Just for Me
Ladies Rock Camp: A Reminder That I'm More Than a Mom
Generally speaking, my days are spent cooking meals, doing dishes, buying groceries, doing laundry, walking dogs, wiping noses, clipping toenails, and performing every other pleasant and unpleasant task required to keep two kids, two dogs, two frogs and a hamster alive and relatively happy. But there’s something you don’t know about me. It started on my birthday....
My birthday weekend officially began Thursday afternoon when my husband and kids dropped me off at Newark Airport. I waited on a long security line, submitted to the requisite frisking and de-shoe-ing and made my way onto the plane. A few minutes into the six-hour flight it became clear that the air conditioning wasn't working and the little televisions in the back of the headrests were on the fritz.
The man sitting next to me, who was a pilot for the airline, suggested I write a complaint letter. "Maybe you'll get a free ticket out of it."
I said, "Sir, I have twins. This is bliss."
I arrived at Portland Airport and grabbed the shuttle to my hotel, located in a gritty, industrial area on the outskirts of the city. Cool. The next morning I and a few other hotel guests were shuttled to our destination, whose only signage was a piece of cardboard propped up in the back window of an old station wagon that read, “Ladies Rock Camp.”
I stepped inside the windowless building and was greeted by the first of many smiling faces. "Welcome to Rock Camp. Follow me." We proceeded through a cozy reception area and living room decorated with posters of Joan Jett, The Runaways, Debra Harry, through a hallway with sound-proof practice rooms, a kitchen, a large room with rows of electric guitars, acoustic guitars, amps, tambourines, cables, drum kits, and a piano to the Big Room with tables and chairs, a large stage, a killer sound system and lots and lots of snacks.
We took turns standing up and telling where we were from and why we were here. “Seemed like fun.” “Divorce.” And my favorite: “Something I had to do before I die.”
We were given lanyards that were color-coded to our instrument of choice. Mine was hot pink for "guitar." Then we broke up into groups according to the genre of music we were most into. I found my band mates, Sarah and Vijai, in "Indie Rock." And thus my band, Vampire Cupcake, was born.
Vampire Cupcake (from left me, Vijai and Sarah)
We then broke up into groups by instrument and were assigned our instructors. My guitar teacher was Tara, a petite, sweet-faced young woman (think Reese Witherspoon with two-tone hair and Elvis Costello glasses) who as it turns out is also a professional acrobat. She led me and a few other guitar players back to the room with all the instruments and let us pick out whatever we wanted. I found a sweet Fender Stratocaster, an amp and cable and a guitar pick and followed Tara to a sound proof room.
In the most supportive and encouraging way, Tara taught us how to tune, hold, plug in and strum our guitars. In a few minutes I was playing. After an hour and a half I had the beginning of a song.
The lesson flew by and it was back to the big room for a delicious lunch of homemade vegetable lasagna, fresh fruit, salad, herbal ice tea and cookies. It was like my dream menu. Then it was off to band practice.