La Mère du Psycho: Break on Through

I first visited France in the summer when I was 23 years old.  I fell in love with Paris and vowed to move there and forget about the U.S. forever.  I just returned from my second visit to France.  I am 46 years old.  I was traveling with 9 of the people I love most, on a trip of a life time, that was spectacular, amazing, and for me-very, very bittersweet.  I rarely use that word: bittersweet.  It seems somehow connected to the word regret, and I try to stay out of that.  I decided that I was going to enjoy watching my children discover the wonders of Paris and there were things that was going to do-even if I had to do them by myself.  One of those things was that I had to get back to visit my old friend Jim. It had been 23 years, after all.   The 20th arrondissement was a long way from our loft house on Avenue de Clichy- a metro switch and about 14 stops.    Finally, on our last day, after a trip of a lifetime (that you will be reading more about in small segments), JC, Mini Me, The Middle Child, The Baby, and my cousin Clint went with me to Père Lachaise.  Jim Morrison

I have had a thing for The Doors, and particularly Jim Morrison, since I was a young teenager.  Of course I never had the opportunity to see them perform live- Jim died when I was almost a year old.  I have read a few of the books about The Doors… Jim’s poetry…done a little research….you know, the things an obsessive teenager does when they are infatuated with celebrity… There was a very long period of time (and yes, I do still wonder)  that I believed that Jim did not actually die in Paris-that perhaps he did manage to fake his own death and run off somewhere to live the rest of his life in peace.  23 years ago, my visit to the grave of Jim Morrison was up there with seeing the Eiffel Tower for me…maybe even higher.  When I came home from France that first time, I said that ‘when I die, I want my ashes taken to Paris and put on Jim Morrison’s grave’.  Everybody thought I was nuts.  I’m telling you–my thing for Jim was huge.  It has never really waned-just filed away as I grew older. Notice that I did not say ‘as I grew up‘…

Père Lachaise is enormous.  The website says that there are up to 1,000,000 people buried there and there are over 5,000 trees.  It really is a beautiful cemetery-the most beautiful one I have ever seen.

Many important people are buried there–Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, Molière, Marcel Marceau, Proust, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf, just to name a few.  The graves are very close together and it would take days to see every one.  There is a map to help visitors find people they are looking for, but even still, one can get lost easily!  I started to recognize the area when we started getting close-mostly because it is flat.  My heart sank when I saw that there was a police barricade around Jim’s grave (and others).  There went my chance to recreate my photo.  There was also a small crowd of people.  The fleeting thought of jumping the barricade crossed my mind, but I shooed it away, reminding myself that I am insane…. LOL  😉  JC looked at me.  He knew how important this was to me–ridiculous though it may have been.  He started to try to figure out how we could be there when the place opened first thing the next morning, I could jump the barricade, he could take the picture, then we could get back to our place in time to leave for the airport.  I thought about that for a few minutes but the whole idea seemed destined to fall apart–we would never have time to come all that way in the morning when we were trying to leave! Then, Clint (my cousin who is 2 weeks older than I am, and who is more like a brother to me)  said, any true Jim Morrison fan would jump that barricade….Mini Me said, I’m doing it. And he did.  Right there. In front of the little group of people who were standing there.

 

JC said, why don’t you just let that be your ’23 years later’ photo?  I stood there-wheels spinning in my head…We did not need to come all the way back down here the next day, and, I was not getting any younger. My ballroom days are over, baby…Night is drawing near…. Here we were in Paris. Finally. 23 years later.  The time to hesitate is through….no time to wallow in the mire…try now we can only lose… Jim would have jumped that barricade, no doubt. jim-morrison-1 Then, I heard somebody whisper (I’m pretty sure it was Clint 😉 …BREAK ON THROUGH…. and that was all it took.

 

Five to one, baby…One in five…No one here gets out alive, now….You get yours, baby…I’ll get mine…Gonna make it, baby…If we try…..

If there is one thing that I can encourage my kids to do, it is to spend time in France.   Go to school there. Move there. Do it. Make it happen. Who knows? Maybe I will do it someday. If not, I still want my ashes taken to Paris and put on Jim Morrison’s grave–  I’m still nuts. And I no longer care what ‘everybody’ thinks 😉

 

 

 

A Very Short Story About The Little Brother Who Loves His Big Brother (and tries to hang on his every word ;) ) …And the Vast Difference Between 18 and 9

I was washing my face last night when The Baby walked (a little sulkily) into the bathroom, but obviously with some news he needed to share with me. I asked him what was up.  He announced to me that one of Mini Me’s favorite musician’s had died, and he asked me if I already knew that information.  I told him I did.  He stood there for a minute and we looked at each other.  Then, with complete and total veneration for his musician-big-brother (and said big brother’s sadness over the loss of Chris Cornell),  as well as  a little bit of rockstar-little-brother-EGO, The Baby says to me: Yeah. I’m pretty sure it was the guy from Radiogarden. 

(Yes, I whispered Soundgarden 😉 )


The Colonel

bruce 70I did not want to go to the Colonel’s birthday party.  In fact, I was kinda mad about it.  It was a weeknight, for God’s sake.  I’m old now.   I don’t hang with the big dogs anymore.  Hell, I can’t hang with the big dogs anymore.  I had been tired all week.  Our new pain-in-the-ass puppy had been driving me Crazy-yes, with a capital C and our new routine of getting up at 4:00am was not sitting well with me.  I was going to be proctoring Georgia Milestone testing all morning at work on Tuesday, and I could not be one second late-something that was becoming a challenge.  Our weekend had been fun but hectic, with a house full of family and commitments.  I needed a weekend to recover from the weekend. “Going out” is no longer relaxing for me.  The major problem is that I cannot stand crowds, and this one was going to be huge- the show sold out in minutes.  I just don’t like to be surrounded by people.  I’ve never really liked it, but it has definitely worsened with age.  I started to tell JC I did not want to go, but I did not want to disappoint him.  I knew he had been looking forward to this for a while.  He assured me that it would all be over by 11:00pm and we would be home by midnight.  I bucked up and went.    I was a little taken aback at how close our seats were.  Row L, Right Orchestra is only 12 rows back.  I was on the aisle and JC was right next to me.  I was shocked at how well I could see.  Most people would have been thrilled to be so close to the stage. Not me. I felt closed in.  That night, it felt like I was going into a pit of quicksand.  I knew that the later it got, more people from the back would make their way down to the front and fill in any open spaces that happened to be there, and there was nothing the ushers could do about it.   Everyone was chanting “Bruuuuuuce” the way they always do for The Colonel.  Most of Widespread Panic was there-JB, Jimmy Herring, Dave Schools, and Duane Trucks. John Fishman of Phish. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Peter Buck of REM.  Oliver Wood.  Tinsley Ellis. Warren Haynes. Chuck Leavell. Kevn Kinney….I am sure I am leaving lots of important people out.  The kid who played Zack in School of Rock on Broadway- Brandon Niederauer – was there (The Middle Child and I saw that show with Mothah last summer when we were in NYC). When Leftover Salmon came out and played “Working on a Building”, the entire place was bouncing and rocking like I have never seen before. Those guys reminded me of The Country Bears.  I started to feel a little uneasy.  The guys that shared our row with us left their seats at least 800 times.  I guess they were going to get beer, and subsequently, going to use the restroom.  It was worse than being in a car with a bunch of little girls drinking juice boxes on a road trip.   It got so annoying that I started to tell them that next time, they needed to make sure they got themselves aisle seats.  I got beer spilled all over my feet three times–twice by the people behind us, and once by someone coming down the aisle, who tripped.  I was not pleased, as you might imagine.  I was wearing sandals.  I expect more out of people at the Fox.  At 11:00pm, there was no end in sight, and I turned into über bitch.  Of course, it was JC’s fault that the show was not over! Who else could possibly be responsible?! I lit right into him: YOU SAID IT WAS OVER AT 11:00! I HAVE TO PROCTOR MILESTONES IN THE MORNING! I HAVE TO GO HOME!  JC looked at me like I had lost my ever loving mind. (I had. For the millionth time, at least)  I did not even have my phone or my purse in the Fox.  Apparently an email had gone out before the show-saying they were going to measure bags at the door and there was a size limit.  I am not sure what they thought somebody might bring in there.  That crowd, my crowd, (I’ve been part of that crowd since 1988-I think I can call it mine),  really doesn’t strike me as the gun-toting type, and if they were worried about drugs…well, I doubt anybody would have taken any huge quantity of anything into a show-but hey-whatever.    Lucky for me,  we rode with friends-and one told me of this email while we were still at the car.  Also lucky for me, I had my trusty tape measure in my big, giant bag.  I measured said bag, and sure enough, it was about 5 inches over the limit (and no, I do not carry a gun or large quantities of drugs in case you are wondering) so I left it in the car, along with my iPhone 6 plus big ass phone that would not fit in my pocket!  BUT…unlucky for me, this meant that I could not call myself an Uber and get the hell out of there!  I was Screwed. With a Capital S.  When I am Screwed, it makes me even MADDER because it means things are completely out of my control–as if they were in my control to begin with BWAHAHAHAHA 😉  I looked like a two year old having a fit and I knew it and I did not care.  I literally stomped my foot and crossed my arms.  I finally came to the realization that I was stuck and I was just going to have to deal with that fact.  I had certainly been out later than this and made it to work on time the next day.   Colonel Bruce launched into “I’m So Glad”–his signature ‘last song’, and JC leaned over and said this is the last song.  At the end, we headed up the aisle to the lobby.   The thought of trying to beat that mob of people out the doors of the Fox was terrifying to me.  We should have known that they were not finished when the mob did not follow us.  We checked the monitors in the lobby, and it appeared that the crew was taking down the stage, so we headed to the car.  Still, there was no mass exit behind us.  It was eerily quiet.  We were at the car for about 5 minutes when the ambulance came screaming down Peachtree.  This is not an unusual sight for that part of town at that time of night, though I did wonder if someone had overdosed inside the Fox.  About 5 minutes later, we walked back up to the street from the car to wait on our friends.  People were finally starting to trickle down Peachtree.  When we saw our friends, we found out that I’m Glad had not been the last song. They had gone into Turn on Your Lovelight and The Colonel had collapsed on stage.  The other musicians played over him for a few minutes-thinking he was joking around.  He had a propensity for doing things like that.  When they finally realized he wasn’t kidding, they turned him over and he had wet himself.  The ambulance we had seen was for him.  I knew instantly that the Colonel was gone.  He died right there, surrounded by all of the people who loved him–at the most fantastic birthday party anyone could ever imagine.  Of course it was not announced that way.   The next morning, we read that they were able to regain a pulse before taking him to Crawford Long, where he died a few hours later.  I will never believe that.  I believe that The Colonel died on stage at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.

I first started seeing Colonel Bruce in Athens, Georgia at The Georgia Theatre when I was 18 years old.  He was a fixture in Athens at the time–with his band, The Aquarium Rescue Unit.   Colonel Bruce would come out in his Colonel’s jacket with all of the buttons.  The music was funky and we loved it….Strange Voices. Basically Frightened.  The first time I saw Derek Trucks play, Derek was about 14 years old and he played with Colonel Bruce at The Georgia Theatre!

I keep hearing people say that they cannot believe that Colonel Bruce died the way that he did….or that he is gone…..This is a man who could guess your birthday after talking to you for just a few minutes! This musical genius who helped some of the finest musicians the world knows today….I know he is missed by so many.  He made such an impression on so many people.  The first time Mini Me met The Colonel, it was at Shorty’s Pizza in Tucker.  JC introduced them and told The Colonel that Mini Me played guitar.  The Colonel looked at Mini Me and yelled out “YES!YESYES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!YES!” and then turned around and that was it! LOL.  That was The Colonel.  Of course he went the way he did! He wouldn’t have gone any other way! It makes total sense!  It was the perfect ending for him.  We should all be so lucky.

Grinchmas

Here it is, a week before Christmas, and I just finished decorating.  I don’t think that has ever happened before.  I managed to twist Mini Me’s arm enough so that he and his friend (and bandmate) Jody (who will now be known to us as ‘Cody’ because the music teacher, who is also a friend of mine, kept calling him that)  played guitar for the 4th grade program at my school yesterday.  They even participated in our “tacky holiday/winter wear dress-up day” and wore ugly sweaters.  I am pretty sure that the kids loved them.  I do not think that Mini Me and Cody will be fulfilling my dream of them playing in the lunchroom on Tuesday, though…. Mini Me’s expression tells it all.img_3685

This is the first year that I have truly considered not buying a Christmas Tree.  Of course, this was only in my head and not discussed with anyone else in my household, and we did get a real tree.  Mini Me, The Middle Child, and The Baby each have a fake tree in their bedrooms, so it’s not like I was going to deprive anyone of anything.  I was just feeling particularly grinchy  and not in the mood. You see, I am the one who goes into the attic each year and gets out the 10 red and green Rubbermaid containers of Christmas shit. Usually, there is nobody standing at the bottom of the attic stairs to hand the containers to. I am the one who puts up every tree, decorates every tree, puts all of the empty containers back into the attic, and then gets them all down after Christmas is over, and undecorates every tree and puts it all back again.  I am the one who gets the bigger Rubbermaid containers out of the shed in the backyard and carries them to the front yard.  I am the one who puts up all of our outdoor decorations and lights, and I am the one who has to take it all down and put it all back.  JC does not enjoy getting ready for Christmas-that is what he told me when I once asked him to ‘get into the holiday spirit’ and ‘let’s put the outdoor decorations up together’.   Quite frankly, it is all a big pain in the ass.  When I was a little younger, and the kids were a little younger, all of this brought me great joy-they would get so very excited.   Now? not so much.  Now, it brings me sciatica and nerve pain in my back, and makes my toes numb and tingly.  The kids don’t give a rat’s ass if their trees are up- otherwise they would help me decorate them.  That, alone, should be the sign that I should stop. Yet…this year, I did it once again.  ‘Tradition’, I called it, (in my head).  This year, I threw something new, albeit a little creepy, into my dining room decor.  I dressed up all 12 of our American Girl dolls- in holidayish attire, and set them out around the hearth and dining room tree.  That was all fun and games until The Middle Child came to me and said, “Mom, when my friends come over for my gingerbread house party next week, you have to put my dolls up.  It’s embarrassing.” Damn It.  I told her there was nothing embarrassing about her dolls-they are her damn dolls! And, they are not moving! She stomped off.  I spent hours dressing those bitches! Do you know how long it took me to find all the fucking shoes????? And I did their hair!!!! For the love of GRINCHMAS, they are staying the hell out!!!! And The Middle Child can just get the hell over it!!

I am about over our Elf.  It’s so boring.  I can’t really tell if The Baby still believes or not.  He goes down to find Elvis, and then he will be like ” oh, yeah, he hides there every year-whatever”.  And I am like well, shit. I got up out of my warm ass bed to go move this fucker…. I really think the jig is up, but I will keep on keepin’ on….I do think I am going to have to start getting creative again, but I am just so damn tired and I don’t really want to make a mess am going to have to clean up!!! img_3697

Mini Me sent his grandparents his Christmas List. I think the cheapest thing on the list was $400. This was their response, prior to them asking for an updated list, which he did send.  img_3682

Christmas was once my favorite time of year.  I think I have moved on and now Summer is my favorite time of year.  Nobody has any special performances.  Nobody has to take special gifts or food anywhere.  I am not expected to be anywhere at any certain time, with any particular food items, for any specific length of time…Yep. Summer is where it’s at for me. Zero obligations. I am now in the “gotta get through the holidays” mode.  I miss the olden days.

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Daveed

img_3351A few weeks ago, my fellow Hamilton-obsessed friend told me about Daveed Diggs’ band, Clipping, coming to The Earl on November 2. Tickets were $12. I immediately bought two online.  It was on a Wednesday night.  I would have to go to work the next day, but I figured what the hell? It was Daveed! I’d missed him in Hamilton.  He hadn’t left the show yet on July 6, when The Middle Child and I saw it, but he was not performing that day.  THIS, I decided, THIS, was my chance to see Daveed Diggs.  JC has taken Mini Me to many concerts-often waiting behind the venue with other fans for an autograph or a photo.  I figured we could just do the same thing for moi… 

There were three bands playing on November 2, and the order in which they were going to play got changed around a time or two.  When I found out that Clipping was not going on until 11:00 pm, yes, I said, PM, I thought I might have to pass on Daveed.  I sat in my chair at work and thought about how late 11:00 PM was, and how tired I was going to be the next day, and how early I like to go to bed.  Who, exactly, was I trying to kid, here? I was never gonna make it.  I realized that I had not left the house to go to an event that started that late since, well, perhaps…1994?!  Here was the quandary:  either I man up and stay up and maybe meet Daveed Diggs, OR I wuss out and be my normal, boring self and stay at home and go to bed by 10:00.  Which would it be? It wasn’t that hard of a decision-for someone who flew to NYC and slept on the damn sidewalk for 2.5 days to see Hamilton?! Of course I manned the hell up.  I could not, for the life of me, figure out what to wear to The Earl.  I had never been there before.  JC said not to wear any good shoes-it was like a fraternity house. Oh Lort! He said I should expect tattoos and nose rings and such.  Tattoos? I said to him.  I have five of those! I’d fit right in!   I finally settled on this cute little black dress that I bought at J.Crew in Chicago. I know you are already laughing.  I paired it with my leopard print cardigan.  It is still hot here in Atlanta, but I wore my flat, tall, black biker boots that zip up the back.   My purse has a studded strap, so I thought with that and the couple of tattoos that would be visible, I might sort of fit in-maybe. (No. Nada. Nein. Never. Not even a little bit)The Shankman’s picked us up about 8:30.  I was already yawning.  When we walked into The Earl, I gasped. As in for my life.  JC told me it was an all smoking place-one of the few left here.  I had told myself I could handle it.  No asthmatic can handle it.  In fact, only heavy smokers could truly handle that.  Thank God I remembered my inhaler.  The front part of The Earl is a restaurant and bar, and we were going to eat first, so we were seated at a booth.  We seemed to be the only table having to use the iPhone flashlight to read the menu.  Lauren was sitting across from me and Scott, across from JC.  About 5 minutes into it, Daveed walks out into the bar.  OMG.  We were dying. Just me and Lauren, of course.  Scott and JC were trying to talk to us and we were totally not even paying them any attention.  We decided that we would not bother Daveed while he was so obviously trying to order food.  I did get JC to snap a pic of him from the back. LOL.img_3358 (He is standing at the bar and has on red Chuck Taylor’s)  Youth Code was playing before Clipping.  We decided to go in and see what they were all about.  That lasted about 3 minutes.  I could feel my heart beating outside of my body.  We went back into the restaurant part of The Earl to wait for Clipping. The last game of the World Series was on in the bar, so that was enough entertainment for us old people.  Finally, 11:00 rolled around, and it was time!  I am 46 years old.  My brother was a devout listener of RunDMC and Eazy-E, Boyz-N-The-Hood, NWA, all the old school Rap–or what I consider old school Rap.  I saw Straight Outta Compton and it made me cry.  I like to think that I know what Rap is. I knew that Clipping was Rap; HOWEVER, and this is a great, big, GIANT, however: I did not bother to check it out beforehand.  Nope. Did not even listen to a single song.  Not a one.  So, there we all are, and there is a huge screen with nothing but static playing on it on the stage, and Daveed Diggs comes out and everyone starts screaming, and he says, “Yo! ATL, What the fuck is UP?!” and I thought to myself, this is SO not Hamilton!  Right after I had that thought, I felt incredibly guilty for having it.  I know Daveed Diggs does not want to be identified as “that guy from Hamilton” for the rest of his life.  He was not at The Earl to perform selections from Hamilton.  I knew it wasn’t going to be Hamilton.  I don’t know exactly what I expected, since I never bothered to check it out before we got there!!!  The show starts, and it is Rap, but it is a very eclectic style of Rap-almost as if he is rapping, well, clippings of news reels? During the first song, I did not know if I could make it for an hour.  By the third song, I was developing an ear for it.  By the time we got to Shooter, I was in love.  Daveed would say “Shooter” into the mic and we would whisper it back to him: shooter… Just imagine me, in my little J.Crew dress, with my left hand up in the air, moving to this:

Cause he got guns and that shit gon’ bang>Yeah, the shooter brought guns and the shit go bang, hands up>Got guns in this bitch, go bang>Motherfucker better run when this shit go

This my favorite Clipping song.  It is awesome.   At one point, I had to go to the restroom, but I really did not want to, for fear that I might miss something.  I heard a bunch of screaming, DAMN IT. I knew it!  When I came out, Daveed had taken his shirt off!! Look, people, for women my age, that is hot entertainment.  At one point, he came down into the audience and I was one person away and I thought to myself that I could reach out and touch him.  Of course, I did not do it, as that would have been completely inappropriate.  He had his shirt on again by then anyway.  When he was out in the audience, people kept taking pictures of him with their flashes on! I could not believe it! They were practically blinding the poor man.  The girl standing next to me did it three or four times.  I really wanted to reach over and knock her phone out of her hand.  I think it would have been really easy to do because she looked pretty drunk.  Her big doofus husband or boyfriend had broken in front of me and was blocking my view.  I took the high road and decided that they were going to feel shitty enough the next morning.

These guys are what I call intellectual rappers. Clipping is made up of William Hutson (Rale),  Jonathan Snipes (Captain Ahab) , and Daveed Diggs.  If the information I found online is correct, Hutson and Snipes both attended UCLA and Diggs went to Brown.  Snipes is a stage sound designer. Hutson has a PhD in Theater and Performance Studies.  Daveed Diggs has recently been on “Black-ish”, in addition to his Tony winning year long run as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton.  Clipping’s songs are about real life, but in a way that I have never heard lyrics written before.  It’s artsy and beautiful.  I know you are looking at the refrain I wrote out for you above and thinking to yourself, “yeah, right, I don’t see anything artsy and beautiful about that”.  I gave you that particular section so that you could imagine me in my little outfit, at that particular show. There is a difference!  How about this:

Got a towel on his face, mophead>Gettin’ money in the desert, hot bread>Wish he had a way home, bread crumbs>Drink himself into a coma, red rum>Soldier’s eyes playin’ tricks, sandwich>Need to get more info, bandwith>Bunch of signs there to read, pamphlets>But that was not to be, Hamlet…..

Same song.  I’m telling you, I really think Clipping is great.  When it was over,  JC and Scott went back into the bar of The Earl to catch some more of the ball game, since it was into extra innings.  Lauren and I waited to see if Daveed was going to come out to greet his stalker fans. We were trying to play it cool-you know-as if we look like we hang out regularly at The Earl.  After about 10 minutes, right when we were going to call it a night, he walked out! A line immediately formed and he was giving autographs and taking pictures.  Scott and JC came back in with our Clipping  LP’s we had bought earlier.  I had Sharpie’s in my purse.  I know to always come prepared to a show.  Hell, I had tried to bring both of our Hamiltome’s,a19gf6jjo1l but changed my mind at the last minute.  Those things are huge.  Plus, The Middle Child said, “Mom, do you really want to be the creepy lady with the Hamilton tattoo and two Hamiltome’s in her purse?”  The answer was HELL NO, I DID NOT.  When it was my turn, I had my phone ready.  I showed Daveed the picture of The Baby, dressed as him for Halloween.  He cracked up and asked me if I had to make all of that.  I got to tell him about me and The Middle Child going to NYC and sleeping on the sidewalk.  He could not believe it.   Then, after we had our photo made, I showed him my pièce de résistance….my tattoo.  He emphatically exclaimed that I was:  hardcore!  We both laughed and I thanked him and told him how wonderful he was and is and then our little group walked back into the bar of The Earl, where we watched the ball game for another 15 minutes.  On the way to the car, Lauren and I happened to glance to our right and there was Daveed and the band-loading their van. We stood there, watching them load music equipment …until JC and Scott brought us back to reality with their arm waving and yelling at us to come on-they were several hundred feet ahead of us.  At the same time, we heard cheering coming from both sides of the street.  The Cubs had just won the Series.  We went into the closest open bar to watch the excitement on screen.  We got home about 1:15am. I bolted upright when my alarm went off at 5:00am, petrified I would be late to work-knowing everyone would know where I had been, as it was chronicled on Facebook. I made it through the work day, counting the minutes until I could go home.  I still felt as though I was breathing in the smoky air of The Earl.  I have been sober for 14 years, so I was not hungover from drinking–only from lack of sleep and an over rush of adrenaline, which will still put a hurtin’ on me.  Several times, throughout the day, I had asked myself the question: was it worth it?  The answer then, and now, remains the same: HELL YES! and I would do it again!  I will always remember what I was doing the night the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after 108 years:  I had just met Daveed Diggs, but was actually standing in an alley watching him load his van- just like a stalker. Go figure.

 

#daveeddiggs

#hamiltonmusical

 

Elvis Has Left the Building

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Preface: I am well aware that this is entirely too long 😉 I actually cut some of it out and left the best parts, so just be thankful for that

Sunday was a week since we moved Mini Me to college. I think I have tried to write this story a hundred times.  I feel like I am missing a limb.  The first time I cooked dinner and went to set the table, I realized that I only needed to set four places, and the knife, that was plunged into my heart last weekend, twisted again.  It was not that Mini Me has eaten every single meal with us all of his life, it was that that time was different.  It seemed more permanent.  Like for real.  I am going to tell you about taking Mini Me to Belmont last weekend, and it is not like the beautiful, sweet stories people have been sending me on Facebook.  Please don’t misunderstand me–I appreciate all of the well wishes and kind words and thoughts, more than anyone knows.  It helps to know that people are thinking of me.  But….I really need to tell you that most of those stories are exactly that: Stories. And that is just a nice way of me calling a real loud and clear ‘BULLSHIT’.  I am here to tell you the truth. 

I have gone back to work, after an 8.5 year leave.  This has not proven to be the easiest task on the planet, but despite my best efforts, I am actually enjoying the hell out of it.  This job thing does get in the way of a lot of my would-be normal, day to day activities.  I could not just randomly gather all of the shit that Mini Me needed, whenever I felt like it, on my random, every other day trips to Target.  Those no longer exist.  I also could not just give Mini Me my debit card and say, here ya’ go, sonny! Go get whatever you think you might need!  I never have the energy to go to Target after dinner, and somehow, the weekends preceding his departure had been filled with other things, sooooo the morning of the day we left, I ran to Target to do some last-minute-Mini-Me shopping.IMG_2555

My list was relatively short.  I ended up with two shopping carts and a grand total of just under $400.  It took me over an hour and a half because I kept getting text messages from all three children.  Most of these were unnecessary.  I do not need a text message response of “NP” or “OK” or “THX” or “It would be really cool if you would bring home Starbucks”. This only makes my shopping trip longer, with me having to dig for my phone in my black hole of a purse.  If the important points of our textversation are over, then, for the love of God, just leave it alone.   When I got home, I backed the car into the carport so that I could unload all of the shit I had just bought, only to take it inside the house, repack it and then reload it into the same car.  Mini Me and I had decided to try to pack the car before JC got home.  We knew that if we had the car half loaded when he got there, he would make us unload it and he would start over.  JC likes to load the car.  In his defense, he is a good car-loader.  BUT….we had a LOT of stuff to load and we knew, from many previous packing experiences, that JC would require one or more of us to bring all of the shit out to the car, and stay out there and watch while he thought about what would be loaded and when.  Then, if he changed his mind and thought of a better plan, he would make us help unload it and start over. This may happen multiple times before he got it right.  This sort of perfectionism drives me insane, and I refuse to take part in it.  Mini Me and I started haulin’ ass.  We actually got most of it done before JC got home.   Since all 5 of us were going to Nashville, it was decided that Mini Me and JC would ride in the other car, and I would drive The Middle Child and The Baby in the minivan, that was packed so full that I could not see out of the rear view mirror.  We were getting ready to walk out the door and JC and Mini Me and I were in the kitchen alone.  I burst into tears, realizing that this was it.  This was the last time we would be here, in our house, like this.  Mini Me grabbed me and hugged me hard.

We hit Atlanta rush hour and Chattanooga rush hour, which was par for the course.  Somewhere beyond Adairsville, Georgia, when I had started to make up some time, I came upon a Scion, riding leisurely in the left hand lane.  Left lane riders really piss me off.  Also, about this time, The Middle Child and The Baby were starting to bitch at each other.  Unable to pass on the right, my road rage took over, and I rode the Scion’s bumper for about 10 minutes.  When I could finally pass on the right, I happened to glance over at Scion, to give a scowl, and saw a Native American woman shooting me a bird….her giant dream catcher dangling from her rear view mirror.  I thought to myself that there was seriously something wrong with that picture. Bitch.  I blew her doors off and traveled onward.  The Middle Child and The Baby and I were having a lot of fun between fights.  We were listening to the only thing we listen to, ever: The Hamilton Soundtrack.  We tested ourselves and we made it almost 1 hour without listening to it.  We then decided that there was simply nothing better to listen to, so we just turned it back on and never considered listening to anything else again.    I now have to make sure that I remind The Baby, each and every morning, before he gets out of the car at school, that he may under no circumstances be caught singing under his breath (or at the top of his lungs) any of the following lyrics: How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore….;  ….he’s been kicking ass as the ambassador to France; …..Sittin’ there, useless as two shits, hey, turn around, bend over, I’ll show you where my shoe fits!;  or the ever so great: Southern Mother Fuckin’ Democratic Republicans, OH!  I am seriously just waiting on the school to call me.  Two out of three of my children sing incessantly.  I think they don’t even know they do it about 95% of the time. I’m telling you….the call is coming.  “Broadway Musical Soundtrack” had best be enough to get us both off the shit list.  Anyway,   we found ourselves to be a little hungry, and were overjoyed to realize that the bag of Mini Me’s snack foods was, indeed, in the minivan, and also easily accessible!  The 3 of us put back an entire big bag of Boom Chicka Pop kettle corn in less than 30 minutes.    With traffic and rain, it took us 5 full hours to get to Nashville. And guess what? We arrived in the nick of time for JC and Mini Me to get to the Butch Walker concert.  Imagine that! So guess what else? The Middle Child, The Baby, and I ordered room service for dinner. Imagine that!

We had to be at Belmont the next morning at a specified time. I can no longer remember what that specified time was, but sure as hell, we were running late.  I was the last one to get ready, so everyone just left me in the room and told me they would see me in the car as they ran out of the door.   I told them if they left me, I’d kill every damn one of them.  We managed to pull up within 5 or so minutes of our designated time frame.  There was a team of students, all dressed in Belmont shirts, waiting to greet us at the front door of Kennedy Hall.  They immediately asked for our student’s name, which we provided, not realizing, that when we opened all of the doors of the minivan, the team of Belmont students would start cheering his name and clapping for him.  The most fun thing to watch was the Belmont students unloading my car! Within 5-7 minutes, my entire Honda Odyssey had been completely emptied, and the only thing I’d carried was the Ryan Adams Boxed Vinyl Set. Things got a little testy in the dorm room, what with all 5 of us in there, trying to help unpack and give helpful decorating and organizing tips of how we would do it.  Eventually, 4 of us were banished to the lobby for 15 minutes so that Mini Me could collect himself, because he was on the verge of cussing us all out.  It had already become abundantly clear that my little ‘last minute’ jaunt to Target just hadn’t cut the mustard, and we would be making another trip after lunch at Edley’s.   I really thought that if we could just raise our blood sugar a tad, we would all be much better off. Oh, how wrong I was.  All 5 of us fought our way through Target.  To be fair, Target had about 2500 customers, and all of us seemed to be in the same general vicinity: lamps, rugs, towels, white boards, printers, food, school supplies, household goods….basically the entire store.  It was a clusterfuck of such gigantic proportions, that I thought I might have a panic attack at any moment.   Those times make me really bitchy and snappish.  JC said we should have gone to Wal-Mart.  He was right. And, damn it, I cannot think of any time I have ever made the statement that ‘we should have gone to Wal-Mart’.   It really pissed me off that he said it because I felt like he was blaming me for us being in Target!  I said You were driving the damn car! Why didn’t you just drive us to the damn Wal-Mart if you wanted to go there so bad? Huh? He said because you said go to Target. And I said, well, I’d a heap rather go to a Target any damn day before a damn  Wal-Mart! ( knowing, as the words were coming out of my mouth, that at that moment, I probably looked as though I belonged at a Wal-Mart) And The Middle Child was all like PARENTS! STOP IT!  So, we did.  We had only about $179.87 worth of shit in the shopping cart, so we just checked on out of Target and guess where we went to get the last 3-5 items on the list?  YOU GOT IT! Wal-Mart.  It was nice to shop for those 3-5 things in a less clustered atmosphere, I do have to admit.  By the end of that shopping extravaganza, most of us were just plain done.  I dropped JC and Mini Me off at the dorm and I took The Middle Child and The Baby back to the Hilton. We ended up ordering pizza and watching some completely inappropriate crime show-Dateline or something-before calling it a night.  JC ubered back to the hotel, and Mini Me was spending the night in his dorm, but we would spend the day with him the next day.

The next day, we ate lunch at Edley’s.  I know I said we did that the day before.  We did do it the day before.  And we did it again.  We really like Edley’s. So what?  Then, we went and picked up this red, microfiber futon we found on Craigslist, for the dorm room.  It was brand new, in the box.  It was really awesome.  What was not really awesome was that when we got in the car to leave, all the doors to the van had been open while we were loading the damn thing, and the van was now full of baby yellow jackets.  Like we were parked on a yellow jacket nest or something….Nobody got stung, and it only took us about 5 minutes of riding with all the windows down and the sunroof open and screaming to get them all out. In fact, I am quite sure that the screaming was the main factor that contributed to getting them out.   Fun times, I am talking about, People, fun times.  We went to Carter Vintage Guitar.  It is one of our Nashville Rituals.  Mini Me loves to go in there and play guitars.  I decided to sit in the car with The Baby, who was screaming about how much he hates Carter Vintage Guitar, and how boring it is to go in there, and how much he did not want to go in there, and why were we making him do such an awful, miserable thing like going into Carter Vintage Guitar when he so really, really did not want to go? I damn sure did not want to go into Carter Vintage Guitar and have to listen to that whiny bullshit. I’d just assume sit and listen to it in the comfort of the van.  We also had promised The Baby that we would take him to Third Man Records-another one of our Nashville rituals.  The longer we sat in the car, the later it got, and the whinier The Baby got.  OH MY GOD! When are they gonna come out? This is awful. I can’t stand this. Please go get them. Please make them leave. Can’t we just leave them here….I told you I did not want to come to Carter Vintage Guitar!!!! As you can imagine,  I really wanted to bitch slap The Baby, but he had a point.   I looked at the clock on my phone and was shocked to see that it was almost 5:00pm, Nashville time.  That meant it was almost 6:00pm, Atlanta time.  I had to work the next day.  The kids had school.  We had to get this show on the road.  I started texting The Middle Child, and JC.  They came out a few minutes later.  Mini Me jumped into the front seat and slammed the door like he might break the damn thing off it’s hinges. He then went off on a tirade about some guitar that was apparently like the Holy Grail of guitars.   He was really pissed off.  I finally pieced together what had happened.  He was enjoying playing guitars, and then JC handed him this fancy schmancy one to play, and it was like the bomb.  Like a $7-8000.00 bomb, which is really not all that big of a bomb in the world of guitars.   He was thoroughly pissed off that JC would actually hand him a guitar to play that we had no intentions of buying.  Now, this whole situation was ridiculous.  Mini Me has gone in Carter Vintage and Gruhn’s and played instruments that cost a whole lot more than this guitar I am telling you about, and he has known every time that nobody was buying a damn thing, unless it was a time when we were looking to buy a damn thing.  He knew this particular day, that nobody was buying a damn thing.  But he went off  like the spawn of satan. He said some things that I am not going to repeat–mostly because I think he regretted them the instant they came out of his mouth, the second time he said them, since he said them more than once 😉   I sat there and thought to myself that just maybe, this whole leaving him here at college, 4 hours away from home, was not going to be as hard as I had imagined…little fucker.  In fact, I thought we might just ought to leave his ass right there, in the parking lot of Carter Vintage Guitar  and let him walk his ass back to his dorm!   We went to Third Man Records and JC sat in the car.  His feelings were hurt by the awful things that had come out of the spawn of satan’s mouth. Usually, all of us are pretty quick to apologize when we have done something we know is wrong.  That apology we were waiting on did not come until we were headed back to the dorm a little while later, but when it came, it was very sincere.  I had heard about this ‘spawn of satan’ behavior.  It is apparently a quite common defense mechanism…..I had hoped we would be able to avoid it, but I should have seen it coming a mile away.  After we unloaded the futon and put it together, we asked Mini Me to come outside to tell us goodbye.FullSizeRender (15)

I really thought I was going to be fine. I really did.  I did not feel the least bit weepy.  Then, I turned around and saw Mini Me hug The Middle Child, and I heard an audible sob come from her, and that–that was all she wrote.  

I sobbed most of the way home, but managed to belt out a few Hamilton songs with The Middle Child in between breakdowns.  I called Mothah and Daddy.  JC had The Baby with him in the other car.  I think he knew that after our stint in the van at Carter Vintage Guitar,  The Baby and I needed a small break from each other.  When we pulled into our driveway, I felt this surge of sadness come over me because we had actually come home without Mini Me.  He really was not here.  I went straight to his room and the tears just kept falling.  It seemed so empty without him. I grabbed the gray blanket off his bed and carried it with me (I have slept with it every night since).   I went into the playroom and looked at the side that was and is his side–the music side.  There were still a few guitars hanging on the wall, and of course the piano is there, but the cables and mic’s and amp’s-all that stuff is gone.  And my Mini Me is not there.  Elvis has left the building.

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