Plural Jam

In three days, Andy and I will cross a line that we’ll be never be able to uncross. We are traveling ~850 miles to Chicago for the express purpose of seeing Pearl Jam live in concert at the United Center. In excited preparation, I have been listening to every Pearl Jam song I can find on my iPod at work. Today this practice has had me somewhat ruminative [look it up!] about my Pearl Jam memories.

Not that you asked, but here they are:

  • My favorite Pearl Jam song is Breath. Not on any album, unless you count the Singles [movie] soundtrack as an album.
  • Speaking of Singles, Andy and I watched that movie merely because we had heard that Pearl Jam was in it. We laughed hysterically at all the Pearl Jam cameos and at not much else through the entire movie.
  • My earliest Pearl Jam memory is my brother Michael yelling at me and Tony, furiously trying to get us to confess WHO had scratched his album, Ten, and had subsequently left a smear of grape jelly on the disc. It wasn’t me. Could’ve been Tony. Probably was Dad. (Hi, Dad!) 😀
  • My second earliest memory was when I found Pearl Jam’s new(!) album, Vs., in the jukebox at Pizza Hut. I told Michael, and he disappointedly said, “It’s not as good.” It’s true. Not as good as Ten, but 16 years later I say, pretty darn good.
  • I broke my friend Jeff’s heart the summer of 1998 by incorrectly guessing that a Pearl Jam song was sung by Creed in one of our million games of “Okay, but what band is THIS?!”
  • I have two of the same t-shirt from the 2000 Evolution tour: one in blue, one in orange.
  • I went to a Pearl Jam concert on my 21st birthday.
  • “Yellow Ledbetter” (another song) is Andy in faded baggy carpenter jeans, an oversized button-down plaid shirt from Abercrombie, head down, looking at the strings on a black Fender Stratocaster, with a black lightning bolt strap slung over his shoulder. I will always be 16 when I hear it. Le sigh.
  • Ever seen a huge blobby ‘red’ storm on the Doppler and thought, “Hey, I’m gonna go stand outside in this!” Andy and I did. At the Kansas City show. No raincoats. No umbrellas. Just rain and sky. For an hour and a half before the rain let up enough to allow the concert to start. To this day, rain, for us, falls somewhere on a sliding scale between “Drizzle” and “Kansas City Rain.”
  • Andy has a ukelele because of Pearl Jam. And Jeff. Thanks Jeff!


PJ has a new album coming out in September. Do you think that if they get their act together and go on tour right away that Andy and I can make another show before I’m too huge to travel? As my mom would say, “Something fun to think about!” :)

A Year Ago, Today

My neighbor down the street called me and told me Mookie, who had been lost for 7 days, was hanging out, safe and sound, in her garage. I had just gotten home from work, and I got this news in the form of a message on my answering machine. I dropped everything and ran down the street. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day.

Perhaps I will buy a camera to commemorate the occasion. 😉

But Don’t Take My Word For It…

See for yourself!

I promise, it’ll be worth the click. :)

The Story

The Internet was pretty new at that point, and every day more of our friends were getting online. By the time I was 16, it was common practice for all of us to hang out together at night, go home and sign on to Instant Messenger. Why talk on the phone to one person when you can have 7 half-brained conversations at once? I still remember the frames that AOL animated (a term I use VERY loosely) while you patiently waited for the modem to dial in, and that brrriingg sound when someone’s message popped up. OdieJodi00, KPookyB, Debs621, Ledbetter098, BrodieQ, and XLazi – among many others.

At one point, I tried to trace it back to the actual point where we started hanging around in the same crowd. I mean, we’d been acquaintances since we were in junior high, but at some point we started hanging around in the same group of friends. Why? What was the change? It was David. David was Jeff’s cousin. Jeff was Andy’s lifelong best friend. And David’s family, when they moved back to town, bought the house next door to mine. So Jeff started coming around after school. Sometimes Andy with him – and that’s where we all started to become friends.

The summer after sophomore year was the best time that either of us remembers. It was the summer where only a handful of the kids our age had driver’s licenses, and even fewer kids actually had access to a car of their own. So we carpooled, everywhere, and the lines between cliques and well-established groups of friends blurred. You never could tell where you’d end up on a given night. Gas was under $1/gallon, so it didn’t really matter too much if you just ended up driving around until it was time to go home. Quite the headache for parents in an era before cell phones, or so I’m told.

This is where the nightly online conversations between the two of us took root. Then emails back and forth outlining our daily activities followed suit. When we hung out with friends, however, we barely spoke two words to each other. School began that fall, and we went to Homecoming together. He asked me to that dance during an Instant Messenger conversation. Actually, I asked him if he was planning on asking me to the dance during an Instant Messenger conversation.

Sometime in December, we realized there was something more. That story is entirely too long and involved so, to simplify quite a bit – for months, I made no secret of the fact that I liked Andy. Andy didn’t want a girlfriend, but eventually he realized that – actually – he really did. I know that seems lame, but the author of this expose is still entitled to some privacy. We talked about it one night online (where else?), and Andy told me that he wanted to ask me out. The one condition, which he set for himself, being that he ask me face-to-face. Not on a computer screen.

Then, as fate would have it, I got sick. The boy that I had pined for for months had told me he was going to ask me out the next time he saw me, and I got sick. So sick I had to miss school for a few days. I remember my grandmother having to drive me to the doctor on an icy afternoon, so I know it must have been bad. Andy called and asked if he could come over one afternoon, but I’d been sick from school, so my parents said, “No.” On a weekend night, I got the OK to spend a short evening at Jeff’s house – the consummate hangout for our friends. Andy was there, but we were in a group of people.

At Jeff’s house, whenever one of the girls left to go home (and it was this way ever since I could remember) one of the boys – or sometimes, if they were being goofy, all of the boys – would walk out front with us to make sure we got to our cars (or, in my case, minivan) okay. I was counting on Andy to walk me out that night, but he was pre-occupied when I [loudly] announced I was leaving, and E.J. got the honors instead. The following week, I had poms practice every night after school. No time for Andy.

My chance finally arrived on Friday, December 18, 1998 – almost two full weeks after Andy announced his intentions to me. It was a big day, and I had it all planned. There was a home basketball game that night, meaning there was no poms practice after school. The squad was meeting for dinner at Monical’s Pizza at South Shores for our Secret Santa dinner that night. I was going to go home after school, change, pack up my stuff, and head to Jeff’s to meet up with the group I knew was already over there. Andy was in that group; he was always at Jeff’s. The one thing I didn’t count on was a tired Mom.

I got home and announced that I was going to Jeff’s. I was met with the exasperated proclamation that I was always ‘off to Jeff’s.’ That I needed to be at home more. They never saw me anymore. And my room had to be cleaned. Then Mom went grocery shopping. As I cleaned my room, my brain scrambled for a way out of the mess. I had to get to Jeff’s: some way, somehow. By the time my mom returned home, I had the perfect plan. A lie with a good, strong foundation in the truth. I had to meet with the girls at Monical’s pizza in South Shores at 4:30 for our Secret Santa dinner. Okay, so I didn?t have to meet the girls until 5:30, but Jeff lived in South Shores. It was just enough time for me to pop by and have a few casual conversations, have Andy walk me out to my car, get asked out, and drive off to the pizza place to meet with my friends.

Wouldn’t you know it? It worked. Just according to plan. Andy walked me to my car and asked me if I’d like to go out with him. Then I drove to Monical’s, walked all the way to the back where a loud group of giggly girls were sitting at a table full of pizza and Christmas presents, I pumped both fists in the air and yelled, “He asked me out!!” and the whole table screamed and jumped out of their seats in response. Of course, the entire pom squad had been well-versed in all the play-by-plays of our budding relationship. I?m not sure why anyone thought that we practiced for two-and-a-half hours after school every night when, in actuality, the first 45 minutes or so were entirely comprised of gossip.

The rest, as they say, is history. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, but at the same time, I can’t believe it’s only been 10 years. We have changed – grown up, really – and so much has happened in that 10 years. Writing this, I’ve laughed several times at how childish and immature some of these circumstances were. But, then I remind myself that we were childish and immature. I mean… we were 16. And that’s the story of how we began.

These Memories Brought to You by Google

I’ve been asked a few times now if I mind living my life in a fish bowl. People are alluding to this site of course. I sit here and hang my life out on a line in my vast virtual backyard. Anyone who happens by, on purpose or by accident, can see quite a bit about me. “Isn’t that a little unnerving?” one friend asked. Well, no, actually. And part of that has to do with one very oft overlooked point. A fish bowl is clear. The fish can see who’s looking at them. And so can I.

Among the many pieces of visitor information available to me applies to the aforementioned people who happen by my backyard on accident. It seems that I’m very Google-able. And every month, I can see all the search strings (a.k.a. the words you type into Google) that led folks to this site. These serve two purposes. First – they trigger a lot of memories. I go through the various phrases people have searched and think, “I remember writing about that!” The second purpose is sheer amusement. Google is an all-powerful tool, but sometimes the results it kicks back just don’t make a lick of sense.

Here are my 5 favorites from the second category:

  1. “Godfathers pizza allergens”
    I really thought about this one for awhile, but I do not – for the life of me – remember writing about Godfathers pizza. Or allergens. Maybe when it came to the dog last month? But I don’t think Godfather’s had anything to do with it. We did consume quit a bit of Godfather’s pizza growing up. And it is delicious. So, dear visitor, if you ever come back, it just so happens that I am a food scientist. So here it is: Godfather’s Pizza contains 2 of the Big 8 food allergens. milk (in the cheese) and wheat (in the dough). For sure. Possibly some soy as a meat extender in the sausage or pepperoni.
  2. “Fast hairgrowing products”
    Yep, I have no idea how that led Google to return my website as a relevant site for this topic. Heh, yeah – I really just don’t know.
  3. “Where do you find frankencarrots?”
    Um, not here? Have I talked about frankenfoods on here? Possibly, but probably not. But someone out in the void wants to know where they can find them. Most people try to avoid the evil that is genetically modified foods (<– note the sarcasm) but here’s a hint. Go to Wal-Mart.
  4. “Why do people cringe when they hear Buckner?”
    Why, indeed? This is one of the most random things I’ve ever heard. I don’t know anyone named Buckner. I don’t think I’ve ever written about Buckner. Who or what is Buckner, and why is it/are they so offensive? Truthfully, this phrase rings a bell deep in the dark depths of my brain, but I can’t seem to shed light on it. Seems to me that I was asked this question (no, really) in a trivia game with Andy once and we both couldn’t figure out what the heck it was alluding to. I will continue to ponder this for quite some time. I predict that this phrase will become akin to my father’s perplexing “Chinaman” joke. Since dental school (or was it college?), Dad told us kids that a schoolmate of his told him the first half of a joke. (Although not PC in these times, I retell it in this way for accuracy’s sake.) Dad told it to us this way: “They guy said, ‘How long is a Chinaman?’ and I would say, ‘I don’t know.’ Then the guy said, ‘As long as his name.’ And I said, ‘I still don’t get it’ and all the guy would tell me was, ‘Think about it.'” So Dad went on pondering this joke for years. Not getting it. Finally, one day after hearing this story – again – Mom abruptly said, “You’ve got it wrong. He didn’t say ‘AS long as his name.’ he said ‘HOW long is his name.’ It’s a statement. Not a question. The guy’s name was ‘How Long’.” This tickled us kids no end. Dad is tortured over the years on a joke he didn’t get and all the time the answer was sitting right next to him. 😉
  5. Mad Cow Disease and its effect on Altoids
    I am at a loss. On numerous occasions now, this phrase has been Googled, my site has been spit back, and people seeking the link between a devastating neurological disease and curiously strong breathmints have visited Something Fischy for answers. I can’t figure it. I don’t think that I’ve talked about Mad Cow Disease. Although I did do my Master’s research in meat and beef, it definitely wasn’t on this topic – or anywhere near. And Altoids? I don’t even like Altoids. Andy keeps his guitar picks in an old Altoids container, so that’s about as close as we get. Meat Science and guitar picks. Sorry folks.

Mostly these search strings conjur up memories of old posts. People want to know about Fender Jaguars, Harmonic Tan paint (remember that?), the Hoof and Horn, You Know You’re From Decatur When… (hey, that post actually made the Decatur Tribune – I’m famous!), Ti Kaye (where we spent our honeymoon), and – go figure – labrador retrievers. But as always, the most devoted visitors are our friends and family. Who else would be interested in a couple of twenty-somethings living a pretty normal life in north Texas?