Left My Comfort Zone

So I ended my last part of the story with a line about leaving my comfort zone. Now, before I go too far, this story and all the stories I tell here are going to zig and zag all over the place. I don’t work or think linearly. It’s R.A.M. (Random Access Memory) for me…FIFO (First I, First Out) has long since passed me by. Besides it would get boring just listing things in the order they happened. Every event has a back story, either short or long.

Back to the story…

In 1994, I met a complete stranger that I had only corresponded with via mail to go to Fan Fair. We were both Marty Stuart fan club members and we were attending the fan club party. We went and had our pictures made with a bunch of different artists at the Fairgrounds where Fan Fair was held at the time. I plan on posting all those photos someday.

The point of this back story is that I never strayed far from home without my family, without my Mom and Dad. It was just me and my brother on our own in Tennessee for a bout a week. We saw the sights and he did whatever he did while I stood in line to meet some of my favorite country stars. Hours and hours to meet a few of them, some not so long. I stood in line for around 10 hours to meet Vince Gill and he was so sweet when I met him.

I had obviously met Marty, I met Travis Tritt (wearing my Marty Stuart shirt I might add), and Bill Anderson among others. I was all alone and far from home, which for me was way out of my comfort zone. Let me take you back a little bit further to qualify why me being alone or away from home was such a big deal for painfully shy me.

I graduated high school in 1989. I chose to go to Beaver College (now Arcadia University) which was just a couple of miles from my house. At 18, I had never been away from home without my whole family (Mom, Dad, two brothers), spare Girl Scout camp a couple of times and of course the typical sleepovers with friends and relatives. Never out of state or anything like that. For orientation at college, we spent a couple of nights in the the dorms. I was five minutes from home. I had a roommate, so I was okay until the last day. She left early for whatever reason and I was left in the dorm room alone. Homesickness set in and I had my parents come bring me home. (I don’t drive, I took driver’s ed, but never learned to drive and go get my license.) I was homesick five minutes from my house. That’s how shy I was I guess, but I loved being at home where I grew up.

Fast forward to college and making new friends and I took my first vacation as an adult, without my family, with my girlfriends from college. We only went to (New) Jersey, so I really wasn’t far from home yet. I was okay because I was with friends and my mind was occupied.

I graduated from college in 1993 with a Bachelor’s Degree in (now antiquated) computer science. I got a job shortly thereafter doing data entry for a company then called Dart Mart Inc. Fast forward back to June of 1994 and being in Nashville with my brother and my pen pal. I fell in love with Nashville and my brother and I came back in 1995 to again see Marty Stuart. We didn’t go to Fan Fair, but we did do a vacation package and saw a couple of cool shows, the Opry, etc.  There was still an Opryland theme park at this point.

When I fell in love with everything country music, I taped hours and hours of TNN (The Nashville Network), which brings me back to my story of how I got to work for Bret Michaels. It sometimes took me weeks and months to catch up on the 5 hours a day of TNN Country Mornings, TNN Country News and the various other programs I would record. I collected a lot of video tapes. Many of which I still have, assuming the mice haven’t eaten them. (I will be getting rid of them shortly, saving a few for songs and artists that you just don’t see digitally at all.)

So in late 1995, I am scanning through video tapes to see if there is any Marty and so forth and there is Bret Michaels on my TNN Country News. As I said earlier, I was a fan, but not a diehard from day one kind of fan. But he caught my attention and I somewhere, still have that tape. I remember telling my brother about it and all that. I was bound and determined to find out more information. I am sure that’s where magazines like Metal Edge came back into my world.

I read a lot of Metal Edge magazines in high school, and the other rock music magazines, too. Somewhere during college I got into country and didn’t really listen to much of anything else. I do remember needing a Skid Row fix every now and again, but until 1995, I hadn’t listened all that much. I joined the Bret Michaels Fan Club sometime in 1996. I bet I still have the envelope somewhere, I know I have the newsletters. I spent a lot of money on eBay collecting all the Poison stuff I didn’t have. I do mean a lot of money. I collected and traded bootleg audio cassettes and compilation videos of television stuff and so forth.

Unlike when I was in high school, rock music wasn’t as prevalent on MTV as it used to be. Enter the AOL Message Boards and a whole new world out on the World Wide Web. I talked about all things Poison with people I didn’t know. It really was a whole new world.

When they announce the very first Bret Michaels solo show in 1997, I talked my brother in to going with me. We drove. I had never ever been on a plane before. We took a tiny little Ford Festiva with no air conditioning in the summer from just outside of Philly all the way to Los Angeles, California. We drove through the desert in August in a car with no air conditioning. I really don’t do well in the heat and I was miserable for that part of the trek. All in all, we got to see part of the United States we had yet to see. That kind of makes up for the desert part of it. Lots of pictures of our travels.

I remember wishing Rikki Rockett a happy birthday before I left wither via email or on the message boards because we would be driving on his birthday. (Remember kids, no cell phones, no smart phones, none of that stuff. Mobile phones were available, but I didn’t have one, if  I did it didn’t have text messaging that’s for sure.) I have tons of pictures from the road trip, the sights in and around Los Angeles and the trip home. I took three pictures of the concert and one with Bret. That’s it. My photos weren’t even that good, except for the one of me and Bret.

A little trivia for ya, if you are one of the lucky ones that own the “A Letter From Death Row Live” or “Billboard Live” video tapes. There was a point in the show when some guy gets up on stage and then stage dives off the stage into the crowd. The crowd divided and let  him hit the ground. He hit my shoulder on the way down. Not hard, just kind of brushed it, but that’s where I was.

Oh and I didn’t tell ya, this was my first rock concert. Prior to this show, I had only ever been to country concerts. My first concert ever was Joe Diffie and Boy Howdy at the Keswick Theatre around the corner from my house. These days I take lots of photos and yes I do still enjoy the show when I take photos virtually the whole time. I know it is  crazy to some, but I can sing along and take photos at the same time. Especially when I have to hold my camera over my head because I can’t see the show I am listening to. But this was my first concert and I was enjoying myself so I didn’t take a lot of photos.

Well I am going to wrap up this part of the story by saying I made a lot of friends on that trip. One of them being Janna Elias, who would be another reason I am where I am. She was working that show in 1997, helping out a fellow named Riki Valentine who worked for Bret. (She’ll have to tell you her story.) Anyway, later in 1997 she contacted people asking if they wanted to help with the fan club. I was one of those people and I became an area rep for the fan club.

Until the next time….keep listening to the music that makes you happy. :)

So where did I leave off with my story???

(Originally posted on my Facebook on July 15, 2012.)

So where did I leave off with my story???

1997 and AOL Message Boards, I believe. Message boards were the Facebook and Twitter of their day. You were as anonymous as you wanted to be. More so than today, you could truly ‘hide’ behind you’re keyboard. No one had to know anymore about you than you wanted them to know.

It was around that time, maybe back in 1996, that I became PoisonCris. At home, in the real world, I was Christine or Chrissy, but online I was PoisonCris. That became my name for awhile. 😉 You ask the Poison guys and they know who PoisonCris is…it took a little while for my real name to be as known, but I didn’t care.

The message boards were fun. We’d share information, trade stories, photos, and get to know one another. ICQ chats (uh-oh — I hear it every time I think of ICQ) were another way of getting to know one another. Rikki would even pop in every now and again. Oh the trouble we’d get into in those chats. If you were there, you know, if you weren’t – not gonna tell ya — what happens in ICQ stays in ICQ. HA HA

I joined the Bret Michaels Fan Club in 1996 sometime. Not long after learning that while I was in Nashville being a tourist, seeing Marty Stuart and all that fun stuff, Bret Michaels was in Nashville at about the same time filming his movie “A Letter From Death Row.”

Before I continue on, let me say this – I love music, I listen to all kinds of music and each genre has given me a few favorites that I really latch on to. I will say, unapologetically, that I was not the big Poison fan back in the day. Yes, I am from PA, but I am from the right side of the state (;P) just outside of Philly. My favorite hard rock bands were Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Skid Row and Motley Crue. (Yes and Warrant, too.) Don’t get me wrong, I had a few Poison posters on my wall, too. But I was all about the Crue during those particular years. In the 1990s is was almost all about the country music. Marty Stuart, was and still is one of my most favorite artists across all genres of music.

I just never considered myself the diehard Poison fan prior to 1996. I liked them, I had a tape or CD or two, but I had everything Motley or Def Leppard, etc. Plus the Cinderella guys were from Philly, gotta support local music — they could go far if given all the right opportunities and work their arses off (just like my boys in First Things First – they’re gonna be a big deal someday soon).

For whatever reason, when I saw Bret Michaels on TNN Country News in late 1995 as I was catching up on the countless hours of TNN I used to tape (I had a job, couldn’t watch TV all day, even though I wanted to) I was hooked. I had to have everything Poison and Bret Michaels. I can’t explain it, other than he is a master of charisma. He has a genuine charm, down home, treat you like family way about him that you don’t expect from the big rock stars.

I joined his fan club and joined the AOL Message Boards and came out of my shell a little bit. Now, for the record, I have and always will credit Marty Stuart for bringing me out of my shell and comfort zone. When I joined his fan club in the early 1990s, I signed up for the pen pal section in the newsletter. I met a few people that way — there was no Internet like we have now kiddies, it was all snail mail back in those days. We traded tapes and photos and wrote back and forth about Marty. In 1994, I went to Fan Fair for the first time with my brother and we met up with one of my Pen Pals. Matthew went off and did his thing and I stood in line for countless hours to meet Vince Gill, Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, among others.

I actually took a vacation and met up with ‘strangers’ that I had something in common with. Me, shy and quiet, picked on by everyone for being shy and quiet, left my comfort zone.

….and this is getting long, so stay tuned for more another time… (I’m good at cliff hangers huh?)

August 14, 1997 is a milestone in my world and the world I work in.

(Originally posted on my Facebook page July 12, 2012.)
August 14, 1997 is a milestone in my world and the world I work in. :) In just about a month that was 15 years ago. It was my first trip to the left coast and one of the biggest stops of a journey that led me to right where I am today.

To get the story started, in 1997 I worked at DMI Sports doing data entry, maintaining the computers and the like. A fun place to work. DMI Sports is a sporting goods company – darts, billiards and table games to be specific.

I was a music fan, used to go on the message boards every night to discuss the bands and music I liked. Specifically this band named Poison. In those days there was no Facebook. We had the AOL message boards and ICQ. (uh-oh – you heard it in your head didn’t you, that little error sound from ICQ)

Rikki Rockett was on the message boards and occasionally in the chats. We talked about lots of things and became friends with people from around the world.