Josh Ritter and Me: Redeeming the Past, With Hugs

Once, years ago, I hugged someone and I’ve had regrets about it ever since.

My aversion to hugging is no secret. I generally avoid it at all costs. I’ve learned to handles myself through goodbyes with my in-laws, and will occasionally hug someone if it seems like the socially correct thing to do, but as a general rule, I do not hug.

A Hug Gone Wrong, Twice

But once, I was at a sparsely attending music festival that my friends where helping organize. There were many good folks acts on the bill, but I was there for Josh Ritter. The lack of attendance at the festival was terrible for the organizers, but it did hold some perks for the attendees. We didn’t have to fight crowds to get to the front of the stage, we never had to wait in line for food and drink, we got to meet many of the artists, and as friends of the organizers, we were able to partake in some of the back-stage beverages.

The combination of those last two is killer.

I remember the day. It was fun! But I also remember drinking too much and being distinctly aware of being just on the wrong side of out of control. At one point I had a conversation with Zach Hickman, the bassist in the Josh Ritter’s band and a musician I greatly admire. The conversation went something like this:

“I like your mustache.”
“Thanks. Me too.”

That was it. That was my moment and all I chose to say was, “I like your mustache.”

And still, it gets worse.

Later in the evening, when I was nearing the pinnacle of my drunkenness, my brother-in-law approached Josh Ritter and said, “My sister-in-law over there loves you and you would make her day if you gave her a hug.” And so Josh did. And while he did, I stood like a cement column. It was so awkward that he didn’t know what to do to end the interaction and so just hugged me again. Which would have been awesome, if I could have appreciated it.

And so, I added a goal to my 100 Things list that read: “Hug Josh Ritter … sober this time.”

It’s a goofy addition to the list and one that I always thought would be difficult to achieve. But if I managed to have The Features over for dinner, why not a sober hug?

A Chance at Redemption

Over the years I have seen Josh Ritter too many times to count. My conservative guess is 8-10 shows. No hugs. Recently, while on a trip in Argentina, I got an email from the Mercantile Library that they were hosting a new series called the Words and Music Lecture Series and the first guest would be Josh Ritter. My wi-fi was too spotty to buy tickets overseas, but I managed an email to my mom asking her to purchase memberships to the Library for Wonder Boy and I and to reserve tickets for this event. She totally saved the day and hooked us up.

And so this past Thursday, I went to the event with one task in mind. A hug.

To start, the event was great. Josh Ritter sang several songs, including a few of my favorites. He answered questions from the crowd that reiterated the importance of being creative and how all sorts of creative ventures can add fuel to the creativity you need for your main venture. He was personable and smiling the whole goddamn time and it only reiterated while I love him as an artist.

After the talk, there was a book and album signing and I scooted my way immediately over to the line. Thought only maybe 15 people back in line, I waited a bit. Josh talked to every person, answering their questions and taking whatever time was necessary. It sounds like I am gushing, and I am, but I am not the only person who made this observation. As I moved up in line, I tried to prepare myself to do better than the mustache question and way better than the inanimate object hug.

It went lovely.

Josh Ritter was the first person to be featured by the Mercantile Library for their Words and Music Series.He greeted Wonder Boy and I with hugs (check!). Then I explained to him about the last time I met him and how my goal since then was to give him a hug sober. And he smiled and said, “But I’m a little drunk. Is that okay?” It was, so he gave me a hug. (Check again!) And then I asked him the question I would have asked during Q&A if my voice could carry across a crowd: For someone who is constantly touring, how do you make time to write and create? Here is how he answered … I’m paraphrasing but it’s close:

I used to travel with my family so it was great because I did’t have to take time off from them to write. Now my daughter is in school so I can’t do that and I have to write while I am on the road more. I’m lucky because my team is great and I can trust them to set up while I get to walk around and work on songs. I have to write every day in order for it to feel like a good day.

And then he gave me another hug. ANOTHER HUG.

I think this instance totally redeemed the first one. I asked a smart question, or at least I think I did, and kept myself more composed than I have in previous celebrity interactions, and I got my hug(s). I left the Library floating and smiling from ear to ear.

That 100 List has turned out to be an inspired idea. The most ridiculous things are coming true. I need to aim higher.

Redeeming two bad hugs with several good ones, by hugging Josh Ritter at the Mercantile Library.


Year in review: 2013

There are definitely parts of 2013 I wish I could erase. But despite some personal challenges, it was a pretty great year. And I accomplished some pretty great things from my 100 list:

  • Had The Features to my house for dinner
  • I saw Neko Case in concert (again)
  • Checked another country off of my list by visiting Bali – only 27 more countries to go towards meeting the goal!
  • I learned to ride the city bus
  • I sent birthday cards out to loved ones all year, many of them homemade
Wonder Boy and I celebrated five years of marriage. We had a blast at my brother’s wedding and then again at my cousin’s wedding. I was able to hold on of my best friend’s new baby and I got to meet the daughter of another good (out of town) friend. I think I made progress towards being a better friend. I definitely tried to spend more time with friends and resist the urge to hole up by myself. I met an author I love and then got to see another one speak. I took a letterpress class. I held an orangutan. I read so many books. I fostered cute kittens. I am more involved in the community than I was a year ago, volunteering at the local modern art museum and as a tutor, as well as at the animal rescue. While I wouldn’t say I have the most healthy lifestyle, it is better than it was a year ago.
Time moves so fast that sometimes it’s easy to forget about things. That’s one thing I like about this blog. It gives me something by which I can review time past and see what all I’ve been able to experience and all of the blessings that have come my way.
This post originally appeared on Kate’s Point of View. © Kate. All rights reserved.

All You Have To Do Is Ask. Maybe Twice.

When I created my 100 List, I tried to come up with goals that felt big but doable. Like “live in another country.” That’s not something you can accomplish in an hour or during an outing to the mall. But it’s in the realm of possibilities. The item I thought was the most outlandish was “have The Features to my house for dinner.” But no.When The Features played Bunbury this past summer I sent the band a heartfelt note on Facebook and got no response. I still got to see them play, though, as well as talk them after their concert. (Wonder Boy would quickly point out that “talking” to them really involved him talking and me standing around being star struck, which is ridiculous because we’d talked to them after previous shows.)

A coworker let me know The Features were coming back in town and I immediately bought tickets. It didn’t occur to me until two days before the show to contact the band again. This time I tried locating an email address at which to reach them. The thing about contacting a band, though, is that (for me) it just means doing wild searches on Google and hoping you land on the right answer.

And sometimes you strike gold.

I emailed the only address I found on Wednesday. Thursday afternoon I received a response from the band’s manager. After almost passing it out with glee, I emailed back and forth with him to set up dinner plans for Friday at 6:30. (Throughout this there also multiple panicked texts and calls to Wonder Boy.) At 6:30 on Friday, the lead singer of the band called (introducing himself as “Matt… from The Features” as if I didn’t know that) to say they were running late. He texted a little while later to let me know they were on there way.

My seven, Matt Pellham (lead singer) and Mark Bond (keyboardist) were at my house for dinner. AT MY HOUSE FOR DINNER.

And with that I began one of the greatest nights of my life. Seriously. I could go into details about how wonderful it was and how surprisingly not weird it was. But the main thing for me is just that I was so happy. Happy that I took the time to ask. Ecstatic that they agreed to do it.

And pleased as punch with my souvenir from the evening. This past Spring I made a letterpress print that included lyrics from a Features song. And now I have a copy that is autographed by band members. Woo hoo!

This post originally appeared on Kate’s Point of View. © Kate. All rights reserved.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: President Barack Obama and Stevie Wonder in Cincinnati

Yesterday was a momentous one for me – not only did I get to see President Barack Obama at a campaign rally at the University of Cincinnati, I also got to hear Stevie Wonder sing, thus crossing off an item from my 100 list.I get political

Yesterday’s was the first political rally I’ve ever attended. Although I have opinions on politics, I usually keep those to myself in order to avoid the nasty political discourse I see taking place all too often. But for me, supporting Obama isn’t about politics as much as it is supporting what is morally right. I don’t want to be a one issue voter because I don’t have a lot of respect for people who vote that way. But how a person stands on social issues –gay rights, women’s right, different classes of people – speaks to me about the quality of that human being. A candidate might have good things to say, but if I think they’re a poor example of a human, they aren’t getting my vote. And if that means not casting a presidential vote, then fine. At least I know I haven’t caved to anything.

I feel fortunate that I respect President Obama. I don’t agree with every decision he’s made, but I am more proud of my country since he’s been leading it than I was with the prior President. When I travel overseas, I am proud to say I’m an American and no longer contemplate telling people I’m Canadian. I don’t think things are perfect in our country, but for me, they are better now than they were four years ago.
Yesterday, more than hearing the President speak, what warmed my heart was seeing the masses of people who showed up for the event. Being among those masses. It made me equally happy to hear about how many people showed up for the Romney rally in Cincinnati. Sure, I might have opinions about who I think is the better candidate, but they aren’t nearly as strong as my feelings that people should give a damn, get involved and vote. So too many people showing up for a rally? Quite an okay problem to have.
I swoon

A significant highlight for me of the Obama rally were the performances by Stevie Wonder. He tops my 100 list and I’ve always just assumed that I would need to fly to Vegas or some other large city and fork over gobs of money to see him in concert. When I learned that I could see him for FREE less than a mile from my house? I about passed out.

My love of Stevie Wonder dates back to watching The Cosby Show. I am sure I could come up with better stories to tell, but ah well… When Wonder Boy and I got married, we walked down the aisle to Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours. The first notes of Superstition start to play and I immediately start dancing.

Yesterday I got to listen to both of those songs and they sounded great and I’m still riding my Stevie Wonder buzz. He got the crowd worked up with Obama’s rallying cry of Fired Up! Ready to go! He got people on their feet and, at the end of the evening, he got Obama dancing a little. But really, who can help but to dance to some Stevie?

This morning I crossed off See Stevie Wonder from list.

This post originally appeared on Kate’s Point of View. © Kate. All rights reserved.


It’s taken me a few weeks to get started, but I’m making progress on my 100 list. I’m taking online sewing lessons through Home Ec Online.

My wants with sewing are pretty simple. I’d like to be able to make curtains, napkins and do basic alterations on clothing. I’ve done this stuff in the past but I was winging it and it showed. These online classes are great because each ones builds on the last so your skills accumulate over time.

For lesson number one I made a small drawstring gift bag. It was basically just a petite pillowcase before I added the drawstring, so I think I know how to make pillowcases now, too!

I’ve got many, many more classes to go before I can cross “Learn how to sew” off my 100 list, but at least I’ve started.

This post originally appeared on Kate’s Point of View. © Kate. All rights reserved.