One Year

When I lay in bed this morning, in the dark quiet before the dawn, the first thing that came into my head was the song, “Seasons of Love.”

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

It’s been one year today since the awful tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  I can still remember the day so vividly, and so many of the days afterwards.  The terror, the fear, the tragedy, right here in my own backyard.

In the past year I’ve become increasingly involved with one of the families affected by that terrible day.  I’ve gotten to to know them and am now working with them on the foundation they’ve set up to raise funds in their child’s memory.  Their spirit and ability to move forward has just astounded me.  Today, this family quietly marks the day in a tropical location far away, away from the sadness and the madness that they hoped wouldn’t happen here.  I’ve seen how this family has been able to find their son in a million tiny moments every single day.  I’ve seen how they’ve been able to truly take this tragedy and create from it a life filled with passion and love and hope for the future of others.  How they’ve surrounded themselves with energy and light instead of darkness.

The bracelets they had made for their foundation, coincidentally, have imprinted on them:  “Measure your life in love.”  As I look back on the last year, I am proud to say that I have taken that oath and brought more love, more laughter, more gratitude into my own life.  I’ve done that by working with this family, working with others, donating my time and energy.  And it has come back to me in so many ways.

Today, five thousand twenty five hundred six hundred minutes later, I am praying for all of those who measured this past year in those excruciating increments as they moved forward from unspeakable tragedy. I am hoping that everyone affected by the awful events that happened one year ago today are able to measure their lives in the love that surrounds them today, and every day. We are here for you, thinking of you, and hold you in our hearts.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

It’s time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
(Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love
(You know that love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love
(Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love
(Measure, measure your life in love)

Seasons of love
Seasons of love
(Measure your life, measure your life in love)

Whirlwind

So I sent the email a few days or so ago, to my former boss, the Rock Star that had seventeen top forty hits, one of which rhymes with “Messy’s Girl”.  I write that in code and you’ll see why in a moment.

It’s strange to do that, after so many years of not working for him, and stranger still to prepare to go to a show, something that I haven’t done in four years.  I have grown by leaps and bounds since I used to work on his website, with his fans, and I’ve moved beyond so much that drove me to need to do those things.

A girlfriend who is also a fan had emailed me a few weeks back asking if I wanted to go to this show in New York City, a small venue, all acoustic.  Normally I’d say no; it’s a weeknight, and the city is not terribly easy to get to on a weekday.  Someone would have to get the kids dealt with after school.  And would I stay overnight or no?  ($$).  Would I take the train in or drive ($$)?  It’s a hassle on a good day, so I said I’d look into it.

Meanwhile, while we were having the conversation, tickets went on sale, and we both snapped up good seats.  A few days later, I’d asked two of my Not So Die Hard Fan girlfriends if they wanted to go, and we had a group of four women, ready to descend on the city for a RS show.

To be honest, I loved the idea of sharing that part of my former life with these women, who have never known me as the Fangirl, Fan Liason, Part of the Team.  It’s a world that seems surreal to me at times to.  But still, I thought it could be fun.

So I sent the email a few days ago, as I used to always do, and the response was lovely.  “Can’t wait to see you, please come early etc etc.”  Also a few choice words about an issue that had strangely made its way into the news of late.

Here’s where the story gets weird.

Long story short, I found myself an hour later diving into the archives of the fan email database I used to be a huge part of looking for ideas and information to pass along.  I dotted the Internet, looking for references to the issue in question and started compiling research.

I didn’t think twice about it.  I’d done work for him for so many years, researched ideas for marketing, promotion, charity, events, it was as easy as slipping on your favorite jeans that you forgot were in the back of the closet.  As if nine years hadn’t passed since I last wore the “official” hat, I posted online asking fans who had any information regarding what I was researching to message me privately.

Except.

Within twenty minutes of my doing that, another fan did the exact same thing.  Using much stronger language, stating she’d “been asked” to compile research and do legwork and on and on.

Which is fine, the more the merrier I suppose.  But somehow, it reminded me of the constant push/pull/who’s on top/who’s better than anyone else/who has the most connection/who’s the most helpful to this guy game that I so remembered and so disliked about being involved.  The work?  Loved it.  Loved being useful, helpful.  The “get out of my way, I was here first” vibe?  So don’t miss it.

It was as if suddenly my offer to help became pushed aside by someone who was louder, more overt, more forceful.  I watched, in amazement, as the online postings from her and fans went on and on and on.  I quietly posted one or two things more about my offer to gather information and watched as the same old patterns emerged.  People questioned the women who clearly had some sort of official conduit to The Man In Question, others defended them.  The other person who was helping posted some defensive remarks, similar to ones I likely had typed into some computer, some time ago, when I was being questioned about my work with The Rock Star Who Shall Not Be Named (did I really come across as that arrogant?  God, I hope not).

I saw it all shake out and it just reminded me how far I’ve moved beyond.  Beyond the need to be seen by Him and His Fans as smart, helpful, connected.  I did used to need it.  It definitely defined me.  But now?  I put my head down, compiled my information and sent it along.  Answered the emails that came in with the knowledge I have.  Did the work for the sake of the work, nothing else.  I could feel the urge to respond, to stand up, to say, “Don’t you know who I am?  Or who I was?”  I felt it, sure.  But then I realized, I didn’t need to.  I know.  I know it and I don’t doubt it.   How about that?

Frankly, it was a good lesson before next week.  Did I like being useful?  Of course, and the kind words I received in response were lovely.  But mostly, I loved knowing that no matter what happens on Tuesday at this show, I will enjoy it.  I will slip on those old pair of jeans and step back into that world for a little while.  The beauty of it, though, is that I will do so taking all of the knowledge and lessons I’ve learned in the last nine years with me.  It won’t be the same, at all.

I’m thinking it will be better.  🙂

Hanging On

I’m still hanging on here in my little corner of the world.  Things are quiet and busy and for the most part good.  Here’s a quick sampling of the latest and greatest goings on these days:

1.  I am running for the local Board of Education (again).  I’m so much more jaded and realistic about it this time.  I know it’s all just a shell game of name recognition and party affiliation.  Our town is a red town so running as a D is tough, but doable if you have enough name recognition.  I have done a lot in town so we’ll see what happens.

(Here is where I could lapse into a huge diatribe about how this whole government shutdown is keeping me up at nights and how party and politics is stupid and why can’t people do the right thing, but I digress).

2.  My daughter is busy, busy, busy and it’s getting hard to keep up with her.  It’s a good thing, a far cry from her awful days last fall when she struggled with friends and spent a great many days alone in her room after school.  I’m loving that she’s thriving in marching band, in soccer and landed a role in the middle school fall drama.

3.  My little guy is holding his own, but isn’t doing much for activities.  At this point we’re chalking it up to needing the down time after holding himself together all day at school.  We’ve had a few alarming meltdowns recently (one, two weekends ago, was a reminder of the bad old days, with an all out screaming fit that lasted over half an hour).  I’m not going to lie, I’m a little worried for him, but staying the course.

4.  Hubby is looking to potentially switch jobs.  This is big news but likely won’t mean too much of a change for us as a family.  He’s been putting feelers out with other companies and getting some results….we will see what the next few months bring.  After being with the same company for two moves and 13 years, it seems like a big jump.  Especially since this job was the one that brought us here to CT where we knew exactly one person when we moved here.  The new positions he is looking at mean no move but lots of travel for him.  It’s not a huge change for us, and will probably be a great thing for him.  We’ll see what happens.

5.  Worried about my son and daughter in law with all of this shut down business.  My son’s job is with a private company but a lot of their work comes via the EPA so this is all getting a bit much.  They have a baby on the way and I was already worried about how they will support themselves once he/she is born.  They don’t have the luxury of throwing away their savings right now on stupid party politics.  For the love of God, I hope these idiots in the House get their shit together today.

6.  Entered a weight loss challenge from now until Thanksgiving.  I’ve been trying to lose the same 15 pounds for…gulp….two years.  Enough is enough.  Hoping this will be the wakeup call/jump start I need to finally make better choices and feel better about my body.

7.  Speaking of losing weight, it would be perfect timing because I’m finally going to see my favoriate rock start again after four years.  A few girlfriends and I are going to see my pal Rick Springfield in NYC in November.  It’s a small, initiate, acoustic show at a winery.  I hope everyone enjoys it and I’m able to just lose myself in the moment without all the crap that used to be part of going to RS shows.  We’ll see.

That’s about it for now.  Deep thoughts are for later….it’s 6:15 am right now and time for me to start the day.

Because You Loved Me

Well, just like that, it’s over.  The lead up, all the stress, the fights, the craziness of getting ready for my son to be married is over.  He’s married and off on his honeymoon in Israel.

There are many things bottled up inside of me that I want to say about it.  They’ll all have to come out, one at a time.  But for now, I guess I’ll share my favorite story of the weekend.

About a week before the wedding, my son asked me to select a song for the mother/son dance.  I’d honestly forgotten there was such a thing, and I was stumped.  We don’t really share a lot of the same music tastes, have never really had music in common as our thing.  We don’t have “a song” per se.  I didn’t know what to do.

I thought about it for a few days, and finally did what I always do when I don’t know something.  I consulted Google. And sure enough, when you type in “mother son wedding dance”, you’ll find several sites suggesting music.  I clicked on one that was supposedly from some DJ that does a lot of weddings, and looked at his Top 100 Mother/Son Wedding songs.

Some were weird and inappropriate.  More like for a couple.  But there were enough on there that made me think, “Oh, yeah, I’ve always liked that song” or “Oh, that one has always reminded me of Z.”

I wrote out a list of song titles, and put a little sentence underneath each one about why I picked it.  There were eight songs.  I asked him to listen to each one, look up the lyrics and decide which one connected with him the most about our relationship.  In the end, I deleted my descriptions of why I chose each one, not wanting to prejudice him.

When I asked him a few days before the wedding which song he’d picked, he wouldn’t tell me.  All he said was that one of the songs on the list I’d provided was one of the songs he’d been thinking of too, and so that would be the song.  I couldn’t imagine which one he would pick.  Here’s the list:

  • I Hope You Dance, Lee Ann Womack
  • Devil Knows You’re Dead, Delta Spirit (this is an Irish blessing put to song, don’t be scared off by the title)
  • You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban
  • Because You Loved Me, Celine Dion
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “Iz”
  • The Prayer, Bocelli/Dion
  • What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
  • Forever Young, Rod Stewart

I figured he would pick What a Wonderful World.  Or maybe The Prayer, or You Raise Me Up.  I hoped he’d pick either I Hope You Dance, which has always made me think of him, or Because You Loved Me, because it has always been my song for my mother.

Z and his new bride danced their first dance, and we all cried.  They looked so happy and in love.  And beautiful, even though my poor boy really can’t dance at all.  Then his new wife danced with her father, very sweet, and they looked so happy together.  I knew my turn was coming.

And all of a sudden, when I heard the first notes of the song my son had chosen for our dance, I couldn’t believe it.  I tried not to cry, but I couldn’t help it.

He’d chosen Because You Loved Me.  I wasn’t sure if I’d ever told him that it reminded me of my mother.  It’s a pretty girly song, and I never imagined he’d choose it.  As we awkwardly moved in circles around the dance floor, cameras popping off everywhere, I told him:  “I’m not sure you know this or not, but this song has always reminded me of my mother.”

He looked down on me and responded:  “This song has always reminded me of you, Mom.”

And then the tears really started flowing.  A bittersweet mixture of happy and sad all at once, overwhelming.  I kept myself from sobbing right then and there on the dance floor.

Only later, alone in my hotel room, did I succumb to the emotion and cry the heaving sobs that my heart had to release.

 

 

Living Room Show

It’s been a long time coming.  Six years, four years,  two years, one year, maybe, depending on the measure you use.

I’ll back up the truck for those who may be new to my blog.

Above are photos of my living room show from last Friday with a singer named Kyle Vincent.  Kyle is an independent musician who has a storied history in the business, despite the fact that you probably haven’t heard of him.  He has toured with the likes of Rick Springfield, Richard Marx, Night Ranger, Blessid Union of Souls, even Barry Manilow.  He’s got stories that include Joe Satriani, Ryan Seacrest and Garry Marshall.  And he lives just about two hours north of where I do, right here in New England.

Rather than rewrite my story and how it weaves in with Kyle, let me share a few links:

When I First Saw Kyle (1985):  https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/good-clean-fun/

How I Caught Back Up With Him:  (1997):  https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/rolling-in-circles/

First Time I Met Him (1997):  https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/insecurity-in-the-oddest-places/

Catching Up Again (2004):  https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/seeing-kv-again/

Kyle Asks Me To Design His Website (2005):  https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/another-website-gig/

After All of That, Friends (2006):  https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/an-evening-out/

So there’s your six years.  It’s been six years since I last saw Kyle perform, at that small club in Hamden, CT in 2006.

It’s been four years since I’ve seen him at all.  We realized at some point in our back and forth trying to redesign his website, or maybe we were working on one of the CDs that I helped him design (I did four of them for him:  Don’t You Know, Gathering Dust, Where You Are, and C Sides, not to mention a little help on his last, Best Of…So Far and the artwork for his Live DVD….not that you asked….but I am kinda proud of them) that he lives two hours from here, which means we could each drive just one hour and have an in person work session.  Which we did several times in 2008.  That’s the last time I saw him, four years ago.

Two years ago we talked about redesigning his website for the third time since I started work on it.  I had totally redone it in 2005 when I took it over, and then again in 2009 when we did the Where You Are CD.  By 2010 the site was already feeling out of date, and we started looking at options for a new look.  I put something together that I loved, with Flash and all sorts of bells and whistles. But see, Kyle’s a perfectionist and I get frustrated easily.  It’s a bad combination.  So after him not liking it as much as I did, we stopped working on it for a while.

Last year, we did the same thing.  I again came up with several options that I felt would really fit his needs.  He liked it enough to let me fill in the site nearly completely before he realized that he was going to have to live with this.  And he couldn’t.  So again, we stopped.

Finally, after nearly a year of not only not working on the site, but barely communicating with each other, we reconnected via email last summer and tried again.  I put together not one, not two but three full and complete websites that ended up getting nixed.  But then finally Kyle suggested one last try.  And that one last try ended up being the keeper.

In return for the six, four, two or one years of back and forth, Kyle suggested another living room show in my hometown.  This time I decided to go for it in my own home.  I invited a bunch of girlfriends and called it our Girls Night In Living Room Show.

It was a blast.  Kyle was charming, he was self deprecating, he was just enough sexy.   And somehow, it was kind of an amazing event watching someone from My Former Life find a new home in My Current Life.  With My Current Friends in My Current Home.  They all loved him, and now they kind of get a little bit why I have somehow kept a connection with this guy for over 20 years.

The best part?  Watching my twelve year old daughter listen and connect with his music.  When he sang the words, “I’m somebody….just not who you wish I were…and that’s OK,” I could see the flash of recognition in her eyes.  You know the one.  The one that happens when you can pull a song in and relate it to your own life.  And when he sang “It’s only you who believes in….yourself,” my own tears fell, watching her, thinking of her and her struggles and hoping she too “will dance again.”  I remember being twelve.  I remember that feeling of music saving me, pulling me out of the awfulness that was my every day life.  I don’t know if Kyle’s music will be that for her, but it was wonderful to share it with her, regardless.

Somehow, taking something that I am excited and passionate about and sharing it with my friends, with my daughter, and seeing them finally get it was so incredibly special.  And amazing.  Also, inspiring.

And also?  Knowing that with those special people in your life, those who you are connected with, who are meant to be a part of your journey somehow….knowing that they will always be there, even if there are six, four, two, one year spans in between their place there?  That part?

That was just…everything.

11 Years Later

It’s hard to believe it has been 11 years since that Tuesday morning, so much like this one, crisp and clear here in the Northeast.  I now live far closer to the place where that tragedy occurred than I could ever imagine that day.

One of the musicians I have followed for years, Kyle Vincent, wrote a stunning tribute that day as the events unfolded.   It is poignant and heartbreaking all at the same time, the way he highlights the path we could have chosen if we’d all pulled together in the aftermath of that day.  Instead, eleven years later, our country is more divided than I could have ever imagined.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL5T7Xeif0o&list=UUBADoNjI5lO8FLe8Stm092w&index=5&feature=plcp

I also wrote about that day, extensively, here, reliving the day as it unfolded in my world.  Here is my own perspective on that day, in the posts below:

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/1737/

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/it-is-personal/

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/not-ok/

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/the-end-of-the-day/

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/an-endless-day/

My thoughts and prayers go out today to all whose lives were altered so irrevocably that day.  That awful, awful day.

It’s Still There

I heard from him the other day.

Not unsolicited, of course.  No, I’ve hardly ever heard from him out of the blue like that.  Even when I was working for him, emails from Rick Springfield only appeared in my box with the inevitable re: in front of whatever subject title I had been writing about.  The emails were never long.  I learned, after we started hosting online chats with him, that he was a hunt and peck typist, which I suppose accounts for some of the brevity.

Still, it was a thrill to see his email address in my inbox just the same.  Even though it’s been years since I’ve worked for him.  Years since I’ve even been in the same room with him.  Why is that?  Most of the people I knew who were avid fans at the time of my work for Rick are still in the mix, posting like crazy on message boards or Facebook or the relic Yahoo email groups that were our lifeblood way back when.  They still are going to his shows because he still tours all of the time, nearly every weekend.   They fly, or they drive insane distances.

I get it.  I used to as well.  As I was looking back on some of my old photos after my trip to Michigan a few weeks back I marveled at how much I’d traveled.  At the time it felt like I was constrained, never as able to go to shows as often as my girlfriends who were fans.  They didn’t have young children, or their husbands were more able to care for the kids in their absences.  Still, as I ticked through the places I’d been, I chuckled.  Dubuque, IA.  Las Vegas, NV.  Rockford, IL.  Columbus, OH.  Chicago, IL.  Tucson, AZ.

But I don’t anymore.  Things are different now.  I don’t work for him anymore, and while I’ve come to peace with how that all shook out, it’s something I carry with me, still.  It definitely put out some of the fire I had towards seeing him, being a part of the madness and mayhem that is the fan experience.

Still, when I looked through those old photos, one leapt out at me.  The moment it captured, one of the first moments I’d ever shared with Rick.  It was after a charity event, where he’d sung about his dead father.  I’d used my mother’s inheritance to attend.   It all came together, his loss and my loss and I thought:  my mother made this happen for me.  She led me to this man who had been my unknowing savior during my teen years.  And I told him so.

At some point during that conversation, this photo was snapped.

(of course I blurred my face….couldn’t actually put a real photo of myself here)

Looking at it again, after all of these years, I couldn’t help but be amazed.  At the intensity, the beauty, the essence of what passed between us captured in it.  And so, even though I haven’t emailed Rick in probably a year or more, I uploaded the photo into an email and sent it along to him.  I told him that I had found this photo and was moved to share it.  How wonderful that moment was.  And that despite everything, I would never forget how wonderful he was to me, that day and many of the days that followed.

I won’t say what words he used in his response, but I will say that they brought a very big smile to my face.   For whatever it’s worth, even after everything, there is still something special about him.  And I am grateful, every day, that i was fortunate enough to live out that one, crazy, teenage dream.

%d bloggers like this: