Thursday, August 28, 2008

how to lose

My friend, Jodi, lost her dog today. I felt a certain love for Molly because she looks like my Cleopatra, who is old and sometimes lame. I am always worried about my family's fragility when it comes to our animals.

A long time ago, I wrote this poem about the loss of two of my dogs. And because I'm already crying, I thought it would be all right to reprise it at this time and rededicate it to Jodi. I wish the title were more honest, that the poem actually told us how to lose. As if there were a way.

how to lose

first you drown.
by force of shock
shock of force.
you can almost touch
a breath with your hand.
now you thrash toward it
splashless kicks to surface
but you drown.
now go limp.
the near-infinite sea
the color of deep
the smell of dark
the taste of black.
now wallow.
you and the ocean dogs
bay at moonless night
howl at sunless day
whimper as the tides shift.
you and the ocean dogs.

they say that grief is reduced
by half each year
that fresh death
goes half stale
then half again.
Ten years of halves
of halves
of halves
and you can still reach down
and touch it
still break it open
with a nail,
still crawl back inside it
grief as comfort
as old friend.

when he becomes
a phantom limb
dangling by your side
silent and painless
you will sink less
by half and half again.

but when another goes
the drowning will be deeper
the moaning will undulate
like the voice of ghosts
and you and the ocean dogs
will gnaw at every old wound.
you and the ocean dogs
will sit.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

scale stories

My daughter weighed herself at 8:30 p.m. I tried to stop her; everyone knows it’s bad to weigh at night, and this night was even worse than most. She’d eaten dinner late because of soccer practice and also wolfed down half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream—some ridiculous fudgy flavor of the usual exceeding deliciousness.

Though she had spent three hours of the day swimming and another hour and a half running around the field and kicking a ball, she’d also consumed a post-breakfast black-bottom muffin, grilled cheese for lunch, and an afternoon snack of popcorn and several mini-cupcakes.

She left the room sulking and got in the shower, where she spent a long time. I pulled back the curtain, and she was crying. “You have to help me,” she said, pathetic as I am when I beg my husband to keep Aunt Margaret’s chocolate cake in the truck or hide it well beneath all the camping gear in the basement.

“You are not fat!” I tried to make her feel better by comparing my stomach to hers.

“At least your boobs stick out further than your stomach!” she said.

I saw her in her swimsuit the day before, and she looked positively gorgeous. “You have a great body!” I told her. “Your stomach looked nice and tight at the pool yesterday.”

“I was sucking it in!” she said.

“The whole time?”

“The whole time!” She cried again and tried to hug me, the shower water soaking my clothes. I made a snuggle date with her after her shower.

Like mother like daughter. I sucked my stomach in from the time I was eleven until the time I was 35 and pregnant. You’d think those muscles would get strong in 24 years of sucking, but it only gives you a stomachache. Eventually, I got too fat to suck it in anymore.

In ninth grade, Miss Brown lined up all the girls. We wore snap-down, short, piss-yellow gym dresses with bulbous matching bloomers, which had the same skinny elastic at the waist and legs. The only thing that harmed your self-esteem more than catching a glimpse of yourself in your gym uniform was being weighed by Miss Brown.

I don’t remember whether she shouted out our numbers to a girl with a pad or whether she let us suffer a private humiliation, but I cried when I heard my number. 132. I was more than ten pounds heavier than my mother when she got married, and I wasn’t even in high school yet. One of the coolest girls in the whole school, Dawn, came over to me and consoled me by telling me that she weighed 138 pounds, and that it was OK because we looked good. (She and I got our periods together in sixth grade; I think we were the only ones that year.) Dawn was an athlete. She was about three inches taller and had long, slender legs.

We hardly ever talked before or after that moment, but I never forgot her. It was easily the kindest thing anyone had ever said to me in all of my years of grade school.

What I wouldn’t give to weigh 130 pounds now! I’ve probably tried to get there 130 times in my life. I’ve made it within a few pounds several times, even as recently as my 40th birthday. I looked and felt great—my back didn’t hurt, I could run faster, I didn’t get heartburn or migraines. But whatever skinny friend I had at the time always told me I looked sick. Because the job of the skinny friend is to be the skinny friend. If you take that away, you take away everything.

Mothers don’t want their children to grow up with our neuroses, especially about our bodies. We’re a country drowning in high-fructose corn syrup and diabetes, and we’re collectively too stupid to see the connection. Our kids see the donut we had to have (hell, they share in that need), and then they see us fret over having had it. Just a couple of days ago, I asked my daughter whether I looked too heavy in something I was wearing. She rolled her eyes. You’re not fat, she said. Then she pinched her own half-inch.

I’m told that most girls go through this phase at some point or another, especially when a crush is involved—even if, I’m told, they come from thin mothers. Maybe that’s true. So what do thin mothers tell their girls to do about pudge? I know what I do. I whip out all those Weight Watchers tools.

“I’m hungry all the time,” my daughter told me the next morning, as I showed her, in a small glass, the amount of orange juice equal to a serving. I gave her the rundown. Sometimes you think you’re hungry when you’re really thirsty; drink water. Eat a piece of fruit. Wait twenty minutes after a meal so that you can feel full. Find an activity that keeps your hands occupied. “And stop drinking tall glasses of that fancy orange-tangerine-cranberry juice you and your skinny dad concocted.”

It’s been about a week since that episode in the bathroom. She’s gone easier on the juice, and she’s feeling a little better about her tummy. I didn’t stop her from stepping on the scale this morning, and she saw a 3.5 pound difference.

When she left, I took a turn on the evil hate machine, and I’m down a few myself.

My mom and I used to joke about our inability to lose weight, saying we wish we could have anorexia for just a couple of weeks. When someone has that virus and spends ten days vomiting, losing ten pounds in the process, we stand a little closer to her. (But we know, of course, that we’d find a way to squeeze the calories in through retching episodes.) I even took diet pills for awhile, but I got used to them instantly and started eating more calories. I even thought I was onto something when I invented “Tapeworm in a Jar.”

Or I could give up my 6:00 Red Hook ESB; the one at 4:00 should suffice.

We all have a scale story—one that we will remember forever, like the day in Miss Brown’s ninth grade gym class. I think of it every time I see a doctor’s scale or a locker room in a spa or health club. I am thankful that my story had a Dawn in it. Without her, it would have been just another painful memory of my ever-expanding waist.

I hope everybody’s kid either has a Dawn or is a Dawn. And I hope none of our daughters grows up to be or have the skinny friend.

* * *

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

rocker mom

My daughter likes me to be there. “There” is wherever she is—whether it’s on the field at soccer, in the swimming pool, or in the band room at rock school. She’s not content with on the hill near the field, on a chair around the pool, in the school lounge. To some extent, I would simply like to be “here” while she is “there.” Not all the time, of course, but I need to do my thing. And I need her to need to do her thing.

I should probably wait until she’s twelve and starts to loathe me, the way all girls do until age fourteen. But she needs a little independence to prepare her for those awkward, mom-hating teen years. I’m not planning to send her to the park with the dogs alone. Hell, I won’t even let her ride her bike around the block by herself. But when she’s doing things with other people her age—with the appropriate adult supervisors—she should not need me to be visible.

Frankly, by this age, she should be embarrassed by me. After all, I’m the one who marches up to scream at the coach for humiliating the girls by mimicking the way they run, making them examples in front of their peers. I’m the one who blows my lid at the lifeguard who waits for Serena to make a mistake or break a rule known only by the lifeguards, just so that she can put my girl on the bench for ten minutes.

I don’t want to teach Serena that authority figures can’t be trusted; we need to count on our police and our coaches and our teachers. And I don’t want her to get the impression that a mother stomping across the wet concrete or mosquito-filled grass trumps all other authorities, even when she's doing it in the interest of fair play.

I've avoided the pool for much of the summer, sending father and daughter off alone. And I just told my husband that I would not be accompanying my daughter to soccer practice, either. I don’t want to be a soccer mom. Let me feel the pride when Serena scores, but don’t make me privy to how she learned to score. It’ll only piss me off.

Rock School is different. When we first started, Serena was a little shy. She didn’t care if we went next door for coffee during her private lesson. But when all the kids were jamming at Rock 101, she wanted us both visible through the tiny doorway, which means filling the narrow hall with chairs and bodies. I told the director we'd be less hands-on soon, but it’s been weeks. Serena still hasn't let us cut the umbilical bar chord. And now there’s a problem.

This I like to watch.

Serena has become my surrogate rock star. It’s too late for me; I am stricken with old age and fat and random silver wires and a bad back. Occasionally, I lean into the microphone and try to sing one of the girl songs, like "Walkin' on Sunshine" and “Zombie.” Sometimes I tell the kids the chords they’re messing up or shout out the correct lyrics. I make sure Serena's amp is turned up (not to eleven, but one louder). She has gotten so good at guitar that the teacher asks her each week what new song she’s learned to play that she can teach the group. He makes her feel valuable. Though other kids in the group can play well, she exudes this quiet cool, this skilled nonchalance, an aloof rockness that is just so darned attractive, and now especially so because it’s coming from a girl. My girl.

The other day, I took everyone’s email address and volunteered to send the songs, lyrics, chords, tabs—all the stuff they need to know for the following week. I set up a Google Group for them, uploaded all their songs, linked to all their chords, wrote little descriptions of the songs. I even made a logo.

Now I'm afraid she'll decide that rock school is the one place I should pull back. What’s a rocker mom to do?

Wanted: drummer, bassist, and lead guitarist for forty-something original rock band. Practice Friday nights. My basement. Bring beer.

* * *

Monday, August 18, 2008


The last week of summer vacation is one of the hardest weeks to be a parent or a child. You both want to cram it full of devil-may-care- ness, go from swimsuits to pajamas (the only clothing options for my friend Paula’s boys). For us, it’s grilled cheese sandwiches every day—two pieces of cheese on soft sourdough, buttered on both sides, and slow cooked in a lidded skillet; you can’t take those to school in your lunchbox. There’s mini-amped electric guitar playing on the new deck, a last coat of suntan, some mid-day TV, naps, and a final visible temporary tattoo. A big one.

But it’s not just casual Friday all week. Among the swimming and eating and shredding, we have to finish book reports and summer math; return library books; pick up school supplies; try on every piece of school uniform in the closet; scour this part of the planet for the last remaining khaki pants and white shirts made by French Toast, the knock-off uniform company. And when that fails, as it fails for some items every year, I will have to perform the humiliating task of rummaging through other kids’ hand-me-downs at the Uniform Exchange, before the Ice Cream Social at the school on Thursday night. Because I’m not Catholic, I can get there early, while everyone else is at school mass.

Serena has just returned from counting the items in her closet that she can still wear. Short-sleeved shirts: 1. Shorts: 0. Pants: 0. Long-sleeved shirts: 4.

I take inventory, too. My daughter has grown about an inch this summer. She got her first case of poison ivy. She lost four teeth (which makes fifteen baby teeth lost). She started rock school, has her own electric guitar (a suh-weet Fender Showmaster), and can play about ten songs well, including “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “American Idiot," and "Surrender." She learned to do a flip off the diving board. Three large scabs on her nose, from where her face made contact with the bottom of the deep end, remind me that I wasn’t there for her because I was home, working.

Once fifth grade starts next week, I will be waiting all year for that call from school—the one my mother got just after I turned eleven. I thought I came down too hard on the uneven parallel bars and had to show my bloody bloomers to Miss. Brown, the unsympathetic gym teacher, who broke the news to me like a firecracker and sent me to the nurse. My grandmother picked me up from school that day because my mom was at work. We were unprepared, so I spent the hour or so it took my mother to get home in the bathtub, my grandmother sitting on the closed lid of the toilet next to me.

Now that the cinnamon toast has been devoured, a sunny day and a full agenda await. I feel bad for her that it won’t be spent at the pool, storing up practice dives for next year. But Serena pulls through for me. “I know this is gonna sound kind of stupid, but I actually love going to the office supply store.”

And they’re off.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

a special note to stephen colbert

I know what you need. It is soft and moist. It's suh-weet. Getting it only makes you want it more. It's the perfect way to end a meal or start a day. It's the climax of any celebration. (If it's really, really good, it's worth celebrating itself!) And next April, when my book hits the shelves, I would like to sit on your lap and give it to you.

A slice of Truthiness cake is yours for the tasting. All you have to do to get it is invite me to be a guest of The Colbert Report.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

memory foam

the bed has come between us
furniture and issue
when night comes on.
while you sleep
the blue angels bust
the sound barrier.
while you sleep
the lumberjack
whizzes saw blades
and my dreams go boom
and poof—
I wake in the next room.

bedroom walls
have come between us
blocking the bombardiers
keeping the locomotives
from jumping tracks.
no more jackhammers
blasting holes in the night.

the bed has come between us
for good.
I am the perfect sleeper
get my beauty rest
beat my chest like King Koil
in victory
over the "Hammerklavier Sonata"
which you conduct next door
and like Beethoven
never hear.

I have chosen sleep
traded sonic booms
for silence
but I have not forsaken you
as long as my skin remembers
where you fit.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

when we were bad, it was very, very good

As you know, I touched Kip Winger. And though my inner rock star is fighting with my outer groupie over this event ("touching Kip Winger? You should have been singing with Kip Winger, slut-ho-beyotch!"), the practical me is over it.

As you also know, the day that I was touching Kip Winger, my best friend from junior high found me on Facebook. We went to dinner last night and talked about everything—from the day we got our periods (mine: in Miss Brown’s sixth-grade gym class on the uneven parallel bars) to our start of menopause.

We haven’t spoken but once since our graduation in 19[inaudible mumbling]. We begin with a list of people she’s seen in recent years, like Josh (who used to make me blush when he would sing, "Got a skeeter on my peter, whack it off, whack it off" and "Nothing could be finah than to be in her vagina in the mor-or-or-or-nin'" in my ear in Ken Sanner's sixth-grade English class); Josh married his high-school sweetheart, Becky, who had the first Hamill Camel haircut. The Eddie I remember as adorable but odd (too into Get Smart) and always lugging around a tuba is still adorable and married to a woman from Dundalk. A guy I used to make out with behind the tennis courts gained weight and lost hair. A guy I wanted to make out with lives around the corner from Andrea.

Because I pursued a less ethnic, more urban geographical location, my connections to our past are limited. I saw the tall-and-gorgeous Robin Meizlish in Target once, and she looked the same; she and I both got degrees in graphic design. (And just like it’s supposed to happen when you see the prettiest girl in high school, I looked like crap that day; I vowed never to wear painted-on sweats to a store again.) Our school’s best artist, Sherri Romm, bought some art from me and owns a salon. And I ran into Susanne Kogan at the beach and discovered she had married Alan Cassel; Andrea fixed them up.

Every so often, we both wonder about that cute Joey Clements.

My parents took Andrea to Ocean City with us when we were girls, where we met Steve, our boyfriend. We found him sitting on a dock by our vacation house, his tanned feet peeking from beneath his blue denim bell bottoms; his blond hair and blue eyes from beneath the brim of his funky denim cap. Steve promised he would write to us both and made good on the promise, leading us to believe he belonged to each of us, when he belonged to neither. And then there was Vicky, a girl from Andrea's neighborhood, who'd never met him but had decided he was her boyfriend. Andrea tells me Vicky's dead now.

Our kids are now of the age she and I were when we were best friends. But times have changed. Suburban moms of teens and 'tweens have to use words like "intercourse" to distinguish that kind of sex from the "blow jobs," which she says begin at age 12 (even with the Jewish girls, who sacrifice self-esteem and innocence now to be saved from those "suck what?!?!" crows' feet later). Fourteen is when "fucking" starts. Her daughter uses that word—about other people—in emails to friends.

I cringe when I realize what could lurk just around the corner and am thankful, for a change, that my Jewish daughter is in a tiny Catholic School in a small neighborhood where you can’t sneeze without forty people knowing it (and blessing you).

Our discussion moves to teachers we tormented because we were pure evil. I got one of my first kisses from Daryl Barilla under the table during a film strip in Mr. Degnan's class. Every time the lights went out, we'd play spin the ruler. The kissers would go down under the table two at a time, so as to be less of a distraction. Daryl’s kiss was too wet. It was thrilling.

The boys in our class pinned Penthouse centerfolds to the projector screen, so that when our teacher pulled it down, a naked woman touched her how-ya-doin’ right in front of the seventh grade. Boys put naked women in all the drawers, too, so he got an eyeful just going for a piece of chalk. Once, after this continual boob bombardment, he was at his wits' end. He puffed up his red face and, with full fury and force, slammed the wooden yardstick on his desk. It broke in half and hit him in the face. We were all in biiiiig trouble.

Mr. Degnan wasn’t at all like Mr. Hawkins, whom we admired and respected. Perhaps it’s because we’d seen the way he handled Randy Parrish. When Randy misbehaved, Hawkins would drag him out in the hall by his collar, turn him upside-down, and shake him until his lunch money fell out of his pockets.

Mrs. Katz would come to every English class to find us doing whatever was on Welcome Back Kotter the night before. I got in trouble for orchestrating the move to turn all the chairs around so that they were facing the back of the room instead of her. And since I was an A student (hey, it's English!), she often looked to me as her supporter on days like these. She always looked at me with disappointed eyes after that day, and I apologized profusely, trying to win back her trust. Mrs. Katz’s class was where we watched those exotic drug movies—dark, scary warnings about pot and heroin that only seduced me. I dug them the way I still dig watching Prodigy videos and people in black vinyl body condoms.

Andrea’s fourteen-year-old daughter told her recently, “You know, I’m gonna smoke pot.” And what can Andrea do? By tenth grade, she and I had been doing it for a few years and spent many mornings before the school bell outside the English open space smoking joints with Howard and Allison and Holly. They had strawberry rolling papers so our breath wouldn’t smell so bad.

Andrea's neighborhood had a fort, where we used to hang out and smoke and drink. She would make out with her boyfriend, John, there. She remembers the vice principal of the school catching us smoking pot. We ran, though, and I don't think he could ever pin it on us, but he knew, and he looked at us in that way. In my neighborhood, Ricky Stark’s apartment was our fort. He was older and used to get us high and then drive us around. I spent a lot of time at Ricky's apartment after school watching The Three Stooges and M*A*S*H. His mother was never home, and he would always try to kiss me. I liked him, but he was too skinny. Ironically, he loved to cook, and I think he grew up to go to culinary school.

Andrea remembers us smoking pot and drinking on field trips. Do that today, and you go to jail for five years.

Music has been an integral part of my life, and those classic rock years have informed pretty much everything these days, including my daughter's School of Rock. We reminisce about all the concerts we saw together—Bad Company (I fell asleep), Led Zeppelin, Foghat, KISS. But KISS is a sore subject. "No you DIDn't go with me to the KISS concert, and I was pissed! Alan Sanders and Howard Ash had an extra ticket at the last minute, and they asked YOU to go." The memory came rushing back. I'd like to say she didn't miss much, but I think KISS had to be pretty awesome to a fourteen-year-old kid.

When I think of Andrea, I think of all the times we went shopping and bought the same clothes (our favorite stores were Maryanne's and Ormond and Up Against the Wall). We had to promise not to wear our outfits on the same day (we'd call the night before). Back then, blow dryers had just come out, and we would dry our hair and put on ski caps to flatten it; we both had curls and cowlicks. We shoplifted jewelry from Spencer's Gifts, even though they had a two-way mirror, and we never, ever got caught.

I also think of the time I was odd girl out just after my Sweet Sixteen. She and two other friends stopped speaking to me for no reason. After that, we were never close again. She apologized, but I was hard.

I’m still hard. But I don’t mention it.

I remember the way Andrea used to scrunch up her whole face when she was embarrassed. She still does that. She's still warm and cute and friendly and just as candid as I am, and she still has the same taste in clothing that I do (I have a pair of shorts similar to the ones she was wearing). Seeing her reminded me of what it was like to have someone so completely your twin, so completely the best, that you would share your favorite clothing and your boyfriend and your secrets.

Last night, when she got home at 10:15, she sent me a Facebook cupcake and said we ought to do it again sometime. I suggested we go shopping and wondered if there was still an Ormond. Andrea said there's still a Maryanne's at Security Square Mall, where we used to hang. One mom would drop us off in the morning, and another would pick us up in the afternoon.

Now we just need the nickel bag and the strawberry papers. And Ricky Stark to drive.

Monday, August 4, 2008

read this post in the bathtub—on your laptop (but be sure it's plugged in and immersed in your bath water)*

The recent warning from the American College of Emergency Physicians has me ticked. Must common sense always be optional? Can't our coffee and our Pop Tarts be piping hot after they are prepared without our being warned in advance? Can't I be counted on to know that my bag of nuts contains nuts? Shouldn't I take a sleeping pill because it causes drowsiness?

Warning: If you are walking into oncoming traffic because you are engrossed in reading or writing a text message, you don't deserve advance warning. You deserve a Darwin Award.

*But wait until you get home from that blindfolded bike ride.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

you know you have a fun job when you're being paid to touch kip winger

I met Stacy in a bar last night while I was working. She told me I have a fun job. Stacy and her husband, Larry, paid two grand so that Larry could spend the day jamming with rock stars at Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. I spent the day watching him for a Baltimore Magazine piece on ways grownups and kids can kick out their own separate jams at summer camp. (Ironically, the jams are the same: classic rock.)

I "worked" for thirteen hours (with a one-hour break from four to five to change clothes and chug a beer). I dragged my tired, forty-five-year-old butt into Towson University’s Union at 8:00 a.m. to hear some morning banter before check in, and I wobbled out of the Ram’s Head Live at 9:00 p.m. In the hours between, I wandered in and out of five band rooms, taking pictures and notes, eavesdropping, and interviewing campers about their experiences. I followed the godlike Earl Slick to the patio, where he smoked a Marlboro. I taped three minutes of a twenty-minute impromptu jam featuring Earl and Gilby Clarke. And I got to touch Kip Winger. On the stomach. And it was good.

* * *

While I was touching Kip Winger, an old friend from high school found me on Facebook and asked me to catch her up on the last 28 years of my life. I thought: who can do that in a paragraph? But a sentence was all I needed: I’m married to the man I fell in love with 25 years ago; I have a beautiful, smart daughter who plays electric guitar and soccer; I am having my first book published by Simon & Schuster in April; and I spent the day reporting on Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp.

Though we both have beautiful, smart children and good husbands, she decided my life was more glamorous than hers. She's an accountant.

* * *

This morning, I was lamenting to a male friend the lack of female participation at the Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. Why don’t moms let their daughters grow up to be rock stars?* “Because it’s a stupid lifestyle,” my friend told me. But how is it more stupid than, say, being an accountant? Shouldn't we all find some way to follow our passions for pay? Isn't that how we keep from jumping off a bridge on purpose?

Mark Hudson, one of the Fantasy Camp counselors, knows for sure that as long as he's doing something with music, he's sane (though sane might not mean the same thing to us; Hudson's dyed his facial hair to resemble rainbow sorbet). Meeting him in the hallway shattered all my preconceptions about the camp; it was the light-bulb moment that I live for when I'm writing. He had stopped me to apologize because I'd come into his room at the moment he was admonishing his group for missing a cue. He couldn't help it; music is his passion, and that's why he participates in the camp each time. Hudson's face lit up when describing the joy he gets from watching his bands click after just a day of rehearsal.

So Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp is not, as I'd once joked, a bunch of guys on the Who Was list of rockers getting their egos stroked by computer analysts and accountants (and writers). And it's not about people who didn't follow their passions, either.

I love all the things I do—even when I'm editing newsletters for Johns Hopkins or writing some quick ad copy for a local market. A sentence is a set of words, and it can be as exquisite as I want to make it. I'd hate for some snob like me to think I was on the Who Was list of writers because I chose to teach or lead a workshop.

* * *

People dream of becoming some perfect success at some perfect thing. But I bet more people dream of becoming a rock star than anything else. I still dream about it. Why did I give up guitar lessons after just four of them and wait until April of 2008 to try again? And why didn't I join another band when my own broke up in 1982?

That's what the camp is about. Maybe there's still time for me, like there was for those eighteen guys and one girl who paid $2,000 to practice and perform with seasoned, passionate pros. When I told friends I was reporting on the camp, they all wondered who would pay so much to do that. Now I can tell them. I would. Twice.

Hell, I'd even pay to touch Kip Winger's tummy again.

* * *

*My first baby gift, while Serena was still in my belly, was a tiny red electric guitar pick from my cousin, Stacey. It sits in a shot glass with the others I’ve collected over the years, including a few with the Camp logo, which I lifted from a table. I'm just tickled that she already knows how to use them. Much as I love the idea that she could one day grow up and jam with Brandi Carlile, I'd still rather people pay to jam with Serena.