Preparation

 

 

As Rock Camp approaches, I find myself readying for the week and its demands. Enthusiasm and excitement do a lot to energize me for each day at camp. The campers themselves build me up and provide a boost. The volunteers do the same. Heck – every high-five I give / get is like a battery charge. But those things only go so far. I also rely on some rituals that have served me well in the past. Some of these things bring me comfort. Others allow me the gift of time. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my old faithfuls…

 

Clothes: I lay out my clothes – for the entire week – in advance. This may seem silly, but it makes a huge difference each morning of camp, being able to simply grab that day’s allotted clothing and go. Because I’ve worked it all out in advance (including under garments, socks and shoes), I don’t have to think about it. At all. And during camp week, I want every minute of sleep I can get. Waking up a few minutes early to figure out the day’s attire blows.

 

Cleanliness: I do my best to shower each night before bed during camp week. It’s usually all I can do to simply collapse at the end of the day. In the mornings, I’m hyped, sure, but still want as much sleep as the snooze-a-roo will allow. So that night-before-shower is a blessing. And another thing – I take deodorant with me to camp each day. A little refresher is a kindness not just for me, but for those around me, if you get my drift. I know someone who brings baby wipes and refreshes the old arm pits with those. I haven’t tried that yet, but I’m not opposed. Whatever gets a gal through the day, you know?

 

Hydration: This one is huge, as it can take you out of the game if you’re not careful. At Rock Camp, we bring our own coffee cups and water bottles. We do this to cut down on waste, and we do it to cut down on money spent on cups that will eventually become said waste. Personally, I bring a coffee travel mug and use that baby right up until lunch. Then I put it away and pull out my water bottle. That one is constantly being filled the rest of the day. Because we’re running around, up-and-down-stairs, carrying gear, hauling trash, teaching, coaching and generally all-things-volunteer for 8 hours each day, dehydration is a very real risk. I’ve already stocked my Gator-ade supply so that I can scribble my name on a few and bring one each day, just for help. I’m not kidding about this one. I’ve been obsessive about drinking enough water and still I’ve failed. Try, try again.

 

Know Your Limits: Rock Camp is about the super-coolest environment I’ve ever known. And the other volunteers are, well, they’re amazing. At the end of each camp day, we all love each other so much – we want nothing more than to hang out for the rest of the night. And guess what – we can! Planned and unplanned activities take place each evening, allowing us to socialize away from camp. It’s fantastic, I tell ya! Really! Now – all that being said, I know my limits. I do not have what it takes to work at camp all day, then party with my friends all night, 5 days straight. So I turn down most evening’s activities. I hate doing it. I do. But I know I need rest. I know I need to decompress each night. I know I need that nightly shower so that I won’t flat out stink the next morning. And every time I miss an outing, my heart breaks a little. But miss I must. Others may fare just fine with little rest. And I applaud them. I also applaud me – for knowing me and my limits.

 

Groceries at Home: I stock up a few days before camp, making sure the basics are covered. I also try to have a few freezer items, to make it easy. Take-out happens during camp week, too. And I’m okay with that. Basically – I know I’ll be tired when I get home each day (and I’m usually late), so I want to make it easy on myself. My friend Betro reminded me to add beer to my list, as throwing back a cold one each night during camp may be required. Medicine, you know.

 

Admin at Home: I get all my known admin responsibilities lined up before camp, that way I don’t have to worry. I want to make sure a bill doesn’t slip through the cracks that week. It’s too easy to forget a must during Rock Camp. I can’t handle a late fee or the like, so I take care of business before camp. It gives me peace of mind.

 

Friends: Most everyone I know is aware of my Rock Camp association. And during camp week, very few people try to contact me. For the few who do reach out then, I’m afraid they just have to wait. I’ve accepted this and am okay with it. Friends – real friends – are, too.

 

Mister: Like friends, Mister sort of takes a back seat during camp week. He’s had enough practice with my schedule to know he won’t be seeing me much until camp is wrapped. And when he does see me during that week, I’m frazzled. My focus is on camp, not on him. It happens. I’m fortunate to be with a guy who understands and supports me. Mister doesn’t take my absence personally, and he knows just how good Rock Camp is for me. And good for me, friends, equals good for him. Smart guy.

 

I’m sure I’m forgetting about a million-billion-god-zillion things. There’s just so danged much! But this little list is a good start for me. And it really does help. Maybe this year I’ll take note of a few more things to add to my list, for next year. To get better. To be better.

 

Then again, I may be kidding myself if I think I’ll get anything more done than hitting that nightly shower. Sure hope I don’t fall asleep in there. Dag.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

 

 

The coming weekend will mark preparation for Rock and Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles. The campers will show up on Monday and the whole danged she-bang will begin.

 

Here at the homestead, my personal preparation has already begun. I dug out all my Rock Camp t-shirts, and will wear them throughout next week. As this is the 6th year and I’ll be getting a new volunteer shirt, half of my wardrobe for the week is set.

 

I’m still recovering from The Crud, so a lot of my attention is devoted to that. Can’t show up and infect others at camp, so I’ve got to be healed and ready to go. Stupid Crud.

 

Anyhoo – I’ve been thinking a lot about Rock Camp. This yearly ritual has become so important to me. The volunteers are amazing and the campers blow my mind. I look forward to this – hard – and it always delivers. I am a changed person for my involvement with this non-profit and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

While looking forward to this year’s camp, I started thinking back to the very first year – 2010. I wondered what I felt, what I thought. Then I remembered I have a handy dandy record and could search my old blog posts in Retro Writing. I did just that and here’s a bit of what I found:

 

A few months ago, I decided to volunteer at Rock Camp for Girls. I wanted to give back. I wanted to be part of the circle of good in this world. I ended up going to summer camp. For the first time. Ever. And while it wasn’t perfect … it was practically perfect. And here’s what I learned at summer camp: I am awesome. I am fabulous. I am allowed to be me. I am smart and funny and people actually like me. And I am a rock star.

I can’t wait to go to camp next summer. There’s no telling what I’ll learn…

I’m still in awe. I’m still excited. I still can’t wait. The clock is ticking…

Want Some Cheese With That Whine?

 

 

 

I’m about to whine. You’ve been warned.

 

Yesterday I woke feeling about a jillion times worse than the day before. I could barely speak. My jaw ached tremendously. My head was clogged and painful. Really – I was quite the picture. Mister said I should save my voice and simply not speak. (I didn’t blame him.) And he encouraged me to lie around, which was about all I could handle.

 

At some point I considered crying. I thought about it and wondered if it would make me feel better. Crying does that sometimes. I have definitely experienced a few sob sessions that seemed to wring the bad/sad/hurt right out. Those cathartic cries bring clarity and comfort. But yesterday felt different. I thought that maybe the physical act of crying would create more pressure and tension in my head and I simply did not need that. So I didn’t cry. Not one tear.

 

Mister pointed out that now is the time to be sick, as next weekend I have Rock Camp commitments. And he’s right. I can’t imagine teaching, working, roadie-ing, singing or anything else I might be called upon to do over the course of the week. And I really don’t want to expose any fellow volunteers or campers to this petri dish known as my head. That would be downright stupid. And mean. I love those people! I don’t want to get them sick!

 

So I’m in whining mode. And I’m not happy and I’m super uncomfortable, to put it mildly. But you know what? I know people – right now – who are dealing with much worse than this. And though they’re challenged, they are dealing. So maybe I can pretend the pain isn’t there. Maybe I can eat soup, since my jaw hurts too much for solid food. Maybe I can manage a damn smile once in a while. Maybe I can manage – period.

And So It Begins. Again.

 

 

 

It started again, just as it has since 2010.

 

A couple of weeks before Rock Camp, I begin having odd dreams. Dreams that find me feeling inadequate, with little or nothing to offer. For example, the other night I dreamt I was in a war-torn country, unable to speak the language, desperate to flee. In an effort to escape the dangers around me, I found a wonderful group of women. Though I could not communicate with them, they sheltered me and endeavored to save me. I trusted them – blindly – and followed their lead. Then I woke, unsure if the dream-me ever managed to find safety.

 

This is the sort of dream I’m having each night. No matter the stage or setting, I find myself feeling lost. I also find myself surrounded by competent women. I can’t claim I feel envy or jealousy during these dreams, but I do feel small. Self-doubt creeps in, too. It’s hard to shake those feelings during the day. And I don’t care for that. I truly don’t.

 

This will be my 6th year volunteering at Rock Camp. And you’d think I’d have learned by now to chill the hell out. As much as my daily demeanor says I have learned, my dreams indicate otherwise. I am as scared now as I was back in 2010.

 

I wonder if I’m the only volunteer who goes through this sort of fraidy-cat, self-doubt thing. Hmm…

The Great Dork

 

 

Note: All photos courtesy of Scottsdale Segway Tours.

 

When Mister and I were in the desert a few weeks ago, we and our friends went on a most unexpected outing. As I’m not a liar, I’ll tell you what we did. We went on a Segway tour of Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona. Because this had been discussed in advance, I knew exactly which t-shirt to pack: “The Great Dorks” band shirt from a few Rock Camps back.

 

 

After a short tutorial, we were all proficient enough on the Segways to start the tour. As the vehicles max out at about 12 miles per hour, speed wasn’t a fear factor. And the organizers of Scottsdale Segway Tours have agreements with the city that allow their clients to move en masse through town, so getting around was easy and safe.

 

 

I fully expected the tour to be interesting, but I had no idea how much friggin’ fun it would be! Scottsdale is absolutely gorgeous, y’all. Its landscaping is beautifully maintained and there’s an abundance of art in its public spaces. During the course of the tour – which was quite informative – we were told the city’s planners wrote in a provision for taxes to beautify, artify and maintain the city. That’s thinking ahead, friends, and it has truly paid off.

 

 

The 12 members of our tour group tooled around for a little more than an hour, zigging and zagging all over the place. And when the tour was over, I was actually sad. Because I’d been smiling so much, I should have had bugs in my teeth. I can tell you honestly that the Segway tour was awesome and I highly recommend it! And though I have nothing to compare this particular company with, I do suggest seeking out Scottsdale Segway Tours if you’re in the area and want to have a different, fun experience. Just book it and show up. No “Great Dorks” t-shirts required.

 

High Fives For All My Friends!

 

 

The last couple of days have found me feeling fairly grand. I’m in a good mood. I feel energetic and alive. Everywhere I look, I see something awesome. And I’ve caught myself – a couple of times – very nearly high-fiving strangers.

 

If I were coming off a week at Rock Camp, I’d attribute my state of grace to that. But Rock Camp hasn’t happened yet. And I didn’t make it to Ladies Rock Camp last weekend. So what gives?

 

Well, I did hang out with my friend Betro, and she told me all I’d missed at Ladies Camp. Then I hung out with Baker Jen, and she shared her experiences of Ladies Camp. Put them together, and apparently I have vicariously caught the excellent Rock Camp vibes. What a feat!

 

I gotta tell ya – this has caught me by surprise. It’s a wonderful surprise, granted, but a surprise just the same. And as I’m reveling in the glow of all this love, I’m also thinking about how amazing these people truly are. We are, without a doubt, the most positive friggin’ group I’ve ever encountered. We’re human, sure, but we lift each other and support each other in ways most folks have never known. And while Girls Rock Camp Alliance is an international organization with super-duper branches all over the globe, I have heard from multiple volunteers that what we’ve managed to create here in Los Angeles is the envy of many camps. Honestly, it makes me love and appreciate us even more.

 

This year I’m crazy-excited for a friend who’s signed up to volunteer at Rock Camp. I’ve known for a while that she is perfect for our tribe and that she just needed to commit. As scheduling has permitted, she’s done it and I can hardly wait! She has no idea how rad these chicks are. How much fun it is to watch the kids as they explore and become themselves. How emotional it is to be around this level of support. How she’ll never be the same after volunteering with Rock Camp L.A.

 

To be sure, we’re an exclusive lot. And we welcome everyone with open arms. All that’s required of volunteers is that they show up and let the positive waves wash over them. That’s it. Well – that and a lot of high-fiving. Seriously – on that front we’re a sick bunch. Deliriously so.

Moments

 

 

Every now and then I experience moments of clarity. I’d like this to be the norm and not the exception, but to paraphrase a wise kid – I get what I get.

 

I didn’t always have these moments. I certainly don’t remember having them when I was in 5th grade and the popular girls had parties. I was always invited to those parties, but I never quite knew why. Instead of just going with it and having a good time, I searched my mind trying to figure out what could possibly have led to my being included in their elite circle.

 

I also didn’t have these moments in high school. I had friends, and we hung out. But a part of me wondered how long that would last. When would the other shoe drop?

 

I believe that sort of thinking – the kind filled with self-doubt – continued well into adulthood. Sometimes I’m still amazed to be included in the lives of others. And though I no longer spend my party time obsessing over why I’m there and instead just enjoy myself, I do still wonder.

 

But not as often as I once did. For now I’ve found my tribe and in doing so, I guess I’ve sort of found me. I realized all this yesterday when I was grocery-shopping with my friend Betro. (For the record, if you’ve never gone grocery-shopping with a friend, you’re truly missing out. It makes the task downright pleasurable!) She was filling me in on all I missed during this past weekend’s Ladies Rock Camp session. As she shared stories about Lady Campers and their performances, about fellow volunteers, about the overall breakthroughs experienced by all, I felt myself beginning to cry. Right there in the salad dressing aisle. By the time I asked if she’d tried a particular poppy seed dressing, it was through strained tears. Naturally, we laughed at ourselves and finished the shopping. We cried together a bit more on the way home, and then I dropped her off at her house and headed in the direction of my own, but not before we hugged each other tightly and said how we feel about one another.

 

Before I had even left her street, I started crying again. This time, it was because I had one of those moments of clarity: I realized I have wonderful friends who love me as deeply as I love them. I gotta tell ya – owning that is huge. Accepting that we are loved – truly loved – by others, is monumental, folks. I highly recommend it.

 

Rock Camp is coming up in only a few weeks and I plan to be there. For the kids. For the volunteers. For myself. And I already know I’m going to be drowning in those wonderful, beautiful, tear-filled moments of clarity. I’ll take it.

Friends Make All The Difference

 

 

 

I went to Costco yesterday while out and about and I realized something: when I go there by myself, it’s merely a task.

 

I came to this understanding as I hurried down an aisle, searching for a particular item and not finding it. That happens, so I wasn’t frustrated. But I also wasn’t having fun. And that struck me as odd. It seems like my most recent Costco trips have been a hoot. So why was this one different?

 

I was alone. My super-fun, Rock Camp buddies (and neighbors) weren’t with me. If they had been, something like this would have happened…

 

 

Or this…

 

 

Those gals are the best. And as much as I love Costco (and I do, oh, I do), it just isn’t the same without my friends. I’m glad I know this.

No Truer Words

 

 

The other night Betro and I went out to see our friends in Wolf Prize. They were doing a show that coincided with member Amber Elliot’s art exhibit opening. The band was grand (as per usual) and Amber’s art is sublime. Not only did I enjoy the fine company of Betro, but we also got to visit with a few of our Rock Camp Volunteer buddies. And that’s always a good thing.

 

But I have to tell you – as enamored as I was with the music / art / company, I just couldn’t get over the crazy vegan fair offered at the venue/restaurant. Not only were they out of mineral water (how does that happen?), they also only had vegan beverages. Even their coffee was cold-brewed. (Is it cruel to the beans to use heat?) As we were there for quite a while, I really wanted something to drink. I finally settled on some vegan form of a cold cafe au lait. And y’all, it was absolutely horrible. And super-expensive. I placed it on the table in front of my seat and every time I forgot the flavor and reached for the glass to take a sip, my mouth was shocked. All night long, it never got any better. By the time the show had finished and Betro and I were ready to go, more than half of that god-awful drink was left behind.

 

The horrid memory of that night’s beverage reminds me of something our friend, Bob from Tring, often says (and I’m paraphrasing here): I love vegans. I just can’t eat a whole one.

 

Good Lord. No truer words…

Friends

 

 

As I progress along life’s twisty-turny road, I appreciate my friends more and more. And while I don’t count their number the way I likely did when I was a kid, I am aware of having more friends than I probably deserve. This comes as somewhat of a surprise to me. You see – I’ve always been a gal who separated my friends from acquaintances. Naturally – acquaintances outnumber friends. But aging is helping me to see that I have far more friends than I once thought. Real friends. People I’d take calls from at 3 in the morning. People I could call if I needed.

 

When we were kids, making friends was easy (for most of us). We were bound by our school schedules, or our extracurricular activities. Unpopular? No problem. We’d just buddy-up to other dorks on the math team or in the a/v club. As long as we were reasonably competent in our childish social skills, we could usually find a friend or two. It just sort of worked out.

 

Getting older, however, seems to stifle the friend-making process. Maybe it’s because we spend more of our time in cubicles than in clubs. And at the end of a work day, or on the weekend, we often want nothing more than to be at home. We seek calm and quiet, not fun and frivolity. It happens.

 

But once in a while something comes up in life that requires us to break free of our comfortable cocoons and actually interact with other human beings. For me, one such opportunity has been Rock & Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles. The volunteers within this organization are stellar souls. Of course I want to be friends with them! This has meant battling my self-doubt and stepping outside my comfort zone, but I’ve done it. And you know what’s happened? I’ve made new friends. New, wonderful friends. When I think about this, I am genuinely surprised. Grateful, yes, and also surprised.

 

I guess I’ve gone down this particular rabbit-hole of thought because of the above photo. One of my Rock Camp buddies has returned to Los Angeles after living in London for a while. Betro (Rock Camp buddy extraordinaire) came up with the brilliant idea of jazzing up the home of our returning friend, to welcome her back. So we made a banner (shown above) and got her some tacos for her fridge, so that she could come home, eat and crash. All because we care. All because we appreciate our friend.

 

In all likelihood, I will never be a gal with more friends than I can count. My reclusive tendencies will see to that. But I am blessed to have beautiful, dear friends in my life. Friends who care. Friends who laugh. Friends who check in on me when I’m not feeling my best. Friends who invite me for coffee. Friends who invite me to game night. Friends who will watch a documentary and cry with me after. Friends who are good just hanging out and doing nothing at all. Honestly – I don’t know how I got so lucky.