The Weekend That Was

We’d brought a minute of warm temperatures with us to St Paul, and at the end of a long and happy night of singing, I saw no need to change my favorite pair of show heels out for sneakers. Stepping out of the cab at the hotel, a melted pool of snow was the final straw for these little leopard kicks. As I slipped them off in the room, the wet leather simply...exhaled apart.

These babies, scored for seven bucks in one of my favorite Arkansas thrift shops, were with me for four years. They instantly became my favorite pair of dress heels. They went with everything, in my book. There wasn’t a fabric I could throw at them that didn’t work! Florals! Quilts! Kid’s artwork! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve stood onstage in these shoes. Or on red carpets. Hell, they were immortalized in the pages of Vogue.com and the foot pedal on The Today Show.

But their swan song topped them all: a celebratory concert on the main floor of The Lexington, a gorgeous supper club filled with folks there in the name of good food, good music, and good life.

That night, even the upstairs of The Lex was jumping: as I painted my lips, revelers on the other side of the dressing room wall hollered to a live accordion (yes, an accordion) for a 50th anniversary. I tapped my bare feet to “Hey Jude” and sewed up the last few stitches on my pink plaid gown, as the party downstairs enjoyed a menu that, to Rob’s surprise, featured Rude Red in a fantastic array of dishes from the mind of Chef Jack (the man of the hour). Dress finished, I donned my trusty heels and switched gears—from the sounds of a one man band to a three man jazz trio—and we dove once again into Back to Bacharach. After a set of a dozen songs, the band and our loved ones were treated to an elegant midnight supper, our swank 1960s vibe in stark contrast to the table opposite us: bronco riders, fabulously decked out from cowboy boot to hat. I sipped on a glass of ‘14 Camus, courtesy of my new favorite sommelier, and tore happily through a ribeye the size of the Twin Cities, while my shoes played footsie with Rob.

The morning after, I gave my wounded heels a brief wistful glance as I slammed out of the hotel in sneakers, in search of coffee. The temperature had dropped considerably, and I noticed the streets were oddly vacant. Immediately, I adopted the New Yorker vibe: that Don't Mess With Me feel you slip into in a new and desolate city area. The streets were closed, police cars sprinkled here and there. Then shouting began. A gaggle of people threatening to make it physical at a bus stop. Armor up, walk on by. Another block. More shouting. For real? I thought. How is St Paul this mad this early? As the yells grew closer, words began to take shape: YOU. THAT’S RIGHT. YOU.


I passed a bemused cop near one of the sprinkled cars, then spied a few plodding runners moving weakly uphill. This was a marathon, clearly on its last and slowest competitors, and my yelling guy was there in some very frigid temps, the only onlooker still encouraging runners on the last two blocks of the race. I know this because one of his favorite shouts was YOU’VE ONLY GOT TWO MORE BLOCKS.

On the way back, armed with coffee, we caught each other’s appreciative eye, and yelled at each other: YOU ARE AWESOME.


And we both meant it.

That was the mantra of the weekend. Good god, everyone was AWESOME. It was 48 hours of celebrating awesome people! Our quartet of friends all had a chance to shine. Sarah, author and Golden Gloves winner, who, in a beautiful brick and mortar bookstore, taught us the Q train combination in preparation for a reading from her new novel Gravity. Ethan, whom I’m continually astonished to now find myself singing with, whose score to MMDG’s Pepperland had our shocked jaws on the floor. Rob, who was equally shocked to find a bottle of his baby, Rude Red, on every elegant table, and all over the wildly creative menu at The Lexington, a menu from the mind of Chef Jack: the person who was the spark for this marathon weekend of non-stop celebration of EVERYONE—which made perfect sense, him being the kind of guy that you instantly love for his love of EVERYTHING.

Chef Jack, a guy who is fighting a very bad diagnosis, who was celebrated that weekend by a community full of love, Jack, who is lucky to have the person meant for him running right by his side: Kathyrne. Lucky like Ethan, like Sarah, like Rob, like me.

So if the shoes had to go, their last gig was the best sendoff I could imagine for them. They had an excellent and jam packed race. I left them behind at the hotel, like runners shoes that have finally given out, but shoes that won. Of course I knew, no one would do anything more than toss them, there was really no third life for these thrifted shoes—but I felt like some of their good luck might rub off on the person who sent them on their way.

I wrote this post at the beginning of February, when it was cold and dreary but, you know, still fine to get on a plane, or go to a live concert (or even the public library). Reading back, I feel even more fortunate that we had that whirlwind weekend of PEOPLE. Most of whom were very aware of how precious this whole shebang is. We’ve got more concert dates lined up in early April, but, who knows? We’ll take it as it comes. I hope you’re staying safe and smart wherever you are. Whatever you’re doing, I’m over here yelling for you. YOU ARE AWESOME. Turns out most people are.