Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All the Other Kids Grow Up Too

How many homes does one have in their life? Not just a house, but a home, a place where there is a sense of family or community?
I just had to come back one last time, sings Miranda Lambert in “The House That Built Me.” 

In 1994, I went to high school with my direction facing the rear view mirror. I thought if I could just return to middle school every now and then I’d remember what I was afraid I’d forget. 
Del Dios Middle School became so much like a second home to me, I spent afternoons in the teachers lounge. I copied papers and put spiral bound backs in student print out documents. Mostly, I chatted. 
“So, I have this teacher who....” 
“I want to be President someday, still, but....” 
Honestly, I don’t think I ever had anything interesting to say, but I didn’t want to leave. 

Just as much as I didn't want to leave, I was in love with my Grandma. When she passed away in 2006, I could't believe I hadn't returned to her home, where so much love could be found, in so long. So, in 2008, I made the journey. I thought, finally, coming home. But, Grandma's house wasn't Grandma's house anymore. I looked for any evidence that it was, and immediately, outside I spotted what was once my swing, worn, tattered, used, and rusted, yet waiting as if just to say "hello." 
My "Swing" Outside Grandma's House (2008)
You leave home, you move on, and you do the best you can, I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am. 
In 2002, I left my first job at what was then a Fox affiliate in San Diego. While working there I described it as a playground.
“Anne Marie, how can you run around barefoot!” someone would yell from the sports office.
“Because I can!” 
People would be tickled by the copiers, mini breaks were taken upstairs to make hot chocolate, and no matter what we all always went out for drinks afterwards. 
I remember this one time we convinced one of the main anchors and a weather anchor to come out to karaoke, something the rest of us did every week. Somewhere, on video, they are singing “I’ve Got You Babe.” 
When the men would sing, the girls and I would toss panties, yes panties, to them and scream like we were 17. The hostess of the karaoke night also worked at a strip club. She came with props. 
We had some really, really, fun times. Really. 
In 2009, I went back to that first job for a job interview. It was just happenstance, but someone who worked there when I did still remained and said to come on by. 
She took me inside the building, the same building that I had dreamt about getting lost in, and finding myself in, for the previous seven years. I had never left it. 
“Rust,” I said to her as I looked at the stairwell that had once been so clean and white. “Smudge,” I said again as I noticed dirt on the walls. I cringed inside a little because it wasn’t anything like coming home. 
Then, just as I felt a tinge of tears lulling me out of joy, I heard someone say, “Anne Marie.” 
Two years later, almost to the day, I returned to my latest home, hoping to take more than just a memory. For the first time, the place looked the same, some of the faces were still familiar, and the feeling inside was just right. I had come home.
Yet, I recognize there is always some nostalgia in “coming home.” Eventually, all the other kids on the street grow up and move away, too. It’s always fun when you come back to visit and there’s at least a few you can talk to at the mailbox, or catch up with during a morning run. Yet, they all leave too and we’re out looking for a new place to call home. 
They say home is where the heart is, and depending on who is in your heart, and what makes it beat, and has your chest rise and fall; it’s one place, or no place, or many places at the same time. 
I’ve found home in the teacher’s lounge at a middle school, in the studio of a TV station, on the stage at a bar on karaoke night, and in a little desert town where some people think you only retire, and ultimately, wherever the people I love happen to be. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Love Comes in Any Size & For Many

Love can come in any size or shape or package. All that matters is that it comes and we recognize it when it does. Romantic love, friendly love, and just because I am human I love you as a human, too, love.

I get the funny thing, I do. Some people say I'm too analytical. Sometimes, that is true and other times it is not. Most of all I really just would rather dangle a spoon from my nose than care as much as I do or you think that I do.

If there is a lesson in not caring... This isn't it.

All week, I wanted to write about the anticipation of something...

For the last three weeks, I don't know why, I have rushed to the mailbox expecting "something." Good mail. But, no. Mostly bills.

I then got this urge to bake. I wanted to make cookies and for anyone who would eat them. Then, I realized I was anticipating mail like I was expecting cookies from Grandma.

When I was about 5, my Grandma shipped Valentine's cookies to our house. I remember it because I answered the door.

I was having a playdate with a friend and my Mom was on the phone.

This week I wrote on his Facebook wall (lame, I know) something to the effect of, "Remember when we were like 5 and my Grandma mailed heart shaped cookies and we ate almost all of them by the time mom got off the phone?"

Love me some cookies. Love me some cookie memories.

Love can come in any package, yet that is one I'll never forget.

So, I made cookies this week and thought as I mail them off to those who kindly wanted some, "With Love, from Grandma."

This whole baking for friends or "Operation Cookie" as I call it puts a whole new meaning to "That's the way the cookie crumbles."

My mom said, "Who doesn't like cookies?"

I laughed. Then, I thought if love comes in box of cookies, I'd spend my whole life making and shipping them so that others can rush out... Hoping for some good mail.

I can't do that.

So, I decided I would bring back cards, you know, because they're better than bills. So, I sent out approximately 12 Valentine's type cards to people whether they were my best friends or just what I now call "vacationers" ( you know, people you drop in on and pick up where you left off.)

I told a friend that by bringing back good mail I was going to single-handedly save the postal service. Then, I discovered that also meant saving Hallmark.

Despite the cost and the time spent baking and writing notes with an actual pen and the time it takes, I love it.

So here is the return to Happy Wednesday's and Just Because days, and cookies because I know you love them surprises.

Love comes in any size, for many. It might just be in your mailbox. Notice, I didn't say email.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Kind of Get the Whole Comedian Thing...

Here’s a pickle. I like to laugh, and I like it when I am enjoying a conversation with someone and we’re laughing. 
Yet, I spend so much time overanalyzing, as someone put it, the only way to laugh is to just not think. 
“Did you buy the wine,” said my friend, as we got back to our hotel room on my recent trip to Hawaii. 
“No, I thought you bought the wine.”

“Well, I can’t find it,” she said. Then I reached into my bag and pulled out the perfume I had bought for a friend, and myself, and some lotions, too. I smelled each one of them. Every time I smell perfume I immediately think of Natalie Wood, thanks to a story my Dad has told hundreds of times, and then a friend of mine who once wanted to make perfume for a living. My mind starts to wander and then...
“I bought the wine!” my friend shouts from somewhere deep into her bag, laughing. I walk over to her side of the room and sure enough, she’s holding the bottle of Pineapple wine. We just started laughing. It was the most mundane moment ever, but to us, it was completely hilarious.
I suppose this is a spin-off of that whole nothingness notion I wrote about last.
The point is, I understand why comedians are funny. The whole “walk a mile in my shoes” thing isn’t really what it’s about. It’s about leaping yourself out of the situation you’re in and looking at it as an outsider. 
I completely laugh aloud when I watch “Chelsea Lately.” I’ve seen her comedic routine twice in person, and have rolled over laughing. It’s the kind of comedy that I’d never let my children listen to (I don’t have children, but if I did), and the kind I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I do like. Yet, I just get it. Chelsea Handler makes perfect sense.
As I write this, I recognize that it’s not my place to be the funny one. You have No Shopping Liz and OhNoaG for that. I philosophize publicly. However, when you get to know me, we’ll be laughing. Perhaps, even, as my closest friends know, you’ll get to hear what they affectionately call (or so I believe), “Annie noises.” 
In fact, I went to San Diego in September and my best friend picked me up from the airport. I wasn’t in the car more than thirty seconds when she said, “yay, Annie noises!”
So, if you’re looking for the nugget to put on your bulletin board (Liz, this is for you), then the point is that you can’t laugh at anyone else, until you can laugh at yourself. Then, of course, you can laugh at anything. 
Point retracted. It’s not that everything is funny, it’s just that we own our reactions to everything. If it’s funny to us, we know why. If it’s hurting someone else, they know why. (But, we all don't know everything.) So, laugh with respect to those who may be humbly hurt. It’s a lesson I’m learning every day.... 
p.s. As I write this, I chat online on Facebook with an ex from 2003. He says, “lol. You’re funny.” I wasn’t even trying. 

Good news. 
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