Thursday, June 18, 2009

They upstaged the Fray tonight!

I lay here in bed literally too amped up from the most amazing night that I just can't sleep...not until I write this down. Tonight Lauren, myself and a survivor and her sister from Teens Living with Cancer were at the Jack's Mannequin and Fray concert at Darien Lake...
We were invited backstage to meet Andrew McMahon and hear our very own private mini concert with ten winners of a contest during the soundcheck. We actually didn't win the contest...but the irony is that JoJo and Margi had been trying desperately to win those radio tickets to no avail. They had no idea that in the meantime I was working on getting TLC this special treat through a series of six degrees of separation network.

I could tell you every last detail...but I am just too tired right now. However, suffice it to say that Andrew is one of the most giving and big hearted people I've had the chance to meet. He himself is a cancer survivor and spent more time with our group than he may have even been allotted. He has a deep committment to give back...and that is clear in not only his music but his good works through it. He not only talked to each of us individually and eagerly listened to find out what TLC was all about, but recorded a touching personal video message to one of our kids who is very sick right now. I heart Andrew McMahon...

For us to see him perform with such vigor and energy...and the light behind it all...
At several points in the evening he jumped and pounded his (well, someone's) piano, threw his legs over to and fro over it---feet hammering the keys, he flipped, spun, shook what his Mama gave him and continued to confuse his piano with a dancefloor. It's a wonder Steinway doesn't grit their teeth when watching youtube. He is at least an aspiring acrobat...and few in that audience could imagine this was the same young man fighting for his life just four years ago. This is the same person who was told a transplant of his sister's stem cells was probably his only shot to beat the big C. Thankfully, it worked. Lauren said it best tonight "perhaps only someone who has been there... can truly understand how amazing what he is doing up there is" he whirled around the stage like a man on fire--on fire and happy to be alive. So I am tired now...but I will leave you the pictures to tell the rest of the story.
Thank you Andrew....if you find your way to reading this...thank you for your love and thank you for giving back to the cancer community...
Thanks also to the tour manager, Aaron...Ellie and Steve at Aware Music and of course to 100.5 the Drive's fabulous Julie who made sure to capture precious moments for us on both video and snapshots. Despite the downpour and the was a very special night I won't soon forget.

Oh...and the Fray was awesome too...phenomenal... but are a cancer survivin' rock star!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Without further ado...the Lil Wayne story

There are times in one's life where simply re-telling of a story can not match up to the supreme oddity of a moment. In such cases, one can only reply that you had to be there.
And frankly, for the two eye-witnesses who were there with me...they can comment and help back me up.

So...Las Vegas is a crazy place. Larger than life. Things happen in an instant and people go there for that very purpose. I'm sure the idea of finding a strange random weird celebrity encounter is not uncommon. But I'm still scratching my head about this one. Regardless, I've been telling this story so often that I am getting tired of recounting...truly. So I leave this story here for you---its on the internet...and perhaps will live a life of its own now.

Because of the nature of Hollywood...and the expansiveness of the internet I must be careful. I must of course put up a disclaimer---that the person in question may or may NOT have been Lil Wayne. The events that happened may have very well been simply a case of mistaken identity and one must read this blog with that in mind...Lil Wayne is already involved in legal action in Rochester and I don't want to add to his list.

So here goes...

I was sitting on a rock ledge/ wall thing outside a casino with my friends Jeff and Araceli. Our friends had just bounded off for the bathrooms while we waited tired and basically worn out from another energetic night out in fabulous Las Vegas.

Then it happened. A red hat coming out of the casino caught my eye. A red hat attached to a short statured African American young man...who appeared to be Lil' Wayne. I gasped. Jeff at the same time was having the same reaction, but I was the far more obvious gawker. Without thinking my pointy finger shot up. I aimed it right in his direction. Let's just say, usual Leah style...I did not act casual.

Below is an actor's rendering of the expression on my face at the time of his appearance.
So anyway...the person who in that instant appeared to be the Wayner himself...was strolling in the middle of two companions, two very large male companions in normal street clothes. Aracelli was a little farther off so I couldn't see her reaction. It was then, at that very moment, when the man in question...looked at my pointing finger aiming in his direction.

A whimsical smile came across his face. Who knows what he was thinking.

But he approached me...and stopped short. He was probably about 15 feet away where he stopped. Then he asked me if I had three things in quick succession...none of which I understood fully. However I heard what I thought was the word Twister being one of the items.

Without fully understanding I said No.

Jeff would later tell me asked me if I had a twista, a zigzag or a bluntwrap.
It is my firm understanding that he surely was barking up the wrong tree by asking this unassuming Upstate New York cardigan and comfy sock wearing teacher assistant.

He shook his head and started back on his path. End of game right? Not hardly.

As the young man and his duo of large companions nearly disappeared from view...I began to regret thinking to myself 'was this all of the strange encounter I was going to have with this person who may or may not have been Lil Wayne?" No No no...we don't end bizarre things unfinished.

So instead I shouted back...into the night, not knowing whether my words would fall unanswered.
Seeing as how he had mentioned what I thought was my favorite childhood game I decided to indulge this crazy moment.
"No...but I have silly putty, " I called.

In an instant he doubled back to where I sat. I couldn't gage either Jeff or Araceli's reactions as this bizarre exchange continued into part deux. After questioning this offer...Silly Putty... he came back with four words that I will always laugh about.

"Can you smoke it?"

To which I replied something akin to...
" press it on comics..." He shook his head again...and in an instant he was gone.

After he disappeared with his companions Jeff, Araceli and I proceeded to freak out from the encounter which lasted probably all of 40-50 seconds in duration.

Jeff, who was right next to me and had had the best view as I mouthed off ignorantly to the Wayner, insisted that yes, this was Lil Wayne...and we were not imagining things. We began to lose it, laughing hysterically and shouting...I looked around for other witnesses, but there seemed to be no one who had stopped to see. It was a lull, almost a wrinkle in time...even if there were onlookers no one had taken note. It seemed impossible.

Now imagine my friends returning from the loo, only to hear this story fresh from its occurence.
They asked us why we hadn't pulled out a camera, asked for an autograph---something in the form of proof.

But after kicking myself for not doing any of these things I've come to the conclusion that this story is just meant to be another one of those mythical encounters...that will live in legend. You can believe it or can ask "was it really Lil Wayne'? But it matters not. The point is that somewhere someone out there is wondering about the weirdo girl he ran into in Vegas who offered him some Silly Putty to smoke and that weirdo girl...that girl is me.

Please note if a song hits airwaves containing silly putty as a lyric...I will have made my forray into the annals of music history.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

OMG was amazing

OMG! I forgot, rather I didn't have time to post about the OMG Young Adult Cancer Summit.

Recapping: this was probably the craziest most insane way to pack everything possible into one weekend I have EVER had in my LIFE. And in 2 wks I'm going to be moving so go figure...
Slow down? Ha...not likely.

BTW...Happy belated National Cancer Survivors Day.

I didn't get to Syracuse till way later than I planned Friday. I will spare you all the minute details of the car adventure...I killed my battery by leaving my lights car died. Challenges challenges. As you might know already, due to a slight error my sister's family bridal shower was arranged on the same day/same time as the OMG Syracuse. Most of you who know me know that OMG was 8 months of planning-- for those on the committee especially Dan, Carrie, Matthew and I it was almost like like planning a wedding. With last year under our belt, we had learned a lot but still...8 months.

Anyway---needless to say, you can imagine the tough choice I had between OMG and my sister's other shower. Pick one? NO--way. Leah decided to do both.

When I swung just in time into the Palace Theatre everyone was already there and things were in full swing. I was able to ever so briefly chat with Erin Zammett Ruddy, our guest speaker and super cool Glamour Magazine rock star. But I was really sad that in my rushing across town mode we didn't get to talk more. I was frazzled and late and really would have done better with down time prior. Erin, if you're reading this I hope we will cross paths again very soon.

Alright, so here is the deal about the second annual OMG Young Adult Cancer Summit.
It was amazing. Okay, so already the thunder was stolen...NYC had BNL performing. How do you compete with that? But what transpired in Syracuse NY was something wholly amazing, something pallpable...smaller in scale, but from where I stood it was an intimate sense of community that stretched beyond town, city, and county lines.

New Yorkers have always been categorized by the city of Manhattan. It is plausable that the great state of New York is seen by many outsiders as purely of an outcrop of Manhattan. Not so. Upstate--I've been asked to define---to specify. But the diverse communities and the various stretches between town to town, city to city are a community that was tied together yesterday. There were young survivors from Syracuse, Rochester (most of us), Buffalo, Ithaca, Corning, Albany. Sure most NYC survivors could hop on the subway...but there were people who travelled 2, 3, 4, 5 hours to attend. And Aaron Spicer from Ohio wins a special award for a 6 hour journey he made with great delight (and sacrifice).

Watching people look around the room and see (perhaps for the first time) others their own age walking the very same journey-- connecting and relating. On so many levels it was empowering beyond any coherent definition.

My energy could not equal my enthusiasm. This day--this weekend-- filled my heart!

Erin told us her inspiring story of surviving to be a MOM against all possible odds. Erin IS a pioneer. GO Erin!
I tried to upload the video I have of part of her speech but I experienced technical failure. I will get that up as soon as I figure out what went wrong. Sorry!

Then at the end of the Summit an amazing band, THE ACTION cranked up the ska...trumpet blaring, people unwinding, drinking, mingling, eating the delicious appetizers. Perhaps to some it seemed like a big party. It was.

But because you weren't-- I'm gonna just give you the images...and hope you'll understand...somewhat.

with i[2]y YALC Pres. and most dedicated Summit traveller, Ohio's Aaron Spicer
With Stupid Cancer Guru Matthew Zachary ( who appears to be my Siamese twin? ha ha)
Three amazing brain cancer survivors show who got busy living
With Thomas Waters... St. Bonaventure student, survivor and advocate extraordinaire! The T-shirt pic. Minus quite a few...but a smattering of the gang... After some shenanigans and complicated logistics...15 of us grabbed dinner!
I'll say it is like a sandwich...
enjoy the big bites!