The First Thing I Ever Was…

The First Thing I Ever Was…

The first thing I ever was, was a groupie.

Yes, I was born with groupie blood running through my veins. Seriously. It’s a thing.

The Beginning.

My Dad has been in a rock ‘n roll band since I was born. Well, since 1964… way before I was born actually.

For his 17th birthday, he was gifted a 1964 Fender Stratocaster. It was shiny and pristine and brand spanking new. He basically taught himself to play and well, the rest is history.

He started playing lead guitar with The Velvetones and then moved to The Malibu’s (punctuation error on purpose) and later, The Sixpence. This group of guys played together through the end of high school and through college, burning up the roads between Auburn and Athens and Statesboro every weekend.

The Malibu's Fort Valley GA

(L to R), Chris Smisson, Dennis Herbert, Wes Wheeler, David Luckie, Eddie Byrd

The Most Appropriate Nickname.

My Dad is, and always will be, known as “Rock.”

It’s a nickname with two meanings: He plays rock ‘n roll, and he sells diamonds (rocks).

Forever he’s been called this. I’m not sure where it started, but I’m sure there’s a story. Everybody I know refers to him as “Rock” Herbert.

Even now, his grandkids call him Rock. Hell, I even call him Rock.

The Biggest Regret.

You know, they always say you’ll be on your death bed and still have one major regret in life. Any time that’s brought up, my Dad always has the same answer. Turning down the recording contract.

In 1968, around the time The Beatles (formed in 1960)and The Rolling Stones (formed in 1962) and The Who (formed in 1964) were really ramping up in the mainstream music arena, my Dad and his group were offered a recording contract. It came at the end of college for the guys and when big decisions were being made.

Graduation, grad school, jobs, Vietnam, families… all these things played a part in the group turning down a chance to break out and “make it big!”

Sixpence

(top L to R) David Luckie, Eddie Byrd, Dennis Herbert, Mike Jaccino (bottom L to R) Grady Trussell, Wes Wheeler

Every time my Dad sees Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney on stage now, I think he gets a twinge of jealousy. About what could’ve been…

I know if it comes to his last days, and I ask, his answer to “what’s your biggest regret in life” will be turning down a recording contract.

But then again… how would that one decision have changed the trajectory of things? Would I be here? Would Henry be here? Would I be writing this? How would it all have been different?

So regret? Maybe. But would he change it? Probably not.

“My dad’s got a band job that night.”

I never knew life without music in my house or without sometimes having to utter the phrase, “my Dad’s got a band job that night.” It always sounded so ridiculous and normal and by the time I was a teenager, it sounded a little embarrassing, if I’m honest. Friday and Saturday nights, nearly every weekend, my dad was playing somewhere. Usually a wedding or a reunion or a corporate party. During the holidays, sometimes there were 4 or 5 jobs a week — on TOP of the 18 hours a day it took to run our jewelry store during the Christmas season.

During the week, when my sister and I were little, some version of my Dad’s band (add a member, take a member away, rinse, repeat) would practice in our living room. This was around the band called ‘Nightlife’ era. I remember it so vividly. Our house was so tiny, and our living room was literally half of the house. Right smack in the center of the floor was a power outlet. This feature was, honest to god, one of the main reasons my parents bought this house. Usually, a sofa sat on top of it, but on band practice nights, the sofa was scooched away so drums, amplifiers, music stands, and microphones could be set up.

My sister and I would climb around on the drum set like it was a jungle gym. We would hijack the microphones and tambourines and sit in right smack dab in front of the speakers. It was literally a party in our living room. A playground for groupie kids.

Bedtime would come around and they’d still be practicing. We’d be hurried about 15 feet down the hall to our bedrooms where we’d be tucked in and lulled to sleep by David and Donna and Eddie belting out hits like “I Love Rock N Roll” and “Pretty Woman” and “Da Doo Ron Ron.”

Every now and then, there was a gig we were allowed to sneak into. Usually it was one at the Country Club, not a wedding or anything, just a party for the members. Looking back, I realize they must’ve had a blast at these costume parties and New Year’s parties.

My sister and I would spend the night with my Dad’s parents and they would gather us up and take us out to see the band, seemingly before things got too rowdy. I remember specifically going to a few New Year’s Eve parties in my nightgown and coat, with my grandparents still in their wool dress suits, to see them play.

My sister and I would watch and dance and give good night kisses and be quickly scooted back to their house for bed.

Over the years, the band members changed. The types of gigs and music they played changed. They incorporated things like the Macarena and those silly line-dance songs into their set lists. More weddings were played which meant fewer parties for us to crash.

How to be Father-of-the-Bride AND Rock the Lead Guitar.

I think it goes without saying that, growing up as a groupie of your Dad’s band, I wanted them to play at my wedding. So when it was time for me to get married, the first thing I did was book the band. Easiest decision ever.

The logistics were simple: He walked me down the aisle. He danced the father/daugher dance with me. Jason’s friend Greg sat in for him during the first songs. Then he excused himself from the wedding nonsense and went back to his happy place — on the stage with his ’64 Fender Stratocaster in his arms. My mom did what she always did. She danced with everybody on the dance floor and never stopped moving.

When my sister got married, she threw down the gauntlet. She issued a challenge to our Dad that had talked about for years, but never tackled.

“If you’re going to play my wedding reception, you’re going to learn Free Bird.”

And so he did. He got a guy to come over and teach him how to play Free Bird over the course of several months. The first time any of us heard it was at my sister’s wedding. Apparently I missed it while sitting in the air conditioning, looking like a 9 month pregnant version of Barney, and I was so so disappointed.

So I did what any good daughter would do… I asked them to play it again! I remember the look on my dad’s face was like, “What in the heck are you thinking?”

Free Bird

Free Bird

Looking back, I’m not sure how playing it a second time didn’t kill him because that solo y’all? It’s serious business. But he rocked the hell out of it and the place went wild!

Reunited and It Feels So Good

In February of 2001, my sister and I put together a surprise reunion of all the people our Dad had played with over the last (at the time) 35ish years. Daddy had kicked thyroid cancer’s butt and during that time we realized ALL the guys and gals who had played with them over the years, were still alive. What better time to get them all together.

We gathered every old band member we could find, sold nearly 400 tickets without my Dad knowing a thing about it, and on the morning of the party, a column ran in the local paper about him. Ed Grisamore, in the way only Ed Grisamore can do, honored him with his words and then broke the surprise that THAT NIGHT, there would be a gathering of his former bandmates, closest friends, and it would be a huge party!

Shortly after that reunion, one of the original members of the band was killed in a plane crash. Not long after, another died. The timing of the reunion? Was perfect.

2001Reunion

Band Reunion, February 2001

Fifty Years of Music.

On February 27, 2016, the original Malibu’s and Sixpence (one member no longer with us), gathered to play a sold-out crowd of 700++ in Perry, GA. This marked 50(ish) years since the band had gotten going and even though I wasn’t there in the beginning (duh) I can’t imagine they played much better in the 60’s than they did that Saturday night.

For months, the guys had been getting together to practice. They decided to only play songs that they played back in the day.

The amazing part about this party is that some of these people hadn’t heard them play since high school. My sister and I were blessed with the ability to hear them play, just about whenever we wanted to.

They were born as a garage band, practicing in their parents’ garages growing up. Their friends would come for lemonade and to watch them practice. They could hear them play at the Teen Club or the American Legion. But once they all parted ways, unless they happened to be at a wedding or reunion or party where they played, their friends could only pull up their memories of what The Malibu’s and The Sixpence sounded like.

Until this reunion.

I’m not kidding when I tell you it took 27 seconds for the dance floor to fill. For 3 hours, there was not a single minute where you could walk through the dance floor because it was so incredibly packed. People had the best time.

As far as us, well, it was amazing. Our kids, my cousins’ kids… most had never seen him play. They were awestruck and had the most fantastic time!

This was a certainly a night where all were welcome and all were entertained!

[]

 

reunion2016 collage

Fulfilling my status as daughter/groupie, once I mingled and had a drink or two, I found my spot at the front of the crowd, next to Grady’s daughter, and danced my behind off with my crazy friend Amy. And in true groupie fashion, during the encore, Gretchen and I took a chance by running on stage to dance with our Daddies to “Be Young, Be Foolish.”

Because really, y’all? If you can’t do that?

What’s the point of having groupie blood flowing through you?

Holly Jolly New Traditions

Holly Jolly New Traditions

Life is different this Christmas.

Henry and I decided it would be fun to start some holly jolly new traditions for the two of us as far as decorating for Christmas goes. It’s always been a big evening for us as a family and we want to keep it as an important part of our year, but do things in a new way! I mean, change is fun, huh?

After school on Friday, we headed to the Walmart in Dunwoody to take part in Clark’s Christmas Kids. If you’re not familiar, every Christmas, Clark Howard and News/Talk WSB join with the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services to provide gifts for the foster kids all across Georgia.

Henry has a job walking our neighbor’s dog every day after school and when he gets paid on Fridays, we separate his money into Spend, Save, and Give envelopes. He had $27 in his Give envelope and chose to use it to buy Christmas gifts for a child his age who may not have any gifts under the tree this year. Carefully, he looked at the lists of about 5 different 11 year old boys and chose Avery.

With list in hand, we set off to see what we could buy. He ended up with the Simon game that was on the list. Luckily, he caught that it needed AA batteries and he grabbed some of those, too. I can thank my Dad for him knowing to do that. Rock never shows up for a holiday where a battery-needing toy is given without a stash of batteries!

Once he paid, we dropped the list and gifts back at the table where dozens of people were picking up lists and dropping off gifts. If you’re in Atlanta and have a chance to see and participate in this, please do so. It’s such a gift — to these kids AND to yourself.

ClarksChristmasKids2015

Then we headed to the Big John’s Christmas Trees lot in Dunwoody. We LOVE Big John’s. They have the best trees and we’ve bought from them for years (even when we lived in Macon and Fort Valley).

It took Henry about 7 seconds to find our tree.

While I looked for the perfect one that spoke to me and that would hold all my beautiful ornaments and be just like all the other ones we’ve ever had, Henry found THE ONE.

It was about 5 feet tall with a big gap in the middle and a little scrawny. It was smaller than everything else out there and well, looked kinda sad. I kinda wanted to say, “Bless your heart,” to the poor tree.

I tried to talk him out of it, but he said with conviction, “Nobody else is going to buy this tree because it’s not as beautiful as the other trees and then it’s going to be lonely and sad and we’re going to get this one.”

Ok then! We grabbed Chinese food and headed home.

We were able to get the tree off the car and into the stand and into the house by ourselves. Really, Henry did it all, but of course, I gave advice and helicoptered until I realized he WANTED to do it by himself.

The tree stood perfectly straight on the first try, we placed it in the corner, and ate Chinese food while we watched Elf.

This morning, we lit and decorated and squint-tested the tree and you know? It’s possibly the most beautiful tree ever! (Oh, and Watkins the elf came in sometime during the night and toppled down the tree. I think he may have been drinking a little.)

tree2015

 

Our tree is small and mighty, but it holds so much love and hope for our future. It showed me that we can do it by ourselves, and that change, while a little scary, can be so much fun!

We’ve decked our halls and are thrilled with our holly jolly new traditions!

 

Twelve. 12. XII.

Twelve. 12. XII.

It’s been a dozen years since you stubbornly and dramatically took your first breath.

Counting that many years without you is more than I can fathom, really.

If someone asked me right now, I would say that it felt like just yesterday they placed you in my arms, all pink and mad.

But if another person came up right behind them, I may say I could barely remember the smell of your skin or how your lip curled just a little at the corner.

While there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about you, there are long stretches of hours when the hole in my heart feels plugged up and dare I say, whole. And then, maybe it’s a glance at the clock at 9:19 or a giraffe figurine in a window, memories come back. I know sometimes it’s you nudging me to remember, to think, to take a minute and thank you for going through life with me.

I’m thankful you were born, Charlie.

Without you, I wouldn’t be who I am today. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? I mean, obviously I’d rather you be here, but there were clearly much bigger plans for you. You were never supposed to stay.

Do you know how many people your story, as tragic as it was, has helped? A lot.

And do you know how many people I talk to who are grieving the loss of their child who just want to know from someone who has been there, that one day it’ll be ok? A lot.

You sitting on my shoulder, walking life with me, helps me help them. They’re my friends now, just like their babies are playing with you up there. (Make sure you share your cake with them today.)

So instead of finishing the 5th grade this week and headed to middle school, you’re saving babies’ lives and helping me give grieving parents or scared soon-to-be parents hope.

no tears eat cake 400

So today we celebrate you.

We don’t cry because you’re gone,

we eat cake because you were born.

Happy birthday, Charlie!

I love you to Heaven and back.

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Oh, 2014. You’ve been good and you’ve been bad. As far as I’m concerned, you can go ahead and get on out of here…

Last year, I chose Intuition to be my word of the year. I’ve worked very hard to trust my intuition this year. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes it’s downright impossible, but when I’ve listened? It’s never led me astray.

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2014 was a busy year, and unfortunately I didn’t share a lot of what we did in posts. But here are some of my favorite moments from the year.

January: I cut off all my hair and the entire metro Atlanta area shut down from #snOMG14. Auburn went to the National Championship and lost, Henry won a trophy in the Pinewood Derby and Henry and I ran the Hot Chocolate 5k.

january2014

February: Henry was asked to be in the Austin Chorus that would perform at the local high school. It snowed again. This time, like 6″. We had an amazing time playing in it for days and drinking iced snoffee! I started and completed the hardest weekend of my life, running 19.3 miles over the course of two days. It was stupid and amazing!

february2014

March: March was super busy with Listen To Your Mother stuff. We held auditions and planned, plotted, and schemed. I spent a full week traveling the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi area with my boss and coworker. I got to ride in the backseat of the truck the whole week and needed serious pain meds when it was all over!

march2014

April: In April, my dad tried to catch himself on fire by blowing up his lawnmower. He’s fine… now we just laugh. Henry spent several days camping with his grandmother and her friend at Stone Mountain. The girls I grew up with from the time we were born all spent a day together. We always have such a great time! Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta happened. It was magical!

april2014

May: May saw the end of third grade for Henry. Mom 2.0 was in Atlanta and I was fortunate to have been asked to be on the social media team. It was an amazing conference and I just l.o.v.e being able to see my friends… especially in “my” city! We marked Charlie’s 11th birthday without pomp and circumstance.

may2014

June: In June, I left my job at the wholesale nursery to do social media management full (part) time. Jason and I took Henry to New Orleans for the 70th Anniversary of D Day. We spent the full day at the National WW2 Museum, which I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. On this trip, after probably 6 years of being friends online, I finally got to give Leah a big hug in person!!

june2014

July: July was busy. We moved into a new house where we have a small pond behind us. Henry and his friend had a lemonade stand. He also participated in the GIANT Dunwoody 4th of July parade and went to Camp Winnataska for the 3rd year. I posted my 700th blog post on this here site.

july2014

August: In August, Henry and his first girlfriend Daria were able to get together. Our families went bowling and they were absolutely mortified to have to take a picture together (though later, I saw them playing a game standing about 1cm apart). Henry started 4th grade and I landed myself in the ER with a crazy reaction to a sulfa drug. Fun times, y’all! I also shared a recipe for the Georgia Cash Crop Cobbler. It’s seriously delicious.

august2014

September: In September, Jason and I dressed up and went out. It was to a wedding where we knew only the bride, but it was out. And fancy. Henry’s hair got to epic lengths and he looked like a teenager in his school pictures. Type A Conference was in Atlanta and I spent a few nights down in Buckhead with dear dear friends, old and new.

september2014

October: In October, I went to a few Auburn football games, hanging out with Kim and my #BelieveBitches crew! We went to the fair down in Perry, as usual, and celebrated Halloween with the Hollidays for the 5th year.

october2014

November: November marked Henry’s TENTH birthday. Double digits. He had a Game Truck birthday party, which was amazing! I highly recommend having someone bring a game truck to your driveway. You can drink while they play games and entertain your child! The Cub Scout Den went zip lining. What a blast! Henry was a narrator in his class’s patriotic program. If you want, I can have him recite his part in his Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation. My friends got together for an unofficial 20th class reunion. There was much drinking and much Cards Against Humanity going on. 

november2014part1

We spent Thanksgiving Week in New York City.

This was by far the highlight of our year. Henry and I got to hang out with my dear friend Neil for two days while Jason worked in Long Island, and then we spent the next 5 days as a family doing amazing things, like the Intrepid Museum and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Yes, I’m going to recap the trip after the new year because there is SO much more!

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December: In December, I turned 39. Yes, I’m staring down 40. We celebrated my birthday and our friend’s 50th with all you can eat catfish! We celebrated the holidays with Jason’s side of the family at the annual Anthoine Christmas Party, and of course, took goofy pictures of ourselves with our Christmas tree! Christmas was wonderful as usual, with my parents coming over for Christmas day lunch and then going to Jason’s mom’s for the weekend.

december2014

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2015 is now upon us.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope 2015 is better than 2014. Not that it was horrible for my family or myself exactly, but there’s always room for improvement. I’ll be spending the next few days thinking about what I want in 2015 and I’m sure you’re going to do the same.

My big hope for everyone is that we can all find happiness and peace.

Cheers!

 

Just Write: The Wave

This past weekend, I realized there’s a little thing I truly miss about living in a small town.

I miss The Wave.

You know the one. You’re driving down the road, get close to a car coming the other way, and see the driver’s hand pop up from the wheel giving a little wave. It’s a quick lift of the hand, a small gesture, but one that doesn’t exist in the big city.

People don’t do The Wave here in Atlanta.

In fact, just this morning, it hit me that people don’t even do the Thank You Wave here. You know, the one that’s flashed when you let somebody out in front of you? I let a man out in front of me at Starbucks and got nothing. Nada. No lift of the hand, no gesture of thanks.

Yet about two miles later, someone let me go in front of them and I did the Thank You Wave. I’m sure they didn’t see it. Or maybe they did and thought, “What the hell is she doing?”

We moved from our small hometown a little over 4 years ago. Going back there now, we easily fall into the habit of throwing The Wave to people we pass, and they wave back!

It’s a little thing, but it means so much.

This has been my post for this week’s Just Write, hosted by the lovely and talented Heather from The Extraordinary Ordinary.

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