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!

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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?

This Week In Numbers: The Medical Mystery Tour

5 – number of days this week Henry or I have seen a doctor

6 – number of waiting rooms I’ve waited in since Monday morning. Add the one on Friday and you get 7.

13 – number of days I’ve now been dealing with a rash of unknown origin or diagnosis.

5 – number of different diagnoses for the rash on my body. It’s been shingles, staph, a bug bite, a fungus, contact dermatitis…

7 – number of shots Henry had to drain what looked like aliens out of an infected boil

365,397 – times I wanted to die on Wednesday

28,967 – times I wet my pants while vomiting on Wednesday

28,967 – times I didn’t care about said wetting of pants because of the 365,397 times I wanted to die

6 – number of hours spent at the ER

3 – number of sticks it took for the nurse at the ER to run an IV

2 – number of bags of fluid shoved in my veins in the ER

0 – sadly, the number of bags of vodka shoved in my veins in the ER

2 – number of complete blood panels run on me

4 – number of prescriptions I’ve filled and tried

3 – number of people in this house who are dying for this week to be over

1 – number of biopsies done on said rash by the bitchy yankee PA who made me feel like an absolute asshole for not having changed ANYthing I’ve done for the last 2 weeks. She couldn’t believe I hadn’t switched shampoo, detergent, or soap in TWO WHOLE WEEKS. What?

1 – also the number of HOLES I now have on my rash on my stomach

12 – number of Krispy Kreme doughnuts I bought on my way home from the last doctor’s appointment today

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I’m fine. I’m alive. Henry’s fine. He’s alive. Nothing is horribly wrong with either of us. Just one of those weeks that started off at the tippy top of the hill and rooooooolllled down swiftly.

Type A Takeaways

Type A Takeaways

I’m not known for my post-conference recaps. I don’t know that I’m known for very much, actually. But this year, after Type A Conference that was here in Atlanta a few weekends ago, I feel compelled to tell you exactly what I took away from it.

A list will do, right?

1. I love my friends that I have met online – through blogging, social media, and in person at conferences. This conference was the third one that Crystal and I have done together. It was great meeting her at arrivals in the airport, catching up with hugs and glasses of wine/liquor/beer, and having a slumber party late at night! Seeing other people I now call friends makes my heart full. Knowing that at least for some of them, seeing me makes them feel the same way, helps me realize that what I do online isn’t all stupid and worthless!

2. I love my new friends. Oh, where do I start with the new people I met this year. Finally getting to give a few people a hug in real life was great. Running into a few girls, striking up a conversation, and ending up wanting to become neighbors so we can hang out all the time, was even more amazing! You know who you are (yes, I’m looking at you, you, you, you, and you). I miss all of you and hope we meet again soon!

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3. It’s time to Just Write. I want to write. I wish I thought I could quit my job and write full time. But writing takes practice. I went to a session with Vikki and Heather that I thought was amazing. After a year or so of hosting #SOCSunday, and knowing that Just Write was also out there, I finally met Heather. Listening to her and Vikki talk, a little like watching a Delicious Dish sketch on SNL, about how to pull stream of consciousness writing out of your heart and soul and put it onto paper (er, the computer) was earth-moving. That session was worth the price of the ticket and a whole lot more to me. So thank y’all!

4. Sharing my city is fun! On Saturday night, a group of girls headed out to South City Kitchen. This is one of our favorite places in the city, so sharing it with people who “ain’t from ’round these parts” was a lot of fun. Fried chicken and grits, peachy bourbon drinks, and other Southern goodness abounded that night. The next morning was even more fun with a small group at Silver Skillet, a diner made famous in movies and shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. So thanks for reminding me, friends, that my city is fun and hip and worthy of showing off!

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5. Gary Buchanan should never work anywhere but Disney. He is the complete embodiment of Disney in a body that looks like a combination of Dana Carvey and Steve Carell. He reminded us all in his unbelievable keynote, that there are no rules. Creativity should be a fun process. Think like a kid. Ask questions. Collect them and save them or the answers for later. HAVE FUN.

6. Erika Napoletano has amazing boobs. And if I wanted some just like them, I could go to her doctor because she gave us his name. He does excellent work, by the way. So besides that, she basically told us to turn up the volume. Erika is no nonsense, but has a soft side, realizing her limits and realizing that saying no or changing plans mid-flight is ok. I’m not sure exactly what I took from her keynote, but it’s sitting with me. Which means there’s something there… I just have to figure out what it is. Thank you for that, Erika!

7. I know my limits. I had been a big talker on the Facebook group about getting together and running every morning with a group. I made it on Friday. By Friday afternoon, however, I realized I had apparently been without my arthritis medicine for a few days. I hit the pavement on Saturday only to realize after about 14 steps, I couldn’t do it. I know my limits. I’ve said it before while training for races (that still sounds strange to say), I listen to my body. If it hurts, I don’t do it. It’s not worth injuring myself or making my arthritis worse than it already is. Interestingly enough, Dorothy Hamill was on site preaching exactly the same thing. About osteoarthritis. Which I have. So of course, I stood in line for a picture and a chance to chat her up for a few minutes. For those with OA (and I’m on the young end of the spectrum they said – yay me!) check out the Get Moving, America page that was just launched. You’ll find lots of information about OA and ways to help ease symptoms.

It was a good weekend.

And I’m ready to do it all again.

Just Write: I’m Just Writing

This morning I forgot to take my medicines.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I took one thyroid medicine. And then I looked at my pill case and thought to myself, “Self, don’t forget to take these before you leave this bathroom.”

Surprise! “Self” as we’ll call her, forgot.

“Self” got about 3 minutes from work and went, “Oh crap! Self, you forgot your meds! This isn’t going to end well.”

And let me tell you. About 5 hours later, I felt like I was in a haze of hot, purple, smoky air with somebody pushing me a little to my right every time I stood up.

All that is probably just from the Lexapro, too. That doesn’t include the fact that I’ve been without – due to my own stupidity – my arthritis meds for a few days and can’t remember to refill it. (Spoiler: I refilled it)

Funny thing I haven’t shared. Recently I switched from Zoloft to Lexapro for anxiety I’ve suffered from since Charlie died. The switch took 9 weeks, but the first week? It was horrible.

There was a 15 to 30 minute time frame one of those where I could feel every single particle of air on my skin. You read that right. Every. Single. Particle.

It felt like millions of tiny needles with air blower thingies on the ends of them, whispering sharply across my skin. Every touch was felt. Every nerve ending was stimulated.

It was quite amazing. In those moments, I realized the power of that medicine. If it could do THAT, imagine what it was doing in my brain. Unfortunately, in those moments, I didn’t really care how it was working in my brain. I simply wanted it to NOT FEEL CRAZY WHEN AIR TOUCHED ME!

Today wasn’t like that. But it was close.

I promise not to forget my medicine tomorrow.

*This was part of Just Write, a free writing exercise hosted by the amazing Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary.*

Reservations for Two at Waffle House

Reservations for Two at Waffle House

I had completely forgotten that Waffle House does this fun little thing on Valentine’s Day until our friend posted a link to reservations on Facebook. I looked and our “home” Waffle House (yes, we have one that we call our own) didn’t participate, so she said to come to her “home” Waffle House.

So knowing that Jason would be out of town (save the spears, he bought me a Tiffany pearl bracelet), I made reservations for two.

A date with my Henry.

I picked him up from Primrose, completely oblivious to what we were doing and headed over to the Waffle House. I was feeling rather frumpy because I got caught in the sprinklers at work and had frizzy hair and no time to go fix it at home. He was grumpy because he thought we were going somewhere lame.

When we arrived he was surprised because the whole place was transformed into a romantic restaurant.

White tablecloths. Red candles in crystal holders. Silver trays of candy on the tables. The signature round globe light fixtures were draped in red to create a wonderful atmosphere. And the blinds were pulled so it was dark inside.

Cooks and waitresses were in nice white shirts and plain red caps. Extra staff was on hand, greeting customers and taking their names from the reservation list.

In the corner was a prom-like photo backdrop.

We were seated at the bar (our choice, to let other couples have booths) so we could watch our filet mignon grilled cheese and hashbrowns (scattered and covered) being cooked. photo 1

photo 2We ate slowly and talked about our days. He’d had two Valentine’s Day parties so I could tell he was crashing from all the sugar highs!

Two grilled cheese later for him, and two cups of coffee later for me, we were all done.

They brought us dessert – two delicious cake balls – and a glass of sparkling cider in champagne flutes. What a lovely touch!

photo 3

Our friends came in so we chatted with them for a few minutes before we got our prom pictures taken!

photo 5

 

We snapped one with my phone, but they took one to put in a commemorative sleeve with a mini Polaroid camera. This served two purposes, obviously. One, to give us an instant photograph. The other, to teach my child how to shake a picture to make it develop. (Thanks, Waffle House, for the science lesson)

We left while watching couple after couple file in, some dressed in sequins and suits, some in jeans and t-shirts. Young and old. Regulars and first-timers. Parties of two and parties of eight (4 couples) had a great time.

It was a fabulous evening for me and my funny little Valentine.

I might just ditch the husband again next year for a Valentine’s dinner with Henry again!

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**I was not compensated for this post, nor am I a spokesperson for Waffle House. But now I want a waffle.

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