Thursday, December 31, 2015

#411 The Future's Open Wide

Lately I’ve been in a tiny funk.  I have no reason to be.  I think it’s a combination of no sunlight the past couple of weeks and my period (sorry!).  My alarm goes off in the morning and it seems like it’s still night time.  I want to lay there under the warm covers and listen to Bob and Tom all morning.  But I make myself get up and go to the gym, thinking some physical activity will get me going.  It does.  And the rest of the day I’m ok and somewhat motivated to get things done (I’m also off work this week). 

The other day while driving home from the gym I shot up a prayer to God to help me get out of the funk and help me to improve my outlook.  A short time later one of my favorite songs came on the radio – "I Melt With You" by Modern English.  This song always makes me smile.  I first heard the song when I saw the movie Valley Girl.  It’s one of my favorite movies and Nicholas Cage’s character resembles a boy I had a crush on in college.  Nowadays, I just love the sound of the song and it takes me back to my fun college days. 

I have sung this song hundreds of times but I don’t recall ever focusing in on this line – The future’s open wide.  Pretty timely seeing as tomorrow is New Year’s Day.  Now, I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions – I believe you shouldn’t wait for a certain time of year to make a change.  Make it now.  Now just happens to be the New Year.  

After singing that line I really thought about it.  Yes, I’m 47 and still single, watching seemingly everyone around me get married and/or have kids.  But each day (overcast or not) brings the promise of something new.  Anything can happen. 

After hearing the song I stopped at one of my favorite places (the library) and when I came out and started my car the next lyric I heard was “Yesterday’s gone” from one of Fleetwood Mac’s songs.  Again, very timely. 

The future’s open wide.  Yesterday’s gone.  The sun will come out tomorrow (or the next day).  I will get over my funk.  If you happen to be feeling a little funky yourself, I pray that you look to the future and see the possibilities.  And have a Happy New Year!  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

#410 Edam Up

Around the holidays certain “higher-ups” around the office receive gifts.  One year a guy received a live wreath and didn’t want it, so I took it home.  It smelled lovely.  I have seen people receive tins of popcorn, cookies and even a Virginia ham.  I have received a box of oranges and grapefruits for the past 10 years or so in December.  The person who kept me on the mailing list (I haven’t worked with that championship in five or six years now) passed away earlier this year.  He was so thoughtful to keep sending them to me and I will greatly miss him and the fruit. 

The latest gift to hit the office was a 3 lb. cannonball of Edam cheese from Mississippi State University.  A co-worker sent me a message to come and get some cheese this past Monday.  For three days days Kerstin and I have ventured to the other side of the building to have an afternoon snack of either cheese and crackers or cheese and bread. 

Today (Thursday) I sent my usual message to the keeper of the cheese asking if she had taken it out of the refrigerator.  I recently learned that cheese is best when it’s been out of the refrigerator for an hour or so.  The flavors are better.  I was aghast when my friend replied “It’s gone”.  What?  What do you mean, gone?  There was half a ball of cheese left yesterday!  Who ate all the cheese?  Who moved my cheese?  She forgot to put the cheese away when she left work last night and then called security to tell him to throw it away.  Pardon me?  Throw it away?!  Who does that?  Cheese is a hearty food and will definitely not go bad overnight.  You may have to cut some hardened cheese off the top, but it would still be good.  I was distraught. 

When I delivered the bad news to Kerstin she felt the same way.  My hope is that the security guy looked at half ball of beautiful Edam cheese and took it home with him and it’s not rotting in the back of a Ray’s trash truck. 

I was looking forward to several more days of our “cheese runs.”  (Which is a very ironic thing to call it, since cheese does the opposite of giving you the runs.)  Now I am back to peanut butter on bread for my afternoon snack.  So long, Edam.  It was nice to know you.  Parting is such sweet sorrow.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#409 Comedic/Musical Geniuses

In one weekend I saw two (well, possibly three) geniuses.  The first was Ronnie Milsap.  I first saw him in 2007 as the second opener for George Strait (the first opener?  Taylor Swift.).  My friend Kelly went with me and she would always say “He’s a musical genius” when talking about Ronnie. 

I heard he was on his farewell tour and just had to see him one more time.  He didn’t disappoint.  There is not enough time for him to sing all of his hits, so he did a lot of medleys, but was a really good show.  He told a story about attending a school for the blind as a child.  He received music lessons for 12 years at that school and he loved music so much he told his counselor he wanted to be a professional musician.  His counselor told him he couldn’t do that and tried to steer him to other professions. 

Not long after he attended a Ray Charles concert.  He was able to meet Ray backstage and told him he was a huge fan, and that he, too, wanted to be a professional musician, but everyone told him he couldn’t.  Ray asked him to play for him.  After Ronnie finished, Ray asked him, “Do you love it?”  Ronnie answered, “I do!”  and Ray told him to follow his dream.  And he certainly did! 

The next night I saw Martin Short and Steve Martin.  My brother and sister-in-law had already bought tickets so I bought a single ticket in the balcony.  (Not much leg room in the first row of the second section!)  It was an incredible show

A little friendly banter

Stepbrother of Jesus

Pretty Little One
I do like Steve Martin and think he is very talented, but I am mainly smitten with Martin Short.  I first saw him on Saturday Night Live as Ed Grimley.  I loved him so much then that I dressed as Ed Grimley for Halloween in college.  How many 19 year-old young women would do that?  I walked around with a wire hanger as a triangle and no one knew who I was.  So sad!  

Yes, the girl on my left is dressed like a box of tampons.  

One of my all-time favorite SNL skits is Martin and Harry Shearer as synchronized swimmers.  That is just pure genius.  Martin has seemingly not aged in all these years.  Ok, I was sitting in the balcony so I couldn’t see the wrinkles, but he bounced around with the energy of a 25 year-old with his typical knock-kneed dances. 

Two of my favorite geniuses in two nights.  I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, I must say!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#408 Chicago, That Toddlin' Town

I have been to Chicago twice this year.  The first time was in April with the girls (Krista, Julie and Michelle).  I had a free night stay at a hotel so we made a quick weekend.  We drove in Saturday morning and left the next afternoon.  Well, Julie left that night, but that’s another story. 

This trip consisted of a walk along the Chicago Lakefront Trail (love Lake Michigan!), Navy Pier (we rode the Ferris wheel!), shopping (Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Tumi among others) and eating (most notably Miller’s Pub). 

I must share one story about my lunch at Miller’s.  I had the Greek-Style Chicken.  It was really good and was a LOT of food.  So much that I left with a large doggie bag (I hate wasting food).  Which wasn’t a problem until we decided to check out NFL Draft Town.  It was free to get in but there were signs posted that you could not bring in any outside food.  The chicken was in a container at the bottom of my bag with my newly purchased Nike sneakers on top.  As I went through the line the guy felt the bottom of my bag and asked what it was.  I lowered my voice and said that I had just come from Miller’s and I was carrying half a chicken.  I told him I was incredibly full and promised  I wouldn’t open it inside.  He smiled and let me in.  Yes!  I saved my chicken!  (Which I ate later as a snack.)  

It was a fun trip but went by much too fast.  I felt badly for Julie, as she needed to be back for a meeting Sunday morning, only to text us Sunday saying the meeting was cancelled.  Bastards! 

My advice to anyone driving into Chicago – reserve your parking space in advance using SpotHero.  I found a garage a short walk from our hotel and it was way cheaper than doing it on-site.  You do have to choose your in and out times, but it worked great for us. 
The next trip was still a weekend, but a longer one.  This time it was Krista, Julie and me.  We visited my friend Keith and his wife Denise who live just outside Chicago.  Keith was generous enough to invite me to a Cubs game (my first!) and let me bring a couple friends.    

I must admit I’m not much of a baseball fan.  I went to high school games because I had a crush on the shortstop.  I also went to some games in college simply because it was free and a fun thing to do on a spring afternoon.  Pro baseball?  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Ok, I like my Indianapolis Indians and they have a beautiful ballpark but I usually find other things I’d rather do. I suppose everyone needs to go to one Major League baseball game in their lifetime and the Cubs isn’t a bad place to start. 

We went to a Friday afternoon game.  The day, game and company were perfect!  Keith’s seats are amazing!    

Keith had invited two other friend, Don and Jennifer, and it was fun to meet them.  I was “forced” to buy a beer and had some kind of cider.  Really good!  I was informed that at the top of every inning we had to drink so I nursed my beer for almost the entire game.  We also celebrated Don’s recent birthday.  (Thanks to Keith for our borrowed Cubs gear!)  

After the game we hit The Cubby Bear for a drink while waiting for Denise to join us, then walked a short way for dinner at a great Mexican place.  Again, lots of food but very good.  We got back to Keith’s house around 11 p.m. 

I must back up a bit to Friday morning and talk about Keith’s family.  We arrived at their house late Thursday night so went right to bed.  The next morning we met Keith’s daughter and niece in the kitchen.  We also met Zeus, their two-year old golden.  Such a great dog!  Ok, back to the family.  We chatted with Renee and Monica, and then more family arrived – Denise’s sister, Teresa, and her mom, Helen.  O.M.G.  It is an understatement to say that the kitchen was roaring with laughter.  They are all hilarious! 

Back to Saturday – we drove to Wisconsin to take a boat ride around Geneva Lake.  Keith’s friend was kind enough to take us all out on his boat.  It was another beautiful day!  We each picked out the house we wanted but couldn’t afford.  After a late lunch at Chuck's Lakeshore Inn, we stopped near Racine to pay a quick visit to one of my friends, Gwendolyn, and her family.  (A "feeling normal" visit for me!)  It’s been a few years since I’d seen them and this time got to meet their one-year old daughter.  Adorable!  We had a fun time playing Wizard and hillbilly golf before heading back to Keith’s.    

We took a slight detour after we spotted the Mars Cheese Castle. You know of no such place, you may say to yourself.  As did I before I walked across the moat to cheese paradise.  Words cannot describe my delight in being surrounded by cheese.  I am a fan of all kinds of cheese, but particularly love a good smoked Gouda and a dill Havarti (of which Keith and I discovered we buy the same type from Aldi).  I walked out of there with a solid cheese knife.   

We continued the fun just a bit more Sunday by stopping at Arlington Race Track for a couple hours.  I didn’t bet but Krista came close to winning on the two races she bet on.  I had a yummy Bloody Mary.  Again, they “made” me drink!  I didn’t mind so much though.  Finally headed home in the afternoon. 

What a great weekend!  Keith and Denise are new friends (I’ve known them almost two years now) and I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again, either in Indy or Chicago. 

A side note about Denise – I have found someone who loves Halloween as much as (or maybe more) than I do!  She showed me pictures of her work costumes the past few years and they are stellar!  She definitely would have won in my office.  Very creative and fun, that Denise. 

Here’s to two great weekends and hanging out with new and old friends!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#407 Guy vs. Man

Over the summer I met someone of the opposite sex who was tall, attractive and interesting.  He asked for my number and we spent a little bit of time together.  Then I never heard from him again.  But that is beside the point.  When I told my friend Alyce about meeting him, I stopped myself and thought about what I was about to say.  I usually tell people that I met a guy.  This guy, however, was over 50.  Therefore I felt compelled to tell her that I met a man.  Why?  I still refer to myself as a girl, as do I refer to my friends of various ages (some of whom are north of 50).    

Today I read an article in the Huffington Post that triggered my memory on this topic.  And confirmed my thoughts on dating older men now that I am approaching 50. 

I feel a bit like Peter Pan at times, especially since I don’t have the husband and/or kids that most of female society does.  I have no one to worry about except myself.  Sure, I care about my family and friends, and have concern for them, but I don’t have to take care of anyone or check with anyone to see if it’s ok that I buy something or go somewhere.  I just do it.  Same as I always have.  (For the record, I do WANT that, it just hasn’t happened.)

Even though I am relatively youthful and can fly off to Neverland at a moment’s notice, I do understand that my potential suitors’ age range is going up.  Even though I still find all ages of men attractive, I know that guys even in their late 30s are going to think I’m too old for them.  (I’m sure they have been thinking this longer than care to admit).  Sigh.

At age 28 I went out with a guy who was 36.  I remember telling my friends incredulously, “In four years he will be 40!”  Then in my mid-30s I dated a man with children.  We didn’t date long so I didn’t get the full experience of what all of that entails, but I could sense that things were shifting.  Young children.  Exes.  Now it’s moving to kids in college or grown children. 

My age “rule” was stolen from a former co-worker Crissy (see Post No. 26).  I have re-told one story from that post, so won’t go into great detail.  It’s just strange that my age range now is 37-57, fast approaching 60.  Although Kenny Aronoff is 62 and I LOVE him. 

My ultimate feeling about age is that it really doesn’t matter.  When you click with someone, who cares how old they are?  (Well, it must be legal.)  And as for what to call them – man or guy, I may flip flop on that.  It’s a hard one to figure out, man.    

Monday, August 17, 2015

#406 Kick It

I’m a positive person and like to keep things positive on my blog, but something happened to me over the weekend that is still bothering me. 

While running errands Sunday afternoon I drove west on Washington Street and turned right onto Ritter.  I had just turned the corner when four people started walking across the street.  The middle of the street.  No crosswalk, no pedestrian walkway.  They slowly wandered across the street with no care in the world that a car might drive over them.  I stopped and waited patiently.  Oh I was perturbed, but had no reaction.  The last two decided to walk back across from whence they came.  For some reason they couldn’t make up their mind what they wanted to do.  I finally honked at them to get out of the road since I had the right of way. 

They finally finished crossing to meet their friends but were not happy that I had honked.  As I proceeded to drive by them, one of the boys kicked my car on the driver’s side.  Yes, he KICKED MY CAR.  I stomped on the brakes, put the car in park and got out to inspect the damage.  The kick had made a loud noise and I just knew there was a mark of some kind.  Miraculously, there was no permanent mark, just a smudge of dirt. 

They had continued walking down the street so after I looked at my car, I looked up at them.  Well, glared at them is more like it.  I heard the girl say, “I don’t care about that car!”  Seeing no damage, I got back in the car and drove away.  As I did so, I started thinking, “That’s where some people get shot.”  What if they thought I was coming after them and shot at me?  I was shaking, partly because I was so angry.  If there had been any kind of mark, I would have called 911. 

I kept thinking about the altercation the rest of the day.  The thing that bothers me the most is that these kids have no consideration of others.  They don’t care about anyone but themselves.  They don’t care that they are walking in the middle of the street possibly in front of a car.  They know that the car will stop so they don’t get hit.  (I hope they all do stop.)  They don’t care that they are making someone wait in the street, possibly to get hit by another car from behind.  And they certainly don’t care about other people’s property.  They kicked MY car because THEY got mad that I honked at them while standing in the middle of a STREET.  WTF? 

I’m not saying all kids are like this, but it’s sad that a lot of them are like this.  They just don’t care.  There are no consequences.  That’s why a lot of them shoot each other.  They made me mad so I’ll just shoot them.  So what? 

After my nerves finally calmed down, all I could do was say a prayer for these kids.  Maybe they feel like nobody cares about them, so why should they care.  It’s so frustrating. 

Be careful out there.  Be careful who you honk at.  I will try to be a bit more patient.  But I can only take so much.  I have no fun ending for this story; I just pray that these kids have a good ending to their story, wherever it takes them.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

#405 Let Your Light Shine

I recently returned from my yearly trek to Connecticut to volunteer at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp.  “Let Your Light Shine” is this summer’s theme.  This is my third year going and in two more years I will get my five-year tote bag!  Yes, I can buy one at the camp store, but it’s not the same.  My roommate this year got hers and it’s yellow.  So jealous!  

Ok, back to the beginning.  I did Session 6 and had 13-14 year old girls again.  Most were 14 and incoming freshmen.  We had a full cabin this year with eight girls.  Such great young ladies and so much fun.  They got along together very well and we had no trouble with them at all.  Medically they all seemed to be in good places.  None were currently on treatment.  We had to watch out for any rough contact but that wasn’t really an issue all week. 

The past two years I’ve stayed in LuLu’s Lodge.  This year I stayed in Steve’s Station.  That is the doctor housing just behind LuLu’s.  It’s like apartments – a living room and three bedrooms.  One bedroom has a private bath and the other two share a bath.  My roommate this year was Sarah.  As I mentioned, this was her fifth year and she was helping out in my unit (Blue) with one of the boy cabins.  She was there with her mom, Beverly, a volunteer nurse for the week. 

Since this is my third year I am beginning to recognize a few campers and also volunteer and full staff counselors from prior years.  I saw Wendy, a volunteer nurse who was with my unit my first year. Such a nice woman!  My roommate from last year, Maria (the snorer!) was in my Steve’s Station apartment, but she had the room across the hall and was by herself.  Apparently they took last year’s survey to heart.  She and her husband, Rich, have been volunteering at camp for 19 years.  Their son attended camp as a kid and they’ve been involved ever since.  Rich is well known throughout camp for his fun hats.  Every time you turn around he’s wearing a different hat – a hot dog, a garlic clove, a jester’s hat.  You name it, he’s got it.  He also wears a cape made out of what looks like a kid’s bed sheet complete with cartoon characters.  He’s great! 

My cabin counselors were Jill and Monica, with Emily, Kaeley and Monica floating.  The other volunteer counselors, who slept in the cabin, were mom Kathy and her daughter, Grace.  Kathy’s other daughter, Annie, was in the other girl’s cabin.  Annie is pre-med in college and Grace is either an incoming senior in H.S. or college freshman.  This was their first time at camp.  Kathy heard about camp at New York’s Big Apple Circus.  They were all so great to be around. 

This session had the most family members that I remember.  Sarah and Beverly, Kathy and her girls, Maria and Rich (I told campers they were my parents – she’s Filipino and super short).  On top of that, our unit leader K (I forget her full given name, but she goes by K) had a brother volunteering that week – King.  How wonderful to be able to share camp with someone so close to you! 

The weather was pretty near perfect.  It was a bit hot the first couple of days (they moved the campfire inside - it was fake!), but cooled off the rest of the week.  We had a tiny bit of rain on Stage Night that produced a beautiful rainbow!  The night before at Cabin Chat the question was, “What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”  My answer was a rainbow.  Every time I see one I am amazed!  And then I got to see one at camp.  So cool! 

I took my day off Wednesday (was nice to have the break in the middle) and Sarah generously let me use her mom’s car.  Carly from last year was not at camp so no Mini Cooper this year.  I am just grateful people let me use their car so don't care what kind I get.    

This year my pilgrimage was to Stamford, Connecticut to visit Gilda Radner Wilder’s grave.  I read an article last year in the Indianapolis Star about celebrity grave sites.  I saw that hers was in Stamford and immediately googled how far it was from Ashford – a little over 100 miles. 

I left just after 9 a.m. and rolled into Stamford close to 11 a.m.  I found the cemetery easily and then it was time to find the grave.  Luckily there is a website called Find A Grave.  You type in a name and it gives the bio and a photo of the site, along with directions on how to find it.  This wasn’t a huge cemetery, but it would have taken me a while to find it on my own.  Her stone is under an ornamental tree and in front of some small bushes.  Just right of the center of the cemetery.  There she was!  Someone had put a photo of her Saturday Night Live character Roseanne Rosannadanna behind her stone so that helped too. 

I spent about 30 minutes sitting quietly on a stone bench in the shade.  My original plan was to have lunch with her, but I wasn’t very hungry when I got there due to my big breakfast.  I had some snacks with her instead.  After taking a few photos, I enjoyed sitting there enjoying the peacefulness and thinking of the joy that Gilda brought to the world.  How ironic that I am working at a camp where most of the kids have cancer, and she died of ovarian cancer in 1989.  She would have loved camp.  The kids would have loved her right back. 

When I got back to camp and was back “on duty”, people asked what I did on my time off.  “I drove to Stamford to see Gilda Radner’s grave.”  They just looked at me like I was nuts.  Nevermind.   

It’s hard to list highlights from camp.  This year they were really into card games.  Spit, Egyptian Rat Slap, B.S. (“Take it!”)  So one of the girls was bluffing in B.S. and I got her once.  Every time after that if anyone said B.S. to her she would giggle and say, “Take it!” and we’d have to pick up all the cards in the discard pile.  She was such a card shark! 

One of the girls had had a stroke so her left side was weaker.  She kept up with everyone and was a joyous spirit.  She would hang back from playing cards because she couldn’t hold them in her left hand and at first hung back when the others were practicing a dance for Stage Night – the Hoedown Showdown.  The other girls and counselors encouraged her to participate and she ended up performing with the cabin.  That was a definite highlight.  That and seeing her on the low ropes.  She did great, again after some encouragement. 

Another highlight with two other girls happened on an afternoon at arts and crafts.  Barbara Grapstein, who founded HealingHeadbands,was going to show us how to make our own headbands.  She founded the organization to create something for cancer patients to wear on their heads that is soft, comfortable and has UV protection.  Best of all, you create your own design!  You paint on a piece of card stock and they transfer the artwork to a headband and mail it to you a month later.  I decided to paint, “Raise A Little Hell” on mine with polka dots in the colors of all five units – red, blue, green, purple and yellow. 

But before we made the headbands, we went outside to do some laughing exercises.  This is where things got interesting.  I have been in several situations where I’ve felt uncomfortable doing something, but you learn to just do it and get it over with.  She led us in laughing exercises, “Ho Ho Ha Ha Ha” and other exercises where you had to make funny faces and motions.  The two girls from my cabin didn’t know what to think of this.  The one made the BEST faces.  Her eyes would get big and she’d look to the side like, “What is going ON?”  The woman noticed and tried to get them more involved, but it didn’t really work that well.  They went along with things, but you could tell they were WAY out of their comfort zones.  The rest of the week I asked the one girl to make the eyes for me and we would laugh about it. 

Other fun things at camp - we had a tall club of sorts this week.  The entertainment guy for the week, Logan, was about 6’9” or 10”.  Evan, the volunteer coordinator, is around my height.  Jackson, one of the full-time counselors, was maybe 6’7”.  And a volunteer counselor in another unit was close to 7’.  I was tempted to get a picture with all of us for my “Feeling Normal” fictional album, but I didn’t.  I did run across Logan putting on stilts one morning. 

I learned how to make friendship bracelets – regular and chevron.  I didn’t learn how to do the boondoggle (or gimp) key chain.  (Maybe next year.)  We had quite the controversy on whether it was called boondoggle or gimp.  Grace and I were in the boondoggle camp, the girls were all in the gimp camp.  The only reason I’ve heard of boondoggle was from Napoleon Dynamite. 

I also painted my nails during the week.  I do not like painting my nails because of the upkeep.  The cabin had some amazing blue polish so I painted one nail mid-week.  Then another, then both hands.  I actually liked it!  Until it started to chip.  I kept it on until I got home.  

On my flight home I sat next to a girl who looked about 14 years old.  She sat next to her dad and played a video game with him on her phone.  After we took off I decided to finish off one of my friendship bracelets.  I taped it to the tray and started tying off string.  I could see her looking at it out of the corner of her eye.  Eventually she said, "I like your colors.  They're really pretty."  I thanked her and said she probably had done a ton of these.  I also told her I just got back from camp - being a counselor, that is.  Look at me - 46 years old, with bright blue nail polish, braided hair, working on a friendship bracelet, coming back from camp.  Gotta stay young, right?

When I got home my mom said a version of her usual comment.  This time it was, “You probably didn’t meet any tall, interesting men.”  Well actually I did, but they’re all in their 20s.  (Evan might be early 30s but he’s married.)  Such a pity.  It’s weird to be around tall, good looking guys and then you realize they could be your son.  Agh!! 

One last thing to mention - a bicycle sits outside the arts and crafts building.  You can tell no one has ridden it in a long time.  It is the most interesting bike I've ever seen.  I was Paul Newman's bike and he used to ride it around camp.  I so wish I could have met him, or just seen him ride by on his bike.  

I am thankful for the opportunity to be at camp for a third time.  I hope I will still have the time next summer to get one more year closer to my “Five year tote bag!  Five year tote bag!  Five year tote bag – ahhhhhh!”

Until next year, keep raising a little hell!  (I can’t wait to get my headband!)  Oh yeah, and let that light shine too!  

Friday, July 17, 2015

#404 How Sweet It Is

Not much to say about James that I haven't already said.  This was my eighth time seeing him.  It never gets old!  It was a great show and I enjoyed catching up with Kathy.  Until next time!

#403 Four Concerts. Eleven Days.

As you may know from reading my blog, I love music and particularly enjoy live music.  Summer brings the requisite musical artists to town, and I usually attend a few concerts during the entire summer.  This past stretch of 11 days broke a record for me - I attended four concerts.  How did this happen? 

Sunday, July 5 – John Fogerty with my Kenny Aronoff
See Post No. 402.
I bought this ticket three weeks before the concert right after I saw the BoDeans. 

Wednesday, July 8 – Mat Kearney (Judah and the Lion)
I bought this ticket the week before the show.  I like his sound a lot and thought it would be a fun, semi-cheap show.  A friend from high school went with me.  He played at the Vogue, which is one of my favorite venues.  Judah and the Lion opened for him and I really took a liking to them too.  They have a unique sound that is described as bluegrass rock.  They are Twenty-Somethings from Nashville, Tennessee (from Belmont University).  After the show I found out they made their first appearance on Letterman in February.  And while flipping channels over the weekend I heard their song “Kickin’ da Leaves” on a Nature Valley Granola commercial.  They are playing in Indy again this weekend at Carmel’s Art of Wine

Monday, July 13 – Shania Twain (Gavin DeGraw)
I scored two free tickets to this show the day after Mat Kearney.  I was a quick responder at work.  Yes!  Megan went with me.  I’ve seen Gavin DeGraw several times (my first time he opened for Sister Hazel at the Vogue) so that was a bonus.  I couldn’t resist free tickets and this is supposedly Shania’s last tour.  Good show. 

Wednesday, July 15 – James Taylor
I got this ticket several months ago.  My friend Kathy loves him too and we’ve seen him together eight times.  The first time in 1997 (See Post No. 162), Kathy sat with her mom and I took a date.  But technically we were both there so it counts as “together”.  J  He was classic James.  A laid-back night with perfect weather.  The only imperfection is when we sat down and saw a camera right in out sight line.  What??  They actually sell seats with a camera sitting in front of them?  Luckily his performance stool was just to the left of the camera and I could see him ok, but the stage was split into halves.  Plus Kathy’s view was altered even more by the large man in front of her who wore a hat with a brim.  He finally did take it off.  At intermission we moved down several rows to the right.  We were right behind the sound board area and no one was in front of us.  Back to perfect! 

After my two-week musical extravaganza, I’m ready for some rest.  I love music so much and find it hard to say no to a great show.  Especially when tickets are free!  (For the record – I did turn down Train tickets for July 12.)  I do like to have a balance of some “off” days and just chill at home, but it’s so hard in the summer! 

The next concert I see on my schedule is in November.  I hope to get some rest in the meantime.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

#402 Rock And Roll Girl

Let me make this perfectly clear:  I am neither a stalker nor a groupie.  But I do love me some Kenny Aronoff!  I was lucky enough to see him perform a second time within a month – this time with John Fogerty at the Murat Theatre.  As I wrote in Post No. 399, he mentioned he would be back in town in July.  I promptly bought tickets to the concert and was even able to get aftershow passes. 

I like John Fogerty/Creedence songs but would never have gone to a show if Kenny wasn’t playing.  Nothing against John.  He’s just not on my “must-see” list.  But I am glad that I went.  John is an amazing musician and performer, and I knew almost every song.  He told some funny stories about Woodstock and the Grateful Dead, among others.  At 70, he’s still in great shape and voice.  He played for almost 2 ½ hours straight.  One thing I noticed, more toward the end of the show, was that he played the songs really fast.  Faster than I remember them being on the radio.  I have no idea how Kenny does what he does for 2 ½ hours–he was amazing too. 

After the show Lori and I put on our aftershow stickers and stood by the side door.  After a short wait, we walked down a hallway behind the bar area and made our way into Kenny’s dressing room.  There was a sofa and some chairs, and a table with food and a couple bottles of wine.  He greeted everyone, and greeted me by name (giving me a big hug), and we all stood/sat around for the next hour drinking wine and listening to him tell stories.  He has a book coming out in September and some of the stories will be included.  And he did mention that John plays the songs now like he always wanted them to be played – fast. 

Partway through the story-telling he walked over to me and showed off my skirt to everyone (touching my belly again!) and asked how I keep in such good shape.  (I rattled off that I play tennis, bike, lift weights, etc.)  I checked my watch a time or two, mostly worried that Lori wanted to get home.  We both had to work the next day.  But she seemed as fascinated as me.  I was wondering how long I would stay when a man appeared at the door and said Kenny's car was ready.  This was around 11:30 p.m.  I was sad to go – I could have listened to him all night! 

He said goodbye to everyone and then he grabbed me again and gave me a bear hug.  He told me not to bend over to hug him – he wanted to hug me fully upright.  Haha  Then he said, “I love this woman!”  Now, I know he doesn’t really love me.  He is happily married.  But I understand what he means, because I love him too.  He is an amazing artist and I love his energy, passion and work ethic.  He is the real deal. 

I had told Lori the story of how I met him (at Butler and again at the BoDeans show).  I explained how cool he was and about his infectious energy.  As we walked back to the car she said, “I get it now.”  You don’t fully understand until you witness it yourself.  It’s like the energy transfers to you somehow. 

I need to make something else clear.  In a Post No. 337 I wrote about “dating down”.  I talked about how I prefer to date tall men but that it’s what inside that really matters, and how someone makes you feel.  Again, I’m not a groupie, and am fully aware and respectful that Kenny is happily married.  I don’t know how tall he is – his head comes to the bottom of my chin – but I would totally date him if he were single.  FO SHO.  I guess now I have to create a Kenny Aronoff “Rule”.  Haha  (See Post Nos. 2 and 249.)

Kenny says he’ll be back for another lecture in October.  Come hell or high water, I will be there.  Not as a stalker or a groupie, but hopefully as a new friend.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

#401 Spring Tune Up

In April I participated in a weekend bike ride in Madison, Georgia.  It’s the BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) Spring Tune Up.  You don’t really ride across Georgia; it’s just loops of varying lengths around the town of Madison.  My bike friends from Florida (Steve and Tracy) had signed up, along with another friend (Ken) from North Carolina.  Yes, it is even earlier than my June century ride last year, but the mileage was way lower.  I can do this! 

The week of the ride I checked out the weather.  Thunderstorms.  All weekend.  Sigh.  I kept tracking each day, and Steve kept doing his anti-rain dance.  It worked, as the forecast shifted to partly cloudy Saturday and “just” rain Sunday. 

I flew to Atlanta Friday after work.  I almost didn’t make it – when they scanned my boarding pass it made a weird noise and I had to go the customer-service desk at the gate.  “You don’t have a seat.”  What??  I had checked in!  Luckily, there was one guy on board who had offered to give up his seat so I got the last seat and a $50 voucher for my trouble. 

I landed in Atlanta around 9 p.m.  Got my rental car and drove off into the dark, rainy night.  Madison is an hour east of Atlanta.  I arrived at the park around 10:30 p.m. and let my friends know I was in the parking lot.  They had arrived Thursday and were snug and dry in their tents, along with all the other bikers.  They came out in the rain with flashlights trying to find my car.  “Flash your headlights!”  Ken finally found me.  He grabbed my bag from the trunk and carried it to my tent that Steve had ready for me.  The day before Steve had texted that it was waiting for me, all warm and dry.  When Ken unzipped the door Friday night the tent was filled with water.  “Houston, we have a problem!”  Steve actually said that out loud.  I‘m sure the other campers loved our late-night hijinks!     
I ended up sleeping in Ken’s suburban.  They threw two yoga mats and a blanket in the back and I put my sleeping bag on top of it.  I slept in my clothes.  Didn’t wash my face or brush my teeth.  It was past 11 p.m. and I was tired. 

Before I turned in Ken said he’d lock me in the car so no one would grab me.  I did have the key fob.  I slept fairly well considering.  At 6:30 a.m. I had to go to the bathroom.  When I opened the door – the alarm went off.  OMG!  I fumbled for the key fob but the buttons didn’t work!  I don’t know why I thought of this, but I dove headfirst into the front seat and started the car.  It worked!  The alarm only sounded for about 10 seconds but it felt like an eternity.  And I’m sure the other campers thought the same thing.  Later Steve said he laughed when he heard it go off and wondered if it was me.  Ken knew it was his car but hoped I’d shut if off because he wasn’t getting out of his tent.  Thanks a lot! 

With all quiet (and an empty bladder – it’s a wonder I didn’t pee my pants!), I slept a bit longer.  Then we hung out by the tents on the soggy soccer field and Steve cooked up quite a breakfast on his little camp stove.  

Making the best of a soggy morning
Eggs, turkey bacon and pancakes.  Yum!  It rained steadily all morning.  We decided not to ride so we drove into downtown Madison to check things out.  It’s a very cute town with lots of shops.  We saw a sign outside one of the shops which summed up our weekend.  

After lunch and walking around more, we went back to the park.  I took a shower (finally – it was around 4:30 p.m.) and Steve took down my soggy tent.  We went back into town and had a great dinner. 

Night two in the suburban.  This time I had a comfy sleeping pad.  And I had brushed my teeth!  Sunday morning we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then Steve and Tracy headed back to Orlando.  

Tracy, Ken, Linda, Steve
Ken and I drove to Athens, Georgia.  Then he went home and I drove to Auburn in the pouring rain.  It’s alarming to hear there is a tornado watch when you have no idea what county you’re in!  Made it to Auburn and hit the bookstores, also walking by a newly revamped Toomer’s Corner. 

I drove to a friend’s house but they weren’t home yet so sat in my parked car and relaxed for about an hour.  I thought the neighborhood watch patrol would come out and ask me what I was doing there.  Kirk and son Jake got home from basketball practice and I visited with them for a while.  I heard all about the Toomer’s Corner celebration from the day before.  Joe Jonas, Nelly and Kesha performed.  Jake was right up front!  Lisa and other son Hayes got home from a basketball tournament in Birmingham and I had about 15 minutes before I had to leave for the airport.  Although a short visit, it’s always great to go back to Auburn. 

At the airport I boarded one of the trams to go to my concourse.  A tall man wearing a sweatsuit got on.  He looked really familiar so I told him so, then asked, “Do I know you?”  He stepped closer and asked my name.  I told him, and asked his name.  “Jerry Stackhouse.”  Well, that would be why he looks familiar!  Haha  He played at North Carolina in the late 90’s.  I laughed and said I had been around basketball most of my life and was trying to figure out where I knew him.  Turns out I knew who he was, but didn’t know him at all.  We chatted in the tram and then up the escalator to the concourse.  He was really nice and laid back.  He was headed to an Adidas camp and asked if I had any kids (always recruiting!).  No, sorry.  I should have asked if he had any tall, single friends.  Oh well! 

After a whirlwind weekend I finally got to bed at 2 a.m.  All didn’t go as I’d hoped, but I had a blast with my friends and made a new one.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#400 The Bigger They Are...

How do I begin?  I’ll just come right out and say it:  I fell at work.  Around 4:30 p.m. a few months ago I was walking out of my cube holding three lightweight boxes, stumbled on some other boxes on the floor, and promptly fell over onto my left side. 

The pre-fall seemed to be in slow motion.  I thought I could catch myself and then WHAM.  I was down.  Hard.  I have no idea where the boxes I was holding went (after they bruised my left forearm), but I hit the ground and people down the hall came quickly. 

I was wearing a dress but don’t think I flashed anyone.  One of my shoes did come off.  I righted myself and put my shoe back on, then adjusted my glasses.  As a new glasses wearer, I must say that wearing glasses makes falling that much worse.  Not only are you embarrassed about falling, but your glasses become askew and you look ridiculous.  I’m thankful I didn’t break them!

I’m also thankful I didn’t break myself.  Now I know how people break a hip.  Along with my scraped left inner arm, the side of my left knee blew up like a golf ball and my left hip was sore.  A few days later I had a pretty blue, green and orange bruise on it.  It was so colorful I kept showing people to see them gasp.  I showed one of my tennis friends at practice and her response was, “Oh sweet Jesus!” 

I had a bike trip planned that weekend.  Luckily it didn’t affect my riding (stay tuned for a future post about that ride).  When I told one of my friends I had fallen at work he asked, “Did you yell timber on the way down?”  Which made me wonder, if a tall girl falls at work and no one is around to hear her, does she make a sound?  Yes, she does.