Some of you have met me in real life, whether at Sunstone, MHA, FAIR or a snacker. But very few of you have ever met my wife, Sandy. That’s largely because, while I find Mormonism endlessly fascinating and love to study and discuss it, Sandy simply doesn’t share that interest. Her passions in life are art and music.
Sandy was a year ahead of me in high school, and I first took note of her through her art. I remember seeing a pointillist drawing of a horse she had done for an art competition, which was hanging in the school library, and I was blown away that a mere high school student could have drawn such a thing. Her artistic talent was simply off the charts. These days she spends most of her time at Harper College, either creating art or working with the school’s art collection.
Her other big passion in life is music. She always liked listening to music, but this bega to amp up when I started attending law school at the University of Illinois. We lived in married student housing, and our first child, Emily, was still a baby. But there were two fateful circumstances that would change her life: our apartment came with free cable, and MTV was just starting. Sandy would often have to get up at night with our daughter, and there wasn’t much else on late at night so she would watch MTV.
It’s hard for me to believe that in those early days of our marriage I had still been to more rock concerts than Sandy had. That would soon change. The turning point was probably when we went to see Big Country at the Huff Gym in Champaign. The immediacy, the energy, the excitement, being that close to the action, and let’s face it, the late Stuart Adamson, all seemed to make something snap in Sandy, and she increasingly became a knowledgeable and well informed fan of alternative stripes of rock music.
When we moved to Chicago, all of a sudden there were shows all the time. At first I would go with her, but after a while I realized that I simply didn’t enjoy it as much as she did. We would stand out in the freezing cold for hours in line because she had to get right in front of the stage; once we got in there, I’d get beer spilled on me, stuff like that. The last straw for me was when we saw Bob Mould, and we were standing right in front of one of the speakers. It was so loud that I couldn’t hear right for three days, and I seriously said a silent prayer that if my hearing would come back, I wouldn’t go to any more rock shows. It did come back, and although I didn’t keep; that vow absolutely I did ratchet back my involvement quite a bit.
For awhile I tried to get her to take her brother with her, because I worried about her going into the City to not always nice areas alone and coming home at 2 or 3 in the a.m. But eventually she became such a pro at it that I stopped worrying. Her argument was that when there was a show there were always lots of people around, and she went to so many that she had gotten to know a lot of those people and they had become her friends.
Sandy is naturally very shy, and all things being equal she would prefer to sit alone in her room working on a project (she’s been that way since she was a girl). So at first she would go to the shows and not really try to interact with the artists at all. I remember when we saw Robyn Hitchcock at a bar in SLC (it seemed like such a coup, because in Chicago there would have been way more people there), she was too shy to talk to him, even though there was ample opportunity. And for a while she volunteered transcribing interviews for Jack Rabid and his Big Takeover, but when she first actually saw him at a record store she was too shy to talk to him. But over time, something magical happened; she somehow came out of her shell in that kind of environment. Maybe it was all the friends she had made, or the confidence that comes from deep knowledge and experience with a given subject, but eventually she somehow actually became friends with some of the artists she followed, which to me is quite a miracle.
In the last few years her concerta attending has slowed down; it’s harder for her to stay up til 2:00 a.m. on a weeknight and still get up for school/work. But even now she picks her spots and sees the shows she really wants to see.
When we first got married, I had no idea my wife was going to morph into a rock chick. It admittedly took some getting used to, but I’m very proud of her. Everyone needs a passion in life, and her chosen passions of art and music, which she pursues at a high level, have added a wonderful spice to our life together.
(Below is Sandy with British musician Chris Difford.)