Monday, May 24, 2010

Fun -- Almost

If you've been reading along, you know that last Saturday in Hartford, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam dedicated the song The Fixer to me, and Ed Vedder brought me up onstage. I was so stunned that I just waved and turned around and walked off. I didn't hear what Mike said about me until later, when someone sent me the audio. Here's the video of the end part of it.

It was nuts; here I am, an almost 53 year old woman, sick and fat, running a tiny nonprofit that does as well as it can do on a shoestring, up on stage with Pearl Jam.

This past Friday night was the last night of their tour, and it was Madison Square Garden. Mike once said something to me about playing the Garden like it was special for him, so I thought I would go. I remember going to concerts at the Garden. The most memorable was my first Springsteen concert, which I could never forget.

Anyway, I hooked up with Mike's wife and her friends and family on Friday afternoon, walked around with them, then went back to their hotel while they got ready, and then we took a van to the Garden. We drove up to the rear entrance -- the loading dock -- and the gates parted for us because we were very special (!!!). One of the security guards told us we'd just missed Matt Damon. There we were, in the bowels of MSG, where the rock stars come and go -- I was there.

We hung backstage until it was time for us to take our seats. And oh, what seats -- they were pretty much the first seats off the floor closest to Mike's side of the stage (and if you're a Pearl Jam fan, you know there's a Mike's side and a Stone's side). The set list was incredible. I kept thinking they had to be getting near then end, but there was another ... and another -- they just kept playing. At some point, I felt so exhausted from standing and clapping and singing and whooping it up that I couldn't figure out where they were getting the energy from. It was truly something.

Then came the first encore set -- three songs by Ed and a string quartet that were remarkable -- and then all of them were back for another few songs. And then a second encore set. Ed gave a shout out to my friend Eric Long, whose 100th show was Friday night. He was every bit as thrilled and stunned as I was last week-end. I was exhausted but overjoyed and loving every minute of it.

Then we went backstage again. Matt Damon. John McEnroe. I chatted with Michael Moore about health care. Then we went to the family room to wait for Mike and Ashley. I was sitting there talking, minding my own business, and the muscles on the inside of my thighs cramped up as if into a fist. I couldn't sit. I couldn't stand. I needed to walk it off but I couldn't move. Ashley's dad brought me a banana. Ashley's step-mom brought orange juice. Patrick said he'd carry me on his back if he had to, which is a joke because I probably weigh twice what he does. I was in agony. But slowly, with the banana and the OJ, it loosened up and I made it to the van. Then Ashley came and got me and put me into an SUV with her and Mike and their security and they took me to my hotel -- Ashley refused to put me in a taxi "Jennifer, you don't take good enough care of yourself so I'm going to take care of you instead," she said. I made it back to my hotel, drank some more OJ, walked and walked and walked it off until the cramps were loose enough so I could take a risk of lying down. I slept a couple of hours, got up, showered and dressed, and high-tailed it home.

I wanted to party. I really wanted to go out after the show. I wanted to hang with Patrick, who's all the way from LA. I had a ridiculous room -- a super suite because I got upgraded -- and I wanted to invite everyone back there for a party. I wanted the night to go on. I wanted my body to hold out just a little longer. No food. Lots of water. I thought I'd be okay. But I wasn't and it totally sucks.

I had a great two nights with Pearl Jam. Mike and Ashley are like angels in my life that make good things happen. I have no complaints.

Except that my body messes with me just when I'm really having fun. And that just totally sucks. If you have a chronic illness, you know what I mean. For one second, I thought I was going to get away with being normal. For one day and night, I thought I could just tough it out. But my body said no. And my body get the last word.

My f-ing body. I hate it. Jennifer

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