That Time the Hubs Was a Rockstar

As most of you know, my fantastic husband is a musician, which is indirectly how we met. His band, Juniper Lane, often hung out at an open mic night where I ended up singing a few times. It was there that we first became friends.

Several years and two children later, Juniper Lane won a contest to be among a few finalists from which Coldplay would choose an opening act for their Verizon Center show.

YES. Coldplay. Chris Martin. Yellow. The Scientist. Commence the squeeing.

I had a six-month old at the time of the show, and he’d really never been left for more than a few hours, but come ON, my husband would be opening for Coldplay, so I packed my breast pump in the cutest bag I had, piled on the black eyeliner, and we all headed downtown for one of the most surreal nights of our lives.

The first funny happened when we got there. Apparently, when you tell the security guard you need to get in because you’re playing tonight, and you literally have your instrument swung over your shoulder, they are suspect. And when you’re so flipping excited that you are opening for one of your musical idols that you can’t wipe the smile off your face and loudly declare, “I AM OPENING FOR COLDPLAY WHICH WAY TO THE DRESSING ROOM!” they may or may not consider calling for back up.

But we eventually proved ourselves truthful and headed in.

There was a lot of waiting around, a lot of wide-eyed wonder, a soundcheck, and some visiting with Coldplay’s drummer who is a lovely man who tolerated all of our star-struckedness and even signed all the things for us. I wasn’t allowed to tag along to the official food area, but hubs did eat dinner at a table next to the band, which is kind of fun as well.

Some other famous people were milling about backstage, like the Foo Fighters drummer and Kate Bosworth, I think. I say I think, because I wasn’t the one who spotted them, having spent a solid amount of my time in the back of the dressing rooms, pumping. But I guess that is what happens backstage at giant rock shows? Famous people just come walk around?

When my husband’s band played, well, it was ridiculous. I don’t think my wordy little self has any words to capture the metric tonne of pride one experiences when you see the person you love getting to live out a dream. It’s nothing short of amazing. I think it’s probably better than having your own dream come true, if I’m being honest.

Although it didn’t catapult the hubs and his bandmates to instant fame and fortune like it should have, it was an amazing celebration of all they had worked toward for so many years. And in addition to having that amazing experience, all of our children will certainly drag this story out to impress their friends for years to come.

And when your kids think you’re cool, that may be more valuable than any record deal. Close, anyway.

just my hubs, rockstar extraordinaire.
just my hubs, opening for Coldplay. as one does.

I Was Far too Polite for Rockin’ the Suburbs.

Shirley Manson. PJ Harvey. Dolores O’Riordan. Annie Lennox. These women are badass. Notice the lack of Jenn on that list.

In all fairness, I have a bit of badassery to my name, but when it came to the stage, I wasn’t the best at it. Go figure, middle school teacher by day.

When you’re young and carefree, you’re just happy to play shows. Any shows. Which is how it came to pass that we were slightly down the beltway in scenic Woodbridge one Friday evening, 2nd in the lineup of four bands. The room was sparse, thick with cigarette smoke, and while it was a bit terrifying to some of our friends, I felt at home, having frequented a number of similar establishments during my college years. You could have dropped the Spotlight smack dab in the middle of Follansbee, West Virginia, and had yourself a thriving venue.

I was feeling a whole lot self-conscious that particular evening as my sister and her husband were there along with my brothers. So when it was our time to play, I was trying my best to focus on the back wall, and just make it through our thirty minute set. A song or two in, no one was throwing beer bottles, so I considered the night a success.

Then it happened. The audience had a special request.

“Show us your tits!” rang out from the darkened room. A few times. And I panicked a wee bit, which, let’s face it, makes sense. I was in a biker bar. My eyes darted around the room, trying to figure out where the creepy was coming from so it could be avoided once I had left the relative safety of the platform stage. I remember feeling like I might throw up.

But did I channel my inner Joan Jett and flip them off? Did I call upon the spirit of Janis Joplin to hasten to my side? No, no I did not.

I meekly replied with a slight giggle, “OH! No, thank you!”

Someone really should have revoked my microphone privileges then and there.DSC01414

I’m Writing a Book is the I’m In a Band of Adulthood

I’m in a band. 20-something Jenn

I’m writing a book. – a few more years older than 20-something Jenn

When I was in my 20s, I had a lot more time for creative outlets. Sure, I had a full-time job, and a demanding one at that, but I had hardly any responsibility outside of myself. When I wasn’t wasting that precious time, (SERIOUSLY – what I wouldn’t do to have back half of it) I pursued my fantasy life of rock star.

Next stop, Wembley.
The more bracelets the better, apparently

My heavily-glitter eyelined little self loved the heck out of performing. I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t the worst, either. But as the mundane details of life distracted me from the primary goal of world domination through music, I would often cling to the “I’m in a band!” defense. With “I’m in a band!” as a key element of my identity, I was able to convince myself that I was fulfilling my need to create.

But I wasn’t.

Sure, we wrote songs, and we recorded, and we performed, but I was more in love with the outfit shopping, the persona creating, the surface stuffs that are great fun but completely and totally secondary to what should be the focus of any creative endeavor.

This is not to say that it wasn’t a blast. I loved every minute. I strongly suggest anyone with the slightest amount of musical talent be in a band just the one time. Traveling with friends, writing songs, eating gas station fried chicken, hauling amps up rickety steps, having self-indulgent photo shoots, getting to play with fun gear in vibe-y studios, it was all the best of experiences. Even the time in a redneck bar that some yahoo kept screaming, “Show us your tits!” (First sign I was not cut out for the rock life: I responded, “Oh, no thank you!”) And totally something I will use against my kids when I am inevitably referred to as uncool.

“Shut your yap about my mom jeans, kid. I was in a band.”

Alas, I have hung up my platform shoes and my armbands because I am middle-aged. And not the Gwen Stefani/Shirley Manson/Annie Lennox kind. I’m the “I drive a minivan and that’s cool with me” kind.

But I still have a need for creating. And while making four people was impressive, and it was, I have more to offer. So I started a novel. As someone who has been writing all her life, whether it’s been in a journal, a letter, school assignments, or yes, song lyrics, I have something to say.

But I don’t want “I’m writing a book” to be the “I’m in band” of my grown up life. I don’t want to get caught up in the daydreams of writer life. Yes, it would be amazing to have author photos shot by Annie Liebovitz in Central Park, or a glowing review in the New York Times by Michiko Kakutani, and I would be lying if I haven’t procrastinated by dreaming of a film deal where Kate Winslet puts on her best American accent and takes on the meaty role of my lead character, (she would ROCK THAT, by the way!) but my one and only goal is to write. And write well.

I meandered around a bit before arriving here. But I have arrived. Which is good timing, because nobody wants to see my minivan mama self in leather pants.