What a difference five years can make. The day after I moved into my house, I drove to Atlanta to see Ray LaMontagne, because isn’t that what all first time home buyers do? From the second row of the Fox Theatre I enjoyed his acoustic performance, just a bearded fella with his guitar. Bare bones soul bearing. I waited outside after his show for him to come out. A handful of fans were also braving the chill in the hopes of meeting him. One of his handlers said that he had left already, slid out of unadorned exit. Disappointed, I hailed a taxi back to my hotel.
For the first time, Charlotte was a stop during his fall tour this year. And I couldn’t have been more excited. After the show, I waited again in chilly temperatures between the Ovens exit and his two glossy black tour buses. There were a handful of us fans, diehards shoulder to shoulder with new followers. We shared stories of how many of his concerts we’ve been to. At 11:00 pm on November 1, 2014, my dream of meeting Ray LaMontagne was actualized.
I was gushing when it was my turn to speak to him.
Me: I love you so much…
Ray: Thank you.
Me:…that I named my dog after you.
I showed him a pic of Ray on my phone.
I gave him my ticket to sign.
Me: I’m so excited to meet you that I’m about to pee my pants.
Ray: Don’t do that.
Me: What did they feed you? (I am always interested in what Charlotte delicacies touring bands are introduced to.)
Ray: Lots of good stuff.
Me: Thank you for coming to Charlotte. I’ve waited ten years for you to come here.
Ray asked one of his handlers about Charlotte, thinking that he’s played here before.
Me: I’ve had to drive to Atlanta and Asheville to see you.
Ray: It was nice meeting you.
I shook his hand and walked to my car, a puddle of excitement and exhilaration, an autographed ticket in my hand to be framed and hung next to the framed set list from his show on June 12, 2011 in Cincinnati,Ohio, my hometown; the best birthday present ever.
In the warmth of my car, I updated my Facebook status to read: $77 on ticket to a Ray LaMontagne show at Ovens. $10 to park at said concert venue. $30 on a t-shirt. Meeting Ray after the show and telling him you were so excited to meet him you were near peeing your pants. Priceless.
Days later, I’m still in disbelief about meeting Ray LaMontagne.
Dear Baby K,
I wanted to take this time to tell you about how amazingly wonderful your mother is. I have had the privilege and honor of knowing her for the past fourteen years, although I’m going to start lying about how long we’ve known each other because it makes me feel old. Our friendship was formed a year before we met. How?, you may ask. I shared a P.R.O (peer resource for orientation) with your mom’s high school classmate, Briana. This just means having a pen pal and fostering a relationship with someone who could dispense advice before the start of your college career. You won’t understand until much later, but this would really mean what bars to go to that don’t ask to see IDs. Anyway, oftentimes I’d be hanging out with Briana and your mom in their dorm, mostly to share grievances about our respective roommates. When not in class, we got involved with religious life. This would mean weekend field trips to the mountains and thinking it would be fun to carjack the church van. We watched “The Gilmore Girls” religiously every Tuesday night. Forgoing the dining hall, we’d share Chinese takeout and laughs on the roof of the parking deck. We baked together. Chapel chip cookies, anyone? Our thirst for adventure would lead us to stalking the short, Jewish history professor. Why?, you may ask. Boredom mostly. It was boredom that led me to translating your mom’s dorm room extension 3675 into DORK. (You’re looking at your phone now, aren’t you?) Naturally, your mom is a lot of fun to be around. You won’t appreciate this until much later in your life but I’ve been close to ruining more than one pair of undergarments while heartily laughing with your mom. There are a lot of inside jokes and a lot of “you had to be there”s when retelling jokes. But your mom isn’t all fun and games, she is a very smart lady. Undoubtedly, you will have her voracious appetite for reading and learning. She’s a wonderful storyteller and I hope you have the patience to listen. She has that innate gift to talk to anybody about anything so strangers soon transform into friends. We’ve been through a lot together, even when no longer living in the same city or even state. She moved to Connecticut and fell in love and I got to witness her become a bride when she married your father, who is pretty cool too by the way. And I’m excited to watch her in her new role as mother. You will be so loved, baby girl. I’m happy and blessed to call your mom my best friend and I’m more than excited to meet you and when the time is right, teach you all the bad words I know, most of them I learned from your mother.
Wishing you all the best,
ps~ Please do her a favor and don’t become a cheerleader.
I just finished “Girl Walks into a Bar…” and I feel like if I were to ever meet Rachel Dratch, we would become insta-friends. For starters, she’s fucking hilarious and she really didn’t deserve the shaft from “3o Rock”. She’s not so lucky in the love department, unfortunately, going five years between a serious relationship and meeting her baby daddy at 43. She is best friends with SNL alums Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and a host of charming gay best friends.
“In general, our relationship can best be summed up in the following exchange:
The time: eight A.M. My phone rings. ‘Hello?’ I say in a groggy voice.
‘What’s going on?’
‘I got the best blow job last night.’
‘IT’S TOO EARLY FOR THIS!’ I snap, and hang up on him.”
In the chapter With all due respect to Edgar Allan Poe, she explains the saga of having to dispose of a bedside vibrator before one of Oprah’s favorite things, interior designer Nate Berkus, came over to redecorate her one bedroom NY apartment. Currently, I have a strap on that needs disposing because I’m not a lesbian and have no use for any birthday gag gifts that would only serve as a device to confuse my parents should they have to come to my house to clear out my belongings after my untimely death, which I hope doesn’t happen before I see a real penis again. And I don’t want to throw it away because I’m certain the landfill has enough banished sex toys in it and no one at Goodwill is getting paid enough to have to sort out the personal back massagers from the vibrators. I have thought about dropping it off at an Indigo Girls concert like an abandoned baby on the doorstep of a church with a note attached, Free to a Good Homo. I suppose I’ll just have to wait for one of my lesbian friends to get engaged so I can bestow upon her the fruitcake of sex toys.
Since my HR department likes to try every health care provider under the sun for the best money-saving deals possible, I’ve had to say goodbye to my dentist of nine years. Weirdly, I always looked forward to my bi-annual teeth cleaning. All of the dental hygienists there remarked on how young I looked for my age. Maybe they noticed in my chart that I was a single policy holder and even though I didn’t have an emergency contact of a husband, at least I had my looks. And after having my ego stroked and my chompers shined, I couldn’t wait for my next appointment. Compliments feel as wonderful as a dental-centric goodie bag.
This morning, I visited RUSH Espresso in the Latta Arcade as I needed something to warm my bones against the chilly 48 degrees. I had the Australian owner Paul craft me a small dirty chai and he asked his associate to give “the beautiful lady” the blueberry croissant she ordered. This hot beverage made me swoon, like I literally “mmm”ed in public and I was one “oh yeah, baby” away from recreating that iconic scene in “When Harry Met Sally“. I returned to the privacy of my office to enjoy the warm blueberry croissant.(That’s right, still warm from the oven. This alone would make me a customer for life as my request for an Amelie’s employee to warm up my pain au chocolat regularly goes ignored. Even the pain au chocolat at Starbucks spends a hot minute in the oven and you don’t even have to ask! Obviously, this rant deserves its own blog post.) If I didn’t have already have a loyalty card I would have swiped one this morning. RUSH has it all: delicious accent, delicious coffee that’s treated like a work of art, sweet compliments to complement sweet pastries. I can’t wait to return!
A decade ago when I was in college, all the “good” (and I use this term as loose as my morals) food was gone from the dining hall if you showed up after 5:00. Eating some semblance of a proper dinner early only meant that you could grab greasy, fried snacks from the on campus grill and not feel as guilty as fries and chicken tenders fueled late nights study sessions. As of late, I’ve been reunited with this dinner time. It must be because I am one Metamucil scoop away from retirement.
That bitch Aging has been sneaking up on me and I do not like it. Just yesterday in the women’s restroom I went to brush off what I thought was an errant dog hair from my neck. Nothing unusual as my long haired dog sheds like a champ, leaving dog hairs in my bra. Upon further inspection, it was not from a dog. It was mine. Protruding from MY BODY! Naturally when faced with afternoon mortality, I plucked it out and immediately thought about how its friends would pop up to mourn the loss of a freakishly long white hair growing where no hair should grow. So far, they’re mourning in private.
I have a feeling I’m going to have to pay someone to trim my face…so the wrinkles can be seen better. How would I even advertise for that on Craigslist? Wanted: Person with delicate hands to trim an emotionally delicate middle aged woman who hasn’t had a date in 3 years and whom friends view as sad when she goes home to a dog who can only be blamed for so much and eats dinner at an hour where most of her peers are just starting in on their first apres work drink.
Obviously that bitch Aging thinks that just because I have an affinity for early bird dinners and “The Golden Girls” reruns every weekend on the Hallmark channel must mean I should look the part. I should think not!
In the event that I do get married and reproduce, I’m going to have an earlier bedtime than my kids. And their after school snack will be my dinner so I hope they don’t mind a three course meal before their actual dinner.
Sam Smith, 22 year old British songbird, in an interview with Rolling Stone
‘I just want to live,’ Smith says as he stands to leave. ‘I want to go out and kiss loads of people, get my heart broken. I’ve got loads more mistakes to make’.
“Here’s the thing,” he says, and pauses to take a bite of a hamburger. “Life’s shitty, and we’re all gonna die. You have friends, and they die. You have a disease, someone you care about has a disease, Wall Street people are scamming everyone, the poor get poorer, the rich get richer. That’s what we’re surrounded by all the time. We don’t understand why we’re here, no one’s giving us an answer, religion is vague, your parents can’t help because they’re just people, and it’s all terrible, and there’s no meaning to anything. What a terrible thing to process! Every. Day. And then you go to sleep. But then sometimes,” he says, leaning forward, “things can suspend themselves for like a minute, and then every once in a while there’s something where you find a connection.” Adam Driver, GQ September 2014
The longest relationship I’ve ever had has been with someone I’ve never met. It was 2005 and I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of my apartment complex and the “A lot like Love” soundtrack I checked out from the library was in the CD player. Who knows where I was headed that day, but I was in park until a song called “Trouble” was over. So captivated I was I needed to hear more from whoever sang this song. In the days of music file sharing, I literally burned for more. 8 years later, Ray LaMontagne still has me captivated.
When I was 23, I knew nothing about love. Late bloomer if there ever was one, I knew nothing about relationships as I had never been party to one. From what I knew from Ray LaMontagne, I knew that love is messy. It has a lot of names and faces. It will kick the shit out of you. It will hold tight one minute and feed you to the wolves the next as it will make its exit as quickly as it greeted you. It will keep you warm at night. It will tether you. It will break your heart and help you put the pieces back together.
Love is worthy. On my 29th birthday I saw Ray LaMontagne in my hometown of Cincinnati. After the show, I was granted the set list. As soon as the hippie of a lighting supervisor gave it to me, I had goosebumps all over and a smile as big as the PNC Music Pavillion. It was truly the best birthday present. As soon as I got home to the other Queen City I put it in a frame and hung it on my bedroom wall.
Love has four legs when love on two legs is slow comin’. I don’t know when or how it got into my head, but years before June 2010 when I finally got a dog, I already knew his name was to be Ray LaMontagne. He is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And if ever the two shall meet, I bet human Ray would be flattered by dog Ray.
Love takes patience. I love Ray LaMontagne, but I’m lately hating his fans. They are so obnoxious at his concerts. They talk during his performance and incessantly shuffle out of the rows to queue up for $12 beers. And of course, the more they drink, the more noise they make. I love seeing Ray LaMontagne and would happily drive 3-4 hours to see him, but he’s coming to town in November and I don’t have plans to see him. I’ll instead start a kickstarter campaign to get him to play for me in my living room, Ray LaMontagne the dog serving as my plus one.
Love is selfish. I’ve never shared Ray LaMontagne with another man. I don’t want his songs attached to someone. I’ve never taken a boyfriend to a concert. I’ve see him 6 times now, traversing to Cincinnati, Asheville, Atlanta and Raleigh.
Love evolves. Ray LaMontagne isn’t the same today as he was 8 years ago. His “Supernova” is a departure from his acoustic set and he’s gotten himself into a groove with his band and experimenting with new sounds. The Ray of today isn’t so reserved. Truthfully, if my first introduction to Ray LaMontagne happened in 2014 I’m not sure I would have fallen in love with him the way I did in 2005. I’m still a fan, but nostalgic for the good ol’ days when he could silence a Tabernacle.
At 32, I “still don’t know what love means”…
But I would wait as long as possible for any man who loved me the way Ray LaMontagne loves, “I’d walk one mile on this broken glass to fall down at your feet”.
Mrs. LaMontagne is a lucky woman. Though Ray is private about his personal life, I’m certain that she’s inspiration to a lot of his songwriting. If I were to meet the Missus, I would thank her for sharing her husband with me.
I keep waiting for Robin Williams to jump up out of his coffin and yell “Gotcha!”, a cruel practical joke he would ultimately be forgiven for. The funniest people are oftentimes the most insecure people, battling demons the audience could never begin to understand. A survival skill if there ever was one, make them laugh before they have a chance to laugh at you. We don’t post to Facebook our struggles or what’s really going on in our lives. No one would understand anyway. In the world of organic this and all natural that, no one is real anymore. We do a lot talking but nobody is saying anything of value. We over share a lot of drivel on all forms of social media. We don’t initiate relationships if there isn’t an app involved. We leave important conversations to technology. So here I am, about to get raw exposing myself.
If you were to ask anyone who knew me, they would describe me as funny.
Truth is, I am immeasurably sad.
I am single. I can’t tell you how many boxes of Kleenex I have gone through lately in taking stock of my life. I am profoundly lonely but you won’t see any Facebook news feeds about how I managed to keep it together at work until I made it to my car so I could bawl my eyes out in private. Can you imagine coming home to an empty house and having no one to tell your bad day to? Can you imagine going 32 years without love? Can you imagine going years without touch? Can you imagine feeling like no one cares about you?
I haven’t seen my parents and brother since January and don’t know if I’ll see them again. It would take more than a blog post to explain the dysfunctions of my family, but it turns out that there are conditions to unconditional love.
I have terrible eyesight. I wore glasses from first grade to middle school. I was a fat kid. My parents didn’t set limits for me at the dinner table so I easily ladled my plate with seconds. I got teased a lot because kids are cruel. I had no choice but to fulfill the role as token funny fat girl. Self-deprecating humor was the only way to survive and sarcasm was my savior. I wear contacts now and adhere to a strict diet but I can still hear the playground echos of mean kids.
As a single homeowner, I am on my own when it comes to paying my mortgage, therefore I am always broke. Always. I never have money. Instead of a Scrooge McDuck vault of coins, I swim in all sorts of debt. With no raises for the past two years and none on the horizon, I’m afraid that I’ll never get my head above water.
I have a soul-crushing job that doesn’t challenge me in any way. Between the hours of 8 and 5 I don’t save lives. I don’t make a difference. I don’t even need that college degree. I can’t believe I let myself stay for so long. God knows I’ve tried to leave. I’m envious of everyone who quits. I’m envious of those who have actualized their dream jobs.
I’ve lost a lot of friends to marriage and baby carriage and general busyness. I stopped asking friends to hang out because I was SO full from being fed excuses. I have heard them all. So I stop asking and strike out alone, an ache in my heart because I miss them so much. Disappointment keeps me company now.
How do I cope with such sadness and loneliness? Thankfully I’m too poor to subscribe to any hardcore addictions. I read a lot of books to escape into. I borrow fictional lives as my own for a few hours. I delude myself with fantasies. I seek out psychics for answers on true love’s delivery. If I give you $20, please tell me there’s hope. I lie to myself with this repeated daily mantra, “Today will be better than yesterday.”
I don’t have a lot to show for myself so I steer clear of any reunions. I’ve really failed at this Adult business. And I wonder if there is anyone out there who shares the same feelings. I’ve always felt like I was different. I’ve only ever wanted to be normal.
I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone.
The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.
So there it is, my guts, spilled out in Times New Roman. It’s not pretty, but it’s true. So, do your funny (single) friends a favor and call/text them from time to time to make sure they know someone in the world is thinking about them. They are trying their best to be brave, but under that veil of quick wit and charm they’re fighting a hard battle, alone. Call your family too. You never know if the last conversation will be the last.