Adventures with Dr. Lady Cutie Troublemaker

Life is in flux BIG TIME these days. I want to keep in touch with all of my peeps. The Internet is this beautiful thing. I can move to a brand new city and still stay in easy, near-daily contact with the people I love. When I feel connected to the people in my life that matter, I am unstoppable!

Thanking Chuck D

By Abby at 12:48 pm on Sunday, September 12, 2010

Me and Chuck D #hopscotch

I could write about a million things related to Hopscotch Music Fest here in Raleigh this weekend, but I’m going to pick one little part of one little segment of one little thing. I want to remember what I said to Chuck D. He’s the lead singer of Public Enemy, and if you don’t know who he is, well then I’ll ask you to look him up. I have thousands of photos to sort through now, and like the bad writer that I am, I’m going to make you do the legwork yourself.

Chuck D spoke at the Raleigh City Museum as part of a panel just before Public Enemy went on. The panel started at around 4:15, and they didn’t finish until around 7:40. I stayed for the whole thing, and if you know me, then you know that (1) I had to be pretty damn interested and (2) it had to be pretty damn interesting. There were all kinds of other things going on in Raleigh that I could have left to go to, but I shrugged them all off to stay. Dinner was a piece of pizza my friend Shannon brought to me (with a Lactaid – my girl knows me). I sat front and center and listened, completely riveted the whole time – not in a “Chuck D is Jesus” kind of way, but more just knowing that this is a real man who has really lived. He listens, he’s thought about things, he’s real. He has something to say. It’s not agenda that he’s pushing. He’s just been around a long, long time, and I’ve been listening to him since I was about 19 years old.

I won’t tell you all about the talk. There was a guy there from Rolling Stone who’s going to be putting a piece on the online site who’ll do a much better job. There were many questions for Chuck and the rest of the panel. I just wanted to make a comment and thank him. Here’s the basic gist of what I said. I wanted to get it down, sort of to share with my parents, but like I said – I wanted to remember before it left my fragile, imperfect brain:

Lots of the people here are talking from the perspective of being 30-something or younger, and some of you guys on the panel are older (in your 50’s). I’m 40, and I’m not from the suburbs like some of the other people here. I had a little bit of an unusual experience in that I grew up in Atlanta in the city, but my parents kept me in public schools during all that flight to the suburbs, so a lot of my fellow students were black. And all that Cosby Show, Michael Jordan, Oprah stuff was going on, but it was safe, like you said. And then there were the black kids at school. And even though we saw them all day every day, they never talked to us white kids about what it was like to be black. We weren’t privy to that conversation. So when I went off to college where a lot of the kids were white, up at Oberlin where we all thought we were so liberal, PE came out, and it was so different. It’s like we finally had this chance to hear all that stuff we weren’t supposed to hear before. Those things that black people were pissed about but that they weren’t talking about on the Cosby Show. We were old enough that our parents had no say in what we were listening to, and we were ALL OVER Nation of Millions. When Fear of a Black Planet came out, the local records store, Sarge’s, was selling it like hotcakes. I remember Mike’s little legal pad “PE, PE, PE” all the way down the line. We left the library every night when it closed to head to the ‘Sco to dance to that, and we loved it. So I just wanted to thank you for that. Noone else was letting us hear any of it.

It was a long thank you, but I can’t tell you how glad I was to say it to him. I was right up front – about 8 feet in front of him – where I’d been sitting for over three hours. There were a few more questions after mine about the record industry, mostly aimed at 9th Wonder. After it ended, I got Chuck D to sign my copy of the 33 1/3 book (again, look it up, because I have so many pix to edit!). No idea what he wrote because it’s so hard to read, and then I walked down the street with Chuck D (holy shit) to City Plaza where he played to a massive crowd in the rain. And that was definitely the highlight of my Hopscotch weekend.

Filed under: Music,Ramblings/Brain Dumps/Opinions,Stories From My Life3 Comments »

Fables is 25

By Abby at 9:15 pm on Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When R.E.M. first came out, there was some discussion about whether we were supposed to call them R.E.M. or /rem/ like it was just a word. I already knew the phrase “rapid eye movement” at that point in my life. An article I read early on said that their M stood for murmur though. So “rapid eye murmur,” so I thought it all made sense when their album “Murmur” came out, although for years since, noone has bothered to talk about the letters anymore. They got too famous for it to matter.

I grew up in Atlanta. I was around 12 when I first heard of R.E.M. because my friend Molly’s older sister was a college student at UGA in Athens. I remember Molly putting “Wolves, Lower” on the record player and thinking the whole world had changed. I was sitting on her top bunk at the time. It was the middle of the day – probably a weekend. Her room was cocoa brown. I remember thinking it was really radical when she picked that color out. What little girl picks out cocoa?! Molly and I had a falling out after an unfortunate incident which I’m sure my mother and Molly would prefer I not rehash. All water under the bridge, but sadly, it was not Molly who got to go see R.E.M. with me when they came to The Agora Ballroom (across from the Fabulous Fox in May 1983). The Agora has long since burned, but sentimental me still has the ticket stub:

R.E.M. at the Agora Ballroom, Atlanta, 1983

I went with my friend Heather. It was a great show. What I remember most was standing right up against the stage with my head up under the curtain before the gig started and waving down “the lead singer” and handing him a little note written on the back of a Psycho 3 ad that said I was really proud they were from Georgia because I thought they were so good. He was really shy then. He was a shy performer, too, and he spent a lot of time dancing with his back to the audience. I also remember this woman with really bleached out hair and her Asian boyfriend who was much shorter and wearing fatigues (for fashion) making out like THE WHOLE TIME and being kinda shocked by that. I was riveted by the show. It made such an impression on me.

OK, so flash forward a few years. In the interim, went and saw R.E.M. every time they came to town, and when they started getting too big for the Fabulous Fox, they resisted moving up to The Omni, and they’d play 5 nights at the Fox, and I’d save up and go every night. I was a superfan. I don’t have every stub, but here are a bunch: R.E.M. gig tickets

Fables of the Reconstruction of the Fables…

When it was first released, just as there was some confusion about how to say R.E.M., there was some intention vagueness about the name of the album. With time, it definitely became known more as Fables of the Reconstruction, but in the beginning, it was unclear. Just did a little research, and found this in the Wikipedia article:

On the vinyl release [which is all we had back then!], side one was labeled the “A side” and side two “Another side.” The “A side” label bore the title, Fables of the Reconstruction, while “Another side” bore the title, Reconstruction of the Fables.

Here’s what I remember. I don’t know if this will be of use to anyone besides me, but I can’t get it out of my head. Fables came out in the summer, when my high school boyfriend was off at the Governor’s Honors Program in Valdosta. I was beside myself with sadness that he’d found a girl of interest there (we’d been together about a year and a half at this point). I was taking this stupid summer class because I was trying to do both the college prep curriculum and the performing arts curriculum. It was history, and it was at this snooty private school, which wasn’t my scene. I was staging a minor hunger strike about the whole other girl thing and was mostly living on Breton crackers, lime Perrier, and little hunks of mozzarella cheese (I was 15. Don’t judge!). Wimbledon was on. I thought Boris Becker was cute. That summer was kind of a stinker, but the one thing I remember lifting me up was Fables.


I was 15 then. I’m 40 now. I imagined I’d grow up and change a lot, but I’m still just me. I imagined that 40 year-old Abby would be quite different from 15 year-old Abby. I feel like there’s this complete linearity that I’m not sure is the experience everyone has. I think it isn’t. Anyway, I think I like it. And I know I still like Fables. The album is 25 years old. It’s been remastered. I don’t think there was anything wrong with it, but OK, I’ll take it. There are some outtakes that sound good on the Amazon samples. How can I not get it? 15 year-old Abby would be pleased, I think.


Filed under: Music,Stories From My Life6 Comments »

Singing with Celine: Opening Ceremonies 1996

By Abby at 7:26 pm on Sunday, February 21, 2010

Because I was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus during the 1995-1996 season, I was lucky enough to be a performer in Opening Ceremonies of the Atlanta Summer Olympics. I found a video of Celine Deion singing “The Power of the Dream” on YouTube. There was a discussion about whether she was performing live or not. I knew a little bit about this, since I was there and knew just enough to be able to answer the questions the commenters were posing.

The whole experience was really cool. When you watch the video, you’ll see that I’m one of the people standing behind Ms. Deion (Hahaha!) in a choir robe on the ramp. It was quite the vantage point. At this time in the proceedings, Mohammed Ali had already lit the olympic torch, and the parade of nations was complete. It was an incredible place to be, and despite the cheesiness of the Babyface/Foster music (which we recorded in Symphony Hall about a month prior), watching this video this morning made me cry. Just because being in such a place at such a time amidst such an incredible confluence of energy was overwhelming. I love people. I love being where the action was. And on that day, in that place, that was the place to be. Watch it, and at around 2 minutes, listen and imagine how cool it all was for me.

Below the video, you’ll see my responses to the commenters queries about what was live and what was prerecorded.

OK, this is crazy, but I’m actually one of the performers in this. I sang in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus during this time. I am one of the people in a choir robe on the ramp behind Celine Deion. We prerecorded everything so that no matter what technical things went wrong, there would be something to play on air.

What I recall is that those recordings of us (the chorus) were blended with the mics that were on us in the actual stadium. For the soloists, however (Celine Deion, Jesse Norman, etc), the recordings were only in reserve for use in case the mics were failing to feed into either the stadium or to the live feed.

It all went as planned, and so I believe what you are hearing is, in fact, live Celine. What you are hearing from the orchestra and chorus is all recorded, but inside the stadium, it was both the pre-recorded stuff and the live performance.

Filed under: Music,Stories From My Life,Video2 Comments »

Lordy, Lordy!

By Abby at 7:33 pm on Monday, November 16, 2009

40th Birthday Candle/Cake Situation from abbyladybug on Vimeo.

Five days before my birthday, I wrote the following paragraph, but I never posted it. Now I have a video to share, and it seems that this would be exactly the kind of reason to go back to the blog. So here’s how I was feeling 5 days before I turned 40. Now I’m 40 and 1 day, and I feel like the same Abby I did last week. Go figure!

So I started this blog over 5 years ago when I was living in Memphis. I had just moved away from all my friends and wanted to keep in touch. It’s been a wonderful thing for me – having a place to share all the things that have meant something to me. On Sunday, I will turn 40. To me, blogging has been the stable force amidst so much instability: moves, relationships, jobs. And today, at age 39, 11 months, and about 25 days, I feel like I may finally be experiencing some stability. I have a private practice in a lovely building in downtown Raleigh. I have a 3-minute (on foot) commute to my apartment. It’s in this historic neighborhood – so pretty, and it has a great vibe. I’ve got a great boyfriend who loves me, challenges me, and is pretty much more fun than anyone I’ve ever met. Even though I lost Maggie this summer, I’ve got my hilarious Jeep, who (despite forgetting I’ve fed her within about 2 minutes) is an utter delight. Do I still need this blog? I don’t imagine I’ll shut it down, because here, people have me in their feed readers, and if I DO have something to say, this seems a fairly good place to stay it. But life has changed in the past 5 years for me, and a slightly more private online environment (like Facebook) seems a better place to share the “bloggy” topics I used to share here all the time. If you’re still reading, then thanks! Stay signed up, but don’t hold your breath. If you want to see me doing my thing, the better place to check is always Flickr. My photostream is how I communicate to the world now. I tend to save my writing for reports. But like I said, if I have something to say, I’ll be back around. As with most things, my output comes in waves, and right now, it’s ebb-time!

One more follow-up thought: I have some wonderful people in my life. Jake’s planning and generosity this weekend knocked me off my feet. Shannon and Brian are awesome as always (and not just because of Ham Dip, Beer, and DJing). My friends who came are awesome. Lalitree made me Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Pamela gave me the prettiest necklace and took a buzillion awesome pictures. Holden gave me a fun quad camera – the REAL kind that uses film. Robert and Elise got a babysitter and made the trek from Durham. Jake’s parents, Nancy and Barry, opened up their home and put on the charm. I could go on and on, but the more I go on, the more I need to talk about every single guest, and I’m sure you’re already bored by now! I am a lucky, lucky woman!

Filed under: Blog Announcements,Friends,Stories From My Life,Video4 Comments »


By Abby at 12:46 pm on Monday, August 10, 2009

Two Sickos

I decided about a week ago to stop trying to raise money for the Maggie Memorial Fund. I had gotten so close to my goal already, and to be honest, asking for help is a difficult thing to do.

I’ve taken some big risks this year that were unsuccessful, and this was one of them. Still, I have absolutely no regrets. I’ve risked when it’s mattered to me. In the case of Maggie’s surgery, the vet and the surgeon were very optimistic since Maggie was otherwise in excellent health and since the success rate with this surgery prior to Maggie was 97% (29 out of 30 cats had survived and been helped by it). Had the surgery been a success, Maggie would likely have had many more healthy and happy years ahead of her. In the end, there was an unforeseen complication that meant Maggie would not be as lucky as those other 29 cats. Still, knowing that we did everything that was possible for her means my grief is pure. There is no guilt at all – just sadness and a lot of missing her. It’s weird that pure grief can be a gift. It’s not something I’d expect to feel, but I do.

I ran into a friend yesterday who I hadn’t seen in a while. He asked how I was doing, and it was one of those times when I had trouble answering the question. I have good days and bad days, and while I FELT like I was having a good day, the question caught me off guard. “Did you hear about Maggie?” I asked. Yes, he had. He was very sweet about it and said he was so sorry to have heard. Then this morning, I received a surprise donation of $100 from him, an amount that put me over the $2,000 fund-raising goal I’d set for myself. (If you can believe it, I actually WANT to pay as much of the cost of Maggie’s surgery as I can, but having started my own business this summer, this was an unlikely goal.) Here is the fund-raising thermometer as of this morning:

So I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all my generous friends, and know that if you’re ever in a fix, I’ve got your back. I mean that. I had it anyway, but if it’s possible, I have your back MORE! Gratitude is not something one gets to feel on an average Monday morning, but I’ve been feeling it a lot this summer. My friends are my strength. Thanks for the donations, thank you for the kind words, thank you to those who followed Maggie’s story with interest, thanks to the lovely people at XX Merge who came up to me and gave me hugs, and thanks to all my close friends: Shannon, Lalitree, Katy, Oliver, Chris, Brian, Andy, Robert, Elise, Dad, Mom, Jason, Prachi, Pamela, Don, Everette, Nancy, Kendall, Holden, Libby, Kathryn, Ian, Clara, Rachel, Kurt, Tricia, John, Drew, Hugh, Hamilton, Aaron, Brad, Barbara, Ogun, Scott, Sunitha, Jake, Leah, Veronica, all the lovely Blarty-goers, IM friends, interested Facebook friends… ALL of you. It’s funny. I know I’m forgetting tons of people like I just won an Oscar or something. It’s just… during a really hard time, I’ve gotten so much support in so many ways, and without embarrassing everyone I know, I wanted to say Thank You in a very public way.

Playing with My Long-Forgotten Speedlight (Hey Kitch, Where my Kit Lens At?!)


Filed under: Family,Friends,Kitties,Stories From My Life3 Comments »
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