Thursday, July 15

A Fangirl Tale

This week's topic at Teen Fiction Cafe is embarrassing tales, but rather than writing an entire blog entry on my tiny bladder (no, I have not had any real accidents but some close calls) that would be TMI and *too* embarrassing. I've decided that I would write about a total fangirl moment, since I got sooooo fangirly it felt kinda embarrassing.... well, whatever it happened 2 days ago and I wanted to tell the story so I've decided to try to make it fit.

I'm still completely shocked when people are excited to meet *me*. I get just as excited about having an actual fan usually as the fan is excited about meeting me. (I have the whole "You like me? You really like me???" moment.) Why? Because I am used to being the fangirl. When I go to publishing conferences and meet people like Laurie Halse Anderson, who is one of my biggest literary inspirations, I'm hyperventilating on the inside, wondering how the hell I wound up invited to the same event as someone as amazing as her. When I met my fellow TFC girls: Melissa Walker, Linda Gerber and Elizabeth Scott at BEA this year, there was some major inner squeeing going on along with wondering how the hell I got invited to blog with them. But nothing, NOTHING matched the fangirl moment I had on Tuesday night when I finally met the woman who has inspired me more than anyone besides my own mother AND it happened on my birthday:

In case somehow you don't recognize her that's the one and only Courtney Love. A photo taken by my friend Jenny from our front and center spot at the Hole concert in St. Louis on Tuesday night.

When I say that I'm a fan of Courtney Love and Hole, I feel the automatic need to defend my choice. She's controversial. She always has been even before she was a tabloid regular. She's made a lot of bad choices. She's fallen into a lot of deep dark places. But she's human. I may be a fangirl, but I'm not a celebrity worshiper or someone who puts people up on a pedestal just because they are famous and/or talented (and unfortunately you no longer have to be talented to be famous). I grew up in the punk scene. I went to shows where the bands played with no barrier between themselves and the audience. Because they are just people, people happen to be extremely talented. So I don't need the musicians or other artists I admire to be perfect or be role models. I love them because of the art they create. Have I felt embarrassed *for* Courtney Love before? Sure. She's been in the spotlight during very vulnerable times and made poor choices. But here is the reason why Courtney and her music has always meant so much to me. This is straight from the acknowledgments in my book I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE:

"The first time I heard Courtney Love scream that she was "pretty on the inside," it saved my angry, thirteen-year-old girl soul."

Courtney was the gorgeous (but not traditionally early 90's supermodel pretty), outspoken woman who said the things I couldn't. She made me feel like I could be beautiful in my own way even though the boys in junior high mocked my looks every day. Her music helped me release the rage from those incidents and so many incidents throughout high school. She taught me to be strong. She taught me that I could live through this and be survivor. (and wow, is she a survivor. If you haven't seen VH1's Behind the Music on her, you should and the magnitude of what she has survived will hit you hard.) She taught me how to be angry and flawed and to pick myself up when I fall down and turn it into art. I wouldn't be a writer without her music. I might not even be here period.

So... Total. Huge. Fangirl.

When I found out that she was playing on my 31st birthday in St. Louis, the city I am originally from, I decided I had to go. It's only a five hour drive from Chicago and one of my very best friends lives there, a friend who I met online because of our love of Hole's music actually. So I know she would be game for going and paying extra to get VIP tickets. Here I am with Jenny (left) and our VIP tickets:

Now the VIP ticket basically just meant you got early entry into the venue and a special laminate and poster. All I cared about was the early entry. I haven't ventured onto the floor or the pit at a concert since my early twenties. I spent my teen years getting ribs bruised and other cuts, scrapes and bumps every weekend at punk shows. It got old. I *felt* old. But I decided that on my 31st birthday, I would be 13 again. I would be right up front for Courtney. I would be goofy and have a blast. I even wore a birthday girl tiara in hopes that it might catch her eye. Which it did. At one point she asked, "Is it your birthday?" I told her it was and then she proceeded to talk about how cute "my boyfriend" was. He was actually just a really tall dude standing behind me, politely protecting me from being crushed. My husband was out with Jenny's husband having boy time because we couldn't afford two VIP tickets and besides it seemed like an experience I should have with one of my best girl friends. Here I am in front of the venue with Jenny in my birthday tiara (for awhile I arranged the stickers on it to say it was my 13th birthday instead of 31st because that's what it felt like, it was so much fun!)

The show as completely amazing (except for a couple psycho drunk fans). Courtney's voice was in peak form and she was obviously sober. She played my favorite old Hole song ("Plump") back to back with my favorite new song "Someone Elses's Bed"). My only possibly complaint was I wish it had gone on a little longer. But I enjoyed every second of it. When the show ended, I did something I'd never done before and asked the bouncer if I could have the setlist because it was my birthday. He gave it to me! And there was no doubt what would happen next, Jenny and I had to stick around out back to see if I could get it signed.

And now I have to make another totally dorky admission... I brought a copy of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE to give to Courtney if I had the opportunity. She inspired that book in so many ways. Like I said earlier, I wouldn't have become a writer without her influence, but also she made me want to be in a band.... except I sucked. So I decide to write a story about a girl who becomes the biggest rock star in the world, creating a reality where the Courtney Loves of the world rule. So yeah. I brought the book. The funny thing is that while Jenny and I were bonding with a couple other fans, Dayna and Ewan, I mentioned it and they kind of flipped out. Apparently they'd read it and loved it (see I told you, I am always shocked!) and because of my book and Hole had decided to form a band. How freakin' cool is that???? So I had a mission: get setlist signed and give Courtney IWBYJR.

We waited for over an hour and a half behind the venue (this is another thing I've never done before). Finally she emerged from a different door and headed for the bus. For a split second, it looked like she was going to leave without greeting the twenty or so faithful fans that had waited. But then she came over, conveniently to the side of the gate I was standing nearest. While she was signing Jenny's VIP pass, I managed to ask very calmly (and let me tell you this was very difficult!), "Courtney, can I give you a present?"
"What is it?" she asked, looking a little bit uncertain (probably because of the screaming drunk girls at the other end of the gate).
"It's a book, one you inspired me to write about a girl rock star... You're even in the acknowledgments." I was handing it to her as I said this.
She looked at the cover and said, "Wow, this is really cute!" Then she turned it over and started reading the back!!!! "MTV Books," she said, "that's cool. And you went to Columbia? What are you doing here?"
"It's my birthday and I wanted to see you."
"Thank you," she told me. And she was so gracious and demure and opposite of what she is made out to be in the press. She also looked at my name at the front of the book and actually personalized her signature to me on her setlist.

When we walked away, I was shaking... practically crying. Yes, I am a huge huge dork. But my inner thirteen year-old had never been happier. It was just one of those moments, something I've been secretly dreaming about for nearly twenty years, what can I say?

Well, I guess all I can say is I hope she reads and enjoys my book!

So here are me and Jenny with our signed stuff, totally tuckered out from being fangirls.

What about you? What big fangirl or fanboy moments have you had? Or who would you love to meet? For me, now that I've met Courtney, I think Francesca Lia Block is at the top of my list.


Mindi Scott said...

This is an AMAZING post. I actually got teary while reading it. What an awesome birthday!

heilige. said...

this is a great blog. it was such a crazy experience. isn't it strange how things turn out? think about if you had never found Hole's music. It makes you part of who you are. The neat thing about anything you do is it can affect anyone. That's why I think your books are amazing, especially Ballads of Suburbia. For me, it helped me cope with a damaged relationship.
Art forms have this domino effect, you inspire someone to do something, they do something great and inspire someone else. So glad you got to meet Courtney. I know meeting her has really made me excited to keep recording music!

Loretta Nyhan said...

Awesome story. I got a little teary-eyed myself!

Harmony said...

Oh, wow! What an awesome experience. Everyone deserves their totally-fangirl-y moments.

My biggest fangirl moments were when I met you (yes, you!) and Laurie Halse Anderson. When LHA remembered my name, I almost lost it. I think I mentioned it to like EVERYONE at ALA that day and, of course, the whole world knew I was excited to meet you.

I'm not sure who I really wish I could meet. Most of the people I get fangirly over are writers and I've met most of my writing idols -Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen, Ellen Hopkins, E Scott, and you.

Though I can say that if I ever met Taylor Lautner, I'd probably freak out. But just because he's hot. ;)

Amy Lukavics said...

Super awesome post. That must have rocked very much.

It's crazy how inspiration works and why exactly certain things affect us how they do.

Well, I'm not gonna lie. When my agent sent me a signed copy of BALLADS, she mentioned that you had remembered my fanmail, which was insane because like you I am not a fangirly type of girl.

Also, if I ever met Stephen King I'd probably freak the f*ck out.

Sara Hantz said...

Wow, what an amazing post. And how awesome that you got to give her your book!!

Wendy Toliver said...

That is so cool! I am so happy for you and I know that if (when) Courtney reads it she will totally love it like all of your other fans (including moi) do.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

A-*maz*-ing post, Steph - you rock!

Megan said...

I am a total dork like that!

And your story is so amazing!

It's really good to know that despite everything she is still willing to talk to fans etc.

PeechieKeen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PeechieKeen said...

It is so cool that all of that happend to you on your birthday!

But I definitely need to meet Jason Mraz before I die.

Bee said...

That is pure AWESOME. Wow, wow and wow! And what a fantastic b'day that must have been!

The day I get to meet Brett Lee...I don't know what I'll do!

Alyson Noel said...

Wow, I can't think of a better way to spend a birthday--that is an amazing story!

Annika said...

OMg, Steph. I am practically in tears. I can't even tell you how much I wish that I could go back in time and tell 18-year-old Stephanie about this. You would NOT have believed it!

BookChic said...

That is such an awesome story!! I'm so happy for you! :)

I was actually too nervous to say hi to you at the Teen Author Carnival and had to actually gather the courage to introduce myself at Books of Wonder. A lot of authors are my rockstars, so I always hope that they recognize me so I don't have to do anything, lol.

Karen Mahoney said...

What a beautiful post. I'm so glad you had a magical birthday. *hugs* Really, I just feel like hugging you - what an experience! :)

I can feel the 13-year-old Stephanie in every word (I mean that in the best possible way).

Rock on, dudette!



p.s. I have a long and sort-of interesting story, but it's not fit for public consumption. ;) One day, WHEN we meet in person, I will tell it to you!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thank you all for being so excited with me! It really was the best b'day ever!

heilige (aka Jenny), what you say is so true about art having a domino effect and I am so glad that Ballads helped you and that our Courtney experience has kept you excited about your music.

Harmony, Book Chic, and Amy, you don't know how much what you said means to me. Seriously, I know I must be doing something right if people as cool as you like my books :)

And thanks Wendy, I hope she does!

Annika, too true, 18 year old me would freak!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Oh and Karen, I am dying to hear your story!