Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, my friends

It's Christmas Eve. For most people, the kids are sleep, the presents are wrapped, the egg is nogged, the dishes are done. For some of us, the party is not quite over. For others, we sit and await for our relatives to arrive, yet, for others, they will be celebrating Christmas alone.

I'm a member of Clay Nation and I want to reflect back on what this year has wrought and what Clay Aiken has given me.

In March, I earned a promotion. I've wanted to leave my previous position for about two years, but you had to have a securities license to do my old job and I was the only person with a license so I was kind of stuck. I liked my old job but I was bored after over eight years. After talking with my Supervisor, I received a chance to interview for another position and I got the job.

My new job has been challenging but I love it. It's not what I thought as a teen I'd be doing when I was grown, but it's a good job with lots of responsibility.

Why am I telling you this? It has to do with Clay. Although I missed him like crazy the first half of the year, his absence gave me a breather to concentrate on my new job. You see, when Clay is in the spotlight, or when he is tourng, it seems that my life takes a backseat to the joy, the excitement, and the happiness I feel when interacting with the Clay Nation.

I will forever be grateful to Clay Aiken for giving me riches beyond what I ever thought I would have. Riches of happiness and friendship, riches of a community born on February 28, 2003, after seeing this skinny kid, all arms and elbows, stand before the judges on American Idol and sing these 19 words:

Take time to tell me
You really care
And we'll share tomorrow
Baby, I'll always love you

How can one predict when a moment would change a life? Especially such an inauspicious moment as a nineteen word audition? The past almost four years have taught me to be a better person. Yes, that's a very trite saying, in fact, doesn't it come from 'Dirty Dancing'? But sometimes the most simplictic sayings are the most prophetcetical <---- I just made that word up. Go, me!

So, how could a pop singer make me a better person? It was only partly Clay's fault. During and after American Idol, hundreds of thousands of Clay's fans went hunting for him on the internet and, if they were very lucky, they found the Clay message boards. I was a computer neophyte, only using it for e-mails and to surf because I had just purchased my first home and I wanted to re-do the entire property, and where better to get decorating and landscaping tips than HGTV?

So I searched for those message boards and in April, 2003, I found them and I started to make friends. On the computer. Who'da thunk it? I still remember some of those early fans that welcomed me to this new kind of neighborhood. Laynie, my very first, and still, internet friend, Podsoda, who embraced me with open arms. Liska and Browneyes from the 'Look what Love has Done' organization, the very first independent fund-raising arm of, eventually, the BAF. YouStopRightNow, who's warm personality takes everyone in, and others too numerous to mention.

There were posters on the boards who scared me because they were so wicked smart and snarky, and would debate an issue, so you'd better be prepared to defend your convictions. Clawme, dee_ayy, Tagalong, Clay4me, Recgirl, JessieFaerie, Candi, Pink, LadyofLorien, Jules, Christie, NorthernKitten, Horse, Lessa, I know I'm forgetting many, but to my fellow ClayWhores, I celebrate and honor you, for without you, I wouldn't have discovered talents that lay dormant.

Who would have guessed that I had a little bit of talent for writing. I never wrote anything in my life except for some music. Words? And a theme? Not me. But by partaking on one of the smaller message boards, I learned how to write, how to express my thoughts in a coherent and rational way, how to debate and defend, and most importantly, how to read others' points of view. To consider them, then either accept or reject them. This small board taught me that it's OK to change my position if I find an arguement than makes more sense then mine. Thank you.

To Clay Aiken. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being you. Warm, loving, kind. For opening your heart to children the world over; founding The Bubel/Aiken foundation, treating people the same, no matter what their disability, inside or out; for being the kind of person who inspires this devotion that your fans feel for you; for being the catalyst that brought us all together, from all over the world, in friendship and community.

For this holiday season and the rest of your life, I wish you joy. I hope you find joy in your family, your career, your friends, your fans, and God willing, joy with your future family. I celebrate you and I thank you for the time of my life. Merry Christmas, Clay.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Respect.... thy name is Clay Aiken

I, along with thousands of other Clay fans, witnessed something this weekend that I'll never forget. I witnessed a courage that one doesn't see much of anymore. I witnessed committment, I witnessed a professional musician doing his job regardless of circumstances.

I witnessed Clay Aiken sing with vertigo.

ver·ti·go: [vur-ti-goh]
–noun, plural ver·ti·goes, ver·tig·i·nes
1. Pathology. a dizzying sensation of tilting within stable surroundings or of being in tilting or spinning surroundings.

2. a reeling sensation; a feeling that you are about to fall

3. a disordered state which is associated with various disorders (as of the inner ear) and in which the individual or the individual's surroundings seem to whirl dizzily

A singer uses many different tools in producing a sound, including the sinus cavities, vocal chords, throat, and ears, to get the resonating tones they need to vocalize. To be successful, all these things need to work in unison. When one of the aforementioned is unavailable, singing is much, much more difficult, out-of-kilter, if you will.

Clay has vertigo. It started at the Long Island show. How he managed to not only perform, but to put on a show that was every bit as entertaining as his previous shows during this tour is beyond me. Most performers would have cancelled. Most performers would have put themselves before their audience and fans. Most performers wouldn't even THINK of going on stage, much less try to give as good as, if not better than, the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.

Not Clay Aiken.

Clay chose to go on that night. Clay chose to NOT cancel. Clay chose to give everything he had to entertain his fans. Not only did he choose to do that on Thursday evening in Long Island, but also on Friday night at West Point, and Saturday night in Red Bank. What I witnessed on Friday and Saturday night left me humbled.

Humbled by Clays courage, his tenacity, his professionalism, his integrity, his complete disregard of his health as to not disappoint his fans. I witnessed a tour-de-force of a performance where Clay definitely struggled with his vertigo, his vision, his balance. Where he would hold on to either the mic stand or the stool with a death grip that turned his knuckles white. Yet he didn't falter, he didn't give up, he didn't quit. In fact, those performances are every bit as good as any other performance he has ever given.

In Long Island, Clay sang what is his most difficult song to date, 'All is Well'. He is visually struggling with his vertigo, death grip on the stool, yet this performance is so powerful that it defies description.

The Clay Aiken that I've followed for the past almost four years has, with the past several performances, changed how I look at him. I see in him a courage that I always knew was there, but this is taking it to a whole new level. I've always looked at Clay through the eyes of love, yeah, corny, I know, but I love him. Now, I see him with a respect that is so profound and deep, it defies description. I've tried to put into words in this blog how I feel and I fear I have fallen short of the mark, but all I can do is try. That's what Clay Aiken does every day of his life. How can I do any less?

Thanks to the following Clack Gatherers who took these amazing photos: MnM, ScrpKym, Invisible926.

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