Each year, I face certain daunting tasks once we return from the 80’s Cruise: getting all of the pics and videos posted to share with my friends on Facebook; getting unpacked (I still have our two largest suitcases to go and we have been home for ten days now); and doing a written wrap-up for a blog for my website. My blogs were due to my webmaster last week. He said to me yesterday, “You have lots to say,” and it’s true, I really do – it’s just hard to get summarize it all into a written format. For one magical week each year, I get to go back in time, to a time that personified “the good life” to me – not that my real life was so great then, because it wasn’t – but I had such hopes and dreams and music was everything to me. It inspired me. It carried me along day by day in ways that I can’t even begin to put into words. The 80’s truly define my spirit. So, to get the opportunity to lose myself in that decade for a week every year is golden to me.

My favorite shows this year were Cutting Crew and Howard Jones (both on the first night), Kim Wilde, Midge Ure, and, even though I didn’t know any of their songs, China Crisis. Happiest “discoveries” were China Crisis and – Midge Ure. Okay, don’t hit me for saying Midge Ure. I knew the name. I knew that he was 50% of the foundation for Band-Aid becoming a reality. (Carol Hart, if you happen to be reading this, after hearing his Behind the Music interview, I felt like I needed to go back and make additions to my ninth grade English research paper about Band-Aid, because I did not give him his proper dues!) Bret Michaels definitely won the contest for highest energy show!

Most down-to-earth artist? Tough one! Cutting Crew made themselves very accessible, but so did several others. We attended a special Breast Cancer Breakfast with Kim Wilde and she was so phenomenal. We were all told ahead of these special ticketed events that they were not to be considered/treated as Meet and Greets, not to ask for autographs or pics with the celebrities. She graciously went table to table talking with each of us, signing picture postcards of herself, posing for pics that her publicist took so people didn’t have to take selfies. She even signed my new notebook for me when I told her that I’m a writer – she said, “I’m a bit of a writer myself,” and wrote “Keep those words coming! <3 Kim Wilde” on the first page. Talk about a little boost of inspiration! Howard Jones was really nice in the signing line, too – I told him that “All I Want” has always been my favorite of all of his songs; he looked up at me and said, “Aw, yeah? We really ought to put that one back into shows, oughtn’t we?” His signing line was so long and spilled over into another event, but he honored those of us who had stood in line so long, which was really generous and appreciated. I almost missed getting Cutting Crew to sign my album because we left so we could get in line for Howard Jones’ show on the first night. The day of their Behind the Music interview, there was another event coming in, so they couldn’t sign. Nick, the lead singer, said they were trying to put together a signing for later in the week, to watch the daily planner. It never developed. I found one last opportunity – they were playing for the special Alumni concert. One problem – we were only juniors this year. And they were checking names and status at the door. I saw Nick as he was rushing in and asked if they would be signing at the end, and he said yes. I didn’t try to crash; I listened to the concert through closed doors. I played by the rules. The lady at the door told me I was wasting my time, that they wouldn’t be signing at the end. I told her, if it was okay, I’d stand there and take my chances, if she’d let me go in when it was over. During the last song, she looked at me and said, “Go in, and good luck, I hope it works out.” Well, it did. And I not only got it signed, but I got to tell them how much “One for the Mockingbird” means to me, that it had even inspired a poem that I wrote a few years ago, which then got me a kiss on the cheek from Nick. Gareth, the guitarist, has a niece who spells her name the same way I spell mine. I was on Cloud 9 the rest of the evening! Perseverance, my friends!

Biggest Disappointment? I try hard to keep positive on the cruise, but we had event tickets for Funky Cold Cocktails with Tone Loc. We arrived at the event at 5 p.m. At 5:10, it was announced that there had been some sort of a personal or family emergency and he had disembarked the ship there in Ensenada. Trying to make the most of it, we went on to try to catch the Smithereens’ show. We found out after the cruise, Tone Loc re-boarded before we left Ensenada at 6:30 that evening. He left in LA when everyone else got off the ship. I’m not sure what happened. But it doesn’t seem like it could have been much of an emergency if he got back on the boat about ninety minutes later and stayed on until we got home the next morning. So, I didn’t get to see Tone Loc on the cruise at all. My other biggest disappointment was in me – we dressed up and looked so nice for the Purple Prom this year (we’ve never done prom on the cruise before and Russ has never been to any prom at all), and by the time we got there, my foot was hurting so bad, I asked if we could just skip dancing and go back to the room. He’ll probably never ask me again…

I love the Behind the Music interviews and all of them that I saw this year were awesome – Kim Wilde and her brother Ricky, Cutting Crew, Midge Ure (truly fascinating man who has been a part of so many bands and done so many amazing projects – plus, that Scottish accent), Living Colour (who are always phenomenal in interviews because they’re wacky, comical, and run all over each other in all the best ways)… But, even though I didn’t care for hos stage show (which Russ loved, being a huge Prince fan), Morris Day. I didn’t realize that he hadn’t been able to legally use the name Morris Day & The Time until recently, when he won the right to do so in court from Prince’s estate – that seemed so wrong to me, that they couldn’t even claim their name from a dead man. Especially one who had changed his name to a symbol during his lifetime because of the way his record label was treating him.

One afternoon, we also sat in a theater onboard and watched the 40th anniversary edition of The Outsiders. I cried like a baby, and only felt old at the beginning, then I got lost in the magic of all that the movie is. (Susan Whittaker, if you read this, I thought of you because I first encountered the book in your eighth grade English class and it truly changed my life forever.) Russ had never seen it, not that he remembered, anyway, so it was fun to share that with him.

We also renewed our vows onboard, the same evening we went to the Prom. We got a certificate and everything. It was actually a really nice event (same room where I met Cutting Crew and where we watched The Outsiders), complete with champagne and wedding cake. Our pictures from that evening turned out so well. We bought several and I’m in the process of getting frames to hang them up at home. They were the first professional photos we’ve had done since our wedding twenty-one years ago!

We left out of Los Angeles and had three port stops we’ve never been to before. LA was experiencing record low temps and it was actually warmer back home in Tennessee than it was there the day we arrived. There was snow on the mountains. It snowed on the tour right before ours at Warner Brothers Studios. Many thanks to my sweetheart of a Fraternity Brother, Erick Long, who lives in LA County with his husband Christopher. Erick created a list of things for us to consider doing while we were there. Thanks to him, we did the Warner Brothers Tour our first day, and also got tickets to see a live taping of Jimmy Kimmel on our second day. Additionally, on the second day, we walked and walked the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I found the Duran Duran Star, actually located on Vine, in front of Capitol records. My feet were killing me from all the walking that day and I had an asthma attack the day before walking to get something to eat before our tour at Warner Brothers. (Leave it to me, right?!?) Loved getting to see the church from The Waltons set at Warner Brothers, as well as all the Friends and Big Bang stuff. The Friends cast definitely had a much comfier sofa to sit on that the Big Bang cast, lol! And I laughed like crazy during Jimmy Kimmel – it was cool because it aired back home before we saw it in California, and my buddy Kandy could hear me laughing and messaged me on Messenger. We both got a kick out of that!

The day we came back into LA from the cruise, Erick picked us up and toured us around until time to go to the airport later that night. It was a rainy, miserable day outside, so we mostly saw where things were. We did, however, get to go to the LA County Fire Museum, where the actual 51 Squad and Engine from the 70’s Emergency! set reside. I watch that show every day on Cozi, and Russ has mad respect for it because it really did create the platform for paramedics in our country. Then we had our first In N Out Burger experience for a quick lunch. Erick showed us sights on Rodeo Drive and throughout Beverly Hills. We had drinks and an early dinner at West in the Hotel Angeleno in Culver City (at least I think that’s where we were by then). We sat and caught up on old times, like we’d never missed a beat. That’s what I love about having gone to a college like Emory & Henry. The friends you make there are forever your friends; you can go years without seeing each other and just pick right up where you left off. Many thanks to Erick for toting us around and his hospitality on all levels. Love you forever, Super SAK!

ocean and rocks