Monday, September 27, 2010

Where was I?


Disclaimer:  This is incredibly cheesy.  It took me several hours to write, and the length reflects that.  If you want to skip this one, I will not fault you for that--I tried to make it more exciting by adding a few pictures.  I now understand why people hire ghost writers for their autobiographies--it's really hard to be concise while writing from your own memory!

Let's see...when we left off, it was July 13th, 1997 and I had just left the hotel where I met my future hubby, paper scrap in hand.  The next day was euphoric.  I was in a love-drunk stupor, feeling like every love song on the radio was speaking to me personally.

My performing arts camp began on the 14th, so as soon as I got home I packed up my sheet music, some clothes, my paper scrap, and drove the three hours to sing, dance, and act for the next seven days straight.  The camp (or "institute", as they called it) was being held at the University where I would be studying musical theater in the fall.  I had been looking forward to this for months, but now it was almost a chore to go.

On the second night there, I lay in my bed, unable to sleep, and wrote the sappiest, most straight-forward love letter possible.  In fact, it may be the sappiest love letter ever written.  I went to the trouble of transcribing it for you all here, just in case anyone needed pointers on how to write a gushy, cheesy love letter.  Here it is, in all it's glory (please be kind, I was 17):

July 14th, 1997

Dear R,

Hello!  How are you?  I realize that you were going to write first and send me my tattoo and tape of Jewel on MTV & VH1 & such, but I had to write you…I miss you so much already.  Meeting you has affected me in more ways than I ever thought possible.  I have never “clicked” with someone the way I did with you—we were so in synch.  You left me feeling these incredible feelings I have never even come close to ever feeling before, and not just because you complimented me so heavily (however, that didn’t hurt either!)

I’m sorry if I’m scaring you off by telling you how I really, truly feel about you, but it’s the truth.  You are the most beautiful person I have ever met, and I know that if I don’t get it out in the open and tell you all of this, I may miss my chance.  You see something of beauty in everything and I can’t tell you how much I admire that.  You are a person who is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve a life-long goal, and I adore you for it.  You look unbelievable—maybe a teensy bit like Lou Diamond Phillips, but you’re much more handsome.  You are the most accepting person I have ever met in my life—a quality I seek in everyone I meet, but never seem to be able to find.  You are the most talented person I’ve ever met, and I would LOVE to hear one of your songs someday.  You are the most sensitive guy I’ve ever met, which also makes you the best…I’m also a true romantic, but have never found a man who was likewise—until now, that is.

Okay, I know…I’m sorry if you don’t like to hear about how wonderful you are, but it’s all true.  I could write several pages on the subject, but I’ll stop there, because you get the idea, right?  What I’m trying to say is difficult for me, because I cannot be sure that your reaction will be in my favor or not.  But, I have to tell you because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

I have always believed that for every person in this world, there is a perfect match & fate will cause them to cross paths sometime during their lives.  They may only get one chance, but each of them should know when it comes along and take advantage of it.  Anyone else (who is not their perfect match) who a person dates or sees is a possible match, but they have to learn to love one another.  With fate, people just know.

Is this THE letter?  Why yes it is! 
I knew from the moment we began talking that you could be that one.  However, I knew that you were the one for me when we began thinking the same thoughts, finishing each others sentences, and finding out how much we had in common.
Since that night, one hour hasn’t gone by where I haven’t thought of you.  The very thought of your name  causes butterflies the size of birds to begin flying around in my stomachI can’t eat.  I can’t sleep.  I keep thinking of that perfect hug we shared before you left and how you told me “You are amazing.”  Nobody has ever made me feel so good as you have, and you, too, are amazing. .

Life is funny sometimes…it gives you something amazing only to take it away again, as fast as it came.

Like I said before, I am sorry if I’m overwhelming you, but I can’t deny how I feel.  If you don’t feel the same way, please don’t just stop contact with me.  I’ve been hurt like that before, and I’d rather have you tell me than just blow me off.  I also know how difficult a relationship between you & I would be (because of the distance between us), so I would understand if you just wanted us to be friends. 

You know, I’ve never written such a heartfelt letter before, and I want you to know that every word has been as honest and straight-forward as I can write down on paper.

One or two last things—I have been here in Springfield at the Performing Arts Institute for two days now.  I’ve met several guys—really artsy, interesting ones too—but every time I look at someone, all I can think about is you.  Suddenly, I’m dreading going to college here next year…I only want to be somewhere near you—even if it is for nothing more than a beautiful, meaningful friendship.  I have seriously considered looking into an arts school in CA that I could get a scholarship at.  

I’m sorry that this letter is so sloppy & written on this kind of paper, but it’s all I had here in Springfield & it’s very late & I’m very tired.

I tried to call you at the hotel before you left to see if you would still be there when I came through on Sunday.  I stopped by, but you were gone—I wanted to give you a picture to remember me by, but I’ll just enclose it.  It was taken about a year ago, but it’s still me!  I’ll send you a different one as soon as possible.

Can I please have a picture of you?  I do not want to have the chance to forget what your beautiful eyes and smile look like.

How do you like the tape I gave you?

I need to go now—I have to get up early in the morning for a stage combat class.  Please write back as soon as possible!  Once again, it wasn’t my intention to scare you with being so forward or anything, but I figured that you wouldn’t be, because I sensed that you felt similarly.  I apologize if I’ve done anything in this letter worth apologizing for!  Once again, I really really miss you!  I look forward to receiving your letter—go ahead and send it to my mom’s address:

2205 Birch St, apt 5
Unionville, MO 63565

Oh, and one more thing—don’t let the age difference bother you.  We don’t seem far at all in age.  Besides, I’ll be 18 on August 18th! (Hint!  Hint!)

Think of me frequently!



p.s.  Sorry there’s no art on my letter—I’m just not that great of an artist!

Crazy, right?  I was in a carpe diem phase, going around shouting "seize the day!" in every possible situation, so it kind of fit.  What did I have to lose, anyway?  Heck, he lived in California and I lived in Missouri.  If he didn't feel the same way, I wouldn't have to worry about running into him--in fact, I'd probably never see him again.  

I did, however, hold on to the letter for a day or two before mailing it.  As soon as I sent it out, I got hives and had to go to the hospital.  I'm not sure if the two were related, but I think it's highly likely.

The week went by with lots of singing and dancing, then camp was over, and I headed back home.  When I got there, I half-expected a letter waiting for me, but there was nothing.  Days passed, about to turn into weeks.  What had I done?  I was well on the way to getting my heart broken.  I set a deadline:  exactly two weeks from the date that I mailed the letter.  If that day came and went and I still heard nothing from him, I was going to do my best to try and forget what had happened, no matter how hard it would be.

The deadline arrived.  I began to prepare myself for disappointment when, that afternoon, the phone rang.  My mom answered it, and when she told me it was a boy and it was for me, my heart swelled.  It was him.  I think the conversation went a little something like this:

Him:  So, I got your letter...

Me:  Oh yeah?  (stomach sinking, face turning bright red, heart thumping)  What did you think?

Him:  Well, I was a little taken aback, to be honest.

Me:  Oh.  Yeah, I wasn't sure if I should send it or not...

Him:  Well, I'm glad you did.  

!!!!!!!!!  He went on to tell me that he had felt the same way, had listened to my tapes the entire drive back to California, and couldn't believe that I had the guts to write what I wrote.  Who-knows-how-long later, he ended our conversation with, "Let's try to keep in touch and maybe I'll see you again someday."  I remember exactly what I thought, and I think I may have even said it aloud after I hung up:  "TRY??  I will make sure that we do."

From that moment on, we wrote letters often and talked on the phone every day.  He sent me a birthday gift of flowers, chocolates, a poem, and a necklace.  He was the first to say "I'm falling in love with you" (over the phone) but I was the first to say "I love you" (in a letter). He called my mom to get my ring size and then sent me a ring that he had made with the initials TLB on it,which are my initials now that we're married.

He visited me once that fall, I visited him after Christmas.  Nine months later, after seeing each other in-person a grand total of three times,  I moved to California to be with him.  I was 18 years old, and I drove halfway across the country all by myself, with about $300 to my name.  It wasn't as scary as it sounds now--I guess I had naivete on my side.

Thirteen years later, I wouldn't change a thing.  The letter, the long-distance relationship, the move--best decisions I ever made.  And we lived happily ever after.

(Definitely NOT The End)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How I met my hubby.

I am so tired.  Waking up at 7am on a Sunday to watch Yo Gabba Gabba was not in my plans.  It's not like I was out late partying or anything--but I did stay up until 12:30 playing Bejeweled and watching Up in the Air on cable, wild woman that I am.

 The hubby has taken the kid to see whatever animated movie came out this weekend, and so I have a little time to myself after an entire day alone with the kid yesterday.  Ahhh.  It's a nice little break.  I couldn't decide whether to blog or to sleep, but since I had cotton candy for breakfast, the sugar rush is helping me push through my fatigue.  Also, Titanic is on TBS, so how could I resist that?  Fun fact:  Titanic was the first movie that the hubby and I saw in the theater together.  I would call it our first date, but I don't think that's really accurate.  I mean, it was the first dinner and a movie date, but we had been together for over five months at that point, though it was long-distance.

Is this confusing anyone?  Maybe I should start at the beginning...

It all began in the summer of 1997.  July 11th, to be exact.  I was a recent high school graduate and was spending my last summer at home lounging by the pool at my dad’s house before heading off to the Performing Arts Institute at my chosen university.  My mom, sister, and grandma were all headed to Lake of the Ozarks for a little shopping vacation, and I decided last-minute to go with them.  My mom was gracious enough to comply with my request, and went out of her way to pick me up and take me with them.  I had made a couple of mixed tapes earlier that summer and brought them along for the long 3-hour-long car ride there, trapped in a miniscule Geo Prism with two adults and another teenager.  I remember one was called “Favorite Jewels” (meaning all Jewel songs off her first album) and the other was mostly cheesy ballads by Mariah Carey and Journey. 

We arrived at the Osage Outlets early in the afternoon and did a little pre-college shopping, mostly picking up collegiate t-shirts and jeans at steep discounts.  My Grandma had some sort of senior discount for staying at the Days Inn, so we checked in there and began our mini-vacation right:  with a soak in the hot tub.

Did I save the bag from the hotel and put it in a scrapbook?  Maybe...
I’ll never forget that hot tub.   OMC's "How Bizzarre” (a huge hit that summer)  was playing over the sound system and my mom was cracking us up like you wouldn’t believe.  If I could show you my impression of her dancing, I would, and I promise you that you would not be able to contain yourself.  I swear she wasn’t drunk, but she could have fooled anyone:  her dance was a sort of slow sway back and forth, along with an open jaw and her eyes diverted to the ceiling, all with her head bobbing back and forth to the music.  
It was between bouts of roaring laughter that I first noticed him.  He strutted into the pool area in his swim trunks, exotic-looking with his chin-length black hair and tattoos on his bicep and the nape of his neck--clearly not from around here, due to the sheer fact that he wasn’t a white guy.  He was slightly older, maybe his early 20’s, which seemed like a big deal at the time, being that I wasn’t yet 18.  Although I saw him and was instantly attracted , I didn’t give him much thought since I was having such a great time with my family and, anyway, I hadn’t had much experience with the opposite sex liking me back.

After my mom and sister got the hiccups and just couldn’t take it anymore, we exited the hot tub, took a short dip in the pool, and headed back to the hotel room.  My sister and I decided that we weren’t quite ready to call it a night, so I got dressed in my new gray SMSU t-shirt, cut-off jean shorts, and some flip flops before she and I headed back to the hotel recreation room to shoot a little pool. 

As soon as we started our game, he walked back through on his way out to his room, dripping wet with a white towel wrapped around his hips.  He didn’t say a word as he passed, even though we were the only three in the room, and I thought that was that…until he came back in, fully-clothed.  He appeared to have places to go and people to see, passing through on his way somewhere very important, when I decided to greet him with a “hi”, accompanied by a wave and a smile.  I am a Midwestern girl, after all, and it seemed strange to me that we kept seeing one another in passing without any words exchanged.
Who could have known that one little word could have set off such a momentous series of events?  After my greeting, he turned back around, clasped his hands together, and said to my sister and I (still playing pool), “Would you two be interested in playing three-person at all?”  And that was that.

During that game, I found out his name and we made small talk and did a little innocent flirting.  Another guy joined us, whose father ran that hotel, and we headed outside to an outdoor patio to chat some more.  We paired off and he and I began to learn all about each other.  I learned that he was twenty-two years old, lived in California, and was helping his parents move back there from Georgia.  This was just a stop along the way, a mini-break on his way back home.  We talked about music, world views, everything and nothing, until we quickly fell for one another right then and there.  

Hours passed, the other two went to bed, and the sun was about to come up before we decided that we’d better return to our respective families and rooms.  It was 5am and I was rummaging through my mom’s glove compartment for a scrap of paper and a pen.  I wrote down my name, address, and phone number, and he wrote down his.  We exchanged them and then we hugged.  Actually, the word “hug” is too weak a word.  What happened there that night, in that parking lot, was sheer magic.  It’s hard to explain, but the feeling of my face against his neck, his arms around my back…it was just magic.  Like electricity, but more than that.  It took everything I had in me to let him go from that embrace, but I had to.  It was late and my mom was going to be freaking out soon if she woke up and I wasn’t there.  At the last minute, I decided to give him my two mixed tapes I had in the car, so he could listen to them on his trip back home and think of me.

I returned to the hotel room completely and utterly in love.  I wanted to wake everyone up and tell them how I felt, but out of respect (and shyness), I didn’t.  I tried to sleep, but the effort was futile.  All I could do was lie there, awake, playing the night over and over in my head. 

When morning came and the hour was decent, I jumped out of bed and ran up to the hotel lobby, hoping to run into him again.  I sat and drank free coffee and ate free donuts for what felt like forever, watching for him to come out of his room, even just a glimpse, but I never saw him.  My mom checked out, we headed on our way, and I had nothing more than a scrap of a bank envelope with his handwriting on it to remind me of what I’d just been through.  
Did I save the piece of paper he first wrote his name/address/phone number on?  You betcha!

To be continued...

*Due to the scavenger hunt for photos and mementos to add to this story, the telling of the story itself has been derailed.  I will begin again after I've finished poking through old letters and reminiscing.  :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Argument Anxiety.

Let's see if I can actually finish a post.

I am really shaky right now because of a discussion I've been having on Facebook since last night.  I won't say what the argument is about, because I don't want to start another one here, but suffice it to say it was about religion AND politics.  I know, I know, I should know better.  In fact, the majority of the time when somebody doesn't agree with me, I either ignore it or (in extreme cases) block them altogether, but I just couldn't stop myself.

Now I am literally making myself sick.  My heart is pounding out of my chest, my hands are shaking, my stomach hurts.  Why do I handle confrontation so poorly?  Why can't I speak my mind without going all nuts?  I think I definitely have an anxiety disorder which requires medical attention.  This can't be normal.  Every time that little red notification balloon pops up on my Facebook now, I start sweating and dread looking at it, in case it's the person who I was arguing with.  I can't take it!

This is, literally, me RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Despite the temporary insanity, I am an excellent arguer, if I do say so myself.  ESPECIALLY in print.  If this were to happen in real life, I'd turn all red and start crying, unable to get my words out.  Online, however, I am unstoppable.  I am incredibly eloquent and succinct, citing sources to back up my claims and hitting every bullet point.  I would be an excellent online lawyer.  You know, if it weren't for the debilitating anxiety. 

I'm going to play trains with the kid now, and hopefully decompress a bit.  Wish me luck!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm likin' the Twitter!

So, as you all know, I was a little confused when I started using Twitter.  As the days have passed, however, I have grown more and more fond of it.  How fun it is to fill up that little "What's Happening" box with 140 characters!

(something I am particularly good at)

I'm following CNN, which is probably the fastest way ever invented to get your news.  I mean, if something happens, I'm pretty much always the first of my friends to know about it--which is a dream for someone like me, who looks at Yahoo! News about 20 times a day. 

I'm also really enjoying following celebrities.  It's fun to be able to tell Kristin Chenoweth directly how much I enjoyed her autobiography, or to see pictures of Jewel's recent road trip to Montana on her motorcycle.  I'm also meeting people on Twitter, which I didn't think was really possible, but apparently it happens.  It's like being introduced by a mutual friend, if that mutual friend were someone who neither of us actually knew at all, but both stalked and admired.

Today, one of my (nine) followers, Frosty Wit, tweeted a question:

I saw Jimmy Fallon tweet something about "Follow Friday", so I tweeted Frosty back this:

After that tweet, I felt pretty dumb, because upon further inspection of his first tweet, it seemed like he knew what it meant.  Oh well.  I look dumb on Twitter a lot, since I still don't understand what I'm doing beyond typing in that little box and re-tweeting.  Luckily, my ignorance paid off, because soon after the exchange, I got this in my e-mail inbox:

Apparently, Jimmy Fallon saw my mention of him in that tweet and decided to show me EXACTLY what Follow Friday meant--woohoo!  So, now I have TEN followers, and one of them is famous!  That means ONE-TENTH of my Twitter Followers are famous people.  Oh yeah.  Take THAT, Ashton Kutcher!  

So anyway, I'm feeling pretty cool today, and I'm likin' the Twitter.  If you are on Twitter and you'd like to follow me, I guess I'll let you mess up my famous to non-famous-person-follower-ratio.  If you're famous and would like to follow me, I'm ok with that too.  :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

You Can't Go Home Again

Today has been weird.  I've been thinking about my life, and for the first time, I'm disappointed with myself.

A headshot from my L.A. days, circa 2000
Don't get me wrong, I do know that I'm lucky in many ways--I've got a great husband, a wonderful child, we're financially secure etc.--I just wish I'd done more with my talents when I had the chance.  I feel like I've always done things halfway--I'm extraordinary in my mediocrity.

For example, I started college, as a musical theater major, and I dropped out after the first semester to move to California to be with my (then future) husband.  We moved to L.A. so that I could pursue an acting career, but I was too insecure to ever really go for it, never even securing an agent.  I starting singing/songwriting after I moved out of L.A., and though I have several great songs to show for that time in my life, I was always too scared to start a band and play actual gigs.  I never even learned to play guitar, so I am useless without a co-writer (even though I've been extremely lucky to work with some very talented people).

I'm great at starting things--not so good at finishing them.  I know that I'm only 31 and, technically, that's still pretty young in the grand scheme of things, but I find myself full of regret about all the things I didn't do.  Why didn't I take the bull by his horns and just go for it?  Why did my insecurities always get in the way?  Why am I sitting here, drinking a glass of wine and writing a blog, instead of writing a song?  Is anyone even reading this thing?

Anyway, as you can see, I am very introspective today.  Part of it probably has to do with the fact that I'm having some family drama, and my relationship with my father has changed, possibly forever, and not for the better.  It reminds me of a song I wrote about seven years ago, called "You Can't Go Home Again".  It's truer now to me than when I wrote it, so I made a video of my song for you all to hear. 

This video is incredibly cheesy, with pictures from my childhood and all, but I figured it was better than leaving the video part blank the whole time and having the audio play.  If you guys like it, I'll make more of my songs into videos and upload them to the blog, anonymously of course.  I'm too chicken to reveal my real identity yet, if ever.  This was, and remains, one of my favorite songs that I ever wrote/recorded.  I wrote it very quickly, and had the whole thing recorded less than 24 hours after receiving the music track.  The music is done by a very talented man who lives in France.  The background vocals are all me singing too.  I hope you enjoy it, but if you don't, I guess that's ok too.  :)

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