One Crazy Summer

Good grief, what a summer! We had a lot planned, and fit most of it in with a few twists.

My elderly mom, who lives in Arizona, was hospitalized and eventually transitioned into an Assisted Living Facility. So far, I’ve made two unexpected (both very stressful) week-long trips to the surface of the sun.

She's shrinking, and I'm exhausted. But here's a snap before we said farewell this morning.

One more.

Big Ds cousin and his wife visited for a long weekend:
Cousins.

Big Ds brother dropped in for a fast overnight visit:
And away they go...

There was BIG excitement here when Germany won the World Cup.

Here we go!!

Big D’s sister and our niece visited for a long weekend – we had a blast hitting some tourist sites I hadn’t yet explored, including Madame Tussaud’s:
We tried to warn Abe...

Jen, my BFF from Germany, made two visits. During the first, we ran a fun 5K, and toured around (so if you’re keeping track, I visited the Lincoln Memorial every Sunday for a month!)

We're ready to run!

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Somehow, I squished in a trip to Raleigh, NC to see a Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw concert with our other BFFs (and even managed to stay an extra day.)
pre-show selfie

And we got to meet Matt after the show:
Carey, Matt, Jym & me

I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes with Matt in Frankfurt a few years ago, and he was just as kind and hilarious when Carey, Jym and I met up with him this time around.

Last weekend our whole Germany gang and our constant travel companion Angie were reunited for the first time in years. Thanks to the Army, our time together was far too brief, but it was great to be together!
the whole gang

Big D is talking, not frowning. But this is the only non-blurry photo snapped at Bryan HQ.

Jen, me, Tricia & Angie

And to cap it all off: Jen, Tricia, and I trekked to Baltimore where more fun (and many beers) were had. Yes, this was my third concert in a week.

Gavin DeGraw

Tricia, Matt & me
Tricia finally got to meet Matt, too!

And now, our house is so quiet that its eerie. I’m looking forward to our first weekend in ages (nine weeks?) without a single plan.  As always, tons more pictures than you’ll probably care to see from everything I mentioned are over on my Flickr page.

I need a nap.

Fall wrap-up

Here’s a quick look at recent adventures I’ve been meaning to post about. Thought I’d wrap all of this up so I can get to what I really want to write about: My day at the White House earlier this week.

Besides the marathon, October was full of fun stuff!

I attended the Mount Vernon Wine Festival with Jenny, Tricia, and Tricia’s mom, whom we affectionally call Lulu.

Potomac view from Mt Vernon lawn

Angie invited me to join her at a conference in Las Vegas. I’ve never been there before and enjoyed touring around each day while she worked and then rubbing elbows with notable attorneys (and Joe Theisman!) during the cocktail parties each night.

Bellagio fountain

me, Joe Theismann, and Angie
Hi Gary! (Check out those SuperBowl rings!)

Angie's winnings
Angie had great luck – she won even more after this!

Next up: a trip to New York City and Baltimore with Tricia I dubbed my “Victory Lap” since it was the week of the marathon. What a whirlwind: we attended a taping of Late Night with David Letterman on Halloween. Harrison Ford was one of the guests; he told a joke so inappropriate they had to start over! Afterwards we had dinner with Tricia’s mom and aunt and then we saw the Broadway Show Pippin. It was excellent!

Late Show

skating at Rockefeller Center

9/11 Memorial

Central Park

And the real reason for the trip: a few Matt Nathanson shows! Here’s our Matt-related Instagram Halloween Costume:
Instagram!

He and his band dressed up and performed a few songs as the group Poison:
"Poison"

And when we posted a selfie…
On the train headed home after an awesome adventure. We like that you again liked us liking you, Matt. Rock on!

We toured around DC when our good friend Gary visited. I’m so glad his time here coincided with Veterans Day.

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Arlington Cemetery Amiptheater
The Arlington Cemetery Amphitheater

Earlier today.

November also brought my birthday, and with it: a visit from Rachel and a Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers concert!

Somehow, after last night's birthday shenanigans, we still managed to sip some tequila. #cantinatour13
We attended a Mexican Moonshine tasting (Roger’s tequila) even though we were feeling the effects of some birthday celebrating from the night before.

#cantinatour13

Later in the month, Big D and I took a trip to Oklahoma to visit family and to see the progress on his Shelby Cobra – its a work in progress that’s almost complete.

D and Mark hard at work

Untitled

Love this sign.

And before I knew it: Thanksgiving snuck up on us. We celebrated with Big Ds family in Kokomo, Indiana, where we kicked off the holiday morning with a 5K.

David & Kerry finishing

Thanksgiving 5K finishers

If the 20° temperature didn’t keep us from running, it sure wasn’t going to keep us out of the hot tub!
always making me laugh

As usual, there was plenty of card playing, napping, and laughing.
End of a long day.

Kerry, me, Peggy & Richelle

Thanksgiving '13

And that brings us to Christmas! I can’t believe its only a week away. Some sights so far:

Starting to stick!
Our view of last week’s snow (a letdown after what was predicted!)

Surprised myself by finishing the wrapping and packaging. Just need a few things to arrive in the mail - even when I needed to be ready this early in Germany I never was.

Old Town Alexandria hosts a Scottish Walk – its a Very Big Deal (which I did not really know.)

Scottish Walk

Scottish Walk

Stay tuned for a Christmas related post from the most famous house in the country! But for now: holiday wishes from our house to yours!

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Sad Can’t Catch Me

What follows is a re-post from my private blog. Now it’s out here where people can read it.

I’ve been a Matt Nathanson fan for a long time. If you’re not familiar and you have a few minutes, please watch one of these videos.

For me, the album Some Mad Hope represents a specific few months just before Big D returned from Iraq. I first saw Matt in Jax Beach in 2008 – my love since then has only increased. Thanks to his mailing list, FaceBook posts and frequent tweets, I feel like we’re friends.

When he Tweeted he had big tour news, I replied, he retweeted me, and I felt like a rock star myself.

I was on a train headed to Paris to see Snow Patrol with Tricia when my I got an e-mail from Matt saying he’d be in Frankfurt on May 10th. And without waking Tricia up, I bought our tickets. Later, when she checked her calendar she suggested a trip to Cologne to see him the night before, giving me a second opportunity to rock (she couldn’t be here on the 10th.) And she’s the one who noticed that he was the opener on these dates… for Train. Hmmm.

Fast forward to Wednesday. There were were, in a tiny, tiny Köln bar. We purposely didn’t arrive too early (thus putting us too far forward in the crowd) since I knew that he’s been heading to the merch table to meet fans after his set. So, I thought we’d enjoy the show from afar, meet, shake hands… But I blew it. After his great set that included a hilarious version of Rock You Like a Hurricane that confused the Germans (a set I could hear, but not see – seriously, this club was tiny and the crowd was huge) We headed back to the tiny merch table, Tricia asked if he was around and we found out we’d just missed him.

Thank goodness I had another show the next night to get it all figured out!

So Thursday in Frankfurt… Barbara and I got a sweet, sweet spot in what was a much better club. We were on a step, just behind the sound board. She asked what my plan was and I decided I’d just head out to the merch stand as soon as he was done. The show was great! Thanks to that step, I could see everything! Elle King was the opener (again) and she was really good. It felt like Matt’s set was as bit longer than the night before, but maybe that’s because I was busy trying to memorize every single thing that was happening? I am horrible at show reviews, so I’m not even going to try. But: Holy crap the man can move his hips. Little Red Corvette cover? Don’t even get me started.

I headed out to the merch stand which was in a beer garden(!) and I was the only person there. I meekly approached the merch guy and said, “Hi… I think you were stuck talking to my drunk friend last night?” (since Tricia lingered a while – maybe a few minutes too long?) and he said, “Maybe….” but he didn’t really remember either of us, which I think is a good thing. I said that I am “totally not a stalker” but I thought Matt came out to meet and greet on occasion and did he think that would happen? He told me that Matt travels on his own and had to get on a train to the next show, but that I should “wait right here” for a while. Since I do not have nearly the gift of small talk that Tricia has, I offered to buy him a drink so that I could wait in the drink line a few feet away rather than just standing there being awkward.

When I returned with his soda, he told me that he did not have a radio and he hadn’t seen anyone so I should come behind the table, take his seat, and hang on while he went to see what was happening. WTF? I was manning the Matt Nathanson / Train merchandise table. Alone. Thankfully, Train’s show was starting and nobody even glanced my way. After a little while (that felt like forever) Gav returned and said, “Wait right here. Someone will collect you in about five minutes.” Turns out I can small talk under pressure (he’s from the UK, is a musician himself, and owns Too Many Robots records) and before I knew it, a giant man with a long, red beard came from the backstage door and said, “Are you the girl?”

Sean (Shawn?) took me through a door, up some stairs and…. there in a tiny room with a table for four and a big fruit tray, Matt Nathanson was waiting for me.

Aaron Tapp and Elle King sat at the table and Matt stood up and said, “HI!” as if we were long lost friends. I said “Hi. I bet you’re wondering who the heck I am…. I had no idea when I asked if I could speak with you that it would evolve into this. I am so sorry…” And he COULD NOT have been nicer.

He asked where I’m from – I said Big D is in the Army so we’ve lived all over but we call Jacksonville Beach, Florida, home. I mentioned I’d seen him perform there at the Freebird and we both said “Live Cafe!” in unison. He asked how things really are in Afghanistan, a bit about D’s job, how often he’s away… I mentioned that I am so, so lucky to be in Europe and to be able to travel around and said I was in Amsterdam last week. We talked about Queens Day, traveling by train, and the European countryside.

He told me he saw fantastic artwork in Köln but couldn’t remember the artists name, so he pulled his iPhone out to see what he had saved. He opened his Notes app and said, “Where would you save that if you were me…. all that’s here is lyrics, lyrics, lyrics…” We were standing so close that when we both looked down at his phone our foreheads bumped, and I don’t care if it confirms that I am a 12 year old fan girl at heart: I couldn’t believe it.

Anyway, the artist is Kathe Kollwitz and talking about her and travel led to how much I love Berlin (he was headed there the next day) with it’s outrageous history, architecture, and artwork including large scale outdoor Keith Haring installations.

When the time seemed right I asked if we could snap a photo and while I was fishing my camera out of my purse, I unfolded the extra ticket, on which I printed his retweet. Again declaring I am not a stalker, I asked if he’d sign it…

Nerd alert...

After Shawn/Sean took our picture and Matt tried to get me to take an apple from the fruit tray, it was time to go.

I said something like: “Really, the reason I wanted to speak with you was just to say thank you. I’m really lucky – my husband is a fantastic, hilarious guy and we are really in love. We listen to your music when we cook, when we drive and just… everywhere… And it’s so great to have good, fun songs… So thank you.”

And for once in my life, I did not feel like a giant loser. I had a fantastic opportunity thanks to luck, timing, and a merch guy named Gav. And for those few minutes, everything was perfect.

After my brief bit about love songs, I mentioned that Matt and I sound really good when we sing together in my car, though interestingly, I am a terrible singer and that’s when he opened his arms and we hugged like we are good friends. And I really felt like we were.

Matt Nathanson and me

There’s more to the night’s story – including Barbara and I hanging out and drinking beers in a tiny bar at 1am with the members of Train, but when it all came to a close and I walked out that bar door, I came face to face with Elle King. She was there for the whole exchange with Matt and she recognized me right away.

I said I hoped it was all okay, that I hope I didn’t come off like a loser, etc. She was quick to say “No, no! Matt loves stuff like that.”

“As a matter of fact” she added, “He loved you.”