Fifteen Seconds of Fame…

I realize the saying is usually “fifteen minutes of fame,” but in my case, it was closer to fifteen seconds. Give or take two seconds. I wasn’t exactly timing it. I was too busy floating in a surreal world of Cloud Nine Dreams Come True.

My friend Amy and I were minding our own business in the front row of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Strings Attached concert here in Pittsburgh last night. I had already warned Amy that I would sing along with every single song, unapologetically. It’s just how I roll. And, I did. Every. Single. Word. Of Every. Single. Song. 

I’d given Amy homework before the concert: memorize both “The Saga Begins” and “Yoda,” because Al does those two songs as an encore at every concert and everyone sings along. And he did not disappoint us. The audience sang along on all the choruses (and most of the verses) of both songs. First “The Saga Begins” …

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(Photo courtesy of @AmyJMable)

Then “Yoda.” Near the end of “Yoda,” Al turned the microphone to the audience and told us to sing. And we all belted out a chorus of “Yoda” together with gusto.

Then, without warning—with his accordion still strapped to his chest and the microphone in his hand—he knelt down and crept over the wires at the front of the stage. I could see him headed my way with that microphone sticking out as the audience wrapped up its group-chorus… and… and

Oh my gosh… was he headed toward ME with that thing??

Then, he yelled into the microphone, “NOW JUST HER!” and pointed it right at my nose. I saw my life flash before my eyes as I used that split-second to decide whether to curl up and die in an introverted heap, or to boldly go where I had never gone before (that is, singing solo in front of 3,000 strangers, right in front of my favorite musician ever).

Should I belt out an entire chorus of “Yoda” all by myself? Or should I live in regret and despair forever? Guess which one I chose. No, really, guess. I’ll wait.

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Have you guessed yet?

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I even did my own conducting at the end…

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It was perhaps the most glorious fifteen seconds of my life. And I might even include the births of several of my children and at least one of my weddings in that assessment. But I won’t say which ones.

Poor Amy froze. Although she’d been surreptitiously taking a picture here and there (just like everyone around us), there just wasn’t time for her to unfreeze, get her phone ready, and snap a picture.

So where did these candid pictures come from? Well, you see, there was this VIP after-party…

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…where we all chatted and made new friends while we waited to get our photo taken with Al. There was classical music playing and there were battery-operated candelabras on the tables. Stormtroopers and Darth Vader entertained us.

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Al even bought us all pizza!

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Meanwhile, I was teasing poor Amy about having not captured my moment of glory for posterity. (She endured it with grace. I would’ve smacked me into next Tuesday, but Amy is lovely and forgiving, unlike me.) She began asking around while we were in line for our photo op, and since “Weird Al” fans are some of the nicest people I’ll ever meet, we found someone further down the front row who had taken three photos of my fifteen seconds of fame, one Jeff McClelland by name. (That’s one picture every five seconds for all you fellow English majors out there.)

Keep reading. It gets weirder.

I exchanged cell phone numbers with a beautiful friend of Jeff’s, and she said she’d text me the photos today. And… she did. And… I squealed with delight.

And… it turns out Mr. McClelland designed the AWESOME Pittsburgh concert poster for this tour (all VIPs received a 16×24 copy of this poster, individually numbered), and mine will be framed and hanging in my office by the end of this week. It’s a great mix of “Weird Al” Yankovic meets Andy Warhol.

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[@JeffMcClelland]

I need to keep thanking Jeff McClelland (and his friend Brianne [@DellaandLila], who was the catalyst for these photos to get to me and who, as it turns out, is a children’s book author—see? I told you it got weirder), but I don’t think there is enough gratitude in the world for going the extra mile to get these to me.

And, of course, thank you to Mr. Yankovic, for not only entertaining us last night, but for providing me with decades of entertainment that got me through some very dark times. You, sir, are a gem.

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Unpacking and Repacking

legs-window-car-dirt-road-51397.jpegIn late March, I stayed overnight in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, so I could meet-and-greet “Weird Al” Yankovic at his concert appearance there. I packed a quick overnight bag, and off I went.

A week and a half later, I packed a larger suitcase to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio. That trip included a cooler full of snacks and a messenger bag full of tech gadgets, cords, cables, books, medications, toiletries, and supplements—everything I’d need for four nights away from home.

A week after getting home from that trip, I’m now repacking that suitcase and messenger bag for yet another jaunt, this time to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for two days of publication board meetings. Tomorrow I’ll replenish the meds and the shampoos, put the newly washed clothes back into the suitcase, and download all the new maps to my phone.

After this trip, I get to stay home for about two months, till late June, when I’ll head off to Grove City, Pennsylvania, for the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference.

Frankly, I don’t know how some people travel for a living. Sure, I love each little jaunt for its own sake, but I really don’t like when they start ganging up on me like this. I prefer long stretches of time at home (and long walks on the beach… no, wait, that’s from somebody’s Tinder profile)… so I can concentrate on a book project or consider long-term goals like mopping the kitchen floor. (That sort of goal requires too much brain space to be accomplished in the short time in between road trips. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

In the two-month gap between Michigan and Grove City, I hope to birth two novels that have been teetering on the edge of publication for far too long. Let’s just hope no more urgent trips spring up in that gap… because I’m liable to curl up in a fetal position and weep uncontrollably. And I really hate when I do that. It’s awkward.

Although every road trip has its marvelous moments, I’ll be glad when they’re over for a while. I’ll leave the globetrotting and the gallivanting and the meandering to those of you who enjoy it a lot more than I do. Or who get paid to do it. I’d totally enjoy lots of road trips if I got paid to take them.

As I pack yet again and decide which color Converse All-Stars are going with me on this trip, my inner homebody sighs and anticipates pulling back into the driveway for the last time this year. Till then: Have GPS, will travel. Won’t always like it, but will travel.