Blog Archives

Be in the Moment

Apologies for being gone for much of 2016. September reintroduced me to reading and writing with an academic twist as part of my journey of earning my master’s degree in communication at Northwestern University this coming August. I continue to love my job and I also loyally attend those guitar lessons.

Enjoying my school break, this past Wednesday, I went to the annual food drive and holiday concert at Guitar Works.  This socially responsible store (homage to my strategic communication class) puts together an hour-long performance featuring the talented owner, Terry Straker, and store employees, in conjunction with the guests who donate food for Evanston’s homeless. Ambassadors to Earth, the four-piece instrumental house band, hosts.

I just missed the show in 2014 because I was new to the guitar. As time rolled on and I looked at the photos from that show, I realized I had missed seeing Dan, my guitar teacher of now almost two years, perform “Hava Nagila” on the accordion.  This year, I was so enthralled that I didn’t get to capture EVERYONE who played in photos which bums me out because they are all awesome.


Holiday Levity with store manager, Steve, strumming some strings!

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Eat the Watermelon and Sing


The Month of Lauren had some amazing moments and I thank everyone who thought of me on the big day. I am very lucky! The month also had two notable losses. 

One of them was the untimely demise of a 53-year-old former colleague of mine. He was always very supportive of me, good-natured and funny. I haven’t seen him in four years but it seems like yesterday. “I’m on Team Lauren,” he would say as he greeted me with a big smile and exuded positivity.

The other loss was my guitar teacher’s 82-year-old mom who was in the hospital for quite a few weeks before dying a few days after Mother’s Day.  I had never met her but opted to show support by attending her memorial and get a mental snapshot of the person who had brought this encouraging and witty wordsmith, my guitar teacher, into the world.

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Getting in Touch with my Family Tree

Every now and then, I feel a pull from part of my family tree that cries, “Uff Da”!  So, it makes perfect sense that I would want to see Garrison Keillor at Ravinia, an outdoor music theatre in the northern suburbs of Chicago. 

Keillor is a great story-teller and can carry a tune. He is perfect for the radio as he speaks in his deep, down-to-earth tone that makes one think of the Common Loon, Minnesota’s state bird.  The bird, crazy, yet Read the rest of this entry

Houston, We Have a Problem

I found out Whitney Houston died because a Facebook friend announced it in his status. I found out that Michael Jackson died the same way and had the same reaction. “What?!”  With Whitney, I saw a sentiment on Facebook and Twitter – all saying the same thing – WHAT A WASTE. 

I was very sad  that she died yesterday. She was only 48 and had so much talent that was ruined due to the abuse she put on her body. I was mostly disappointed that she lost her voice, which contributed to her losing her life. 

I can easily remember listening to her when she first broke out in the business, back in the 80s.  She exuded innocence and had this amazing voice, full of soul and beautiful high notes. I wasn’t a big fan of the dance songs but the lyrics of her slow songs were so wonderful and she told each story so well when she sang them. 

It’s unfortunate when people lose their way.  It’s a gift when people bounce back into balance.  However with celebrities, these days, it seems so rare that it actually happens.  Look at Demi Moore, what is happening with her now?! Will Dr. Deepak Chopra be able to help her?

The pressure of fame and losing the gifts one once had must be excruciating.  After she hit her prime, she went down a tainted path.  Despite that, she was an amazing singer and that is how I will remember Whitney Houston and thank her for sharing her voice that was taken way too soon.

That Time I Met Nick Carter and the Backstreet Boys

Earlier this week, Nick Carter known as a “Backstreet Boy”, lost his 25-year-old sister.  The first headline I read was written a bit awkwardly and I thought that Nick had died.  I was stunned as I met him in the summer of 2008. When I realized it was his sister who died and not Nick, I was still shocked to hear of this tragedy and my condolences go out to his family.

In August of 2008, my dad asked me to go with him to Ravinia, a beautiful venue located in a north shore suburb of  Chicago that offers concerts during the summer. When he told me that we would be seeing Backstreet Boys, I was surprised that my dad wanted to go. My dad had connections,  so we got backstage passes to meet them before the show.

This pass has been on my bag since I met BSB on 8/24/08.

By the time BSB had made their mark in music, I was out of college but it was still very exciting to watch the chaos of the excited girls who were out of their minds with delight to be around BSB. I had never seen so many people at Ravinia before.  Weeping girls. All of these girls were very envious of me as I sauntered my way backstage.  Read the rest of this entry

My Favorite French Tenor

I went to high school on Chicago’s North Shore with Matt Polenzani.  He is a tenor, from New York, who just wrapped up a starring role in “The Tales of Hoffmann” at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.  As part of the promotion for that opera, he sang the National Anthem at the Bears-Packer game in late September. 

If you are looking to understand what this opera is about, here is a great interpretation.  If you are looking for great photos of the opera, take a look here

I have been to only one other opera. However, I grew up going to musicals with my mom, once a year, on my birthday. I would then buy the sheet music and learn the songs on the piano. 

Last night, with opera glasses in hand, and my mom and my “Auntie Val”,  we went to see his final performance. 

As I was fidgeting with my opera binoculars, I heard “that voice”.  I zoomed in on my former classmate from way back when and he took over the stage with a powerful and beautiful voice backed up with evident passion and drama. His eyes, even from Row J in the second upper balcony, showed his vulnerability and commitment to his role. Read the rest of this entry

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