Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brushes with fame... or, how I embarrass myself around moderately famous people.


(This was written last week, except for the end part)

When I was 8 years old, I had the most brushes with fame in the shortest amount of time.

The first, was Jonathan Richman. He was appearing at the Tower Records in Boston, where he was unveiling his star on their "Walk of Fame" type dealie. My step-father was a big fan of his, and his music accompanied us through many scenic weekend drives. I was excited to meet him, but not in any 8 year old capacity. My stepfather kept asking me, "What are you going to say to him?" I didn't know, of course. He prompted me, saying, "Do you want me to tell him how much you like 'I'm A Little Dinosaur?'." Even then, I didn't understand. What would it matter to Jonathan that an eight year old enjoyed his music? What could be said that he hadn't already heard? I thought the concept was altogether pretty foolish.

We met him, I got his autograph, as well as Ellie Marshall's. I recall my stepfather saying to him, "Alison wants to know what Kookenhaken is.", and I was very angry. Jonathan explicitly states in his song 'My Little Kookenhaken' that Kookenhaken is a made up word which has no meaning. I was very upset, and convinced Jonathan Richman now thought I was an idiot.

A short time later, we were walking down the street in Boston and passed a man wearing strange clothing. I didn't think anything of it, but my stepfather started yelling to me, "Alison!! Did you see that man?! That was Steven Tyler!" This was years before I got into Aerosmith-- I had responded with, "Who?"

Around the same time, I also took part in a bike ride around the Charles River with Joe Kennedy. I remember him as nothing more then a very nice man with a big smile, good sense of humor, and wild curly hair. That, and I could ride my one-speed bike faster then he could ride his bicycle-built-for-two. I passed him several times.

These events all have one thing in common-- I was unfazed by the "celebrity" status of these people. The way I feel about "stars" still rings true fifteen years later-- only now that I'm older, it comes across much differently. Now I'm just regarded as the shy and awkward fan who doesn't know what to say.

Which is true, to a point. I'm not a very good small talker, and I'm terrible when it comes to meeting new people. It's difficult for me just to start a conversation with anyone, but I hate going up to people and saying things like, "I enjoyed [insert album here]" or "you were great on [such and such program]." They know they were great. They know I like them-- that's why I'm here. And moreover, they hear this same thing, day in and day out, from thousands of other people.

I met Sharon and Bram (of Sharon, Lois and Bram's Elephant Show) last year. I had the time of my life, and ended up holed up in their trailer to escape from a freak rain shower, singing folk songs while Bram played the guitar. Again, however, conversation was difficult in most respects. I met them again this year, along with Lois (who had always been my favorite as a child) and found myself backing off just to give them some peace as they were bombarded by fans who simply couldn't seem to cram enough words into a sentence.

At one point, Lois had come up to me and asked, "Aren't you with [another group of fans]?" since I wasn't sitting near them. I had responded yes, but they talk too much. She laughed and said she had to agree with me.

What brought all this reflection on? Well, this weekend, I am going to NYC with a friend to see the founding members of Rockapella. As usual, I am unbelievably excited--but I'm nervous, too. I can see the whole cycle repeating itself. I've been shooting emails back and forth with Sean Altman for a short time, and he has informed me that there will be a meet and greet at the bar.

(This part is written today, 7/27)

The show was last night, and it was amazing. It was held in a ridiculously small club (The Cutting Room) where we all packed in like sardines. My friend and I had very good seats, & I was able to get some awesome pictures and video of the event. I am sure that they were not prepared for such a large turnout, and I shouldn't have really been worried about figuring out what to say to them-- I only had about one minute with Sean, Barry and Elliot respectively. I was able to get away without feeling too much like an idiot, and I got photographs and and autographs-- exactly what I had come for.

So, my quest goes on. I still have Raffi, Bill Nye, Tim Noah and LeVar Burton left to meet. Oh, and that unpaid internship at Sesame Workshop that I'll eventually attempt once I can scrounge up the money to live in New Jersey or New York for a (did I mention it was UNPAID?!) summer.

Oh, and speaking of Sesame Workshop... there was a very frightening Elmo walking around Times Square yesterday, and I snuck up next to him, instructing my friend to take a picture. Elmo turned, posed with me, and after the picture was taken said in a thick Mexican accent, "One dollar for picture, one dollar."

I pretended to rifle through my purse digging for a dollar, and then took off when he was distracted by a child wanting a photograph.

Pretty damn sure Joan Ganz Cooney would NOT approve of this.

Rahr...


I've been a whiny bitch lately, I know it. Don't think it's escaped my notice.

I've got some interesting bloggers in my sidebar-- check them out for a good dose of non-whine.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sickness & Batman.

We had a hectic morning. Jay and I crashed on the couch last night (because it's next to the A/C, and it's really a bed that we make up to look like a couch) and he didn't sleep very well because of this uncontrollable cough.

Turns out, I gave him my cold-- which anyone could have guessed would happen, I was a germy mess for a week and he lives with me. It's inevitable.

The problem was, his cough was REALLY bad, much worse then mine had been. Constant and non-productive. He coughed to the point of having difficulty breathing, and he coughed so hard I was worried he was going to break a rib.

We were up by 9 AM (unheard of on a weekend!) and I was frantically calling Minute Clinics in an effort to figure out if they'd take his insurance. By 10:30 he was hacking in the waiting room. If you've never been to a minute clinic, I completely recommend it-- the RN was very nice and helpful, we didn't have to wait long to be seen, and he left the office with a diagnosis (acute infectious bronchitis!) and three prescriptions for what ails him. Yes, on a SUNDAY-- all for the cost of his insurance co-pay (ten bucks!).

He's konked out on the bed-couch now, after taking some cough syrup with codeine, which finally helped him stop coughing (the past few days have been filled with Vicks VaboRub, cough drops, hot tea, frozen drinks and Delsym, none of which were helping at all!). I'm very relieved he's finally able to sleep-- I can finally give my worried maternal instincts a rest.


In other, non germ-related news, I have a cute new short haircut, which didn't come out exactly as I had hoped, but I like it all the same, & I'm now looking for places to donate my ponytail to. I know some places have better reputations then others (for instance-- I heard that "Locks of Love" doesn't actually provide young cancer patients with free wigs-- you have no way of knowing where your hair will go!) so if anyone has done this before and has any tips, let me know.

Also, we saw Batman last night in IMAX, and it was fantastic. I was slightly disappointed by the overall "IMAX experience" (I thought it was going to be in 3-D-- in reality it was simply a very large movie screen, and more surround sound speakers), but there's no denying the movie itself was perfectly executed. I was extremely skeptical that Heath Ledger would make a good Joker when I had first learned of the casting decision, but he was excellent. I will trust Christopher Nolan's judgment from now on-- after all, I wasn't fond of the idea of Christian Bale at first, either!

All for now.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Adventures in cars

The other day I was in the car with J., he was driving. He missed a turn he had to take, as people often do, so he pulled into the next driveway to turn around--- only to discover that for some reason, that particular driveway went NOWHERE. It just.... ended.

No big deal, right? Just 3 point turn and pull out. Except the driveway was too narrow for a 3 point turn. He went to back out, but that too proved impossible-- there was a huge overgrown bush (and I mean OVERGROWN) blocking any and all view of oncoming traffic, and the road was very busy. There was just no way to back out safely.

Luckily, there was another driveway off to the left. We were separated from it by a great deal of grass, however. J. eased the car onto the grass the best he could and pulled the car into the next driveway. I am all the while freaking out in the passenger seat because A) We're fucking driving on someones well maintained grass, what if they catch us?! and B) My car made a pretty nasty scraping sound as he drove over that last curb.

So, a little stressful, but whatever. We'll just pull out of this driveway.

Except... it ALSO doesn't go anywhere.

No lie, this driveway was even more ridiculous then the first (seeing as the first actually had an ENTRY POINT from the road)-- this is literally a big stretch of asphalt that is surrounded by curbs on ALL SIDES. And we were STUCK IN IT. We sat there for a minute marveling at the stupidity of such a creation, and our misfortune for getting stuck in such ridiculousness.

There was nothing to do but drive over yet ANOTHER curb. And these curbs were somehow built higher and even more bottom-scrapey then the first ones. I kept whispering to J. through clenched teeth, "Just go slow... go slow...", but as my car clunked and scraped over the first curb, I realized that no matter how slow he went, my car was going to get wrecked.

Cut to one minute later-- we're now in the safety of an ACTUAL parking lot that has ACTUAL driveways that lead to roads. And I am an uncontrollable sobbing mess. It seems that this event somehow drudged up all the stress and worry I'm having financially at the moment, and I sat there completely unable to stop the tears. it was then that Jay reached over and caressed me, and all my worries seemed to melt away. I was overtaken with passion, and slowly reached over to unzip his pants. He tilted his head back, moving his body forward in the seat. As

EDIT: None of that last bit actually happened. I made the mistake of leaving my half-written blog on the computer screen when J. sat down to type something... I'll finish this later.

So as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I was a mess. All the car shit and bill shit and working my ass off and NOT making ends meet blindsided me all at once. The bottom line? This economy fucking SUCKS. When times get hard, my obvious reaction is to get a second job. Except NO ONE will hire me. I know I'm not the only person going through this, but it's getting ridiculous. Something has to be done, and it has to be done soon or I don't know what's going to happen.

(In the meantime, I'm still dreaming of living outside my means. This item is currently at the top of my wishlist, and I would like for nothing more then to spend weekends biking around with Jay (who I will retire calling "J." since he outed himself in his last bit of prose. I was trying to give him some form of anonymity, but I guess he doesn't need it). I haven't gone on a bike ride since I was a kid, I miss it.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Feeling slightly better...

I cleaned the bathroom and part of the living room and showered, after working 9-6 and dragging J. out of the house for ice cream around 8. (The Cold Stone Creamery that used to be right around the corner from us apparently is now out of business. I've never had CSC, and I didn't get a chance to try it today, either. Bummer.)

I've spent the past couple of days in a pretty big funk and it feels good to slowly be gathering my wits about me-- although a few important things have happened recently that I wish I could have been more clear-headed about, most specifically, a friend of mine is talking about getting a divorce. Not really much that I can air on the subject, it's not my business to do so-- but I really would have liked to be able to offer her some kind of verbal support over the past few days rather then smiling, nodding, saying things that probably came out incoherent, and blowing my nose.

Also: There is this sad, moon-faced girl that I kind of know. She's younger then me, not by much, but pale and skinny with illness. J. knows her, too, and her boyfriend, and is more friendly with them then I am. (Despite internet personality, I am usually very shy with people I don't know.) I found myself wondering about them tonight... is she self-pitying, or accepting or her situation? Are they scared or naive? Do they dwell on it, or ignore it? I'd like to hope she would be living a life that was otherwise as carefree as possible.

I almost want to write my own interpretation of their story, but feel that Lurlene McDaniel has probably done it all much more eloquently then I could ever hope to.

Maybe one day I'll do it anyway.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sick.

I was sick as hell today. It started last night before I went to bed... I had a huge asthma attack and even though I used my inhaler (three puffs when I'm only supposed to use two! oh no!) I was still coughing afterwards.

I woke up this morning and my throat felt exactly as though someone had scraped it back and forth with a grapefruit spoon. I jumped up immediately and tore into the ice cream (it's been sitting in the freezer since J. had his wisdom teeth out months ago... covered in frostbite, but who the hell cares?) for breakfast. It helped a little, and I went back to bed trying to sleep off the illness. Hours later, I woke up still feeling crappy, and tried hot things this time... oatmeal and tea with honey. As with the ice cream, it helped a little, but not much. At this point, I had to go into work. I kicked and screamed the whole way, of course, but we have a very small staff & we're not allowed to call out unless we have someone "suitable" to cover for us (which means, someone who is equally capable).

So, I sucked it up, had a Strawberry Coo-lata from Dunkin Donuts, and tried to go about my day as normally as possible (only with much increased whining action!).

Now I've just had a dinner of Ramen Noodles (warm) and ice cream (cold), and as usual I'm feeling "a little" better. What sucks is now, I have to go to bed and wake up at 8 AM to go volunteer at the library. I could call out, but I'd like to have as good a reputation with them as possible, so that's out of the question as far as I'm concerned.

After that, I'm coming home and collapsing.

Oh, yeah, and I might have a fever, too. So don't expect anything coherent out of me for at least a few days.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tired of this...

I really am completely exhausted of existing in such a humdrum way. I sleep, I go to work, occasionally I attend a wedding, party, or visit my parents during the weekends.

I am living this life in the hopes of achieving something better. At times it is discouraging-- like at the moment when I look around and realize I am stagnant, not "getting ahead" as I should be. Just working and barely making ends meet.

I have an escapist personality that hits me at the worst possible times. Usually, it can be quenched with a small trip, maybe to the zoo or a museum, but this is not one of those occasions. I need to be somewhere new and see new things, but the economy is not in my favor, nor is travel in my budget. I am envious of those whose blogs I stumble upon... people my age going on cruises, foreign vacations...

I need a vacation. I've never really had a real vacation, unless you count tagging along on my mother and step-fathers Honeymoon to Atlanta, Georgia back in 1998. Unfortunately, finding myself broke in January, I foolishly had all of my vacation time "paid out" to me (about $600 worth) as soon as it was available. I paid bills with it, which I suppose was wise at the time, but now it has left me with this trapped feeling I can do nothing about.

I AM going to NYC in a couple of weeks... hopefully that will quench this feeling for now and I won't find myself selling all my belongings and backpacking through Europe.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Over analyzing like it's my job...

Today J. woke up boasting of a "really cool dream".
The short version of the dream turned out to be, aliens (who are really just like us) came down from Mars and said to him, "Hey, you're pretty unhappy here on earth. Come with us!" And he did. And Mars turned out to be awesome and 100% better then earth. So he stayed there.

He returned later to visit. He ran into me and, naturally, I was pissed at him for leaving me. So he took someone else back to Mars with him.

When I seemed offended upon his retelling of the dream, he replied, "I'm a loser. I knew you'd realize that and get over it."

An interesting comment because he is neither A) a loser nor B) burdened by low self-esteem.

I do, however, think he just pinpointed why it is men break up with me.

I'm reading too much into this. I know.

EDIT: This marks the first time I've ever batted my eyelashes at a boy and asked, "You wouldn't REALLY leave me for Mars, would you?" . I hope to God it's the last.

Monday, July 7, 2008

One step forward... three steps back?

To take a look at my life from the outside, I'm doing well. I'm finally out (for good!) of my parents house, I'm in a healthy relationship (um, finally?!), I've got a pretty good car, and a fairly stable -almost- decent full time job.

I'm lucky, right?

If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that the standards I set for myself are unreachable-y, unrealistically high. The thoughts currently bombarding me are:

  • This apartment is good, but shouldn't we move somewhere bigger and get some nicer furniture? The bathroom door doesn't close all the way. And that other place we looked at in Manchester had a pool AND fitness area... which would mean I would save money on joining the gym. And I could rent to own, which is so important... I need to buy some real estate.
  • My car's alright, but I should be driving something slightly better on gas. Or maybe a hybrid. A 1997 is really old, isn't it? Is my car a "junker"? I love my car. Mike just got a Mini Cooper. Okay, I'm drooling. How much do I have left to pay off on this? Oh... right, three years worth of payments. Forget it.
  • I'm not making enough at my one job to comfortably pay my bills. I'm terrified each month I won't have enough for something... and J. and I are always paying the rent on the 9th... (paying after the 10th gets you charged a late fee). I must get a second job to compensate. (I've already applied for a Barista position. I should hear back within the next couple of days)
  • Second job will only afford me even less free time, more wear and tear on my car, and increase my gas consumption. (As it is now, I walk to work and generally only use my car on weekends)
  • I should be joining the gym with Mary. It's $50 a month but... I really really need to lose this weight. But this directly affects my finances AND my free time. But I have 50 pounds that need to go bye-bye.
  • I don't have enough money to do anything fun this summer. I feel pretty lame.
  • I got out of work at 7 today and was all excited. This was still "early" and I could "do stuff". My main objective was to visit a nearby store and pick up Nag Champa... but when I ran this by J., he didn't want to go out. Instead of jumping up and being the independent woman I am (or, at the very least, that I CAN be... it's in there, I swear) I sat around on the internet while he played video games. Now it's 10:41 and he's passed out and I'm bored and angry at my wasted evening. I wish I was more creative at ways of entertaining myself. I feel like I waste so much time.
  • God, crashing into that wall is going to cost me so much money. I might never be able to do anything fun ever again.


There. Was that enough ridiculousness for you? It's time to sleep.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Meandering..

This is going to sound terrible, awful, and cheesy. But I've been thinking about writing it for too long to NOT write it.

You know those montages in movies, where they show two characters (always a couple, usually young) goofing around, having the time of their lives, and laughing their heads off?

That's my relationship.

I don't like to post too much about it. J. is a very outgoing but private person in most respects, whereas I've always been very shy at first, but I'll tell you anything (not to mention scrawl it over the entire internet) once I get to know you. He is not like me in this respect, so I try to maintain his privacy as much as I can.

I'd been mulling over in my mind exactly how to compose this all, but there is no way to say it other then just spit it out.

We could be doing the simplest thing, but it's always fun. I don't know how he does it, really. We got pulled over the other day (over something foolish... we got let go with a warning) and as the cop was running our mutual licenses, we were in the car having the most random conversation and just... laughing. We are the happy-go-lucky couple in the montages.

Of course, our relationship is not perfect, and like everyone there are areas we need to work on. But they hardly ever come into play. I've called so much less then this "love" in the past and been completely wrong. I guess it's good I can see that now.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hell on wheels

This is what we call "One of those things that only happens to Alison", or "An Alison Story":


I went to court this morning to bargain down my speeding ticket from March and get an extension on it. The judge knocked it down to $100 and gave me until August to pay. Score.

I spent 6 hours today at the RMV, finally getting my car registered and legal in CT. (I had moved here from MA 3 months ago but just now had the money to spend on all that jazz. It's now all set, I just have to switch over the plates, which I'll hopefully be able to do tomorrow.)

Against my better judgment, I had stopped on the way home to grab some Burger King for lunch, seeing as I had to work at 4 PM and it was already well after 3:30 and I was still a good 2 towns away.

Upon arriving home, I pulled into my parking spot (which is located behind my apartment building)-- and in a terrifying, horrible moment, SOMEHOW, jammed on the gas at the last possible second instead of the brake.

I crashed at full speed into the building and propelled my neighbor's air conditioner a good 15 feet into his apartment, destroying the brick wall for about a foot in each direction. I was in a complete state of shock at first, and had no idea who to call. I called the guys who own the building, and frantically relayed my story to them. They had me send them a camera-phone image so they could survey the damage, and sent a guy out to patch up the hole.

The man who lives in the apartment had been home at the time, and he came out to see what the hell was going on. He narrowly missed the air conditioner hitting him (he had just been sitting down in his armchair, which was located directly beside the window. He got up and went into the next room right as the thing came flying through the air. I'm not religious, but seriously- talk about divine intervention!) but was not angry with me at ALL. I know I would not have been so understanding if someone had driven into my apartment! He was just glad that no one was hurt, and hopefully they'd be able to fix his wall pretty quickly.

The guy who owns the building was very nice about it, too. He left me a voicemail telling me, "I'm not mad at you, and don't worry we won't kick you out or anything. These things happen."

Altogether, we all got very lucky. No one was hurt, I'm insured (and my car was LEGAL. And this happened with MY CAR and not the loaner that I had been driving 2 days ago... I don't know what I would have done if I wrecked someone else's car!), the apartment is insured, my car took the beating VERY well (the bumper is a little scratched and dinged, and the license plate is bent, but it's not bad at all, considering) and everyone has been very understanding.

The biggest downside I see?

I am NEVER going to hear the end of this!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Leaving The Country. Or, why Michael Moore is a genius.

So, for a few years now I've been toying with the idea of moving to Canada.
It started out as a complete and total joke-- J. and I, when we were both just "internet friends" who would talk on the phone for 6+ hours every night, mentioned running away to Canada together.

At the time, it had been amusing. I had taken it with a grain of salt, it had been a joke to me. Even the thought of living with him hadn't been something I was seriously considering. I had only been to Canada twice at that point, and while I found it a nice place to visit and enjoyed the friendliness of the people there, it had never caught my eye as some place I'd want to live.

Or, had it? In 2003 I explained to my best friend at the time, "This is like the MECCA of Children's Entertainment." as we holed up in the hotel room watching kids TV. We had wandered malls and thrift stores and tourist traps, and I was the whole time wide-eyed. I realize now I was looking for some direction, something to call me there.

I don't believe in moving to Canada in hopes of getting a "big break". Quality children's entertainment is the NORM in Canada-- by moving there I wouldn't be contributing anything they didn't already have. It almost makes more sense to stay in the states and show everyone something new-- that we CAN have quality here, no matter how resistant everyone may be to it at first. It's like the big fish in a small pond theory. In the US, a good children's entertainer is NOT a dime a dozen.

All the same, the way America is changing frightens me. Canada seems the safest option... so a month ago I sat down and filled out a simple survey, designed to figure out if I had enough "points" as it were to apply for Canadian citizenship. As it stands, I don't have a lot going for me-- I'm young, single, speak only English, don't work in a desired field, and don't have any relatives in Canada.

It was suggested to me by a man whose sole job is to help prospective Canadian citizens that I should first secure employment in Canada.

I thought about it. Right now, the idea is impossible. Even if I were to secure an interview, it would cost too much money to drive myself up and back. And J. would have to secure an interview as well. The odds are not in our favor. And even if someone did say, "Okay, start next week" or even, "next month", we just wouldn't have the money. I know nothing about living costs in Canada-- could we carry on as we are now? Could we make as much as we are currently making (which is not much, but it's above minimum wage) doing the same things we are doing? Do they HAVE minimum wage in Canada? There are too many questions, and nothing is guaranteed. At this point, I feel like it's a huge gamble.

Today, I sat down and watched Michael Moore's "Sicko". And I'm sold all over again. We WILL get there. As far as I see it, the quality of our lives depend upon it. I wish I could bring my mother too, as she's getting older and I would like for her to have the best care she can get should anything happen to her (cancer runs in our family).

If I get a better job now, perhaps I can bank more money and this would be more of a possibility. As it stands now, I don't have the funds to finance another move, not at least for another year.

But now I have something else to work towards.