Monday, August 4, 2014

Be Positive Though It Hurts

My brain is currently swimming as I try to fight through a hang over. The Jenny Lewis show last night was exactly what I needed after a rough weekend, but it has left me with the remnants of one too many PBRs. Luckily, I had the day off today.

Jenny was absolutely brilliant last night. I have not been into her new album The Voyager - although some of the songs are growing on me - but she is a ridiculously good performer. After the poor concert experience I had on Saturday night, I had decided I didn't even want to try to be up front for Jenny Lewis and I was just going to be content hanging out towards the back. But as soon as she started I was a bit bummed I didn't try. Still...she reached me. All the way at the back of the room.

It was my wedding anniversary. We had a lovely weekend planned and it was mostly lovely. It started on Friday night at a fun party hosted by my drummer, John. The band and I played a set in his backyard. We hadn't played in front of people as a band since the end of April so it was good to get some time in before our shows this fall start kicking in. We played mostly songs off the new album, but added some oldies at the end. I had a moment when we started playing "Float" and someone in the audience got really excited. Still weird that people know my songs.

That night, Matt and I had decided that we would drop Robbie Dog off at grandma's house so we could enjoy our anniversary weekend without having to worry about getting home at certain times. There were block parties that we wanted to attend. Saturday morning we dropped him off and he was such a good boy as he watched us leave.

We stopped and did some shopping on the way home. I bought a new shirt to wear out that day.

We headed to The Butcher and the Boar block party to see BBGun, Night Moves, and Haley Bonar. I love Haley. She is far and away one of my favorites. She's such a solid songwriter. I see her often, but I always look forward to it.

We were having such a great day and a nice time.

We went to the front row before Haley started. It was a block party. People were chatty. They'd been standing in the sun drinking all afternoon. I was not expecting completely silence for the show. But next to me was a group of 3 people. They were in the front row, with their backs to the stage, holding a very loud conversation. They seemed to have zero interest in Haley Bonar or the fact that there was even a stage behind them with someone performing or that there were other people around them who were trying to enjoy it. I kept waiting for them to stop and start paying attention. But they didn't.

As I do, I took it upon myself to do something about it. But I was not the only one. Others asked them to please take their conversation elsewhere. But I guess my tone was the bitchiest of all or something. They finally walked away and I was able to start enjoying the set.

Let me just repeat, everyone around us was chatty. It was expected. It was not the kind of setting where you expect silence. I have no problem with people leaning to their friends to say something. But to plant yourself in the front row with your backs to the stage and then speak so loudly because you are right next to the speakers that you have to shout your conversation because you are more into that than the performer is a behavior that I will never understand. Why are they even there? Put the CD on and stay home.

I was just getting back into the set when this guy comes up to me and stands directly in front of me. Like, nearly on my toes right in front of me. He was shorter so I could see over him. But it was weird. He was so close and so in front of me that if you were standing behind me, you probably wouldn't have been able to see him. There was plenty of room around us so that made it even stranger. But people drink and get weird and I just assumed he was oblivious to his surroundings.

So I moved. And he moved in front of me again. So I moved again. Then so did he.

This repeated itself for a while until I was finally like, excuse me? What are you doing?

He whips around like he had been eagerly waiting for me to speak and says "Can't I dance at a show now??? Is that not allowed???" His aggression completely shocked me. I just said, "yes, go ahead. Dance. That's fine. I have no problem with that. You're just doing it basically on top of me." He whips around again and tells me I have an attitude problem and I should shut up.

Seriously, it was frightening.

He was in my face with a look of crazy in his eyes. I started to apologize and said "I'm sorry for whatever I did to you. Can we start over?" I tried to shake his hand, introduce myself, but he wouldn't let up. He just stayed in my face with his chest pumped.

Then one of the chatty girls from before comes running over and I was all "oh, you're with them." She tells me she had to send him over because she hates when people talk at shows and ha ha how do you like that.

I was just shocked. She actually sent some little goon over to try to fight me. It was insane.

At this point, Matt had gone to get security. As he came back, the angry guy and chatty girl ran off. And by then, my night was ruined. I left. I was shaken. I couldn't enjoy myself anymore.

It sucked.

Flip to the next morning. I was enjoying sleeping in. It's not something we get to do with the dog. He wakes us up every morning at about 6:15. Matt had got up to grab his phone and I awoke to him calling down the hallway "Niki. Get up. We have to go. Robbie's gone."

Robbie had jumped the fence at my mother-in-law's house. He had been gone for nearly an hour by the time she called us. She lives about 25 minutes away. He is a very fast dog. He was gone.

This was what we woke up to on our anniversary.

I jumped out of bed and we got on the road. I frantically posted his picture on Facebook and Twitter, typing through uncontrollable sobs. Traffic was terrible and made even worse knowing that each extra minute was another minute head start for Robbie to be even further away. Lost in the winding suburban streets of Bloomington. All those busy roads. All those massive parks. I couldn't believe I might not see him again. It was such an awful feeling.

When we got about 2 minutes away from her house, my mother-in-law called and said he had been found. I just cannot even begin to describe the relief. We got there and there he was. Dirty, wet, panting like crazy. He was gone for nearly 2 hours. And from the various sightings in the neighborhood, he got pretty far.

I tend to wallow in the dumps once I stumble into one. I throw myself a lot of pity parties and I hate that I do that. But I just don't get a lot of vacations (I had taken a 4 day weekend) and anniversaries happen once a year. I was looking forward to this weekend and now at this point, I was nearly assaulted at a Haley Bonar show and got wake up call that my dog ran away. It's hard not to be like, what the fuck, universe?

Later that day, I ran to the grocery store and while I was driving out of the parking lot, the guy in front of me kept slamming on his brakes for apparently no reason. When he did it again then started to turn without using a turn signal, I honked my horn. He slammed on his brakes and jerked his car towards mine and rolled down his window. I kept driving and he started following me. Because I honked my horn at him. What his plan was for if he caught me, I don't know. I managed to get into traffic while he got stuck at a stop sign and I lost him. But so very scary. I know aggression begets aggression and all that. But they put horns on cars for a reason. I nearly hit the guy a couple of times because he was so randomly slamming on his brakes. He was driving erratically.

I had forgotten to get something at the grocery store, so I ran to the gas station. As I was paying for my purchase, a guy peaks his head in and asked the cashier why the pump isn't working. She explains to him that that pump is a pre-pay and he either has to pay at the pump with a credit card or pre-pay inside. His response to her "SCREW YOU. I'm going somewhere else." WTF? Screw you? Why would he say that to her? It's not her fault.

It was the third act of aggression I've witnessed in 12 hours and I just couldn't take it anymore. I got sad. I came home and slumped on the couch and didn't want to leave. The Jenny Lewis show sounded like a chore and I was worried I might look at someone the wrong way and things would go horribly wrong.

But Matt said maybe it would be good for me. So we went.

We got there about 20 minutes before she went on. It was sold out. Packed. We stayed towards the back as planned. The people around us seemed like good people. After a few songs, we wandered to another area and just sort of did that routine all night. It was a fantastic show. She has never sounded better. She played a great mix of old and new and Rilo Kiley songs.

The last song before the encore was "A Better Son/Daughter". We had moved to the side of stage and I had the best view I had had all night. This song hit me hard. I've always liked it. It's kind of THE Rilo Kiley song. Everybody loves it. You can't not like it. The lyrics are universal. They are almost easy in their obviousness to connect and at times when I've been feeling more cynical, I've thought them to be kind of cheesy. A song written for people to belt out to at shows. Let's throw the word fuck in and people will go wild. But still, I've always thought it was a great song. And last night I cried. Because...

"the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap
and it teases you for weeks in its absence
but you'll fight and you'll make it through
you'll fake it if you have to and you'll show up to work with a smile...

you'll be awake, you'll be alert
you'll be positive though it hurts...

you'll be honest, you'll be brave
you'll be handsome, you'll be beautiful
you'll be happy"

I cried. I hate when I cry at shows. It happens more often than I care to admit. Music just does that to me. It brings up all the emotions.

There was a woman standing behind Matt and he let her move in front of him and she was so floored that someone would give up their spot. She kept thanking him and then she said it was her birthday and I told her it was our wedding anniversary. And we hugged. And I was reminded there are nice people. I was full of all the feelings.

After the show, we decided to go have one more drink next door and this woman and her friends showed up and we ended up joining them at their table and had a really excellent time.

Sometimes I just need to be reminded that not everyone is an asshole. Kindness begets kindness.

I have been trying to be more breezy. I'm not doing very well at it, but I'm trying. I will probably still call out jerks at shows and I will still honk my horn at no turn signal using bad drivers. But I do need to let more things roll off my back.

For now, I just need to get rid of this hang over and take my dog to PetSmart for some treats.

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