Tag Archives: Love

Dallas Clayton Coloring Party

Yep, you read that correctly, a coloring party. If you don’t know who Dallas Clayton is why don’t you go familiarize yourself with some of his work, because he’s awesome and it will give you a better idea of what the heck this is all about.

My favorite photo of the day. That’s the coloring party inside the window, Dallas Clayton front and center. Downtown Santa Monica is reflected in the window.

(sorry about the shaky video, my hands and arms were not cooperating today)

Me & Dallas Clayton!

Exactly 20 Years Ago

Exactly twenty years ago today I spent a good chunk of time sitting on the couch next to my mom. People were in and out of the room and the house, having one last visit and saying goodbye. I don’t remember everyone who stopped by and everything that was said, I don’t know if it’s a trick of time or grief or both, but my memory of that day is patchy. I remember sitting as close to her as I could. I remember telling her I loved her so often I became annoying. (“I know Jenny, I know.”) I remember being terrified, and totally alone in a house full of people.

As the day went on and mom’s condition deteriorated she was moved into her bedroom for the last time. The house was still full of people but all of a sudden I was in demand as people started needing things.

“People are getting hungry, do you have anything to feed them?”

“You’re out of clean glasses.”

“What are you going to do with [item]?”

If I knew then what I know now, I’d have told everyone to go to hell. Maybe I’d have phrased it differently… “If you’re hungry you’re welcome to go get food. I’m hungry too, should I tell you what I’d like to eat?” Or “Feel free to drink out of a coffee mug, or wash some glasses if you want to be helpful.” Or “I haven’t thought about what I’m doing with it, I’m focused on other things right now.” I didn’t say anything close to that though, it didn’t even occur to me. I took care of other people’s needs and sat with them, sometimes even comforting them when they were upset. I thought I was doing what mom would have wanted me to do, what she would have done had she been able. Twenty years later I’m not so sure.

My most vivid memory of that day isn’t the sound of my mom’s voice or the feel of her hand in mine. Nothing so expected. My most vivid memory is being taken into the backyard for a “private chat” and the taste of blood in my mouth from where I’d bitten through skin. The private chat wasn’t so much a chat as a lecture. I was told that I was on my own now, and no one was going to help me. The sliding glass door was gestured to indicating the visitors behind it and I was told these people were here for mom and not me. Once she was dead I would be on my own. I distinctly remember being told that I was going to end up living in the street and that I would be lucky to have a cardboard box to sleep in. The person telling me this offered a solution too… If I gave them access to “the money” and “learned how to do what I was told,” I could avoid the fate in store for me.

To this day I have no idea what “the money” refers to. (If anyone knows anything about hidden money please speak up, I could really use it.) In reality, our household was that of an uninsured single mother fighting cancer and I was just a teenager. There wasn’t always money for necessary things, including medical treatments. There was no retirement accounts, no trust funds, no sources of income other than the obvious, nothing that could even vaguely be referred to as “the money.”

As far as “learning to do what I was told,” I honestly can’t say I know what the speaker meant. What I heard though, was an offer to hand my free will and life choices over to someone who didn’t ask or care about what I wanted. I don’t remember if I declined the ‘offer’ or just sort of wandered back inside to get someone a refill. (At least two other people in the coming days would offer to open up their home to me, but there were strings attached to both offers and I declined them as well.)

I know there were people in that house who were trying to be supportive of me, and I don’t want it to seem like everyone was only thinking of themselves, but I think they didn’t know what I needed and I didn’t know how to ask. By night time the house cleared out, only a few people staying. I know I sat by mom’s bedside at one point, but I really don’t remember. I have never felt such exhaustion, physically and emotionally.

Someone was sitting with mom. She wasn’t alone. I went to sleep in my room. The next thing I knew it was early morning and someone was banging on my door. “Jenny it’s time to get up, your mom is dead.”


I remember speaking with the Doctor. I remember following the mortuary van down the driveway and out into the street, even though there was no reason for it. She was gone and I was alone.

The two people in my life who I thought I could count on for help at this time disappeared entirely. I know I wasn’t the only one grieving, I know it’s not all about me, but I was left alone with people who thought I was there for them and not the other way around.

Twenty years minus one month ago someone I loved and trusted said to me “It’s been a month and you’re still sad. Something is wrong with you.” Hearing those words felt like a punch to the gut.

That was 20 years ago. Two decades. I know how numbers work and I understand the passage of time, but I don’t understand how she’s been gone for 20 years. I’ve been without her longer than I had her. I don’t understand.

It’s true that she’s here with me every moment, so much of who I am is directly from her and I love that. It brings me comfort. But it’s not the same as having her, not even close. I can try to hear her voice or imagine what life advice she’d give me. When I moved to Los Angeles someone very close to her told me she’d be horrified at what I was doing. (I had thought she’d want me to follow my dreams and pursue a happy life.) The same person told me that Mom would be embarrassed by me one time when I was really sick and not doing what this person thought I ought to be doing to get better. (Years later I would find out that my sickness was a Multiple Sclerosis attack but at the time I was treated like I was being lazy, whiny, and melodramatic.) The worst instance of this was a relative telling me that I’m a humiliation to the entire family and I should be glad she can’t see me. Another person who didn’t get along with Mom when she was alive and doesn’t get along with me at all likes to call me by my mom’s name if I don’t think the same way they do. I’ll be told “Okay, Stefanie.” It’s meant as an insult. I take it as a compliment.

My Mom wasn’t perfect, like everyone she had many flaws. But she was loving and funny and kind and loyal and caring and all of the good parts of human nature. She was the first and last person who ever loved me unconditionally. I still miss her everyday, but that’s okay, I know who she would want me to be and I think maybe I am. I think she’d be proud of me.


Photo Post

One More Shot & Making a Play by Victoria Denault

Do you remember when I posted about my friend Laura Stone and her wonderful book The Bones of You? This time I’m proud to introduce you to another one of my talented friends, Victoria Denault. I can’t even remember how many years I’ve known Victoria, but I know it’s more than I can count on my fingers. Victoria is fabulously talented and has started publishing romance novels. (Bad Jen for not posting about this sooner!)

If you’re like me, you’re a little hesitant when it comes to novels about romance. Too many of them tell stories where all a woman needs to find true happiness is a man to acknowledge that she has worth. Or sometimes all a man needs to overcome massive commitment issues is a woman good enough for him. Gag. (Honey, if he’s scared of commitment he’s not going to invest in the relationship no matter how “good” you are, and if you can’t find happiness inside yourself no man is going to be able to give it to you!) But I’m getting off topic… The stories Victoria tells are not that at all. Don’t let the classic cheesy romance novel covers fool you, Victoria’s characters feel like real people. Real people who, like most of us, are trying to successfully navigate this often frustrating thing called ‘life.’ Ideally with a best friend/lover/companion by our side.

IMG_6901(Click image to go to Victoria’s author page on Amazon)

You can read an excerpt from One More Shot here. The second book in the trilogy, Making a Play, was just released. Excerpt here. Look for the final installment, The Final Move, in December of this year.

Buy One More Shot on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or BAM.

Buy Making a Play on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or BAM.

Pre-order The Final Move on Amazon.

IMG_6902(Click image to go to Victoria’s website)

Victoria Denault loves long walks on the beach, cinnamon dolce lattes and writing angst-filled romance. She lives in LA but grew up in Montreal, which is why she is fluent in English, French and hockey.

Still not convinced? Here are One More Shot reviews from around the web:

Overall this was a really fabulous read and I must say I was shocked how well written it was for it being the debut novel for this author. It is a beautifully written story that is sweet and funny, it’s hot and very sexy but it’s also at times it has just the right amount of drama. Jessie and Jordan’s story was a really great and I immediately felt the connection they shared and the chemistry between them when they got together was electric. This was my first read by the author but it definitely won’t be my last and I will be adding her to my list of authors to keep an eye on for sure.
BethyMac76 on Amazon

One More Shot is the first book I have read by Victoria Denault, and as a debut novel it was a pretty stellar start to the Hometown Players series. … This is a book that jumps back to Jordan and Jessie as teenagers and for the first 50% or so the story is giving you the reasons as to why they have spent the last 6 years apart, and the beginnings of their reconnection. It was well paced; the developments and revelations from them both were spaced perfectly. … I often get to a point where the drama being added to drama just for the sake of more drama just bores me. Victoria worked the drama and angst between this couple perfectly, I felt a little frustration, a little empathy, and understood where both of them were coming from at points, I think the dual POV gave the depth to them, as you were given their reasons for what they did in the past, as well as their motivations for everything that went down with them as the story moved on.
Miss Claire L. Robinson on Amazon

I love second chance romances!!! One More Shot was a great combination of sweet, angst, steam and still managed to pull on my heartstrings. It was the first book in a new series and I have to say I cannot wait for the second book (about another couple coming out Sept. 2015)!! I loved Jordan and Jessie and really hope will get more of them in future books :). Steph and I both agree One More Shot is a 4.5 star book and want to thank Victoria Denault for introducing us to the town and people of Silver Bay!
Stephanie and Christin’s Reviews on Good Reads

I fell in love with this story very early on. … I really enjoyed this book more than I expected to and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good semi-steamy, super sexy, second chance romance.
Jaime Fiction Fangirl’s Reviews on Good Reads

“The Bones of You” by Laura Stone

Well after my comment the other day that I’m not using the “reviews and recommendations” section of this website enough, I’m certainly on a roll right now! 🙂 I’d like to tell you about a wonderful book that just came out, written by my lovely and talented friend Laura Stone.

(Keep an eye on her website by the way, for the release of her book Laura is doing a “virtual book tour” with something new everyday including chances to win her book for free!)

I’ll let you know right up front that this is a sexy love story, so naturally sex is going to be part of the book. It’s so much more than that though, it’s about love and the choices we make for it, when to sacrifice for love and when we need to put ourselves first. And when a second chance is presented, do we grab on with both hands or do we look back at ‘what might have been,’ sigh, and continue on our chosen path? This is no formulaic “romance novel,” these are people dealing with real emotions and decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. This might be a work of fiction, but it’s been a long time since I have read something that felt so real. If stories with sex in them or stories with two boys in love aren’t your thing, consider this your warning to move along, nothing to see here… If that doesn’t scare you off so easily let me take a minute to tell you why I love this book so much.

The review I left on Amazon:

Exceptional story from an exceptional author! I read this book expecting a romantic love story that I could enjoy. I got so much more! The characters are fully three dimensional and fantastic, and not just the main characters. Every part of the world this author creates was so fully realized that at some point you are totally engrossed in these people’s lives and forget that they aren’t really your friends. The highest compliment I can give this book is that, where another author would be content to wrap up the plot and leave it as a “sweet love story,” Laura Stone uses that as almost a jumping off point to get into the heart of the story and start examining who these people are and what makes them ‘tick.’ It’s been a long time since I’ve read a romance story where I couldn’t see the ending coming a mile away, but this one kept me glued to the page the whole way through. I don’t want to say too much so as to drop hints about the ending, but just know that the characterizations, the plot, the emotions, every part of the story are all top notch. If you are like me the minute you finish this book you’ll be searching the internet for an announcement about her next book release. I don’t know when that will be, but I promise I’ll be buying it the very first day it is available!

Publisher’s Weekly said:

Stone’s sensitive debut reunites two lovers who were separated by both distance and expectations. Oliver Andrews is slaving away on his M.A. in Cambridge, Mass. When he opens an email from a friend back home in Atchison, Kan., he finds a video that delivers an emotional gut-punch. It shows Seth Larsen, Ollie’s first—and only—love, singing on a nationally broadcast morning TV show in New York. The pair had broken up five years before when Ollie, encouraged by his father, decided against following Seth to New York. Seth felt betrayed: he wanted a career on the stage, and the distance from Boston to New York was too long. But Ollie was determined to pursue his own dream of becoming a social psychologist, even if that meant giving up on love. With the support of their friend Moira, Seth and Ollie decide to take another stab at building a life together. Stone plays the relationship with restraint, letting it unfold slowly and organically.

RT Book Reviews gave it 4 1/2 stars and said:

A casual style allows you to slip easily into the complicated lives of Oliver and Seth as they attempt to reconnect. Anyone that’s ever tried a long distance relationship can relate to the unique circumstances. Their beautiful love story will bring plenty of laughter, and even a few tears, as these men grab hold of their rare second chance. It was appreciated that neither man was willing to give up his dreams because that wouldn’t have felt true to the love they have shared since boarding school. Oliver has spent the last few years focused on finishing his degree program at Cambridge, letting important relationships slip away. On a particularly stressful morning, he gets an e-mail from his hometown friend with a video attachment detailing the Broadway success of his ex. He thought he was over Seth, but hearing his voice brings the memories flooding back, forcing him to re-evaluate the course of his future, and maybe give him a second chance at love.

Our Wolves Den said:

Oliver Andrews was wholly focused on the final stages of his education at Cambridge University when a well-meaning friend up-ended his world with a simple email attachment: a clip from a U.S. morning show. The moment he watches the video of his one-time love Seth Larsen, now a Broadway star, Oliver must begin making a series of choices that could lead him back to love—or break his heart. The Bones of You is full of laughter and tears, with a collection of irritated Hungarians, flirtatious Irishwomen, and actors abusing Shakespeare that color Oliver and Seth’s attempts at reconciliation.

Carly’s Book Reviews said:

Seth and Oliver have a complicated history that started with their relationship in high-school. Tolerance is low in small town Kansas and growing up gay can be down right dangerous. Both boys have challenging backgrounds and have been hurt in the past. Their young love is unable to stand the test of time, distance and immaturity. Both Seth and Oliver have perused other relationships since their separation, but the attraction of their first love remains. An unexpected second chance at love forces each man to face the mistakes that drove them apart. While hindsight may be 20/20, it is also easy to fall back into old habits. Just when things are starting to look up for the charismatic couple again, history threatens to repeat itself, proving that sometimes you have to look backwards in order to move forward again. The Bones of You is a complex and emotional story that focuses on love, loss and second chances. Told from Oliver’s perspective, his internal dialog is raw and gut-wrenchingly honesty. Seth is a little harder to identify with, as readers get to know him through Oliver’s thoughts and impressions. The cast of secondary characters is dynamic and entertaining, often bringing much needed comedic relief to the otherwise intense story. While opposite in many ways, the two main characters have an elemental chemistry that struck a deep chord and kept me engaged. Well written and steadily paced, it is thought provoking in many ways and offers a slightly different twist to the traditional story line of rekindling lost love.

I’ll stop copy/pasting reviews from around the web now, I’m sure by now you’ve already decided this isn’t your thing or you’re already intrigued. I’m so excited for Laura and I want to the whole world to know it, but beyond all of that supportive friendship stuff, the fact is that this is just a damn good book!

The Bones of You can be purchased from Amazon in paperback or on Kindle format here, from Barnes & Noble here, or you can get it directly from the publisher in paperback or e-book bundle (that means formats for all e-readers!) However you choose to read it, I think you’ll love it. I certainly did!

You can stalk follow Laura Stone on her website, tweeting on Twitter, reblogging on tumblr, whatever we call it on Google +, reading good things over on Goodreads, or posting over on Facebook.


About a year and a half ago I saw a video online. Nothing about that statement is strange, the internet pretty much exists for cute animal videos and clips of people walking into walls while texting right? Obviously I am over simplifying here, but in this day and age we are inundated with video clips other people think we “must” watch from facebook, twitter, e-mail forwards, you name it, that they tend to hold our interest for however many seconds we watch the video and then we’re on to the next thing that grabs our attention. This was different. This particular video was called “It could happen to you” and it really packed a punch. We’re talking ugly sobbing, runny nose, staying in your thoughts days later… No matter who you are or how you live your life I think everyone can relate to the love and loss and sadness and devastation, the raw human emotions playing out in this video.

If you haven’t seen it go ahead and watch it now, this post will be here when you’re done.

Pretty powerful huh? I still get choked up, even now. I don’t know any of the people involved in this story, I have never had anything remotely similar happen to me or anyone I know, but there is something about this story that breaks through right to the center of my heart.

Have you heard of Kickstarter? In a nutshell: it is a website that allows people to post ideas and plans for projects (of all sorts) they don’t have the funding for, and other people online can pledge money towards that project. It’s not a donation exactly, you get “rewards” at various levels for your contribution, but it’s different than say, buying a t-shirt after seeing your favorite band in concert. That concert would have happened whether you bought the t-shirt or not. I’m over simplifying here, but that will give you an idea of what Kickstarter is all about if you’ve never used it. I think it’s one of the best examples of how the internet can really connect us all no matter where we are. But I’m getting off topic…

The video had truly gone ‘viral’ and people who had long, legitimate Hollywood resumes wanted to take this story and turn it into a feature length documentary. A Kickstarter campaign was started. I remember bookmarking the link, and going back every day to see what the new amount raised was. If you know me in real life you know I don’t exactly have disposable income, but this project felt too important, too necessary, not to contribute. A little over 6,500 people felt the same way I did. It became the highest funded Kickstarter project in the history of the website.

The people who were making the movie were great about sending updates and keeping us “backers” informed on what was happening, but it felt like forever. When the film was completed it was shown on the festival circuit and won all kinds of awards. It even had a small theatrical release, and was shown on OWN on TV. Finally a DVD of the film showed up in my mailbox, my “reward” for my Kickstarter contribution. It was a year and a half later but I was as excited to see this story told as I had been when I made the contribution, and after waiting so long and finally watching it I can tell you the story did not get any less powerful in that time.

I tend to ignore the “Reviews and Recommendations” part of this blog more than the other categories, and that’s okay with me. I don’t want to recommend anything I don’t absolutely love so I’m not going to review every movie I enjoy or every band I like. If I take the time to blog about something though, you know it really means something to me. I can’t recommend this documentary enough. If you’re like me and cry at everything sentimental, grab the tissues. But it’s not strictly a sad story. Tragic yes, but something beautiful happens too. Shane’s brutal honesty is both noteworthy and commendable; watching him talk about the person he was while looking at the person he is now inspires me to want to become a better version of myself and do more to touch other people’s lives. I think that is probably true for a lot of people who watch Bridegroom. I hope it is. I hope this story changes minds and hearts on the issues of equality and gay marriage, but even for those of us who think this is a “duh, of course, no-brainer” there is always more we can do. Pre-social media and pre-internet no one other than those directly involved would have known Tom & Shane’s story. And so it seems the internet is good for more than cute animal videos after all…

Click to go to the movie’s website

Bridegroom is available on DVD and Netflix streaming. Amazon streaming and other streaming media services will also have it available.

Bridegroom Trailer:

When you watch Bridegroom stick around for the credits, my name is in there!

If you’re on Facebook you can ‘like’ Bridegroom here and Shane Bitney Crone here. If you’re a twitter user you can follow Bridegroom here and Shane Bitney Crone here.

Chris Dallman

Thanks to my my habit of rambling on about my life in a written form I know exactly when I first listened to Christopher Dallman.

From an entry dated 10/21/09:

This morning on the drive to work I became a little bit instantly obsessed with some of the lyrics in this song…

I’m not sure when I first heard his name though. I know he had been recommended to me more than once, I know he had been recommended to me by different people, and I know that the various people recommending him were all people whose musical tastes I trusted. I’m not sure who posted a link to buy his album, but at some point probably a month before that post I was buying some CDs from a website (physical CDs, remember those?) and sort of on a whim added Chris Dallman’s CD to my virtual shopping cart. I remember thinking that I should probably listen to some samples before spending money, and I remember laughing at myself for being too lazy and deciding to just buy the thing. (I rarely did this by the way, but it seemed like a pretty safe bet at the time.) I know that the CDs came in the mail and I immediately listened to whatever I had been all excited about ordering. I tossed Chris’s CD in my car, the inevitability of Los Angeles traffic making it a good place to listen to new music. I’m not sure how long the CD sat in my car before the morning I put it in the CD player. I listened to the first 30 seconds or so of each song before skipping to the next track, just so I could get a feel for what I was in for. (The musical equivalent of reading the last chapter before starting a new book. Something I do with music, but not books oddly enough.) Track 8. Over My Head. I couldn’t bring myself to hit the ‘next’ button. The song grabbed me instantly, it felt like the lyrics were speaking directly to me.

My favorite line in the song:

learning to live is so simple
but simple ain’t easy
and easy ain’t worth your time
I should be fearless
but still now I fear this
I keep looking down while I climb

I’m not a bad driver normally, but I know I started swerving into another lane because I was so overcome by the beauty of what I was hearing and not paying attention to my surroundings. (I snapped out of that very quickly!) I spent the rest of the drive into work listening to Over My Head on repeat. I spent the next few weeks listening to the album on repeat. (Which sort of implies that I’ve stopped listening to it often. Not true at all, now I just mix it up with the rest of my favorites.) I discovered Chris was active on social media and we pretty quickly struck up a ‘twitter friendship.’

It feels strange to use the word ‘friendship’ in this context, but I don’t know how else to describe it. We chatted online. We weren’t the kind of friends who called each other when we were bored or hung out with each other in real life, but chatting regularly about our lives (albeit in a superficial kind of way) did bring some kind of familiarity to the situation. Maybe I was alone in this, but it certainly felt like Chris was a friend.

It was a gig in early November of 2009 when I first met Chris in person. I know it was a gig he did at Genghis Cohen, but somehow I didn’t journal/blog/post about it so I don’t have a lot to refer back to. It was around the release of the ‘Sad Britney’ CD (a collection of Britney Spears covers, each with Chris’s particular twist.) I remember he was surrounded as soon as he left the stage with what were obviously friends. Feeling shy, I decided not to push my way through the crowd to introduce myself, but no way was I leaving without buying the new CD. Unfortunately there seemed to be no ‘merch’ table so I had to wait until it was possible to grab Chris’s attention. Finally a small break in the crowd and I asked to buy a CD. I might have told him how much I enjoyed the set, but I didn’t introduce myself and I didn’t let him know I was one of the people he’d been interacting with online. While getting me change, Chris paused, looked me, then asked “are you bdbdb?” (My twitter name.) I was shocked he remembered my “name,” much less cared about meeting a twitter follower when so much else was going on around him at that moment. Chris smiled so brightly when I said yes. It wasn’t just me feeling this internet friendship-but-not-really-a-friendship-thing.

A sort of pattern developed where Chris would play a gig, I would bootleg the gig, Chris would pretend he didn’t know I was breaking the rules, and I would share the video files with him when I was done. On more than one occasion he even posted my videos online.

(I’ve never been called magnificent before!)

I love the music Chris makes. I think he’s got an amazing voice and is a skilled musician, but I think those two skills pale in comparison to his talent as a lyricist. I tend to collect phrases, lyrics, quotes, etc. the way some people collect stamps or spoons, and song after song I heard words that really touched me.

From Count the Shadows:

How do you measure
The difference between
The way you play and the hand you’re dealt
I must confess that
Every single day
I want to leave my cards face down on the felt

I think those are some very powerful words and ideas. Just like my tattoos, those words speak to me on a very deep and personal level. I’m out of wrists to tattoo (I should have been an octopus!) but I did come across someone who makes bracelets with sayings on them, and was very happy to make me one with song lyrics.

December of 2009: I was between jobs, but even if I had been working I wasn’t at the point where my employment came with health insurance. (Long detailed explanation, has to do with the nature of the entertainment industry and being able to join the union.) I wasn’t eligible for any government assistance with my medication. The pharmaceutical company itself had a program to help low income patients, but I wasn’t eligible for that either because when I did work I made too much money. (Yeah, it makes no sense, I know. But that’s the way it is.) The medication I was going to have to stop taking was a very expensive MS drug that is supposed to slow down the progression of the disease. But it wasn’t a ‘life-saving drug.’ By this I mean I wouldn’t die if I stopped taking it, and therefore there was not a lot of places to turn for help. I was very frustrated and posted something on twitter to that effect. Chris almost instantly replied with “how much do we need to raise?” We. The implication in that one little word was kind of astounding. We. You’re not alone. We. We’re all in this together.

Chris came up with the idea of holding a benefit concert. He recruited his friends Keeley Valentino, Syd, and George Stanford to volunteer to perform. A venue was secured, and the concert was announced on his website and social media. I don’t know how much time and effort Chris put into making this all happen, but I know it had to have been significant.

People who couldn’t come to the concert wanted to donate something. People I never would have thought of asking for help. People I knew didn’t have a whole lot of disposable income. People I knew only casually. People I didn’t know at all. So many people all came together to help me. I can’t even write about it without getting teary-eyed at the outpouring of love I was the subject of. All of those donations, large and small, added up to right around the target number even before the concert happened. The concert itself was indescribable. The music was beautiful, the room was full of smiling people, and my only worry was that I wouldn’t be able to get to everyone who came out to personally thank them. I felt so, so loved that night. It is an an experience I will treasure forever.

Chris posted on his website after the benefit:

I don’t know if I can really put this experience into words in a way that will explain what was happening in my head around then. I knew I needed money for medication, but there was something else I really needed, I just wasn’t aware of it at the time. Being told repeatedly by different organizations and agencies that they just couldn’t help you starts to take its toll after a while. Especially when they each refer you to the other to apply for help, in some sort of never-ending cycle of rejection. You start to feel that you are alone. You are powerless. There is nothing you can do. No one really cares. (People at these places would try to be helpful, it wasn’t as if they were mean or uncaring, but I was told to sell property or borrow money from family or any number of other things that were not an option for me.) You become a little resigned to the fact that you can only depend on yourself, if you can’t provide something for yourself (like medication) then you are just expected to go without… I’ve called Chris my ‘guardian angel’ on more than one occasion, but it wasn’t just the concert and money and medicine that I meant when I said that. Chris taught me that other people (people who barely know me) could be caring and giving. That sometimes I can ask for help when I need it. That no one is powerless when they are surrounded by good people. That I am not alone. It’s something so small, but so incredibly huge at the same time. That knowledge will improve my life every single day from now until I die.

I sent Chris a thank you email. I gave him a thank you card. I thanked him in person. I don’t think even once was I able to articulate just how much his actions mean to me.

Life continued to happen, as it does. Chris released new music which I loved. We stayed “twitter friends” and said hi at shows. As my disease has progressed I venture out into the world less and less, which makes the things I surround myself with more and more important. Chris’s beautiful music continues to be an ongoing presence in my life and source of joy.

At the end of May, 2013 Chris played his “farewell” concert at Room 5 in Los Angeles. It had been a while since I’d seen Chris perform live so I was excited, but sad at the same time. Chris (and Josh) deserve every bit of happiness in life and if this move will bring them closer to that, well, I support them a zillion percent. At the same time I’m selfish and I want to have a zillion opportunities to enjoy his music live in front of me. (Yes, I know I’m coming dangerously close to reducing a talented artist to “dance monkey, dance!” Sorry.)

Arrangements were made. Tickets were purchased. Friends provided transportation, and sat with me in Room 5 for hours before the show since that was the only way to ensure I had a seat. (Room 5 is one of many places that has told me they don’t do anything to accommodate people with disibilites and I was on my own, but that’s a rant for a different post.) I warned my friends I might get all emotional and embarrassing during the show, but they chose to be seen with me in public anyway. I held it together pretty well, making every effort to be present in the moment and fully enjoy the experience. Until Chris started singing Over My Head, that is. It was just too “full-circle” or something for me, and I pretty much cried through the entire song. I probably got a few strange looks.

And then it was over. We made our way out of the room and I hugged Chris goodbye. Just like the first meeting he was surrounded by friends wanting to celebrate with him.

It’s not as if I’ll never hear his music again. It’s not as if we will stop tweeting or facebooking or social media-ing. Really nothing has changed other than the lack of live concerts. (And I have an extensive library of bootlegs I can listen to when I’m missing that.) But I left that night determined to let Chris know what his presence in my life has meant to me, what a gift he has been. This post is my attempt. I hope I was successful.

You can follow Chris on twitter or subscribe to his YouTube channel or just go to his website. You can buy all of Chris’s music here or on iTunes.