June 19, 2016: One More Off the Bucket List!

If I have a girl crush—that is, a woman who I would probably go tongue-tied if I met just because I think she’s super awesome—it’s entirely possible it would be Pink. I love Pink. I love her music because it’s catchy and upbeat and can be clever and funny (albeit inappropriate to listen to in front of my children). And I like what I know of her (which, granted, is only what I see in the media) because she seems very down-to-earth and funny, and she definitely calls BS when she sees it. Frankly, there’s a lot of times I would like to call BS but I bite my tongue, because I’m a let’s-not-rock-the-boat kind of girl much of the time. So I admire that Pink calls BS without being a jerk about it. I remember hearing one of her early songs, where in her lyrics she recalls her producer telling her,  “You’ll be a pop star, all you have to change is everything you are”—and her staunch refusal to change who she was. I was impressed then, and I’ve continued to like her over the years as she’s slyly poked fun at the superficiality of Hollywood, fame, and the music industry.

When Theo was in kindergarten, I remember Pink went on tour, and her concert got rave reviews. I was dying to see it, but Sam was a baby, finding a sitter on a weeknight would’ve been tough, and concert tickets are so darn expensive that it just wasn’t feasible. But man, did I want to go to that show! I know people who went and said it was amazing. Ever since then, seeing Pink live has been on my bucket list.

So do you see where I’m going with this?

I FINALLY GOT TO SEE PINK!!!!!!!

Granted, it was an abbreviated show (just an hour-long set), but it was amazing! So amazing that the next time she tours, I AM going to the show. I will sell a kidney if need be. Chris is in agreement—he was totally impressed by what a great performance she put on and said it was easily in the top five live performances he’s seen.

But let me back up… Chris and I both love seeing live music, but we don’t often do it because it’s so darn expensive (and then that whole babysitting thing…half the time, concerts are on weeknights, when it’s very hard to find a sitter!). In recent years, we’ve only made exceptions for George Strait (my favorite singer) and Fleetwood Mac (his favorite band). So every year, we look forward to his company’s Genentech Gives Back charity concert. It’s awesome! The company rents out AT&T Park (home of the San Francisco Giants) and puts on an all-day concert, usually with three musical acts. All the food and drinks are free, and there’s kid stuff (bouncy houses, games, face-painting) if you want to bring kids. (However, experience has taught us that this event is much more fun without the boys—they only last for an hour or two, and lately Sam gets really overwhelmed in crowds. An all-day rock concert is just too much for them.)

In past years, the concert has been a whole lot of fun, with good performers. Before this year, my favorite was Foo Fighters, but we’ve seen a lot of good ones at these charity concerts. (And by the way, every single year I’ve said, “They need to get Pink to play this thing. That would rock!”) But this year, Genentech outdid themselves! Because they have released four new drugs in the past seven months, they decided to expand the day to include four artists instead of the usual three. And maybe because it was also a celebration of their 40th anniversary, they really pulled out all the stops with entertainment.

We started out the day with OneRepublic. I didn’t really know anything they sing—or so I thought. Once they started playing, I realized I knew almost every song, and I had simply thought they were Maroon 5 songs when I heard them on the radio! Anyway, they were songs I like, and OneRepublic was a fun band to watch—really interacting a lot with the audience. They’re pretty popular, so I was surprised they were the opening act—usually the opening act is someone a little less famous.

The second act was The Killers. I didn’t know nearly as many of their songs, but they were really good—the type of rock music I tend to enjoy, so I’m surprised I didn’t know more of their songs. And they did a really good cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” plus a good cover of Elvis’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Another thumbs up.

At that point, Chris and I traded off going to the restroom and to get more snacks/drinks. I assumed the third performer would be an R&B act, because they usually have one. I’m not a big R&B fan, so I wasn’t overly interested in the third act. I was sitting high on the third deck of the stadium, in the shade and cool breeze, playing with my phone and waiting for Chris to get back, when I heard the Genentech higher-ups come back on stage to announce the third act. I was only half-listening to their intro…until I heard them yell into the microphone: “PINK!!!!!”

It’s entirely possible that I nearly wet my pants in excitement. Okay, not that much, but Chris came back up with a big grin and said, “I could practically feel your excitement all the way at the concession stand!”

So anyway, Pink’s performance was even better than I expected. We were sitting up in nosebleed (by choice—it was quieter and less crowded up there, as well as shady), and last year we sat up there for Katy Perry and weren’t overly impressed by her performance. I thought maybe it was because we were sitting so far away, but no…I think Katy Perry must’ve just had an off day or something, because Pink was AWESOME even from nosebleed!

She did a lot of her hits and was really down-to-earth and chatty with the audience, which is always fun to watch. Then she went into an acoustic set. She performed “Who Knew?” in memory of the Orlando victims, which she broke down in the middle of. And then she went into “Perfect,” which is my favorite song of hers. It has always, always reminded me of Theo, and hearing her perform it acoustically was enough to make me cry. Here are some of the lyrics (from the non-explicit version of the song), and I bet you can see why:

Pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel
Like your less than…less than perfect
Pretty pretty please, if you ever ever feel
Like you’re nothing, you are perfect to me. 

You’re so mean when you talk
About yourself. You were wrong.
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead. 

During the hard times, Theo struggles so hard with accepting himself as he is, and I want him to always know that he’s perfect the way he is. As perfect as any of us is, anyway. He’s exactly who he’s supposed to be. Anyway…she performed a beautiful acoustic rendition of it, and it brought me to tears. So yeah…I sat and cried like a fool.

Pink then did three covers of famous songs from Bay Area musicians: Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” and 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up?” All three were awesome—and then a few more of her hits, and she wrapped up her set, saying, “You can’t even imagine how cool the next act is! I was just the appetizer.”

So Chris and I sat there thinking, “How are they going to top this?” I had originally thought it might be Taylor Swift, but I abandoned that idea when it was clear that Pink thought the fourth act was awesome. She may think Taylor Swift is awesome for all I know, but their musicals styles and personas are just so different that it didn’t quite seem to fit. Chris thought it might be Beyonce, as they still hadn’t had an R&B act. I then threw out that maybe it was the Rolling Stones—swinging for the fences on that one.

Nope, we were wrong: It was Justin Timberlake! Which we were completely impressed by, because he’s a pretty huge star. To be honest, his music isn’t either of our styles, though I do admit that I can’t help but dance whenever “Sexy Back” comes on—darn if that isn’t one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard. And his newest song, which I don’t know the name of, is similarly addictive.

Still, I’ve heard for a long time that he is incredibly talented and inventive, so we decided to stay for his set. And it really was pretty incredible, even if not either of our cups of tea, necessarily. He included pretty much every instrument you can think of—flutes, trombones, you name it. The band was huge and all onstage and front and center. It was an unusual arrangement and a lot of sound going on, but really quite impressive. I’m glad we stayed to see him—and of course, I got to see “Sexy Back” live, which was pretty cool.

So all in all, this was by far my favorite Genentech Gives Back concert. I have enjoyed all of them, but they really outdid themselves this year. I don’t know how they’re going to top it next year! (Bon Jovi is also on my bucket list to see live. Hint, hint, Powers That Be at Genentech…)

After the concert, we hoofed it back to Union Square, where we had gotten a hotel room for the night at the St. Francis, a historic hotel that overlooks the square. (Al Jolson died there! The Fatty Arbuckle scandal happened there! President Gerald Ford was nearly shot there! It has a rather sordid but fascinating history, with all sorts of fascinating folks staying there at one time or another.) As it turned out, the 2016 CPMC Debutante Ball was being held there, so there were rich people dressed to the nines everywhere. We looked rather out of place in jeans and T-shirts. One drunk but genial guy came up to us and said, “Hey, you guys look AMAZING!” which amused us—he was good-natured, if inebriated. Anyway, I didn’t know debutante balls even still existed, but apparently they are alive and well. Women dripping with jewels and men dressed in formal tuxes were everywhere.

We walked across the street to Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar for dinner. Alas, no Hubert sighting for me today, but I did have a delicious chocolate-ice-cream-and-whisky milkshake with my burger, and Chris had a vanilla-vodka-rootbeer float with his. And then we walked back to the hotel, threaded our way through rich people dressed much nicer than us, and went back to our room and promptly fell asleep! Yeah…we’re getting old….

We took the train home on Sunday morning to relieve Grandma and Papa, and then the rest of Father’s Day was pretty low-key. We went for ice cream at our favorite place. I’m usually a chocolate fanatic, but this place has exceptionally good ice cream made from fresh fruit, and so I had a scoop of fresh apricot. Oh my goodness, it was divine! Chris watched some of the Warriors game in the evening, and we took the boys for a swim—all in all, a quiet but pleasant Father’s Day. We’d had plenty of excitement the day before!

Our whole week was eventful, really. Theo started his new day camp, and he loves it! His words: “Best camp EVER, Mom!! We get to use Porta-Potties!!” Ha ha, wouldn’t be my criteria for a good camp, but hey—whatever makes him happy! Every morning they do various activities: sometimes sports, sometimes crafts, one day a cooking activity, etc. And then they had various things in the afternoon—one day they had crawdad fishing, a couple days they went swimming at the community pool, one day they went bowling, one day they did a camp version of a particular game show, which Theo really enjoyed. And one day they had an all-day field trip to the San Francisco Zoo, which Theo loved. The funny thing is, we’ve taken him to the zoo dozens of times in his life, and he’s always been rather blasé about it. But when he went with camp, he loved it! He couldn’t stop talking about all of the animals when he got home. Apparently his favorite is the capybaras, which I have to admit are pretty cool. He was very interested when I told him that there’s a rogue capybara on the loose in Toronto right now!

And Sam had his final week at his school. They had been very nonchalant about him leaving, but then in the last two days, they apparently decided they were really going to miss him. The director actually cried—although I think it was more over Theo than Sam. She loves Theo, who she sees sometimes when he comes in with me. And Sam’s teacher, who we really loved—well, she just looked like she was fighting back tears. They assured us that if anything didn’t work out at his new school, he was always welcome back at theirs, which was nice to hear. Hopefully everything will work out just fine at his new school, but it’s always nice to have a fallback if needed.

And Chris and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary on Friday! And because I am the Best Wife Ever, I outdid myself on gift-giving this year: I arranged for him to replace the brakes on the minivan! Because isn’t that what we all want for an anniversary present?!

Ha ha, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. I had the tires rotated on the van on Wednesday, and they told me the front brakes and rotors needed to be replaced fairly soon. I then had lunch with Jeanette, whose husband is a mechanic (well, sort of—he now trains mechanics for Nissan, so I guess he’s a mechanic-teacher!), and she said, “Oh, Brian can do that! Let me text him!” He immediately wrote back that yes, he’d be happy to…and would Chris like to learn how? He’d show Chris…and how about Friday evening?

Well, Friday was our anniversary, but we never do anything on the day and had nothing planned, so I said, “Why not?” And so we drove over to their house after school/camp/work on Friday, and after having dinner with Jeanette, Brian, and their son at a BBQ place, the menfolk set to work while Jeanette and I let the boys play. And actually, Chris really enjoyed himself, as I knew he would—he likes doing hands-on stuff like that, and he doesn’t have the tools or the know-how to do it by himself, so he enjoyed getting to work on it with Brian. Although it ended up taking a while, so Brian really was working for about minimum wage! (He insisted that he works for pizza and beer; the pizza place wouldn’t deliver, so in this case he worked for a BBQ sandwich and a beer, which was certainly not worth the time he spent working on our van!) But, we now have freshly rotated tires and a brand new set of brakes and rotors on the van—plus, Brian saved us $150 in labor costs. Woohoo! I’d say that’s a successful anniversary—the savings pretty much paid for our hotel the next night!

Before I wrap up this very long blog post, I’ll direct you to a blog post I put up earlier today. It may not be of much interest, but it’s a letter that I was hoping to get published in the newspaper on behalf of the California Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition (of which I’m co-chair) and on behalf of our local Down syndrome organization (which I work for). I couldn’t get anyone at the Sacramento Bee to bite, so I figured I’d just post it here. Won’t get much audience, but it’s better than nothing!

And three little videos. It was intended to be one, but the first two are bloopers that amused me so much I have to share them. In the first one, it’s very hard to hear, but Sam happily passes gas in response to me telling him he’s cute. In the second one, he belches in response to the same comment. (You see what I mean?! It’s like living in a frat house with all these boys around me!!) And in the third one, he actually chats a bit—he names what he’s having for dinner, which I thought was somewhat interesting since I just talked about him doing this on a blog post last week!

I’ll try to keep it more brief next week, though no promises—Sam starts his communication program, so I may have a lot to say about that!

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