Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Missing.

One of the sentences on my "About Me" section says, "I miss people." The first chapter of my novel (which is really just my MFA thesis) is a survey of the main character. One of the questions?

What's the worst feeling in the world? My main character's answer (and mine):

"Losing someone. In any way."

I grew up in small town West Texas and had the same group of friends from the time I was three, with one major exception in my friend Robyn. When I decided to go out of state for college, I found myself in completely unfamiliar surroundings. I didn't know a soul.

Somewhat as a result, my freshman year roommate Larkin and I became instant best friends. And then we had a falling out. Which is its own story and not the one I'm telling.

After we graduated, we both moved to LA (she a few months after I did), and we became close again. That's another long(ish) story, but suffice it to say, after some time passed, I realized that while I called her a lot to hang out, she didn't call me so much.

So I put the friendship to a test. I stopped calling her to see how long it would take before she called me.

She didn't. So I walked away from the friendship. I crashed a party she had one night. I spent more time comparing chin scars with Matthew Perry than talking to her.

It was her going-away party before she moved to San Francisco.

Almost a year after that night at her apartment where I said to her, "I'm crashing your party," and she said, "I'm glad," she died suddenly from a congenital heart defect that had never been diagnosed. At 28. We hadn't spoken in at least a year.

I used to dream about Larkin all the time. She'd raise her hand in a wave. She'd smile the smile she always had on her face even when she was sad. She wore her clothes from freshman year. The black and white dress from Betsey Johnson. She'd be on swings. By escalators. She never spoke.

I saw her in real life too - for a really long time. Everywhere I went. Only it wasn't her. But it always took me a while to remember.

And I hated myself for never just asking her to coffee. A drink. Dinner. Whatever. Trying to figure out what had happened to us. Where the breakdown occurred. Understanding why she stopped calling instead of the choosing not to call myself.

Her 35th birthday would have been the end of this month. I would give anything to be able to pick up the phone and wish her a happy birthday.

Though I can never resolve what happened with Larkin, I have always tried to carry the lesson I learned into other relationships.

When a friendship breaks down, I do everything I can to repair it, even if it's my fault. Even if the fault is equal. Even if the fault lies heavily with the other person.

Because I miss people.

Because I hate losing someone, in any way.

Because I love people, maybe sometimes when I shouldn't. I don't know.

The problem is that you can't control other people. You can't make them tell you why they don't want to be friends with you anymore. With some, you know. You've screwed up too many times. And whether they've screwed up a thousand times more than you have, you still understand. They forgive their own moments (half the time they don't even recognize them); but they don't forgive yours. And while you can't help but care about them - as much as you might want to stop - they don't care about you anymore.

Perhaps the problem is I forgive their moments, too. I forgive almost anything.

Sometimes, even when the unforgivable point has hit, I still forgive. And I find myself having to remind myself of the bad parts of them, the bad things they've done or said, rather than forget, simply for self-preservation.

But sometimes, you aren't given the explanation. Someone walks away. And you just don't know why.

You can try.

You can try as you like. You can try as many times as you like. And it won't make any difference. You don't get an answer. You're just out.

I hate losing someone. In any way.

I miss people.

Sometimes I wish I didn't. But mostly, even when it hurts, I'd rather try. I'd rather forgive. I'd rather miss someone than walk away.

Sometimes, you don't have a choice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Magnetic Luck, Part IV

So I had a realization on Sunday morning while at church. And, yes, I've waited until today to post it. After three posts on bad luck.

It will take me a minute to get to this realization. But I will.

I was thinking about the previously-mentioned break-in. And how my brother-in-law who, came over, late night, when he had to be at work the next morning, and hugged me and supported me as I cried over not only the loss of my possessions, but also the violation of my home, and stayed with me not only through the police report, but also until the maintenance guy, Jose, showed up to board up my window. Then helped me load up my animals, the things I would need for the next week, and took me to their house to stay, where I would feel (more) safe.

The next day, Valentine's Day, my brother-in-law came home from work with a dozen roses for my sister, a dozen for my niece, and a dozen for me.

At this point, I knew all of four people in Dallas: my sister, my brother-in-law, my niece, and my nephew. This gesture - after such a traumatic experience - meant more than anyone could imagine.

I thought back over some other not so lucky moments in my time in Dallas. I thought of my celiac diagnosis and how my mom made me a delicious gluten-free carrot cake for my birthday. How my sister began to check ingredients to make meals I could come over for. How my friends began to help me communicate my ridiculous dietary restrictions with waiters and new people.

I thought of some horrific nights - like my last birthday - that my friends had gone through with me. And how they helped me pick up the pieces; reminded me that the past was the past; helped me move forward.

Of realizing I have to have surgery in a couple of weeks, coming back to the office, yes, in tears (b/c, sadly, I have become a crier in my older age), going to a meeting, and coming out to find a beautiful care package from Jen & Kellee at my desk.

Of having another bad night, a night I would give anything to erase, and having my friends continue to rally around me. Continue to tell me they love me, when I don't feel remotely deserving.

Of waking up today less than thrilled with this forced holiday, then being surprised throughout the day with lovely & amazing gestures.

So on Sunday morning, as I sat in the high school auditorium where we meet, watching our pastor on a big screen (yes, that's right), I considered the obvious: I may feel I have it more than others, but the fact is, everyone has bad luck. It's part of life. But what makes it bearable are the people around us who love us in spite of bad choices. Who surround us with that love when circumstances are out of our control.

And that has nothing to do with luck.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Magnetic Luck, Part III

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the magnificent break-in wherein Very Bad People who had apparently been "watching [me] for some time" smashed in my window while I was babysitting my niece and nephew - so my sister & brother-in-law could go out for Valentine's Day, no less (effing Valentine's Day, whatever) - and took pretty much everything I owned. See?

When I got home from dinner tonight (hi, Fiddy), part of me fully expected to find glass everywhere and possessions gone. (Actually, I check for broken windows every time I come home.) Luckily, tonight, no such bad luck.

This is good.

Bad day, but good return home. So there is some balance in the universe.

I think the weekend is looking up.

Tomorrow: Magnetic Luck, Part IV. But this is a good one. A magnificent realization.

Magnetic Luck, Part II

The intern and I are wearing our matching sweaters again today.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Magnetic Luck

Here are a couple of facts about me that often go hand in hand:

I have bad luck.
I am a drama magnet.

Things so often don't go my way that people say things like, "Of course that happened to you."

When I was diagnosed with celiac in September, my sister told her friend Ginger, whose response was, "Of course that happened to Pam."

That falls into the bad luck category. In a kind of big way.

There are plenty of other examples of my bad luck but the drama thing is more interesting.

To be fair, I often create my own drama. I am creative and, therefore, extraordinarily sensitive so that doesn't help.

So, sometimes though I am justified in having a reaction, my reaction can border on dramatic.

Okay. Disclaimers out of the way.

Tonight, after spending 2 and a half hours at the doc-in-the-box getting diagnosed with acute sinisitus and acute pharyngitis - all of which are probably short for my body would like me to slow down - I went to meet my sister and her two sons to eat.

I felt like staying home. But all I'd had to eat today were 2 Sugar Babies. Why 2? Because I knocked the box over and the rest of them spilled all over the floor.

I got there before them and went ahead and ordered my baked potato and side of cold bell peppers. (I don't know, it sounded good.) I had to go through my usual machinations of if someone's touched bread, can they change their gloves, etc. So the guy behind the counter already thought I was a little crazy.

I choose a booth and pull up a high chair for the baby. He brings my food. So now I'm sitting alone at a giant booth with an empty high chair. He looks at me with a mix of confusion and concern as he sets down my food.

When my sister finally arrives and goes to place their order, he says, "Oh. It all makes sense now. I couldn't figure out why she was eating alone with an empty high chair."

This is all just backstory.

We're eating a pleasant meal, my 2-year-old nephew is being the cutest child on the planet, when a guy in a baggy red t-shirt, sweats, and a baseball cap comes in and says (to all 7 of us in the restaurant), "Does anyone here drive a blue Jetta?"

That would be me.

"Oh, man," he says. "I just smashed your car to bits."

Excuse me?

"I smashed right into it. The good news is only one side is crushed. And I'm rich. How much was that car? About $30,000?" I say yes and he says he'll give it to me in cash.

I tried not to judge, but this guy didn't look like he had 30 grand to hand over.

I skeptically follow him out, thinking how much it totally and completely sucks that my car is wrecked. He runs into me and kind of puts his arm around me for a second, which freaks me out.

When we get out there, a parked car blocks mine into place. A black truck with its hood up is next to mine. In front of it are three guys wearing sweatshirts with the hoods up.

The guy turns, "I was just kidding. I didn't hit your car."

"Are you joking?" I start to back away.

"We just need a jump. Can you give our car a jump? We've got somewhere to be."

"So do I. Sorry. Why would you say something like that?"

"Ah, man, it was just a joke."

"That's a hell of a way to ask someone to do you a favor."

He laughs. He asks if I could just move my car so the car blocking me in can jump the other car. I say I have to get my keys, and I go inside.

My sister has gotten the guy from the restaurant who, luckily, is a very large, very burly guy. He accompanies me out. He knows one of the guys from the ice cream store. They shake hands. He supervises while I move my car.

Cars are stacked up waiting for spots.

I go around one of them and there, waiting for me, in a rare moment of good luck, is an empty spot in front of Starbucks. Just being parked at Starbucks makes me happy.

Still, as I walk back to the restaurant, my heart is beating a little fast waiting for one of these guys to run over, tackle me, grab my keys, and steal my Jetta when I already feel like hell.

(I know, sometimes I create drama. But you have to admit this was weird.)

I go back inside.

My sister turns to me and says, "Of course that happened to you."

Friday, February 10, 2006

"At what point do you say enough is enough?" - The Mexican


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

James Blunt is a Whore.

I'm a big fan of James Blunt. Anyone who knows me very well knows this. Half of our office is. All it takes is Stacy K beginning to sing "Goodbye, My Lover" in the way that only she can for all the girls on 5 (okay, not all, but 4 others of us) to join in.

It's very dramatic when we do it. Um, melodramatic. But awesome.

So when JB's music showed up in an episode of Grey's Anatomy, I was excited. Here was my favorite singer getting major play on my favorite show.

I looked forward to his appearance on SNL. I've now seen it twice, live and the repeat. The night it first aired, I was having a holiday party so it wasn't the best atmosphere to really pay attention, but it seemed he was playing to the camera in a very annoying way.

When it aired in a repeat a couple of weeks ago, my suspicion was confirmed. And though he played both of my favorite songs from the album, the way he grinned into the camera the entire time was disconcerting. He seemed to forget there was a live audience in front of him.

He also seemed to forget that these songs are sad, especially "Goodbye, My Lover." Downright heartbreaking. And yet that little smirk into the camera.

I lost a little respect for him.

Then "High" was featured in a Hilton Hotels commercial.

Dropped many more points.

Now, "You're Beautiful" pops up on my favorite XM channel all the time, and though I still like it, the replacement of "f*cking high" for "flying high" seriously annoys me. Because when it first played on XM, it had the uncensored version.

That's not his fault.

But it reminds me of this goofy face he made into the camera when he sang "flying high" on SNL. Like he had a secret joke with everyone watching. Annoying.

Tonight I turn on the TV and watch the last half of Love Monkey (because it's on, not because I think it's good, because I don't) and they're playing James Blunt in the background.

And I think, hmm. Perhaps he's approaching overexposure.

Then who shows up at the end of the episode? James Blunt. Just being James Blunt. (He's very short, by the way.)

Overexposure, reached.

There's something about being slightly undiscovered by the masses - or at least seeming to be undiscovered by the masses - that make artists that much more popular. But when they flock to the masses, when they themselves become the masses, well, they become so much less appealing.

And so, James Blunt, I must say, goodbye, my lover.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I like your shoes.

So I have this policy:

When you think something nice about someone, you tell them. Even if it's someone you aren't particularly a fan of. Even if it's your arch nemesis.

I met my arch nemesis in person a few weeks ago. He had on cute shoes. I didn't want to tell him because, you know, arch nemesis. But I did. Because that's my policy.

About a week ago, we had a client presentation that lasted forever because they did the media, search, and creative presentations all in one sitting. The VP of media - whom I had never seen present - turned out to be an excellent presenter. Not that I didn't think he wouldn't be (he's the VP for a reason), I'd just never thought about it. But I was impressed.

I saw him later in the day and almost didn't say anything, because he certainly doesn't need affirmation from me. But, you know, the policy, so I told him I thought he was an excellent presenter. I figured he'd give me a cursory "thanks" and keep walking.

Instead, he paused, and said, "Thank you. I really appreciate your saying that."

You never know when that compliment you're thinking (that may seem insignificant) might be exactly what the other person needs to hear. Even if it's hard to say it.

My arch nemesis with the cute shoes? Now turns out to be one of my favorite people. So you never know.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sometimes I find myself looking forward to going to sleep because I can't wait to see what I'm going to dream.