Friday, September 30, 2011

Never Going Back to OK

I’ve been running this week.  Not literally, except for on the circuit at Curves, which sort of counts I suppose.  It’s month-end in my business, which means running, running, running to meet goals.  And mastering the art of keeping my team and myself motivated. 

I really do love being out of Corporate America.  Have I mentioned that before?  Bottom line, it was exhausting and hazardous to my health.  If I’m tired this week, I really haven’t noticed it.

We’re going to return to discussing songs this week.  “Never Going Back to OK” is my all-time favorite song by The Afters.  Again, if you have not heard of The Afters, go remedy that situation now.  They will be in Columbus in November (with Sanctus Real!) and I will be there with bells on.

My favorite Afters song came up lately when I was putting together some pre- and post-event playlists.  Mood music to get people pumped up and happy.  My niece and I had a discussion of where the song fit.  Final verdict … dance mix version for pre, regular version for post.  It’s good enough we have to play it twice!

I’m thinking back to last summer, July 2010.  I travelled with a group of friends, grown-up girls and teenage girls, to King’s Island for my niece’s fourteenth birthday.  It was Spirit Song time – a multi-day Christian music festival – and guess who was playing on Emily’s actual birthday!
Background for this Saturday in July … everyone was exhausted.  Some from a week of church camp.  Some from work.  I had been working on what became known in my world as The Evil Project.  I had my share of no-win projects in my years as a project engineer, but this one was special.  And not in a good way. 

The project team – engineers, construction workers, and operators alike – were required  to meet deadlines that couldn’t be met with the people and money we had.  So a lot of extra hours were worked.  Engineers went on shift.  Many of us were on call pretty much 24/7.  I would get phone calls during church.  The ladies at Curves would see me in there at odd hours and learned to ask which shift I was working that day.  Sometimes I didn’t know yet.  I often swapped shifts at least once in the course of a week. 

I had a conversation with a coworker one time about the weekend phenomenon.  It was difficult to plan activities with the family because you were never quite sure if you were going to have to work the weekend.  Frequently you wouldn’t know until Friday night or Saturday morning whether you would have your weekend free.  Or maybe even Sunday night.

I lay out the boring work stuff to explain how special it was that I had a Saturday off to go to King’s Island.

Early in the day a couple of the girls went on some crazy twisting roller coaster like ride while a couple of us waited on them.  I like keeping my faculties about me and my breakfast in my stomach, I’m just sayin’.  Not a roller coaster person.  I was rewarded during my wait.  Sometimes in the amusement park you hear music coming out of random speakers in random places.  Amusement park Muzak.  So I hear this song, and it takes me a couple bars to figure out what’s going on.  Never Going Back to OK!!!  And that’s no Muzak, those are my boys doing sound check!  Smile.  And all is right with the world.

I didn’t go on any rides that day.  I really was happy just to be still.  I don’t think anyone in our group did a huge number of rides.  Ultimately we spent most of the day at the water park, in the shade, not really moving much.  It was kind of completely awesome and just what we needed. 

Late in the afternoon we packed up and headed to the amphitheater for concert time.  We split into two or three groups … dropping stuff off at different cars … grabbing food at different places.  My sister and I ended up being the first ones there.  The Afters had just started and there weren’t too many people in the audience yet.  We found our assigned seats.  Good seats, but not super-close to the stage or anything.  Like the smart girls that we are, we observed the lay of the land, the flow of the people, the location of the ushers / security.  And we snuck to the front section, fourth row center, by attaching ourselves to some random family we didn’t know.  We texted the rest of our crowd, but alas, they were denied by the usher.

During I-can’t-remember-which-band’s-set, The Afters were signing autographs near the merch table.  A couple of our girls had worn their Afters shirts that day, which did not go unnoticed by the band while we were over buying new shirts.  We ended up being last in the autograph line, which was kind of cool.  We got a little extra time with the guys, some cool pictures, and a plan to book a concert in Jamaica for Em’s next birthday.  Which didn’t end up happening, but her sweet sixteen is coming up next year.

So “Never Going Back to OK”.  Sometimes you can never go back to ok in a good way.  There are significant events in our lives that can transform us for the better.  Em’s birthday adventure last summer didn’t really look like a significant event at the time, but I think of it this way.  You know how people will bang their head against the wall, and you ask why, and the answer is because it feels so good when they stop?  Yeah, that was one day in the midst of many when I stopped banging my head against the wall.  For just one day.  It felt really good.

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