Vegas Love Story

I was only home a few days when news of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas broke. Amid the many rumors, it was reported that the music festival I attended was considered as a previous target. This made my blood run cold. The stage that I called home for 2 straight days was his intended target. I can’t even imagine.

The Life Is Beautiful festival became a special part of my life in 2015, when I attended by myself. The lineup was INSANE!

Life-is-Beautiful-Festival-2015-Lineup

One night when I was checking the tour schedule for Twenty-One Pilots, I ended up on the Life Is Beautiful website. Within a few days, I’d spoken to a friend who lives there and purchased airfare/hotel for myself. He worked at one of the casinos on the strip and told me he’d be able to get a handful of tickets.

Two days before my trip, he became unreachable. When I arrived in Las Vegas, there was no one to greet me. Luckily, another friend saw my Facebook post and just happened to be in Vegas attending a business convention. He was kind enough to pick me up and take me to dinner while I began to sort things out. Long story short, I was able to hang out with him during non-festival hours and met some concertgoers from Utah who hung out with me a bit during the festival. The friend I’d originally planned to see never connected with me.

I’d come down with a cold the day before I left, which only got worse as the festival went on. I’m still mad at myself for missing most of the bands I came to see, but that couldn’t be helped. I did, however, get to ride the zip-line which encompasses most of Freemont Street.

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We’re such tourists. I like this photo because you can’t tell I’m deathly ill. I must have taken SO MUCH COLD MEDICINE that weekend. And in my excited state when I was purchasing airline tickets, I didn’t realize that my departure date and time would cut the festival short. Thankfully, I had the chance to return 2 years later.

I did, however, get to see X-Ambassadors, Awolnation, Lindsey Stirling, Weezer, and Big Data. I was also there when The Killers made a surprise appearance as part of Brandon Flowers’ solo set. I saw Rosario Dawson’s talk from the second row (I love her) and stumbled right into the Duran Duran Q & A by accident when I was attempting to leave, take medicine and get some sleep.

By the last day of the concert, my Utah friends were nowhere to be found. I ran into one of them when I was leaving who said they’d all caught a cold. Ooops… I never told her that I was the culprit.

This year, I made my friend Bill go with me. This was the lineup.

LIB-Lineup-2017

Okay, you’re right, he was pretty stoked to go. And he’s an ex-military GIANT, so I felt the safest I’ve ever been.

The night we arrived we met and befriended Zowie Bowie, apparently the best cover band in Las Vegas. I inadvertently picked up the keyboard player, who was a total sweetheart. It’s nice to talk to someone who has so much in common with you when you’re so far from home.

The next 2 days were spent sequestered at the front of the main stage. (At least for me they were. Poor Bill had to take breaks from all of that standing and being pushed up against by thousands of our closest millennial friends.)

After I got to see Muse from the front row (which was the pinnacle of my concert journey), I decided it was time to relinquish my spot. The third day Bill & I roamed around trying to do everything we’d missed the 2 days before. By about 9:30pm, I’d learned that perhaps 3 days is a little much. I passed out well before MGMT and The Gorillaz made it to the stage.

But my point…

My love affair with Vegas began ironically when I was abandoned by my friend who lives there. I was welcomed by every concertgoer I met with open arms. Everywhere I went, I befriended someone new. I never met a stranger.

I remember standing in the middle of the crowd, watching Awolnation and thinking how amazing it all was. There was no place on earth I would rather have been at that moment. Everyone around me was smiling and enjoying the music… just like me. They loved the band… just like me. The whole atmosphere was so positive and peaceful. It was my musical Utopia.

When I went back, 2 years later, it was exactly the same. Everyone was amazing. Total strangers would make a point to compliment me and each other. We were all connected by the same thread… the music.

And it was beautiful.

I’ve attached my favorite images from the experience. Enjoy!

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Another Journey Around the Sun

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends old and new. Luckily, having so much going on, I had no time to think about myself actually growing older (and closer to my scary age… yes, everyone has one…)

Friday night I had a date. In an earlier post, I’d mentioned flinging myself back into the dating pool by way of matchmaker. It had been so long since I’d hired her, I’d begun to think she’d given up on finding anyone suitable in my area for me. Ironically, on the day she called to tell me she’d scheduled a date, I had just begun to look around online. It was mostly out of curiosity… and entertainment. But I also wanted to get a preview of what was out there. I found myself mostly swiping left, with very few exceptions.

The original matchmaker date never happened. She explained that as the time drew near, he began acting shady, so she canceled it. I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t take it too personally since he had no idea who I was.

In the meantime, I had this new app. And it was full off possibilities. (Yes, that was sarcasm) After a few conversations, I realized that the chances of meeting any of these guys in real life were slim. When one canceled our date almost immediately after scheduling it, I was beginning to get a complex. His excuse was that his father (who was 4 hours away) had an accident. I never heard from him again.

A few days later I opened the app to find several guys missing. One disappeared after I mentioned meeting in person. Another deleted his profile completely. One I’d spoken with the first day was gone. Lastly, one (who had been messaging constantly) told me that he was going to see things through with someone else. This honesty was refreshing.

One guy HAD to talk to me on the phone right away. He told me right off the bat that he preferred talking instead of text. I just figured he was old school. We met on Friday and had a great date. The next day he made a point of telling me that he had originally made a date with someone else for Sunday, but was going to cancel since he was so interested in me. The gravity of that gesture didn’t register right away.

He called me when he got home from our date. He called me the next morning when I was getting ready for goat yoga with my friends. He texted to see if I could talk when I was on my way home from brunch. I wasn’t sure I’d ever had a person want to talk to me this much. I was starting to feel panicked and claustrophobic.

Contractors were in and out of my house working the entire weekend, which meant that a nap or alone time wasn’t going to happen. A friend brought me lunch. A few other friends asked where I’d be that night since they wanted to wish me a happy birthday. There were people around or communicating with me most of the day and on into the evening. Was there time for multiple phone calls just to talk? No way! Yet I found myself talking to him at least 4 times before going out that evening. I even missed one of his calls.

Although all the red flags, bells and alerts were flashing in my head, I found myself taking calls and making apologies. There I was again, making myself miserable in order to make someone else happy. At least this time I recognized it.

Sunday, I tried with zero success to relax as my house full of contractors sawed and hammered. That evening, my friend JD came by and helped me automate my home with a gift of smart bulbs. It took a while to get everything set up and working, so I ran out and got dinner for us. While we were eating, “first date guy” sent a “Sleep Well” text that buzzed on my Apple watch. My phone was charging in the back room and I was having dinner with JD, so I didn’t respond. ONLY TEN MINUTES LATER I received the following:

Patrick

I’m not sure why this surprised me. He had spent the entire weekend showing me who he was. It was my birthday. I was busy and surrounded by people the entire weekend, yet this asshat felt that there was nothing and no one more important than him. After no response from me, the next day, he texted an apology. I have no plans to respond.

On the other hand, it’s good to be reminded every once in a while what you don’t want. But it’s way more awesome to be reminded each year how much the people in your life love you.

Saturday when I was out catching a friend’s band perform, my ex boyfriend from the late 1990’s dropped in to wish me a happy birthday. He makes a point of remembering me every year.

I spent the evening with Erika (who incidentally has the exact same birthday) and Kat, listening to music, being complete goofballs, and running into half the population of our city. We ended the night at a gay bar, where Kat promptly stole my phone and left me with these little gems.

We ran into Bill, who instantly became our bodyguard and bouncer. Then we found the prettiest and most fabulous drag queen in the cabaret show.

Told ya.

The next day I received a text from my friend whose band we’d seen the previous night. He told me he was writing a duet for us. He’s a BRILLIANT singer and songwriter, so I’m over the moon that he’s so psyched to work with me. A few minutes later, my friend Allison (who lives 3 hours away) called and sang me Happy Birthday. Ending the evening nerding out with JD was exactly what I needed. I’m not sure he realizes exactly how much I appreciated the visit.

All things considered, it was a good birthday. I was surrounded by people who love me, look after me, and let me be me.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

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SWIM!

Some people say that they learned to swim when they were thrown into the deep end. Me? I swallowed half the pool and ended up with a nasty ear infection when my first swim instructor carried me into the deep end and submerged me. Although I made numerous attempts in later life, the dog-paddle is still my stroke of choice.

Much like my experiences in the actual pool, I haven’t had much luck diving into the dating pool either. Truth be known, I’m REALLY enjoying my “single person time.” When I dip my toes in, I end up attracting exactly the opposite of what I really want. So I stopped trying.

I hired someone to do all the dirty work for me… a personal matchmaker.

This, like most premium customized services, was expensive. But I decided that since I obviously had no idea what I was doing, I should break a few patterns and cannonball right out of my comfort zone. Even if I didn’t find THAT someone, the matchmaker would be providing me useful feedback that I could use in the future toward breaking old patterns.

Some people get lucky and find their life partners early on, but the harsh reality is that most people just settle. I’ve never been one of those people. Sure, I’ve been a little too generous with a few second chances that never should have happened. Sure I’ve given the benefit of the doubt when I should have trusted my intuition SCREAMING at me not to. But I’m only human. No one is perfect.

And I’m honest with myself. I have plenty of faults. But I also know that to the right person, they might be endearing. I also know that I need someone well-rounded, who knows themselves and isn’t in the process of rebuilding after a divorce, breakup, or layoff. I’ve seen too many people not take the appropriate time to heal.

I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to work. My matchmaker is located in another state, so I wondered how she could find someone in my area… someone who checks all of my boxes.

After a long phone conversation, several texts and emails, and a few photos exchanged she contacted me 2 days ago and told me I had a date! She asked what my schedule was, asked me to pick a place and Thursday I’m meeting someone hand-selected for me.

So here I go dog-paddling along, right into that dating pool.

Dream A Little Dream

I had a nightmare last night. Maybe it was just a bad dream, but unlike most of my dreams, I actually remembered this one and woke up believing it was real.

First I have to give you a little backstory…

A long time ago in the MySpace days, I was asked to do restaurant reviews for a local publication. At the time, I had just finished reading The Between Boyfriends Book by former SATC writer Cindy Chupack and had pitched an idea to the editor of the Dating & Love section. In the last chapter, Chupack discusses the BAD/GOOD date ratio: how many bad dates a girl must endure in order to get to a good one. My idea was to pick an eligible bachelor at random from MySpace and have him accompany me on each restaurant review meal. I would write about my experiences using aliases. By the second date, I had decided to focus my attention solely on the guy I’d chosen and table the article.

I’d been peeking at this guy’s MySpace profile for a while, so I wrote him. I realized that the head shot on his profile was done by a photographer friend of mine who’d hired me to do the makeup and hair for that corporate website session. The guy was shy and I remembered talking him into letting me put a little product in his beautiful, thick hair to give it a little texture. (To be honest, I didn’t recall this detail until I’d been on a few dates with him, but it was a better story than the whole truth, so I told it whenever people asked how we met. Not that I’m encouraging half-truths, but since online dating was terribly taboo at the time, I rolled with it.)

I was tasked with doing a review for a local sushi restaurant. Knowing myself, and my fear of eating strange things, I knew that I had to find a more adventurous, more culunarily-cultured counterpart. This guy just happened to have a photo posted of him eating something strange and raw with chopsticks, so I used it as part of my opener. I sent him a message asking if he would like to accompany me on my reviewing adventure. He accepted. Soon after, we were seen all over town enjoying dinners, drinks and the occasional hockey game.

He was the first guy in a long time that I looked up to. He was smart and enterprising… owning, running and selling several companies and one restaurant. And he was the first guy I’d ever met who could tell me that he was an “Entrepreneur” without making me cringe and immediately think he was selling Amway. I respected him. He had an interesting life of his own and we never had a boring interaction.

Flash forward to present day.

We’re still in touch. We’ve both been through our share of failed relationships. The last for both of us ended last year. I still see him occasionally, as friends… Friends with a history.

I have no idea what spawned my subconscious to create the images it did last night, but they’re still vivid in my mind and I’m still a little shaken up by them.

Years ago when we were in the heat of our off-again on-again relationship, I never asked him to define what we were to each other. He’s one of those people who isn’t fond of PDA or discussing feelings of any type. When he took me to Puerto Rico, he spoke of a long relationship that recently ended. It was the first time I heard any sort of emotion in his voice, so although I really wanted to, I didn’t pry. He was a bit of a conundrum. I loved and hated it at the same time.

Because we never defined “US,” we found each other getting into other relationships, then coming back to each other. Although I kept looking for signs that I would be the next bona fide relationship, I never was. Instead, I was just the person he sought to fill the space in between. Evidently, this has affected me more than I thought.

Last night I dreamed that we’d been seeing each other just like we used to when one day he decided to tell me that he was in a new relationship, so we couldn’t continue. I was crushed. After all this time, I let it happen again. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as I held back tears while trying to communicate. This time was different. He actually told me face to face instead of just ghosting me. Everything was the same, yet so different. And I was different. I finally found the words that I needed to say.

I told him “I was good enough to have fun with, but not good enough to be your girlfriend? That’s what hurts.” In fact, that has been an issue all along. I kept thinking that one day he would wake up and see me differently, but he never did. Perhaps he never will.

And although I know how much I have to offer, there’s a chance that some people will always blind to it. I was beating a dead horse, and although it’s my horse to beat, I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I’ve had dreams that were premonitions. I’ve also had dreams that made no sense at all. But this one, although it was difficult, taught me a valuable lesson. My worth has nothing to do with how people treat me. I was tolerating behavior that made me feel less than, and I needed to move on. And just like that, the pedestal I put him on for so long is gone and I’ve finally found my voice.

Voice

MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

SuperCon

So there I was in a line of the sweaty, costumed masses that stretched completely around the Raleigh Civic & Convention Center. My first thought was that I didn’t bring any sunscreen, my second was that I was going to be extremely close to some of my favorite celebrities and I didn’t want to look or smell like a sweaty mess and I didn’t have deodorant in my ridiculously large bag. I’d packed everything else I could possibly need (snacks, portable phone charger, zip up hoodie for warmth, water bottle, extra t-shirt, cash, memorabilia for signatures…) I’d never been to a convention of any type, but I was a damn-quick study.

A guy dressed as batman, driving a convertible replica of the Batmobile (and probably also sitting in a puddle of his own sweat from what I could imagine) pulled up just in time for a tiny joker to appear and leer at him from behind a telephone pole. I giggled and walked past. It was like I was walking through a film set… or perhaps Bizarroworld. Not typical by any stretch of the imagination, but this was MY typical Saturday.

Once inside I felt lost only for a moment, then, as if by magic I was found by multiple people who picked me out of the crowd. (I’ll admit, I wasn’t dressed in a costume of any sort and I wasn’t slogging around in a t-shirt and jeans so I was probably the sorest of all thumbs in the bunch. But THIS, I’m accustomed to.) After I made my way to a restroom, blotted any dew I’d accumulated and taken a few deep breaths to collect myself, I ran straight into my friend John, who in recent months had begun trying his hand at CosPlay photography. He’d been hired to take all the group shots at the SuperCon so although he was busy, he took a moment to show me how to get where I needed to be… I went straight to where the celebrities are.

I’ve always been most at home with them. I think that’s something I’ve always known. They’re just more interesting than normal people. And I’ve always been drawn to those who set themselves apart.

My list included: Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things), Jason Mewes (Clerks, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob), Emma Caulfield (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TiMER), Brian O’Halloran (Clerks, Mallrats), and Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy, Big Daddy, Dazed & Confused). I loved ALL of them. Some interactions were a little more rushed than others. Some remembered me and interacted with me throughout the convention. (I even got to hug Emma goodbye and wish her safe travels. She really is the sweetest! I told her about my friend Jenn who named her second son Xander. She said, “Now THAT’S dedication! And we laughed.)

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And Joey… I can’t say enough about Joey. The convention organizers placed Emma and Joey right next to each other and I can certainly understand why. They are both Sweetness and Light. During the View Askew panel while Jason was walking around being ADHD and Brian was being a comedian, Joey just sat back, calmly answered questions (no matter how off-color they were) and just glowed. She has an aura about her that is definitely old soul, but there’s a sweet vulnerability and a touch of “cool kid” that makes you want to hang out with her. In her Q&A, I asked her who was her role model. She responded without hesitation, Deborah Winger. Now I feel the need to watch more Deborah Winger movies.

But the best part was when I told her that ever since I’d watched Chasing Amy, I’d wanted her to be my best friend, she smiled and giggled and we chatted some more. She then took a stunning photo with me. What I hadn’t noticed was that she had personalized my DVD in response to our conversation. Now I’m the one who’s glowing.

When I first heard about the SuperCon, my friend Madeline had sent me a message last weekend when I went to see Kevin Smith at the comedy club. She told me that “Jay and Dante” would be there, which at the time were intriguing but not quite impressive enough for me to be completely convinced. When I saw that Joey was accompanying the boys, I clicked the purchase button immediately. As soon as I saw Emma was there, I knew my decision was a solid choice.

Madeline had a wedding to shoot in Virginia on Saturday, so I extended my ticket purchase to I could accompany her on Sunday. (Sunday was also Joey’s Q&A, so it was a win-win regardless) I got everything I wanted to do for myself done on Saturday so that I could relax and enjoy everything with Madeline on Sunday. It was the perfect plan.

The (Supposedly) Neverending Tile Saga

If I ever had a doubt, the past few years have truly shown me who my real friends are. Have you ever had those friends so connected with you that they could read your mind? I do.

Throughout this whole renovation process, my friend Lee Ann has been a perfect Partner in Crime. Although I share her affinity for HGTV, she definitely has more knowledge, experience and vocabulary in her arsenal. (Yes, this actually IS my first rodeo.) If I attempted a DIY project of this magnitude, it would look more like a Pinterest Fail.

When I first chose the shower tile for the guest bathroom, we had no idea that it would be:
a. so delicate and
b. so difficult to find.

 

 

Previously, we’d ordered half of the tiles from one store and half from another, each time having the store check the boxes on hand for broken tiles and set aside the good ones. We thought everything was taken care of until 40 tiles simply disappeared. The contractor went to pick them up and no one could locate them. (I’m not sure how one minute 40 tiles have been counted out & set aside and the next, they’re nowhere to be found, but that’s neither here nor there… literally)

This week I decided that if we could find enough of the same tile, I’d like to re-do the remaining shower in the same pattern. At last check, the store in Goldsboro (which is about an hour away) had the most in their inventory, so Lee Ann decided that it would be a good idea to take a road trip and grab it so that my contractors would have it available right away if they needed it.

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Actual photo taken in Lee Ann’s driveway prior to leaving for Goldsboro

When we arrived, the staff member I spoke to hadn’t had a chance to go through the boxes on hand. Lee Ann and I made quick work of it. By the end, we had 39 intact tiles and 29 that were broken, but large enough to be salvaged. We ended up getting the broken tiles for 10 cents apiece! (Did I fail to mention that Lee Ann is a Genius?) And to top it all off, when she found out there were more intact tiles in Rocky Mount and her Dad would be going there the next day, she got him in on our little coup. Now I have 20 more tiles that were carefully delivered by Lee Ann’s awesome Dad!

I know, I know… This is way too much trouble, right? Why didn’t I just choose another?

The tile selection was absolutely pitiful at this particular Home Improvement store, but when I saw THAT style, something just clicked. It stood out from the others. I had to have it.

Had I known the EPIC STRUGGLE that would ensue just to obtain intact pieces, I probably would have given up right on the spot. But with my biggest cheerleader in my corner, anything seemed possible.

And it always will be. ❤