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Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love.

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June 27th, 2007

"There She Is, Miss America" by Bernie Wayne


Annually, an entire nation gets to watch a dream come true as this song plays.

I remember watching the Miss America pageant, (all pageants on TV, really) when I was little. I'd always be playing pageant... I'd be Miss Texas or Miss Utah... for some reason, Utah was quite appealing, but that might have been because of my second-grade "states" report. I would pretend to be Miss Teen USA or Miss America any chance I got... whether that was alongside my friends on the playground, in front of the bathroom mirror by myself, or in the privacy of my room with an audience of my stuffed animals and Barbies watching as my crowning moment occured.

Around the time I was 14 or so, I watched on TV one hot September night as a stunned, shocked, grateful 18-year-old Kim Aiken from South Carolina become Miss America while "There She Is, Miss America" played and she walked the runway. I think that was the moment when I realized that the Miss America pageant, and the culmination of it, wasn't just my little girl dream... it was an American institution.

This song, "There She Is, Miss America," plays and my heart flips.

Truly.

Flips.

You know that feeling that you get while watching an US Olympian stand at the top of the podium with flowers and a gold medal, the American flag raised, and our national anthem playing?

That's what it's like for me to hear this song, to watch the kind of moment that's accompanied by "There She Is, Miss America."

Crowning moments. There’s nothing like them.

It’s funny… when I get to a pageant to watch, I want to see the very beginning, and the very end.

The first time I went to Atlantic City for the Miss America Pageant, it was in 2001. I was so insistent upon going that I flew the day after the airlines started flying again after the attacks on September 11th. Anyway, I was enthralled with my Miss America experience… and one of the most memorable moments of that week was when I was standing at the Shearaton Hotel, which also is the headquarters of the Miss America home office, and the lobby of the hotel serves as a Miss America museum of sort. The Miss America crown, and the millennium Miss America crown, along with the Waterford scepter is on display right in the center… and beyond that, a large screen takes up a great portion of the wall, and there’s a constant video loop of the Miss America crowning moments throughout history. Well, I’m standing there, watching all of these videos, and a little crowd develops. And then all of a sudden, Miss America 1996 joins us and watches. And then Miss America 1987. And then my favorite Miss America—Heather French, Miss America 2000 walks up, with her husband and new baby, and we stood there and all watched her crowning moment on that screen… together. People applauded, rubbed her back, patted her shoulder, talked to her baby, hugged her, shook the hand of her husband.

There was magic in that moment for me. To stand just feet away from someone re-watching what’s perhaps the most life-changing moment they’d ever felt… it’s indescribable.

The following day, I sat in Boardwalk Hall and watched the next Miss America’s crowning moment. Live. And since then, I’ve had the pure joy of seeing that happen, in person, four more times.

It’s magic.

Whenever I’m meeting someone new, or talking about the past with someone familiar, and they learn that I’m a pageant girl and I explain my involvement with the Miss America program, it doesn’t matter if they’re 12 or 65… they at least sing the words “There she is… Miss America…” and usually in tune.

People will say that the role of Miss America has lost it’s relevance in today’s society… that there’s no place for an old man (who has now since passed) to be serenading America’s sweetheart on a pageant stage in the 21st century… that overall, the idea of Miss America serving as an American icon is dead.

Well. Clearly… they’ve never been a little girl with a dream of walking the most famous runway in American history… and they’ve never witnessed the magic of that dream coming true for one woman, year after year.

_____________________________________________________________________

About the song: "There She Is, Miss America" was written by Bernie Wayne (1914-1992), the same man who wrote the song "Blue Velvet." It took him one hour to write the song, and it was performed live each year on the Miss America telecast between 1955 and 1979 by the pageant's host Bert Parks, whose performance of the song is most recognisable. Parks returned to sing again to Miss America 1991, Marjorie Vincent. Though the song had a short haitus when a new song was introduced once or twice in the 80's and 90's, it's made it's comeback again and again as it's been sung by Johnny Mathis, Regis and Kathie Lee, Donny and Marie Osmond, and James Denton. Our current Miss America, Lauren Nelson, was serenaded by a recorded version of Parks' original version of the song as she took her walk down the runway.

I've had the privilege to sing this song as "*Will* She Be, Miss America" on 5 separate occasions: Miss Heart/Spirit '03, Miss Spirit '04, Miss Spirit '05, Miss Oakland County '03 (?), and at the wardrobe showing of Miss Michigan 2003, Madonna Emond, when she modeled her competition evening gown.

Currently, it's set as the ringtone for my current Miss Spirit and Spirit Teen, Tiffany and Alyssa.

June 26th, 2007

So, I was thinking to myself the other day while watching my friend Mike play one of the most memorable songs of my youth, "I wonder if I could actually classify the most influential songs of my life?"

Well, in the first installment, here's tryin'...

In no particular order, I'll introduce you to the first of fifteen:

"I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos

I was seven. The junior bridesmaid for my godmother Pam at her wedding in 1985. I had my little bride dress, my first bouquet, and I was all about dancing with the junior groomsman, a boy named Dennis. Mainly, because I wanted to slow dance like the grownups in the wedding, with my arms circled around the boys neck, holding my bouquet. That was how the big girls, the bridesmaids, did it. I wanted to become one of them. Later, I ended up dancing with my dad, and pouting. I then found out that Dennis was my cousin through marriage.

Anyway... I remember buttercream cake, the ribbons cascading from the wreath in my hair, a table piled high with presents.

And I remember a dance. The bride and groom dance. It was just the two of them, Pam and Mike, on a dark dance floor with one spotlight. And that song: I Only Have Eyes For You.

I didn't know this song... I just recognised it as an "oldie"... something that I might hear in the car with my mom. But during those few minutes, it was as though time stopped for me. It was beautiful. This was love. LOVE. This is what love looks like. How it feels to watch love.

I watched for those few minutes, completely submerged, completely enthralled. I watched them dance, and talk and laugh.

And 22 years later, I still remember that moment.

About a year ago, I was emailing with Pam, now in her 40's and the soccer mom of two boys-- one in high school and one in junior high, and I told her that I remembered their first dance. I asked her how they picked that song. She told me that it was a surprise to her-- that Mike picked it because they used to listen oldies stations on the radio and that he loved that song and it reminded him of her.

Well, now it reminds me of them... and it has ever since the first time I heard it. It's the song that helped me define love as a child, and create a picture of what I wanted to grow into someday.

________________________________________________________________________

About the song:

"I Only Have Eyes For You" was recorded by The Flamingos in 1959 and Rolling Stone magazine ranks it as #157 on their list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In the early 2000's, one of my favorite musicians, Jamie Cullum, recorded it, as well.

June 22nd, 2007

I don't even know how to begin, where to start, how to place the words, thoughts, images here in this place.

I'm dizzy with wonder, with nostalgia.

Nostalgia for last summer. For the most beautiful of summers. For bonfires on the beach, fireworks in the distance, new laughter braiding and intertwinding in the air made up of new voices that didn't know each other mere months ago.

Dizzy. Dizzy because there's a teensie little top going on in my head, spinning, spinning, spinning around... like a little girl in a field of wildflowers, arms outstretched, head up facing the blue of the sky and the cotton candy clouds... spinning until the ground is met in this collapse of fresh out-of-breath wonder.

There's so much.

___

First of all, friends.

If there's been a place where I've felt guarded over the course of this last year, it's in the grand scheme of friendship. There are those that have come, gone, come back. Just left. Left. And there's those that peek back in for a quick hello that makes me feel victory where maybe it should just make me feel missed. Those that I've drifted from because we're in different places, different times. And then there's those who have never drifted... and I look back and realize that I'd be a fool to think they'd go anywhere.

If I have cried this year. Cried *hard*. Long. Breatlessly and hopelessly, it's over friends. People. Loved people. Mistakes.

And yet... I've laughed because of friends, too. I am grateful for the friends who were tiny rosebuds of beauty in my life, growing along pathways I've followed for a long time, who have eventually bloomed and blossomed into something of a permanent bouquet. These fixture of something beautiful, perfect, joyous. Angela, for one. We've been so many places over the past seven years. And now I look at her and think, "She is one of the best friends I could ever ask for."... and she's one of my oldest, too. My heart ached, was ripping apart on Saturday night for her. Late in the evening, when I should have been sleeping, I remember thinking, "I just want to be with her." And there there's Lynnie... what an evolution of love and friendship that has been. Truly... I think she knows nearly everything about me under the sun.

Michael. Michael who I feared the year would change us, that things would be different, that this summer wouldn't recognise us the way we were last summer... that we'd both move on a bit from the connection that we are. Finally, the confession in the car on Wednesday night, the words "bf". I love you like nothing explainable. You're my brother, a best friend, my strength, my creative muse, and a greatest love of my life. Without you, things would be so very different.

New friends over the course of the year... Morgan, Luke, Tiff, Robbie, Alex, even... you become the heartbeat for me sometimes. You've breathed life into me when you've least known.

I love you, friends.

____


What an amazing Wednesday was. Wednesdays are magic. And let me tell you why...

because they've been unexpectedly full of wonderlove over the course of the past few months in ways that I don't even know to record. But let's review:

Wednesday, 6/20: The Fray concert. I sit in a venue with two friends that I usually share music with when *they* make it... but instead, we listen together. And I'm falling in love... in *love* with this band. This band that just a few years ago was in the same place where my two friends are: hoping, planning, writing, waiting. And now they're here. In this grand venue, performing for thousands. Playing music that makes my chest heavy and my head light. And then, after the show, I get to meet them. And I play it cool. So cool and casual when I truly want to say, "you have no idea what your music is doing to me lately". And Issac hugs Mike like he's a brother. And I want to cry. Afterwards, we go to Taps, and it becomes this gathering of laughter, conversation, drinks, and joy. This is life, this is goodness. This is how it feels to just "be" with people. I adore these people... even the new ones. Luke, Justin, Amy... you are wonderful.

Wednesday, 6/13: The first night of Miss Michigan prelims. I am sitting in the audience with such pride. Tiff is rockin' it out on stage... I am so proud of her. And I let out the biggest "Whoooo!" and scream when she wins her first of TWO prelim awards. And Luke is seated to my left and I am thrilled that he is with me for this night. I'm elated. It's wonderfully overwhelming... my first of three days in the winners circle backstage with my girl(s).

Wednesday, 6/6: A night at Taps with Luke and Michael lead to wonderful conversation about everything from good hair days to music, to a new found love for Amy Winehouse to then finally, finally, after a talk about an artist and the creative process, we sneak into "a very closed 48 West" and are treated to a beautiful private concert that moves me so to the point of tears and I spent a whole song looking out at the city, listening, crying. The boys create "Jack and Jill: The Musical” and we laugh. A lot. And then we meet Justin for the first time, and walk in sprinkles to The Apartment for a quiet evening among friends. There are shots, and a toast.

Wednesday, 5/30: Birthday celebration with Mike, long overdue. So we drive to Grand Haven, have dinner at Kirby Grill and quite possibly the best prime rib I’ve had in ages… and before we walk along the Lake and enjoy a talkful drive back to GR, Mike takes a Sharpie to the grafittied wall and leaves a mark of us as well as a little “commonshiner.com”. We get back to GR just in time to enjoy the height of a wonderfully chill Wells where I am *sure* to tell Morgan that I used to have a big ‘ol crush on him. It’s wonderfully giggly. Mike drives me home.

Wednesday, 5/23: Wells. I don’t remember much detail other than talking with friends as a big conversation about religion happens at the booth behind us. I just remember leaving the apt, sitting in the car afterwards with my friend… getting an advanced listen of what might be some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Overwhelming. Beautifully overwhelming.

Wednesdays have been beautiful… thank you, friends.

____

Other gratitudes and happymakers:

- Daddy's Dyin'. We're two rehearsals in and already its obvious that this show is going to be magical. It's the kind of funny that almost makes me pee my pants... the kind of "I'm going to remember these moments" that five years from now, in another project with Jason or Kim, I'll think "I remember that night when we first read together..." It's going to be a ride.

- Big. Only that little man is one who knows right when I need a good laugh. He's the best.

- The Fray. Seriously. That show was good for the soul. And yes, Morgan gets it. Sometimes when you stand up at a concert, you just don't know what to do with your hands.

- Ci. For the texts and call... even though we didn't get to talk.

- Cindy. For shaking the truth into me. For making me realize that there's more that I want and that I need to find a way to get at it.

- CM. For making me feel beautiful.

- Mom and Dad. For their belief in me. For an overpriced turquoise hoodie with a crown that they embedded in my luggage and then told me about so they could see my face when I unwrapped it. For the way that they fund what I do... not just with dollars, but with love, time, and committment. I love you.

___

Sometimes there's so much love I don't know what to do with it.

July 27th, 2006

Ahhhhh.

That's a refreshing "ahhhhh". Like the kind you experience while sipping on an Alligator from Kava House. I think I NEED me oneathose.

Full Monty rehearsals have begun. Good times, good times. I love these boys. (Hey, and the girls are cool, too.) I am thrilled to be in a show again with Lynnie and Jordon (who I seriously might love like a brother), and to see so many familiar faces and friends. Yahoo for that. Last night was my first rehearsal for my solo, "Life With Harold". I'm so excited. I worked so hard for this role leading up to auditions, and now it's finally here. Tonight we're working on my duet with Lynne, which should be too cool for school. I fear getting a little emo... in a good way... I get to sing - on stage - for nights and nights in a row - with my Lynnie. Happy sigh.

Hmmm.

What else to share.

I have a script on my desk that I'm dying to read.

I made a committment (aloud, even-- so I am stuck now) to lose 15 pounds before Monty opens. Sweet Jesus. I'm going to be busy.

Went to Wednesday Night Wells at the Apartment for the first time last night. Let me tell you-- $2.75 for Tequila Rose SURE does beat the $6.25 that it cost me at The Black Rose last week. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. Then moseyed (is that how you spell that? Truly... how does one spell mosey?)over down to The Cottage to meet up with some friends. I sobered up over a Diet Coke. It was a good time. Where there are friends at The Cottage, there is always laughter. For me, at least.

Dad's in Africa. Want my mama to come visit me for a weekend so we can play and she can relax. She told me today that our family dog (who I bought with my own money all by myself 11 years ago) is aging quickly. I think it's because she's been alone for the past two years without another dog friend, personally. I miss them both... mom and Mac the dog. I hope they visit.

Everyone's having babies. Or just had one. Or is practicing to. (No joke) It's wonderful. And yet weird. Very weird. Seriously... who are my babies going to play with someday? All of my friend's friends will be way older than them.

I have an addiction to myspace. I love it waaaaay too much.

Theatre: I could (and I'd likely enjoy it) keep a full social schedule of just going to friend's shows. Someone's always in something. Currently, I'm anxious to see the Dick show again, my young friend in Really Rosie at Civic, I'm dying to see Trailer Park at Mason Street, and then another trip to Mason Street is in order to see some friends in Cabaret. Ahhhh. Can't wait.

Let's be amused for a moment while I tell you that I'm in a little comedy/variety sketch for work that will consist of me as the lead *and* I get to sing "Art Is Calling For Me". Yeah. I'm scared, and amused, and excited and everything else in between... especially because it falls during Full Monty stuff. But still? Me? Singing an art song?? (Keyed according to my abilities, of course) I'm elated and wonderfully weirded out.

Just discovered that Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley have a special one night engagement in New York for the Broadway Cabaret Festival that just so happens to fall during some time off that I have in October. Hmmm. Lord grant me restraint. Ohhhhhh no.... Balcony row C is available. Breathe. Breathe. Somebody save me.

Oh. And in case you're wondering, today is Day 6 of me being Krispy Kreme free.

July 18th, 2006

The Call.

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Sometimes the right words, the right sounds, the right melody... it just comes to you. Right when you need it to.



I need a sign to let me know you're here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup
When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you can feel the world shake from the words that I said

And I'm calling all angels
And I'm calling all you angels

And I won't give up if you don't give up
I won't give up if you don't give up
I won't give up if you don't give up
I won't give up if you don't give up

I need a sign to let me know you're here
Cause my tv set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me

And I'm calling all angels
And I'm calling all you angels

When children have to play inside so they don't disappear
While private eyes solve marriage lies cause we dont talk for years
And football teams are kissing queens and losing sight of having dreams
In a world where all we want is only what we want untill it's ours

And I'm calling all angels
And I'm calling all you angels
And I'm calling all angels
(I won't give up if you don't give up)
And I'm calling all you angels
(I won't give up if you don't give up)
Calling all you angels
(I won't give up if you don't give up)
Calling all you angels
(I won't give up if you don't give up)
Calling all you angels




I am grateful for last night.

July 17th, 2006

Ick

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I have that feeling in my stomach, that same feeling that when I was in 3rd grade, I had a friend that hit a tree while sledding outside at recess and all the kids were like, "He has a concussion!" and I knew that it was my job to tell the friend's younger sister who was in Kindergarten. *I* would accept the responsibilty to tell her. So all by myself I went down to the classroom, told her and then she cried (but assured her that her brother would be fine) and then proceeded to go back to my own classroom. Well, my teacher called me out on it once the girl's teacher came to my teacher about it and my teacher then told me I had to go apologise to the girl *and* the teacher right away the next morning. I was scared. And nervous. So for the next two days, I faked sick and spend my days lying on the couch in my living room with the same feeling in my stomach that I have right now.

I *do* not want to spend the night curled up on the couch in the living room. I think I will read some, clean some, write some, walk some. I need me some Sex and the City. I'm quite sure of it.

(no subject)

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as I was driving about, I saw that there was a new church being erected not too far from my home. I looked at it and thought, "That church is a little like me in regards to prayer. It's there, but it's still coming along. But it has a good foundation." It gave me a little faith.

And then I saw these little fireflies in the night. Or at least I thought I saw them. But then I really *did* see them. And it got me to thinking, "How often do we see things because we *want* to see them, and how often do we see them beause they're actually there?" Seriously. Think about that. How many times have you looked at the night sky and thought you *might* have seen a falling star? It's likely because it's what you wanted to see. It's a bit of scary thing to think about: what is vs. what it is that we want.

A few days ago, I decided I needed to go out for a drive. I usually park in front of the house on the street under a tree, which results in my car getting all.. treed. And birded. Which pisses me off, yet I continue to park beneath this tree. As I approached my car, I noticed this leaf. This perfectly arched and perched leaf, that was just hanging out on the roof of my car. And I looked at it for a second... and then something made me go inside and get my camera. This little thought in my head was "I'm going to make this art. I'm going to take this little inconvenient leaf, make it art, and then get into my car and drive away. And I don't know where that leaf will blow to, where it will end up, but for just a second, I'm going to make it mine." And I did.

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July 16th, 2006

Throw your head back...

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Swinging on the swingset while listening to Norah Jones:

- therapuetic

- lonely

- refreshing

- breezy

- relaxing

- ponder-thought-time-like.

And then a man came with two dogs and I ran away.

I could throw up.

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I feel that something is terribly wrong and that someone I love as much as life is suffering greatly from something so big, they fear that I wouldn't even begin to know how to grasp it, and therefore, are hiding so far, and pulling so far, away. I can feel it. Do they feel it? I see it in their eyes, feel it through touch, read it in their words. A part of them is missing.

I am aching for them, about them. I *think* that I believe that one person cannot "save" another, but one person can help another save themselves. Or perhaps God does it all and we don't do anything except the motion and the action and the delivery of words that God gives us. In that case, God give me something. Give me something so big so I can try. So I can have answers, or at least arms strong enough to hold and protect until He can take over. But I want to do it all myself. I want to do the saving, the understanding, the holding, the consoling, the listening. The listening. This person has taught me how to listen better than I ever have before.

Why.

Why?

Why do I want so badly to be a part of this rescue, this discovery, this whole entire thing that I have no other name for except for "thing"? What does that say? And why do I care, as long as I can just "do". That's all I want is just to be there.

I have so many fears of my own. So many. But they seem so small right now. So entirely small. This other person is the *only* person, the only thing that matters right now.

I don't know if they'll read this. But I don't think they can grasp the pain that I'm feeling knowing that perhaps they don't think that I'm here for them right now. For 5 minutes. For 5 hours. Until the sun comes up. For hours, days, weeks, months and beyond. In the grand scheme of things, what *I* feel about all of this doesn't matter so much-- it's them that matters right now.

In the small chance you've read this: Know that I want you to know that I know a little more than you think I know. I know that you are stronger than you think. I know that you're going to be okay. I know that I don't have all of the answers (regardless of how much I want to)... but I want to be the strongest foundation of support to wrap around your chest, your arms, your heart.

Let me.

I know that I want to be your someone to fall back on.

And I know that I have tears that brim my eyes and a sob caught in my throat and that I am angry and sad and weak at the though that you hurt and that you question and that you fear. Because I want the world for you. It can be yours. I have no doubt of that...

I have no doubt of that.

July 15th, 2006

Friend: "What do you see in that person?"

ME: "Everything. And I love it."
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