Thoughts on 36

While I was on vacation, I turned 36. I’m still in my mid-30s, thankfully. I have one more year before I’m in my “late-30s.” I hate the sound of “late.” It’s like “late husband,” which I never use to describe my relationship to Mike. I always refer to him as my husband, which causes a lot of confusion, but I prefer confusion–and possible uncomfortable explanation–to saying “my late husband” as if I am waiting on his arrival at some event and trying to explain why he is not yet here. It also makes me sound like I’m 80 years old. Women who are in their 30s don’t have late husbands. Most women in their 30s haven’t been widowed.

Heretofore, I was never bothered by age. In fact, I wanted so badly to turn 30 because I thought the decade of my 20s ended rather bad. I wanted a “do-over.” Also, I thought it would gain me some respect to finally not be the youngest person where I worked (which was the case where-ever I worked). I got my do-over, I got my respect. But the sad thing about time is that it continues to pass.

Now I feel a little panicky that I’m running out of time. Those of you out there who are much older than me, I am sure, roll your eyes when you read/hear someone as young as me saying such things. But it’s true. I feel old. At least a decade older than I should. With the 10th “anniversary” (another word I hate in reference to death) of Mike’s death bearing down on me in 14 short days, I’m reminded how unpredictable life is. It’s not something I think about all the time any more, not since I’ve gotten through all those stages of grief, and I’m generally pretty positive about the changes in my life because I’m fulfilling a lot of the things on my unspoken bucket list as far as travel and adventure goes. But every once in a while, I remember my mortality. My birthday and the date Mike died both do that to me.

My panic usually involves thinking about all the stuff I haven’t done, but want to do so badly. Like publish my writing. Not because I want to make money off of it, I just want some recognition. Sure, that’s a little self-serving, but I think most artists are somewhat narcissistic. If we weren’t, no one would publish anything. Art wouldn’t hang in museums. We’d just do our art and keep it to ourselves. Why share it with anyone else? It’s not validation we seek, but to share our experiences with others. To connect. Good art makes someone else feel something. It’s the only way I know in which the human experience can be shared with another person. We love stories because we can experience thoughts and feelings we’ve never had or remember ones we have. We love pictures because we can see places to which we’ve never been. Art, in a way, launches us on great adventures, or takes us to those dark places we are afraid to talk about.

I don’t want to have kids, but I think about the fact that soon I will be unable to have kids. Choice will be removed and I think that’s a bit scary. I’ve always said that if I could live 200 years, I might consider having kids when I’m 100. There always seems to be so many other things I want to do that I can’t do if I had kids. Besides, I barely know enough about life to give anything useful to kids. I wouldn’t want them to be like me–listless, wishy-washy, and afraid to make bold moves. I need 100 years to figure how to do it all right. I need 100 years to do all the things I yearn to do so that I could settle down enough to take care of kids.

The fact that I would probably have kids by now, had Mike not died, does not elude my thoughts either. What a different life I would have had! I can’t lie to myself and say that I didn’t want kids with him, though I do revise that history in my head quite often to make myself feel better. I didn’t want to have kids in my 20s–he had wanted to start right away–but the idea of creating life with the man I loved seemed romantic and I might have done it in my 30s. If he had lived, I would be a different person than I am today. For sure. I may have even been a better person. His influence always made me better, stronger, happier.

When you’re in your 20s, life stretches out endlessly before your eyes. I lost the ability to see an endless horizon the day my husband died–now I merely see the structures 10-20 miles away in the distance. I can only focus on what I know is there, try to reach it, and if I don’t succeed, I focus on a different destination within my sight. I guess it was always that way, but it sure doesn’t seem that way when you’re young. (Probably why I love the name of U2’s album: No Line on the Horizon–that was my sight in my younger years.)

My biological clock is a time capsule I remember contributing to in 6th grade. My class was given a questionnaire to fill out that contained questions concerning what we thought our lives would be like in the year the time capsule was opened (which may have been 10 or 15 years from that time). I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I’m pretty sure at that time I thought I’d be a writer. Or an astronomer. I figured myself to be married, for whatever age I was told I would be when the time capsule was opened, surely it sounded old to me. I know that I have diaries from that time period where I wrote messages to my future husband and kids. I remember writing those as well but I haven’t found the courage to go back and read them. I think they would make me sad. Or embarrassed.

It’s not that I feel old in the sense of body deterioration. I’m as spry as ever, skiing better than I ever have in my life, becoming a much stronger cyclist. No, I feel mentally exhausted at times. Like I can’t figure out how to play this game of life and win. I’m definitely afraid of dying. I worry over getting a cancer diagnosis at least once a week. I think about how I would react if given one. Last month while driving to and from a ski resort, I twice spun out on the highway. Thankfully no one was around for me to hit; however, after each incident, I came through my panic remembering very clearly that I could have died. Sometimes just one wrong decision costs you a life. Like Mike not seeing a cardiologist after the incident in Detroit in which he thought he was having a heart attack.

We make decisions every day that effect the outcome of our lives. I’m always worried about these choices. Did I make the right one? What if my decision to ride my bike to work that day–at the exact time I leave my house–leads to me getting hit by a car? You never know. And while I know clearly that I shouldn’t think this way, I still do. I can’t help it. For years, I thought about every moment of the morning of Mike’s death, wondering what I could have done to change the outcome. And then I always thought about Detroit and how I should have made him see a doctor after he got back from that business trip. I even had dreams about that scenario at night. The mind just wants to fix everything. Fix time. Fix what cannot be fixed.

I guess I thought the 30s would bring back that endless horizon that I saw in my 20s. Maybe because Mike never lived past 32 so the 30s for him will never end. So as I hit my 36th birthday, I realized that time does in fact continue to march on. If I want to accomplish things–such as publication–I need to hit the gas pedal. I don’t have forever. I may not even have a week. I don’t know what I have. I don’t know what choice I will make in the next few hours that will cut short or extend my life. Live every day like it’s my last, right?

Except, well, you know, if I knew it was my last day on earth, I would quit my job. I have enough money saved to live on for a year, so why waste my last days doing something I don’t enjoy? Next, I would book a plane ticket to Europe and just start making my way around the world. I’d write the most amazing travelogue.

What does my plan really say about what I love most in life? Writing, traveling. Incidentally, this is the same plan I have for my life should I come into great wealth somehow. In a world where money didn’t matter at all, where I had some stability that would free me from the worries of paying my mortgage and feeding myself, I would totally just start writing. I’d buy a little condo or something in Colorado and I would spend my days writing. (Of course, skiing and cycling would fit in there too, but my “job” would more or less be writing.) In this case, I could care less about actually getting published, but I would try anyway because it wouldn’t hurt anything except my pride since I wouldn’t need it; I wouldn’t be banking my stability on being able to replace my current means of income with this one. And if I did get published, and I did make money on it, great.

I don’t know how people manage to pursue their dreams without the securities of wealth or the pressure of immanent death bearing down on them. Maybe I’m just not one who is comfortable in risk. I don’t believe in myself enough to take one (I can’t even muster the courage to ask guys I like out). The kinds of risk I’m comfortable taking are ones I find easy–tasks of physical strength like cycling and skiing, exploring the world (even foreign places where I can’t even speak the language), trying exotic food. All of this seems easy compared to pursuing a dream which may be a completely unfulfillable one.

I know I don’t have to quit my job to become a writer. But it’s certainly hard to find the energy and motivation to write after a day of work. During my most potentially productive hours of the day, I’m at the day job. I’m always wanting to write when I’m at work. Ideas flow when they flow. Or maybe they flow because I can’t actually work on my writing. I just end up jotting stuff down on paper and hoping that I remember where that idea was going when I get home. It’s kind of hard to board the inspiration train hours after it’s pulled out of the station.

Turning 36 just makes me feel panicked, out of breath. I don’t think 40 is old, but I also feel that a person who doesn’t do something risky before they are 40 are just never going to get it done. So in a way, I feel like it’s a benchmark to a part of adulthood where you begin to lose your credibility with the world. You’re neither young nor old; you’re a twelder (like a “tweener” is the bridge between childhood and teenage). Artists like U2 peaked long before they were even my age. Do I even stand a chance of success as an artist if I haven’t already done it? Who will pay attention to a dreaming 40-something with an overactive imagination who talks to people in her head that she made up (but whom she thinks are real)? It’s too easy to start coasting through life after awhile. I know; I’ve done it for the last 10 years. Mike’s death admittedly put the brakes on my forward progress.

I hope I have a long life ahead of me. 36 more years would be nice. And maybe 36 more after that. I wish I knew for certain that I’d live that long. I’ve had enough randomness to last a lifetime.

Off The Grid

I just returned from a week vacation skiing at Whistler and Blackcomb in British Columbia, about 2 hours from Vancouver, Canada. Even though it’s our neighboring country, and really not that different in look and feel than the US, Canada always makes me feel as though I’m far away in a country across the ocean. I can’t use my cell phone because I don’t have an international plan which also includes, as I learned, my data plan. Travel between the US and Canada used to be so casual (except when returning to the US); now, it requires passports and stricter checks through customs. It may have always been this way when traveling by plane–this was my first time entering Canada by plane–but it’s also been several years since I’ve driven to Toronto so I don’t know. The last time I went to Toronto, I only needed to show my driver’s license.

Anyway, trapped in the little resort town of Whistler, I was without both phone and constant internet access since not only could I not use my data plan, but my hotel did not offer free WiFi. My friend and travel companion, Janet, and I refused to pay for internet so we had to search the town for businesses who offered free WiFi to customers. We discovered that a small cafe called Gone Fishing Bakery & Soup Co and the Whistler Brewhouse both had free WiFi. (We heard that both Starbucks had it but we avoided chain coffee houses like the plague.) So I guess you could say I was forced to drink more coffee and beer in order to check my email, Facebook, and the @U2 forum while I was gone. A small price to pay for internet, no? I guess ultimately I was paying for internet… but it was like getting two services (beer or coffee and the internet) for the price of one. I like a good bargain.

I thought I would go crazy without the constant access to the world I’m used to. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone somewhere where I couldn’t readily access the internet–2007, to be exact, when I was “off the grid” in Italy. And that was before I had a Blackberry which has even increased the amount of time I spend checking Facebook, email, and, yes, the @U2 forum. I’m spoiled by my overuse. (My poor Facebook friends, on the other hand, are over-inundated with my status updates from every place I go and everything I do.) For the first time on vacation ever, I’d even brought my netbook hoping to do some blog writing in the evening.

Amazingly enough, I did not go crazy. It was so easy to let go of all that internet access–much easier than I thought. I found that my focus came back to the here and now. While I was skiing, all of my attention was focused on my skiing and admiring the scenery as I did so. Most of the days, I didn’t even bring my useless phone with me because there was no WiFi on the mountain anywhere, not even in the lodges. I had an actual camera for taking pictures. I was truly away from everything.

Along with my attachment to knowing everything about everyone all of the time, I lost all secondary thoughts about everything else going on in my life. I stopped thinking about my rock star story (which is always on the back of my mind), the too-soon excitement over my upcoming U2 concerts, stresses about trying to get a memoir piece published, work, my friends back home–everything was all gone. I even stopped worrying about my weight and money. It was so utterly relaxing. I haven’t  had a vacation where I’ve let go this much in a long, long time.

Of course, I did check the internet almost every evening. But only for an hour or two. Which is equitable exchange when you consider I didn’t even touch the TV except when looking for the weather or a mountain snow report. (We did catch the last fifteen minutes of Jon Stewart one night.) Most of the time when I did access the internet, it was to answer some important personal email or communicate with my friend Kat who was watching my cat Nicki. Okay, and, I admit that on Friday night I did follow a thread on @U2 while watching  Twitter updates  to catch what was going on in the last quarter of the U2 concert in Chile…. I didn’t say I completely lost all my vices… (If I were home, I’d have sat followed the entire concert virtually. So I didn’t even interrupt my vacation to follow the show.)

The point is, my life didn’t–for once–completely revolve around the internet or my computer. I guess because it slowly took over my life in the last couple of years, I hadn’t realized just how much stress using it added to my life. When I’m constantly checking for status updates on Facebook or reading email, I’m not able to focus on getting anything done. What I view as a quick interruptions actually adds up to several hours of usage. Distraction. I was starting to think that I had severe A.D.D.; turns out, I’m probably just generally bored at home. When I have sufficient interesting activities, I can go without the internet.

Perhaps I should practice going off the grid more often. Instead of cycling with my cell phone in my jersey pocket, maybe I should just shut it off and put it in my saddle bag. Does everyone really need to know what mile I’m on when I’m on a century ride? It was just so refreshing to be completely away from everyone and everything. Just what I needed. I need to get  away like this more often, if only on a short weekend trip. And when I’m writing, I should turn off all other distractions. I have to admit, since returning, I’m a little less interested in the internet than I was before I left. I suspect this will change in time as I become bored with everything again. But it was nice to get away from my life and distraction for a little while. I hope this break re-inspires my writing too.

No Line On The Horizon

So it’s been two years since U2’s No Line On The Horizon (NLOTH) came out and I had promised back then that I was going to write a review of this album. But I never did. I think it’s taken me this long to fully process my reaction to the album and I feel I can finally respond in a way that will do it justice. I liked it right away; I just wasn’t fully sure what I thought. Some U2 albums have taken a long time to sink in with me–All That You Can’t Leave Behind being a prime example–and while I liked NLOTH initially, I’ve come to like it more and more as time has passed and I’ve experienced (via the wonders of the internet) the first several legs of the 360 tour. I’ve also come to understand it better. Some of the songs I initially felt neutral about have sunk their roots into my soul where they’ve flowered into full-on love.

I think it’s a good sign when a U2 album sinks on you slowly–it means they went outside of the comfort zone of their familiar sound to give us something more experimental and new. NLOTH is a refreshing step forward for U2, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Pop. I think like Pop, the true brilliance of NLOTH will be recognized with time. Which unfortunately is not fast enough for a band that craves public approval as much as U2 does. I hope they continue on this vein of experimentation instead of retreating back to the old familiar on their next album.  How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was a fearful retreat and while I loved its familiarity when it first came out, the songs, for the most part, just haven’t stuck with me the way I’m sure the songs on NLOTH will.

I like my favorite bands to evolve. When art stagnates, both the artists and its fans become bored with it. An artist should always challenge him/herself. As Bono himself has said, “There’s a point where you realize you’re tip-toeing as an artist, and then you know you’re in the wrong place.” I wish U2 would listen to these wise words from their lead singer more often (even Bono would serve to remember them). I want U2 to go whatever direction excites them musically. I have no doubt whatsoever that I would follow.

No Line On The Horizon

I honestly did not like this song at all the first time I heard it and for quite a long time after. It wasn’t the words; I found something grating and annoying about the music. I routinely skipped it when playing the album. However, on the U2 forum I frequent, I was introduced to the B-side of the “Get On Your Boots” single which contains a version of this song called “No Line On The Horizon 2.” This version of the song has a more funky, un-U2-like guitar riff that gives it a stripped down, rustic sound. Then, in my whirlwind spree of downloading bootlegs from the 360 Tour, I happened upon a few live versions of the song–one full band and one acoustic (“busker style,” as Bono called it referring the act of street performing as it is called in Europe).

Needless to say, I like the song a lot now. And because of the other versions, I’ve come to appreciate the album version. I’m new to the party, so I haven’t had time to really grasp all the lyrics (as great as they are), but at a quick glance, it appears to be one of Bono’s slightly off-kilter love songs… But it could possibly be so much more that I’m missing. My favorite lines are: “Every night I have the same dream, I’m hatching some plot, scheming some scheme.”

Magnificent

I feel “Magnificent” is the antithesis to the  much earlier “Out of Control” from U2’s first album, Boy. In “Out Of Control,” the young Bono, filled with some trepidation about his future and adulthood, says of his birth:

One dull morning
I woke the world with bawling
I was so sad
They were so glad.

In “Magnificent,” 50-year-old Bono paints a much happier image of his early life to describe his first cry from the womb as a “joyful noise.” “Magnificent” is the sublimation of maturity, of recognizing a calling fulfilled and acceptance. It is a song of praise whose receiver seems to be interchangeably God and U2’s audience:

I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice
But to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to

“Magnificent” is definitely one of the joyous songs Bono has written in a long time and the music is so wonderfully uplifting. I loved this song from the moment I heard it on Letterman and I rushed to youtube to find more versions of it. It was the song that made me get excited about the NLOTH after I was slightly disappointed by the first single “Get On Your Boots.”

Moment Of Surrender

“Moment of Surrender” is a song about hitting rock bottom. I have a deep personal connection to this song because it was not drugs or alcohol abuse that brought me to my own “moment of surrender,” but grief. All the lyrics in this song so painfully describe those moments and how I felt when I thought the world was dissolving beneath my feet.

I was punching in the numbers
At the ATM machine
I could see in the reflection
A face staring back at me

There was a day in December of 2001 when I was joylessly Christmas shopping in the Coventry area on the east side of Cleveland. I remember walking down the street, feeling like a ghost as happy people easily moved about around me–“I did not notice the passers-by / And they did not notice me”–and I kept checking the store windows to see if I still existed. “Moment of Surrender” always jogs that memory in my mind and the feelings of disassociation, absence, and utter sadness that come with it, reminding me once again what it feels like when you find yourself slipping away.

The last verse is the most powerful, suggesting redemption through suffering, and, I suppose, by following the path of Christ. For me, it was a simple path of faith–of wanting to be alive again and realizing I couldn’t go on any other way–and taking the painful first steps to believe in life and fight for it. Of course, along the way, the people around you chose not to look at your suffering because they can’t deal with it. Perhaps they can’t handle it. But they too would like to see it end.

I was speeding on the subway
Through the stations of the cross
Every eye looking every other way
Counting down ’til the pain will stop

It’s no surprise that the band closes their 360 shows with this song. I’m sure when I witness it live, I will be brought to tears.

Unknown Caller

This song gets a lot of flack on the fan forums for it’s simple lyrics in which God speaks to the song’s narrator (a character, not the lead singer) using computer terminology–“reboot yourself,” “force quit and move to trash,” “password, you, enter here”–but this is precisely why I love this song. It’s a brilliant, timely metaphor. Bono has always been fascinated by modern technology, it’s uses, and it’s effect on us as a society.  Remember ZooTV, people? Bono’s cover of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love”? The suggestion that television distorts reality which was the underlying theme of the movie The Million Dollar Hotel (for which Bono wrote the concept)? And, once again, a cover of “Satellite of Love” in the soundtrack for the same movie? God using technological language to pull the song’s narrator out of the depths of depression is just so fitting. It’s a modern day psalm.

I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight

“I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” (Crazy Tonight) should probably have been the first single for NLOTH. It’s catchy and something that would grab the casual listener in the likes of “Vertigo” and “Beautiful Day.” That’s not to diminish the quality of this song; in fact, I love it so much it’s the ringtone on my cell phone (which also attests to its upbeat tempo). On the 360 Tour, U2 have further enhanced this song by performing a club-like dance remix that appears to be the highlight of the show as the band really lets loose, strutting on the catwalk and moving to the music as they play their instruments. Even Larry leaves his hiding spot from the drum kit to beat a bongo drum as he walks the cat walk.

I have joked that Crazy Tonight is the soundtrack to my experiences climbing hills on my bike: “It’s not a hill it’s a mountain / As you start out the climb.” In all honesty, this is a song is the manic side of any depressive bout. “Look for me, I’ll be shouting / We’re going to make it all the way to the light / And I know I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight.” This song makes me feel like life is filled with an endless stream of possibilities. Every challenge starts out as a mountain when you look at it from the bottom, but if you climb anyway, it eventually gets easier. This philosophy has certainly held true for my life.

Get On Your Boots

“Get On Your Boots” is another song I did not like initially when it was released as a single ahead of the album. I’m not sure what it was or why. Perhaps I was expecting a more U2-sound like the previous HTDAAB album (and shame on me for it). The heavy guitar, so uncharacteristic of The Edge’s style, threw me off or something. But I admit that when it was pointed out to me that the song praises the less aggressive characteristics of femininity, implying that men have screwed up human history with war and destruction, I started to like it. How can I argue with feminist lyrics? Bono woos me with his respect for women.

Since purchasing the album, I’ve grown to like the song a lot more, including the heavy guitar and bassline I originally unsure about. The style of this song is similar to a new, unreleased song played on the 360 Tour called “Glastonbury.” Surprisingly, “Get On Your Boots” is in the top 25 songs by number of plays in iTunes. So I guess I got over my initial determination of it.

Stand Up Comedy

Bono himself takes a lot of flack–and, often, is the victim of undeserved hatred–from fans and non-fans alike because he is so vocal politically and socially. But Bono is the first one to take a hard look at himself. “Stand Up Comedy” is one of those songs in which Bono mocks his own influence and bids us to make up our own minds about those things we chose to stand up for:

I can stand up for hope, faith, love
But while I’m getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road
Like a little old lady

And, of course, you can’t exclude my favorite line from the song: “Stand up to rock stars / Napoleon is in high heels / Josephine beware of small men with big ideas.” I love that Bono can make fun of himself in this way; it shows he’s incredibly self-aware and not the egomaniac that his haters believe him to be. I love this song lyrically from its self-awareness to its hippy-dippy messages–“God is love. And love is evolution’s very best day!” And the kick-ass guitar riff, reminiscent of  Led Zeppelin, is a very bold sound for U2.

FEZ-Being Born

Lyrically, “FEZ-Being Born” is probably the least interesting to me on the whole album. That does not mean it’s a song I don’t enjoy. It’s kind of an ambient sound that hearkens to the songs on my second favorite album, The Unforgettable Fire, and Original Soundtracks I (U2 and Brian Eno project from which “Miss Sarajevo” comes). With FEZ-Being Born, the music is the experience. I enjoy the flowy sound along with Bono’s vocal noises–those melodious “oh”‘s where his voice is like an additional instrument in the song. I also love the repeats of “Let me in the sound,” which is my favorite lyric in “Get On Your Boots” as well because it describes that feeling of loving the joyful noise so much you want to live within and between it.

White As Snow

“White As Snow” is admittedly another song that took awhile for me to appreciate. Every time Bono sung the line, “Only the lamb as white as snow,” I kept hearing the melody for “Mary Had A Little Lamb” which kind of made the song seem silly to me. I admit that I used to skip this song as well. But after hearing the new, unreleased songs “North Star” and “Every Breaking Wave” on the 360 Tour bootlegs and videos on youtube, I decided that I should be giving all slow ballads a fair shake. The lyrics in “White As Snow” are beautiful–how can a poet not love: “Now this dry ground, it bears no fruit at all /Only poppies laugh under the crescent moon”? I’m not sure what the song’s about, necessarily, but I’m enjoying it much more now.

Breathe

After the heaviness that is “White As Snow, ” and other earlier songs such as “Moment of Surrender,” “Breathe” is literally a breath of fresh air between sobs of heartache and gasps of joy. I’ve said before that I think this is one of U2’s greatest songs–it’s on my top ten list, slowly climbing to the top most space. The song makes me feel like I’ve just had a good cry, I’ve come to terms with something I’ve been struggling to overcome, and I’m ready to find aspects of life to embrace, to love. To sing this song out loud frees my spirit. If I’m in an abysmal mood, “Breathe” brings me back out and makes me want to embrace life. But it’s not easy to embrace life, it’s not easy to love and the song speaks loudly to that with the choice of words, “Every day, I have to find the courage to walk out into the street with arms out.” “Breathe” speaks to the part of me that finds solace, healing, and peace in music. And the part of me that struggles always the find the beauty in every experience.

Cedars Of Lebanon

Sadly, I admit that “Cedars Of Lebanon” is my least favorite track on NLOTH. I know that I should like it–it’s about a reporter in the Middle East who is recording the horrors of the war. But for some reason, it just didn’t grab me. I suspect it’s not the lyrics so much as the music. It just doesn’t connect with me. However, an unreleased song written during the NLOTH sessions called “Winter,” which appears on the soundtrack for the movie Brothers, I like a lot better. The original version of “Winter” (not the version that appears on the Brothers soundtrack) has a great combination of music, lyrics, and an emotional performance by Bono with an ending that sounds as though tears were falling from the singer’s eyes as he sang them. “Winter” is from the perspective of a young solider who grows up fighting in the Middle East and the lyrics paint pictures of scenery that must appeal to me more poetically. I feel bad that “Cedars of Lebanon” just doesn’t stir me as much as “Winter” because “Cedars” is a fan favorite. But like the song “Grace” on All That You Can’t Leave Behind, I struggle to appreciate “Cedars of Lebanon.” The music and the lyrics have to grab me equally, I guess. And that’s what “Winter” does, but I can see why they might not have chosen to include it on NLOTH since “White As Snow” and “Winter” both kind of have wintery titles…

Gone

I’m here to say that the rumors are true… As of last week, I’m now officially going to yet another U2 show this summer. Just added to my itinerary: Nashville, July 2, 2011.

Excessive? If you think so, perhaps you should read the bi-line of this blog again: The story of a girl from Mars and her passion for everything.

Let’s examine the word “everything,” shall we? It’s really two words stuck together to form one–every and thing. Encompassing literally all things. All things of which I love. There is no halfway with me. I’m an all or nothing kind of gal.

So what prompts a girl who was originally going to one U2 show in seats to willingly fork over money for one, then two, and then a third additional show? And, for godsakes, why? Pent up anticipation. The original show in East Lansing was supposed to happen in 2010 but was delayed when Bono injured his back. After surgery and several months of rehabilitation, U2 was back in the road in August last year. And then they added dates to their North American tour, one of which was Pittsburgh. So I was thinking, “Hey, Pittsburgh is closer than East Lansing, and I’m going to East Lansing, why I don’t I go to Pittsburgh too?”

And since the second ticket I bought for East Lansing has changed hands about three times, I figured I’d save myself the hassle of trying to find someone to go with me and just go alone.  And, while I was at it, why didn’t I try this general admission thing my fellow fans are always raving about? Sitting in line all day sounded kind of like a campy bonding experience with fellow worshippers of the band. Maybe I’d meet some friends. Being in GA always looks like a crazy party of dancing and jumping around. I love crazy parties. I love to dance and jump around!! I love to scream my lungs out! I’d love to be so close to the band I can see them sweat!

Then in October I joined a fan forum. And I started talking to some people on a regular basis. We’ve talked about this one before… A little arm-twisting, a little photoshop manipulation of some pictures pleading me to go, and the next thing I know, I’m buying a ticket for Philly. This time, I’m feeling secure because I will know people and have some friends to hang out with in line.

So last week, I’m sitting around, contemplating all the wonderful 360 bootlegs I’ve downloaded and listened to in the last several months, and my excitement is mounting again. I’m thinking that I just can’t get enough of live U2–the band reinvents themselves every time they take the stage. U2’s about to open the South American leg of their tour on March 25th. A lot of anticipation is building, tickling my veins with excitement. And I’m looking up which shows on the US leg take place on a weekend so that maybe I could drive to yet another without taking additional time off work. And along comes Nashville.

I think about it. Google Maps tells me it takes about 8 hours to get to Nashville from my house. I look at my company’s time-off schedule. I realize I could swap my July 4th holiday out for Friday July 1st instead. I announce publicly my thoughts of adding Nashville and find out that my friend Kristy is also going to that show; she invites me to drive down with her and her husband. And the next thing I know, I’m pushing the Submit button to send payment to a ticket site for the Nashville show.

Lock and load. My first GA experience changes from Philly to Nashville. Whee!!

So you probably think I’ve lost my mind. And that’s okay. This is about the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Which means it really needed to be done. It’s an adventure and a half. You only live once and all that. Have you ever loved something so passionately that you were willing to run to the ends of the earth to grab a hold of it for just two seconds? That describes my plight.

Okay, so I’m no longer at the point where I can claim all this as part of the research for my novel. I think that excuse is long dead. I’ll just own up to my obsessive behaviors and be done with it. However, I will point out that I’m not alone… There are many, many U2 fans like myself who are attending several more concerts than me. Some people, like a girl I know online, is actually flying in from Australia to see several shows on the US leg. At least two of the people I will meet with the group in Philly are flying in for the show from Europe.

I guess, though, that’s like an alcoholic saying that they can’t be an alcoholic because they know people who drink more than they do. Ha. But, well, U2 music won’t destroy my life…. My friends think I’m a little odd, that’s true, but they thought that for years anyway with all my other obsessive reactions to those things about which I’m passionate–cycling, astronomy, skiing. I bet every one who criticizes has something they’re secretly–or even openly–passionate about, something that drives them to the ends of the earth to seek fulfillment with. If you don’t, then perhaps you should find something.

It’s like my new t-shirt (which I plan to wear at the concerts at which I’m in GA) says, “I don’t suffer from addiction to U2; I enjoy every second of it!”

I admit that I'm addicted to this band.