Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In the easy chair with my boots on.....

Today, I am excited about........Spring Tour!  And by that I mean Widespread Panic spring tour.  After 14 years and around 125 shows (wow, that makes me feel old), I still get just as excited today as I did when I was 20 and still getting my Panic feet wet.  I guess you could call my following of Panic a hobby.  I've certainly dedicated lots of time off, money, and airline miles to seeing them anytime I can. 

Though it is a little fuzzy, I can still remember my first show (7/18/97).  It was the summer after my senior year in high school and several people I knew were going to see this band I'd never heard of at Mud Island in Memphis, so we tagged along.  My friend and I got a little too intoxicated, so I spent most of the show helping her and not really absorbing the music and the crowd.  After starting college at Hendrix, I was lucky enough to see Panic again that fall of 97 at Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock.  By this time, I'd familiarized myself with their music, so it wasn't so foreign to me.  However, I was not prepared for the vibe in the show.  I was completely sober and was able to make my way to the front row in front of the bass player, Dave Schools.  I was so amazed in watching the crowd and how into the music they were.  This was something I needed to be a part of.

After seeing 2 shows in 1997, I saw 10 shows in 1998, 10 in 1999, and even more in the next few years.  The Panic took me to states that I may have never gone to otherwise.  And best of all, I've met people from across the country that I've made friends with. 

As my group of friends has grown older, gotten married, and had children, their ability to see as many shows as I can has been restricted.  Though I love going to shows with my "crew," I decided that I would not let my friends' ability to go (or not) keep me from going.  So, I've been to several shows solo - which is a lot of fun - in a different way, but fun.

My Dad always asked me when I am going to grow out of this "Widespread Panic phase," but I think he has finally started to realize that this is not a phase.  It is really a big part of who I am.  I mean, I've almost been seeing them every year (on average 8 times per year) since I was 18.  That's almost half of my life!  It is in my blood now, and I have no intention of quitting them anytime soon.

People often ask me why I would go and see the same concert over and over.  Please let me clarify that no 2 shows are the same.  Every show is different, and they never play the same song within 3 shows.  There are no costume changes, no fancy acrobatics or pyrotechnics.  But the music makes up for all that "fluff" that is not there.  The music, to me, is spiritual.  I leave most shows feeling like I've just encountered the divine.

Panic has been touring for 25 years this year, so there are rumors that they are taking 2012 off to take a break.  With that in mind, I am trying to see as much of them as I can this year.  After 9 years, the band is returing to Oak Mountain Amphitheatre in Pelham, AL in April.  I booked my hotel room today, so the excitement is starting to set in.

So why did I write about this today?  I wanted to express my "Panic experience" because a lot of people have either never heard of the band (they're not really played on a typical radio station) or they have misconceptions about the band.  While there are a few "bad eggs" who attend shows, most of the fans are people just like me.  We have good jobs, homes, we're responsible adults who enjoy the good music and the friends that come with the experience.  We pay taxes, we take showers, and we need a break from the same old same old.  You may go to every Razorback game (or otherwise) - I just prefer to go to Panic shows. 

If you are interested in their music, I would highly suggest you check out to enjoy many of their live shows that are available for streaming.  They have many studio albums available, but the essence of Panic is in the live music.

So here's to 25 years, and hopefully many more! 

RIP Mikey.

Peace, love, and Panic.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice. And Snow.

What a great (and, as it turns out, long) weekend I had!  I mean, wow!  My sister and niece stayed with me Friday and so began the lovely weekend I would be spending with my niece.  Brooke was sweet enough to let me have Mary Ashtyn Saturday afternoon - Sunday afternoon.  Don't get me wrong, I love my sister.  But having that sweet baby girl to myself for an overnight visit is like gold to me.  I mean, I could trade every gift for every holiday for just a night with Mary Ashtyn.  Have I mentioned that I love being an aunt?  Aunt Sassy, specifically - a name my sister imagined. 

I mean, this child runs up to me and says (in a very prissy  and southern voice) "Hey Sassy!"  My heart melts.  Every time.  It really does.  And she's developed these very cute mannerisms that are just the most precious thing I've ever seen!  How could I say no to anything she asks of me?

I am very grateful that we had snow this weekend.  I am glad that the extra layer of fun was added to the adventure of "going to Sassy's house."  She really thought it was cool.  As it turns out, she's an avid snow-eater.  After the first bite, she wanted a cup of snow with a spoon right up until the day she left (which was extended for one lovely day because of the weather). 

I won't recall every little irrelevant thing we did together for the weekend.  But I will say that the last few months of being a part of Mary Ashtyn's life have really impacted mine.  Being able to experience the holidays, life, and the world through a 2 year old's eyes is truly amazing.

Being an aunt is really an amazing thing.  I absolutely love children - all kinds.  But I also really love my quiet time and freedom - enough at this point in my life that I know I'm not currently ready to be a mom.  I think being an aunt is the best of both worlds.  I was definitely destined to be an aunt.  Being more than that remains to be determined.

So thanks be to my sister and her hubby for sharing that sweet girl with me for the weekend. 

Have I mentioned that I love being an aunt?

Aunt Sassy

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Things that made my heart smile today

I've rambled incessantly the last couple of posts, so today I'll keep it brief.  Below is a list - in no particular order - of things that made me happy today:
  1. Coming home to a yard that was free of leaves.  Raking and bagging leaves is a back-breaking job that I am glad to pay to have someone else do for me.  I had a couple of great guys who came over and rid my yard of leaves, twigs, dog poo, and even mowed.  My yard and I are happy.
  2. Discovering that Big Love season 4 is available on Uverse On Demand.  I've been anxious to get caught up before season 5 airs in a couple of weeks, and this will make it possible.  It's the little things, you know!?  :)
  3. Having lunch with my co-workers.  I am very lucky to work with a very eclectic group of people.  I am very thankful for everyone that I work with.  We are all very different, and I think that's what makes us so great.  I am grateful that I work in an environment where we work as a team and complement each other's skills.
  4. My sweet four-legged children.  While I know deep-down that they were happy to see me because they'd been locked inside all day (see #1), I felt extra excitement that I like to think is them just being glad to see me.  I don't know what I would do without them, and I am just as excited to see them when I get home as they are to see me.  There is nothing in the world like unconditional love.
  5. Talking to my niece on the phone before bedtime.  She has grown up so much in the last few months, and I am so happy that we can have a phone conversation that she - for the most part - understands what we're talking about.  I love that child so much.
Well, that's all for today.  And considering that my precious niece and sister will be here tomorrow evening (and I get to keep my niece Saturday night), I'll probably have my hands full for the weekend.  I'll have plenty of exciting things (and pictures) to share after the weekend!  I hope everyone has a great one!

Peace and love.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

By it's very definition, glee is about opening yourself up to joy

With the purchase of my new tv (courtesy of Santa Claus), I decided to join the Blu-Ray club.  Naturally, I followed with a Hulu-Plus subscription which inevitably led to me checking out a show that I've been somewhat curious about:  Glee.  Hence the title of this blog.  Though this blog is not going to be about the show, I will admit that it is better than I expected and has a great sense of dark humor.  I'll go ahead and admit that I will be compelled to watch the entire show.  Starting tonight with Season 1/Episode 1.

What is on my mind tonight is glee, but of a different form.  I get so much joy and glee from my family.  I have several friends and close coworkers who I know are not as fortunate as I am in my relationship with my family.  I am so very lucky that I am close to my sister, my mom, and my dad.  I have a very open relationship with both of my parents, and I always have - even in high school.  My parents have always been "cool" because I could be honest with them.  Sometimes I probably told them things that they would have rather not known, but I think deep down they were also proud that I always knew I could tell them anything.  I am so grateful for that.

My family has experienced some challenging times in the last couple of years, and it has brought me even closer to my mom.  I didn't think it was possible to be closer to her, but as things change and our relationship changes with the time, I discover that we can always be closer.  I am so grateful for her.  Though I am biased about what a wonderful person my mom is, I know without a doubt that anyone who knows my mom would agree that she is a saint.  She has been a school teacher for over 35 years, and she has touched the lives of so many people.  I often run into grown adults who will recall specific songs or lessons my mom shared with them in their education journey.  There must be hundreds of kids out there whose all time favorite teacher is "Miss Maribeth."  I wasn't made out to be a teacher, but if I could make a difference in half of the number of people's lives that my mother has, then I can be proud.

In the last few months, I've been very compelled to do something different.  At first, I felt like I was being driven in a different career direction, but after some serious soul searching, I think my heart just needs to do some things that are meaningful and make a difference in the lives of others.  People who have met me would probably agree that at first impression, I come off as a hard-ass.  But people who really know me know that I am a big softie and am very devoted to making a difference or doing something to help others.  I am working on several outlets by which I can devote time and money (what little I do have) to achieve this.  Once some of my ideas have come to fruition I will share them on here and hopefully educate others on ways that they can give too. 

In closing, I would like to officially document my primary new year's resolution.  I'm not usually one to have a resolution because it is just so cliche to me.  However, this is something that I really want to do, and I'm hoping that putting it in writing will help me follow through.  So here it is:  get out more.  The last year has really been me doing a lot of work and when I'm not working I'm so tired that all I want to do is go home and do something mindless.  However, it seems like I "wake up" and weeks have passed since I've done anything fun or seen my friends.  So my goal is to get out more - whether it's going to the dog park (which I love), going to see local live music, going on road trips, or going to the library.  Central Arkansas has a lot to offer, and I plan to take advantage of it. 

Here's to making the best of 2011!  I'm signing off now to watch the Razorbacks play in the Sugar Bowl.


Monday, January 3, 2011

And so it begins......

For years as a child, I would spend hours writing in journals.  Sometimes writing about meaningful things, other times writing about nothing at all.  I always enjoyed writing though many times I was the only person who would read the content.

In the last few years, I've intended - several times - to start a blog.  For whatever reason, I just never did.  And now I plan to begin that journey.  Sometimes I may have something important to say and sometimes it may just be words on "paper," but I think that it will make me feel better to get my thoughts out.

Today I started back to work for the first day of 2011 after a wonderful 2 week break for the holidays.  I had saved up my vacation time so that I could spend some time with my family before, during, and after the Christmas holiday followed by some alone time at home to rest and relax before returning to work.  I had a wonderful holiday week at my mom's and then came home to work on a few projects, get my house super clean, and have a few days to relax before returning to work.  I can honestly say that I was ready to return to work today.  I am one of those people who does better on a routine. 

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed staying up super late and sleeping late every day over the holiday break.  And while I've joked many times about how I'd love to be a stay at home mom (despite not having children), I have to admit that I would probably not be good at it for two main reasons:  1) I need to be busy to feel good about myself and 2) if I'm not making money, I'm spending it.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was for me to get out of bed this morning.  I made my way through the barrage of emails that I successfully ignored for the entire holiday break and was able to get a few things accomplished at work today.  Back to to the normal world.

The "icing" on my day today was coming home and Skype-ing with my sister and niece.  My sister had great news for me - she is coming to town this weekend and (even better) she asked if I would keep my niece (Mary Ashtyn) overnight Saturday while she stays at a local hotel with her husband who is in town for a convention.  She knows that she doesn't even have to ask this, but she received a resounding "YES"!  I now am counting down the days (hours) until she gets here.  While I do love spending time with my sister, it is not often that I get to spend solo time with Mary Ashtyn, so I am especially looking forward to this weekend!

Now to come up with some interesting things that the two of us can do.  I am giddy-happy about the impending bunking party!  Stay tuned....