Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner on board

So they did a really nice job of the traditional Turkey Day dinner!  We had turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Pumpkin soup, and Pumpkin Pie for dessert.  Not bad.  Better than last year.  It was a shame that only four of us on the entertainment cast went.  Ah well. 

Tomorrow we are in Tauranga, and I am anxious to get a good head start to my day.  I have some secret Santa stuff to buy, which I can't reveal here, because YOU NEVER KNOW when someone is gonna go peeking.  I may go see a movie, too. 

Love and miss you all.  It's 1:45am.  Kinda tired as I did not sleep at all last night yet again. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some photos from Sydney... a little late.

Thanksgiving 2012

It is Thanksgiving Day here.  We are in Auckland, New Zealand.  I didn't sleep at all again last night, which was very frustrating.  I was trying to identify why it is that I have stopped sleeping, and I really have no idea.  It used to be thoughts of May 16th, 2007, but now it is simply age, I think.

The last three days have been spent at sea, and I have been teaching my "Afternoon at the Improv" class for the schoarship@sea program on board.  We started with 9 people, and we have grown to about 20.  Very exciting.  The group is hysterical, and they obviously love to have fun.  The Cruise Director's father is traveling with us, which is somewhat nerve-wracking, but he is a nice and gentle man who is there to have fun, and not necessarily spy on the goings-on around the ship.

They are closing the watertight doors, which usually means my internet is about to be cut off, so I will write more after dinner tonight in the dining room.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I got sent an angel today!

To fill you in on what is happening in my life:

Life at sea is full of exciting, wonderful, horrible, thrilling, boring, breathtaking, and utterly devastating moments.  In my career at sea, I have witnessed a search and rescue effort to find survivors of a plane crash in the North Atlantic, I have witnessed the devastation that an earthquake causes, seen the aftermath of a tsunami, witnessed a body washing up on shore, to name a few. 

But I have also seen amazing sunsets, met some astonishing people, seen the smiles on people's faces when they enjoy the shows I perform. 

A couple years ago I met a woman, Merle, who was sailing alone on one of the world cruises.  She and I just kind of "hit it off" and have been friends ever since.  She has sailed with me several times, and this past year, she was in the middle of a cruise when she got a sore throat.  This turned into a relapse of her cancer, and before I knew it, I got an email from her saying she had collapsed and was now bedridden waiting pretty much for "the end."   She lives north of Brisbane, just off the Gold Coast, which is about an hour and a half from where our ship docks.  We email several times a week, and I continually try to keep my emails upbeat.  Her cancer has spread to her brain, and having dealt with that with my grandmother, I know that once cancer hits the brain, it metastasizes  fairly quickly. 

Merle wants nothing more than to come on a cruise.  She can't get out of bed, however.  She has said on several occasions that she would like me to drive up to see her.  This makes me very nervous.  Foreign country, different laws, I don't drive a great deal, much less on the opposite side of the road.  Frankly, I am terrified of the many things that could go wrong.  I could miss the ship, get lost, etc.  So I have gently been putting it off.

This past cruise, I got a message from the Cruise Director that there was a woman on board who wanted to talk to me.  He said that we have a "mutual friend who is very sick."  I figured it was a friend of Merle's and mine. 

Well, this past cruise I was dealing with my own bout of depression and homesickness, not really wanting to go out or talk to anyone.  I think I got off the ship once the entire cruise.  I didn't call the cabin number I was given until today, the last day of the cruise.  I tried to time it where I knew the occupant would be out of their cabin, because I really didn't want to go out and talk to anyone.  I told the automated voice mail that I would be at a certain place at a certain time, and if they wanted to meet me, that's where I would be. 

So I showed up and met a lovely woman named Carolyn.  Yes, she is a friend of Merle's.  She told me that Merle is not doing well at all.  She had been up to see her and basically people are starting to show up to say their goodbyes.  A tear came to my eye, as the Merle I knew was one who I would meet in one of the lounges to take a spin around the dance floor.   She is a proud woman, and talk about strong-willed... this lady does not take no for an answer.  To picture her bedridden is devastating.  She told me that Merle's family has basically been acting like vultures.  They have disposed of most of her personal things, without her permission and knowledge of where the items have gone.  Is this what I was like when my grandparents passed? 

Carolyn asked me if I would be interested in going to visit her on one of the times my ship is in port.  Talk about an answer to a prayer.  I of course said yes, and we now have plans to go visit Merle on the 2nd of December.  We are going to keep it a surprise.   I will post here how that goes.  I am planning on taking her copies of the shows from the ship, and I am trying to get her to stay positive enough to gain some weight and try to at least get her into a wheelchair.  I'd love to be able to take her outside and "dance". 

The holidays are coming up, and for some reason I always question my own mortality at this time of the year.  Though my homesickness has not gone away, I am able to recognize that I have got to get out of my funk.  I have plays to write, a musical to finish, and other projects i need to see to fruition.  I am going to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama.  This is my goal.  My personal story of my last six years of hell is capable of it.  In the meantime, I continue to travel and see the wonders of the world, and thanks to people like Merle and Carolyn, Peggy and my parents, my sister, and my extended family, I am grateful to be here. 

More later!!

J. Michael Beech

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pondering the world

I was sitting backstage a few days ago watching the accordion player warm up for his show.  It made me think of my Auntie Evelyn and her accordion.  Then it made my mind wander to my Grandpa Katona and listening to him play his violin and talk funny Hungarian phrases to my Great Grandma Cihlar. 

Then I began to feel old.  And lonely.

My leading lady has a new boyfriend, so the time she and I would be spent hanging out, she now has someone else to hang out with.  I am jealous.  There I said it.  But I will be okay.  Just lonely. 

We are traveling to New Caledonia and the islands of Fiji this cruise, which makes me wonder "What on Earth do I have to be upset about?"  Nothing.  Things are great.  I have a wonderful job, some great friends in the States, and we have a president who hopefully will start to turn things around in the next four years.  If we have four more years.

Earthquakes are happening all around, storms are destroying people's lives and our infrastructure.  What is next?  Those people who subscribe to the December 21st, 2012 theory are probably doing their last bits to hunker down and get into survival mode.  And here I am floating around on a luxury liner, waiting to find what, Mister Right?  Does he even exist?  Even if I found him, would he stay interested in a guy who spends most of his life moving around?   Not to mention the other issues that come with dating a guy like me.

Ugh.  I am a mess.  Please know, dear reader, that I will be over this in a matter of days.  It comes and goes with the phases of the moon.   Mom asked me to blog, and so here I am, blogging.  I wish I had some great humourous story to write about, but not much funny stuff is happening. 

I did two shows of Moments to Remember with my fly down.  Is that funny?  Apparently there were people in the first row who were trying to let me know, but I managed to miss their signals.  Thankfully, the costume is one where the pants are baggy, so the fly sorta stays shut automatically.

I have been watching the entire series of "Brothers and Sisters", which has not really helped my loneliness, and then when I get to the end of the series, the last three episodes are missing, and the final episode only has 8 minutes in the file.  Ugh!  Very frustrating. 

So now I have moved on to "Once Upon A Time".  This is a fascinating series!  I was hooked from the pilot episode, and even though I am only on episode 5, it is awesome.  I would love to be a writer for a series like this one. 

Speaking of writing, one of the things I need to hunker down and do myself is get back to writing.  I have so many projects started, and I should finish them.  Oscar, 031, Under the Bus, and others need some attention.  If I want to win the Pulitzer for Playwriting, I need to get to it. 

I am still trying to save money, and believe it or not, I have been doing my best so far out of any contracts.  There are days where I can go to port and spend a couple hundred dollars, but there are also entire cruises where I spend next to nothing.  I am proud of myself.  I hope it helps me establish some roots somewhere in the next year or so.

I am worried about the house on Fire Island.  I don't know if it is standing or a pile of rubble, and I have not been able to get through to Michael to see what the status is.  Michael is not doing well, apparently, and that has me worried, too.  I don't like being away from all this uncertainty.  But no doubt it will follow me wherever I go, right?

I have been considered for another contract on the Sea Princess, for the beginning of the next world cruise in 2013, but I have yet to see a contract, and don't know if I should take a teaching position that I have been offered as well.  They overlap, so i can only choose one.  Not sure what to do.

So there you go.  My blog post.  I will do my best to try and post more.  Until then, thanks for reading.