Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thunder Road

Today is Springsteen's 60th birthday? Damn! I'm sitting here listening to a 1976 performance of Thunder Road from You Tube - don't know where it was, but it was around that time that I got to see Bruce live at Auburn University. It was just after Born to Run was released and I'm not sure anyone in the South had heard of this New Jersey guy. But I'm a rocker, so I was going to be there.

It almost didn't happen - the fire marshal, obviously not a rock and roll fan, insisted that not only could there not be festival seating, but there was NO FLOOR SEATING at all! So we're all in the risers, and remember this is the days when everything was hard-wired, and as Bruce is singing the first song he sprinted from the stage, LEAPT into the risers and sang the entire concert from there. It was amazing. He even sat in a girl's lap to sing one song (regrettably not mine).

Fast forward to 1984, I'm working for a congressional campaign in Birmingham, driving around in the campaign van putting up signs. On the radio someone announces that Springsteen is coming and tickets go on sale the next day. This, thank god, was before Ticketmaster took all the fun out of ticket buying. I immediately told my co-campaigner-it was Robert Houston- to take me DIRECTLY down to the BJCC, I am going to camp out. This is also pre-cell phones, remember. So I get down there around 2 p.m. on a Friday and I'm like 20th in line. Robert goes back to HQ and calls my sweetie-pie Phil and gets him to bring me down some clothes and a blanket. I stayed down there the rest of the night. Even got my picture in the paper!

Got great seats on the 13th row, aisle and man I held on to those things like they were precious gems. The concert was great - it was shortly before Christmas and the encore was "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Close to three hours of guitar and sax and that voice and those songs. I think we stood up the whole time and hardly felt it.

I know I'm a writer but I just can't find the words for the experience of Springsteen, whether I'm blasting "Thunder Road" on the car radio or tearing up when I hear "The River" and think of what might have been. They just give me the oomph to get up and do what needs to be done.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

PACT, promises and politics

The Alabama pre-paid college tuition plan apparently isn't what it was sold as. We got "the letter" this week that says the PACT plan is running out of money and the board that runs it just isn't sure what to do. The fact that we were promised that our child's college tuition would be paid (I have the letter, "signed" by Lucy Baxley which tells you how long ago we paid for the plan), apparently is of no use to us now.

An interesting fact: on the PACT home page now, the plan is described as a "529" plan. But that is not what it was when it started. In fact, we got a 529 plan from out of state because Alabama did not have one at the time. Folks, pre-paid college tuition is not the same as a 529 investment plan and the PACT folks are stretching the truth by describing it that way.

Now to inject a little politics into the discussion: Our Republican state Treasurer, as head of the PACT program, apparently drank the Wall Street kool-aid and thought the market would always go up. When I was googling around earlier today, I came upon this newspaper article from the Decatur Daily during the last campaign, when the Democratic candidate sounded the alarm. But no one was listenting.

Segrest seeks PACT changes: State treasurer candidate says tuition program in trouble.

Article from: Decatur Daily (Decatur, AL) Article date:October 17, 2006
COPYRIGHT 2006 The Decatur Daily.
Byline: Bayne Hughes
Oct. 17--State treasurer candidate Steve Segrest believes Alabama's prepaid college tuition programs need a management change. The Montgomery Democrat told THE DAILY editorial board that Republican incumbent Kay Ivey is wrong if she believes the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition fund is in good shape financially and is one of the nation's top prepaid tuition funds. Segrest, a real estate agent and businessman, said Joe Hurley of gives Alabama's PACT a two-star rating, while at least 15 other states' funds get a three-star or better rating.

We bought the PACT contract and finished paying for it more than 10 years ago. We got it because we figured that if we got a regular investment plan, and the market crashed the day before we wanted the money, that we were screwed. Prepaid tuition would guarantee that our children would go to college. They might have to live at home and go to the hometown university, but they would go. Now it looks like the whole thing was premised on a fabrication.

We're not taking our money out. That would be foolish - the amount we put in ten years ago wouldn't cover a year of college. And there's no way we could invest it and get a return that would cover tuition for a child who starts college in 2010. But my faith in the state of Alabama is shaken.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Random Things, the Facebook Game

1. I would rather sweat than shiver.
2. I am a cat person. I like being around creatures that don't need me.
3. I have never been bored with marriage and family.
4. Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to see where the trail goes.
5. I can be quite happy alone.
6. I never wear heels.
7. I rarely wear makeup.
8. I look pretty damn good for my age.
9. I take things too seriously sometimes.
10. I am fascinated with quantum physics and the concept that energy and matter are the same thing.
11. I am not very romantic.
12. Office work can be tedious but I do love a regular paycheck.
13. I love to travel. Especially to places I have never been before.
14. I will eat pizza beyond the point of reason.
14. Katherine Hepburn is my fashion icon.
15. I envy my nephew Josh and his off-the-grid lifestyle.
16. I am a politics junkie of the left-wing variety.
17. The only person who is allowed to call me by my husband's last name is my dad.
18. I'd rather be hiking.
19. I see money as a tool, not a possession.
20. I like putting things in order. I just wish I had more time to do it.
21. If I could do whatever I wanted, I would have a studio and make things.
22. My name is on a bronze plaque on a library in Birmingham.
23. Don't mess with my kids.
24. A vine ripe tomato still warm from the sun is nature's perfect food.
25. Gratitude is powerful.