Monday, November 7, 2011

A Night with Lindsey Buckingham - 11/5/2011

Teenage dreams do come true.  And this one was a doozie.

I raved enough about Lindsey in my previous post (after I got the ticket to the concert) so I’ll get right into the swooning about the concert.

I’d made friends (no, not in the rock star groupie kind of way – perverts) with one of the security guards at the Seneca Allegany Casino during the Rick Springfield concert about a month ago.  He shuffled me and my friend Corine (who alerted me to the fact that Lindsey was also coming in concert, THANK YOU!!) up to the very front row during the RS concert because Rick had informed security to allow whoever wanted to be at the front of the stage.  The more the merrier. 

After that concert I asked our security guard if he would be working for the Lindsey Buckingham concert.  He said yes so I asked if I would be able to stand at the very front for that show too.  He said it depended on what Lindsey wanted.  Security does what the artists request.  He told me to find him before the Lindsey show and he’d let me know the situation.


So, I did.  Much to my delight, he told me Lindsey said let as many people forward as possible.  He said I didn't even have to wait until the show started - I could go stand wherever I wanted right now.  The venue was still nearly empty – the front completely wide open.  It seemed too good to be true so I asked him again.  “I can really go stand right in front right now?”  He laughed and said yep. 

So I did.  Dead center - directly in front of Lindsey’s mic stand. OMG.

I snapped this picture as I waited, eagerly anticipating the moment Lindsey finally walked out on stage:

Security guy (I am ashamed to say I forget his name…too much excitement) told me that cameras were allowed but Lindsey requested no flash.  Not a problem.  I turned the flash off on my camera phone. 

I met a family from Scotland.   I got a kick out of their accents.  Scottish and Irish accents are just the coolest.  Nice people.  We chatted for awhile and shared stories about how we came to know Lindsey. Their daughter was my age-ish and was as in awe of Lindsey as I am.  The excitement and anticipation was almost too much for us both. We exchanged email addresses so we could email each other concert pics.  

Then it was time:  Quietly and unassumingly – Lindsey appeared from backstage with one of his many signature guitars in tow.  

I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac several times in concert but I’ve never been to a Lindsey solo performance.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  However, as soon as I spotted him I was too busy silently freaking out about how close he actually was to me to really think about anything else.  I could (and eventually did...quite a bit) reach out and touch him. O.M.G.

He started the show solo – just him and his guitar, no band.  If I thought I was in awe of him before this show I’m not sure how to describe how I felt watching him live.  The man is a guitar god.  He is exactly as brilliant as I thought.  How he plays these songs - the fingers on both of his hands moving frantically at lightning speed, while he's simultaneously singing…I have no idea.  My fingers don't even move that fast let alone with that much freakin' coordination.  Geez.

As soon as his band came out it was all over.  Lindsey barely stopped moving the remainder of the night.  This was fine with me because often he chose to move and stand and play and jump and sweat directly in front of me, and was gracious enough to allow me to pet him several times.  Yes, I petted him and I’m not even ashamed.  So did my new Scottish friend next to me.  And Lindsey loved it. I know this because he kept coming back for more. :)

I tested the touching waters at first by just touching his boot. However, Scottish girl (yes, I forgot her name too…sigh) went for broke and immediately grabbed his leg.  He smiled and laughed.  So, I grabbed away.  I did not grab any place inappropriate but I can tell you that he has very fit calves and thighs.   My mom will read this so that’s all the commentary I will offer up regarding the touching.

One of my all-time favorite songs is “Go Your Own Way”.  Lindsey wrote it and gave it to Fleetwood Mac for their "Rumours" album in 1977 (which is still the second best selling record of all time – behind only Michael Jackson’s Thriller.).  He has a this guitar solo at the end that is amazing.  I love it.  Much to my (extreme) delight Lindsey played part of that solo right in front of me and at one point leaned in far enough to allow us grabby grabs to strum his guitar.  So cool.

Look, I even have video!  I am the non red-nailed hand on the right in the video…

Oh screw it.  I will talk about the touching.  Sorry mom. :-/  

As I said, after the initial hand to boot to leg contact he came back for more.  It was during the end of the song "Tusk".  He finished the song in true dramatic rock star fashion and bent over us in exhaustion. (I suspect he was not as exhausted as he feigned.  He wanted to be touched by his adoring fans, as any nice rockstar god will…) His hand was hanging right there in front of me.  I reached for it.  And he grabbed it.  He squeezed it and smiled at me and sweated on me.  Yay! 

Then he grabbed a  towel from the girl next to me and wiped his face and chest and handed it back to her. OMG.  It’s a good thing we made friends before the show or I may have tackled her for it:

What else?  I don’t know.  It’s all such an amazing blur.  I put my camera away for awhile because I just wanted to enjoy the show.  It reappeared several times though and several more times Lindsey graced me with his presence directly in front of me. 

And yeah, I touched him each time.  So what?

Other video from the concert:

“Go Insane”

“Seeds We Sow”

“Go Your Own Way” (the whole thing, not just the grabby grab part.  Forgive the shakiness.  I was a bit excited):

Pictures from the evening:

And at the end of the night I even got one of his picks :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anything you can do I can do better.

This isn't a statement of conceit. It's a reference to a Gatorade commercial featuring Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan from back in the 1990’s. (Yep, waaaay back in the 1900s…) It’s a cute commercial where the two athletes challenge each other to a variety of sports and the song “Anything you can do I can do better” plays in the background as they compete. 

I was an uber-athlete in high school – a jock, if you will.

I don’t like to use the word “jock” because the word has a certain stigma attached to it.  The majority of athletes in mainstream movies are portrayed as cruel and moronic bullies, especially to those not as athletically inclined.  The character of Biff from Back to the Future comes immediately to mind.  I've met those types of jocks in my life and  I understand why some people hate jocks. 

My mom and sister (who were not jocks) both said to me just recently: You were one of them.  A jock.

Yeah, I was.  I was one of them.  I wore my letterman jacket everywhere. I was constantly in the gym.  I spent nearly every study hall and lunch period in the gym. It was not enough to practice because it isn’t true that practice makes perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect and perfect is what I set out to be, athletically speaking.   So yes, I was a jock.  I was not a bully and there is a very simple reason why: I was bullied in middle school and it sucked big time.

I’m a tomboy - always have been and always will be a tomboy.  There’s no getting around that.  I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl – not one for make-up or dresses or any of that frilly girly stuff. This works for me now.  In middle school...not so much.

I’ve always related better to boys.  As a kid I much preferred getting filthy and bruised and bloody riding my bike through the woods, building forts and climbing trees with the boys than playing house or dress-up or Barbie with the girls.  On the rare occasions I did show up at Barbie's pool my G.I. Joe came with me.  I was even named an honorary member of a “No Girls Allowed” club when I was 10.  My hair was cut short like a boy, I dressed like a boy and I had big buck teeth.  

Exhibit No. 1:

Despite my goofy appearance I was never picked on.  I was accepted by everyone and all was right with the world. That is, until middle school. (cue the “Psycho” shower scene music)

Not a damn thing was right with the world once middle school started.  The same boys who accepted me for years suddenly hated me.  These boys and other boys I’d never even socialized with before middle school made it their soul ambition in life to torture me for being such a tomboy. Mean-spirited, bitchy-ass little girls suddenly thought they were better than me because they wore make up and the boys liked them and of course the boys don’t like you. Why would any boy like you, especially like you like that, you freak?  Look at you! You look like a boy! I’m sorry, are you a boy or a girl? Is that Kristen… or Christopher? Careful, boy, you almost went into the girl’s bathroom to go pee. 

At the height of all this wonderfulness, I was invited to a friend's house (very soon to be former friend) where I was promptly ambushed in the basement by said “friend” and other girls who were looking to beat the crap out of me. Why? Because I looked like a boy and they didn't like it. 

I was 12.  I chose to run that day. 

As soon as they told  me why they had invited me to the basement I panicked. I froze like a deer in headlights but snapped out of it quickly when one of them swung and landed a solid punch on the side of my head.  That got me moving in a hurry.  I slammed the door in their faces and took off on my bike as fast as I could.  I pedaled out of sight and found the highest tree I could climb, stashed my bike in the cornfield nearby and climbed the tree.  I sat high in the tree, watching silently as they walked around the neighborhood looking for me.

That day I chose to run.  I also made myself a promise:  I would never allow anyone to chase me away from anything again.  And that promise is the reason I became so obsessed with being the perfect athlete.  I would fight back against the stupid, insecure asshole bullies without ever throwing a punch. I’d always had natural agility and coordination but I was nothing spectacular, athletically speaking.  But I would be.  That was the promise I made to me.

To fix the looking like a boy thing I grew my hair long.  That’s about it.  Well, that and the sudden emergence of boobies.  Those helped.  Long hair and boobies. The rest just kind of fell into place.  I was never mistaken for a boy again once I reached 9th grade and that was just fine with me.

When I was 13, I agreed to join a summer U-17 travel soccer team.  It was the summer after eighth grade and I would be playing with and against girls who would be juniors and seniors and had far more talent and stature than me.  A coach once told me that a damn good way to learn something is to practice and play above your ability level and if you can’t keep up fake it until you can.  Here was a good opportunity to test that theory. I would take this cue again by my junior and senior years and would constantly challenge guys from the guy’s basketball team as well as some of my male coaches to (somewhat) friendly one-on-one basketball games and eventually ended up winning once in awhile.

Anything you can do I can do better…  

In doing this, practicing above your skill level, you’ll either sink or swim.  Even if you sink, if you stick with it it will be worth it in the end.  That year, on the U-17 team, I sank. Hard. I hated it. I’d never played on a travel team before and didn’t realize how much dedication it demanded.  I didn’t like my teammates.  We had nothing in common.  They talked about boys and dances and other crap I still had no interest in.  I was there to play soccer not gossip.   Plus, my skill level wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be.  I got bounced off my bigger opponents and knocked all over the field and really did not enjoy that first year.

But it was worth it in the end.

The coach of that team was great.   He encouraged me to stick with it because he said he saw I had natural talent.  So, I did. From that time on, I almost always had a ball of some sort at my feet or in my hands.  I practiced dribbling my soccer ball around the front yard incessantly.  I grabbed my sister and plunked her down in front of the front steps to our house (which was my “goal”) and demanded she be my goalie.  I don’t know how many soccer balls I launched at her over the years but it was quite a few.  I nailed the side on the house (and the occasional window) with the ball on accident repeatedly. 

Meanwhile, in school I was actively participating in volleyball, basketball and softball.  I played volleyball only because my school didn’t have a girl’s soccer team until my junior year.  I started wearing the letterman’s jacket because I started being recognized for my talent with those silly patches and pins and needed a place to put them.  They were silly but they meant everything to me at the time.  


My best friend and I spent more time in the gym junior and senior year than anywhere else on campus. If we had “late” practice at 5:30 we would be in the gym right after school at 3:30 to practice for the two hours before actual practice. In fact, we spent every spare moment and then some in the gym. We got in trouble more than once for missing class because we chose to stay in the gym and practice.  Thankfully, our principal was a former athlete and was sympathetic to the plight of the obsessive practicer (yes, I know that isn’t really a word) and was lenient on us.  In that way, I suppose I was one of them.  I got away with more than I should have because I was an athlete but I tried not to take too much advantage.

In Chemistry class my junior year, my assigned seat was at one of those cozy little black lab tables for two with the girl who punched me in the head when I was 12.  It delighted me to realize that I now towered over her. I had grown several inches since that day in the basement to what turned out to be my full height of 5 feet 9 inches.  If she wanted to punch me in the head again she was more than welcome to try.  I could've knocked her flat on her bony little ass with very little effort.  

Surprisingly, she was nice to me all year long and I reciprocated. We never mentioned the “incident” though it was always in the back of my mind. I even learned quite a bit about her family life, which was not the greatest.  I started to understand the reasons why she was so mean in middle school.  She was insecure and in pain.  To be sure, I will never understand why someone who is insecure and in pain thinks the best way to handle it is to inflict pain and suffering on others but at least I understood that she was suffering.  At that point my empathy took over and it was easy to not be angry anymore…with her or any of the other kids who used to pick on me.  They were all probably suffering somehow too.

By the time I graduated high school I had gotten quite a bit of recognition for all my hard work, and that was awesome.  Please excuse the ‘tooting my own horn’ moment I am about to have, but there is a point to what I am about to say besides just clapping myself on the back. I promise.   

I was awarded MVP of my soccer team junior and senior year and was chosen unanimously by the league committee for 1st Team All-League my senior year.  My senior year, I was given MVP of my basketball team, placed on 2nd Team All-League and was third highest scorer in the league, and was awarded co-MVP of my softball team and was placed on the “honorable mention” All-League team.   During the athletic awards assembly at the end of my senior year I was chosen as Outstanding Athlete of the Year.  Out of the entire school they chose me.  I was called onto stage and was presented with a plaque by my principal and favorite coach and got a nice standing ovation from the school.

End of tooting.

All of the awards were fantastic.  They really were.  It was nice to be recognized for all my hard work because I worked damn hard and who doesn’t like to be told “good job?" I appreciated the recognition but all of that paled in comparison to the sight of the kids who used to torment me in middle school standing with the rest of the school clapping for me.  Some of them even congratulated me afterward. It's a remarkable thing to look unflinchingly at someone who used to bully you relentlessly and see respect and admiration (and, if I’m being completely honest, intimidation) for you in their eyes. To have achieved it simply by bettering yourself without ever having stooped to his or her level is really, really cool.

As horrible as middle school was I wouldn’t change a thing that happened to me.  All of it made me who I am today and I like me.  The bullies taught me well how never to treat another human being.  Without their “help” and “encouragement” I would never have pushed myself so hard.  And from this I learned a great deal of self-discipline and mental toughness, built loads of character and met some amazing people.  I wouldn’t trade that for the world.