I'm going to Camp Mighty

I've worked on the American Idol tour for the past seven summers and had plentiful good times but I also missed a lot: a Bronx summer reevaluating my life and possibly my decision to quit my publishing job, a Columbus summer with Bova flowing with gin & tonics, laughter, and solitude (I used to sit in his living room and underline A LOT of philosophy), a summer in LA which would have hastened an inevitable break up, a couple of summers in Kentucky with Matthew and all the backyard parties and cut off jean shorts that entails (apparently no slim figure) and finally, I missed BlogHer conferences.

I've read accounts of BlogHer with envy, nice I want to be your friend envy, not mean I want what you have and would poke you in your eye to get it envy, but envy nonetheless. Each summer I'd become immersed in my job, stepping far away from my blog and feeling like I was starting over each September. I always wished I was going to BlogHer to meet all the smart ladies I lurk about online but instead I was on a midnight bus to Tulsa eating string cheese and drinking a Bud Light.

When Maggie Mason and Laura Mayes announced Camp Mighty, I was thrilled. It's in November and therefore not summer, it's in Palm Springs so I can drive, and that's all it took. I signed on immediately.

This summer I was offered a job tour managing promo for one of the Idols' new albums and I took the job on the condition that I had certain dates off, like Nov 10 - 12. It's been tricky trying to do everything well at once - do well in my relationship even though I'm not home much, do well in my job because I have pride and care about the people I'm working for, and do well creatively. It hurts to write this next sentence but, ah well, I think it's true: because I'm not getting paid for being creative and being married, I think those areas are taking the biggest hits right now. I will smile through bloodshot eyes to make sure I get my job done but I'm not writing much and no amount of phone calls a day are equal to the simply being next to someone you love.

Nov 10 - 12 is creeping up and I'm starting to feel like Camp Mighty has jungle eyes. Yeah, I'm likening drinking a poolside cocktail at the Ace Hotel to a panther staring at me through the pitch, eyes glassy and reflective. I have to prepare! I'm on a team and we are raising money for charity: water, a non-profit that brings clean drinking water to people in developing nations. And by we I mean they because I've done fuck all. My personal Charity Water brainstorm session starts Sunday when I'm hanging out in Nashville with Matthew, my last show of the week completed.

I'm also in process of writing my Life List of 100 things I want to accomplish with relish. Big, small, and medium-sized, these are the items on my bucket list that I need to have noted and ready to dissect for Camp Mighty. Sounds fun? It is. And hard. I had no idea. I've worked on it mainly on planes this last week and it's finally getting up there; I think I'm at #84.


Laughing quietly to myself

About how when I was riding bikes through Oceanside with Marisa and I asked her which street we should take to cross Mission, she said the street with the light BECAUSE DANGER DOESN'T TAKE A HOLIDAY.


They hate elves

Due to corporate relationships that I'm not at liberty to discuss, I can't say exactly why I find this photo funny and yet I'm compelled to share...I know, annoying. The palm tree enemy is really for Elise since she was witness to my most vehement outbursts against palms when we moved to California and walked around Oceanside those first few days. The Keebler Elf enemy is unrelated except that it happens to be on a truck parked in front of a palm and I might have once heard an executive say sort of joking and SORT OF TOTALLY SERIOUSLY say, "We hate elves."

And I laughed but instantly mourned because I wouldn't be able to blog about it for real.

I don't hate elves. But I love that there are people in the world who can say that and have their reasons.


Going away

Sunny, Mandy, and I have always talked about going away together. We used to imagine a garret apartment in Paris where we would live poverty-stricken, adventurous lives and would know when not to enter our shared flat due to the colored bandana-over-the-doorknob system that told when one of us had a boy over. I love that we never imagined enough money to have our own space; it was always small and close. When Sunny and I met Mandy in junior high, we started sneaking out of our homes and trying to get in trouble.

I think we were all impatient for MORE: more age and freedom and independence. I know that more than anything, I craved experience. I wanted to rack up experiences like bright beads and wear them as a necklace, a hemp necklace. (It was the 90s). I thought about other girls I knew who followed rules better, many of whom I liked and were my friends but who I didn't necessarily feel as inspired by because they weren't as daring. I thought I'd rather question everything and make mistakes and learn my own way. I remember thinking, "I'd want my child to be this way."

This past weekend, Sunny, Mandy and I finally went away together to Union Pier, on Lake Michigan, with their girls Freddie Jane and Sarah Grace, aged 2-and-a-half and 2 years old.

Photo: Sunny Neater-Dubow

It was nuts in a really calming, wine-drinking, walk to the beach sort of way. In some ways I still see our cravings, the more-more-more thirst for whatever it is we want and in others a bizarrely complementary patience reigns. Slow to marry and mate, their babies are so young and we are all still young enough yet we're 20 years removed from our Paris dream, a dream that specifically wasn't important. None of us had a great love for the French, we just wanted to be out in the world. And we all got into it in our own way.

Photo: Sunny Neater-Dubow

I know that I'm old enough to be slightly terrified at the idea of all of the above: having kids, not having kids, having my kids be like me. When I was younger, I was glad I was so moody, petulant, and pissed off because I thought that meant I was thinking. Now I'm also glad I got out of a lot of scrapes in one piece because that thinking led me down some dark alleys.

I can't look at these little girls and wish dark alleys upon them for the sake of knowledge. I wish them confidence, joy, and curiosity. I watch them run around in circles, laughing and egging each other on and wonder if they'll get along when they're older. I think it's important that they see us make time for each other so that they'll value friendship. We laugh about how they might turn into princess-cheerleaders, so different than we were but we'll quell the cringe and love that about them, too.

I watched Mandy and Sunny sit on the floor and change their daughters into pajamas. Mandy passed a diaper to Sunny and I almost laughed by how similar they still looked to their high school selves, right down to their clothing. Everything has changed, and nothing.

Laughing quietly to myself

About hotels that try so hard to be sexy or just so hard in general.

The sign under a light switch in Los Angeles that reads "Baby, you turn me on."

The hotel in Nashville where I have to call Matthew and debrief after ordering room service due to the officious way the staff asks permission to lift each silver lid off the food. Because I'm losing my mind I always have the sense that a) I'm rehabiting the mid-80s and have a butler, specifically Mr. Belvedere, or b) It's my senior year of high school and the Antioch College Sexual Offense Prevention Policy has come out in response to date rapes on the Yellow Springs, OH campus and consenting adults must obtain verbal consent before proceeding with each step of sexual advance. May I unveil your medium hamburger? May I wipe away the dew that has settled upon your water glass? Shall I heave over the pats of butter with tiny huffs of breath until you deem them spreadable?

After none of these things happen and I quash the whole charade with a quick "Oh naw, naw, I got it," the kitchen usually still calls up to the room to TALK ABOUT IT and make sure I had a good experience. That's when I call Matthew and say, "Next time, I'm secretly filming it so you know what I'm not exaggerating..."

It's incredible. I'm sure there are people this kind of service appeals to. If I didn't get so holed up in my room working, not wanting to break my momentum or waste time by going outside and finding a restaurant, I wouldn't even know about this shit. In New York at least I can be a workaholic and neurotic and still never succumb to room service because there is always something open, nearby, and quick to walk to.

But this hotel today in Midtown Manhattan has SHOT GLASSES instead of regular glasses to drink from in the bathroom. And even though they are double shots, do you know how frustrating it is to try to quench your thirst with shot after shot of water? I looked like a damn hamster last night and finally stuck my mouth to the faucet. I'm sure someone thought the shot glasses were clever, though.


A. Skate

Full disclosure: Despite all my talk of skating and the fact that I have my own board and there's a small colony of skateboards leaning up against the wall at my front door, I skated a total of ONE TIME this summer. ONE WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS TIME.

I've regretted the fact that I talked so much about skating before tour because by August I couldn't stop thinking what if I break my hands if I skate on a day off? How will I type and do my job with broken hands? Somehow I imagined a cast extensive enough to require a little stilt between my torso and arm. It was a bad break, bad enough to break both arms along with my hands. Really bad.

My one skate was in Salt Lake at the very beginning of the summer during rehearsals. I was walking around the city with Neil Wilson and we spotted a deserted parking garage underneath an apartment building. I scooted around and leaned this way and that and took a few turns and was pretty pleased with myself. Nothing fancy but it felt like a solid start.

For the rest of summer I was harassed by Neil Rinden and Tyler, both of whom would ask me periodically how my skating was going and then make fun of me for being a poser. Neil Rinden was particularly relentless and kept asking to see my wheels to which I kept giving him the finger. Finally, on the second-to-last show day he said that we had to do a photo shoot of me "tearing it up." Sure, I said, no problem.

I forgot, though, how crazy the last show day is. There is so much to wrap up and close out and take care of and it's one of those days where I want to be sentimental and thank everyone personally from the bottom of my heart for all their hard work but I end up resorting to Lamaze breathing to try to calm the fuck down and at best manage to share a few beers in the parking lot after load out.

When I saw Neil in the dressing room corridor that day he said, "Roncker, get your board out!" and I distinctly remember replying simply, "NO," over my shoulder as we passed. The photos didn't happen, the wheels still look new and I still can't skate very well but I still think it looks fun especially now that I'm less worried about the repercussions of being in a body cast.

But what I really wanted to tell you to check out is this: A.skate, a nonprofit for autistic kids.

Children with autism often struggle with the ability to follow directions, play on a team due to the lack of social skills, and many require activities to be performed on their own terms.

Autism, like skateboarding, can be unpredictable and often times unruly. We embrace the parts of autism that are hard to understand and give these kids an outlet that is free of rules or judgment, and allows them to be social without being “social”.

How cool is that?



It happened in Nashville last night. Yeah, I'm bummed I missed it.



You know you're traveling too much when you realize you're going through the Detroit airport SIX TIMES IN A TWO-WEEK PERIOD. DTW is arguably my favorite airport in the country but still, too much.

Laughing quietly to myself

About how Matthew woke me up in the middle of the night talking in his sleep about what a good movie Karate Kid is.