Step 26 - Block Party: Episode 12 - Cassandra, Brook & Halley

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Jerusha's Update

Read Jerusha's original story here: https://www.mysocalledwhatever.com/episodes/step-8-block-party-episode-3  Learn more about the Sense-ation Gala for MEEI http://www.masseyeandear.org/sense-ation

At six months old, young Foster was diagnosed with a tumor in his left eye. The unfortunate diagnosis was the need to remove his eye completely. But with this terrible news came tremendous compassion from both his doctor and nurse at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston, MA

Cassandra's Story

Hey Nikki and Brooke, 

Here is my story... 

My story is not one of a great Meet and Greet of myself and the 5 amazing men we all know as NKOTB. To be honest, I've never met them. My only interaction with any of them was like and a reply from Donnie on Twiiter (which made my week) and hold Jon’s hand for about 10 second’s during the show, but nothing more than that. I never saw them in concert before May 20th, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, but I'll get to that later. 

I was first introduced to amazingness of NKOTB in 1989 when I was 5 years old, so I’m a Baby BH! It was all thanks to a neighbor girl named Kelly. She was a HUGE NKOTB fan and, back in those days, technology was not a thing, so hanging out at friends houses was what we did all day. She was like a big sister to me and I looked up to her and loved everything she did, which meant a whole lot of love for NKOTB. I had the sleeping bag, which I hope is still at my mom’s, and I probably wore out the Hangin Tough Live VHS I had pretty quick. I remember watching it for the first time with Kelly. I was sitting there thinking Joey and those blue eyes were just the cutest things my 5 year old eyes had ever seen, when the beginning of “I’ll Be Loving You Forever” started. Jordan was handed his fedora, the rest of the boys were sitting on bar stools, Jordan was facing the back of the stage, and as soon as the piano started and Jordan turned around with his hand on the fedora, I was a Jordan girl for life. The look in his eyes, the rat tail (LOL), his lips when he sang the word “broken”… I was his. He was smooth, suave, passionate, and just stole my little heart. 

I wish I could that I listened to them sing to me in my poster covered room, holding on to my Jordan doll, or my pillow and dreamed little dreams of meeting them someday. I wish I could say my mom took me to see them in concert and I just had the best time ever, but that just wasn’t my reality. To my honest, my younger years, pre-teen years, and early teen years were filled with physical/mental/emotional abuse, divorce, moving from house to house, and moving from school to school. I had to grow up pretty quickly and I wasn’t able to really be a kid until my mom met my “now” dad. By that time it was 1998-1999 and I was into Hanson and *NSync. 

Fast forward about 10ish years to 2008. I was in college and sitting in a computer lab looking at the latest entertainment news updates before class and I remember reading the rumor of a New Kids on the Block reunion. I hadn’t listened to them in years, but I still remembered every lyric to every album except Face the Music (which so ironically just happened to produce my favorite song “If You Go Away”). As most college students, fresh out of college graduates, and "first time looking for a real job” college graduates, I was broker than broke. When I saw they were coming Houston, I would work so hard to save and go, but something always happened and I was never able to make it. Plus, I did not have any BH friends, so I was alone with my little secret. Even after I got married in 2013, I still couldn’t afford to see them, especially on a teacher salary. Well, fast forward again to 2016, November 16th, 2016 to be exact. That was the morning the guys announced The Total Package Tour for 2017. I immediately got on Facebook and replied YES to going to the Houston show on a Facebook event that had been created and shared it looking for someone to go with me. I had done the same thing for the NKOTBSB Tour in 2011-2012, got a couple of responses, but then adulting had to happen and I couldn’t make the tour (still kicking myself for missing that one, but I digress). So, back to November 2016. My friend Nicole replied that she wanted to go so I said I would get our tickets when they went on sale. So, as my husband drove us to Oklahoma City that Saturday for Thanksgiving, I purchased 2 $50 tickets from the passenger seat of the truck to see New Kids on the Block in Houston May 20th. I was flipping out to say the least when the purchase went through. To finally be in the same building with them was a childhood dream that was FINALLY going to become reality. Unfortunately, my sweet friend ended up having to be on bedrest starting a month before the concert due to her pregnancy and I was tasked to finding someone else to go. I lured my best friend in with the promise of a beer and Paula Abdul (she wasn’t an NKOTB fan). 

In the days leading up to the show the guy’s music was all I was listening to trying, to make sure I remembered every lyric (I did) and trying hard to contain the excitement that was boiling inside (I couldn’t). Before I go on let me go back a little and try to explain why this night was going to mean so much to me. Besides living through a nightmare childhood and finally getting to live out a childhood dream, I had been living in an adult hell since January of 2017. I married a wonderful man in 2013. This wonderful man joined the Army and fought for our country serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2004, well before we met. He did 1 tour came home and worked to re-aclimate himself into civilian life while struggling with undiagnosed PTSD. After we were married he was finally and officially diagnosed with PTSD. In January 2017 he was triggered by unknown circumstances and event which led to what I call a “PTSD attack” and he became a different person than the one I married. When something like this had happened in the past he would come down from his attack and would be good a few days later, but this time he wasn’t coming down. We tried counseling, talking, but nothing was working. I won’t go into details, but this was the hardest thing I have ever had to endure in my life. The reason I feel this is such an important part of the story is because of what the month of May brought me, an escape from everything I was dealing with. I had so many amazing things lined up each weekend in May and this was my time to reconnect all the parts of me and try to be happy for myself. 

The day of the show I was flipping out! Trying to find the PERFECT outfit, curling my hair (I mean, “every time we hear the curtain call, see the girls with the curls in the hair, the buttons and the pins and the loud fanfare. Tonight, tonight”), taking selfies, documenting each moment as I got ready. (Pictures attached). When we finally got in line at the Toyota Center, I was floored at how many Blockheads were there and by the most amazing creations they all had on. To be honest I felt underdressed. After we had our bags checked, the lady scanned my phone, looked at our seats, and told us to go talk to the guy standing about 5 feet to her left. He asked me where our seats were, I told him in the 400’s, and he asked if we wanted an upgrade. I knew this couldn’t be too sketch since we were in the arena, so I asked what we had to do. “Yes or no”, he asked. Of course I said yes! He took my tickets and gave me tickets in section 120 Row 6! I had no idea where these seats were I just knew they were closer than the ones I had purchased. After buying my merch and a drink, we headed to our seats. As we walked to our section I found out that we were in a season ticket holder section and was a club section! I went to the bathroom, changed into my NKOTB shirt, and was ready to check out our new seats. My anticipation built as we walked down the stairs to our seats, getting closer and closer to the stage. We found our row, walked to our seats, and as I looked at where the stage was I about lost my mind! Well… I think I actually did. Tears started flowing… I was 6 rows up from the floor, and the stage was RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME! I jumped, I screamed, I sat down and just cried. How close was I going to be to the guys? I had no clue, but all I could do was cry. When Boyz II Men came on, I lost my mind realizing how close the guys were going to be to me. I am reliving it as I type this. I was going to be able to see their faces without zooming in with my phone. Once the show started I forgot about everything. All the struggle of the last 5 months, the cruel words, the stress, the uncertain place of my marriage, the pain, the eggs shells I walked on, and just lived in the most perfect moment of living out a childhood dream. I was sitting in upgraded seats, watching NKOTB bring it on stage with every pelvic thrust, screaming my head off, singing at the top of my lungs, and crying my eyes out. During “Tonight” I was on Jordan and Jon’s side of the stage. I have a picture of Jordan looking at me while singing (my favorite of the tour), and Jon climbed up to my row, danced, sang, and held my hand while trying not to fall! I could not believe what was happening. After the show, I just sat down and wept. Tears of joy, tears of release. My friend at one point looked at me and swore I was happier on my wedding day, but she wasn’t sure at that moment. LOL. I had my phone out for some of the show, but I had it down because that moment, that 2 hour moment was worth everything to it. To just live in it with thousand’s of BH sister’s standing and singing with me. 

That night changed my life. Those boys changed my life that night. After that show, and thanks to the sweetest Blockhead, I ended up being blessed beyond measure to travel to Boston and see them rock out Fenway in the rain. That show was a “once in a lifetime” moment. From then rain, to standing on the turf at Fenway Park, to the confetti, to my sign that I ended up having to throw away before getting to the show, it was a night I will never forget. But the intimacy of the Houston show has and will always hold such a special place in my heart. They brought me back to life. They brought my smile back. They brought the light back into my life. They brought my happy back. That was the best Saturday night of my life (it’s OK… I was married on a Sunday!). I have no words to describe how I truly felt after that show. One day I hope I can let them know how much each of them touched my heart this summer. Each of them gave me such special memories: Jordan’s constant Facebook Lives that had me laughing and loving him so hard I cried. Joe’s #Namaste and his “fun, love, and freedom!”. Donnie’s unbelievable ability to make you feel like he is singing and performing to and just for you in an arena full of people, Danny’s workout and Remember Betty updates (I’m so glad he still does them!), and getting to hold Jon’s hand even if it was only 10 seconds, it was the best! 

I wish my story had great pictures with the guys to go with it, but maybe next year. You never know what those boys have cooking in those minds of theirs. They know how to love us so well and I am forever #thankful for that #BHLove. 


Brook's Story

Hey Ladies,

I love the podcast and felt compelled to share my story. My New Kids experience is not one of chance meetings or face to face interactions but it is special to me nonetheless.

It all started in 1988 when I was 5 years old. I had older cousins who were seriously crushing on the New Kids and I quickly picked my favorite: Jonathan Knight. It was kindergarten love at first sight. I was too young to really get caught up in the hysteria...at first. As the years went by, my love for the group only grew stronger and my collection of Tiger Beat magazines grew larger. I begged my mom to play their cassettes in the car and owned my very own Jonathan Doll and life size Jonathan poster. I even collected almost every New Kids trading card and still have them to this day. My dream was to go to a concert, but I was never able to.

As the years went by, after they broke up, my love for them never faded. I read everything I could get my hands on about their lives after the New Kids and followed Joey and Jordan's solo careers. Fast forward to 2008 and the news of the reunion. I took the day off work so that I could watch them on the Today Show in real time. I was so excited. But, yet again, life got in the way and I wasn't able to attend a concert. Until this year, that is.

When I heard the announcement about the Total Package Tour, I knew it was now or never. Myself and 3 friends from work bought tickets for the Tulsa show which is 3 hours from where we live. We anxiously awaited for the day to come and I couldn't believe I was finally going to see them in person.

Days before concert was to take place, the terrorist attack in Manchester occurred. I was so heartbroken for the people affected by that but also anxious to attend a concert so soon after. I have anxiety and that increased it 10 fold. I started thinking that maybe I should stay home and not chance it. But then I realized that I had been waiting for this for almost 30 years. I had to go. I had to push myself. And I'm so glad I did.

Our seats weren't great, but we were there and that's what mattered. I sang my heart out the entire time and couldn't believe I was in the same (very large!) room with them. I was transported back to being 8 years old reading those Tiger Beat magazines. It was pure happiness and innocence and one of the best nights of my life. I still love Jonathan but also became a Donnie girl that night. We all said that next time we were going to be sitting on those bar stools and that there definitely would be a next time.

Thank you for making the podcast. It's so nice to know there are people out there that get it: being able to step out of your adult life for one night and forget all of your worries and experience happiness and excitement without a care in the world.

Brook from Arkansas


Halley's Story

1997 that was 20 years ago (think about that) it was also the year my life changed due a debut Album from The Backstreet Boys. The boys hold a special place in my heart they were my first loves especially Nick (I’m a sucker for those blue eyes) I truly thought i was going to marry him. I was 11 when I first heard quit playing games with my heart that song and video had me from go. 

2 years later my love for the boys just grew and grew. I remember when Millennium hit stores like it was yesterday I was watching it on TRL and thinking to myself who shuts down times square (The Backstreet boys apparently). Millennium happens to be my favorite album because it has my number 1 song (The One). I continued to follow them through Black and Blue. then my world was rocked Backstreet announced Aj would be entering Rehab again I remember watching this on TRL. The Boys went on Hiatus, Nsync entered my life to fill the Backstreet boys hole (thank you Justin).

So around the same time When Millennium hit stores I remember watching TRL countdown after school one day, and Joey McIntyre’s “I love you came to late” was on. instantly i fell for Joey’s Blue eyes and Voice so of course i read up on Joey and learned he was part of NKOTB, I always in the back of my mind kinda Knew about them but it wasn’t until I love you came to late was a hit that NKOTB entered the forefront for me.

11 years later Blue Bloods and Donnie Wahlberg enter my life and that led me to really start listening to NKOTB I said to myself if it wasn’t for NKOTB there would be no Backstreet so i started listening as respect and a thank you, I just didn’t think I would fall in love with them. (as much I loved Backstreet) I started following Donnie on Twitter (if you don’t I highly Recommend it) true heart of gold this guy.  

I can say this without fail that I can fit these 2 groups in my heart and love them all equally (okay maybe I love Nick & Joey a little bit more) again those baby blues.

I’m a proud Backstreet solider (equal to a Block head) and Block Head even though i found them later in life.

Thank you Brooke and Nikki for this podcast it truly is the best :)