Friday, March 18, 2011

Awake My Soul

I can't find the words to accurately describe how amazing the first five days of March were for me and I've been trying for 2 weeks! Here's my best attempt . . . After a month of feeling completely dead inside followed by a month of playing the "fake it til you make it" game, that week was exactly what I needed. I wasn't dead anymore and I wasn't pretending to be fine. Life, while still uncertain, no longer seemed meaningless. My smile was real. I was genuinely happy. I felt loved. If you boil it down, I went from feeling like crap to feeling like this:

It started in February when Sara and I were relaxing at my place; relaxing meaning the two of us on our computers in the same room, chatting and laughing. I was trying to figure out how to fix some computer problems when all of the sudden Sara says, "Umm, Ian just emailed us!" (Ian, being Ian Axel). It had been far too long since we'd seen him and Chad (Vaccarino, look him up, you'll love him), and it just so happened that they were playing in Pittsburgh that weekend and we were going. It was kind of ironic/awesome that he'd email us then. We had been talking about doing a house concert with them for a while and the perfect opportunity had come up. He and Chad would be in VA for a show at Jammin' Java and could come down a day early for a house show. As soon as Sara and I got the go ahead from Karen, we started throwing out ideas. I'm not even kidding when I say I was so excited that could not fall sleep. Think Christmas Eve when you were 7 or 8 years old . . . TIMES TEN!!

Pennsylvania was awesome, see?!! We were able to hang out with a bit and go over some of the details for the show. On Saturday night I mentioned to Sara that it would be awesome if Mike Campbell could come with them, but he still has a full time job, so we weren't going to bring it up. Then on Sunday we were talking about openers and Chad said maybe Mike could take the day off and come down. Apparently it was meant to be because by the end of the night Mike was on board and we were counting down the days until March.

The next month was spent talking to people about the show, sending/responding to emails, managing FB events, moving furniture to do a mock set-up, figuring out the food, cleaning, shopping, cooking, and coming up with perhaps the most brilliant idea I've ever had (I'll explain momentarily). Thankfully I had friends offer to help with the setting up and cooking parts! I was pretty confident we'd be able to get a decent crowd to show up, but I was overwhelmed by the intensely positive responses we were getting. Every time I went to church or some other social event, people would ask about the show and talk about how excited they were. There came a point when I started to get nervous about not having enough space for everyone who wanted to come!

March 1st finally arrived and I felt good about all the preparations that had been made up until that point. There was some minor stress that day but I decided to let it go and guess what? Things went off without a hitch! I could sit here and give you a detailed account of everything that happened from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep that night, but I'll save that for my personal journal and give you the cliff notes version with pictures, videos, and links to videos. :)

The biggest help I could have gotten for the show was with the food! We had four delicious soups, cowboy salsa, and tons of sweet things! Thank you to Sara, Ashley, William, Amanda, Kendra, Natalie, Michelle, Melissa, Lois and Hadar for saving my sanity by bringing things and helping out!! I love you all!! Also, thank you Lois and Hadar for several of the following pictures, can't wait to see you guys again, hopefully at one of Ian's shows in New York!! :)

The most brilliant idea I've ever had . . . .
That's right folks, Ian Axel fortune cookies. I wanted to do something special for the show that would be specific to Ian and his music. I looked up several things that could be personalized, and then late one night it struck me-fortune cookies! I did a little research and found the perfect site where I could get exactly what I wanted, Fancy Fortune Cookies. They let you have up to 5 different fortunes in your cookies for free, they have several flavors to choose from, and they are reasonably priced! I went with blueberry and coconut but could not narrow the fortunes down to just five. There were 8 I really wanted, but opted for six.

Aren't these awesome fortunes? They are all lyrics from Ian's songs! I also wanted to use "just close your eyes and let it rain" (maybe my favorite of their lyrics) and "shorty don't wait in line, shorty don't wait til the sun don't shine." I think Ian and Chad are ordering more of these, so if you go to one of their shows you can get your very own cookie/fortune by signing the mailing list!! *hint, hint*

Now the music . . .
Mike Campbell did and awesome job opening the show. Click here and here to watch two of the songs he performed. We need more music from Mike in our lives!!

Chad joined Mike for a bit, singing Don't You Worry and Days Gone By. They sang those songs when we saw them for the first time in Albany. Tender doesn't even cover it! I've said it before and I'll say it again, going on that road trip was the best decision I made in 2010.

Ian joined the mix and they sang All The Love. I freaking love this song. And these guys.

We took a little break between sets and then it was time for Ian. Before the show even started the feeling in that room was incredible and it only got better. Ian started off with Leave Me Alone. A friend made this comment after the show and I totally agree, she said she was pretty sure that last night's "Leave Me Alone" was my favorite performance of any song ever.

I forgot to dim the lights so I only got part of the song, but I think it's pretty clear that we were all having a good time!

I love watching Ian play . . .

Both Ingrid and Matthew were excited for the show. It was getting late though, so they headed up to bed before Ian's set, but as soon as he started playing, Ingy's face lit up and she begged Karen to let them go back down! She came and sat on my lap and hugged me tighter than I think she's ever hugged me! We frequently have Ian Axel parties in the van where we each pick an instrument and rock out. She can also act out the entire music video for This Is the New Year and even play a small part of it on the piano. Not gonna lie, I got a little teary eyed with her sitting on my lap watching people I love do what they do best. Again, tender doesn't cut it.

A portion of the audience.

Chad, of course, joined Ian for several songs. I might just love Chad's voice more than any other voice on the planet. Seriously, when he sings it is impossible for me not to smile. M-a-g-i-c! Ian sang Say Something and then Chad came up and they did You'll Be Okay. I'd heard the song several times before and loved it but I never really connected with it until the Jammin' Java performance the next night.

It would be impossible to pick a favorite moment of the night but this ranks near the top for sure. The kids had once again gone to bed when Ian dedicated This Is the New Year to them. Karen knew Ingrid would be crushed if she missed it, so she called upstairs to have the kids get out of bed. They came and stood right in front of me. I asked them each separately what their favorite part of the show was, both of them had the same answer:

This song was a huge surprise! Ian played it in Albany, and every time I've seen him pull out his ukelele since then I hope that's what he's going to play. It never is, but we get Pacific Sun so all is right in the world. This time we got both and I LOVED IT!!!

They closed the show with Shorty Don't Wait. The performance could not have been more perfect. In fact, the whole night could not have been more perfect. I loved every second of it.

Post show pictures. Our serious faces. Too bad I cut off Mike's eye . . .

This picture just makes me happy . . . I love these people!!

The evening would not have happened without William and Ashley's help!!

Sara stayed for a while and we just sat around talking with Ian, Chad, and Mike. If you would have told me a year ago that this night would have happened I would have thought you were crazy. A good crazy though. :)

The next day was soooo good. I talked with Chad, taught Ian how to make scrambled eggs, and got to spend some time with the two of them (sadly Mike had to go back to New York) while they did a little work. Then that night they played at one of my favorite venues. A few weeks ago I was at Jammin' Java and the door girl (Mei) asked if I wanted to do merch for Ian's show and of course I said yes.
Here's what the "Ian Axel Merch Store" looked like that night. You know you want to buy a shirt . . . :)

The show was as awesome as ever!

The next morning they had to leave for CT, but we got to eat breakfast together before they went. I was sad to see them go. I spend most of my days alone or with a 5 year old and it was kind of nice to be around friends who are adults. Luckily I knew I was going to see them again in 2 days, so it wasn't too bad.

Saturday they played at Night Cat in Easton, MD. I went up to watch and help with the merch again. We had some time before the show so we went and got some yummy sushi at a nearby restaurant. It was quality bonding time for sure.

Then there was the show. This crowd was a little different than the last two . . . the average age in the room was probably 65, but as usual they easily won over the audience and everyone enjoyed themselves.

We had more good times watching the other performer (Ian appreciated her more than Chad and I could), kicking Chad's PTSD into high gear when he thought I was shutting the trunk on his head, hanging out by the merch, etc. It all culminated in the Denny's parking lot as we sat in my van and listened to music that is going to blow everyone's mind in a few months. This time saying goodbye was harder. I knew this week wasn't "normal" life and I was going to miss them. But as much as I didn't want to leave, I had an hour and a half drive ahead of me and it was late. Next time I'm getting a hotel!! As I drove away I started missing my best friend a ton. The time I spent with Ian and Chad felt a lot like the time I spend with Spencer. It never ceases to amaze me how the exact right people are in your life at the exact right time . . . That was most definitely one of the best weeks of my life.

You may not believe me, but I promise that was the Cliff Notes version of the story . . . :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Music Moves My Feet

As you may know, I work out at Curves, an all women's gym. I joined 5 years ago and have found much success when I stick to their program (I need to get back on track, like yesterday). I love working out there for several reasons . . .

1-It's a 30 minute work out. I go in, bust my butt, and walk out doing what it would take me an hour and a half to do at another gym.
2-It's all women.
3-I don't have to create my own work out, it's already set up for me.
4-For some reason all the old ladies love me and frequently comment on how hard I work. It pushes me to not slack off, even when I really, really want to! Of course if they were 30 years younger they'd be giving me a run for my money . . .

About a year an a half ago I bought an ipod shuffle. I named him Charlie after Charlie from LOST (obviously) and he has changed the way I work out. Curves has music on overhead but it's usually the same thing over and over again and it doesn't exactly motivate me much. I have found that when I choose my own music I burn 150+ more calories, so that's what I do!

I've had several people ask me what my workout playlist looks like, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. Keep in mind that for me, if I love a song it's incredibly motivating!

Chase This Light (Jimmy Eat World)
Sweet Disposition (The Temper Trap)
Models and Dancers (Harper Blynn)
This Is the New Year (Ian Axel)
Afterglow (Ian Axel)
Leave Me Alone! (Ian Axel)
Uncharted (Sara Bareilles)
King of Anything (Sara Bareilles)
Animal Arithmetic (Jonsi)
Soldier (Ingrid Michaelson)
Locked Up (Ingrid Michaelson)
The One I Love (Greg Laswell)
You, Now (Greg Laswell)
The Ones With The Light (Joshua Radin)
Here We Go (Joshua Radin)
The Road to Ride On (Joshua Radin)
We Are Okay (Joshua Radin)
Ghost Town (Cary Brothers)
The Chase (Greg Holden)
Almost Everything (Wakey! Wakey!)
Hands Open (Snow Patrol)
This Is Your Life (Switchfoot)
Hello Hurricane (Switchfoot)
Stand Out (Tevin Campbell)
If I Am (Nine Days)
New Version of You (JJ Abrams)
All Those Pretty Lights (Andrew Belle)

Okay, so that's more than a few! But you get the idea. Tell me you don't think I'm crazy . . . Please. :)