Oh, hi there… 2017 Update

So, yeah. I suck at updating my blog. Maybe one day, I’ll be better about it.

As I was driving around running errands yesterday, I was thinking about the post I made back in December. You know, the one where I said that I was going to be better about updating the blog? And talked about all my big plans for the year?

Surprisingly, I’ve actually accomplished a bunch on my list. There’s still more red  ❌ than there are green ✅ … and a couple that remain to be seen, but let’s be honest – it was a pretty aggressive list.

  • Train for and run my first half marathon in five years ✅
  • Lose weight  ⚠️
  • Travel to Australia to see Shelia and Wales to visit Caroline and Lee  ❌
  • Go to Denver and see Red Rocks  ❌
  • My first Montana trip to see Libby  ✅
  • Send a letter or card a week  ✅
  • Write at least one blog post a week  ❌
  • Conduct a massive, soul-cleansing closet purge (trust me, this one is LONG overdue – there are clothes and shoes in there that just shouldn’t be)  ✅
  • Maybe go on date or two  ❌
  • Reduce the amount of Sugar Free Red Bull and Coke that I drink  ❌
  • Go to 125 concerts in a year  ⚠️
  • Get back into taking real photos  ❌

Let’s talk about the half marathon. It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t train nearly as much as I should have. And I walked a bunch, and I was slow…but I finished. My awesome cousin, Meg, ran the race with me and cheered me on the whole way. If anything, it was awesome to spend time with her where we grew up. We both had challenging years in 2016, so I think it was probably an emotional win for both of us.

I’ve traveled a BUNCH this year, at least for me. I didn’t make it to Wales to see Lee and Caroline, but… I did squeeze in an unplanned trip to Las Vegas to see them for Lee’s 50th birthday. Caroline and I plotted behind Lee’s back…he had no idea that I was coming, so the look on his face when I showed up there at 11 PM at night was priceless.

I said that this year would be my year to do the things I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, and I wasn’t lying. I finally got to attend Mile of Music in Wisconsin – over my birthday, no less. On top of that, I got to spend it with my best friend of nearly 30 years, Steph, who I haven’t seen in so so long. So many great moments, but one of the highlights? Dancing on stage Courtney Cox-style with my buddies in Wild Adriatic during the Bruce Springsteen tribute session on my actual birthday. Lots of new artists to love. The music and the company were just what my soul needed, and I’m going to make it a yearly thing now.

Two weeks after that trip, I hopped on a plan to Montana to visit Libby. It was so great to be with her on her home turf and check another state of my visit list. I got to see a show at Live at the Divide in Bozeman, took an amazing couple of hikes, and Libby and I even had a day where we vegged on an air mattress watching the Golden Girls and snacking. We live so far apart, and when we do see each other, it’s usually on The Rock Boat, so there’s no time for just… friending. The cherry on top was the Flagship Romance house show at Libby and Jake’s beautiful new home. Montana is stunning, and I would totally move there tomorrow if it wasn’t cold seven months out of the year.

Just this last month, I flew to Chicago to see Mighty Oaks. If you’ve not been following along for the last seven or so years, they are a band based in Berlin, Germany, that I have the biggest musical crush on. I’ve only seen them once, in an opening slot. So when they announced a short headlining tour in the States this year, I knew I had to go see them. Chicago won as the closest… and, bonus, one of my closest musical friends who lives in Chicago, joined me for the show.

My concert calendar has been pretty full this year, and I’m 20 shows ahead of where I was at this time last year. I’m not sure I’ll get to 125. I’ll get close. Right now, if I go to everything I have planned, I’ll be around 110. Squeezing another 15 shows in seems pretty impossible, but I’m going to try. Keep your fingers crossed. That said, if I were to hang it up today, it would be an amazing year of fantastic shows. I’ve seen Quiet Hounds more this year than I’ve ever seen them in a year before; saw Mighty Oaks; had lots of face time with my Wild Adriatic fellas (and more to come); got to see Third Eye Blind’s eponymous record’s 20th anniversary tour; kicked off my birthday celebration with Future Thieves at my very favorite venue surrounded by some of my best friends; went to my first SoFarSounds show; have seen SUSTO a bunch; knocked out another four Will Hoge shows (trying really hard to get to the 100th Will show); saw Quiet Hollers for the first, second, third and fourth time; fell in love with Judah and the Lion; got to have The Brevet back on the East Coast for a show at The Evening Muse; and sooo much more. And there’s still a little less than three months to go!

There’s all the “stuff” that still isn’t where I want it to be. I remain way too caffeinated, I don’t write nearly enough, still haven’t gone on any dates, still haven’t lost any weight…blah, blah, blah. Those things get to me, of course, but I’m a work in progress. There are still some things I’m working on fixing, things I’m working on about myself, things I’m trying to love about myself. I’m my own worst critic…maybe that’s my biggest accomplishment of this year…learning to let go and give myself a break.

So there’s the update. Stay tuned to see how 2017 closes out….

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Memories: My First Rock Boat Moments

Last night, I found myself at Target in the “travel size” aisle, which can only mean one thing: THE ROCK BOAT IS NEAR!!  With just about 75 days to go until TRB14, I am in two states of mind:  1)  Sheer panic that I haven’t gotten back on that work out train that I promised myself that I would this year so I will love myself in pictures and 2) Utterly excited for what is always the best week of my year.

I went on my first Rock Boat in 2003 with a group of 10 friends that have these days scattered due to marriage, kids, and life.  Anyway, I had no idea then that The Rock Boat and the community that surrounds it would ten years later be the source of my favorite memories, turn me on to ridiculously good music, introduce me to people all around the world who have become my best friends, and ignite a passion for “discovering” and helping to promote unknown bands.

There’s a lot I remember about my first Rock Boat, but there are two vivid music memories that today I would call “Rock Boat Moments.”  The kind of moment that is so awesome that everything else around you goes quiet.  When you catch yourself holding your breath because you literally forgot to breathe.  So because it’s almost Christmas and you can never have enough nostalgia (and for Miranda, who I am trying to convince to come on her first Boat)… My first Rock Boat moments.

1)  Meeting Cary Pierce from Jackopierce.
Backstory: It was 1993.  I was a freshmen in college and being exposed to all kinds of new stuff after living a relatively sheltered first 18 years. I bought the very first AWARE compilation from the campus bookstore, and Jackopierce’s “Vineyard” was track 3. My obsession with the song was instantaneous – the hopeless romantic in me pictured falling in love with a boy during a summer romance and having him chase me until I agreed to stay on the Vineyard for the year with him (ironically, the first boy I met at WC, who ended up becoming a very good friend, had a summer house on The Vineyard).

Ten years later, I find myself on The Rock Boat, where Cary Pierce, one half of Jackopierce, is playing. I’d seen Jackopierce a few times, but never in a million years did I think I would ever MEET them.  I’d met an amazing couple at The Rock Boat pre-party the night before, and we went to see Alex Woodard play within a few hours of getting on the Boat.  While we were sitting at the show waiting for it to start, Cary walked right in front of

me.  I mean five feet from me.  I gasped as he walked by, and Gina looked at me and said, ‘What?”  I said, “That was Cary Pierce!”  She asked who he was, and I gave her the short version of what I just said above.  So she goes, “Well, you have to meet him then!”  and leapt out of the booth to chase him down.  The next thing I knew, Cary freaking Pierce was standing in front of me.  “Hi, I’m Cary,” he says.  And me, ever brilliant…. “I know.”  Anyway, he was a complete sweetheart and asked if I wanted to take a picture.  I just nodded.  And here it is…

Me and Cary Pierce, The Rock Boat, 2003.

Me with Cary Pierce, The Rock Boat, 2003.

I love this picture for so many reasons.  First of all, it was probably my very first “personal” Rock Boat moment. Secondly, Cary is just the most adorable thing ever.  Thirdly, I look like a 5 year-old on Christmas morning. Could I be cheesing any harder? Look at the way I’m holding my hands together!  And finally…I was SOOO skinny, and I LOVED those pants.

2) The Edwin sings in the casino at 3 AM moment. No, really.  It was 3 AM.  This will make sense to some of you.
Backstory:  The summer after my sophomore year in college, Rob made me a tape of a band he said was going to be huge.  They were called Hootie and the Blowfish.  By the third week of my junior year, I’m pretty sure the girls on the hall were considering evicting me from the dorm because I played “Let Her Cry” approximately 50 times a day.  I set about learning everything about them… which led to Edwin. And a new obsession was born. After I moved to North Carolina in 1998, it became pretty easy to see Edwin regularly, and he rocketed into my Top 10 musicians of all time.

So, two days in on the Boat, I’d met a fella (we’re still friends today!), and we’d spent the better part of the evening sitting in the back at a few shows … and we ended up in one of the dining rooms eating pizza at 2:30 in the morning (Emerson Hart sat two tables over from us…I lost my shit) before we parted ways.  As I tipsily walked my way back toward my cabin, I was coming down a hall when I heard a very familiar voice singing… It was 3 AM, and I came around the corner and ran smack into Edwin McCain playing with another musician (Francisco Vidal, for all my TRB folks reading this) in the casino bar.  There might have been 20 people watching him.  I stood there, transfixed, watching this performer whose songs I knew inside out, sing to me and a handful of other people like we were the only people in all the world.  He was clearly having a blast, and while he has probably had many more nights like it in his time, it is a moment that I will never forget, and one that will always live in my best memories.  Edwin’s back on The Rock Boat this year… can’t wait!

There really is nothing like The Rock Boat.  Sixthman, the company that started The Boat almost 14 years ago, has created an experience that is truly unmatched. I go on this trip, and just know that these types of moments are going to happen…not just once, or twice, but over and over again. Because it’s happened year after year for me. Writing out these memories that live in my head only makes me all the more excited about heading back out on the high seas with great music and great friends … and more Rock Boat moments.

More Rock Boat:  What the heck is The Rock Boat? | Okay, so what bands are playing this year? | Damn, I need to book a cabin.

The Lazy Writer’s Update

The road to hell is paved with writers who are lazy. Trust me. I’m headed there.

I haven’t really felt like blogging the last few days. There’s so much general stuff going on in my life that whenever I sit down to write, I’m overwhelmed by the magnitude of things I want to write about. It wears me out before I even start typing, so I give up.

Anyway, as I’m running on 2.5 hours sleep from last night and I really should be in bed because I am running with the gang in the morning, I have no idea why I’ve chosen now to sit down and make a blog entry. Perhaps because I know that I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it (or energy, honestly), I can take the lazy writer’s way out and not feel guilty about it: the list.

So here it is, the quick and dirty list of things going on with me.

1) I haven’t been able to wash my car in over two weeks and it’s frustrating. Why, you ask? Because it literally as been raining every other day. And, of course, they’re calling for rain again this weekend. Tomorrow. During the Panthers playoff game. Thank goodness I don’t have tickets. I’m tired of the rain. I’d like it to stop. Now. I’m soggy.

2) I’m moving. Sad, but true. Hate leaving this space – been here for almost six years – but the time has come to have my own place again. I’m tired of roommates. So I’m moving back to the complex where I lived before I lived here. I liked it there, I was happy…it’s closer to the office and most of the places I do shopping and errands, so it just makes sense.

3) Rock Boat next week! Needs no explanation. SO in need of a vacation.

4) Signed up for half-marathon #1 of the year. My goal is to complete two this year, so this is a good start. The race is here in Charlotte in April. It’ll be good. I think everyone in our little Saturday morning run group is going to do it, ‘cept for Jill because she’ll be recovering from ACL surgery. Speaking of the group, we start our regular runs again this week…I’ve missed them (both the group and the runs). Anyway, good training with my peeps commences at 8 AM tomorrow morning…And the race is 116 days away! http://www.charlotteracefest.com

5) Because of having my own place, budget belt shall be tightened over the next 12 months. Sad, but true. Means fewer shows (it’s going to kill me, trust me), fewer trips, and less fun. I know. It blows. That being said, I’m thinking about driving up to DC for Shane Hines & The Trance’s CD release party for The Glory Journal. Lately, my sensible side has been winning out, though.

So, on top of work stress, I think this is enough to keep me busy for awhile, eh?