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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Doris Day & The Secret Perils of Children’s Books

Last night my parents took me to dinner for my birthday. We do this every year and they always ask if it can be early since I usually have a lot of activities planned with my friends on the actual day. This year we’re planning to do Goat Yoga.

After dinner, we went back to my parents’ house and they began regaling me with stories from my childhood. My parents are some of the greatest people on the planet. Dad is one of those “salt of the earth” guys who can build a house from the ground up… and has. He’s a retired fireman who goes to lunch every week with his friends who call themselves the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out). He comes from a family of twelve in which he was the seventh and last son.

Mom is a retired government worker who spent a lot of time crunching numbers for the US Geological Survey, Department of Agriculture and various other government agencies. She’s one of those people who did exactly what she was told and never sought whatever lingered “outside the box.” She’ll fight you for a slice of cake or cream-filled doughnut and she’ll talk your ears off, sometimes repeating herself.

One day when Dad was picking Mom up from work, he took me to the mall beforehand. When we walked by K&K Toys, I saw a stuffed Saint Bernard complete with plastic brandy keg. I was a toddler, so he was GIGANTIC in relation to me, and is still the largest stuffed animal I’ve owned. I proceeded to wrap my arms around his neck and sit on the floor with him. When he saw that, Dad purchased him and on we went to pick up Mom with this “new pet” that dwarfed me. Mom didn’t quite know what to think.

Evidently, I had a habit of doing things like that. This is how my parents came to acquire Doris Day. Doris Day is a statue of a female Buddha. When my parents were out shopping for furniture to put in their new house, I wandered off and found this statue, wrapped my arms around it and exclaimed “DORIS DAY!” At the time, there was a TV show that starred Doris Day. In it she wore her hair on top of her head, much like the statue. Although the statue in no way actually resembled her, my parents thought that was so cute and funny that they purchased it. It is still in their formal dining room to this day.

Doris Day

Doris Day

Also in the formal dining room sits a doll that my Dad brought back from Korea. One of Mom’s co-workers had asked if he could bring back a doll for her child. Not truly comprehending that she wanted a toy baby doll, he came home with this…

The Scary Geisha Doll

The Scary Geisha Doll

For most of my childhood, this doll sat in my Mom’s sewing room. I didn’t think anything of it and hardly noticed it until…

As part of a program to encourage kids to read, we were given a catalog from which we could order books that we liked. Mom would give me the catalog and I would select a few books. For some reason, I chose a book that haunted me most of my formative years. It featured a Geisha who would grow long nails and kill people. The book was illustrated vibrantly and written for children (which is surprising given the whole death & killing thing). I have no idea what the name of the book was, but I clearly remember thinking after I’d read it that Mom’s doll was going to come to life, her fingernails would grow long and she’d kill us all. This “phase” in my life probably lasted a whole lot longer than it should.

Last night after seeing the doll again when I was checking out Doris Day, I told my parents. They were shocked. Mom thought she remembered the book, but had no idea the graphic content it contained. She also had no idea that I wasn’t fond of the doll and never wanted to be in the same room as it. Dad just chuckled.

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.

I’ve mentioned a few times my new found affinity for audio books. So far I’ve stayed in the genres of motivation/self-help and autobiography. I’ve discovered that I’m really not a big fan of fiction. I enjoy good storytelling, but I like it more if it’s plausible. I think that’s why I just can’t wrap my brain around all that Game of Thrones and Walking Dead nonsense. The people are so dirty and the subject matter is so violent. I like characters, but I enjoy even more if they’re actually real. What ever happened to real life heroes?

In the past few months I’ve powered through the autobiographies of Neil Patrick Harris, George Watsky, Sara Bareilles, and Amy Poehler. (Yes, I realize what an eclectic mix this is.) I was shocked at myself for not being able to get through Tina Fey‘s autobiography as easily (it’s still waiting), but these were enjoyable for a myriad of different reasons. NPH is a brilliant storyteller, but the “Choose Your Own Adventure” format proved a bit confusing for an audiobook, even though the content was entertaining. I enjoyed hearing Watsky’s winding tales of the road and everything in between. I’ve seen Watsky live twice and met him in person once. He seems like a complicated guy and a tad difficult to get to know. Reading his memoir gave me a lot of insight and a few laughs.

The Sara Bareilles memoir was a hidden gem. She sings at the beginning of each chapter and tells stories with such aplomb that you will find yourself laughing one minute and in tears the next. It’s clear that she appreciates her fans and that she’s one of those rare artists that simply doesn’t take anything for granted. ALSO if you’re patient enough to wait through all the ending credits, there are absolutely priceless bloopers and outtakes that leave you laughing… and wanting her in your circle of friends.

But my favorite was Amy Poehler. She’s humble and adorable and she makes no qualms of telling you her shortcomings in a way that will tell you she’s actually just like you. She talks about her love/hate relationship with her cell phone, her pregnancy (and its bad timing with the Jon Hamm SNL episode), the upright citizens brigade, learning to take responsibility for her actions and apologies, SNL, Tina, Seth, her divorce, Parks & Recreation, and the TSA agent who located her laptop when she thought this book might never be published (and she attached her pic in the PDF). I enjoyed every one of her stories, and the celebrity cameos (I’m looking at you Kathleen Turner). It’s obvious that she has a lot of friends in the business who would do anything for her. And that’s saying something.

The next book I had decided to read is “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’d chosen the audio book because the paperback was sent to me in a subscription box I receive monthly for Female Entrepreneurs. The reviews by other group members looked promising, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

DEAR LORD NO! THAT WOMAN IS CRAZY! I’m only on Chapter 3 and I feel like she’s attempting to indoctrinate me with some crazy hippy commune thinking. She says that one person can have a big idea and transmit that same idea to another person simply by touch. We are just conduits for ideas as if they just whiz about looking for someone to enact them. If we aren’t ready for a big idea, if it isn’t the idea’s time, it will move on and find another conduit… or possibly come back to us when we’re ready. WHAT?!?!?

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Yep, she’s nuts. I may be returning that title for some new hotness.

Can Jen Sincero write another book? I gobbled up the first two at warp speed. Maybe I’ll re-read them… because they were BADASS.

 

 

 

An Exercise In Duplicity

Last night I saw that a guy named Kevin Nguyen commented on an Instagram video I’d posted when I caught my dog watching cat videos with the concentration of a ninja. As it turns out, he’s part of this online video collaboration hub. Within seconds of my response, he emailed me a release form for the original video and told me he would let me know when it was posted. When he’s done editing, Quincy will be featured in one of these cute little compilations. Today I figured I would do a little more research and see exactly what Kevin and his company did.

First I googled his name. Ironically, I came across a post by the GQ Writer bearing the same name who had done the exact same thing. Of course, my next move was to go to the company website and see if he was listed. He wasn’t, but now I understand more about what I was getting myself (and my Aussie, Quincy) into.

Which leads me to my next point. Have you ever googled yourself?

Google Search

I learned some very important things about myself by performing this little experiment. First of all, I learned that Facebook is omnipotent. It always seems to take over whenever you search for anyone on the internet. I also learned that no matter how many times I spell my name correctly, the second search result is adamant about placing that extraneous E at the end. Thirdly, I seem to be a professor at Cornell. Who knew I was such an academic? I’m sure she shrugs every time she sees my makeup business come up in search results, but oh well… “Loosen your bone Wilma!”

The fourth and fifth results are actually me. One is my Linked In profile (probably more advertising) and then my makeup business, a result which I surprisingly didn’t pay for. I also found this cool chick and this one. Evidently a lot of REALLY interesting people have my name. And all this time I thought it was so boring & commonplace.

Ever since I was asked my name in grade school, I’ve been ashamed of it because I thought it was so “Blah.” I’m grateful that I didn’t change or alter it in any way back then since the names I found most appealing in my youth sound more like exotic dancer names to me now.

I’m pleased to announce that there were no criminals or any other sorts of shady persons uncovered in this little exercise. Thus, I can only conclude that people with my name are honest, smart, and creative. They are business owners, public speakers, award winners, academics… Performing today’s activity has only made me more proud to be numbered among them.

Image Search

We’re not such a bad-lookin’ bunch! (And no… I’m not in there anywhere, but I didn’t scroll either.)

Your turn!

The Gender-Bender, the Soup, and the Blur of a Weekend

As if my life weren’t crazy enough, this story has been unfolding since Wednesday.

I was at work when my phone rang. Since the area code was local, I answered. (when you have a business that’s listed on the internet, telemarketers have a tendency to swarm like vultures, so I just let most calls from out-of-state area codes go to voice mail.) I’m currently running a prom special, so I answered. It was a guy.

The conversation started out a little slow. He asked if I did makeup in a salon. I told him I was a freelancer and did mostly television makeup. He asked if I did anything more glamorous. I told him about the prom special and asked if it was for his wife or daughter. He told me he would be the client. *awkward pause* “Is it Pride already?” *nervous laughter* I haven’t done drag makeup in a long time.

“I’m not gay. It’s for a party,” he said. We talked a little while longer, agreed on a time and he texted me his address. I still had no idea what this was for. I just hoped this wasn’t his brand of kink that he was looking to indulge. (The job was on a Friday. I’m usually exhausted by the end of the week and have little patience for weirdness, perverts, or anything more than the job I’m hired to do.)

Because I’m female and always take the requisite safety precautions, I looked up the address, found his last name and within seconds had gone through his Facebook profile. He was attractive, a programmer AND a musician… SERIOUSLY? Regardless, I texted the address to 2 of my close girlfriends and the guy I would be working with on a shot for MSNBC first thing in the morning. People knew exactly where I was and what I’d be doing. I felt safe.

When I arrived, I was greeted by 2 of the tiniest chihuahuas I’ve ever seen. He was running around nervously, brushing his teeth, going from room to room. I think he’d started rethinking the whole gender transformation thing, but it was too late. I was there unpacking my large, unwieldy girl makeup kit. He was committed.

I got to work at his kitchen table in the worst light imaginable. I knew he was straight because he still had Christmas cocktail napkins out. A gay man would have tossed those in January. And there was also no better lighting in his house. The lighting in the guest bathroom was even worse. But still, we persisted. I made him into his twin sister Julie. His friends got a kick out of that. He said they called him Julie all night. (I’m not sure if I’m charmed or freaked out a little by this, but I’ll continue my story.)

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His outfit was all the sequins, leopard print and gold lamé I could handle… and in heels he looked 7 feet tall. I really should have gotten a full-length photo, but hindsight is 20/20. He was the straightest, manliest drag queen I’d ever seen. I was thinking at this point that he’d lost a bet.

As it turned out, he had 2 close girlfriends who watched RuPaul’s drag race and they’d dared him to do it. Being someone who doesn’t back down from a challenge, he embraced it head on… and hired me. Strange how these things work out.

We had a drink together, talked a while, then he asked what I was doing the next night. I paused for a second, thought about how much fun I was having talking to him and how effortless the conversation was… then accepted.

So basically, this was my weekend.
(He knows more about writing code and music theory than I do which makes me want to both punch him in the face and hang on to him at the same time. I think I’ll live.)

this weekend

And Sunday I went with my friend Erin to see Bowling for Soup. I’ve always loved them because as you know… I’m a sucker for a clever lyric and a band who has a sense of humor about themselves.

The opening bands were like sandpaper on my eardrums, but BFS made my evening. Erin and I were (of course) right up front and I took a ridiculous amount of Facebook live footage. (to that point, I realized hardly anyone is up that late on a Sunday and I probably shouldn’t be either.)

There was a child on his Dad’s shoulders the entire concert 3rd row center. They endured both opening bands to hold that spot and had earphones to protect his ears. It was DARLING! And Jaret took notice. Here are a few photos of the child and Jaret giving him picks from all guitarists, a drum stick and a set list autographed by all members.

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Another Epic weekend…. Check!

World’s Cheesiest Holiday

On the radio this morning I was reminded that National Grilled Cheese Day is coming up next Wednesday (April 12th). Not that we don’t have enough holidays to celebrate as it is, but glorifying the best food item known to man seems legit.

A few years ago when I took a “Hair-styling for Makeup Artists” course in Dallas, TX, I spent a few weeks prior scouring the internet for things to do there while I wasn’t occupied with studies. One of the reasons I chose Dallas was because I’d never been. Also, a comparable class wasn’t offered anywhere near me, so I saw this as an opportunity to combine education with vacation.

I booked a “Foodie Tour,” which I discovered was a great way to stuff yourself with amazing food while getting exercise and meeting a few folks along the way. The tour guide had each person wear a name tag bearing the name of a famous Dallas celebrity. I was Morgan Fairchild (of course I was). It was at least 105 degrees the day of the walk and we sampled everything from tacos to barbecue to crawfish to decadent desserts. It’s possible that I gained 10 pounds that day. What I didn’t sweat off is still with me.

The day I arrived in Dallas, I secured a rental car and made my way to a restaurant that specialized in grilled cheese sandwiches. At the time, these were rare. Now the concept seems to have spread like wildfire as dozens more seem to have popped up overnight. I remember how lucky I thought I was to have found the ONE grilled cheese restaurant on the planet. Ha! How the times have changed. Now there seems to be one on every corner. Places like Gooey’s and Tom & Chee are becoming the new chains of choice for grilled cheese aficionados across the nation. We even have a food truck devoted specifically to the science of crafting grilled cheese deliciousness.

Hungry yet?

I’m seriously considering hosting a “Grilled Cheese Day” party just for grins. (And because I haven’t had a decent grilled cheese in a month of Sundays) After all, I’ve spent years perfecting my recipe. I might as well share it.

I’m not exactly sure when my love of grilled cheese began, but I do remember summers when my parents would rent the Neese’s timeshare at Atlantic Beach. It was the second week of August every year, like clockwork. In my quest to be popular, one day when it rained I invited the entire crew of teens up to our place for lunch. Mom and Dad were good sports, but I think the only things we had in any large quantity were cheese, bread and butter.

That was the moment I learned to craft the basic-white-bread-2-Kraft-single Grilled Cheese. It was also the moment that I became a short order cook for about an hour.

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In my quest for information about this holiday, I stumbled upon a comprehensive list of every odd, nonsensical, cult-following, or “just because” holiday. If you need a reason to celebrate something on any particular day of the year, here it is:

Comprehensive list of all holidays (at least one per day all year).

Holiday