well. We are staying at another favorite hotel, The NoMad, which is one of the places that really gives Las Vegas a level of luxury that makes it desirable to be there. We are excited to go the Tim Burton exhibit at The Neon Museum and maybe tour Red Rocks which is just a beautiful site to see.

Speaking of birthdays, Tim Pratt just celebrated his 50th and it was one for the ages. Doug had a toast he rehearsed to share insights into the evolution of Timmi's various alter egos, and as he approached the stage, the whole party spontaneously stood up and gave him a standing ovation. It was one of those moments that was at once deeply touching and wrenching. Just writing that brought me to tears. Woof. So, take a look at this hilarious photo below. It will make you smile. Ouchy and Helga Bunny had a shtick, 16 years ago (!!!), of playing music on schoolhouse record players at underground parties. I think this was the Odeon, or maybe CBGB's when Scott Beale had a big Laughing Squid party there in 2003.

Helga Bunny, aka Tim Pratt, and Ouchy the Clown "DJing" a party

Europa
Soon after we get back from Vegas, Doug will take a two week trip to London and Scotland with his besties, Camron Assadi (aka Teiwaz) and Timmmii. Yeah, i know- this is nonstop action.  They will join up with Yomi in London to go to the Guy Fawkes festival, then take an overnight train to Scotland to visit three cities there. This is a trip that has been in the works for over a year, and the doctors cleared him to go last week, so it is ON! Thanks to the brilliant recommendation of Neal Kaptain, I decided to fly over to London to meet up with them at the end of the trip, attend the Burning Man Decompression party there, and then fly back with him so he is not alone on that long flight, which was causing us all lots of concern.

Now, Clara turns Sweet 16 on November 1st (the day Doug flies to London so he will sadly miss it), so I have been diligently planning an extra exciting party for her packed with surprises. It will involve a dinner party at a cool restaurant, a white stretch limo (shhh she doesn't know about this),  homemade cake and roaming around First Friday in downtown Oakland with her friends. John Law just agreed to open up the Oakland Tribune clocktower for her friends to check out, which is something we did for Doug's bday a few years back. Really want to make it memorable and special for her for all the reasons you might expect. Our Nurse Jess Bobier will accompany me to pull this all off!

Ok, thanks for reading down this far. This is what happens when more than a month goes by without an update. People keep asking me how I am doing, and I still really don't know how to answer. "Up and down" is the most accurate response. I realize things are going to get a lot harder and darker soon, which is why I am packing the schedule so tightly right now.

As some of you know, I am writing this from a villa in Tulum, where I have taken my PR agency for a weeklong retreat. It is a major perk and a way to retain the great talented young ladies we employ and do some serious bonding. I conducted a personality test here, and we used StrengthsFinders to do it after getting the same recommendation from many others. One of my strengths is "Adaptability" - described as someone who "...has a gift for reacting in the moment rather than delaying action. Someone for whom the present — not the future or the past — is most important." Pretty accurate. My therapist says to let the emotions that well up flow right through me, so I find myself sobbing in the bagel shop, driving across the Bay Bridge, and on planes, especially. I totally lost it on the way out here, feeling guilty for leaving my family once I had "private" time to think all the thoughts. The tears streamed down and I was shaking with the silent sobs. The nice couple next to me was quite respectful, and when I finally came out of it, they bought me a Modelo and we had a nice chat. Oh, life!


All I do know is that I am going to need to lean on many of you a lot harder for support, and I remain deeply thankful that I can even write that statement with confidence, knowing I have an army of friends at the ready.