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My Illuminations Memories

JMK's picture
on November 27, 2010 - 6:17pm

I will treasure for always the weeks surrounding the release of Illuminations. Yes, the weeks were exciting and at times stressful, but what I take away is that during this moment in time people revealed their kindness towards me and towards others and that truly made this time special and memorable.

I ordered the Illuminations Special Edition Package way back on September 28th and waited in anticipation for November 15th to arrive. Then, the big announcement comes beforehand – the Before We Begin Tour. How thrilling it would be to see Josh in a small venue (my brother and sister-in-law had seen him at Radio City a few years ago and raved about the intimate setting). But no Chicago venue for this tour. Not to fear though…I am originally from NY and have family back east so I ordered tickets to the New Haven show. Planning begins: who to take, whose house to stay at, how to get to New Haven from NJ/NY area. The only other Josh Groban fan in my family are the aforementioned brother and sister-in-law and they were going to be out of town; best friend from when I was but a child had other plans and can you believe she would not break them (no longer best friend…just kidding, maybe); twin brother and brother-in-law “we’ll go if you can’t find anyone else.” So nice of them to offer and go out of their way to help me make plans to see Josh – I will never forget their generosity. So, plans made for November 13, New Haven here I come, or so I thought….

Since I was scheduled to be in London the week of November 8th I planned my return trip to Chicago via New York and was going to go to New Haven from there. LESSON LEARNED – DON’T EVER PLAN BUSINESS AND PLEASURE ON THE SAME TRIP! Yes…my London trip was canceled. Arghhh (or is it Ughhh). Whichever way, I was heartbroken. Tried to buy airline tickets last minute, but by that time the ticket prices were way too much for me to afford. So now I had to concede I could not go. With broken heart I prepared to sell my tickets on FOJG (knew that would not be difficult). Then…what’s this…a new Venue added – New York City November 18th. Heart no longer broken, heart is soaring. Get the tickets (2nd row, which was closer than in New Haven), sold the New Haven tickets to lovely lady from FOJG (Lynn). Lynn was so so nice. We talked on the phone, exchanged emails, and Lynn so thoughtful, gave an extra toy in my name at the concert, and gave me updates after the concert. Lynn was another person who did such a nice thing, though she didn’t have to. I will always remember her for that.

Plans made for Town Hall, NYC, going with sister-in-law who is a Josh fan. Very thrilled and excited. Can’t wait for Nov 18th. Then…what’s this…Josh will be in Chicago at Borders signing his CD. OH MY GOD, have to go. Never done this, how does it work, what to do, what to bring, what do I say! Now to make more plans. Call the store, they will be giving out wristbands…I can’t get to Chicago until 9:30 am, have to get the kids off to school first. “Will you still have wristbands at 9:30?” They wouldn’t say. Do I chance it…have to be back by 2:30 for when the kids get home…will I make it. I work in Chicago, but not on Wednesdays. Email a coworker (Mitch) – do you know anyone who wants to go to borders and pick up a wristband for me? No response. Then at 4:30 Mitch says he’ll go by Borders Wednesday morning and if it’s not crowded he’ll get the wristband. MITCH IS A SWEETHEART. HIS WIFE IS ONE LUCK LADY. But, yet I chuckle “If it’s not crowded” hah! But it is the thought that counts. And Mitch is the other person who did such a wonderful thing when he didn’t have to. Yet another memory I will treasure, that will remind me of the kindness of others.

At the same time, some tweet comes in that there is a Meet and Greet with Josh at 93.9 Lite FM. OH MY GOD. That would be better then a signing. Enter contest – you have to say why you want to be at the meet and Greet. BECAUSE I WANT TO MEET THIS MAN WHOSE MUSIC HAS TOUCHED MY SOUL, WHY ELSE DO YOU THINK. OK, calm down, that would be too creepy of a response. So, since Lite FM plays holiday music, I decide to write a little ditty to the tune of O Christmas Tree and enter that into the contest. Here it is for your reading pleasure:

O Lite FM, O Lite FM, Thy Josh contest just thrills me
O Lite FM, O Lite FM, Thy Josh contest just thrills me.
I saw the news on your site, And my world became so bright
O Lite FM, O Lite FM, Thy Josh contest just thrills me

O Lite FM, O Lite FM, Much pleasure thou canst give me
O Lite FM, O Lite FM, Much pleasure thou canst give me
Josh Groban I would love to see. Songs and pictures would bring me glee
O Lite FM, O Lite FM, Much pleasure thou canst give me

O Lite FM, O Lite FM, I ask that you please pick me
O Lite FM, O Lite FM, I ask that you please pick me
Illuminations’ Hidden Away. In person I would love to hear Josh play
O Lite FM, O Lite FM, I ask that you please pick me

I never had so much fun doing something. And if you knew me, this is SOOO out of character. When I showed this to my kids, we laughed so hard. And my kids (2 boys 12 and 9) had to sing this multiple times. They loved it! And that is something that I will always remember and treasure about Illuminations week.

I never heard about the meet and greet; to this day I have no idea what happened with that. Since Josh was at the museum that morning I’m assuming it didn’t happen. Nov 17th, haven’t heard from Mitch about the wristband, it’s close to 9:00 am. Call Mitch. Mitch says it was sooo crowded. I’m bummed but not surprised and I thank him so much for even offering and tell him I didn’t think he could get it so I didn’t really even plan on going into Chicago. Mitch: “Well, do you think you can change your plans because I got the wristband” WHAT? OH MY GOD. I am out the door in 10 minutes flat! No traffic on the highway, get the band – silver (3rd group), go to borders and wait. Signing is between 12 and 1:30. Josh is late and I am stressing out because I have to be home by 2:30. I try to take pictures. I have one shot straight on that I took, but as you will see, his eyes are Wizard Eyes. Would’ve been an awesome picture. But I laugh when I look at it, “Josh Groban, Wizard, casts a spell over the crowd at Borders”. I get closer, hands are shaking (remember, I’ve never done this, it’s so out of character for me). I try to take pictures, but not working so well – wizard eyes, cut off part of his head (you’ll see). Just way too nervous. Getting closer. It’s now 1:30. I’m next. I hand my 2 booklets to an assistant. She looks at one of them and says “What’s this?" I say I want him to sign on the “Hidden Away” song. She says No it’s either the front or the 2nd page. OK, the front. She gives them to another person who hands them to Josh. I hand her my camera to take a picture of me with Josh. I can’t even think. I can’t even talk. I say nice to meet you. I shake his hand. Mouth is dry, legs are trembling. Tell him who to make it out to and spell my name “Jean Marie” and then the 2nd one to Peter and Ethan (my 2 boys). Then I say I’ll see you tomorrow (like we’re old friends). He looks up surprised. I say 2nd row, see you then. He says “Oh, see you then”. Ahh. Rush home to be home by 2:30. I make it home with time to spare. Finally look at the pictures. Oh no, I forgot to unzoom the camera. So there is no real picture of me with Josh - you see my shoulder and part of his face). BUT…look at those close-ups. Those are AWESOME. Thank you to whoever took those. Then I look at the booklets. I see the cover made out to me and signed. 2nd booklet, nothing on the cover, and nothing on the 2nd page. What’s going on? Then I turn to Hidden Away, and it’s signed to my boys on that page. HOW AWESOME. I don’t know how it happened, but my thought is that the guy who handed the booklets to Josh heard me say I wanted that page signed, and gave it to him like that. THANK YOU, THANK YOU. Such a sweet thing to do – I will always remember that.

Off to NYC. My sister-in-law (Grace) and I walk into the Town HALL. HOLY S____. THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME. And it most definitely was. Upset that I couldn’t take pictures, but as it was at the Artist’s request (so they said) I chose to honor that request. The show was phenomenal. I can’t even describe it (as you all know), and will never forget it. I had never heard Changing Colors (don’t ask, but it’s now downloaded and saved forever) and absolutely loved the performance and Play Me was great. EVERYTHING WAS GREAT. More shows like that, in small venues, would be most welcome. When leaving somehow we ended up being very close to the Stage door, and decided to wait. Again, this is something that I’ve never done before. So there we are waiting for just a little while, and Josh comes out. I was thinking I just want a picture with Josh, that’s all I want, and I didn’t have anything he could sign. Breathe, stop, think, I have my ticket. Grace has my camera and she’s taking pictures. So I hold out my ticket and yell out Josh you were Awesome. I think he heard me (I’ll choose to believe he did). And he takes my ticket and signs it. WOW. I couldn’t believe it. Of all the many people holding out things to sign, Josh took my small little ticket stub. I didn’t get a picture with Josh (one day, one day) but the pictures Grace took were great. And I thank you Grace for taking such wonderful pictures. My brother and her went out of there way to make this an awesome experience - picked me up at the airport, stayed at their house, fed me, and dropped me off at the airport, which if you knew, threw a couple of kinks in their schedule, but they made it happen. And that is something I will always remember.

To close, I just want to mention that though every single song on Illuminations is absolutely wonderful, Hidden Away is the song that has touched me deeply. It’s very personal for me because it is something I have struggled with. The line “A secret dreamer that never shows, If no one sees you then nobody knows” gets me every time. And I’m hoping that these words will help me come out of this shell I’ve put myself in, to stop hiding, and to open up myself in the hopes of finding what I’ve been looking for. So thank you for this song, for inspiring me and giving me courage.

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