Thursday, December 30, 2004

Dec. 30 Part II

Tidbits from the day:

There was a little girl on the train coming back out from the city. Probably about four years old, short brown hair, big brown eyes. She stopped the conductor and said, “Could you please make the train go faster? I need to get home quick so I can play in the day light.”

The conductor promised to take her request to the engineer.

Very cute!

As I stood in Staples, totally stressed because they no longer make orange file folders and I wanted 2005 to be ORANGE (I get stubborn about the STUPIDEST things), this woman came up to me and started screaming at me because I told her I didn’t work there.

Now, I’m standing there in my outdoor wear, carrying the big bag from the bookstore, my arms full of computer disks and fretting over file folder colours. It’s pretty obvious I don’t work there, and what the hell is her problem?

I should have been compassionate; after all, she might be having a bad day or something in her life might be horrible.

Instead, I simply said, “I feel sorry for you” and walked away.

It was an improvement on my initial response, which was “Back off, bitch. It’s not my problem that you’re stupid.” But it was still not the most positive response I could have/should have given.

I used my gift card for both Will in the World and Margaret Frazer’s The Hunter’s Tale. I wanted Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, but they were sold out. The clerk who helped me was really sweet – total space cadet aging ex-hippie, complete with the long gray hair and the thigh-high black patent leather boots. But he did go into the stock room and root around to try to find the book, which I appreciated.

I have to release a friendship because I can no longer respect the person as a human being. He’s an immensely talented artist – who has the most god awful taste in women you can imagine. Here’s this incredibly handsome, talented, kind, and, in many ways intelligent and intuitive man – who always goes for the wounded birds who are emotional wrecks, live in constant crisis and treat him badly. He’s got so many terrifically strong, intelligent, SANE women around him but never falls in love with one. It’s very much like my uncle, a brilliant artist in Europe, who can only work when he’s miserable.

That may be attractive when you’re twenty, but we’re all way past twenty, and it’s not cute any more.

I can’t expend any more emotional energy on a person who keeps running in the same destructive patterns. I used to think I had to be miserable in order to work and my work pretty much sucked. It’s much better now that I often work from a place of sacredness rather than misery. He’s good now – he could be BRILLIANT if he’d make the choice to be happy. It’s not that I want to be the woman in his life – there’s far too much water under our respective bridges for that – but I’d like to see some personal growth happen. He’s in the same place he was in when we were in our twenties. For crying out loud, his fifteen year old son is more mature than he is. These are his choices, and it’s up to him. But I have a harder and harder time being around him because I no longer respect him. So I can’t. It’s sad, but, for me, a necessary act of self-preservation.

Pet Peeve:
No, I didn’t add to the menagerie and I don’t have a Peeve as a pet. I just have to rant about ungrateful celebrities who whine about fan mail. I’ve worked for some really high profile people and dealt with their fan mail. And, as my writing expands, I’m getting more and more of my own. I like to deal with it myself – I don’t want to hire someone else to do it. But some people have to hire someone, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Plus, some of the fans are both crazy and unfairly demanding.

But if you’re going to do something in a public arena you have a certain responsibility to those who respond to your work.

Does that mean anyone can invade your home or call incessantly or interrupt your dinner? No. Come one, people show some manners! But it means when you are out and about at an industry event, or when someone takes the time to let you know the work means something, you respond with courtesy. There are some celebrities who are now refusing to accept fan mail and that’s just wrong. Those karma dogs are storing it up and when they squat on the doorstep . . .

Yes, it takes way too much time and prevents one from doing other things. But you build in x hours a week to deal with the mail, and, even though it takes a long time, unless the person is truly overly demanding or crazy, a postcard with a few kind words or returning a signed photo (provided the fan encloses a SASE – even celebrities can’t afford the postage for the amount of mail they receive) doesn’t take that long, and it matters.

I know, when I was starting in the business, a Baby Theatre Geek, that there were celebrities who were kind because they were kind. But it made a huge difference and introduced me to the joy of the work. I’m now trying to pay it forward, whenever I can. I don’t always succeed – I’m human AND I’m crabby at times – but I try. When someone makes demands that are greater than I can meet, I am straightforward about it. This is what I can do, and no more. But I try to be gracious and grateful. After all, in the entertainment industry, our calling is to move people emotionally. When we do so, how can we turn our backs on those who respond? It’s a difficult balance, to protect one’s private life and still acknowledge those touched by our work, but it CAN be done.

If I can forward a kindness the way certain performers and writers extended the kindness to me and get someone just starting out passionate about the business, it’s worth the additional time and the sometime frustration.

We all are granted the same amount of time every day. It’s how we use it that defines us.

D.



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