Category Archives: Music

“I Do”-Wop

When my BFF, Jenn, asked how things were going in Plural Marriage-ville, she was surprised by my answer.

Here’s a taste of why.

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Have you ever been in a band, or wish you had been? Any groupies out there?

P.S. – Special thanks to Jenn, and to those of you who suggested The Hubs form a band. Less special thanks to Hubs 1 through 3. Now cut that sh*t out.

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A Birthday Serenade

Oh Chipmunks. Right now my head is spinning from your well wishes, and what can only be called a Birthday Symphony over at Rachel’s Table. While I pour another glass of champagne in my own your honor, I offer a humble serenade.

I know I promised I’d never do this again, but then, er, I promised myself I would.

Thanks for indulging me. Again. I love you.

Do you have any wild and crazy birthday tales?

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Hitting the Right Note

I woke up at 8am this past Christmas Eve. Late, for me. I’d been up ’til midnight, doing something I’d never done before. Something mortifying. I stared down the clock. My family was coming over at 2pm and my To Do list was more ominous than a week without vodka.

I headed straight for my lap top. For the first time in 5 months, I skipped my morning writing. This was more important. Far more important. The reason I wrote a journal to begin with.

My heart pounded.

I can’t do this. I know I promised myself all year I would finally do this, but I can’t. I just can’t.

I stalled. Checked email. Facebook. My mouth felt dry.

I have to. I have to do it.

Let me back up.

I was 7 years old when The Little Mermaid was released. It was November 1989. I sat on the living room floor of our little Cape Cod, wearing out my VHS copy by rewinding “Part of Your World” over and over again. I paused it every five seconds, and wrote out the lyrics, line by line.

When I was sure no one could hear, I sang along.

What would I give to live where you are…

I sang with longing. I felt like Ariel. Dreaming. Wanting the impossible. In the end, her voice earned her just that.

When I was in 4th grade, my music teacher asked for volunteers for one-line solos during the holiday concert. I raised my hand, heart racing. She plunked out the tune on the piano as I sang, “Up on the housetop reindeer pause…”

“Let’s try again,” she said. By the third time, she not-so-subtlely moved on, leaving me to wonder what I’d done wrong. My classmates said nothing.

Could I really not sing? One simple line? Even with the notes played for me on the piano? This was bad.

All lies.

All lies.

When I stood in front of all the parents the day of the concert, I tried not to fidget, even though I felt faint. I sang my one-line solo as best I could, and afterwards, my mother praised, “You sounded like an angel.” No one else complimented me.

“You have to say that,” I grumbled, afraid to believe her.

By 12, I’d taught myself how to play the piano, barely, and when no one was home, I sat at my great-grandmother’s ancient upright and played the songs my parents listened to. John Denver. James Taylor. Carole King.

I was terrified someone would find out. Not only were the songs I secretly adored lame, old fogey music, I heard my voice. How weak and flawed and uninteresting it was. How bad my timing was.

At 15, I bought a karaoke machine, took guitar lessons and even tried writing songs. I toyed with the idea of sharing them. I didn’t.

“I thought that was the radio,” my sister said, when she heard me in the shower one day. She was never long on compliments, and I kept that gem tucked away with “You sing like an angel,” hoping against hope that maybe, just maybe, I could actually do this.

In college, I studied writing, believing it was my true passion, and then landed a well-paying corporate job. I married a musician. Time passed. 25. 26. 27. 28. My life felt off, like I was trying to break in a pair of shoes that would never fit.

I obsessively watched singing competitions, comparing myself to the contestants, always coming up short. I subscribed to an online karaoke service, and heard only off notes and lackluster tone. I thought about how I couldn’t sing and play an instrument at the same time. About my crippling stage fright.

It’s hopeless. Laughable. Not even worth admitting. Move on.

In February 2011, I started this blog, and in July 2012, I began doing creative unblocking exercises I’d learned long ago, courtesy of The Artist’s Way. Pretty soon it was impossible to hide from myself.

Fast-forward to Christmas Eve morning. I sat at my lap top, frantically sorting through the dozens of clips my husband, Peppermeister, and I recorded the night before, battling 30 years of “I can’t.”

But you can. Do it. NOW.

At 9am, I hit Publish. And then something miraculous happened. My heart immediately lightened. The hardest part was over:

I had posted a video clip of me. Singing. On my blog.

Jules singing

I call this one, “This is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done so please don’t judge me.”

I made light of it. Like I hadn’t been steeling myself for an entire year lifetime.

I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable by sharing just how monumental that was. Though Peppermeister’s a musician, we’d never tried this before (I know. Ridiculous). We tried for nearly 3 hours to get it right (I really, really hate admitting that), but even in the published clip, I hit a bad note, missed a cue, sounded tired.

It didn’t matter.

I had finally admitted what I wanted. I’d taken the first breath of my new life, wondering when I got so melodramatic how I’d survived before.

P.S. – We’ve been practicing. So watch out.

Have you had any big “Ah hah” moments? What do you want to be when you grow up?

I Promise This Will Never Happen Again!

Well, cherry-nosed Chipmunks. Last year Second Husband, Darren Criss, regaled you with We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

This year, I wanted to kick things up a notch. But where do you go from Second Husband and my favorite holiday tune?

Cue First Husband, Peppermeister. You may recall he’s a musician, and the former guitarist for the awesome reggae band, Echo Movement. He agreed to perform a song for ya’ll, on one condition…

…I sing.

Oh god.

Merry Christmas! …I love you. Maybe too much.

Oh, Snap

This is a post I wrote many moons ago and never published. Its alternate title is Filler Post #198 So Jules Can Get To Her 200th Blog Post This Week. I respect you too much to lie about this.

There is something endlessly appealing about the rock star dream. The thing is, we can’t all be Justin Biebers and Selena Gomezes. The rest of us get to pay $12 a month to secretly screech ourselves hoarse on SingSnap, playing back the audio as we bemoan the injustice of our pitchiness and lackluster tone.

Yes. I’m talking about a karaoke website. And it’s one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures. I’ve subscribed for several years, and show no signs of stopping. In fact, they recently ran a great deal and I signed up for a whole year.

I’ve always had the good sense to keep this hobby to myself, but often wonder how many skills and blessings I would gladly give up for the gift of the golden voice. Oh, to successfully sing a run, or master Whitney Houston!

First Husband getting his sing on.

It’s no surprise, then, that both my best friend and First Husband are talented musicians/singers, and that I’ve religiously watched American Idol since its inception. I’ve seen Glee live in concert. Twice. I even have my favorite amateur singers on YouTube. (I totally own the bragging rights of, “I subscribed to Alyssa Bernal when she was still just hchsknights08.”)

Because it doesn’t really matter how much you practice, or how badly you want it, I’ve set my sights on other goals. Like getting maintaining my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. And baking. You should try my carrot cake, it’s really filling.

I mean, fulfilling.

I made this. It’s carrot cake.

What’s your rock star dream? You know, the thing you wish you could do but are pretty sure unicorns would cry if you did?

Putting the Pep in Peppermeister

This is the kind of magic that happens in my craft room.

While my best friend, Jenn, is the woman behind the nickname Jules, my husband, Peppermeister, is the man behind this blog.

Here’s how he first won me over, complete with a mustache-themed shirt.

Last February, he tried to explain how great WordPress was, and how I should use it as a vehicle to start writing again. I knew nothing about blogging, but then I read a hilarious WordPress blog and thought, “Oh. Well. This could be fun.”

And now here we are, a year and a half later, Peppermeister begging me to write him a birthday post. I mean, he just won’t shut up about it.

“I mustache you to give me the greatest gift you ever could. A blog post,” he said last night.

Please note: That last paragraph is all lies.

Except for the part about his birthday, which is today.

How do you do someone named Peppermeister justice? This is the man who texted me on Friday to say, “Want to know what the best part of making chicken tacos is?”

And then followed-up with this picture:

How do you measure up to someone with whom you once had this conversation?

“She’s going to be home in 5 minutes,” I said, hanging up the phone. It was June 2003 and we were a month into dating, cuddling on the couch of a friend’s apartment. My friend let us hang out there because Peppermeister and I both still lived at home [with our parents].

He loves this picture. …Ahem.

“Great,” Peppermeister replied. “That gives me 3 minutes to convince you, and 2 minutes to do it.”

“Two minutes?” I answered, raising my eyebrows.

“Yeah. I thought we could do it twice.”

How do you write a post for someone who cordially invites the dog onto the couch, complete with trumpet calls? Or tells you you’re “pretty” and “svelte” every day? Or convinces his whole family, after stubbing his toe on a boat in the Bahamas, that he was bitten by a shark? Or plays a mean harmonica? Or finds fulfillment in teaching cognitively impaired children?

Well. You don’t. You just give him another funny t-shirt, bake some cupcakes and hope he doesn’t realize you didn’t clean the bathroom he could do a lot better.

Gawd, I’m getting sentimental in my old age.

P.S. – In case you’re wondering about Peppermeister’s [former] band, they’re called Echo Movement and they’re on the Warped Tour again this summer. We lurve them and you should, too.

How I Almost Walked the Red Carpet Last Week

Whoever said bloggers were lame, basement-dwellers who lack the talent of ‘real’ writers has never met the awesome array of bloggers I have via WordPress. I’m continually amazed by the gifts and goodness they possess.

Deb Bryan (The Monster In Your Closet) and Chris (From the Bungalow) just shaved their heads for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, The Byronic Man has made commercials, Clay Morgan (EduClaytion) and Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) have book deals, and Renee Fisher (Life in the Boomer Lane) and Tyler Tarver have published books, just to name a few.

So I guess in some ways I wasn’t surprised to receive this text from JM Randolph (Accidental Stepmom) last Thursday morning:

Totally last minute. CC can’t come to my opening nite show. I only got 1 ticket- do you want it? 6:45 curtain.

The show JM was referring to was Jesus Christ Superstar, which opened on Broadway March 22nd. Thanks to JM’s gig doing sound for theater, I just scored an invite to opening night – on Broadway! I responded accordingly:

Hi JM! I just saw this! Is it too late to say hell yes!?

And so it was. We agreed to meet at 6:30 in front of the theater. I went to Kohl’s on my lunch break and picked up two new blazers because, of course, nothing in my closet was right. I settled on all black: black stretch pants, black calf-high boots, a black high-necked shirt with a sheer overlay on front, and a black blazer with similar sheer trim along the bottom.

This one. Photo credit: http://resources.shopstyle.com

I lightened things up with my wedding-day earrings, which are getting a lot of play lately:

Bling-tastic

I boarded the 4:23 NJ Transit train, excited as could be. JM and I met for the first time in January, before I saw another Broadway show, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I was really looking forward to seeing her again. From reading JM’s blog, it’s obvious she’s smart, witty and completely badass. I expected to meet a tough, somewhat no-nonsense chick. Which intimidated the hell out of me. Oh, how wrong I was! JM is warm, welcoming and lovely. And gorgeous! Not I’m going to wear leather pants to kick your butt gorgeous, but Princess Bride gorgeous.

Our first meeting in January.

It was only on the train, nearly to Penn Station, that I saw an earlier text from JM (I’d been having battery issues with my phone all day):

oh and dress semi-fab. you will need a pic of yourself on the red carpet.

Red carpet?! Moi?! My honest-to-goodness first thought was: I think my stretch pants are see-through! I was willing to accept that any pictures of me would be less than flattering, but transparent pants was where I drew the line. It was akin to stepping out of a limo with no underwear.

We've all seen it happen. Photo credit: fashion.about.com

I quickly texted JM:

Oh holy shoot. For some reason I just saw your text about the red carpet. I did buy a new cute blazer on my lunch break BC that’s how I roll LOL but I don’t think it qualifies as fab?!?!?!?!

JM assured me it was no big deal, and that at least one person would be in sweatpants. I couldn’t tell if I’d just gotten myself out of it.

It was a gorgeous day for March, 75 degrees and sunny, and Manhattan was absolutely packed. It took me 40 minutes to work my way through the throngs of people to Neil Simon Theatre (I always prefer to walk to the theater district versus taking the subway or a cab from Penn Station, even though it’s at least a mile). I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen Times Square so jammed up.

There was also a huge crowd in front of the theater, though I couldn’t see who was on the red carpet. Several skeletal women passed by me in bright, silk dresses; it was clear they’d spent the entire day getting ready. My heart was in my throat at the prospect of sharing any kind of floor space with Broadway elite. I didn’t know the names of these producers and directors. I wouldn’t know Edward Albee if I tripped over him (just to make this reference I had to Google ‘living playwrights’).

When JM met me outside and handed me a ticket, I followed her lead. Okay, good, we weren’t headed towards the flash bulbs and cheers. Instead, we walked in through a side door.  Hallelujah, I was spared! Under different circumstances, I would have been disappointed. But not that night. Not in see-through pants.

JM showed me to her motherboard, which was on a platform at the back of the orchestra section. She introduced me to some of her colleagues and it was clear they all adored her (and vice versa). Being part of the in crowd really is all it’s cracked up to be, Chipmunks.

Darn phone. This is a picture of a picture. Yes. I have a new phone now.

I told JM I was learning about the inner workings of Broadway from one of my new favorite shows, Smash. She said they do actually do workshops like the one currently depicted on the show, confirming my suspicion that I can learn everything I need to know from TV. She paused.

“You do have crazy eyes.”

I laughed. I recently wrote a post about my crazy eyes; in it I described my giant pupils. Being in a dark theater surely made them noteworthy.

“I know,” I replied. “Everyone thinks I’m high all the time. …I wish.”

“Do they even need to dilate your pupils when you go to the eye doctor?” she asked with a good-natured smile.

Can I have some of your toe nail clippings for my collection?

Because the show was soon starting, I bid a temporary goodbye to JM and found my seat in the center of the balcony section. I smiled to myself when I saw the skinny-minnie-silk-dress girls in seats right by me. Ah, opening night on Broadway, what a great equalizer you are! I felt smug until I realized my see-through-panted butt could still barely fit in the wee Broadway seats (despite, and let me pause to brag for the first time here, a significant weight loss in the past year).

The audience was extremely enthusiastic, and while I’d never seen the play before, I was blown away by the production value and, most of all, the voices of the cast. (I bet some of that can be attributed to JM!) Andrew Lloyd Webber came out during the curtain call, and the standing ovation was the longest I’d ever taken part in.

I didn’t linger because I had to catch my train home, but hoped I managed to convey my gratitude and enthusiasm to JM before dashing. (In the end, I missed my connecting train -for the first time in my life- because I was too busy texting about my fun night out!)

Hey, we can still pretend I shared the spotlight with the likes of Megan Hilty (from Smash) and Andrew Lloyd Webber:

Hey, wait a second, Lisa Lampanelli…

…That dress looks familiar…

My surprise bridal shower, May 2008.

I’m so ahead of my time*! Maybe see-through pants will be in four years from now! Damn. I guess I should have walked that carpet.

*I bought this dress for $25 from Target 4 years ago. I cannot believe it’s on the red carpet right now.

Photo credit (marquis and red carpet pictures): broadwayworld.com.

Why Glee Makes My Soul Sing: A Point/Counterpoint Post

Chipmunks, your Monday is about to get a WHOLE lot brighter. I made another Glee-related presentation for you me! Wait ’til you see the lengths to which I’m willing to go just to prove a point. This is epic. I actually had to change clothes during the making of this video.

And it wasn’t even my idea this time! My B.F.F., Byronic Man, approached me a few weeks ago with an enticing proposition (…that’s what she said) – to do a point/counterpoint post. On the same day, we’d both blog about why we love (in my case) or hate (in his case) FOX’s Glee.

I know with my guilty pleasure zeal and project management skill set, it’s kind of unfair to go head-to-head with someone about a show like Glee. On the other hand, Byronic Man IS one of the funniest writers I know. So, if you want to hear what Byronic Man has to say about Glee, head over to his blog

…BUT FIRST…

 There’s no way you won’t agree with me after seeing THIS (I recommend watching in full screen)!

Why do you love/hate Glee? Don’t forget, the much-anticipated [by me] Michael Jackson episode airs tomorrow night (Jan 31st) on FOX (8pm EST)!

Getting Carded is Music to My Ears (…so is Charlene Kaye)

Chatterbox Chipmunks, I’ve been lied to. There’s no way I’m turning 30 in April. I can’t remember much from those early years, so for all I know, life began in 1986 and not 1982 like my birth certificate would lead you to believe.

That’s right. I’m not a day over 25.

My taste in accessories (slap bracelets) and hair styles (side ponies) suggests not a nostalgic fondness for the styles of my youth, but rather a hipster-esque desire to embrace ‘vintage’ trends.

I’m the baby of the family.

Of my friends.

I’m the young one!!

Me!!!

Er, meet my new friend, 21-year-old Christie:

Remember Christie? We met two weeks ago cavorting outside the “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” stage door, exactly the way smart, funny, adorable girls in their early twenties meet.

Christie is as sweet as a teeny, tiny baby chipmunk and attends a crazy-good school to study architecture.  We met up this past Thursday in lower Manhattan to see my fellow 25(ish)-year-old, Charlene Kaye, perform at the Rockwood Music Hall.

I wore a $4 white thermal shirt from Old Navy. You know, ’cause us young kids just don’t give a shiz*. The guy who carded me even said I was “a baby.” Now, I won’t be greedy. I’ll settle for 25.

That was the highlight of the night.

Kidding!

Kinda.

Charlene Kaye was brilliant, and managed to fill the venue, despite playing a 7pm set on a Thursday night. She performed for a mere 45 minutes, which is my only complaint. Charlene’s voice is pure and unique – both haunting and comforting. She can incorporate hip-hop beats into her music just as easily as power ballad piano riffs.

I'm a terrible photographer, but I think you can still see that Charlene is the cat's pajamas.

We said hello to Charlene after her set (there were high-fives exchanged…they have become cool and hip, so naturally I was included), and she asked if she’d see us again. Sure, Charlene, we’ll be at your CD release party in March – if I’ve finished my term paper I’m not too tired after work to make the commute.

Here’s a taste of my favorite song of Charlene’s, the title track of her soon-to-debut album, Animal Love:

*Until said young kid arrives home and realizes her tanning lotion has rubbed off on the sleeves.

What age do you want to relive so badly it makes you cry into your orange-stained sleeves?

Darren Criss and I Do Broadway!

Ulghhhh Sunday Happy Sunday, Chipmunks!

Here it comes…the post you’ve been waiting for!

Yesterday Babs and I headed into Manhattan to see Second Husband, Darren Criss, in his Broadway debut: “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” To say I was looking forward to this day is like saying a Friendly’s Reese’s peanut butter cup sundae is ‘just okay.’ After weeks of preparing my Why Polygamy is the Right Choice For You presentation for Second Husband, the day had finally arrived.

I laid out my outfit. The guilty pleasure gods blessed me with an unseasonably warm, sunny Saturday, and I didn’t even need the gloves and jacket vest!

Uncle Jesse is torn, because while he appreciates my exceptional taste, he knows this means I'm leaving him.

I took extra care doing my make-up, and debated waterproof vs. regular mascara. Would seeing Second Husband in the flesh reduce me to tears?

Some decisions are just too important to take lightly.

I took my chances with regular mascara. Mostly because it takes whale fat, rubbing alcohol and three to four woodland fairies to get waterproof mascara off.

I then consulted Babs and put my hair in her favorite style.

That perfect "oh I'm trying...but not TOO hard" up-do.

Feeling spiffy, we headed in on the 2:42 train, with the goal of getting to the “How to Succeed” stage door by 4pm. This way, we could hopefully score an autograph from Second Husband after the 2pm matinée performance.

I'm ready for you, Second Husband! And you can't even see my freakin' awesome footwear. (Thanks, Payless! Who knew pleather calf-high boots could be so comfortable?)

Once at the Al Hirschfeld theater stage door, we secured a decent spot on line, right against a barricade.

No one needs to know I'm 29 years old...right?

I chatted up the adorable girl next to me, Christie. She had seen the play the night before, and had come back to try to meet Darren. I told her I only had the Warblers CD for him to sign, and she gave me an extra Playbill! I was thrilled to reciprocate with the latest and greatest in cutting-edge fashion, a GoGuiltyPleasures slap bracelet.

Slap bracelets make friends.

We waited about 45 minutes, and the crowd thickened. Babs and I met another lovely mother-daughter duo, Anne and Molly, who definitely helped the time pass pleasantly. After quickly assessing their chipmunkitude, I covered them in slap bracelets. Interest in my bracelets grew, but I was running out. I had to save one for Second Husband, after all!

Beau Bridges and the female lead, Rose Hemingway, came out to sign autographs. They both graciously acknowledged my “Thank you SO much!” with sweet smiles and eye contact, solidifying my hunch that I could win Second Husband over as easily with my overdone undeniable charm.

Those lips smooch Second Husband Every. Night.

An hour and a half into the wait, I started to get restless, especially because I was late meeting the glorious JM Randolph (of Accidental Stepmom fame) and her husband for dinner. I kept her updated with texts: “Sooo sorry! He’s still not out yet!” She was very understanding. It was Second Husband.

After two hours, my feet were starting to feel the burn and I was ready to do this thing. The jokester security guard suddenly said, “We’re shutting it down!” I thought he was kidding, but watched in disbelief as he started removing all of the barricades. “The cops are shutting it down,” he explained. “There are too many people on the sidewalk.”

Sure, there were probably about 150 of us waiting in a line down the sidewalk, but, but, but… c’mon!! Everyone was being very patient and calm. Sigh. No Second Husband, and me with extra room in my heart.

Not too shabby. By the way, all of the posters featuring Second Husband were already sold out! You go, Darren!

I may not have gotten to meet Second Husband, but I DID get to meet the gorgeous and charming JM Randolph and her HILARIOUS hub. We missed having dinner with them because they had to get back to work, but we had a nice chat and will hopefully get to cash in on a rain check soon.

Babs and I, starving, and more importantly, libation-less, headed down the block to 45th and 9th Ave. to try our luck at Justin Timberlake’s restaurant, Southern Hospitality (he might not be bringing sexy back, but I guess bringing baby back ribs will do for now). The wait time was 45 minutes, but the cute host caught a glimpse of my Playbill, and after I shared the details of my autograph fail, he told us we could eat in the downstairs lounge/bar, if we didn’t mind. We didn’t! We got to eat and drink on a luxurious leather couch, the service was quick (key when you have an 8 o’clock curtain) and the food was very good. The lounge was quickly overrun with twenty-somethings, and suddenly a guy walked in and the group whooped and hollered. We realized we were in the middle of a surprise party. Er….surprise!! We got the check and skidattled.

Everywhere we went, we heard the name ‘Darren Criss.’ New York City seemed to have traded in its cool indifference for superfandom. (I fit right in.) Back at the theater, we made our way to our right orchestra aisle seats and I spotted lots of folks from Darren’s theater company, StarKid.

Joe Walker of StarKid fame sat right in front of us, which meant I got to see two tweens nearly hyperventilate while asking for an autograph.

When Darren descended from the ceiling as a window washer in the opening scene, the crowd went berserk. His StarKid friends/college mates were ecstatic. They grinned wildly and pointed to each other – their friend! On Broadway! It was a treat to witness.

Darren’s performance was hilarious, captivating and exuberant. (I’m being as objective as I can, I swear.) His enthusiasm, combined with the audience’s energy, made the two and a half hour show fly by. (If you read my lukewarm post about seeing the very same play back in April, when Daniel Radcliffe was the star, you know that I’m not always as easily won over.) Darren made the performance seem effortless, the way only great actors can. To think he only had two weeks to rehearse! And yeah, he looked drop-dead, too!

I should mention there’s a whole ‘fight song’ about a rivalry with a school whose mascot is a chipmunk. A chipmunk! I heard Second Husband say chipmunk!!! Babs nudged me so hard I almost landed at the peep show next door.

He was actually smiling throughout the curtain call, but I think in this moment he realized he didn't get a slap bracelet.

We didn’t have the stamina to try to get an autograph after the show, since we weren’t sure Darren would come out (he did…double sigh), but we made the 11:11 train, which was a miracle in and of itself. I lose at least two pounds every time I go into the city. (To see some great pictures of Darren from January 7th that Babs DIDN’T take, click here.)

The night ended with a text from Peppermeister: “How was it? Am I still your ONLY husband?”

For now, First Husband. For now.