The Talent Show

My mind has been thinking about Whitney Houston and her daughter all month. It reminded me of a moment in time when one of Whitney Houston’s songs taught me an important life lesson. I decided to share it here. My thoughts continue to be with her family.


When I was twelve, my friends and I got together and decided we were going to perform as a group in the school talent show. After much deliberation, it was decided that we would sing “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles. We practiced at every snack and lunch break.

Now, here is where I need to insert information about my singing voice. All of us girls were in the school choir. It was offered during lunch break on select days. This was before the time when schools actually had to give kids time to eat. The choir was run by this horrible old woman, whose name has long since escaped me. She would walk down the aisles while we were singing and pick on girls. “You,” she would screech, “you’re out!”

The girl would run away in tears never to be seen again.

She was Simon Cowell, before Simon Cowell was Simon Cowell.

One day we were practicing a song for a performance that never did take place. I truly believe she just pretended there would be a recital just to torment us. I noticed she was coming down my row. My stomach churned.

“Who is making that racket?”, she cackled.

Oh, I knew in my heart it was me. I could just tell. My heart started pounding and my hands became sweaty. So, naturally, I stopped singing and began lip syncing. I thought if I stopped, she would just keep going down the aisle. But she didn’t. She had all ready announced that someone was singing poorly. She had to save face. Or maybe she was just itching to ruin a young girl’s day.

She stopped short of me and said to the girl on my left, whose name was Lisa (name changed) and she happened to have a beautiful voice, “It was you! Get out!”.

Poor Lisa. She had thick gorgeous hair down to her waist. She was a nice girl and I have always felt guilty for not being the one kicked out of choir. Don’t feel too sorry for Lisa, though. She later went on to marry the most beautiful boy in high school.

All right, so us girls were breaking out on our own. We were going to sing a song the old woman hadn’t picked. So, we practiced for two weeks. And the day before the big talent show the principal informed us that he would not approve our song. Apparently, because the lyrics said “I watch you when you are sleeping,” it was too much of a sexual risk for the school. So, what were us girls going to do? Well, the teacher happened to have a Whitney Houston tape and thought it would be a fantastic idea for us to sing, “The Greatest Love of All.” Whitney Houston was really big at the time and being out of ideas, we all agreed.

No, wait, that is not what happened.

I agreed.

My friends, being the socially smart kids that they were, backed out. They decided it was way too risky (as in social suicide) to get in front of an auditorium of not only our peers, but EIGHTH GRADERS, and sing a song we had not practiced. Not me, though, I was in it to win it. I had committed to doing the talent show and I was going to do it. I stayed up an extra two hours that night memorizing the lyrics.

Being the talented girl that I am, I can still recite to you every word of that song to this day. Maybe, because I am smart, but probably because the terror ingrained itself into my head.

My mother took me shopping for a new outfit. It was so pretty. It was a kelly green striped shirt with a matching poofy kelly green skirt. I would probably wear the same outfit today, which probably does not bode well for my fashion sense.

I was ready. My hair was sprayed into a glorious fan shape on top of my head. My imitation Keds were gleaming white. All set!

I remember stepping in front of the whole school and the sound of Whitney Houston’s voice blasting out of the speakers. They had handed me a microphone, but all you could hear was Whitney. So there I was. The eighth graders were the kids closest to the front, because they got prime billing. And I could see their pores. And I could see them snickering. I just sang away and no one could hear me. Which would have gone swimmingly, had the teacher not decided it was too much Whitney Houston, and not enough Jenni. And she turned the sound down. My voice screeched across the auditorium, I could hear it ringing back to me, and it wasn’t good. And it was very loud. But I kept going. I finished the song and hurried off the stage.

I was mortified. I was angry at my friends for “making” me go up alone, but I was mostly disappointed with myself. But then something amazing happened. After the talent show, one by one, three lovely eighth grade girls came up to me. “You were so brave.”. “You did great!”. “I love your outfit.” Each kind word was music to my soul. My embarrassment became not quite as painful. I began to feel pride that I had done it. I hadn’t done it well, but I had tried.

Every now and again, I like to remind myself of that seventh grade moment. A moment when I conquered my fears and reached for something. Of course, to this day, if that song comes on the radio, I turn red and immediately change the station. But it wasn’t all bad. Most moments in life aren’t… Thank you Whitney.

Our Trip To Las Vegas


My husband and I were married in Las Vegas fifteen years ago. This is a picture of us on that day. My husband does not know I am sharing it. He. He. It is hard to believe this was us fifteen years ago. My hair was so short. And my husband has a beard now with (cough) grey hairs poking through. It is nice to look back at where we were. It makes me excited about where we are going.

I thought it would be a good idea to head back there for our anniversary. My husband and I both do not like to gamble. We don’t smoke. And, honestly, I am not fond of malls. I’ve never been to a strip club. I was not interested in any of the Circus du Soleil shows. And we would never just hang around a pool without our children (unless it was our own pool). Because of this, Las Vegas is generally not on our list of destinations to go to on our yearly romantic getaways.

But I decided we had not been there in almost nine years and maybe we would try it again.

Spoiler: there were good times and there were bad.

‘Tis life:


I got a fabulous deal on Hotwire for the Wynn Hotel. When we checked in, I mentioned we were there for our fifteenth wedding anniversary. They kindly upgraded us to a higher floor.



The hotel is amazing. Gorgeous. Stunning. It boasts the prettiest lobby I have ever seen. The most amazing scenery. The clientele leans towards the classy side. I have never seen so many beautiful women in one place. And of course, I broke out with the biggest zit on my chin just before we arrived. Truly showing I did not belong there.



The room was beautiful.


The hotel also sent up a sweet gift of chocolate covered strawberries for our anniversary.


And all would have been well.

Better than well.

It would have, should have, could have been amazing.

There was just a slight problem of the air conditioning not working in our room. And not working in the room we were subsequently moved to.

I am a baby when it comes to heat. I cannot sleep in a warm room. This led to me having a meltdown and many sleepless nights.

Hence, I have made the determination I could only stay here in the wintertime, if we came to Las Vegas again. I have to have a working air conditioning system in my hotel room.

In. The. Desert.





The little cafe restaurant at this hotel is the best restaurant we ate at while in Las Vegas.


Oh my gosh! I am a nut for a tuna sandwich. And on a croissant? The biggest croissant I have ever seen?! Made by the chef there?! So good! I ate this three times during our stay (and gained FIVE pounds in four days! Back to reality).


They also had a seafood club that my husband said was excellent.


And lava cake?!


And unlimited mimosas for breakfast for $19!!!!!!!!


And strawberry waffles?! I also saw the most beautiful buttermilk biscuits on a tray on our last day and was bummed I had not tried them (I seriously cannot figure out why I gained five pounds).

I highly recommend this little cafe. We would stay at The Wynn again just for this restaurant.


We ate at Tom Culicchio’s Heritage Steakhouse, because my husband and I are huge fans of Top Chef. The meal here was the most I have ever spent on a dinner. We ordered the cheapest bottle of wine on the menu at $65. The filet mignon steaks were $59 each. Like most nice steakhouses, sides are not included. We did not have appetizers or soup or salad. The steaks were just okay.

However, our waiter was awesome. We loved him. He made the whole experience.

For the bottle of wine, two steaks, two sides, and two coffees our total was over $200 before tip.


But now we know.


We also ate, quite by accident, at Raos in Little Caesar’s. It was fine.

It was pretty. It was romantic. The food was decent. Again, we are really spoiled with the Italian restaurants in our town, so I have high standards. This restaurant is about a seven out of ten for me.

We had the lasagna and prime rib noodle special.

The creme brûlée was not good. That makes me sad. And the reason it got a lower rating.

And so this is why we ate all of our remainder of our meals at Terrace Pointe Cafe at The Wynn. That restaurant is a ten out of ten for me. It is really good. We tried a lot of things and everything was amazing. It was also reasonably priced for Las Vegas.


We went to three shows while we were there. I felt like Goldilocks. One was not good, the other leaning towards bad and one was just right.


My husband and I had never heard of Daniel Tosh before, but we love comedy shows. We like to see one comedy show on every trip we take together (our first date was to a comedy show). We went in to the show with open minds.

Daniel Tosh is? Not a nice guy. I did find a lot of his material offensive. However, some of it was funny. And I did find myself in hysterics at some points during the show. I would not see him again, but I honestly did not mind it. His bit is offending everyone and everything. He claims to get an absurd amount of death threats daily. I believe it. It is the shock factor. Honestly, after The Book of Mormon, this did not faze me.


We saw La Reve at The Wynn, because we were staying there and it was convenient.

Hmmmm. How can I say this?


It wasn’t my favorite?

The theater is gorgeous. The entertainers are so talented. It has all of the components of a good show. A really good show. Except for a story and good music. I think that was what was so upsetting. This could be a fantastic show, but they need to scrap the “plot” and start over with a new script, new choreography and new music.

La Reve means “The Dream” and I felt like it was definitely going to put me to sleep.


Finally, the “just right.” We went and saw Absinthe. This show was amazing. It is raunchy. I mean raunchy. I mean… Okay, you get it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Or taunt you? I guess it depends on what kind of a show you like. If you have a problem with nudity or cursing or profanity, then this show is not for you. I found it so funny. It was in the right context. The cast is wonderfully talented. It is a burlesque circus show in a very small tent. It is located at Caesar’s Palace. It was amazing. Ten out of ten from me.

There are acrobats, two women who do actual burlesque acts complete with a bubble splashing tank, a couple who perform the craziest act on roller skates, a comedian, and a tightrope.


I love a show called, “Teatro ZinZanni” which is a circus-like dinner theater show hosted by a drag queen that performs in Seattle (and used to also perform in San Francisco) in an old beautiful 1920’s circus tent . We have seen that show (it changes seasonally) four times. I was happy to find something similar to our old favorite.

I was captivated from the moment we sat down.

I would come to Las Vegas just to see this show again!


While my husband played in a poker tournament, I went and did some reviews at some of my favorite stores. Part one of my Anthropologie reviews is going up on Sunday. This is the outfit I wore when I went out by myself.


I bought one thing in Las Vegas. It is this summery yellow floral slip that I allowed myself to buy by claiming it was Vegas “underwear.” Yes, I can absolutely justify anything. Yes, this makes my husband a saint.


I wore it out one night with a different slip underneath it and a mustard cardigan over the top. This is because my feet were so swollen and blistered, I could not wear any of the cute dresses I had brought with me on the last night, because none of my high heels would fit on my feet. Thank you guys for telling me to bring comfy shoes. I would never have thought to bring flats otherwise. They were a lifesaver.


Our hotel was at the end of the strip and there was a lot of construction surrounding it. This meant a lot of taxi rides. Which resulted in a lot of overheards. And was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The taxi drivers here were friendlier than any I have ridden with in any other city.


One night when we were coming back to our hotel, a group of men were holding the door for people coming into the hotel. From watching “The Soup” on t.v., I knew immediately who one of the men was. It was the older gentlemen who is on that show “Gigilos.” I cross my heart that this was the same day I had put up my story about being mistaken as an escort and this time I had a male escort holding the door for me. The whole cast was there. I did not speak to them, but I noticed they were very polite to everyone as they made their way through the hotel.

And that was pretty much our trip. We will not be back for a long, long while. It will take my body some time to recuperate from that cigarette smoke. Broken down into ten descriptions:

Hot room

Expensive wine

Tuna croissants

Lots of shows

No sleep


Stuffy nose

Taxi drivers

The house wins


Have you been to Las Vegas? What was I missing? What is your favorite part?

P.S. In yesterday’s comments, Gwen had mused that it would be fun if other bloggers posted their wedding pictures today, too.

And Liana from Frock and Hound sweetly did. And it is gorgeous! Her wedding photo looks like a beautiful scene from a fairy tale. You can see it here, on her post A Look Back.

If you would like to share your wedding photo, please let me know and I will link it up here. Thank you! : )

Cyndi Lauper Concert Part II

*You can view part I here *

The night of the concert was kind of crazy. My husband and I were fighting (we made up on the way to the show. And I cannot for the life of me remember what we were arguing about. I guarantee it was about something stupid, though). My daughter was supposed to babysit my son. But she got invited to a sleepover. She wanted to go. We scrambled. Thankfully, my mom and sister saved the day. With five minutes to spare. It was amazing that it worked out. My son stayed with my family that night. Once again, we were child free.



I wore the Goes Without Saying Dress from Modcloth. (I bought a size 12 UK. I am an 8 US. I love it.). I paired it with my necklace from Simply Livly on Etsy. I got ready in ten minutes.


I had made us romantic reservations at a local steakhouse. The food was absolutely amazing. It always is. It was lovely.


But you can’t take me anywhere.


Save me, creme brûlée!

My husband and I finished dinner.

We were standing in line to get in to the concert. I had purchased us okay seats. They were not the best, but Orchestra seats had been all sold out.

A miracle happened. Or another pure moment in life.

A man approached us and said, “I am not selling my tickets. I am just giving them away. I do not want any money. I have fantastic seats. I bought the tickets for my family and I got the dates mixed up.”

I kept questioning him to make sure he really wanted to part with his tickets for free.

But he insisted. I gave him a huge hug and gladly accepted. And that is how we ended up five rows away from the stage.

Who was this man?

I do not know. But I will think of him for a long time. And I will pay it forward.

I will.

Thank you stranger! You are wonderful. You made my memories better. My night purer. My soul fuller. You gave us your seats, but you also gave us a sense of kindness in the human race. Thank you.

We made it to our seats. They were wonderful. I noticed some girls in the front row. They looked so cool. They had dressed up in eighties gear and seeing them brought me joy. I wanted to take my picture with them, but by the time I had worked up my courage, they had other people wanting to take pictures with them.


And then the show started.

Cyndi Lauper looked amazing. She is so tiny. Her voice has not changed at all. It was fantastic. She sang “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” Tears rolled down my cheeks. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” is one of my favorite movies. Hearing her sing it, brought back so many nostalgic memories of youth. It felt very surreal.


She told a lot of stories. Stories about the music. The past behind the songs. I love stories. She could have talked all day. She told us about being booed, and how someone said to her afterwards:

“If 10,000 people boo you or 10,000 people cheer you. It is the same thing.”

Then she said, “It gave me self confidence.”

That moment struck something in me. Her words.

Thank you Cyndi. You always do that for me!


She finished the concert with a solo performance of “True Colors.” I cried again.

I am so happy and grateful to have been able to go to this show.


On the way out, I saw the girls from the front row. I am very shy in real life. I wanted to tell them I loved their outfits. I did not ask for a picture with them, because at this point, I had cried through three songs. I was a mess.

They were so nice. I asked if they had gotten any good pictures of the show, because I am a huge dork with my camera phone. I do not know how to work it. They kindly texted me them that night. The pictures of Ms. Lauper in this post were provided by Serena. Thank you! Pureness. Kindness. It is real.

Thank you so much Serena (in the cool tutu) and Latres (in the pretty vest). You girls not only looked awesome. You were awesome.

And thank you Ms. Lauper. You did not disappoint me or the teenage girl inside.

Thank you!

Cyndi Lauper Concert Part I


My husband and I recently went to see Cyndi Lauper in concert. It was a wonderful evening. I will highlight the concert tomorrow, but first I wanted to share a letter I wrote to Ms. Lauper. I was never brave enough to mail it. But I wanted to explain that this concert was special. It meant something. To me:

Dear Ms. Lauper,

I recently learned you are going to be performing in our town. Thrilled does not describe the feelings that overcame me when I saw this. I promptly ordered our tickets (for my husband and myself). And now the waiting commences.

I thought I would write you a little note in the meantime. Growing up, I found myself mesmerized by you. You were so cool. You did not care what anyone thought of you. That was so important for a young girl to see.

When I was in my twenties, I would often hear, “Do you know who you look like?”. I always knew what was coming, but humored them with a patient smile, anyway. “Cyndi Lauper,” they would gush. I would thank them, be flattered, and move along. I took it for granted that it would always be so.

I got married very young and had both of my babies by the time I was twenty six. My dreams were put on the back burner and became dusty and forgotten. I unhappily gained seventy five pounds. I ate my hopes away. I lived this way for many years. I never heard I looked like you any more. I never heard I looked like anyone. I hardly felt like a person. More like a wisp moving through the breezes of the years. I was put aside much like my dreams.

I do not know how it happened, but last year, a spark was lit on the burner. Maybe it had always been there and I had not noticed until the dusty remains of my ideals wafted in my face. I decided I had to lose weight. I had to make something of this life. It took me almost a year, but I did it. I lost all of that weight. I am a free woman. Suddenly the world seemed brighter and I was reminded again of the girl I once was.

I am now writing again. Something that was always a passion of mine. I started a blog and although this such a trivial every day occurrence. It means something to me. I am putting myself out there. Just like you taught me. I know I will stumble, but at least I am doing.

While out at the store the other day, someone paused and looked at me. It has taken some time to get used to being visible again. And do you know what they said? They said, “Do you know who you look like?”. And I stared at them. I did not give them my old patient smile. It seemed so surreal. They said, “You look like Cyndi Lauper.” And the world stopped. And I felt like myself again.

So, thank you Cyndi Lauper. It has always come back to you. And I am ever so grateful. Because you know.

I do.

I just wanna.

And it is shining through.

Jennifer *****

* I will discuss the concert in detail tomorrow. The photo above was courtesy of a wonderful woman I met at the concert named Serena. Thank you Serena! You rock!