Sunday, August 31

Embarrassing Moments

I'm just back from a nine-day cruise. (I know: my life is tough.) And while away, between getting sun-poisoning and seeing shows and valiantly attempting not to gain the pound-per-day they say cruisers gain - hopefully with success! - in the back of my mind I knew I had to come back here and write about embarrassing moments, so I spared it a few minutes thought. I figured I'd write about some of the embarrassing things I've done on previous vacations - like mistaking a parking meter for a duck feeder in Iceland or asking where the war is instead of the train station in France - but now that I'm here, it's going to go a little differently.

The first night of the trip, the cruise director gave a speech where he said he'd learned to divide the world into two kinds of cruisers: those who would be happy no matter what happened and those who would be miserable no matter what happened. It was actually pretty profound stuff coming from a guy with slicked-back hair. And as the week wore on, I saw that he was right. Moreover, I made a conscious decision about which group I wanted to belong to. And even moreover than that, I realized I don't want any part of being the kind of embarrassing person who takes pride in being An Ugly American.

Think about what you are exporting in terms of your country, your family, yourself when you go out into the world.

I saw kids that I was embarrassed for - kids who were incapable of placing their own orders at meals and never bothered saying please or thank you to the people working insane hours just to make a living. I saw teens I was embarrassed for - teens who thought nothing of berating some poor waiter for bringing them the wrong drink. I saw adults I was embarrassed for - adults who did far too many embarrassing things to mention.

Do you ever think about people who work on cruise ships? What their lives must be like onboard ship? They leave home and family for 8-10 months at a time, working 10-12-15 hours a day, every day, during their term of service. Can you imagine how grim their choices must be back home in terms of work and opportunity, for them to think this is a good idea?

Who cares if you get the wrong drink? Who cares if you have to wait a half hour for your party to be called for dinner? I may be a jerk - and in so many ways, I am; no, really. I mistake parking meters for duck feeders and I ask about wars when I mean train stations, only serving to reinforce our French friends' opinions about what Americans are really focused on. But so what? You could not pay me enough to be rude to some person who's working their tail off just to scrape by in life.

I work hard. I work pretty much 365 days a year - really, even when I'm away, I still work. But I work at something I love and nowhere near as hard as the majority of the world. It's a privilege to be able to afford a vacation - even if you have to work twice as hard to pay for it! - rather than a right to act like a jerk and take advantage of those less fortunate than you.

Think about what you are exporting in terms of your country, your family, yourself when you go out into the world.

This message has been brought to you by Sun-Poisoning Girl.

Oh and, by the way, my new adult novel, BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES, pubs tomorrow, so be sure to buy a copy so I can start paying off that trip.

Be well. Don't forget to write.

Saturday, August 30

An Unlikely Friendship

If you'd told me when I was ten years old that one day I would count my mother as one of my best friends, I would have laughed at you. Back then we were fighting constantly about what I wanted to wear, who I wanted to spend time with and when I wanted to do it. I remember one fight that took place in the stairwell of our old house where I threw my hairbrush at her and she threw it back at me and I told her I was going to report her for child abuse. Totally absurd. I don't remember what the fight was about, I just remember hating her guts and wanting to hurt her emotionally by saying that.

We went through that mother/daughter fighting period early. Most of my friends were doing it in high school, but by that point Mom and I had bonded and had a new common enemy (though perhaps that is too strong a word): my dad, who, after years of emotional abandonment had to decided he would finally pick up and leave. I don't know that I could say my mom and I were really friends yet though. I was basically just letting her take care of me because aside from the Dad thing, I was going through some other tough times. Probably the worst year for both of us was my freshman year of college when I would call her drunk and crying. I didn't realize for a few years how much that put through. My mom is a saint.

I dropped out of college after that year and had a couple crazy years before finally pulling my act together and moving back home to finish my bachelor's degree. I lived with my mom while I did that and saved to buy my own place. When I moved out, that's when the real friendship kicked in. We started doing things together, not because we lived in the same house, not because I desperately needed her company, but because we wanted to hang out together. We even have our own "thing" now. Diners and road trips are my "thing" with my best friend. My thing with Mom? Gardening.

My mom loves to garden and was eager to help me develop little patches of garden around the sides of my townhouse. She's taught me so much and it gives us a great opportunity to talk while we work. Now that she is living in a condo, she doesn't have her own garden. So it's nice to know that after all the years of temper tantrums in my tweens and troubled behavior in my teens, I can give my mom the gift of her favorite form of relaxation. I'm actually waiting for her to come over now to help me tame the weeds that are always overwhelming this little patch out front that we work so hard on:

Unfortunately no one takes our pictures while gardening (and we get so dirty we wouldn't want them to!), so here we are at my graduation from graduate school, looking like happy BFFs:

What about you are you at a point of friendship with either or both of your parents? What is your "thing" with them?

Oh and PS. If you want to read about a very cool mom, check out my Women Who Rock Wednesday guest, Rebecca Woolf!

Thursday, August 28

Childhood Friendship

I've had only a handful of monumental friendships in my life. I moved around a lot as a kid, so the friendships that meant the most would stay with me for years. Sadly, I have lost contact with most childhood best friends, but I did find one on the Internet after 12 years apart. When we were able to talk on the phone we chatted late into the night. It was as if those 12 years without talking had never happened. She sounded the same. She laughed the same. We talked like best friends again.

Some random (and embarassing) memories from our childhood...

We'd met at the young age of 6 when I had lived down the street from her. I remember walking down the suburban street to home. The sun on our faces and the road empty of traffic, linking arms and kicking up our feet like show girls singing, "New Yooooork, New Yooooork! Start spreading the neeeeews. I'm leaving today!!!!!!"

There was a neighborhood boy, probably twice my age who I was convinced was the cutest boy next to Kirk Cameron. *snicker* Every time we'd walk by his house, I'd get the silly grin and the, "ooooh __(insert boy's name)__" For the life of me I cannot recall his name now.

We were very much into Grease and imitating the Pink Ladies Pledge. "The Pink Ladies pledge is to look cool. To act cool. And to be cool." With fingers in the shape of a vee sliding across our eyes, and the jerk of our heads and hips.

Then there was Madonna. Singing to her songs and dancing wildly in the front room with the music blaring. I had the maddest crush on Michael Jackson. Yes, forgive me. As a young girl, I practiced his dance moves across the floor. Yes, even the moonwalk and toe stand.

We dressed up. We played Barbies. We played restaurant because her mother was a caterer. We played house. We wrote stories. We imagined and we dreamed.

I miss her. I miss the fun we had as innocent childhood friends. But I know these memories will always be fresh in my heart. :)

Monday, August 25

Boy Friends

When my husband and I were first married 13 years ago, we had no magnets on our fridge. So I went magnet shopping, and picked out one that read: Happiness is being married to your best friend. Matt is most definitely my best friend. But I'm not so sure it started out that way.

When I first met him (at the ripe ol' age of 18) our freshman year in college, I knew I liked him. In fact, I think I was so attracted to him I kind of skipped the "beoming friends" part. Then he admitted that he'd never had a girlfriend, just friends who were girls. It was all a bit unconventional, and we had to make our own rules, but as you can tell, everything worked out just fine.

What about you? Did you ever date a friend or have a FWB? How'd it work out? Or did you ever get involved with someone without having been friends first?

Sunday, August 24

I Have Friends, Right?

One of the major differences between having friends as a teen and having friends as an adult is that I have far fewer of them! As a teen I moved in and out of all sorts of groups and I called them all my friends. As an adult… well, not so much. This was driven home to me the other day as I was filling out an application for a really cool job working with teens. It asked for three non-family, non-work related references. In other words, friends. My BF, Ann grabbed the first spot. My other BF Kerry grabbed the second. Then I was stumped. OMG! I only have two friends! How can that be?

Well, it’s harder to make friends as an adult for one thing. You have your own kids and a career, so making and maintaining friendships is much more difficult. Everyone is so busy! Then a lot of times, as a writer, I find I have little in common with non-writers. Not that writing is the only thing I’m interested in, but it does take up a huge chunk of my brain energy. That reminds me of having drinks with my agent and a couple of her other clients, the fab Tera Lynn Childs and fellow TFC’er, Amanda Ashby. The talk kept going back to writing and finally our agent said, “Enough about work! How are you guys doing?” The three of us just blinked at one another, like, we have lives other than writing? What a novel concept!

So I guess it’s no coincidence that my two IRL best friends are writers. Of course, I have tons of Internet friends who I keep in contact with. Writers all. LOL!

Oh, and I finally did find a friend to use as a reference… Linda Sherwood, fab writer and professor and one of my very first Internet friends who I also met in person. That’s not cheating is it?

Friday, August 22

Don't Underestimate Barbie!

Um, since I'm enjoying a sort of unofficial vaca, (meaning that for the last few days I've enjoyed a terminal state of lethargy where I've done little more than read, tool around the internet, and watch the Olympics), I just now realized that I'm also up for "anything goes" week here at the cafe.

And since I just read this charming story on, well, I put two and two together and came up with-- Hey, I'll just blog about that!

So here you are, ripped straight from, the story of a record breaking catfish- caught with a Barbie fishing rod:

WILKES COUNTY, N.C. — A backyard angler has bagged the state’s record channel catfish using a 2½-foot hot pink Barbie Doll rod and reel.

David Hayes caught the record-breaking fish from a private pond while fishing early this month with his granddaughter, Alyssa, 3. The 21-pound, 1-ounce catfish measured 32 inches long — 2 inches longer than the Barbie Doll fishing pole.

“After catching two or three bluegill, Alyssa turns to me and says: ‘Papa, I’ve got to go to the bathroom. Hold my fishing rod,’” Hayes was quoted as saying in a news release from the state Wildlife Resources Commission.

“A few minutes later, the float went under, and I saw the water start boiling up — I knew right then that I had my hands full with that fishing rod.”

t took Hayes about 25 minutes to land the fish, which measured 22½ inches in girth. Hayes said that once he got it to the bank, he was pretty certain his channel cat would exceed the previous state record, an 18-pound, 5-ounce fish caught in August 2007.The fish was weighed on certified scales at a nearby grocery store, and a fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Resources Commission certified that Hayes was right.

Now, if they could just find a way to grill that thing in her Easy-Bake oven!

Oh, and speaking of loafing- how do you like to spend you unofficial days off??

Wednesday, August 20

Young Adult Authors Rock!!!!

This week our theme is Anything Goes...... so I thought I'd take this opportunity to say how awesome my fellow YA authors are. I have recently been to two writing conferences and what struck me was how supportive and how much fun young adult authors are. At the RWA conference in San Francisco recently Amanda Ashby and I were treated like long lost friends by all those we met. There were 5 of the TFC girls there plus the Buzz girls and other YA authors. We spent most of our time laughing. It will be a long time before I forget the sight of Kelly Parra holding a glass of wine in one hand, a plate of cakes in another and trying to eat!!!

So here are some photos....... (apologies to those who escaped my camera.... you know who you are!!!!)

(Back) Marley Gibson, me, Wendy Toliver, (front) Simone Elkeles, Heather Davis, Dona Sarker-Mishra, Tera Lynn Childs

Me, Tera Lynn Childs, Kelly Parra, Amanda Ashby,Teri Brown

Kelly Parra, Bethany Griffin, Ally Carter, Teri Brown

Thursday, August 14

Promotion Day for Readergirlz! (Plus a big Violet contest)

The lovely Sara Hantz gave up her promo slot this week. Thank you, Sara!

I'm so excited that Violet in Private is the featured readergirlz choice for August. Do you guys know about readergirlz? They choose a book each month and interview the author, then post discussion questions on their page and in the readergirlz myspace forum. The girlz make suggestions for parties related to the featured book and put up an author-chosen soundtrack. Also, a community service project is linked to each title (how cool is that?). NOW's Love Your Body Foundation is linked to Violet, which makes me really proud.

Anyway, go visit if you can, and join the discussions on the forum, where we're talking fashion, fame, and finding your true self among all the noise. Oh, and tell your librarian about the downloadable poster created by the lovely Dia Calhoun!

Also, I wanted to mention that I'm having a BIG contest over on It involves making a tribute to Violet, and I've already gotten a few entries, but the contest is open until September 1st, so read the rules here and get creative.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Promo Week!!

Well, it's promo week here at the cafe and while I don't have anything new to promo after all, CRUEL SUMMER has been out for a full two months!) this, in a nutshell, is what's going on with me:

SAVING ZOE recently won the National Reader's Choice Award-- and I was over the moon excited! And to be honest, I wasn't even sure I'd actually won until my good friend, the adorable and talented, Jessica Brody jumped up and down and screamed "YAY!" and I ran up to the podium to accept the reward and make a speech I barely remember (though I'm sure I used the word "awesome" at least once, maybe twice).

Also, CRUEL SUMMER was recently reviewed by the School Library Journal, and as the first part of the review is the usual plot summary, I'll just cut to the chase and show you the juice:

"The protagonist's venting and observations are alternately whiny, wistful, strident, and hilarious. Despite typical teen self-obsession, Colby is likable and ultimately well intentioned. As she deals with her feelings, she blunders her way rather charmingly into a new maturity."

Oh, and FLY ME TO THE MOON will soon be available for those who habla espanol--and I sure wish I did since I LOVE what they did with the cover!

And I just had a really fun phone interview with Andrew Horan, a writer over at Orange Coast magazine, where I indulged my secret guilty pleasure, so secret it won't be revealed until October when it hits the stands! So I'll come back then and tell you what it is!

Well, that's it for me-- but if any of you are interested in winning a signed copy of CRUEL SUMMER (or a number of books!) then head over to the delightful Tera Lynn Child's blog
where she's doing a really cool Olympic themed giveaway-- but hurry, you have only until August 25th!

And speaking of the Olympics-- are any of you watching?? I've been staying up very late just to see Michael Phelps rack up the golds! Almost makes me want to work out! Almost . . .

Wednesday, August 13

Promo: Women Who Rock Wednesdays!

This isn't the usual kind of promo, I suppose, since I'm not talking about my book, but this is something I'm really proud of. I've created a new feature on my blog called WOMEN WHO ROCK WEDNESDAY! Every Wednesday, I'll be talking up a talented woman (writers, musicians, artists, designers, whoever happens to be rockin' my world at the moment) and in many cases, I will actually be talking to her and doing fabulous giveaways. I just posted my very first WWR Interview blog (WWR- Woman Who Rocks- is the new BFF, I swear. Start using it regularly so it catches on!) today. Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna came to visit and she's giving away a copy of her awesome rock'n'roll girl guide, Cherry Bomb, so come read all about it and enter to win!

This is my way of counteracting the Mean Girl mentality by celebrating other women for their talents rather than cutting them down like too many girls do to make themselves feel better. So I hope you'll come celebrate amazing women with me every Wednesday from now on!

And of course the rock'n'roll theme does relate a little bit to my book I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. I don't have any new news about IWBYJR, but for those of you who finished the book and want to read some deleted scenes, you can check those out on the outtakes section of my website!

Ooh and feel free to suggest some Women Who Rock to me that I should check out and if I enjoy them as much as you, have as future guests/featured artists on my blog!

Thursday, August 7

Anything Goes: Demon Baby

Do not be fooled by the somewhat angelic face.
This child is a Demon Baby.
His exploits are often detailed here.
Some examples of the mayhem he wreaks include hurling an entire GALLON of Costco-sized maple syrup from the second-story landing to the first floor of my house where it shattered into my hardwood floors. I had ants for six months.
He's also hurled his Oldest Sister's (she is 18) $25-a-bottle shampoo out the bathroom window to the dogs in the backyard. We have a Pembroke Welsh corgi with irritable bowel syndrome. Ingested shampoo doesn't make it any better--even ingested EXPENSIVE shampoo.
Demon Baby has written with purple markers all over the upstairs carpet. It's a tan carpet. Or WAS a tan carpet. He routinely writes on his stomach and legs--he thinks that's hilarious. He also thinks spitting is a really cool trick--particularly if he can get it in a trajectory of any sort.
He feeds the dogs bowls of Raisin Bran because it's funny when they eat his food. Did I mention the dog with irritable bowel?
I could go on. And on. And on. But you get the idea.
And I have to WRITE with a Demon Baby. Sometimes, there are days he so addles me that I feel lucky to construct a single sentence. Subject . . . verb. Remember those?
I'm sure some people think being an author involves fuzzy slippers and bon-bons. Mine involves Demons and Syrup.
But every life has those little catastrophes. In order to write full-time with four kids (yeah, apparently, I didn't learn in health class in high school how to prevent that) . . . I use some rock-solid time management. For instance, I don't EVER mindlessly watch TV. I tune in only for something pretty special to me.
So what's your number-one time management technique? I'd like to say duct-taping Demon Baby to a chair. But that would be a lie. He roams freely creating mayhem. So I must use other methods. Please share yours~!

Wednesday, August 6

anything goes: on fan mail

Every time I check my email, I thank God that I'm not JK Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. (Every time I open my checkbook, I kind of wish I were, but that's a different topic for a different day.) A few times a week, there's an email from a reader waiting in my in-box, telling me what she thinks of Story of a Girl or Sweethearts. And because I'm not JK or Stephenie, I can actually answer these emails personally.

Fan mail has come to mean more and more to me - not because it's an ego boost (though there's no denying it is) but because for me the process of writing a book isn't complete until someone reads it, and responds. It's true that I "write for myself" in that I would never even start a book unless it was a story I wanted to explore, but I'm not one of those writers who would write and write and write even if publication wasn't a possibility. A book is a conversation, an interaction. For me, a book isn't a book unless and until it evokes a response, and hearing some of the responses directly makes the process feel whole.

And the absolute best thing about teen readers who write to me is that they have no agenda (usually). Reviewers are writing a review for an audience, so the conversation is no longer about the book and the personal response. A review becomes another work and the critic, rightly, thinks on a broader scale about the work and the audience for the review and her own career as a critic and possibly her relationship with an editor waiting for that review. So, good reviews are great on a career level and they give your publisher something to stick on your book and press materials, but they generally don't move me. And, while mail from adult fans of YA or other authors is also great and opens up a different kind of conversation, the responses from teens are 99% about the story and the characters in the book and how and why they spoke to the reader. There are a lot of exclamation points and pleas for sequels.

It's a magical thing to know that the characters are as real to the readers as they were to me when I first decided to follow their story. Direct reader responses take a book out of the philosophical or academic or critical ether and bring it in close.; the relationship between a book and a reader is such a personal, intimate thing and it's an honor when a reader shares that experience with me. And I love how the Internet has made the link between reader and author so immediate. Some authors aren't crazy about being so accessible, but so far, I'm for it. Especially since it can take publishers months and months to forward reader mail sent the old fashioned way. How about you? Do you make yourself accessible to fans? Or, if you're a reader, what is it about a book that impels you to write to an author? Discuss.

Tuesday, August 5

Anything Goes, so I'm wearing a frilly dress!

Got the box of Violet in Private books yesterday, and today is release day! Woohoo! (You can go here or here or here to try to win copies.)

That means I'm wearing a big, swingy vintage dress that I got from my friend Dixie, who has the most incredible closet of anyone I know and is a true dame in the best sense of the word.

So what do you wear on celebratory days?

Monday, August 4


Well, this is irony for you. Last week's topic was most embarrassing moments... and I have one to add: I was supposed to post last week! I had traded with Wendy and then promptly forgot that it was my week. Talk about embarrassing! My apologies!

Since this week is anything goes, I'm going to try and make up for my gaffe by throwing in a bonus post - and wave Melissa's flag for a moment.

VIOLET IN PRIVATE comes out tomorrow! Woot! Woot!

In celebration, Melissa has generously donated all three Violet books for a giveaway here. The contest will remain open until Wednesday.

AND Melissa will be signing her brand spanking new book (with yours truly) at an EVENT on Wednesday at Books of Wonder in New York, for anyone who might be in the area. Come see us!!!

Meanwhile, has anyone else ever forgotten an important commitment like I just did?

Sunday, August 3


I do realize that what with September a month away and back-to-school clothes invading the malls that it's a little late in the summer to be talking about bathing suits. But since it's "Anything Goes" week here at TFC, and that's what's on my mind, here goes:

The (Barely Abridged) History of Me and Swimsuits.

My first bathing suit - well, after the topless number they used to throw me in the kiddie pool in when I was a toddler - was a white one-piecer with a red and blue diagonal strip from shoulder to hip, bearing the legend: MISS AMERICA. I can still see a picture in my mind of myself leaning against the pool ladder, hand on hip, flowered bathing cap on head. You just know that pot-bellied little girl was sure her destiny was to win a pageant. A really big pageant.

It being the sixties, and my mother being fashion forward, I was soon wearing bikinis on a regular basis. Not necessarily flattering, since I still had that pot-belly on and off, but I also had sunglasses with interchangeable psychedelic lenses and a suede shoulder bag with lots of dangling hippie fringe, not to mention white go-go boots, so I was willing to accept the unflattering bad with the funky good.

Then puberty hit early, at age 10, and my well-documented 36Cs and I started feeling a little self-conscious, so I took to wearing those skirted one-piecers or whatever I could find that was more conservative.

When I was 12 things got a bit interesting. One of my classmates was extremely wealthy, her parents owned an Olympic-sized pool on an independent piece of property, and sometimes for gym class we'd go there to swim. One day I forgot my suit and my friend insisted I try her older sister's: a rather revealing (for then) halter-style bikini with little knots on the hips and at the cleavage. Looking in the mirror of her cabana that day was a revelation: I looked good. Somehow I'd missed that I'd actually acquired a waistline along the way, the pot-belly disappearing. Who knew I could look like that? It's amazing though how quickly self-satisfaction can turn to mortification. I loved diving, my friend had an amazing diving board, I executed my trademark swan/bellyflop, and when I put my hands on the concrete surrounding the pool, and started to pull my body out of the water in order to take another assault on that diving board, I discovered that the force of my dive had caused me to lose the top of my bathing suit.

The rest of my eighth-grade class, especially the boys, made the discovery when I did.

I took to wearing T-shirts over my bathing suits whenever I went swimming. It's impossible to dive yourself out of T-shirts.

And as I grew older, and the T-shirts began to look ridiculous, it was back to one-piecers, except for a few years in my late twenties/early thirties, my anorexic phase, when wearing a bikini to show off my skinniness was just too great a temptation. It wasn't much of a bikini really, in terms of sex appeal, more like what you might see a track-and-field althlete wear these days, but it made me ridiculously happy.

Then I got really sick and put on weight, then I got pregnant and put on weight, then after the baby I still kept a lot of the weight, so it was just one-piecers from there on in.

Last week I decided that after wearing the same suit for three summers, and with vacation around the corner, it was time to get a new suit, if only so that I'd look different in the pictures. My eight-year-old daughter went with me and the first thing she wanted to know was, "Are you going to get another one-piece or a bikini?" I laughed. I am, after all, 46 now. "I think I'm past the point where I can wear a bikini," I said, still laughing at the idea. This puzzled her. "But anyone can wear a bikini," she said.

I was about to answer "What planet are you on, kid?" when it struck me: she did live on a different planet than the one I'd grown up on. And not just because having inherited her father's height and natural thinness, she'd probably never have to debate whether she could wear something or not in her entire life. It was more than that. It was the epiphany about the pool we go to: that no matter what the size or shape of the girls or the women there, a large percentage of them now wore bikinis. As if rather than worrying about what everyone else thought about their imperfections, they were wearing what they wanted for the sheer joy of it; you know, that great summer feeling of - skin cancer, be damned! - sun on naked skin. Just like 34 years before I'd somehow missed the acquisition of my own waistline, I'd somehow missed that - maybe, maybe - other girls and women had grown more mature and liberated attitudes about their own bodies.


So I bought a bikini.

So now the only thing I have to worry about is the fact that, having worn a one-piecer all summer and having my first real tan in decades, when I put on the bikini I've got just about the weirdest two-tone look you can imagine: bronze shoulders, fishbelly-white belly.

Ah, well. It'll never be perfect and I'll never be perfect, but I'll have fun. Who cares what anyone else thinks?


Be well. Don't forget to write.

Friday, August 1

How Janet Jackson totally humiliated me...

It’s quiet here this week, huh? I think everyone might be at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference, but me. I really wish I could have gone in order to meet people mostly, but having just come back from tour/vacation, I couldn’t really afford it.

Anyway, the topic of the week is Embarrassing Moments. And I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of one of those embarrassing moments like the ones I remember in the reader write-in sections of teen magazines when I was younger—I may be showing my age here because maybe they don’t even have those sections in the magazine anymore, teens would write in and talk about the time they blurted out something inappropriate in front of a crush or had their period and got blood on their skirt or drooled on their boyfriend while making out or something—but while I’m sure I’ve had *plenty* of those kinds of moments, I am pretty good at blocking them out. The kind of embarrassment that is burned into my memory are the moments where I thought I’d be capable or good at doing something and it didn’t work out. Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist and have super high expectations for myself, but I really feel humiliated sometimes when things don’t work out as planned.

I thought of this particular example the other night when I went to a Rancid concert. The night before the concert I took special care to pack earplugs because once when I saw Rancid about four or five years ago (I think Wednesday night’s show was my fourth or fifth time, I’ve lost track), I forgot earplugs and my ears rang for three days straight. I’m not even exaggerating. Three days. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think and I was majorly freaked that I’d done serious damage to my hearing (which I probably have, between the years of going to punk shows without earplugs or using toilet paper to serve that purpose and trying to blast my iPod over the noise of the train, I predict hearing aids in my future). But that’s not the embarrassing moment. It’s really the result of the embarrassing moment, which took place all the way back in the summer of 1990 when I was ten-going-on-eleven and the only thing I wanted for my birthday was tickets for Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation tour.

I guess it should be embarrassing to admit that Janet Jackson was my first concert period, but I don’t get embarrassed by that kind of stuff. I readily admit to my guilty pleasures (not that Janet is one of them, though I bet I’d still rock out to that “Black Cat” song if I heard it.) And most people I know have mildly embarrassing first concert with the exception of my friend Chris, who apparently has been cool his entire life because his first show was Slayer and Biohazard. No, what was embarrassing was that my mom and I got to the New World Music Theatre in Tinley Park, IL, went to our seats, which to my parents’ credit were not even lawn seats, though I believe they did have some view obstruction, I was only able to handle sitting through four songs because it was so loud it hurt my virgin ears.

My mom and I went to the bathroom and I agonized over not being able to handle staying at my first concert. She probably agonized over not bringing me earplugs, but I don’t even remember because I was too busy worrying about what my dad and little brother would think if we came home from the concert to early and I was forced to admit I was a wuss. My mom is awesome so she bought me a tour program so I could prove I’d been there and then she told me that since she’d grown up in Tinley Park, we could drive around and see all the places she remembered to kill time until it was a reasonable hour to go home and I’d never have to admit that I hadn’t stayed for the whole concert. I’m sure she told my dad about it, but I kept it secret for many years. And in 1993 when I started going to real concerts—rock concerts that I don’t have to be ashamed of—I really threw myself into the concert going experience. I went to every single show I could. I pushed my way to the front of the stage. I brazenly didn’t wear earplugs, even at Dinosaur Jr at the Metro when it was so loud the PA couldn’t even handle it making their sound more feedback-laden than usual. I braved the mosh pit weekly at the Fireside Bowl even when it was mostly big skinhead dudes. All to prove that I could. Possibly all because on subconscious level, I was humiliated because I hadn’t been hardcore enough to handle Janet freakin’ Jackson.

I know it’s silly, but those are my moments of deepest embarrassment. Kind of like I’m embarrassed right now because I have only one entry for my tour contest. Please, for the love of rock ‘n’ roll, enter my contest, so I don’t respond by not having anymore contests because I don’t want to feel the humiliation of no one entering and feeling like no one loves me. (Even though really I know lack of entries might be because I’ve been on tour and unable to promote it.) One of the really cool prizes is a signed ARC of Invisible Touch by TFC’s own Kelly Parra!

Okay, enough of my desperate pleading, care to share your first concert experience? Or let me know if you get embarrassed when you aren’t capable of doing something or if I’m a total freak (which I wouldn’t be embarrassed by oddly enough)?