My Final Airborne Show

For a couple months I thought Seattle would be the last The Airborne Toxic Event show I attend.  I mentioned it to Bestie in San Francisco that the end was coming after enjoying a memorable three nights.  With number eleven notched in my belt I felt like I’d gotten all the live show experiences TATE could offer.  They’d served me well since 2009 when I first saw them in Seattle at the other Showbox.  I found it only fitting my last show would come full circle to happen in the same city.

The decision had nothing to do with band members changing or their music moving in a more electronic direction.  In fact, I really like the new sound.  My intentions will continue to be a loyal fan, spread the TATE love, and keep an Airborne song in the weekly radio program I do.  I might even resurrect the Dufraine project to entice them to Southern Oregon.  However, I planned to end my multi-state travels to relive TATE love so I could pursue other musical group interests.

The Portland show on October 25th saddened me.  Horrible people mashed against my skin in our small space a couple rows behind the barrier.  One woman, who’s companion admitted he didn’t know what she’d taken, continued to fall into me the entire time.  This was between her constant texting and checking the World Series’ score.  Her friend proceeded to be drenched in gross body fluids which she continued to flick on me the entire show.  I folded my arms across myself to try to keep myself as small as possible.

The band didn’t seem into it either.  Mikel flashed his smiles on the right cues and the others dragged their bodies to the front for solos, but I didn’t feel the love.  It’s the thing I worry about when seeing them multiple times, looking like work versus passion.  So sad going out like this.  After the set ended, I retreated from the front to catch a breath in the back.  The band returned for a shortened encore and disappeared quickly.  I didn’t try to stick around for pictures.  Hubs and I went to a bar and enjoyed Irish coffees.

Seattle arrived and I hoped they would bring more for my farewell.  Of course, they have no idea who I am or my decision.  I only hoped there was something to draw an energetic show.  I delivered my HooKies and mingled with other fans.  The conversations were bittersweet.  TATE fans are a unique breed.  Most have double digits in their concert repertoire and follow the band to the ends of the Earth.  I felt like I just met them and it was already time to say good-bye.

I snagged a barrier spot.  My first time at being a “front.”  I stopped HooGie and we chatted for a few seconds about the cookies.  He thanked me and said he sent a picture to his daughter.  So cute.  I may have offered to send his wife-to-be and daughter cookies for the rest of their lives.  When the band came on you could feel their energy immediately.  I knew it was going to be a good night.  Mikel engaged the audience from the start.  He bantered with Adrian and Steven in choreographed kicks.

I sang every song.  My emotions mixed with enjoying the music and battling sadness in knowing the end was near.  The show concluded and I screamed for the encore.  My last piece of my favorite band.  It started with a silent guitar.  Mikel tried to fix it, but called HooGie out for repairs.  (He totally deserves cookies every day!) The guitar started up and they went into Missy.  The song that got me to buy the album on its first listen five and a half years ago.  I knew what to expect.  Missy would turn into I Fought the Law or another favorite.  I’d seen it many times before.  I hoped it would be Boys Don’t Cry like some had seen at other shows.

Mikel’s guitar screeched again.  He adjusted his foot pedals a couple times before he unwound from the guitar strap.  He looked to the side stage and lifted the guitar over his head.  The matte black instrument raced down against the ground.  I thought it must have been an accident.  Then the second smash and wood splinters sprayed out.  It ignited the crowd into a frenzy, including me.  My heart raced.  Confusion turned into excitement.   I looked over to HooGie who shrugged without a grin or grimace.  All I could do was scream, “Holy fuck” and jump up and down.

After the song and show ended, Mikel continued to piece out his guitar.  He flicked shards into the crowd.  People screamed and reached.  It’s hard not to get caught up in it when you’re surrounded.  My greedy hands stretched over the barrier gate even though I was fortunate to already receive a pick handed over by the bassist, Adrian.  Mikel walked over to my stage side and I waited for someone to snatch the last piece from his hand.  He calmly lowered the piece to where only I could reach it.  He dazzled with a smile and let me take it before he darted back to the stage.

The crowd kept me pinned to the barrier.  The thirteen-year-old girl next to me said how cool it was he gave me the piece.  I couldn’t stop beaming.  Mikel worked his way down the line, signing autographs, taking selfies, and thanking people for coming.  His fan appreciation was the number one reason I became a loyal fan after seeing them in 2009.  When he got to me, I waited for our normal exchange where I thanked him for the great show and he thanked a faceless fan for coming.  Instead, Mikel wrapped a sweat-soaked hug around my shoulders and thanked me for making the cookies for HooGie.  It caught me completely off guard. I think I mumbled something about it being my pleasure; I was happy to do it. He said something nice and moved to the next person waiting their turn.

And this is how The Airborne Toxic Event has me re-evaluating my decision.  The reason why I don’t know if I can make the Seattle show my last.  Even when I thought there were no surprises left, they have a way to make me feel something more.  And it’s not just about the band anymore.  Their fan community is something I never expected.  Each show I meet more people and find out more stories.  About how we all have separate lives we put on hold to converge onto one place and weave a new one together.  It’s something I don’t know if I would be able to get with any other show or with any other band.

I guess this only means this is my final Airborne Toxic Event show for now.  When a new tour comes up, I’ll have to decide if I’m in the place to write a new memory or be satisfied with this last one.  It may be a hard decision.  Because although Seattle was pretty fucking awesome, who’s to say the next won’t be better?


HooKie or CooGie?

It’s been a little over a month since I returned from living it up in San Francisco and enjoying an Airborne Toxic Event show every night.  In fact, I’m gearing up for round two where I will be traveling to Portland and Seattle to catch a couple more, with Hubs in tow this time.  There’s something sentimental in me that gets all geeked out and requires some sort of baking during tour time.  However, this time it’s a little different.  I found inspiration around the band instead of in it.  I found another person who needs a thank you.

In San Francisco, while standing in the pit waiting for the show to start, I developed a deep appreciation for the man in black.  No, Johnny Cash’s ghost wasn’t looming around the Fillmore.  It was their “sound check guy”.  He’s a familiar face to many fans as they see him trapes along from city to city setting up microphones, tapping down set lists, and breaking down the stage when it’s all over.  His voice booms “Chhhheck, cccheck, one two,” into the excited room as he sets up shop for the headliner. He works in the shadow off to stage right during.  Tuning guitars, fixing strings, and runs out to adjust any technical difficulties.  If that weren’t enough, he’s the dude who gets sacked following Mikel Jollett in the crowd with a mini flashlight.  I’ve been there.  It’s ugly.  I can’t imagine being tasked with making sure Mikel makes it out alive.

It happened we walked back to the hotel at the same time after the first night.  His crew and mine were looking for some bar action to key down from the show.  I only know this from overhearing his conversation in hopes of finding someplace we could piggie back.  No such luck.  Bestie and I ended up in our room and asleep by 12:30am.  <Gasp!>  During the second night I tried to convince someone else to invite him to our little after party.  I knew he wouldn’t show up in some stranger’s room looking for a free drink.  He’s probably seen that episode of 20/20 and prefers to keep his kidneys.

On the third night, Bestie and I stood outside with other fans waiting for the band to come out for pictures.  Yes, I’m still in search of a good hair shot.  It was a lost cause at this venue.  I watched Sound Check load the van with a focus of doing a job well done.  I leaned over to Bestie and suggested we get our picture taken with him.  It may have been our drink medley thinking for us, but it sounded like the greatest idea in the world.

“Sound check guy!” I yelled out.  He turned slowly with an irritated hunch to his shoulders.

Sound check guy?” he said.

G-Man Superfan, who happened to be waiting behind me for Mr. Jollett to show his face, must have known the largeness of my faux pas.  He leaned in and quickly corrected me. “His name is HooGie,” he said.

“What?”  I whispered back.  (Actually, it screeched and echoed against the walls in the empty street in my delicate drinking voice.)  “What’s your name?”

“HooGie,” the man confirmed.

“A nickname, right?”


“Is that your real name?” I said.


“Like you were born with it?”


“So, it’s your real name?”

I think I may have noticed Bestie giving me the WTF look.  I started to ramble about how he didn’t come to our party and may have dodged a bullet.  He shrugged and may have grunted.

“We should get our picture with you!”  I waved Bestie over and handed my phone to someone who didn’t know how to work it.  We stood for 45 seconds in awkward silence and HooGie was a champ about it.  I reassured him the torture would be over soon.  He might have given a half-smile in the picture, or it’s less than a full grimace.

I think he deserves a drink.  Maybe even more than one.  I’ve been tweeting my intentions to purchase him a drink while in the Pacific Northwest, but I think he still might be worried about that 20/20 situation.  It seems cookies might be the only safe way to go.

I introduce you to the HooKie.  Or the CooGie.  I couldn’t decide.  Which do you think?

HooGieWhile I think HooGie may not take my drink or even accept my cookies, this is a friendly reminder to recognize those who help put on the show.  Give them a high five.  Buy them a drink.  Turn them into a cookie.  Hell, if nothing else.  Tell them thank you.

A few weeks ago I lived a TATE fan’s dream by attending their three night show in San Francisco.  Each night highlighted one album.  Little did I know the three nights would be a progression in growth not only in sound, but in maturity as well.  Maybe I got the idea after reading a terrific article on their third album.  It sang me a little more than literary lyrics.  I walked away with an understanding that turning forty might not be so bad.  (Which is a good thing since I’m only a month away now.)

Bestie and I started the debut night arriving thirty minutes before the show and being sent to the end of the line.  The back isn’t so bad when you know you’re standing in the priority entrance line.  The “Fronts” had already worked out all the entry details about how priority entrance worked.  Bestie and I mingled with other fans, talked about where we’d traveled from, and how many shows we had notched on our belts.  When the doors opened we landed a few rows back from the “Fronts”-lined stage.

20140918_200936Our back-of-line mates were hella sports about playing my immature games.  We touched noses to unsuspecting fans, ordered impulsive and expensive drinks, and kept it rowdy right up until the band walked out on stage.

Then it was rocking out time.  Singing, dancing, and jumping ensued.  We felt invincible until Mikel jumped from the stage.  The crowd surged in every direction. I pushed against anyone to hold my ground and keep from falling down.  I swayed back and forth in great fear of succumbing to the faceless mob and being trampled to death.  Bestie was lost eight rows back.  The crowd seemed so big in that moment.  Faceless people willing to step on your back to get a little more for themselves.  Maybe a little innocence was lost.

On the second night we chose enjoying a nice dinner together versus standing eight hours in line to be with the Fronts.  We fell back in line with our same friends from the night before.  Each of us wore a little more knowledge and exhaustion about what to expect.  I expanded the mingling circle to capture some of the Fronts we’d met throughout the day.  The doors opened and we grabbed a closer position than the night before.  We focused on building relationships with the fans to make the most of the evening.

When the show was about to start, Bestie and I agreed to hold our ground.  We recruited young girls behind us to keep the area locked down to keep the wild children from our ruining our night.  The band delivered an epic show.  Maybe they’d learned a little something from the first night.  Or maybe I understood to enjoy every minute because the fun wouldn’t last forever.  When Mikel jumped into the crowd he landed in our laps.  The surge pushed from behind and we stood fierce.  We didn’t get split up or scream uncontrollably in his face.  I even showed great restraint and didn’t grab his ass.  We waited for the crazy to pass because we knew it would and enjoyed the experience for what it was.

The music boomed with high energy the whole night.  I stopped caring what I might look like in the end and enjoyed my groove.  I sweated into a disgusting hair mess and wore it like a badge of honor.  The night was for us.

The last night was a little melancholy.  The end was near and we could all feel it.  We reminisced about the two previous nights and picked our favorite highlights.  Bestie and I chose not to crush it in the pit.  Instead our plan involved finding seats in the balcony.  Doors opened and we said good-bye to the Fronts.  We went our separate ways and found the best seats in the balcony.  We sipped drinks without any spilled down our backs.  We sat comfortably instead of jockeying for another inch closer to the stage.  We appreciated our Front friends from above and waited for Airborne to take the stage.


The balcony brought a completely different experience than the two previous nights.  The music wasn’t as loud.  It didn’t pump through our nerves and force a wild dance.  The stage was distant, but  I could see it all.  Instead of having to focus on one or two band members at a time, I could see how they all worked together.  The light bulbs didn’t flicker, but instead streamed to the back wall and danced across the places they landed.  At times I yearned to be back in the pit, covered in sweat, and experiencing the music in a physical way.  Wishing to have done something a little different or maybe even more daring.  This seems to always be the case when a conclusion is around the corner.

The concerts reminded me it’s okay to get older.  Each night and album highlighting the changes from the band’s experiences and travel.  Once naive songs about a boy missing a girl have turned into meaningful prose about mortality.  It doesn’t mean the music is bad.  In fact, some of my favorite songs are from the second album.  They even played a song from their upcoming and I couldn’t be more excited.  Maybe this is the push I needed to remind me turning forty might not be so bad.



Creative Demons

Bestie calls me paranoid.  She regularly laughs at the fact I can take a simple statement and build it into a giant conspiracy in less than fifteen seconds.  These aren’t like Doomsday Prepper or apocalyptic worries.  Oh no, they are the mundane, side quips people make without thinking.  They act like it meant nothing.  However, I heard the inflection.  I saw the eyes dip to the side and how he was unable to hold meaningful eye contact.  And why did he bring that subject up now?  On this day?  The speaker may have used the words “Have a nice day” but what he really meant was “I’m about to ruin your world.”

You said what? I’m about to go loco.

For a long time I’ve called this “my crazies.”  Lots of thoughts fall into this category.  You’ve probably read some things on this little ole blog and wondered how the hell I got to point B when point A was nowhere near it.  I’ve grown to accept my idiosyncrasies and try to calm them when they make their way into my head.  I try to rationalize, it probably meant nothing or I’m blowing it out of proportion.  I comfort myself with knowing in time my mind will lose interest and slowly forget.

Why do I even do it all?  Why torture myself with replaying conversations fifty times in my head?  Each time trying to pick up another detail I may have missed in the first go-around.  If I know it’s harmful to my psyche, so why can’t I leave it at the door?  Say I won’t allow doubt, insecurity, worthlessness make its way into my stable home?  Because my mind doesn’t work like that.

I read an article after Robin Williams died, trying to cope with my own suicide experience.  Hell, I read tons from other comedians explaining why deep depression is common among the funniest people.  While they each made me feel a little better with Mr. Williams being at peace and a little sad we’d lost someone funny, it wasn’t until I came across one article where I learned more about me.  (Of course I can’t find it again.)  Not that I’m comedic genius or anything, however the theme in the article could be easily linked to creativity in general.

You make Red Hulk angry.

The article talked about how the same mind which can take nothing and create something beautiful can also create something ugly.  It explained while the comedian may look like he or she is playing off the cuff, they’ve really spent pain-staking hours fine-tuning.  Telling themselves over and over again it needs a little more or isn’t good enough in an attempt to make it the best.  This isn’t far off from the writer’s experience.  Recently, I re-wrote a one page dialogue between two characters drinking coffee for four hours.  In writing, a slight smirk needs to mean so much more if I want anyone to read on.  Is the person smitten? Or plotting something devious?   Writers have to ask “why that word?” and “what does it really mean?” for every single word sixty-thousand times when working on a book.   The possibilities are infinite about what someone or something really intended with what they said or did.  So why would I think I could turn all that questioning off in real life?

Does this make for normal relationships?  Uh, no.  Sometimes I hold people accountable for actions they never took.  I’ve given them credit for being devious when really they did mean a compliment.  I add drama to torture myself when the speaker probably went on their merry way without ever thinking about the interaction again.  Hubs regularly reminds me “what I said was…” to recount his version word for word to counter the story I’ve made up in my head.

Would I give up creativity to stop these crazies?  Hell no.  Because they bring a lot to my life.  Sometimes I like the stories I create.  Sometimes they leave me a crumpled, sobbing mess on the floor.  I’m not sure what action will produce something inspiring.  And which one will start a mountain out of a molehill.  What I do know is with every gift comes a price.  And with every word comes a story.



Winner! Winner! Cookie Dinner!

After logging in everyone’s name who put Breaking Books in their social media, random.org has chosen us a winner!  (Huge guitar riff with a side of drum roll.)  The winner is:


You are the proud owner of The Airborne Toxic Event themed cookie package.  You can decide if you would like it delivered to San Francisco or mailed to your home.  Please contact me to claim your cookie prize.  You will be receiving one of these:

anna new pickI only did that to highlight the cookie again.  I love it that much.

Thank you to everyone who entered.  I really appreciate the blog support and hope to send you some cookies soon.


Anna’s New Pick

Here’s Anna Bulbrook’s new guitar pick:

Here’s her new cookie:

anna new pick

<Drops microphone>

Breakthrough: Hiding Heartbreak

It’s come into my consciousness lately that we are expected to hide our heartbreaks.  This might seem contrary to popular belief with people airing their dirty laundry on Facebook or the musician who creates a best-selling album based on it.  I’m talking about something different.  A little more personal.  (Although the musician might say it’s the same thing.)  I mean the crushing pain from loss where you wonder if you can ever get up again but are to remain stoic on the outside.  It seems we’re shamed for giving love a chance and we curse ourselves to never speak the topic when it fails.  Even more, we are never to admit how much it hurt.  How much it changed us.  Detoured us from one path and started us down another, for better or worse.  Today, I’m breaking through that old idea to explain why we must change this perception and embrace our relationships.  Heartbreaks and all.

Aren't we all so good in the front row with our hands in our laps.

Aren’t we all so good in the front row with our hands in our laps?

My daughter entered 4th grade this year.  I’ve been especially dreading this grade because it marks the pivotal year where my best friend in the whole entire world turned against me and broke my heart.  I didn’t know to call it “heartbreak” at the time.  Instead I thought she was a monster who tormented me for pleasure.  I cried for the loss.  I seethed with anger for being so stupid.  I never admitted how bad it hurt to other people because I didn’t want to look like the fool; labeled the one who cared too much when she obviously cared nothing at all.  Even the other night this girl, now a grown woman, showed up in my dream.  (I haven’t spoken to her since about 4th grade.)  In my dream she said “I always thought you hated me” and I could only respond, “I do.”

I never said I was cool.

I never said I was cool.  Check me rockin’ the flower dress and pink bow.  (For the record, we were just friends for everyone who knew my date.)


Is it worse with boys?  I think it amplifies the stupid feeling factor.  I never questioned my 4th grade friend, whether our relationship was all a lie.  I knew we were friends at one time.  Even after it ended badly.  With boys (or girls if you swing that way), sexuality brings in an even more crippling silence.  Did he ever feel anything?  Was he only using me?  Was it ever real?

My smokin’ hot and super cool single lady friend fell in love.  The boy seemed to love her too.  He made promises.  Then he took them back.  It hurt.  She hurt.  She doubted herself for even giving love a chance.  She mentally punished herself for being stupid enough to believe him.  It was easy to see reality from my point of view.  I know she’s worth loving even though she didn’t believe it in the moment.  I wrote her, “You were great when you were honest, vulnerable, and raw.  When you opened yourself to love him.  You’ll be great again.”

She was brave to love.  We all have been if we’ve dipped our toe into that murky water.  We put ourselves out there to care for someone deeply without regard to how bad it could hurt when taken away.  We should be proud.   We shouldn’t be scared to share our heartbreak.  We might be daring with our trusted friends, but why stop there?  Why not admit it if the conversation comes up with acquaintances?  Instead of avoiding eye contact and pretending like our past didn’t really mean anything, we should tell people, “I really cared for someone and they broke my heart.”

Photo booths were always to be shared with someone meaningful.

Photo booths were always to be shared with someone meaningful.

A harder question is should we tell the heartbreaker?  Could we tell the originator about the pain we created?  (Because no side in a relationship is void of responsibility.)  I know I have a problem with this.  It’s a power problem.  I don’t want to feel like the chump all over again.  Maybe he/she has a wooden heart mounted where he/she notches each crushed soul.  My attempt to save face by never admitting the importance of the relationship does the exact opposite of my intention.  I’ve made myself a victim by being embarrassed about something I should be very proud.

We shouldn’t forget it’s their story too.  Maybe they gave up rights to it when they stopped calling, but can’t we be the bigger person?  Wouldn’t it be a great if we told people they meant a lot to us even if it didn’t work out?   Although I’m pretty sure I haven’t broken any hearts, if I did I would want to know.  Even explain it really did mean something special to me as well.  We both were impacted by the relationship we once shared.

Don’t think I’m keeping this purely in theory.  I’m taking action.  I’m telling past loves, where we lost touch or had a falling out, about how they helped me discover the person I am today.  Being honest about how much the person meant, even if I meant nothing to them.  I’m not going to search anyone down with some kind of heartbreak hit-list to scratch off one name at a time.  But if I ever run into my 4th grade friend and she asks if I hated her, I’ll let her know it was quite the opposite.  I loved her and she broke my heart.







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