The Audition Experience

I grew up in the 90’s attending shows at Midland Center for the Arts. I fondly remember being dressed in my Sunday best walking the red carpet to my assigned seat in the auditorium to watch ballets, operas, and plays, to name a few productions. There was a joy in keeping the program or getting signatures from performers following the show.

Fast forward to middle-aged me, moving back to Midland and attending my first theatrical show. I felt that spark of excitement all over again. I kept the program as a keepsake and, to say the least, I was in awe. To say a little more, I wanted to be on that stage. I could do that.

It was very easy to sign up as a volunteer through the Center for the Arts’ website, and that’s how I found out more about the auditioning opportunities. It’s encouraging to be involved in the community, and this is a great hands-on creative outlet. Sign me up!

So, I signed up to audition for “A Christmas Story” the musical. Now, if you look at my resume I have zero theatrical experience. I wish this would have been a red flag to me, but no the show must go on.

I am a creative at heart and growing up with music in my life I can decently read a sheet of music, and sing it. For the audition, I would need to sing 60 seconds of a song similar to that in the musical. 

I really don’t enjoy Christmas music outside of Dec. This should have been another red flag, but I thought it would be more festive if I didn’t sing a holiday tune. I can make The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” sound bright and cheery.

It was three days before the audition, and I started to get nervous. Another thing you may not know about me is that I have stage fright. You would think this would be my biggest red flag, but at this point I was committed to waving them all around. 

I’ve had previous on-stage experience speaking in front of large audiences, and the nerves are real: cold sweats, a hollowed stomach, and forgetting all the words. Since I challenged my fears back then and stuck to the script, I felt that being on stage was still possible. I switched my audition song to boost my confidence, I know this one really well there’s no way I’ll mess this up.

Welp, I messed up. I didn’t hit all the notes, dancing was intense, and I realized I didn’t have the drive. My ambition and talent are not musical, and looking ahead to two months of practice for eight total performances I already felt overwhelmed without a part.

I walked out of the audition with my head up that evening because it’s something I can say that I tried. I also had a fresh perspective on allowing myself to do things outside of my comfort zone. I knew I wouldn’t get a part, and I didn’t. 

There are many talented people in Midland, and I was told this musical had the largest auditioning turn-out as of recent. I give everyone from the kids to adults who auditioned a round of applause, we did it.

I will definitely be back in the audience soon enough to watch the community theater production of “A Christmas Story.” Those who made the show, congratulations, and break a leg lamp!

Buy Tickets through this link. They are selling fast! Performance dates are Dec. 2 through Dec. 11, 2022.


NaNoWriMo 2022

National Novel Writing Month is happening soon, Nov. 2022 will be here in a NaNo second. This is only my second year participating, but I know a little about what to expect.

I will get words written.
I will meet daily word goals.
I will win word races.
I will chat with like-minded writers about getting words in.
I will forget to drink my coffee when it’s hot.
I will need to be reminded to eat.
All because I’m writing.
I will adopt a different mentality about writing.
I will be supported by many writers aiming for the same goal.
All for the words.
At the end of the month,
I will succeed at having more words for my novel.

This novel idea “I’ll Stand Up For You” hit me like a flash in August, and I wrote 12,000 words in 10 days. I experienced words flowing like a river from my fingers—this is a really good idea! I have so much more to write for this story.

Vic has never been a comedian, but for that man she’d agree to do anything. Nick Smith is a popular boy from high school, and twenty years later he is still hot stuff and thinks he’s funny enough to do stand up. Break a leg. Vic’s opening act gets laughs like he wants, but it opens up their chemistry from younger years including all of the combustion. Their history is telling how they won’t end up together, or is almost forty their time?

I’ll Stand Up For You is my NaNoWriMo 2022 project and the goal is 50K words by the end of the month. My main support group is Detroit’s NaNoWriMotown, and I look forward to all the writing fun, competition, and meetups on Discord. Write on!


A Love Letter To Atreyu

I woke up in 2022 and made a decision that “if one of my favorite bands visits the area I will see them.” I am totally ready to rock and excited to say I will be seeing Atreyu this June at the Fillmore in Detroit. Did I say VIP tickets in June, hey!

If I were to quantify all things I love and feel about music, Atreyu tops the list of my favorite bands of all time. Atreyu and I go way back, to 2006, and like a normal relationship we’ve had our ups and downs, but the true love began back then. I was introduced to the band because a cute guy at the gym wore an Atreyu t-shirt. I did my research and found songs like “Bleeding Mascara” and “Ex’s and Oh’s” to be extremely tantalizing to my rock soul. I would add these songs and more by Atreyu to my gym playlist.

I used LimeWire to get my first songs but fell in love with the hard melodies extremely fast, so it was an easy purchase when their next album came out in 2007: Lead Sails and a Paper Anchor. This was the album I would listen to over and over. I found meaning in all the songs. It made sense to me on another level and opened my mind to a lot of other rock music like Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for my Valentine.

My friend and I seriously jammed out to “When Two Become One” on a road trip driving home from college on M-20 in my red Ford Focus. I would play a lot of songs from that album for other people, but nothing tops the first day I met my (now) husband in 2008, because I burned him a copy of that album. We started talking about Atreyu because “Ex’s and Oh’s” appeared on Madden NFL 2007, and since I just saw them at the Taste of Chaos tour, I was super chatty, “Oh my goodness, I love Atreyu let me burn you their latest CD…”

I waited to be in the front row for Atreyu’s set at Rock on the Range 2009 (day 1) and it was the best fangirl chance to be close but it was a horrible place to enjoy the show. I was getting kicked in the head by crowd surfers and I just didn’t realize how the surfers got pushed to the front every time!? I left my prime position and stood out of the surf zone to enjoy the live music. They were singing all my favorite songs!

If I remember correctly, it was hard to wait for the 2009 album Congregation of the Damned to come out on iTunes. When it was released, I rocked out hard to this album, and as I read on Wikipedia today “they found their heavy roots again with this album,” I agree. Do I need to say “Bleeding is a Luxury” please be still my heart with “Coffin Nails.”

If you visit my YouTube Atreyu Playlist today, half of the songs are from that album.

I saw Atreyu perform live next on the Silver Star stage at Rockstar Mayhem 2010 and it was great to hear all my favorite songs! They seriously have the melodies to rock my soul over and over again. As a love song comes to an end, so did our relationship. It looks like a hiatus happened with the band.

When their next album Long Live came out in 2015, I was a new mother and not checking out new rock albums like I was learning to live in a bubble of motherhood.

In Our Wake came out in 2018, when I was very pregnant with our second child. I was listening to throwback r&b jams like I was on a break from rock & roll.

Baptize came out in 2021. I started listening to it recently because “Warrior” featuring Travis Barker is my six year old daughter’s favorite song. I have read that there are new lead vocals with this album, but everything is still Atreyu and stays true to their growth as a band.

As I listen more to the albums, I find myself pulling out an air guitar and banging my head to the beat when it hits me just right. The words have more meaning to me today and the melodies of the instruments come together to create a feeling that can only be described as joy, pain, love and anger all at the same time, and I would do anything “No Matter What” to see them perform again.

Atreyu is truly a band that has the ability to take me on a journey with each song. They have tested time with me, and I feel my heart pumping rock and roll through my veins because I’m listening to Atreyu again. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you soon in Detroit Rock City!


Sip Happens

My name is Jenni, and my alcoholic mother plays a role in how I drink alcohol.

I wish that I could just have nights that are chalked-up as drunken mistakes. But because my mom drank and abused alcohol everyday for the majority of her adult life, I am not able to have “drunken mistakes.” They are considered a problem and when I drink too much, I am faced with the harsh reality of people telling me I “have a problem.”

Even though my mom has been sober for 10 years, I can’t help but think, “not fair, mom. You were the one with a drinking problem, and I watched you do it in your darkest years.” I remember promising myself, “I won’t be like that.”

So I’m not. But there’s an occasional time when I have a drink, that turns to five, that turns to a body shot and dancing on the coyote ugly bar…where I wake up the next day with a harsh hangover: 1) I can’t do that ever again  2) I need to talk with those closest to me, those that I disappointed in my drunken path of destruction from the night before, and 3) I make a decision to take a break from drinking.

Sip Happens.

I can count my drunken mistakes on one hand, maybe two if you include my college years. I’ve been to AA meetings, taken addiction courses, read Adult Children of Alcoholics, and I still feel like my drunken mistakes aren’t over. Another one will happen, so is that the problem? I say, sip happens.

A glass of wine after the kids are asleep is enjoyable. A few drinks out at date night dinner is a treat. I look forward to sipping on something for those special social occasions; and society glorifies drinking with happy hours and wine tastings – because sip happens everywhere.

Unfortunately, as an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA) drinking alcohol can’t just be drinking alcohol for me. It comes with all this baggage. Sipping alcohol affects my social situations, personal interactions, family moments, marriage…it feels like it touches every part of my life.

I read the laundry list, which is 14 traits of an ACOA, and one of the traits that I can strongly identify with is: we became addicted to excitement. As an ACOA, I seek excitement and as an adult, alcohol is consumed in a lot of those exciting life moments. I can say the problem is when I seek excitement, sip happens.

Sip Happened – now it’s time for a break.

After my night of overindulgent-drinking at coyote ugly, I felt ready to drink again within weeks to help take the edge off at home. Mainly because it was 2020 and coronavirus just hit Michigan with a quarantine. I felt ready to day-drink like the rest of my neighbors. But, I made a promise to myself for the season of lent to not consume alcohol and I stuck to my original goal and timeline with little trouble. Based on my experiences, I would recommend the following guidelines for taking a break from alcohol:

  1. Set a goal – with a date – and stick to it!
  2. Keep your support system updated*
  3. Seek literature or meetings through AA or ACOA
  4. In social situations, prepare to drink non-alcoholic beverages that are enjoyable!
  5. Keep a diary – your journey while taking a break is important and a time for reflection.
  6. Give yourself a lot of credit! When your goal is met, what will your reward be?

*YOU need to be the one to call your closest friends and/or your immediate family to tell them how you are doing. Take responsibility and hold yourself accountable for those open communication lines. This is hard to do alone – so I encourage being the leader of that support system for yourself.

My drunken mistakes have turned into a string of lessons learned throughout the years, and the time-off I decide to take from drinking gives me ample time to think about why I do it and why I look forward to sipping again one day.

Note from my Mom: I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m sad that I put you kids through those years.  I wish I could go back, but I can’t…

my response: I wouldn’t be who I am today without you, Mom. I love you.


I Quit FB and I’m Not Going Back

It might sound out of this world, but who do you know that is not on the internet? Take yourself to a time before the internet or if you cannot connect with us older generations, just envision what it would be like.

No smartphone, no tablet, no laptop, no computer, no online gaming, plus many other devices you would not have.

Simplify it even further to just being alone. With nothing but you and yourself. Maybe it would be an opportunity to learn about what you would really do with your time.

What do you learn about yourself when you’re alone?

Before smartphones, the time you spent was truly alone or with those closest around you. Today, in 2022, you are connected to all different kinds of people all over the world at the touch of your smartphone.

Go back to an age where signing up for Facebook required a college email address. That’s when I left Myspace and was signing up for the new social media platform with my Central Michigan University credentials. I was in!

Through FB, I was able to connect with my college classmates and chat virtually outside of the classroom walls. I was also in contact with friends from high school and made new friends along the way through acquaintances. Somehow, the more friends you had–the more connections you acquired.

Fast-forward to 2020 where FB is almost the Meta and a lot of fake news was bogging down my personal newsfeed. It was the beginning of the pandemic, and the mental struggle was happening very early on with quarantines dictating my friendships, work, and overall life.

It was during quarantine number one, I watched a few things on Netflix. I quickly became engulfed in a completely new perspective about social media when I watched The Social Dilemma. It was like a very hot lightbulb exploded in my head and I had to leave social media…I had to cut it out of my diet completely.

I will not go into details about the documentary, only encourage you to watch it. Personally, after I finished watching it, I was looking at all my social media accounts: twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest, etc. Oh my goodness, there are so many.

I decided to keep only one account, and it wasn’t FB. As a creative personality, I chose Instagram, it’s my jam! So, I deleted everything else.

Now, I was alone. I chose to fill my phone time with online writing classes and the dream to write my first book was coming to fruition. I don’t think I would have started writing my book unless I removed all unnecessary phone scrolling time. For me, that was the majority of FB time.

I found my mental health benefit from staying away from FB, and I was very productive with writing my novel. Now that it’s been a few years, I find myself warning new friends that “I’m not on FB” just so they know. I am okay acknowledging that I’m in the minority because I don’t choose to scroll.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to put my feet on the ground again, and keep personal communication with friends and family on a phone call or text basis. There have been times I’ve used FB like a phonebook, so I can get a hold of a connection, but I go back to deleting the app from my phone. I don’t want that scrolling habit to join my day-to-day life, ever again.

Maybe, I’ll write another book.

Disclaimer: you may be reading this because you clicked through FB. I am all about sharing my writing, especially when I have new publications, so my FB page will still show links from my site! Thanks to Meta, it’s easy to share from Instagram and across many social media platforms. Thank you for reading, I appreciate you!


I am Accepting Defeat

November 28, 2021

Dear NanowriMotown,

I was afraid the holiday would steal my word-stride, it would kick me off the wagon and make it much more daunting to meet the 50K winning word count by end of month. I now have two days left with 12,313 words to go. That means I need to get around 6,157 words each day. Already a feat I have not achieved. Period. I don’t know if it’s possible, for me, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Lets go back to 4 days ago, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Every year, my family and I travel to visit our family in Midland. I had Nano-intentions to get words in, but the visiting with family always took priority. Being my first year attempting Nanowrimo, I went into the holiday with the no-plan plan, just wishing on a star that I would not go a single day with zero words.

I went three days with zero words, like an unlucky turkey: three days in a row with zer0 zer0 zer0 words. I can complain with other silly comparisons, but I have no reason to complain. I had a fun Thanksgiving weekend with family.

That is something that cannot be replaced with words. So, I’m trying not to beat myself up. I am still aiming for more words until the end of November, and whatever my end word count may be—I will be extremely proud of myself for GETTING THE FIRST DRAFT OF ‘MANDY & MIA’ WRITTEN! I would not be at 55,589 total WIP words without NanowriMotown.

I hope I am still considered a winner (possibly MVP) within the MotownNano community for actively participating and making so many great writing connections. I have been looking for a regional #writingcommunity like this—I feel like we get each other, and we’re owl crazy.




NaNoWriMo 2021

November is National Novel Writing Month, and I will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2021!

My goal is to write 50K words to complete the first draft of Mandy & Mia. From November 1st to November 30th I will need to write an average 1,667 words a day. It’s not going to be easy, but I will be joined by many other writers aiming for the same goal at the same time. The support is exponential.

I will be entering my NaNoWriMo progress below, for anyone who would like to follow along. Please feel free to check on me and see how it’s going…my progress is also HERE.

November 1, 20212,881
November 2, 20211,671
November 3, 20213,674
November 4, 20211,327
November 5, 20211,951
November 6, 2021830
November 7, 20212,688
November 8, 20212,208
November 9, 20211,743
November 10, 20211,380
November 11, 2021972
November 12, 20211,302
November 13, 20211,523
November 14, 20211,320
November 15, 20211,541
November 16, 20211,505
November 17, 2021784
November 18, 20211,466
November 19, 20211,680
November 20, 20211,202
November 21, 20211,572
November 22, 20211,748
November 23, 2021575
November 24, 2021144
November 25, 20210
November 26, 20210
November 27, 20210
November 28, 2021304
November 29, 20213
November 30, 2021450


I am Accepting Defeat for NanoWriMo 2021

reading, writing

Dear Whitney Cummings,

Dear Whitney Cummings,

I’m reaching out to you because you’re a great writer and I look up to you as a published author. After I finished reading your book, I’m Fine…and other lies, there was a weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that you’re fine, and I had a self-realization that I’m fine too. I literally-laughed-out-loud (LLOL) while reading what you wrote. I couldn’t put it down. I even shipped a copy to my mom so she could read it–I never do that.

When I devoured your words earlier in 2021, I was in a tough spot with my fiction writing, so reading your wild horses* of stories helped me find part of a main character’s voice in my story.

I have since realized that when it comes to writing a book, I am always in a tough spot because I have no friggin’ idea what I’m doing. I feel like I’m making it up as I go along and doing a lot of self-help attempts, but I always come back to you: Whitney Cummings. Like, I can’t get away from you.

  1. You’re the only celebrity I follow on Instagram
  2. You’re hilarious, so I’m officially attending a Touch Me Tour when you’re in MI
  3. One of my main characters has part of your voice, so I hear you talk a lot
  4. Your book is on my TBR list even though I already read it…

Call this an unconventional way to send you a letter (?) but it’s an idea that has grown in my head and I need to explore how I can reach you. As a writer, this is my platform and I will hashtag it, pin it, promote it like crazy on social media. I’ll even text it to you. Call me out of my seat, I will read it on stage.

I also feel the impending doom of rejection, so I’ve talked myself out of penning you this letter a few hundred times. My deterring thoughts include: Whitney’s robot has more followers that I do on Instagram, I have zero credibility next to that.

I’m following my gut, so please gut-check me back. If you are open to it, as a fellow-writer, I’d love to ask you questions about writing, publishing a book, etc. and it would be an honor to interview you in-person as someone I seemingly cannot get away from. I’m in MI, let’s make plans mid-November.


Jenni Laplow

P.S. *“wild horses!” was a phrase said to me on my wedding day back in 2013, haha, I’ve never heard that one before, Grandma Carlisle….


A Road to Finding Mom Friends

There are many different friendships out there. Some people have a lot of friends, some people have few friends, and some people have zero friends. I fall in the category of “few friends” so in my adult life I have thought that’s why I am close with the friends that I do have. But, the friends that I have today, as a working mom in metro-Detroit, are not friends that I have had my whole life…the road to finding mom friends started a very long time ago.

My first best friend was because our houses were kitty-corner from each other. Our parents both moved into their homes on Wyllys Street at the same time in the Summer of 1985. Kathy and I were both born that summer, we went through school together, and we were in the same social group through most of K-12.

After graduation, we parted ways and went to different colleges. Making friends in college was my next milestone to encounter. That takes me back to Central Michigan University in 2006, when I listened to Nelly Furtado and The Ying Yang Twins. I was single and the college mingle, so I never intended to make new friends…but the friends I did make had a lot to do with my overall college experience. I don’t remember the guy I danced with at the club, I remember the girl who drove me home from the club and we stopped to get fast food on the way.

To be honest about my college education, I didn’t meet these friends at the club, we met in class. The few friends I did meet were very close and stayed as close as we could years after graduation, but distance still parted us. Patty is now living her dream in Cali and Shannon is living her dream in Northern MI.

After college I met my husband, Randy. Fast-forward thirteen years to today: Randy and I are married with two beautiful daughters. Before the girls, it was just the two of us, so he was really in the place of a best friend for me.

It’s cliché to say I married my best friend because that isn’t true. It was my mistake ever thinking someone “From Mars” could be my best friend, haha! But really, married with young children I feel like a momma wolf tending to her cubs while daddy wolf is out hunting all day.

As momma wolf, it is part of survival to have a close friend. I need someone to talk to, I need someone to watch my cubs, I need someone to have playdates with regularly, so it makes sense to have a bff who lives close to home.

It’s not easy to make mom friends. Where do you meet other moms? How do you connect with them? I was introduced to other moms through my daughter’s school, it was on the first day of three year preschool when the teacher said, “look next to you because the people beside you will be like family.” I laughed this off at first, but she was right. It wasn’t until four year preschool ended that my relationship with another preschool mom really took off.

Coincidentally, our kids sat next to each other on the first day, and as moms we were standing there next to each other. We did not know that our friendship would grow one day, just like the teacher predicted. We should’ve followed our kid’s examples and became best friends that very first day.

But, I will reiterate, it’s not easy to make mom friends. Most families have boundaries, and all families are different. When you make friends with another mom, you also befriend and gain trust from their family. Making a mom friend doesn’t happen quickly.

Sam and I didn’t know how much we’d vibe as friends until our mommy paths crossed over and over again. We weren’t in each other’s college classes and we definitely didn’t grow up living across the street from each other, but the friends we have both endured up to this point have made us who we are today. The different lives we have both lived up to today have helped us find common ground as mothers.

I encourage you not to look too far for a friend, because you are already close to them.

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