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?

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

What a weird year this has been.

I mean, I knew it was weird, but then looking back through my photos and calendar… wow. It’s been a doozy.

I’ve been rather quiet here over the course of 2015, my words few and far between. Much has gone on that hasn’t been for public consumption. My (now) ex-husband and I have never made our private matters public, especially in this space, so starting now would have been odd. When we decided very early this year to separate, that things weren’t ok, my words left me. My mind was on overdrive and well, elsewhere.

The year started very restlessly. I was restless and unsettled. I was unhappy. He was unhappy. And in somewhat of short order, all things considered, we remedied it with separation and then divorce. Not that it’s anybody’s business, but none of this life-changing event was a spur of the moment decision. There was talk and therapy and energy sessions and crying and rethinking and in the end, our guts and hearts won out. We knew what we had to do.

Jason and I are better friends now than we have been in years, probably. He’s still my cheerleader and I’m still his. We spend holidays together and do things as a family, because let’s be honest, we always will be one. We share children and memories and grief and joys that only the two of us can ever share. We want the best for each other. We are so much better for Henry this way and our only goals are for him and for each of us to be happy. That’s all anybody wants, right?

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I want to take you on a journey through 2015, though.

Let’s talk while we walk through the year, shall we?

January 2015

January 2015

January was kicked off with a Resolution Run with Sharon that I believe we both resolved to never EVER again run. It’s miraculous we survived. Henry won “Cubmaster’s Choice” at the Pinewood Derby for best looking car. Yes, it’s sushi. No, it’s not edible. Yes, it’s badass.

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February 2015

Oh, February. Jason and I decided over Valentine’s Dinner that we should separate. We’d been back and forth on it, but Valentine’s dinner, while everybody was oohing and aahing over each other at the two-top tables around us, we decided we had to do it. And then we toasted each other. Weird.

Miranda and I held auditions for the Listen To Your Mother Show and I finished my 4th half marathon. Barely. Let’s not discuss the race, but instead let me say how much fun I had with Rachel, Sharon, and Melissa that weekend (and #TeamRMHC)!

The Toomer’s Oaks were replanted in Auburn and we headed over for that big occasion. And then it snowed. And the city of Atlanta shut down.

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March 2015

March saw us figuring out the logistics and details of our separation. We were still living together because of those logistics. That may have been the strangest period of the whole deal. Knowing that you’re apart, but you’re still in the same house. We had distractions, though. Scout things, the boys camping, my niece and I going to NYC to celebrate her birthday. Jasmine and I had the best time! Columbia, Serendipity, Shopping, Broadway!

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April 2015

And then there was April. I don’t think I was even at home during April. Ten days after being in NYC with Jasmine, I was back for the Listen To Your Mother book launch. How much fun was THIS? It was such an amazing 24 hours, I don’t even know where to start! So I won’t bother. But it was amazing to hang out with Neil and Alexandra, Ann, Taya, Melisa… the list goes on. It was a 24 hour trip but so much good was squeezed in!

Then we had our second Listen To Your Mother Show in Atlanta. Which was so beautiful. We had a fantastic cast of 13 women who delivered some of the most heartfelt stories I’ve ever heard. So thrilled to bring it back this next April.

Then there was drinking (much) bourbon with Vikki (and others) at Mom2.0 and visiting with my friend Andrea in Phoenix. Such a busy month!

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May 2015

Basically, in May, I had superpowers that would make me lazy and we celebrated what would have been Charlie’s 12th birthday. May was apparently the opposite of April!

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June 2015

June saw a new family of ducks in our pond out back, a weekend with the girls, and a trip to my sister’s. So clearly “family” was the theme!

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July 2015

July is Peach Month. That’s when the best peaches are available. So we ate them almost right off the tree. I don’t think I’ve eaten as many peaches before as I did this past summer. Henry went to Camp Winnataska again and loved it.

I spent a weekend in NYC again, this time with Neil. I guess you could say this was about when our long time friendship was turning into more than just friendship. (Again, not really anybody’s business, but Jason and I agreed that we could date people while we were separated. So we both did.)

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August 2015

Back to School, with a saxaphone, in August. Plus another trip to NYC and just doing life, one day at a time. We decided to file for divorce.

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September 2015

September was obviously full of fun because the only picture worth posting was of flowers I bought myself at Whole Foods. Which means I paid way too much for them, but whatever, they’re gorgeous and made me feel good. Jason and I, still married technically, celebrated our 17th anniversary with a high five and a PBR because we’re classy like that.

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October 2015

Football game with my mom and Henry. Type A Conference in Atlanta. Henry got a job walking the dog next door after school. Neil came to Atlanta for a long weekend. And I donned a blue wig for Halloween. Oh, October!

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November 2015

November started off with Henry’s 11th birthday party. Another Game Truck party which is God’s gift to moms across the country or wherever Game Trucks are. Seriously. They back in and open the doors and PARTY!

In November, I watched one of my dearest friends say “I do” to the man she loves. I taught my niece how to properly watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And while at my sister’s house for Thanksgiving, my family celebrated my 40th birthday (a little early).

November 18, our final divorce decree was signed and stamped and official. Again, we celebrated with a high five.

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December 2015

Oh, December. Henry and I found and loved and decorated our own tree. We did it all by ourselves and were so super proud! We made a few new traditions in the process.

I celebrated my FORTIETH birthday on December 9. (I know, I don’t look a day over 27) I was in New York with Neil and we celebrated at dinner with some friends we both know through blogging and Listen To Your Mother. It was such a fun night and weekend.

Christmas came, on schedule. Santa came. Jason joined us and we Christmassed together and it was nice. We had clearly been good this year. I guess Santa liked how well we’ve handled ourselves throughout the year.

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This past year has taught me some things. Mostly that my gut and my heart are always right. I’m grateful to my energy healer and the therapist I briefly saw, for helping me realize the difference between what my heart was telling me and what my head was telling me. Often, your head tells you the easy thing, not the thing that will make you the happiest and take the most courage.

At the end of the day, 2015 was absolutely glorious, and taught me that I’m far more brave and far more resilient than I ever dreamed. I’m not scared of being a single mom. I’m not scared of not being able to live the life I’ve lived for the last 17 years. I’m certainly not scared of the future. I’m excited. Super. Freaking. Excited. Do I know what it holds? Hell no. Do you? If so, I’d like for you to read my palm and tell me some lottery numbers!

I’m ushering in 2016 knowing that anything — ANYthing — can happen. It may be amazing or it may be mundane, but it will be done my way. It will be full of so many things and I plan to do them all with passion and mindfulness and the realization that THIS moment IS life. I only get one and I plan to make it good.

So cheers to a fresh slate, a new decade of life, a blank page in a new notebook, and a new pen.

Let’s do this, 2016.

Apart.

Apart.

It’s an adverb, used with verbs like drift, grow, or live.

It describes how our hearts have grown over the years. Apart.

Our love has drifted and now we have chosen to live that way. Apart.

It wasn’t a split second decision. And the details aren’t important.

Apart, for now, is how we will be.

Will it be permanent? We don’t know.

But for now it’s where we find ourselves.

We’ve grown to this place and hope that in the apartness, we can both drift towards our individual happiness or newfound togetherness.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

 

I Wouldn’t Change A Thing

I Wouldn’t Change A Thing

Today, Jason and I mark our 16th wedding anniversary. I know what you’re thinking… “She must’ve been 10 when she got married.” No, actually, I was 22 and three weeks out of college. A baby, yes. A child bride, not quite.

I look at Pinterest and see photo shoots my friends do of some amazing weddings, weddings I wish were mine. Oh, if I had it all to do over, I would do this, that and the other thing. 

No. Actually I wouldn’t change a thing.

It was a at the beach, a week after a tropical storm blew through. A destination wedding before destination weddings were cool.

It was the only off weekend for Auburn AND Georgia. And Georgia Tech was playing away. (Those are the most important details, y’all.)

The morning of the wedding, the hotel decided to lay new St. Augustine sod right in the area where the aisle was. Do you know how hard it is to walk on fresh sod?

I did my own flowers, except the bouquets and boutonnieres.

My cake decided to lean at a precarious angle, causing friends to dismantle it while we were taking pictures. I was hardheaded and refused to cut it before it was time in the pre-arranged schedule.

Everything didn’t go according to plan, but at the end of the night, after everybody else went to the Village to see The Outfield play a concert, we were married. Til death do us part.

Lighthouse Wedding

 

And to this day, I wouldn’t change a thing. Not about our wedding day, and not about our life together. Sure, it hasn’t been all roses and sunshine, but life isn’t always roses and sunshine. And it’s led us to where we are and led us to the life we’ve made.

We’ve defied the odds and laughed at statistics. People don’t survive things we’ve been through.

But we have. So far, we’re still standing.

Happy 16th Anniversary, Jason. Here’s to many more!

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