Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Somebody's Watching Me

For a reason I can't fathom, my son, Jake, and his housemates want to read my blog. I don't think they're looking for info about themselves. I think his friends are curious about me. (Hi, Jake, Kevin and Mia!)

Ever since he called to ask for the web address, I haven't written anything. I'm sort of paralyzed. But I need to get over it and type up an update.

My mother is coming in SIX days and here's the state of the room we want to put her in:

Well, there's no way we'll be getting a hardwood floor by next Tuesday, but that's OK. We have another extra room upstairs that I can put a bed in.

When they say everything's bigger in TX, they aren't kidding. Houses are huge. Out of all of my sisters, I have the biggest house and it cost the least. We have 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, a game room, dining room, eat-in kitchen, den and living room. 3300 sq ft. It's a bitch to clean. (haha)

So now that Jake moved out we actually have three bedrooms that aren't being used. One is set up as an office. (That's where I am right now!) I can put a single bed in the other room for my Mom. She'll be fine.

But 3 days after she arrives, I have 3 more people coming. I've got to get that room downstairs finished so I can set up the queen bed for my sister and her husband. It's going to be close, but the people putting in the floor think they can do it.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

America's Got Talent

I spent yesterday afternoon peeling old wallpaper off the walls of my son Jake's room. I wore comfortable capris pants and a sleeveless top. I planned to shower after I finished because it was sweaty work, so my unwashed hair was up in a messy ponytail.

Get the picture? I looked like a slob. That's when the phone rang. My son, Jamie, was on the line.

"Mom? Uh, this is gonna sound weird but...I'm at the auditions for 'America's Got Talent. I wanted to surprise you tomorrow for Mother's Day. Thing is, I forgot my kapo for my guitar and I need it."

To say this was a shock is putting it mildly. I've always encouraged Jamie's guitar playing, but he's been extremely practical about it. Most 18 year olds with less talent would be dreaming of being a rock star. Jamie recognizes how good he is, but knows it would be difficult to make a living as a musician.

Jamie asked me if I could bring the kapo to him and told me I could stay for his audition. "Don't worry about what you look like, Mom. you need to leave right n0w"

That may sound like an odd thing for him to say, but since I'm the only female in the house, the family often has to wait for me to finish fussing before we can leave the house. I'm not one of those high maintenance women, but I am a woman. I need more than a shower and a change of clothes to be ready.

But yesterday I was so touched that he would do this for me and so worried about getting there on time that I left as is. I told my husband what was happening as I rushed around looking for keys and shoes and ...what was the other thing? The kapo! Better not forget that. (It's sort of a clamp for the strings, if you're curious.)

I didn't think it would matter what I looked like, anyway. I wasn't auditioning.

I don't know anything about this show. I've heard that it's like American Idol but that anyone of any age with any talent can audition. Jamie told me on the phone that he heard about it on the radio and that they were looking for guitar players in particular.

We met outside the George R Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston and went inside. Jamie already had his paperwork filled out and handed me a release form.

Wait. Release form? It said I could wind up on camera. Great. But I signed the thing anyway, knowing I had little chance of being on TV.

We each got a wristband. Jamie's was blue for 'talent', mine was red for 'friend or family of talent' (in other words, NO talent). We were checked out by security and then sent upstairs.

Another checkpoint. Jamie had to turn in his paperwork to one of the staff members sitting behind a long table. We were directed to room 370. As we looked for signs, we passed people sitting on the carpeted floor, reading, talking on cellphones or rehearsing.

We finally found our room and walked in to a mob scene. The room was large and filled with randomly scattered chairs. Way over to the left, a camera sat on a tripod in front of these big white screens. Bright lights illuminated a half circle of chairs. Obviously some interviews were going to be conducted over there.

We found a couple of empty seats and sat down to wait for Jamie's number to be called. We took in the scene. Posters for the show dotted every wall. Smaller signs declared,"No photography." Damn! That hurts a blogger, but I complied. Believe me, I don't want to be sued by a show this big.

It was probably around 6:00pm when we first took those seats. It was around 10:00 when we left them. (And we waited for another hour after that!) During the time in between, we listened to singers warm up their throats, watched dancers stretch and cheered every time another group was called to "follow me!"
They filmed one TV promo with a woman whose dog did tricks. He chomped down on a Frisbee while she spun him around and then she said, "We've got talent!!" The rest of us cheered.

Occasionally, some random person would be interviewed. Once, a group walked into the room and tried to squeeze behind my chair. They stopped and I looked up from my text message to see a director telling them to try it again. They went back to the open doorway, waited, nd then walked in, passing behind me and finally sitting down.

They simply chatted with one another. No idea what that was about. Maybe they had a good audition and the show wanted some footage of them waiting to be called. I'm hoping if that winds up on TV you won't be able to tell that I needed a shower!

Thankfully, there were vendors in the lobby selling food, so we didn't starve. There were also bathrooms available, though eveytime I went in there someone was taking advantage of the acoustics to practice singing.

We saw people who obviously dressed to insure their fifteen minutes: some Elvises(one was Asian), a young woman in a purple velvet, Gothic-y gown and some forest creatures with a thing that looked like a long skinny hollowed out log that created a booming sound when blown into.

Jamie was one of the last to be called. It was after 11:00. He tells me he choked. He said his whole group was called into the room where there were two unknown judges. Though he wasn't nervous before, he became nervous when he started to play. He says his mind went blank at one point but he tried to cover.

He didn't get an answer on the spot. he was told that those who will be called back will be notified within 48 hours. But he feels certain he won't get the call. He's very disappointed in himself but he says he learned something. He's never gotten nervous playing guitar for friends and family but when he had to play in that room with the judges and the other contestants watching, he felt the pressure. He says maybe this is proof that being a performer isn't for him.

Well...on May 16th he's playing a solo in some local show. He doesn't know much about it yet, but one of the his teachers asked him to participate. I'll record it. Hope he gets over his stage jitters.

I don't care if he gets the call back for AGT. It was a fun experience and I got to spend time with my college-bound son. What a perfect Mother's Day gift.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Graduation Announcements

Can someone explain graduation announcements to me? We don't send them up north. I'm not being a jerk, I really don't understand their purpose. It's not an invitation. Am I supposed to send a gift when I get one of these in the mail?

My son is graduating from High School this year and I didn't order any announcements because I don't know what they're for. I don't' want people to feel obligated to send him a gift when we aren't' having a party. (We're doing a group thing at his friend's house.)

Did I make a big mistake by no ordering these things for my son?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lake LBJ

We have an incredibly generous friend who has a second home on Lake LBJ, about an hour outside of Austin, TX. Gail was actually my husband's boss at one time. We've been going out to her lake house for years now. My boys first water-skied behind her boat, in fact.

We were invited to come on out this past weekend to enjoy some R&R and to see if we might want to buy a weekend place there ourselves. Gail's house is big and beautiful, much more house than we're looking for. But it's always a pleasure to be a guest there.

For instance, here's the second refrigerator, which she keeps well stocked with adult beverages:

All weekend we looked at houses in our meager price range by car and by boat. The weather was beautiful.

The bossy lady on our truck's GPS helped us find many addresses, but this one stumped her:

One of the neighborhoods we looked at had deer strolling around in people's yards.

Lake LBJ is in the Hill Country, one of the most beautiful areas in Texas.

And Austin is a very cool city, so if we bought a weekend place on the lake and kept it for our retirement, I think we could be happy there.

The only problem is tha I'm having trouble letting go of the idea of a beach house. If you've been reading here for a while, you know that we were in the market for a house right on the beach near Galveston. We were going to buy it with friends and rent it out but also use it ourselves when it was empty.

We were weeks away from making an offer when Hurricane Ike swept through and wiped out everything on Bolivar Peninsula, where we'd been looking. (FYI: I don't know why, but news about the devastation there has been pretty hush-hush. Trust me- hundreds, maybe thousands of people died and entire towns were swept out to sea. I've been there. But that's another blog.)

Beach houses were A LOT cheaper than the lake houses we looked at. It was sobering to see what we could afford on the lake. From what I've gathered, Texans like to visit the beach but would rather live on a lake, if given the choice. Perhaps it has to do with those pesky hurricanes?
As you can see by my photos the wildflowers are spectacular this time of year. Bluebonnets were out in all their glory, though I think being the state flower has gone to their heads. They're protected. You'll be fined if you get caught picking them.
So they just grow everywhere, even in the middle of my neighbor's lawn. You just know they're thinking, "That's right. I'm smack dab in the middle of the grass. Whatcha gonna DO about it?" I'm kidding. They're beautiful and can grow wherever they want to as far as I'm concerned.

I just read this over and I think it sounds pretty snooty- us looking for a second house on the water somewhere when people are losing their jobs in this terrible economy. It's something we've been saving for for a long time. We've made sacrifices since we first got married so that we could have this one day. And it's the house we'll move into when we retire.

All of that aside, it was a lovely weekend. We left the cares of everyday life behind for a few days. Unfortunately, it was all here waiting for us when we got home. *sigh*