Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jason Aldean: The Concert

My last post covered the Backstage Experience, and the concert part of the evening was no less exciting!

  • I met another blogger during the evening! Christina and Ryan were the other couple in our group photo with Jason Aldean. While we were waiting for our photo, I mentioned that I was on a "Very Official Mission," and Christina told me she also had a blog. Yayyy, blogger sister! She's from Bloomington, and has a food blog with a lot of very yummy bakey cookie stuff and some great commentary. Check it out:
  • I have to make a personal observation about country fans: they wear a lot of plaid. I have never seen so much concentrated plaid in my life! I know plaid is in this season, and I have to say, there really are a lot of girls and women out there that can pull it off. Where they can manage the Daisie Mae look, however, its effect on me is more of a "get up" that calls to mind the word "lumberjack." I'll pass, but I salute those that can wear it.
  • I got my picture taken with cardboard Jason, too! It was also free, technology is just grand. Flash! Here's your secret code, pick up your photo online when you get home.
  • I really did pour my wine into a water bottle, tuck it into the spy-pocket in my jacket, and sneak it in. I referred to it, all evening, as my Redneck Merlot. I have longstanding handshake agreement with Clint's son, Craig, that if he ever catches me drinking wine from the bottle, he is to pack me up and drop me off at an AA meeting. I cleared it with him via text, and he did, indeed, verify that wine out of a WATER bottle is just fine. (I still let Clint drive, of course.)
  • We ran into our friends Ashley and Eric, and I took a cute picture of the girls sitting in front of us at the concert, and e-mailed it to them.

The concert, of course, was great. Jason Aldean was amazing, and as charming on stage as he was backstage. I'd listened to enough of his songs by then that I could sing along with many of them, which amused Clint—who is a die-hard country fan—to no end. I know I'm probably supposed to be waxing more about the concert, but I just don't know what else to say. The music was great, Aldean was great, and the entire evening was, as Country Financial promised us, an experience.

Many thanks to Jay at Country Financial for setting up the fun evening...and a shout-out to Road Trips and Guitar Picks: If you never need a full-time traveling blogger, I'm raising my hand!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Road Trips & Guitar Picks: VIP Backstage Experience

Yeeks, my apologies to Country Financial for taking so long to get this post up, after the concert. [Insert lame-but-true excuses here, like how my radiator cracked, and the bottom row of my keyboard punked out on me, leaving letters zxcvbnm and the space bar only working intermittently] [Now insert another apology for good measure: I am really really sorry.]

Luckily the excitement of the evening hasn't begun to wear off. It is totally fun to be a swanky VIP guest of Road  Trips & Guitar Picks!

First of all, backstage in this berg isn't really backstage. It's better! We were wined and dined in a VIP room at Memorial Stadium, across the street. There was an usher waiting for us when we walked up to escort us to the proper elevator, and a couple waiting inside with our tickets. "You must be Lori & Clint!" they said. I thought they were some kind of brilliant for knowing that until she pointed out that there was only one envelope left on the table.Goodness! We weren't late, so I can only surmise that the rest of the guests camped out in the doorway the night before to get in before we did!

Inside the envelope is our badges, concert tickets, and 2 free drink tickets, each. There was wine, beer, and several tables holding a spread of gourmet sandwiches, cheeses, and various finger foods. There were also a couple of these soda and water carts placed around the room. Help yourself.

There were huge posters and banners placed around the room, for cute photo ops while we mingled and waited to meet Jason Aldean. You could also leave your own message for him:

While Clint and I walked around, we were approached by 2 Country Financial execs that recognized us from the blog. I have to admit that this made me feel like kind of a big shot. I'm there to meet a country star, and someone recognizes me? Tee heee heee! To boot, we got some great 4-1-1 about where to line up to get our photos taken with Aldean, and we ended up being first in line for our photo ops. All of these people were lined up behind us for theirs:

There were some set rules about using our cameras once Aldean walked into the room. Namely, "No Cameras." Vaguely disappointing at first, but you immediately recover when you realize that the promoters have bent over backwards to make this so much better than it would be if they just let us run roughshod over Aldean trying to get our own sorry photos.

Instead there's a professional photographer on hand, and each of us got to walk in, shake Aldean's hand, introduce ourselves, and cuddle up for a great photo that was ready for us online by the time we got home. At no cost, I might add. 

Oh, and Jason Aldean? He is just every bit as nice as you hope he will be. He asked our names, shook our hands, thanked us for coming to his show. He was very warm and inviting in the little personal time we each had with him.

Also, darlings, I just can't leave this out: Jason Aldean is very easy on the eyes. Hooooopy doopy. I hate to go all cougary on you here...but...well, there's just nothing to be done for it. Ladies, all of those CD covers where he's looking like a total dreamboat? Yeah, that's what he looks like, all I could think was "they didn't even photoshop his album covers!!" Well, that's not all I could think...but I'll leave it at that.

After every single person had their photo taken, Jason came out to give us our own mini concert. He sang "Big Green Tractor" for us, and then answered personal questions for about 10 minutes. He was quick on his feet, and funny, and friendly. Clint asked him how much dirt he'd actually personally turned with a Big Green Tractor, which got a laugh from everyone. He talked about his father and uncles having more farming experience, but also having just bought his own Big Green mow his lawn with.

He answered several more questions, one from a young girl that wanted to know "Could she have his guitar pick?" She could. Alas, he had to make his exit too soon, and we were left to finish up our beverages—or fill our water bottles up with wine—potato/potahto, and head over to find our seats for the show.

I have more photos, and  stories and videos from the show, and I'll save those for the next post.  Tune in, the concert was every bit as good as the Backstage Experience!  Thanks again to Country Financial for showing us such a great evening!

Up next....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gratuitous Post-Concert, Pre-Bedtime Post

I don't have time to write it all before I have to sleep. I took eleven-hundred-billionty pictures. I'll narrow them down to some proper representatives tomorrow, and spread them out over however many posts it takes to tell all the stories.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

48 Hours Until Jason Aldean

Two more days until the Jason Aldean concert! I am tres excited, and the object of a lot of envy, little ol' me with my VIP backstage passes. Clint's going to be my date, of course, but I've had plenty of offers from people that will be glad to step up and accompany me, if he can't make it.

I admitted before that I wasn't very familiar with Aldean's music when I accepted the blogging gig from Country Financial. I promised to do my homework though, and I've been doing just that.

It turned out to be easier than I thought. Two weeks ago, Clint and I went to St. Louis, and my 15-year-old cousin, Cory, came with us. Cory is actually my second cousin, and Clint's kids' first cousin. See, Cory's father, Kurtis, was my first cousin and Clint's brother-in-law. Clear as mud, huh? And before my blog trolls have a heyday with this,  I'll just clear this up right now: Clint and I are not related.

The family tree doesn't have anything to do with this story, but Cory does. I was busy gabbing at him, on the trip, about Jason Aldean. Had he ever heard of him? Yakkity yak, I went on to tell him the entire story, and about how we get backstage passes.

I went on waxing about how I had to procure some of Jason's music to educate myself before the concert, when over the seat came Cory's CD case:

Get out! One minute I'm rambling on about Jason Aldean, and the next I'm holding a folder full of his CDs. The Aldean Gods are smiling on me big time!

We were nearing our destination at the time, so saved the CDs for the ride home on Sunday, where we could listen to everything, straight through the trip. We popped the first CD in, and I commenced to listening to the lyrics, and taking notes.

Probably this is the part where I'm supposed to say here that I fell in love with every song. The truth is that I didn't fall in love with every song, but I liked most of them, loved a few of them, and was touched to my very core by a few of them.

I loved Crazy Town, for instance, a song about trying to hit it big in Nashville.

You pay your dues and you play for free,
And you pray for a honky tonk destiny,
You cut your teeth in the smokey bars,
And live off the tips from a pickle jar

The lyrics smacked of classic country, which I love, and I liked the line "Bend those strings til the Hank comes out."

I also liked "You're the love I wanna be in," I found it terribly romantic and clever at the same time.

I wanna be there when you wake up,
Be more than just your friend.
Baby there's no mistakin',
You're the love I wanna be in, ah yeah.

We listened to dozens of songs on the way home, and I really did enjoy the music. What I loved the most, however, was riding along in the front seat of the truck, listening to a 15-year-old kid sing in the backseat for 3 hours. My kid is all grown up now, y'know, and the days of having a kid, or a car full of kids singing in the back seat are gone for me right now. I miss it, I found out, more than I knew.

Cory would probably find this all embarrassing and mushy, but I found myself thinking that because of his presence, my "homework" had a much greater impact on me: I have no doubt that I'll never forget my first 3 hours of listening to Jason Aldean. Aww, he wouldn't be embarrassed. Would he? Here! Cory! Let me take your picture for my blog:

Dang kids.
Anyway, Thursday night, I'll get to listen live, and rub elbows with country star Jason Aldean. I've never been cool around celebrities. I always think I'll be cool, but I'm always starstruck and tongue tied, and I hope I don't do something stupid Thursday night. Like, call him Justin, if I get the opportunity to speak to him. I'm excited, and nervous! I'm going to tease me up some big country hair, and I'm wearing cowboy boots to the show! I've picked out a blouse, but I may have to go buy something better. Stay tuned for pix and stories, this is going to be so. much. fun!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Illness and Chaos and Drink-Your-Water Awareness Week

The last couple of weeks have been busy, fun, hectic, and exhausting—Clint and I have both had the sore throat/cold thing that's been going around. No sympathy for us though, we admittedly ignored common remedies, trading in cold meds and bedrest for full-speed-ahead fun, camping one weekend, and heading to St. Louis for Oktoberfest the next.

Unfortch, this thing that's going around isn't giving up until you do, and I have never been terribly good at paying attention to my own symptoms. This contradicts my tendency to frequently announce "I think I'm getting sick." Since I rarely actually get sick, I worry, instead, that I'm a hypochondriac. I am then paranoid about being a hypochondriac, which brings me full circle back to ignoring my symptoms.

I digress. I spent last week coughing and hacking. Muscle aches began to set in, and I was complaining of a back ache by Tuesday. Late Wednesday I was visited by abdominal pain and fever, and vomiting began in the middle of the night. My God, I thought, this is the worst cold I've ever had.

I finally took a freakin' ride on the Clue Bus on Thursday, when—I'm sorry, I know this is entirely too much information, but it is what it is—when I began peeing blood. UTI. Never having had one before, I didn't recognize the symptoms, and just thought I felt lousy all over from the cold. If I hadn't felt so sick, I'd have felt silly. I came home with a bundle of Rx, went to bed, and called in sick on Friday morning. Recuperation was cardinal.

Around 11:00 Friday morning, Mom's caregiver called me, and told me that I needed to come right away. "You're mom's not acting right, and I've already called and ambulance."

We raced over to find that Mom had lost, or nearly lost consciousness. She was dazed and looking ghostly. Lisa's description of the events took me back a couple years ago when Mom ended up ER and was released with a diagnosis of vasovagal syncope, which means, "she fainted."

I'll cut to the chase and tell you that Mom is fine, but this time around the trip to the hospital was a lot tougher. Her blood pressure was the culprit, plummeting every time she went from a sitting position to standing. Although all tests looked good, they decided to admit her for the night, to keep her under observation.

I've mentioned before that Mom has a very low pain tolerance. Alzheimer's plays a huge part in this; she simply can't anticipate pain, doesn't understand it, and, if it lingers, doesn't remember what caused it in the first place. Every half-hour or so, it is sudden and brand new.

You can imagine, then, how much fun it was to have an IV needle stuck in the crook of her arm for 24 hours. "What IS this? Why is it here? I want it OUT!" She finds the blood pressure cuff agonizing, and sobs every time the machine turns on. I talked her through 2 shots in her stomach. Poor thing tried to grab the nurse's hand the first time, knocked the needle out, and had to get second stick in the gut.

I can't even imagine how terrifying it would have been for her to be there alone for 24 hours, so it was slumber party at the hospital night for us. Tim and Brandi stayed with Mom while Clint and I ran home, and I returned with my own meds and a pillow, to settle into the recliner next to Mom's bed.

The recliner from hell. There it is, look at it, someone needs to exorcise that thing.


Anytime anyone sat in this chair, it reclined. If you wanted to recline, however, say, to get a little sleep, you had to physically hold the chair in the reclining position. I managed to get positioned just so a few times by locking my feet and stretching out to the top, and hoping my weight would the hold the chair open. Victory was short-lived; the second I relaxed into sleep, the chair would snap shut, sending my pillow flying and leaving me misaligned and flailing for balance.

Between the chair, the nurses stopping in every 45 minutes, and keeping a constant ear on Mom so that I could keep her from pulling out her IV, I think we were lucky to each have logged 60 minutes of sleep Friday night. It was a tough, tough night, and we were both more than relieved when we were given the all-clear along with the final diagnosis: Dehydration.

Dehydration!! Dehydration, the culprit! Though she's drinking water every day, and every one of us pushes it, apparently she's not glugging down enough of it. Dehydration, we learned, zaps you of strength, and blood pressure, apparently, especially when you stand up too fast.

We all know drinking lots of water is important, but I got a first hand picture, this weekend of what a lack of it will do—and also what rehydration will do. After being plumped up with a quart of IV juice, I was amazed at the change in Mom's demeanor.

A-MAZED, people. She was funny and energetic, and lucid. Well, lucid for Mom. She was downright jocular when she found out we got to leave. While I was helping her get dressed, I found 3 of those little EKG thingys still stuck to her. I was as careful as I could be, while she cringed and sucked in her breath, and yelled "ouch, ouch, ouch." When the last one was finally off, I was still unsnapping her hospital gown when I teased her, "Lord, Mom, you act like I'm killing you." She didn't miss a beat, but suddenly snapped "WELL, IT HURTS, GOOFY!"

Did she just call me Goofy? We paused for about 3 seconds before we both just fell apart laughing until we cried. Funnier yet, while we were busy giggling, she had lost track of the fact that I was undressing her. She was still laughing when she looked down and realized her hospital gown had fallen away, and she screamed "oh my God, I don't have any clothes on!" and she began howling with laughter all over again. I was by then bent over the hospital bed laughing and crossing my legs to keep from peeing my pants, which, under my  personal circumstances, meant my own meds were kicking in, and I was getting better too!

We were burning rubber out of the hospital lot by 2:30, and although we should have both gone home for naps, we were too busy still laughing, and so happy to be out of there that we went shoe shopping.

Mom, rehydrated, is something to behold; she is energetic and happy, and way more on top of her game. She's still Mom, and she still has Alzheimer's, but she's more confident and exercises a tad more logic. For her, these attributes are monumental, and my own eyes have been opened:

Water, water everywhere, if its that good for her, I'll have a glass too.

I will drink my water and count my blessings. We were there for a visit, for one night. It sucked, but I sat listening to nurses giving morning reports of other patients that had been there for weeks, with still no end in sight. I can't imagine, and I thank God that sleeping in a hospital is foreign to us. It was a 24-hour annoyance, with a merry, "let's go shopping" finale.

We are, I was reminded this weekend, incredibly blessed.