Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New Orleans Bound!

I've just discovered that I'll be going to New Orleans to attend a conference for my work in the Spring. I've always wanted to go to New Orleans, and I almost made it there in September of 2005, but Katrina interfered with those plans. Michael and I had planned to spend our honeymoon in NOLA, and we were so looking forward to it. Since both of us are great lovers of jazz, it seemed like the perfect destination and a great location to begin our marriage. Little did we know at the time we made those arrangements what horrific circumstances would keep us from journeying there.

But now, we have a second chance. Since I'll be attending a conference for three days right in the middle of the French Quarter, I'll be able to spend time visiting the jazz clubs and places I've always dreamed of seeing in person. But Michael and I have a bigger goal in mind. We will be taking a few extra days off of work to stay in New Orleans and will be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to work on the Musicians' Village located in the Upper Ninth Ward. Like so many others, we fear that Katrina has scattered the musical greats of the jazz world to the winds. With the unknown fate of so many, the chances of that culture being diluted and so much knowledge lost is frightening. We feel that there's no option here...that culture MUST be preserved, and that is why the Musicians' Village is so important. It will bring back the geniuses of the jazz genre into a setting so that the culture, the music, may be taught, preserved and studied for decades to come. It gives that hope a leg on which to stand. Our hope is that it will do more than that.

So, for part of our visit, we will be working as much as possible on this crucial project. In reality, we know that we can only be there for a few days, and that in the grand scheme of things, our contribution is such a small one. But a lot of steps eventually build to a mile, to two, to ten. Perhaps if all of us contributed one or two or three days, we would reach our ultimate goal.

If you would like more information on volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans or other locations, please visit their website at www.habitat.org.

If you'd like information about specifically helping with the Musicians' Village in New Orleans, you'll find information at http://www.habitat-nola.org/projects/musicians_village.php.

Friday, February 2, 2007


(Posted by Paula)

Since the late 1980's, I have had a crush. It's never been one of those totally obsessive crushes that made me do completely stupid things. At least that USED to be true......until now. You see, my crush happens to be on Harry Connick, Jr. --- the talented, the beautiful, the INCREDIBLE, Harry. And Harry is on tour. An upcoming tour date in Huntsville, Alabama, is the thing that has driven me over the edge. But I'll explain that later. Just bear with me for a moment...or fifty...while I talk about Harry...my Harry.

I remember the first time I ever heard him sing. It was probably around 1988, and there I was in my dorm room at Union College, taking a much-needed break from studying (very hard), I'm sure. I remember vividly sitting on the edge of my horrible twin-size dorm bed as I was flipping through channels on the television. This is significant, because it was the VERY first year that cable television came to Union College. We were all in heaven. This is also the place and time I developed my addiction to CNN, but that's another story for another blog. Anyhoooo, back to Harry. There he was...a guy...a piano...a voice. And while, obviously enough, this man was drop-dead gorgeous, the voice was the best thing I'd ever heard! He reminded me of Frank Sinatra, and I had ALWAYS been a Frank Sinatra fan. I was a closet "Frank Listener" in the 80's when it wasn't so cool. Anyway... there Harry was, and I knew it right then. That was the man I was going to marry. But if marriage, for whatever reason, didn't work out, Harry would AT THE VERY LEAST, be the man to whom all other men would forevermore be measured.

So...years went by, and, needless to say, no man ever quite measured up. So I waited. I searched. And waited. And waited. FIIIIINALLY, in 2004, the ONLY man who could EVER change my mind about marrying Harry entered my life. IN FACT, the only man I know who is even more incredible than Harry...the man who TOTALLY measured up...is the man that I married...my husband, Michael. And, believe me, I KNOW that Jill Goodacre, Harry's 'Victoria's-Secret-Model-With-The-Perfect-EV'rything' Wife, breathed a sign of relief the day I married Michael. Her competition had found a better man. But Harry is still my number two guy. Michael understands this and accepts it.

Just to prove what kind of GREAT man I married... when Michael heard that Harry was going to be in Birmingham, Alabama in concert, he quickly and secretly bought tickets as a Valentine's Day present for me. On January 31st, Michael had not yet told me about the tickets. First of all, it was still January, and secondly, he was going to surprise me with them!. A couple of weeks after Michael had bought the tickets, I was driving in my car on my way to work. I have a routine. I listen to WAHR, Star 99.1 out of Huntsville EVERY morning on my long drive from Fayetteville to Sewanee, and Chris and DeeDee keep me company during this trek. So...I'm driving along, singing along with the radio, minding my own business. And then it happened. Chris and DeeDee make an announcement. "HARRY CONNICK, JR. IN CONCERT ... IN HUNTSVILLE!" I nearly ran my car off the road trying to get to the cell phone to call Michael (and I happened to be halfway up Sewanee Mountain at the time of this earth-shattering news!). I am not sure Michael understood me the first fifty times I screamed into his ear that "Harry is coming to Huntsville!!! Harry is coming to Huntsville!!!" But finally, the message got through. After I calmed down enough to listen to him, he was forced to reveal his little Valentine surprise so that I wouldn't go crazy and order more tickets. Of course, I was ecstatic! I already HAD tickets to Harry, and I hadn't even known it!

Michael said that it would be nice to see Harry closer to home. Well, sure...but what I was thinking was that I could now see Harry TWICE...once in Birmingham and once in Huntsville. I suddenly wondered if he'd be playing in Nashville...in Memphis? I could go to EVERY show in the South! But Michael, being the practical guy he is, felt as though we should sell the B'ham tickets if we were able to get better tickets in H'ville. So, that was the plan we (he) decided upon.
Tickets were to go on sale February 2nd, and for three days, I thought about NOTHING except how to get FRONT ROW tickets to see HARRY. It occupied my daily thoughts. I logged onto Ticket Master and created an account, entered all my billing information so that the MINUTE Harry tickets went on sale, I could get them and wouldn't have to worry with payment details. I memorized the seating chart of the Von Braun Center's Concert Hall so that, when presented with tickets to purchase, I would know EXACTLY what I was getting. I had to get as close to row A as possible, AND as close to Seat 19 as possible. THAT was PRECISELY Front Row Center. And it was MINE. I also checked and double-checked the websites to ensure that the tickets would go on sale PRECISELY at 10:00 a.m. CST on Friday. I was ready. I had prepared. I had done my homework.

On Friday, I arrived at work and IMMEDIATELY logged onto the Ticket Master Website. I went straight to the Harry page and the link to purchase tickets. It was 8:33 a.m. I was one hour and 27 minutes early. I kept an eye on the computer, ensuring that it didn't lose power, lose internet connection. There was NO WAY I was going to miss this! At exactly three minutes before 10:00 a.m., I began continuously refreshing the page so that as soon as the link was active, I could purchase the tickets. It took them until 10:02 to activate the link.

The next few minutes went fast, and suddenly, my hands felt as if they couldn't move quickly enough! It's as if they were moving in slow motion! Yaaaah! I put in my number of tickets, agreed to pay the highest price/most expensive price, and hit "Best Available." ROW J came up immediately. "WHAT!!!! ROW J!!!"??????? ALL of this preparation and waiting and planning for ROW J! That was ten rows back! But I was afraid not to take them. If I hit the "back" button or tried to get better tickets, I might lose these...and what if these were the best available?!?!?! I had to think quick. I was uncertain what to do. I hit purchase. They were mine. I had tickets...albeit row TEN tickets...but they were tickets. But I wasn't done...oh no. I had to try again.

So, I hit reset. I entered that I wanted 2 tickets, just as before. I told them I was willing to pay the Highest Price (if you've ever ordered tickets online, you know what I'm talking about here), and, this time, I hit "Center Orchestra" instead of "Best Available." I held my breath. A window popped up... waiting... waiting... ROW D!!!!!! YAAAAH! But those were closer than Row J! I paid for them. Whew. Fourth Row. Another $185.00. I'd spent $400 in less than three minutes, but Harry...Harry was worth it.

I've never been one to give up while I'm ahead...not as long as there may be a better opportunity out there. There HAD to be better tickets!!! I was trying to get a ROW A, Seat 19 ticket! HOW COULD I MISS IT?!?!?! Okay, one last try. I decided this time to put in that I needed only 1 ticket. Perhaps that would get me closer. I didn't hesitate. I pressed the send button and held my breath. When I saw it, I couldn't believe it. ROW A, SEAT 22!!!!!!!!!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAH! That was nearly perfect!! I'd take it! And I'd be happy!!! I paid for it. $100 bucks. I had my ticket!!!

After I leapt from my chair yelling, danced around my desk, jumped over my work study and the papers she was working on in the floor of my office, and ran screaming through the building telling everyone my good fortune, a thought suddenly came into my head. Uh oh. I hate when that happens. WHAT about Michael?!? He didn't have a ticket on Row A!! Suddenly I felt pangs of guilt, and I ran back into the office, reset my request, and did the exact same thing again. I entered 1 ticket. Center Section. Hit Enter. I waited. Row B. Not good enough. Reset. Try again. Row B. Still not good enough. Reset. Try again one last time. As I hit the enter button, I held my breath again..this was my last try. "Pleeeeeeease..." I thought. My eyes were closed, and I was afraid to look. But I had to...I only had two minutes to complete the transaction if Row A came up! So, I opened one eye...just to peek. There it was... ROW A...Seat 38. I'D TAKE IT! WOOHOOOOO!!

The trouble with having 16 seats between Michael and me was that I'd eventually have to tell him that I'd deserted him to get closer to Harry. But, hey. At least I didn't leave him back on Row J! Surely he would forgive me and understand. I didn't know if I should tell him now or wait until we got to the concert. But I decided to tell him. I was too excited to lie or leave out details. I wasn't good at either of those, anyway. Plus, there was an even bigger problem. I now had eight tickets and had spent $800 on Harry Connick, Jr. tickets. WHAT would I tell Michael?!?! WHAT would I do with that many tickets!?!?! Okay, it's obvious that I had gotten just a little teensy weensy bit caught up in the moment and got carried away. *gulp*

Now, here's the situation caused by my overzealous nature. I have have half a dozen extra tickets to see Harry Connick, Jr...... A HALF DOZEN!

This crush was totally under control until....well, until today. Now I have the task of explaining to my wonderfully sweet, compassionate, handsome, intelligent, forgiving husband how I ended up spending so much money... and he isn't even going to sit next to me at the concert.

But all in all...today has been a good day. AND I am Row A, Seat 22...just in case you're wondering. :-)

Oh, and if you happen to wander onto EBay, I know a place where you can buy six tickets to see Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert.

NOW...about those back stage passes.......hmmmm.....

(to be continued...)