Friday, October 17, 2008

Plugged by a Rock Star....

An English rock star at that!  Please get your mind out of the gutter, my dear reader. It’s not that kind of party!

Earlier this summer in my blog titled, "Random Acts of Idiocy and Kindness"; I detailed the adventures and—ahem—indiscretions of my trip to Milwaukee to see one of my favorite bands, Alabama 3. (If you haven’t read it, scroll down.) Within meeting the band and sharing a pint, The Spirit of Love (a.k.a. Orlando Harrison) and I chatted a bit about what I do for a living, and he in turn said, "Maybe I’ll mention you on the site. I’ll make you famous."

Last week, I’m sitting at the computer catching up on email. One email in particular caught my interest: Alabama 3’s monthly e-bulletin. It’s the typical mass email updating fans of the latest and greatest happenings of the band. My particular interest of late is that the band is allowing fans to vote on tracks for an upcoming album. I am more than excited to check out this month’s offerings! One other update catches my interest, The Spirit of Love, has posted a new entry in his monthly column—aptly titled—"The Spirit Speaks". The title of this month’s entry: "Milwaukee: Blackpool With Guns"*. Having been in attendance at that particular show, I’m rather curious to know his take on the city of Milwaukee. I follow the hyperlink in the email to the Alabama 3 website and start with rating this month’s new tracks for the "12 Step Manifesto". Of course, the tracks are great and I immediately download them into my iTunes. Next, I click over to "The Spirit Speaks."

Prior to meeting Orlando in Milwaukee, I regularly enjoyed reading his column on the band’s website. Without a doubt, Mr. Harrison is every bit a talented writer as he is a musician. He also has the added bonus of being English, which (in my opinion) accounts for his skillful ability to turn a phrase like no other. Something I aspire to as writer. I digress….

Sitting on the couch with my laptop, I begin reading his latest installment. Coupled with being in awe of his aforementioned ability to turn a phrase, I chuckle here and there at some of his observations of Milwaukee and the Summerfest grounds workers, the awful Miller Lite backdrop on their particular stage, and their show itself. In the next paragraph, he mentions, "two charming ladies [named Missi and Jessica] who've travelled many miles to see the show." I think to myself, "Hmm…that’s ironic. My name is Missi, and Jess and me drove to see Alabama 3 at Summerfest as well." For a brief moment, I stop reading and like a ton of bricks in slow motion, it hits me: Mr. Harrison is referring to Jess and Me! (I really, truly must be as charming as everyone says I am!)

Bewildered, amused, honored, humbled, and impressed I was so absolutely beside myself I almost choked on my bottled water. I immediately called Jess to tell her. She found the mention of us Orlando’s latest bulletin as entertaining as I did. In his mention of me, he compared me to the character "Matron ‘Mama’ Morton" from the film/Broadway play "Chicago". At this point, I am only vaguely familiar with the musical as a pop culture reference, but know that Queen Latifah played that character in the movie. I very much admire and respect Queen Latifah, but being unacquainted with the musical as whole I wasn’t entirely sure that the likening was a good thing, but I took it as such. Subsequently, I had to borrow the movie from my neighbor so as to ensure that it was an appropriate comparison. My neighbor agreed that it was, and after viewing the movie, I concur.

Orlando did exactly as he said he would! On that note, I send a sincere thanks to you, Mr. Harrison. I am flattered and honored that you not only remembered me, but also mentioned me in your column. You are too kind!

I wonder if he’ll scribe about the subsequent night’s show in Chicago in next month’s installment….

[Note: I’d be remiss in not mentioning the fact that as I’m reading his account of Milwaukee, I was doing so blindly. I was reading simply out of interest for both Orlando’s opinion of the fair city, and because I very much respect him as a writer. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever expect that I would find my name in his bulletin!]

*To read "Milwaukee: Blackpool With Guns" in its entirety, go to:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Euro For Your Thoughts?

In 2003, I was sitting in a local bar during an open mic night waiting for a friend's band to come on as the headliner.  The acts prior to the headlining show were folks ranging from solo acts to fairly popular local indie bands.  Only one of the opening solo acts was memorable--particularly because she was so terrible.  She had recently experienced a hard ship in her life, which in turn led to the creation of her aptly titled song, "Unemployment".  Played in alternating 'G' and 'C' chords, the other lyrics of the song were lost far beyond the chorus, "Unemployment" which was sung as if she were Courtney Love performing the fourth verse of Hole's, "Doll Parts" only in a manner that sounded like cats were being slowly murdered and the sound of the atrocity blasted through an amplifier in a small, enclosed space.

In 2008, the stock market is in the tank, our current administration has plunged us into divisive politics at home and abroad, compared to the U.S. Dollar the Euro is worth $1.57, and I have fallen victim to corporate restructuring in a perilous economic time.  I find her haunting song ringing in my ears.  It was indelible in its delivery, but also because I used to offer up this story as an anecdote to cheer up my jobless friends.  It was funny then and it's funny now--save the fact that I now find myself unemployed.

In addition to being charming and hard working, I have impressive qualifications, I'm involved in the community, and according to a former co-worker, " [...] a joy to work with and highly regarded in the office."*  My views aside, the reality is that the current job market stinks.  Business is bad all across the board: cuts are being made at every corner, financial institutions are being made solvent by assistance from the government, and I--with assistance from friends [and my unemployment account]--am barely making it by.  Still, after all these years, I can't help but to wonder if that young lady has since found employment.  I know I'm still singing her song.

* LinkedIn, July 21, 2008, Chad Weinzierl, Field Technology Specialist, ING Employee Benefits.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random Acts of Idiocy and Kindness

Normally, I’m a very sagacious person. In fact, I pride myself on that quality. My brand of spontaneity is going out for a bike ride and deciding at the last minute to not take my usual route. I love to travel; however, I become afflicted with neurosis when I am more than two miles from home. Contrary to what one might think, I do not consume copious amounts of alcohol on a regular basis. When I do—thanks to genetics and my years in the hospitality industry—I can hang with the best of them. That being said, at the present I find myself sitting on the floor of a Greyhound bus station in Chicago, Illinois bound for Madison, Wisconsin. How did I get here, you ask? Well, my brothers and sisters, I hopped on the "Last Train To Mashville."*

Dead or Alive:
Jess and me head out from Minnesota around 9:00 A.M. bound for Milwaukee to see Alabama 3 at Summerfest. As we are leaving the state, we’re driving down a country road and happen upon a lot of road kill. Grossed out as we were at the sight of it, I asked Jess not to mention it as it was going to be a frequent occurrence. The next thing I know she starts shrieking, squealing, and flailing as if she were having a seizure. Startled out of my reverie, "What? What’s wrong?" I asked. Still in a state of panic and [rightfully] disgust, Jess manages to choke out; "Didn’t you see that!" "OH MY GOD! IT’S STILL FLOPPING AROUND!" Apparently what Jess had seen was a cat mangled and writhing trying to get up. An omen perhaps?

After about four hours on the road, we came to a dead stop on Interstate 94 just outside of Wisconsin Dells. I was feeling all kinds of anxious as I don’t care for being in a car for any length of time and I wanted to at least take a shower at the hotel before the show. Five minutes of sitting in traffic was all I could take. Through gritted teeth I said, "There had better be a dead body at the end of this!"

Half an hour later a truck driver pulled up next to us. I rolled down the window, we exchanged pleasantries and I asked if he knew what was happening on the road ahead of us. "We’re doing better than that guy," he said. "He’s dead." Evidently a truck driver about 10 miles ahead of us had a heart attack while on the road and died, jackknifing his truck.

As we pulled up along side the scene of the unfortunate incident, you could see where his truck had lost control and the assortment of State of Wisconsin road workers and various rescue personnel and equipment still cleaning up the aftermath. [Note: I am still shaken from the statement I made and deeply sorry for it. I wish the driver’s family peace and serenity in the wake of her/his passing.]

In what seemed to be an eternity later, we finally arrived in Milwaukee. Excited at the prospect of a shower and getting out of the car I was relieved. We had about an hour to spare before the show started. Unfortunately we spent that hour driving around trying to locate the hotel. The initial directions I received from the hotel’s customer service number were confusing, so we stopped at a local hotel to double check. It turned out that we, in fact, did not follow the highway far enough.

At the hotel, I make a mad dash to the reception desk to check-in. As I’m standing there going through the formalities of the check-in process I suddenly remembered the discussion Jess and me had in the car about Jameson Irish Whiskey and how nice it would be to have a shot to relieve some of the stress of getting there. In my haste, I asked the attendant to have four shots of Jameson sent up to the room. I arrived in the room first only to discover that we are in the incorrect room type. (I made the reservation for a two-double bed smoking room as Jess and I both smoke.) The attendant checked us in to a two double bed non-smoking room. I immediately called the front desk to let them know and arrange for transfer to the correct room type. As I was doing so, the Jameson I’d ordered previously arrived. We clinked our first two glasses in honor of the deceased driver. The second I used to chase down some vitamins. Okay! Quick change, back in the car, and off to the show.

Light years later, we arrived at the ticket gate. I purchased discounted tickets for the event in advance so as to save time and a wee bit of money. (The tickets were only honored at the gate until 4:00 P.M., and we arrived well after that.) I instantly started pleading my case with the gate attendant. [Hey! You can’t make this stuff up!] He kindly let us in.

We arrived at the stage and Alabama 3 was already in progress. Fortunately, we only missed one song. This was a dream come true! My first favorite band in the world is U2. Alabama 3 is my second favorite and I’ve been waiting to see them for ten years. They were rockin’! The crowd was as eclectic as their music and that moment, I could not have been happier!

Send Me An Angel:
No matter your station in life, I am a firm believer that God does not give you more than you can handle, even when you think you’re about to crack. Divine intervention is a curious thing. We are second row from the stage and surrounded by a family having that appears to be having an awesome time. Before I ever spoke to her, I knew I liked her for some reason. Jess struck up a conversation with the woman’s husband and the next thing I know he turned around and asked his wife (who was next to me) for a pen. Jess writes her email address on his right biceps. She wanted him to send pictures as he had a high quality resolution on his digital camera and also because we missed the opening of the show.

After the concert we introduced ourselves. She was Sherry and he was Jack. They were from Aurora, Illinois and also fans of A3. Sherry and Jack were there with their kids, Jackson and Heidi and Jackson’s girlfriend (whose name escapes me.) As I noted previously, before I met Sherry, I knew I liked her. As it turns out, Sherry is the publisher for a local magazine in the Chicago area—I’m a copywriter. Talk about fate! After chatting for a while, it turned out that Sherry and I had a lot in common. I dubbed her my new BFF!

Meet The Band:
Jess, Sherry, Jack, their clan, and me walked over to the merchandise tent to buy t-shirts. I’d already purchased mine two weeks prior to the show. Jackson realized that the band had come out from backstage and were standing around chatting with other people. The seven of us ran to the other side of the venue to meet up with the band before they were lost in the throng of people at Summerfest.

I got autographs from LB Dope (Jonny), The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love (Jake), Rock Freebase (Mark), and The Spirit (Orlando). The band members were quite nice and accommodating, even after Jess spilled her beer on Jonny. During all of this, there was the one fan in particular that is every celebrity’s nightmare. You know, the over zealous, "YOU ARE GOD," "THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE," "I’M NOT WORTHY!" fan. She was a gushing, blushing mess! Like a leech attaches itself to skin, she attached herself to Jonny. I think she plotzed! Jess and I departed with Orlando and Mark and watched (in slight amusement) as Jonny tried to extricate himself from "the fan." We were all worried that she might abduct the poor man and reenact the infamous scene from "Misery". It should be noted that we never saw Johnny again that evening and all pondered his possible whereabouts. The four of us grabbed a pint and saw some fireworks. We had quite a nice time until the screaming match.

I’m not certain what triggered it, or what it was even about, (likely pouring loads of cocktails over an already simmering fire, e.g.: being over tired, pre-menstrual, and the stress of getting there,) but Jess and I had a screaming match. It resolved itself at the Lucinda Williams show with our sisterly "I HATE YOU! /I LOVE YOU!" routine.

Mark accompanied us back to our hotel as we offered him a shower with the promise to return him to the tour bus in time for their 2:00 A.M. departure to Chicago for their gig the next day. As we’re in the car trying to navigate the crowded parking lot of Summerfest, I realize that I have an extreme need to utilize the ladies room, and I'm in the backseat of a coupe. I made Mark get out of the car. In my drunken state, I made haste towards and leaned up against the first stable object I could find. It happened to be a shiny, new Cadillac. I finished my business, zipped up my pants, headed back to the car and as I was getting in, the owner of said shiny, new Cadillac came walking up to it. [Dude…Sorry about that!]

We finally make our way out of the parking lot and a few miles up the road and out of no where, Jess’s car dies. I felt the storm in my head brewing and I couldn’t stop it. Again, I’m not exactly sure what triggered it, but you can venture to guess…. I broke out in a raging temper tantrum! While Jess and Mark are talking with the police, I began chucking items out of the car and into the street. In the middle of my drunken tirade the very same police officer that was helping us leans his head in the car and with a very gruff, authoritative voice says, "Knock it off!" At which point I replied like an admonished child, "I’m sorry!" I managed to remove myself from the car (out of my own volition, thank you very much) and call my father. In my drunken hysterical state, I’m sobbing and screaming and have managed at 2:00 A.M. to not only wake up my poor dad, but scare the crap out of him. Next, I find out that the tow truck guy was charging $75.00 for a simple jump—which he seemed all too happy to be charging. I had to call my significant other. He was so generous, he paid for the cost of the jump!

In the meantime, I’m still drunk and hysterical. I threw my phone at a curb (God bless Nokia phones. It still works!) and broke my flip flop. At some point I started talking to some girl who was clearly drunk herself and going on and on about how her family has a condo in Milwaukee somewhere. Then there was a moment wherein the conversation changed gears and the next thing I hear her saying was, "I hate Asians!" I looked at Jess and with a cocked eyebrow and gritted teeth I said, "GET HER AWAY FROM ME!" "NOW!!" In my present condition, it would not have been too much of a stretch for me to have planted a fairly solid right hook to her jaw. It took every remaining shred of self-control I had to not do exactly that.

The three of us arrived back at the hotel and went straight up to the new room. I was relieved at the thought of a shower, a glass of wine, and a bed. No such luck—the new room was a single bed non-smoking room. Mark and I went back to the reception desk and I had yet another meltdown. Far more controlled than the previous melt down on the street moments prior. We were given keys to the correct room and tickets for a complimentary breakfast.

At last we are in the correct room. As if I needed it, I opened the bottle of wine I’d brought along and began apologized profusely to Mark for my abhorrent behaviour. He played some of the new Alabama 3 acoustic stuff for us. It was fantastic, of course! Then I realized that I’d been calling Mark "Rob" all night long. In the midst of the evening’s activities I apparently missed the part where he told us his name. "He looks like a ‘Rob’!" I said to Jess.

The next morning, I manage to crawl out of my self-induced coma and the three of us walked down stairs for breakfast. I continued to copiously apologize to Mark for my behaviour the previous evening. He was quite kind about the situation and took it in stride. I, however, was absolutely ashamed of myself.

It’s about noon now and I suggest that we make a plan as far as Jess and me staying or packing up, checking out and driving Mark to Chicago in order to make his gig. Off to Chicago we went….

Chicago, Chicago That Toddling Town:
Every thing I know about Chicago is from what I’ve seen and heard in movies, music and the two times in my youth that my family and I drove through the city on Interstate 94. As I am sitting in the back seat of Jess’ car, I can see this leg of the trip going the same way the rest of the trip has gone—badly! I frantically start text messaging and calling every person I know to see if the know someone Jess and me could crash with for the night. Of the people that I sent messages to, 25 percent didn’t respond and of the 75 percent that did respond, 50 percent either didn’t know anyone in the area and the other half that did know people in the area, the people they knew weren’t home. Great! We get just outside Lake Forest, and realize that none of us knows where the Cubby Bear, (the venue the band was performing at) is located. Jess suggested that I call Sherry. Genius! I called Sherry (I think she was a wee bit surprised that I called.) Sherry knew exactly where the place was! She also said that she and her husband, Jack, might come down.

We stopped at a gas station in Lake Forest to stretch and use the facilities. Jess found someone with an iPhone and got a map of where we needed to go. Meanwhile, Mark and me are sitting in the car telling jokes to each other. (For a Brit, he’s actually pretty funny!) Jess gets back in the car and we drive for about an hour until we hit finally Chicago.

As I noted beforehand, in my youth my family and I had only driven through Chicago on Interstate 94—at night. Seeing the skyline in daylight was spectacular! As we approach our exit and Jess and Mark are having a difference of opinion on which exit we’re supposed to take. Of course, Jess, being the driver, follows her instincts on the exit (which turned out to be the one that Sherry told us to take in the first place and not the exit from the map.) We exit the freeway only to turn right instead of left. We drove for an hour in the wrong direction. Finally we stop at a gas station and Jess is informed that we went the wrong way. Back in the car and in the other direction we go. [I am fully aware at this point that introducing any more alcohol to my body is probably not a good idea, however, being cooped up in the back seat of a car will make you go batty. God how I wanted a Jameson!]

An hour later we arrive at the Cubby Bear, which is located kitty corner from the famed Wrigley Field in Wrigleyville. It was quite a sight! We all get out of the car and plan to meet back in front of Vine’s on Clark, a bar/restaurant next door to the Cubby Bear. I stood outside and smoked a cigarette on the sidewalk and tried to gather my remaining scraps of sanity. I extinguished my cigarette and walked into the bar. I sat down, ordered a pint of Guinness and almost started to cry. I sucked it up along with my Guinness and about four shots of Jameson and decided to make the best of a bad situation that is more than likely going to get worse before it gets better.

I called my dad to apologize for scaring him the night before. Fortunately my father is an understanding fellow and instructed me to never feel bad about calling and waking him up for any reason. Next, he asked me if I was happy. I answered, "Daddy, I’ve had two pints of Guinness and about four shots of Jameson. How do you think I am?" "Good point!" he said as he laughed. Then he asked me where I was. Though I’m an adult, my father is still a father, and still puts the fear of God in me. Every now and then I expect to him to chide me for my antics. I offered my answer and immediately began to cringe waiting on his response. "Chicago?" I said, as more of a question than a statement. Dad said, "What? Wait a minute! You called me last night from Milwaukee!" "Yes. I know," I said, "But now I’m in Chicago standing across the street from Wrigley Field. We had to bring the guitar player back to his band." "Oh Jesus," he said. "Well, have fun and be safe."

I went back into the bar and sat and chatted with other members of the band as they filtered in. I did run into Jonny. It turns out that the over zealous fan did not abduct him after all. "What’s up with leaving me with that crazy bird?" he said in his English accent. Try as I might to stifle my wicked laugh, I could not help myself. "We were all taking bets on what happened to you," I said still laughing. "I am glad to see that you’re not in a basement somewhere!" I asked how he managed to disengage himself from her, "I was only with her for another five minutes and then I made up an excuse to leave her," he said. Still amused, I apologized for us leaving him with her. The band filtered in and out of Vine’s on Clark that afternoon as did Jess and me. Jess then came in and told me to go outside and talk to the cops Vic and Jimmy. She told them that I was a bit sad and asked that they come cheer me up. Jimmy was incredibly nice! He and I chatted for about 20 minutes and I convinced him to come down to the Cubby Bear and meet us for the show. At about 7:30, Sherry called and said that she and Jack were on their way down to meet us and would be there in about an hour. The prospect of seeing them again made me even happier!

After receiving Sherry’s call, I grabbed Jess’ keys and walked down the street to the car so that I could change my clothes. Being as that we had no accommodations, and I have no shame, as discreetly as possible I changed my clothes in the parking lot and walked back to Vine’s on Clark. When I got there, Sherry and Jack had already arrived and were being entertained by Jess. Mark had made arrangements to get them on the guest list, as tickets were not available for purchase [I found out later].

We sat and had a drink and chatted while we waited for the doors at the Cubby Bear to open. Once they did, Jess took off to the car to change her clothes and Sherry and Jack and me headed next door. When we got in, we were told that the gig that evening was a benefit for a Chicago area Autism charity. The charity was holding a raffle, wherein for $5 you could have your chance at winning, among other things, sports memorabilia autographed by legendary Chicago athletes or an autographed copy of Alabama 3’s latest CD, "Hits And Exit Wounds." The crowd that evening was incredibly small unfortunately and there was not a lot of pre-press for the event. Jack and me chatted with the woman that was running the raffle and asked if we could buy one of the CD’s. She didn’t think she’d have enough people to hold an actual raffle so she told us to name our price. $20 dollars later, I was the proud owner of an autographed copy of "Hits And Exit Wounds" and three raffle tickets, but I didn’t win anything from the raffle.

The show was starting and Jess was no where to be found. Apparently, my changing clothes at the car and then her doing so subsequently gave cause for concern to the bouncer at the bar we were parked next to. As she was changing her clothes in the car, a possible undercover officer fishing to find out if we were hookers approached her and began questioning her. [Mental note: I should really to work on that "shame" thing. Not because of this incident, but because in general, I have an overly developed sense of pride, and—at most times—a serious paucity of shame. I think it may be hereditary.]

Showtime at the Cubby Bear:
If the previous night’s concert at Summerfest was good, this show was even better! Particularly because it was indoors and the venue had great acoustics. I danced through the whole show. The band performed unbelievably! At both shows, it was nice that Alabama 3 didn’t phone in their performances. They brought it and then some! I’ve never danced that hard for that long in my life! After the show, I loaned a cigarette to Zoe Devlin (the band’s female vocalist.) She invited Jack, Sherry, and me outside so she smoke and we could chat with her. She was quite funny and energetic. A very nice young lady with a voice that is bigger than she is! Orlando (the band’s keyboard player) came out while we were standing out there. I also loaned him a cigarette and began chatting with him. Jack and Sherry made their leave and I agreed to meet them next door at Vine’s on Clark, as I was finishing up my conversation and cigarette with Orlando.

I dashed next door to talk with Jess and find out what the game plan was. Jack and Sherry kindly invited me back to their home with them and Jess, well, she elected to go in another direction…On the drive back to Jack and Sherry’s, I talked their ears off. [I tend to do that after I’ve been overly stimulated.] We arrived at their home to their son, Jackson, who was still awake, and their three dogs. Two chocolate labs and the third dog a Weimaraner. All three of them were adorable, loving dogs!

Being at their house reminded me of being at my long time friend, Kristi’s, house when we were growing up. Lots of animals and people and things in the house. The whole family had such good energy and was clearly, heaven sent. I don’t remember the last time in my life I needed a guardian angel. I did, however, know I needed one right then and there and that Sherry and her family were it!

Sherry showed me into the guest bedroom and as she turned down the bed revealing Ms. Piggy sheets. The very same Ms. Piggy sheets I had when I was a little girl! I squealed so loudly, I think I scared the poor woman! She explained to me that they were the sheets her mother gave to her when she went off to college. I must say that was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in the last six months.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles:
I awake to my phone ringing and on the other end is a collect call from Jess. I am prompted by the computerized voice to enter my credit card number in order to accept the charges. I can’t enter my credit card information fast enough before Jess hangs up. The next call I get is from Jess’ mom. She informs me that Jess has also tried to call her collect and is wondering what’s going on. I informed her of the previous evening’s activities and mention that we separated. The next thing I know, I’m being screamed at. Although I am a bit used to it, there is nothing worse in the world than being screamed at by your friend’s parents. Growing up, I had friends who always had half the neighborhood at their house and would yell at everyone just to ensure they have the right culprit. This situation was no different. No different, except that her mom scared the crap out of me and what’s worse is that I didn’t do anything—I was smart and went with the nice people and I’m still getting screamed at! Chalk it up to another case of being guilty by association.

I went downstairs to find Sherry awake. Again with the kindness, she made me coffee and tried to help me figure out how to get me home. I mentioned that my phone was about to die. She asked me what kind of phone I had. "Nokia," I replied. As luck would have it, she had a Nokia charger that fit my phone! I was still waiting to hear from Jess’ mom as to Jess’ whereabouts. We didn’t know if she was still in the area, in jail or what. My first idea was a flight back to Minneapolis, but then realized that my house keys were with Jess in her car which was who-knows-where at this point. Sherry suggested a train. I thought it a great idea. (I’ve never been on a train before and at this juncture I wasn’t ruling anything out.) For some reason, Amtrak wasn’t running that particular day, so no train for me. As I was standing in the kitchen, Sherry’s daughter, Heidi, walked upstairs. Heidi’s face held this quizzical look as if to say, ‘Why is the woman I met two nights ago in Milwaukee standing in my kitchen?’ My best answer was a shy, devilish grin coupled with a mischievous, nervous laugh and a guilty, "Yeah. Um, about that…Yeah…." was all I could manage to say. Heidi and I laughed.

I called Jess’ mom one more time and this time found out that, for whatever reason, (yes, I’m glossing over the reason) Jess was at a rest stop on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois and had run out of gas. [Hey, she wasn’t in jail, in a hospital, or dead, so that’s all that mattered!] Her mom said that she was going to drive to Jess and get her and I suggested that I make my way to Madison, Wisconsin to meet up with Jess. I’m beginning to feel a sense of normalcy return to my life and I am grateful for it.

Sherry booked my ticket for the Greyhound. We decided that it was the most pragmatic option as it would only be a three-hour ride from Chicago to Madison. [I must admit that I cringed at the thought of being on a Greyhound bus, but given the state of my bank account, weighted against the mess I’d gotten myself into, I didn’t have the option to be a snob with regard to my method of travel.]

Jack and Sherry have an acoustic band and had a gig that morning at Chicago Premium Outlets—an outdoor mall in Aurora, Illinois. I accompanied them to their performance. Sadly, I didn’t get to stay to watch as I had a train to catch. We said our good-byes and I thank them profusely for their generosity. I told them that I was, "looking forward to some good old fashioned monotony after this!" Jackson and Heidi dropped me at the train station and off to Chicago I went.

After an hour-long train ride I finally arrived at Union Station in Chicago. I made my way through the mass of travelers, into the building, up the escalator, and to the street level of Downtown Chicago. I wanted to stop for a minute to take in the sight, but quickly decided that it would be shrewder to hop into a cab and make my way to the Greyhound station. Now, I am not a small woman by any means, (in that I was blessed with being ‘well endowed’, if you know what I mean.) I am also a fairly attractive woman so the combination of the two lends itself to me being checked out by the opposite sex quite often. Still dressed in my clothing from the night before, which consisted of jeans and a fairly revealing tank top, I walked towards a taxi stand. Suddenly, I had the feeling that I was being stared at. I looked around to find a man not just staring, but leering at me. "I don’t mind if you gawk, stare, check me out, or that you’re admiring me at all. But DON’T LEER! It’s tacky!" I said. I think I scared him.

Six blocks later, I arrived at the Greyhound station. I checked in for my ticket and grabbed a seat on the floor so as to secure myself a seat in line. Behind me was a young lady traveling with her adorable little boy. When it came time to board the bus, she asked me to help her with her luggage. She had two large suitcases and a rather restless child. I was more than happy to assist her!

We boarded the bus and began chatting. Her name was Tasha and her adorable two-year-old was Jaden. I held some of her belongings for her so that she could get her son settled in his seat. As I was chatting with her, I noticed her ring: a silver butterfly, with three purple gemstones. I complimented her on it, and she looked at me and said, "You can have it!" Stunned, I said, "No, no. I don’t want you to give it to me. I was just complimenting you on it." She insisted that I take it as she has, "a ton of jewelry like it and I want you to have it." She took it off and handed it to me. I started crying which in turn made her cry. I couldn’t help but to give her a huge hug!

A little over two hours later, we arrived in Milwaukee. I got off the bus and walked the regulation distance away from the building to smoke a cigarette. I put out my cigarette and turned around to walk back towards the bus. I turned my head slightly to the right and the first thing I saw in the middle of the street was a dead bird. I immediately dropped to my knees and screamed out loud, "NO MORE! DEAR GOD PLEASE! NO MORE!" Everyone within earshot must have thought I was a mental patient. I got back on the bus and off we went to Madison.

Finally arriving in Madison, I got off the bus and walked into the building. I caught up with Tasha as she was taking her son to the restroom and gave her a hug, once again, thanking her for the ring. We exchanged phone numbers and I dashed out the door to meet Jess.

For the next two days, we sat at her parent’s house in Madison laughing and chatting and watching movies. In general, relaxing and recovering after a debacle of a trip. Jess and me left Madison Tuesday evening en route for Minneapolis. The closer we got to the Minnesota boarder we both agreed that the energy had changed from a stressful existence to a calming normalcy. Four hours later, I was at home. [Never in my life have I been so glad to be here!] Normalcy and sanity had made their return!

Despite being wrought with Murphy’s Law coupled with poor planning, this trip was actually fun—now that I’ve regained my sense of humor and sanity about the situation. After all it did provide a perfect fodder for my blog, not to mention, I met some really cool people I would have otherwise never met. At this time I am making a respectful, open request to my favorite bands—current and future—to just come to Minneapolis. I think I aged myself about 10 years in two days on this trip. I’d like to not expedite the aging process any further! Again, I would like to sincerely thank Sherry and Jack and their family for their hospitality and generosity. You are all wonderful, kind, loving people! Without you, I truly do not know where I’d be!

* Alabama 3: Last Train To Mashville (CD) Released 2003.

My new blog

Hi there and welcome to my new blog site. I am a writer by trade and have not for the life of me figured out why I didn’t join this site sooner. Well, I did and I am here now. My blog is not about any one specific topic. Just musings from me—hence the title. If you have questions, comments or feedback please feel free to post them and/or send them directly to me. All I ask is that you are respectful in your commentary—my parents might read this!