Body knows best, never mind the rest, the mind is a tether holding you together too tight.
Day 6: D.C.
I don't want to leave the quaint burg of Ocean Grove and my lifelong bestie, so Chynna and I make the most of our last few hours together and go for an early walk on the Asbury Park boardwalk. We duck into a place called the Barbaric Bean where they keep a secret stash of homemade gluten-free scones (for the underground celiacs?) in the back. Luckily Chynna's on their good side and they hook us up with a couple scones and an almond milk latte.
Paulie and I get back on the road, heading for D.C. where we play a legendary, gorgeous venue called The Hamilton. My first grilled chicken salad of the day is at lunch and I have it with a few slices of the cured salumi they have waiting for us backstage.
After the show several hours later, I get another grilled chicken salad with goat cheese and pine nuts and indulge in some stinky cheese and honey for dessert. It goes perfectly with the nearly 360-degree view of D.C. from the rooftop post-show.
Afterward we drive straight to Baltimore, where we stay in one place for three glorious nights -- a rarity on the road!
Chicken salad running total: 8
Day 7: Baltimore
I wake early, excited to meditate. After all the commotion and stimulus of touring -- loading in, loading out, singing your heart out, shaking hands, meeting people, and rushing around -- I can hardly wait to sit on a rolled-up towel at the corner of my hotel bed and do nothing for 30 minutes. Nothing, that is, but listen to a translation of a Buddhist saying "I am the universe and the universe is me" over and over.
After meditation, I go for a long walk through Baltimore, excited for a double feature of What To Expect When You're Expecting and Dark Shadows. Before the movie, I nail the trifecta of perfect breakfasts at Whole Foods: a ruby red grapefruit, my favorite goat milk yogurt (Redwood Hill Farms) and a bag of delicious cacao macaroons ("Chocoroons") made with coconut, almond flour, maple syrup, cacao, and salt.
After the movie, I swim through the humidity, looking for something to cool off. Maybe I have sympathy cravings from the Cameron Diaz pregnancy movie or maybe it's just the heat, but either way, I get a small frozen yogurt from Mr. Yogato and a small gelato across the street at Pitango Gelato. Pitango wins with some of the best gelato I've ever had, and I people-watch at my table outside until it's time to head back to the hotel.
That night, I force Paulie to watch The Bachelorette with me while I eat a grilled chicken salad with a side of broccolini and almonds from room service. A perfect day off.
Chicken salad running total: 9
Day 8: Baltimore
In the morning I discover my hotel gym overlooks Camden Yards, so I fantasize about pitching a no-hitter while sitting on a stationary bike.
I skip off to Whole Foods on Fleet Street again for breakfast and get the same exact thing as yesterday.
Before the gig at the Baltimore Soundstage, Paulie and I walk to a gluten-free-friendly Mexican restaurant called -- ready? -- MEX. The corn chips are safe, so I have some of those with salsa. I love when a place serves their tortilla chips freshly fried, and these arrive piping hot and lightly salted. Perfect.
I order my usual grilled chicken salad but this one had corn, black beans, and guacamole added. It is so good I swear at it. Even though this place is set in the middle of a nondescript mall type area called Power Plant Live! I vow to come back. In fact it's quite possible I found my favorite tour meal at this mall.
The last time I was in Baltimore a few years ago, I remember it being a little seedier -- a little more like its depiction on The Wire. Maybe I was just in a different part of town or maybe things have changed, but this is not the Baltimore I remember from a few years ago when I witnessed any angry guy push a waiter at a vegan restaurant because his tempeh burger was cold or too tempeh-y or something. Next time I'll revisit that place and see if Baltimore is still burning with angry vegan rage.
That night I play our final show with Nikka Costa at the Baltimore Soundstage. There is a thunderstorm and so the crowd is sparse, but we play our guts out anyway, and I sell out of all my merch. After the gig, I get one last gelato at Pitango (the Black Tea flavor is to die!) and sit at the counter watching the rain and think about how lucky I am to play music, write songs, and travel for a living. After I count my blessings, I tally up all the chicken salads eaten so far on this tour:
Chicken salad running total: 11
Day 9: Baltimore to PDX
In the morning, I go back to the gym and do a standing meditation while overlooking the baseball field again. Halfway through my meditation a hotel guest walks in and I try not to tense up and freak out. He's probably thinking I am insane, I think. He is probably thinking, "Who's the weird girl staring out the window of a gym, completely motionless for 20 minutes, wearing an iPod?"
I try to focus on my meditation but wind up just trying not to think about the guy on the treadmill 10 feet away from me and when I open my eyes, he is gone. My meditation is over, and somehow I actually feel better.
At Whole Foods, I find a bag of "raw vegan kale chips" by some silver-foxy guy named Brad whose picture is on the bag. I've never seen this brand before (Brad's Raw Chips), and I'm a kale chips aficionado. According to the back of the bag, Brad claims to have been a "typical overweight American" who turned his life around after adopting a raw vegan diet. You hear this a lot in the raw community and though I've definitely seen it work for some, I know for me, I need animal protein in my diet or else I'd eventually be eating nothing but raw vegan cacao desserts all day long. Nevertheless, I love me some kale chips, and these are pretty tasty.
On the plane I have another pink grapefruit from Whole Foods, the rest of Brad's chips, another carrot, and some green tea.
Dinner on my stopover is rough because there is only a Wendy's in our terminal and we only have about 20 minutes until boarding. I order the chicken salad (!) not realizing it's breaded, and get a side of chili. I pick off the breading from the chicken, have a couple bites of chili which is surprisingly good and call it a day, knowing I can make myself something good at home in a few hours.
Once home, I make my own frozen goat yogurt in my ice cream maker, sweetened with stevia. I blend it up with raw cacao and a few peanuts from the flight and it hits the spot.
Off to bed happy, healthy and as my Chinese meditation tape says, "feeling incredibly joyful and lucky."
Total chicken salads on this 9-day tour: 12
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