Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Comings and The Goings

I just read a book about housecleaning. Apparently, my Mopping Day issues are getting more pronounced... eh hem...

So. Housecleaning. According to the author, the most important thing a person can do to keep the energy of a home happy and healthy is to declare a kind of war upon clutter. This is so important, the first half of the book is, in one way or another, dedicated to it.

As she defines it, clutter is anything you don't absolutely love, absolutely use (often) or wouldn't pack and take with you were you to move. Using this as the guideline, go through the house and throw out or give away anything that doesn't fit in one of those three categories.

Interesting concept. I decided to start with the closet that has (among other things) all of our photos. Photo albums, photo boxes, plastic bins stuffed with those envelopes of prints. LOTS of pictures here. This also seemed to be the right time to go through and label who's who in each shot.

This was, for the most part, a very pleasant walk down my very own Memory Lane. However...

Unless you've lived a life free of any conflict, arguments, love, break ups, children or relationships...or if you did, but never photographed any of it...every once in a while, as you whip through piles, a picture will pop out and smack you.

Remember her? Remember him? God, it's been forever since we've spoken! I think that particular reaction is the old timer's version of "finding" unexpected people on Facebook. For me, over 90% of these pop ups were pleasant (at least). Every once in a while...

It hurts. Maybe because that person was an ass ("how the hell did that idiot end up in so many of my pictures?!?"). Maybe because the shot reminds you of a time you miss...a happier, simpler time. Maybe it represents mistakes you've made, or people you've hurt...people who've hurt you.

Mostly, for me, the ones that hurt were of The Goings.

I believe that people come into and go out of our lives for reasons. I used to call it the Towards Zero Effect. Towards Zero is a novel by Agatha Christie - its entire premise is how people dramatically affect reality every day, all the time - and only realize it occasionally. It may be something obvious, like stopping someone just as s/he was about to step out in front of a moving car (saving that person's life). Or, more often, it can be the kind of thing that you never even realize, like being in plain sight of someone who would have done something regrettable if thought unseen. That second one is tricky, since recognition of it relies on that person admitting to the act that would have been committed, but for your presence. However, I have no doubt it exists. The possibilities are endless, and I won't bore you with them.

Mostly, though, I think the Towards Zero Effect addresses The Comings and The Goings.
These are relationships and or situations that Come into your life and last only for as long as it takes them to complete their function - at which point they Go. A boyfriend that helps you realize that it's okay to be silly, or a girlfriend who introduces you to your future wife. Me, I once had a crazy, sadistic teacher who hated men (though went out of her way to get a job teaching at an all boys' school). She despised me for not hating them with her and tortured me every day for being, and I quote her words, "young and beautiful." It was a miserable time - but I learned some very important things from her. What's more, once the lessons were learned, she disappeared from my life - never to be seen or heard from again. As a Coming, she was insufferable. As a Going, I felt that pleasure that's not really pleasure - just the relief of the cessation of pain.

But there weren't any pictures of her.

I have moved around a lot in my life and have, as a result, a very scattered circle of friends. As computer savvy as I assure you I am not, Facebook, even in all of its Big Brother wonder, has been a God send for me. It has been a way of reclaiming (at least temporarily) many of the Goings that I actually miss.

Sometimes it's a genuine reboot of a friendship (yay!). More often, we exchange Life Summary Paragraphs...and that's it. How many of us have a bunch of those Facebook friends? Reconnect, swap summaries, go back to not speaking? Still, it's nice to have them there.

But then there are the other Goings. The ones whose departures were noted for the screaming, the crying, the insults, the unforgivable acts of back stabbing or just plain old asshole-y-ness. The ones that hurt.

And...since the reason it hurt was because the Relationship That Was was one based on actual affection, there are plenty of pictures.

The common sense way to deal with those pics is a simple heave-ho to the trashcan we go. Very cathartic, and I highly recommend it.

But what about the related pictures? Not of the Goings, but of their kids? The innocent bystanders who spent so much time with my children that the group's dynamic was less like friends and more like family? The ones that, despite mutual affection, I'll probably never see again, but in those pictures? There doesn't seem to be a common sense approach to that one.

But note that I said "probably". It is certainly possible that I could see them again. What about the last type of Goings? The ones who didn't leave by choice?

"Luminous beings are we. Not this crude matter." - Yoda

Obviously, I'm keeping the pictures of the loved ones who've passed. That's not the question. This one is about addressing the loss.

Death is, of course, just as natural a part of Life as Birth. Just how similar, though? We're all familiar with the description of near death experiences - going through a dark tunnel, into light, surrounded by loved ones... That does sound an awful lot like birth to me.

I read somewhere that when a baby is born, Heaven mourns for the loss of that soul. Not lost in the sense of being damned, or misguided...but lost to them. That soul has left their company to have a new existence in a new form. They know this; academically, they're happy for the soul. The separation still hurts.

On the other side, we're in the delivery room, waiting anxiously and excitedly for that soul to hurry up and arrive (having twice been the landlady of that dark tunnel, I'm here to tell you that "anxious" and "excited" don't even come CLOSE to how ready I was for that transition to be completed).

Buddhism teaches: a) all learning involves some degree of suffering and b) this is the only world where suffering exists. We come to this life to learn, to progress (and to repeat some grades if you want to throw in some reincarnation theory). When we're done learning, we're done suffering. When we've completed both, it's time to leave the world of suffering. And that's when we go.

This is all great in theory. It makes sense to me...academically, cognitively, I believe it, embrace it. But when it happens for someone you love, all of the cerebral logic falls way too short.

On April 9, 2011, Heaven got one of it's angels back. As sure as I am of the welcome party she received, as happy as I am for her that her suffering has ended...

The separation still hurts.

I can only assume that Faith is knowing that God appreciates who He's got there and that He had a damn good reason for calling her back so ridiculously early...

Because this is a Going that makes no sense to me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Part 4: So I Became a Wingman and She Had My Back

I turned around, and yes indeed, there he was. 

Oooookay.  Not to worry, I'm not going to go into some gooey girly gab fest about how dreamy he've seen the movie?  Yeah, he's that good looking in person.  His hair's a little lighter (which makes that whole tattooing scene in ASD even funnier) - but that's it. 

Now, I'm not one to stare...but my logic went like this:

He's beautiful.  He chose a career that involves people looking at him.  He chose to attend a party where he was (clearly) going to be the center of attention.  He signed up for this.

Still, staring is rude.  I can honestly say that it felt more like watching someone who's on a stage.  Sure, you're not looking away...but not staring.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Eventually, when he was pulled onto stage, he talked about how he feels uncomfortable/shy in crowds.  This only impressed me more since, like the rest of the guys, he was very friendly, enthusiastic about signing autographs, posing for pictures, even joking and talking with fans who lingered past their turns.  He, like the rest of them, is a class act.

I watched him work his way through the dozens of people pressing in on him.  There were no velvet ropes, bouncers blocking for him or anything.  The guy's just hanging in the middle of a crowd.  A very, very excited crowd.

And then a strange thing happened.  He looked up and his eyes swept the room.  He saw me and stopped.  Now, when I say "we locked eyes" I don't mean to imply there was anything romantic or sexy about this.  There wasn't.  It would have been more polite, I know, to look away...but see above (re: my logic).  So I kept looking back at him. I know it should have felt awkward...but it didn't.  Ten solid seconds of eye contact doesn't sound like a lot, but it is.  Try it now.  Look at something for ten seconds.  That's a long time, huh?

Again, not romantic or sexy.  If anything, I think it's because I wasn't jumping, screaming, waving - I think I may have just seemed to him to be the only quiet spot in the room (ironic, I know).  It just felt friendly.  So I gave a quirky little smile and half shrugged in reference to the craziness in the room.  He broke into a wide grin...looked for a couple more seconds, then went back to signing, posing, talking, laughing.

There was a part of me that decided that that was worth more than an autograph...or a picture...

Yeah, but I still wanted them.

About a half an hour goes by...there is one person ahead of me...that person is all done...

And the producer comes up behind him, apologizes to the rest of us, and pulls him onstage.

I won't say he wasn't entertaining on stage.  Or that I didn't enjoy Troy's speech.  Or laugh with everyone when Bob Marley did his routine (in real life, Det. Greenly is stand up comic Bob Marley).  Ty Stone is a hell of a performer (he and his band do several of the songs in ASD).  It was all fantastic. 

But I was more than a little frustrated.  I'm sure it sounds petty, but at that point, I was disappointed enough that I was in danger of being sad over the whole situation - it's one thing never to meet someone...quite another to almost meet the person and have it snatched out from under you.

Well, nothing is going to come from standing in one spot.  I start walking around, and I spot Elle.  She's talking to none other than Rocco.  What's even more interesting is watching these girls (aged about 21-22) come up to him, giggling, with shots.  As Elle backed off (as she later told me "I figured he'd spent a lot of time with me, I should back off"), he turned, did the shot with the girls, thanked them, gave them back the glass...and turned back to continue his conversation with Elle.

Working under the assumption that she'd probably kill me if I interrupted them, I set off to find Norman. 

Elle and I finally hook back up.  She's on Cloud 9 and I'm busy trying not to feel ungrateful.  Having scoped the main floor of the club quite thoroughly, we decided to go to the lobby.  Daniel DeSanto is at the bar, surrounded by girls buying him drinks.  It would have been nice to meet him (etc.), but he looked awfully occupied.

I asked a couple of the women at the bar if anyone had seen Norman.

"Yeah, he's right outside..."  (Wile E. Coyote cloud of dust in place of Elle and me)

There he is.  Smoking a cigarette and speaking with a few folks.  No pushing, lines, nothing.  We walk over, wait our turn to speak, and I ask him if he'd sign (the Christmas presents I'd bought).  He couldn't have been nicer.

ME:  Would you mind taking a picture with me?
NORMAN:  Sure!!!

Elle's got the camera, he goes to put his arm around my shoulder...


PRODUCER:  Sorry, he has to go.
ME:  (my head whipping in his direction) SERIOUSLY? 

I didn't yell it, I didn't even use what has been coined my Bitch Mommy Voice.  Considering how I felt about the matter, I think he got off pretty easily.  This time he and I made eye contact.  Weighing his options, he said:

"Fine, you can walk in with us."

With Elle hot on my heels, camera at the ready, we were off.

I'm not a tall woman. However, my lack of height comes from my lack of torso, not legs.  The producer did not count on this as he tried to lose me.  Elle is not as tall as I am, and in heels.  That woman has moves.

Now, if Norman had been trying to get away from me, I'd have backed off.  In reality, Norman (whose left arm was in the producer's Death Grip) was being marched very quickly down the hall, the whole time trying to talk to me over his right shoulder. 

The producer's first mistake was misjudging the length of my legs.  His second one was thinking he'd be able to move the star of the movie quickly and unobtrusively through the Big. Crowded. Club. 

They hit the throng and some girls latch onto Norman.  I waited for them to finish, and there was my shot.  We posed for the camera, shot taken...(finally)...

And the moment of truth. 

Up to this point (from the moment I decided to attend the party to this second) I'd been worried, terrified that, if I did get to speak to him, I'd stick my foot in my mouth.  Hard.  I skipped over anything that could be construed as flirting (apparently, I'm a fairly good girl after all).  Everything I'd come up with thus far had either been what every single other person has probably said to him, or stupid.  But now?

What's that I'm under?  Oh, it would be a gun.  He could see that I was trying to say something, so he leaned in to listen.

So I said the first thing that came to mind.  It was heartfelt, sure, but it didn't seem like much. He looked at me again...eye contact again... and with a really big smile said an earnest "Thank you!"

Then he was gone (this time his feet left the floor a bit when the producer yanked him away).

I turned to Elle, and said, "We can go - my night's not going to get any better than it is now."  In order to get back to our car, we had to leave the party well before the trains stopped running.  She said okay and then asked:

"What did you say to him?" 

Crap.  I thought it went pretty well.  "Why?"

"Well, he was listening, then leaned in to listen closer, then he did this double take, then this huge smile..."

Okay, so I didn't screw it up.

We walked toward the door...and all of the sudden, I'm alone...I turn around...

Elle is about ten feet behind me, talking with Rocco.  Who am I to rush her?  Besides, I now had something other than my phone for him to sign.  At a pause in the conversation, I ask him if he'd mind signing one more thing for me.  Ever the gentleman, we walk over to the bar (so he'd have something to lean on).  While he was doing this, I had an SBI (Scathingly Brilliant Idea).

I leaned toward him, and said "Excuse me?"
ROCCO: (turning) Yes?
ME:  My girl over there, she has the most enormous crush on you. Buuuut, she's also wicked shy.  Never in a million years would she ask, but she'd love it if you'd sign her chest.  Do you mind?"
ROCCO: Sure!  (glances over his shoulder) Which one?
(I specified)
 ROCCO:  (looks at me) She's pretty hot...

Elle maintains that, crush or no, she is also a good girl after all, since, when he walked over and moved her shirt, for that split second before she realized what, exactly, he was doing, she did freak out a little.  But only for a second.

After that, she turned to me and said: "NOW we can leave!"

We kept a moderate amount of mature, level-headedness at the party.  Once on the train, we became two teenage girls coming home from the Beatles playing Shea Stadium.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Part 3: Rocco, T. Duffy and Bob, Oh My!!!

It's taken a while to get back to this (I site creepy neighbors and creepier writer's block.  This has nothing, NOTHING I say, to do with procrastination). 

I started this blog because I function well in a forum for monologuing (and because my sister and the OY department bullied me). I like to think that I can at least entertain (if not help) others by sharing amusing (and hopefully useful) observations and stories.  One of the things that kept me away from finishing this little series was the concern that these entries would only be interesting to me...and a few others.  Was I falling into the BBT?  The Boring Blog Trap?  Sigh.

Oral tradition is alive and well in my life.  I come from a story telling family; over the years, I consistently make friends with story telling (or listening) people.  However, unlike the other stories that get told  (and retold, and retold) in my circles of friends, this one is only between Elle and me.  While we never get tired of reliving this night, we seldom tell it anymore.  Because it's something that happened to just us, it's the kind of story that's fun for everyone else to hear...once.  Maaaaybe twice. 

Since it doesn't get retold, it is in danger of losing details.  Even as I prepared for this entry, as Elle and I got all excited about it, we discovered that she and I remembered (and forgot) different things about that night. 

In conclusion:  the reason I wanted to share this story is that I want a record of it. 

So.  After this (and it's conclusion) I promise not to make too many entries of this kind.  That having been said...

As I mentioned before, we had no desire whatsoever to drive a car in Boston.  Therefore, I GPSed our way to Alewife parking garage/train station while Elle watched All Saints Day on the shotgun side.  It wasn't the best way to see it, but the sequel's villain would be at the party, and most (if not all) of the people attending will have seen it.  Avoiding Spoiler Poisoning 101. 

We parked, realized how suburbanite we've become (ticket purchasing has changed a LOT from the mid-90s, pre-everyone-using-plastic-for-everything days), amused an information desk person with our naivete, bought train tickets and got our happy asses on the train. 

And this is the point where we started slipping down the slope.  The slope of age.  By the time we arrived at the club on Commonwealth Avenue, we were twitching and laughing and, literally, wide eyed as two teenagers.  Folks who know me personally can attest I don't often go the the Giddy Place - but there I was.

"And to make a long story short (too late!) one by one (we) all arrived."  - Tim Curry, as Wadsworth, Clue

Arrived, got inside, whatever.

Breezing through impromptu Christmas shopping at the concert kiosk-esque counter and making small talk with other woman (who apparently follows them around the country) casually mentioned that David Della Rocco's in the lobby.  I'd like to pretend that we absorbed that information with cool detachment and politely found a way to saunter out to the lobby.

But we didn't.  Again, teenage girls.  To our credit, though we practically Harry Potter Apparated to the lobby, no squeally, squeaky, "omigodomigodomigod there he is!" nonsense came from us.

In the movies, Rocco is funny, loud and spends most of his time looking unkempt, unshowered and sweaty.  In real life, he is still funny, but fairly soft spoken and quite clean. He graciously posed arm in arm for pictures, signed the back of my phone when I couldn't find a piece of paper (of ALL of the things not to bring???) and humored us with some friendly chit chat. 

Well, humored me.  I found out later that as I was getting my phone back from the person who took the picture, he had quietly asked Elle: "Would it be alright if we just stayed this way?"

Now, Elle may be a #3 - but that's only in her choice between Connor and Murph.  Just as I had come primarily to meet Norman Reedus - she was there to meet David Della Rocco.  She tells this part of the story with lots of happy, happy sound effects - but I was there, and can attest that, when I saw him discretely whispering to her, her response was pleased but dignified.

The next couple of hours went by in a bit of a blur, punctuated by moments of clarity.  Specifically, when Troy's pen ran out of ink just as he was to give me an autograph, he put up his hands, said "WAIT HERE. I'LL BE RIGHT BACK", left, and actually DID work his way back through the (enormous) crowd to find me, and get back to taking pictures and signing things. 

With Bob, my freaking camera wouldn't work - but he waited...and waited...and waited.  Since there were so many people waiting to get their pictures/autographs, I felt badly and told him not to worry about it.  He looked at me and said "Don't worry, sweethaaht" (love his Maine accent), "I'm not going anywhere, you just tell me when it stahts working."  He turned, signed, posed, etc.,

Eventually, the camera got back in the game, but I figured it had been too long...he was busy...ah well...

(tap, tap, tap) "So is you're camera working yet?"

Which brings me to what is probably the most important thing I took from this evening. 

When you read about celebrities, or see their pictures, or watch them in interviews - you, or at least I, wonder - "yeah, but are they nice in real life?" Troy Duffy, especially, has been painted with a very dirty brush as being an egomaniac, a jerk.

These men are honestly decent sorts.  Bob didn't have to take the time to talk to me again, and if Troy is an egomaniac/jerk...I didn't see it.

Cynically, you could argue that Elle and I are women and, while not supermodels, still attractive.  Maybe they were flirting.  However.  Those men took the time to sign and pose for everyone.  They took just as much (obvious) enjoyment from hanging out with the men who were there to meet them as they did with the women (no matter how young, or scantily clad).

Yes, they're famous.  Yes, they're adored.  Yes, they have a fan base so rabid that, after 10 years a movie that went straight to video got a theater released sequel.  But...

They genuinely know, understand and appreciate why they have all of that.  You could see it in all of their faces - they really love their fans and were enjoying the opportunity to interact with us.

There I am, in the middle of a crowd, savoring this epiphany, when Elle gives me a tap, points over my shoulder and says, "There's your boy."