Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A little less than a year ago…a Reflection

Okay it’s that time again where I am going to ramble about my first loves, you know, puppies, fresh rain, travelling – okay that’s a lie – I haven’t rambled about anything NKOTB since April (other than chatter) so I think it’s due.

Doesn’t that just make you all warm and fuzzy inside?? Ohh well maybe if you’re a “Blockhead” it does, if you’re not, I’m sure you’ll role your eyes, feel your stomach tighten and you may want to puke. I’m sorry about your luck. You really outta join us – it’s a great time to be alive and one of the most fun times I am convinced I will ever get the opportunity to experience and live through.

So today is a special day. I will be honest and say that I didn’t even know that it was until I woke up and logged onto Twitter. Today (Wednesday September 2) is the day that “THE BLOCK” album was released. On this day in 2008 NKOTB or as many of us still refer to them “NEW KIDS” released their 1st studio album in 14 years. !!

In sales, it peaked at #2 in the US & #1 in CA. Bet ya didn’t know that. I know I didn’t. Shame on me – I know
You see in August 2008 I think is when the tickets were released for the concert on November 18th in Edmonton. I remember calling my sister LAUGHING telling her we had to go, just for kicks, that she had to call her friend Lisa (who was a 2nd generationer) and I was going to call my BH friends Tanya & Michelle who I had recently reconnected with because of FB.

I think when I called / well actually Facebook’d these gals and phoned my sister, I think they must have thought I was nutz. Unfortunately Tanya, who I had gone to the show with in November 1990 wasn’t able to come, Michelle who was a DIE hard but had totally put them out of her mind Jordan girl was in, reluctantly!

I kinda touched on what this experience was like in my last blog – so don’t mind me repeating myself. You don’t? – Oh Good! Onwards then….

So we bought our tickets – part of me was embarrassed to be buying tickets, part of me couldn’t wait. I spent years being ridiculed because I liked them, to this day I still get teased; the difference now is I don’t care what any of you think when it comes to “Our Guys”. I’ve written about what they mean to many of us a couple of times and I won’t bore you with those specific details, except to say that it’s been a year since they officially came back, a year since they released their much UNDERRATED Album. And for me, it has been one of the best years of my entire life.

None of us knew or could have ever known what would happen when they re-appeared. Their album was released in August and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t follow them over the years and for that now, I hang my head in shame. I was a HUGE fan growing up, but I was growing up and I didn’t believe there was any room left for them in my world, besides, they left us right?. WRONG! I know now, they never left my world, they just sat in the background quietly waiting. They were embers slowly burning waiting to ignite again.

Like my metaphors? Haha Good – I have lots more.

Had they not come back, I can’t imagine what this month would be like, or for that matter what this year would have looked like. Things do happen for a reason and their timing was impeccable.
When the show came in November, Michelle and I were beside ourselves. We had no idea, do we scream in excitement? do we die of embarrassment?, what kind of show could they possibly be doing?. Did they even have any new stuff besides the “Summertime” single?. I had no idea what I was in for.

The opening acts weren’t bad – Lady Gaga is an interesting artist to say the least. Natasha Beddingfield, despite the horrible attempt at speaking French to a Western Canadian crowd was good. Finally it was show time. The lights went down, the screams picked up and all of a sudden BANG we were back Circa 1990 all over again!

We didn’t see it coming, we had no idea how fast we would be transported back and we certainly had no idea they were coming back even more incredible than they were back in the day. Perhaps we’ve all grown up; perhaps we were all just ready for the incredible release they allowed us.

It was that night, November 18th, 2008 when I realized I had been missing out. I decided to check out their website if they even had one still and I looked up who was carrying their album so I could purchase it the next day.

When I got to the website there was a ton of information, an entire tour that went on for what looked like months and months, they blogged to their fans and there was a community. A Community? What the hell was that all about? So I logged on. That is when my life as I knew it changed, oddly enough, but it did.

I started chatting with folks from all over the world, we all had one thing in common and the more we talked, many of us had a stupid amount of things in common. Was it unrealistic or weird? Maybe for those who were not involved with NK back in the day and by involved I mean, was a huge fan. Chatting in that community felt a lot like coming home. It was fun and was oddly normal. Almost like I had always been around and involved. I had a ton of catching up but those who kept following the guys after their break were more than happy to help catch you up.

You were never treated like less of a fan because you didn’t “keep in touch” but I can honestly say a part of me felt horribly bad for “giving up” or “growing up”. Now I make up for lost time.

It is odd, I will grant you, that one band can create this type of following. I’m a fan of many many artists, but not like I am with these 5 guys. Maybe because as a kid they were my release, my first “loves”, maybe because of all the musicians I’ve seen, or listened to, they impacted my life the most. I loved them when I was growing up and changing. My tastes have bounced all over and I am proud to love all kinds of music and artists, but what it is about NKOTB that holds me so tight is unknown. It’s something all us “fans” experience and I’m not sure any of us can truly explain it.

Wow I can ramble huh?

So before the show in November, Michelle and Lisa (haha yup, my sister Lisa and her friend Lisa and my friend Michelle) were all giving me a hard time about throwing a party with a NKOTB theme. I was supposed to do it as a build up to the show but couldn’t get a date or time in and before we knew it the show was here. After the show, I definitely had a ton more motivation to pull out all my old stuff and actually go forwards with our party plan.

In January of ’09 I hosted my first and hopefully annual NKOTB Walk Down Memory Lane Party. It was a small group of gals coming and one new comer. Through the community, I met Melissa, a fellow Edmonton girl. I had only chatted with her from time to time via FB and the threads, but we had never met. I invited her to the party, much to a lot of people’s surprise. Was I insane to invite someone I have never met? To my house? What if she’s a wacko? Hahaha I laugh hard at that now because in reality – I knew she was good – she was a NKOTB Girl, wasn’t that enough to get her through the door safely? One of the oddities of all us NK fans coming together is the incredible amount of trust we have for each other almost instantly. Some of us click quicker than others, some of us don’t click at all, and for the most part (short a few rotten apples) we all respect each other. I figured worst case scenario, Melissa would show up and we wouldn’t hit it off like we had via FB and it would be over. Best case scenario, she would be exactly what I expected and fit in like a glove.

She fit like a glove!

After the party, Melissa invited me to a NKOTB party at Schank’s she knew was happening with a bunch of ETown girls. I didn’t know a soul. I knew Melissa and that was it. I knew that a girl named Jenn who was only 18 was one of the hosts and I wondered how an 18 year old could possibly be all in love with NKOTB when they had left 18 years ago – she wasn’t even born when they broke up. I was excited, nervous and a couple of times I nearly bailed. .

But I didn’t and I had an amazing afternoon with some of the most fantastic ladies I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Jenn is like a little sister and I can’t imagine not ever knowing her, or any of the other gals I met that afternoon.

At the party everyone was discussing the upcoming Saskatoon show in April. I wasn’t going, it was Easter Saturday and was in S’Toon. One of the gals, Lesley had extra tickets and offered to sell them to me. I had already decided I wasn’t going, but after hanging out with these ladies for a couple of hours, I questioned what my problem was. Would they be around forever? No not likely, would the tour end soon? Most likely? What if it was the last show I ever got to see? I went, my Jordan girl friend Michelle in tow.

If you read my previous blog here, you know I shook Joe’s hand, saw Jon so close I could touch him and was in Cloud 9 – as a kid I had dreamed of being that close, and now 18 years later here I was living my childhood dreams.

The concert was amazing and intimate, the venue was small. I held a sign (an inside joke really I had made for Jon based on something he had posted on twitter) and when I held it up – for that 20 seconds I felt like a 14 year old (granted it was a very adult like sign to hold – I still felt 14) – to think I had made a sign (something I didn’t even think of doing in 1990), me a 33 year old made a sign for someone who is 40. You live once right, may as well have fun doing it.

So I held it up and then I do believe he noticed it, he made this face like “I can’t believe you have a sign that says that!”, smirked and kept going with the show. I shook like a leaf.

That night Joe also held up a sign that Melissa had made and it was on the big screen and all. It was an amazing experience and one I shared with my new found friends.

These gals are people I would never even know had “THE BLOCK” not been released or had the guys not come back with such an amazing album (of that I am 100% convinced without a shred of doubt). Our paths would have never crossed and this past year would never have been this fun.

Looking back, I can’t imagine my life without them. Through them and because of them I have met so many more BH’s (for those not in this world – that means Blockheads).

I have done and plan to do things I would never in my life have dreamt of doing or thought of doing.

In October I am walking with 10 of these BH’s on a Bettys Etown Girls team. Danny Wood (a member of NK) lost his mother to Breast Cancer back in 1999 and is very involved with the Susan G. Komen Foundation in the States. As Canadians we can not be involved with them, so we have decided to support the sister foundation in Canada – the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

We decided to create a team and put the call out. Almost immediately we had nearly a full team but just a month ago we were short 1 member to officially call us a team (you need 10). So I put the call out via FB to all the women I know that are NK fans. They may not be as star struck as I am now, but they had seen a concert this year or at the least liked them back in the day and I thought maybe just maybe one of them might consider walking with us. It was a long shot, but worth a try.

One of the first people to respond was a friend of mine, Nadine. Nadine and I grew up together, my mom and her mom were friends and I knew Nadine from Kindergarten to Grade 6. I spent countless hours with her in the summer out at the race tracks, we spent Halloween’s together, we went to school together, and I remember giggling a lot with her.

We had lost track of each other over the years, but little things would remind me of her, the car races, race flags, Arby’s (haha – don’t ask), driving past her old house. So we were not friends anymore, but I had great memories of my friendship with her.

With the arrival of Facebook came the arrival of looking up lots of “old” friends to see what they were up to. One of them was Nadine. When the concert in November came, we were both counting down the days to the show – she was a lot more open about it – I secretly counted. I didn’t know or realize she had been a fan until then. The day before the show, I messaged her and told her to have a great time. That maybe I’d see her there. I knew from the minute I typed that, it was a long shot. We hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years. What would be the odds?

Can you tell where I’m going with this?

After the concert, high on being 14 again all of a sudden I hear someone call my name. I look at my friend Michelle and tell her, I think someone is calling you haha – she says are you kidding? I don’t think I know anyone here. We hear it again and that time I totally recognized the voice. It was NADINE! She was sitting a few rows above me the whole show. We both hugged and I couldn’t believe it!

She was one of the ones I sent an email about the walk to and honestly to my surprise, was on board immediately.

Then this week, I got yet another email from my friend Tanya who like me had let the NK craze thing go with our childhood, messaged me to say she was interested too!

This is insane! Both of these gals, had it not been for Facebook and for the fact that at some point in our lives we loved New Kids on the Block, wouldn’t even consider doing a walk for Breast Cancer with a team of crazy Blockheads we as a group, would not exist this year had it not been for their new album and the comeback.

Just so you know, I’ve embraced the word crazy, it’s endearing to me. Crazy to me means having fun, living life, laughing, being yourself and loving every minute of your journey. We are crazy, we’ll giggle like little girls when we hear or see them, we can find nearly 1 million ways to link the guys to everyday stuff : Starbucks, Chocolate Cupcakes, Black & White, Real Estate, Working out, Smoothies, Books, Block Parties and the list goes on and on. We buy all the stuff, the albums, tour books, key chains, sweaters, t-shirts, and we go on Cruises – Yup doing that in May. We travel all over the country and some even cross continents. We may be crazy, but we love it! And I know for a fact, not one of us would change it.

I can’t wait to introduce both Nadine & Tanya to the rest of the Etown Girls I’ve had the amazing opportunity of spending the past year with and I can’t personally wait to hang out with my ol’ friends again. Our group here in Edmonton is getting bigger and bigger by the month it seems and out of the 11 girls walking, I’ve met just over half. The rest I’ll have the absolute pleasure of meeting in a couple of weeks when we pick up our team shirts & hat. All of the gals I have talked to via FB but have never seen face to face, so it should be a great time when we do!

I’ve mentioned the Etown Ladies I’ve met and had the pleasure of calling my friends, but there are also countless other ladies I am going to be meeting in May ’10 who I also consider good friends, Adina, my roommate on the boat from Ontario, Veronica from California, Ella, another Ontario-ite, Shanon from just outside of Edmonton, Cindy, Amanda (both from the US) and many many more.

My life has been forever improved by having these ladies in it. They are wives, mom’s, sister’s, aunts, friends and it is with extreme pride I call them my friends.

Without the release of “THE BLOCK” would any of this be happening? Would my circle of friends still only consist of people I work with, the few close friends here at home and my Calgary crew? Would I have joined some other group of people, joined an organization or volunteered somewhere to meet more people or would I still be looking for ways to improve my social circle?

I’ve always wanted more, to do more, to be more. I’m fortunate and happy to have what I have in my life, but there was always that lingering question of “what else is out there”. In this time and this place, it’s my BH Sisters. Will this sense of euphoria last? I dunno, I think so. What I do know is I have rekindled old friendships, made new lifelong friendships and laughed and smiled more in the past year than I ever have. There is no price you can put on that. There is no going back.

So today is a special day. It was one I didn’t even realize last year existed and even though this day came and went, I had no idea how it would impact my life. I am grateful, I am happy and I am excited for everything this “NEW YEAR” is going to bring me.

This is living. It may be because of some childhood crush not gone away; it could be because of a higher power. It could be because of the incredible energy one group of guys created 18 years ago that never burned out. It just needed some wood on the coals! I do know this much now. This fire is stoked, it’s burning bright, it shows no sign of going out and for those who are still reading this wondering why they are and still rolling their eyes, don’t mess with this fire. It’s stronger than you and I combined.

I believe that everyone should in their lifetime experience the kind of fun I am having because of this reunion. It may not be because of a musical group, but you should all experience it. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and I’m glad I’m around to live it!

Cheers to our Blockversary!