Friday, June 29, 2007
"Goodbye Philadelphia" is from his new album (due out in August!) At first listen, it's a love song. Around the 1334th time you hear it (as I have), it becomes extremely patriotic.
This song is about America, and makes me think of Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation books. "Things are never gonna be the same..." (I actually wrote a story about the Greatest Generation, which was published in my high school's literary magazine. I mailed a copy to Tom Brokaw, and he sent me a copy of his new book, inscribed, "To Diana...who understands-Tom Brokaw." It remains one of my most prized posessions, and Mr. Brokaw...one of my favorite guys.)
Peter Cincotti has also quickly become one of my favorite guys...I could listen to him all day...gorgeous voice, beautiful music, and some meaningful lyrics to boot.
JUST LIKE PHILADELPHIA
FREEDOM MEANS A LOT TO ME
IN BETWEEN THE PLACE I'VE BEEN
AND WHERE I'M GOING
I CAN SEE AMERICA
TRYING NOT TO SHOW HER AGE
EVEN THOUGH THE WINDS OF CHANGE
KEEP ON BLOWING
AND I WOULD LAY YOUR BODY DOWN AND ROCK YOUR TEARS AWAY
BUT IT'S MUCH TOO LATE FOR NOW TO BE LIKE YESTERDAY
AND THE TIME IS RUNNING OUT AND WE STILL HAVE TO SAY
WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG AND WARM
SO IN LOVE AND LIVING FOR
BUT I KNOW, PHILIDELPHIA
THE WINTER WIND WILL SLOWLY TAKE
YOUR HEART AND SOUL UNTIL IT MAKES
NOTHING OF YOU
AND I WOULD LAY YOUR BODY DOWN AND ROCK YOUR TEARS AWAY
BUT IT'S MUCH TOO LATE FOR NOW TO BE LIKE YESTERDAY
AND THE TIME IS RUNNING OUT AND WE STILL HAVE TO SAY
FLASH A PEACE SIGN TAKE A BOW
THOUGH WE MAY NOT KNOW IT NOW
THINGS ARE NEVER GONNA BE THE SAME
HERE ON SEVENTH AVENUE
I TIP MY OLD TOP HAT TO YOU
I HOPE YOU FIND SOMEBODY WHO
WILL LOVE YOU LIKE I DO
'CAUSE I WOULD LAY YOUR BODY DOWN AND ROCK YOUR TEARS AWAY
BUT IT'S MUCH TOO LATE FOR NOW TO BE LIKE YESTERDAY
AND THE TIME IS RUNNING OUT AND WE STILL HAVE TO SAY
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I laughed as I reread snippets of stories and scripts I had worked on and thought were, at the time, positively brilliant and would make me terribly rich and famous.
Wow, they were all quite tragic and fill with a great deal of melodrama and death. I was, for the most part, a very happy, bubbly kid...but when I read over these things, it makes me wonder if I had some serious issues...
Some of the standouts:
-A friendship story about two guys (one is a baseball player, the other a pianist...I know, I know) and the tomboyish girl (who of course grows into a beauty and they both fall in love with.) The two boys go off to war, and they each lose an arm. (One loses a left, the other, a right. Obviously.) They come home from the war. The girl and the armless pianist get together, the baseball player becomes depressed and frustrated. I'm not sure how it happens, but he tries to play baseball again, fall wrong on his lost arm socket, and bleeds internally and die. The last scene is 10 years in the future, when the pianist and the girl are watching their little son play baseball. He is named after the dead friend, and the girl goes, "I guess there's more to a name than Shakespeare gave credit, isn't there?" The little boy cries, "We won! We won!" or something, then Dad swings the little boy into the air and they all go walking off into the sunset together.
-Another WWII storyline. This woman's husband leaves her and their two children for another woman. And, she's dying. She goes to spend her last summer at a beachtown with her kids and former mother-in-law. It is there she meets a slightly younger man who lost his ability to speak in the war. (Not sure if it was an emotional shock thing, or that he got shot in the throat.) They fall in love. She dies. He gets custody of the kids. The last scene was him writing their names in the sand, and watching the waves wash over them, but never washing away their names.
-This one was actually a full-length screenplay. A boy and girl grow-up the best of friends. He becomes a priest. She marries a police officer. The police officer dies. The girl is faced with a dangerous pregnancy. The priest encourages her to have an abortion to save her life. There's a miracle, and she survives and years later, they're all at the First Communion of her daughter. (Also, she ends up marrying the priest's brother, who was always in love with her.)
I read way too much Danielle Steel as a kid.
Way too much.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The reasons I fell in love with the story of Anne Shirley are simple: even though I shared the same first name as Anne's best friend Diana Barry, I connected deeply with Anne. Like Anne, I was (wait...still am!) highly highly (HIGHLY highly highly) sensitive, passionate, and never very good at taking personal criticism. Anne hated change. (As do I. As do I!)
Anne was even a writer in the movie!
And the second reason can be summed up in two words...
Around the 7th grade, boys started to become obnoxious. However, I found comfort in the two Anne of Green Gables miniseries and tried to reassure myself that not all boys were eejits, and that MY Gilbert Blythe was out there somewhere. I found other girls who felt the same exact way, mainly my friend, Michelle. We gushed over Gilbert Blythe, and the actor who played him, Jonathan Crombie, constantly on the schoolbus, and watched his scenes over and over at sleepovers. He was our romantic ideal.
There was just something about him...his mischievous grin, his messy curly hair. The way he'd wrinkle his nose and say "Sorry". (True Anne fans know what I"m talking about.)
Let's remember the last scene of the first movie when Anne and Gilbert finally become friends and he tenderly touches her face and calls her "Carrots."
I dare you to watch the scene of Anne of Avonlea and Anne is dancing in the meadow by herself and Gilbert comes and asks her to dance without melting.
Michelle always said that if she ever met Jonathan Crombie, she was going to take a picture with him, blow it up, and hang it in her kitchen forever.
We never thought that day would actually come.
I wouldn't consider him to be a first crush per say, but definitely a first romantic ideal. Around the time when boys became annoying, we began to put Gilbert on a pedestal. Why can't all boys be like Gilbert? Are there any Gilberts left out there? Will I ever find MY Gilbert?
Anne's friends in the movies constantly tell her that she and Gilbert are meant to be, even if her old chum doesn't fit her romantic ideal. Oddly enough, Gilbert became a romantic ideal for many young women. (Myself included...so very very much.)
I never thought Jonathan Crombie, the man who breathed life into Gilbert Blythe, would ever be somebody I would see perform on stage (since I don't, you know, live in Canada) or meet.
Dreams do indeed come true.
A fellow Gilbert fanatic and I went to see him in The Drowsy Chaperone and three days, Michelle and I went together. It was a day we never thought would come as 12-year-olds.
The only thing better than sitting in the front row of The Drowsy Chaperone while the Original Broadway Cast is on stage is sitting in the front row of The Drowsy Chaperone when Jonathan Crombie is sitting in a chair about ten feet away from you.
And when Jonathan Crombie hands your good friend a $20 bill to put in the BCEFA for him and then tells you to make sure she puts it there.
And when you tell Jonathan Crombie that he is part of the reason that made you and this good friend bond 10 years ago.
(to which Jonathan Crombie responded, "Don't you mean TWENTY years?! Are you Anne fans?")
(which kind of made us wonder, "Why ELSE would we love you Jonathan Crombie? YOU WERE GILBERT BLYTHE!" And also made us realize that it would have made him feel old if we said to him, "Yes, we know the movie came out twenty years ago, BUT we were too young to appreciate it back then.")
And watching Jonathan Crombie sign autographs for little children! "Will you sign my program?" "I'd LOVE to sign your program!" Jonathan Crombie happily responds to the little children.
(Awe, he's nice to little kids, I thought! I love him even more! Then again, if he had been mean to the little kids, I'd have gone home crying and burned my 20th Anniversary Anne of Green Gables DVD.)
I love you, Jonathan Crombie!
Promise me one thing, Jonathan Crombie...the next time I lose a job, you'll come back to Broadway. You're getting me through this, buddy!
He is as Gilbert as ever. At 40 years old, he is still every bit as cute and warm and still has those Gilbert dimples!
While I don't think Mr. Jonathan Crombie was SCARED of us in anyway...I think he was slightly confused. I don't think he has any idea just how famous he is to some people (and by some people, I mean my friends and me.)
I am still looking for my Gilbert...some girlhood ideals never die...I know he is out there somewhere!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I've learned that the people you went to high school with fall into several different categories...there are a precious few that I still (and always will) hold among my closest friends. These are friends that knew me when my dad died, and we we watched each othef grow up..there are the ones that reentered your life once MySpace came into effect, those you will smile and go, "What's up?" when you see them at the store (but not stop to talk), those you will smile and go, "What's up?" when you you see them at the store (and then do stop to talk, and exchange phone numers, but never call) and then those you barely thought of when you were actually IN school together, let alone seven years later.
Last night, one of my old schoolmates who falls in Category A IMed me to tell me that a boy from Category E died of a drug overdose on Sunday.
Even though this guy wasn't my friend, or even an aquaintance, the second I heard her say his name, I automatically remembered his face and kept seeing that face in my mind for the rest of the day. I thought about him on and off today, just thinking about how tragic and pointless it is.
He is DEAD. He's GONE. He's never coming back. He was on this earth one second, and gone the next. His parents and siblings will never see him again. Four years ago, I heard of another classmate's death from drugs, and remember those same emotions...what a sad, sad waste.
Right now, I have a cousin who has been battling cancer for three years. He was actually told that he had about six months to live, and, since then, has fought with the most admirable determination I have ever witnessed. My cousin was a healthy young man, and, just like that, he has a terminal illness.
Comparing him to those two boys makes it even sadder and more confusing. My cousin didn't have any choice in what happened to him. These boys did. I know it's an illness, an addiction, but there's just no excuse for it. They didn't have to die. My father died of lung cancer. He was a heavy smoker for many years. I feel the same way about my dad..."It didn't have to happen! He didn't have to die! If only he didn't smoke!"
I will be thinking about this boy's family and keeping them in my prayers. I wish him peace now that's he's free, and I am sure that so many of my old schoolmates are right now having the same thoughts...whether he fell into their Category A or Category E.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
(It is a wonder I didn't fail out of the fourth grade.)
Michael Landon taught me that it was possible to become famous and beloved and rich by being a sentimental cornball of a writer. I still strive to be that.
My mom and I watched an E! True Hollywood Story special on Mr. Landon one night. An old friend spoke of the time when young Michael (or Eugene, as he was known then) had to do an oral book report. He had forgotten that it was due, and got up and made up a book and did the report on this made-up book. My mother looked over at me and said, "That sounds like something you would do...wait, that IS something you have done, isn't it?"
I always thought Michael Landon a kindred spirit...and I think that he would be heartbroken to see what television has turned into.
Where are the days of quality television shows? Good writing, strong characters and intriguing storylines??? Shows the whole family could watch, that would be just as meaningful in 30 years as they are today?
I recently heard of this new show:
My mother always told my sister and I that she wanted us to bring home guys like Scott Baio...probably because she, like many others, believe he was really just like his character on Charles in Charge. And now look at him...he has his own reality show...why?
When I was in college, we watched a movie called Raise the Red Lantern in my women's studies course. In this movie, a rich man in 1920's China has three wives. Each night, he decides which one he'll sleep with that night by raising the red lantern over her part of the home. The women stand in a row each night. If he chooses them, they gloat. If he doesn't, they pout. The women become manipulative and competitive, all the while being treated like property.
While many watched this movie and were horrified at the barbaric views these men had towards women, all I could think was that things haven't changed much.
The television show The Bachelor is the same exact plotline. Watch a "rose ceremony" from any season of The Bachelor and compare it to the lantern scenes from this movie. It's truly the same situation. This show just illustrates that women have not come as far as we'd like to believe they have and that America isn't really much more advanced than 1920's China. It's really just complete trash, and if I watch as much as ten minutes of that show, I start feeling ashamed of my gender as a whole.
Today, I took my "church kids" (the kids in the youth group at my church which I volunteer with) to a local baseball game. The National Anthem was sung by a certain American Idol contestant, who, when on the show, was criticized for her voice, praised for her beauty, and became very controversial for...some other stuff she did. I don't even think she made it to the top ten.
However, for a couple of weeks, her picture was everywhere, she was discussed on The View and suddenly became a celebrity.
My church kids were very excited to meet her, and lined up for pictures and autographs.
I wondered...WHY was this girl a "celebrity"? For any talent she might have, for being pretty or for having controversy?
Does reality television have that much of an impact on our society? Will it be the death of us all?
Had this been 25 years ago, I bet those kids would have been just as excited to meet Melissa Gilbert of Little House on the Prairie fame! That girl earned her fame legitimately!
As a writer, I would love to create something substantial one day. When I think about the money that was used to produce this Scott Baio show, or Joe Millionaire or Who Wants to be a Freaking Princess, it makes me sad to know that there is one less shot for Michael Landon-like vehicle to be produced instead.
"Half-Pint" has stood the test of time...this other junk won't.
We miss you, Michael Landon.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
That doesn't happen to me too often.
I tend to cry (a lot) when things get sentimental and sappy (I needed a towel after seeing Little Women with Sutton Foster. Beth's death will forever destroy me, no matter what the form that freaking story is told in.)
I burst into tears at the end of Thoroughly Modern Millie and cried during the closing number of The Drowsy Chaperone because I just related to that old man in the chair that loved musicals as much as I did. Both of these shows were feel-good comedies and still managed to make me weep...but not the "I'm laughing so hard my eyes are wet" way.
I almost laughed to the verge of tears at In My Life...(but I had to fight it, because I had a front row center rush seat and I was the only person in the entire row. It would have made the performers feel bad if they saw me crying through my laughter, because the show wasn't supposed to be funny. It was about a guy with Tourette's syndrome who falls in love with a girl with OCD...his mom and sister were killed in a car accident and watch over him and sing from Heaven...and his angel little sister twirls around in a tutu and sings about her cat named Yoda. It was brilliant. Actually, when I was buying my ticket for that performance, somebody stopped me and asked if I was IN the show, and said that I looked like I should be. I am still wondering if meant that I looked like I had Tourette's syndrome, or that I looked like I had OCD. One of the two. Hmm.)
Xanadu, however, is supposed to be funny.
And it is.
Oh, good Heavens, it is.
Here's the recap, so I don't have to talk about it here:
Now, there is one factor that brought me to this show, and that factor is Mr. Cheyenne Jackson, who stars as Sonny, a struggling artist with a dream (to open a disco roller-skating rink.)
Mr. Jackson literally "skated" in and rescued the show when the original Sonny, James Carpinello, broke his ankle. (I find this incredibly disappointing and sad for Mr. Carpinello. I wish him a speedy recovery and much success.)
Last night was Mr. Jackson's second performance, in a (major Broadway) show he only had about a week's practice to be in.
And you know what???
He was spectacular! (I'd like to point out that Mr. Jackson actually played Superman just last week...and here he is, sweeping in and saving the show!)
This guy is just a pure delight to watch. I think the old lady sitting near me at Cheyenne's show Illyria a few years ago said it best when she remarked, "He's like George Clooney...so handsome, but doesn't take himself seriously." He is probably one of the best-looking guys out there, but he's just so goofy as Sonny. There is no hint of a cologne model persona that his physical appearance implies. (Does that make sense?) And that VOICE! He is indeed a special one!!!
Kerry Butler plays the muse, and I really really WANT that dress she wears throughout the show. It looks like the little BCBG number I have been eyeing to wear to my cousin's wedding next month. She's about 2 feet shorter than Cheyenne (but isn't everybody), but the two still worked extremely well together. She can sing, she can dance and she makes me quite depressed that I can do neither!
Tony Roberts is in the show, which made me slightly starstruck. I am the child of a big Woody Allen fan, and his movies, which Mr. Roberts appeared in frequently, were always on in our house. In fact, my name was almost Annie Hall...until Princess Diana landed on the cover of the newspaper one morning. To be sitting in my rush seat a few feet away from the stage while he was on it was a thrill...not going to lie.
Jackie Hoffman and Mary Testa are comic geniuses.
The ensemble?! FABULOUS. Curtis Holbrook is, quite possibly, one of the cutest things on earth, and his little 1940's tapdance number is the stuff that dreams are made of. (Awe, he wears a pinstripe suit and a derby!)
I thoroughly enjoyed this show. While Cheyenne Jackson was my motive to see it, the whole thing is just GREAT and the funniest thing I have seen onstage in a while.
For all of those following my story (and who isn't?), I was laid-off in March and took it rather badly. I have been on many job interviews since then, and I am tired, frustrated, disgusted, disgruntled and drained most days. (I might just break out into "Everybody Hurts" in a few seconds...)
I have been considering going on anti-depressants to keep my spirits up throughout this typical Quarterlife Crisis and jobhunt. (And summertime is the worst time to jobhunt. The city smells. And you're running around in uncomfortable shoes and dark businessclothes, passing people in flip-flops and sundresses, mumbling, "Hire me! Hire me! Please, please, hire me!" The plastic portfolio I keep all my writing samples in is even starting to melt. It depresses me.)
But, last night, I decided I'm not going to do on anti-depressants.
I do not need them.
I am just going to see Xanadu every day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Friday, June 22, 2007
After she got engaged last year, I was happy for her. (Really!)
She called me at 7:30 AM to tell me, and when I rehashed the story to my friend at work, she said, "Oh, that's awful that she called you so early with news that would make you jealous!"
Why would I be jealous? Why does everybody assume that all girls have "find a husband" on top of their "to-do" lists?
At our first family party "post-my-sister-now has an-engagement-ring", a relative said to my mother (as I stood right there), "One down...one to go!"
It makes me wonder...is getting married the only thing it matters? Is is the one greatest accomplishment in the world? Could you fail at every aspect of life, get married, and be redeemed because getting married is the most important thing in the world?
My mother claims that I shot said relative a "look" after he made his comment. I am sure that I did, because I think it was a very stupid thing to say. It is something you hear all the time, and I wish people would listen to themselves and realize how dumb and insensitive they sound.
"One to go." One to go WHERE? What exactly do you mean by that, Random Relatives? Maybe I'm GOING PLACES. Maybe I'll do sensational things and go senational places. But, alas, none of these things matter unless you have a ring on your left hand, right?
And if a woman never gets married, is she considered a burden on society (or, at least, her family) for the rest of her life?
I remember riding the train home last year, pre-Thanksgiving holiday and it was extremely crowded. I had no room to move my arms around to read or write, so I listened to the guy and girl in front of me talk.
(Like you wouldn't have.)
They were around my age, and didn't know each other, illustrated by them introducing themselves to one another. (Usually a sign that two people do not know each other.) I later recognized the girl from a class I had in college, but had no idea what they looked like the whole ride.
Girl: I have a back-up if I'm not married by 26.
Guy: A back-up? What is this, Friends?
Girl: Yes. I have a back-up. And if that doesn't work out and I'm not married by 30, I am seriously just going to kill myself.
First off, who the heck talks this way to a complete stranger? And she sounded SO SERIOUS. I wanted to just walk over to her and tell her how incredibly idiotic she sounds and that no guy is ever going to want to be within a 10-feet radius of her if she talks like that.
Guy: WHAT? How old are you?
Girl: I'm 24. See, you don't understand. Guys can get married when they're 40. Girls can't. Do you know how pathetic it is for a woman not to be married?
Stupid stupid stupid stupid STUPID STUPID STUPID.
Okay, I am going to be totally honest. I really can't pass a random baby on the street without melting and thinking, "Arghhhhhhhh, when do I get to have one of those?" And yet, I know it's quite far off for me and that I am BY NO MEANS ready to have children right now, as much as I think I'll make a good mother when the time comes.
As for marriage, I'd rather not get married EVER then rush into something with the wrong person because "my time is up". Give me a BREAK, you stupid, random, idiotic girl on the train. Give me a break!
A friend's friend recently announced she is getting a DIVORCE at the ripe old age of 22 and less than 3 months of marriage!
I admit, there were times when I wanted to, you know, change the world before my sister's wedding...then at the reception, everyone would be all, "Hey, Diana...so I hear you're still single...BUT CONGRATULATIONS ON THAT PUTLIZER!" or, "So, HOW many weeks has your book been on the New York Times Bestseller list?" and, of coures, "You looked just beautiful on the cover of ELLE this month!"
But then I realize, "You know what...I'm fine...I'm me...let me never be like that stupid girl on the train."
(Besides, it's just a matter of time before I meet Prince William and we get married, of course.)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
It's funny, because I don't exactly remember being disciplined. I just KNEW I couldn't act a certain way in public.
When I first started working in the bookstore, they stuck me in the children's department because, at the time, I was one of the very few girls and it seemed a natural place to leave me. Nobody loves children more than I do...seriously...but over the years, I saw the most appalling behavior, not from the children, but from their idiot parents.
One day, for instance, a little girl was standing on one of the tables. I had visions of her slipping, breaking a bone, her family suing my store.
In my lovliest Miss Mollie voice, I said, "Ohhh, please don't stand on the table! I don't want you to get hurt!"
Under his breath, her daddy goes, "SHE obviously doesn't have kids...it's not like she was climbing on the bookshelves or something."
I really don't understand WHAT my having or not having children really has to do with the fact that his child was climbing all over the place like a little monkey.
I really should have burst into tears and went, "Actually...yes...I DO have a child...but my parents forced me to give it up for adoption when I was 16...they took it away from me right after it was born! I don't even know if it was a boy or a girl!"
(Another episode of, "Diana, you really DO watch too many Lifetime movies!")
Today I went out to eat with my mother. Now, we were in a diner, and I understand there will be families, there will be little children. (Might I repeat...nobody loves little kids more than I do.)
However...this gang sitting near us caused the majority of the other people eating to request to be moved.
There were four grown women (two of which were pregnant...oh, hurray...there will be more of them this time next year!!!!), and three little boys.
By the end of the meal, these children were flinging french fries at the waitstaff while their moms chatted and didn't even look over at them. A disgruntled waitress started cleaning up, looking obviously quite annoyed, and these moms STILL didn't react.
The children got out of their chairs and started climbing by the windows and playing under the blinds.
These moms STILL didn't do a blasted thing.
Finally, they finished their dinner (and I think there was a collective sigh of relief from the rest of the diner when they didn't order dessert), and they started to leave. The moms actually realized, now, many minutes after the fact, that these wonderful children had thrown food all over the floor. They told the kids to pick it up, and then said, "Good boy!"
For making a huge mess and then picking up a freaking french fry off the floor after they were ordered to?
It absolutely boggles my mind.
The waitress came by with our check and then told me that she hopes I learned my lesson and won't have kids until I am 100.
I doubt that I will take that advice, but I must say, I am still at that stage in my life when I enjoy spending time with little kids and knowing I can send them back when the day is through.
Monday, June 18, 2007
I was a baby without a name for a few days...I was supposed to be called James, but when I was born a female, James was x-ed (obviously) and other names were thrown about...my grandfather suggested Joan. Others were Jamie Lynn, Lindsay, and Annie Hall. (I would have freaking LOVED to have been Annie Hall!)
Luckily for me, Princess Diana and Prince Charles had gotten married the past year, and her face was splashed all over the magazines and newspapers. Neither one of my parents had ever known a Diana personally, and, just like that, I was named after both a princess AND a goddess. (Neither my sister or I have middle names, though, which always made me feel slightly like a freak whenever my friends would learn that and react to it. "YOU DON'T HAVE A MIDDLE NAME??? BUT YOU HAVE TO HAVE A MIDDLE NAME!" When I was confirmed, I chose the name Grace, which means I now carry the names of not one, but TWO, beloved blonde princesses who died tragically young in automobile accidents.)
Princess Diana was killed the summer before my sophomore year of college. I will always remember my sophomore year as the year when my own father was diagnosed with cancer. (He would pass away the next year.) The night of her accident, my older sister had left for her very first year of college, and my mom was quite upset. They went to their friends' house that night, and I watched Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. (I never claimed that I had been a cool 15-year-old.)
The show was interupted to announce Diana's accident, and the next morning, I learned she was gone. I watched coverage nonstop, even when I went to babysit. One image that will always stick in my mind is her coffin with the card sitting on top of it, "Mummy" written across. Prince Charles held onto little Harry's hand as they looked at all the flowers that had accumulated at Kensington...William shook hands and said, "Thank you...so much."
When my dad died, I entered the same exclusive club that William and Harry were already in...that 4% Club, I like to call it. (Four percent of people lose a parent before they reach 20 years old.) You do feel an automatic kinship with somebody that has been in a similar situation, no matter who they are or what the exact circumstances were.
I watched Matt Lauer talk to William and Harry tonight, and I must say, I love them! What sweet, fine boys they are. (I say this like I am their great-aunt.) I was disappointed to hear of William and Kate's break-up, because who doesn't want Prince William to be happy? (Might I add, that girl wears some fabulous hats. I guess if you're dating the future King of England you can get away with wearing fancy hats like that. If you are just a nice girl who works in a bookstore or an office and you were hats like that, you just look weird.)
And, of course, I have always had the faraway daydream that I will meet Prince William one day, and he will shake my hand and go, "Ah, yes. That is an easy name for me to remember." (Can't you just hear it? Oh, it will happen some day. It WILL.)
I wish these two lovely young men all the best in the world.
And I'd like to add, in case William googles his name in blog search and is reading this right now, I am single, but I'm also Catholic, so I hope that won't be too much of a problem.
I am not quite a Superman fan. I have never even seen any of the movies, even though I did love Lois and Clark back in the 7th grade. (Even then, I didn't care for the Superman character...I think I watched because I really wanted to be a journalist...and I loved the actor who played Jimmy Oleson! That guy was adorable!)
This show was around in 1966, and ran for about four months. While the book was pretty (not so great), most of the songs were catchy, and the show was hilarious if only for one reason and that reason is Mr. Cheyenne Jackson!
The first time I saw Mr. Jackson onstage was over three years ago when he played Duke Orsino in Illyria, an adaption of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. That year, I was taking a Shakespeare course in college for pure fun (I was the only non-English major in that class). The Shakespeare Geek in me loved that show and Mr. Jackson had the audience roaring.
I think the old lady sitting next to me summed up Cheyenne's appeal perfectly: "He reminds me of George Clooney...very good-looking, but he doesn't take himself too seriously."
Over the past few years, I have seen Cheyenne star in Aida, one of my all-time favorite Broadway musicals, (he got buried alive at the end of that one), Altar Boyz as lead singer Matthew, who sings, "Girl, you make me want to wait/At least, until our wedding date/'Til then...I'll master...my own fate". Nope, I'm not making this up) and soon his star-making performance in 2005's All Shook Up, ALSO a musical take on Twelfth Night, except now Duke Orsino was a guitar-toting roustabout singing Elvis songs. The New York Times ran a huge advertisement with Cheyenne's picture announcing, "A STAR IS BORN!"
Last year, I saw him in several smaller projects...a naive pornstar in F-ing Men, a male prostitute named Trick Goodlay in the stage soap opera The Cartells (in which he stripped down to a pair of red satin shorts and did the Molly Ringwald dance), and as Victoria Clark's younger lover in The Agony and the Agony. (He had a tattoo of a snake on his neck for that one!)
As I watched Superman on Friday night, I recalled the many times I have seen this guy onstage and how he never, ever, EVER fails to do one thing...make me laugh like a freaking goon, causing people around me to look at me like I'm weird. (At The Agony and the Agony, I even heard one woman go to her companion of me, "That really wasn't that funny..." Oh, yes it is, Lady. You have no idea.)
He's just THAT funny, with impeccable comic timing, and somehow makes you completely forget you are watching such a striking-looking man.
Cheyenne also played Mark Bingham in what possibly might have been one of the most important films of the year, United 93. He proved he has a serious side, and what a way to prove it. He doesn't fool around.
As of Friday, Cheyenne will be starring (on rollerskates) in Xanadu on Broadway. I have absolutely no doubt that he'll be winning over audiences from his very first performance.
Back to Superman...Lois Lane was played by Jean Louisa Kelly, who you might know from Uncle Buck, Yes, Dear and Mr. Holland's Opus. Of course, what made her a superstar to ME was the fact that she starred in the film version of The Fantasticks several years ago. The movie got panned, but I freaking LOVE The Fantasticks and the fact that they cast JLK (who has dark curly hair) as Luisa made me feel that I, in my own dark curly hair crazy girl mind, was playing Luisa as well. She was lovely in the show, as was Shoshana Bean. David Rasche also was featured, and all I could think of whenever he came onstage was his stellar performance in the movie Bingo. (Remember that one??? A young boy moves when his football star dad is traded teams...and his trusty dog Bingo stops at nothing to find him...)
I enjoy seeing these random, small-scaled performances. Keep an eye out for more shows featured at the York, and, of course, on this shooting star Cheyenne Jackson!
The film ends with the young boy (played by an actor who, terribly enough, now faces murder charges for a cop's death) reminding us that, "The saddest thing in life is wasted talent..."
I feel like I am wasting my talent lately.
A bookstore is one of the saddest places that a writer could possibly work at. You can't really understand that until you've been there. While there is one side that goes, "A BOOKSTORE! I get to be surrounded by books ALL DAY LONG! I get to read them when it's quiet, I get a 30% discount, I get to toss around literary references and the people that surround me will understand them...it is the most heavenly place in the world to work!"
However, there is another side...a much darker, frustrating, depressing side.
Did you know that there's a thing that bookstores do when paperback books don't sell out?
They rip the covers off, send the covers with the barcodes back to the vendor...
and put all the coverless books in the dumpster. (We were allowed to take home strips, which was one positive.)
I remember the first time I had to strip a book. It wasn't even an important book, I believe it was a little Powerpuff Girls chapter book from the children's department. My hands absolutely SHOOK as I ripped the cover off. I knew it would be much less painless if I just tore it off (like ripping off a band-aid) but it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.
I worked at the bookstore for five years, and probably stripped, roughly, seven thousands books. I brought home as many as I could, but I never got around to reading most of them. They accumulated in the trunk of my car, until last year when I got a flat tire and had to get at my spare. I finally emptied out my trunk, and the multitudes of strips, and started reading these random titles on the train and discovered some gems that I never would have read had I not had the compulsive desire to give these strips a home...
Back to being depressed...
I like to consider myself a writer...but am I, really?! I have several completed manuscripts in my possession, and I have no idea what I am supposed to do with them. I know what a special piece of me is in all of those works, and when you are in a place such as Barnes and Noble for as long as I am, being around all those books, seeing all the names of those authors that nobody will ever really hear of again...knowing the love and hard work they put into those books, only to have them stripped and, if they're lucky, be read by a sympathetic clerk.
And the worst part is realizing that you're not so special after all. While when I was in high school, my old English teacher would refer to me as "the next Danielle (Steel)"...but the bookstore is full of those. I'm no different from any of them, and it seems pointless to even try.
Then I remember that the "saddest thing in life is wasted talent."
What have I been accomplishing lately???
My last job was rather mundane. My salary was quite less than staggering. I answered phones. I stuffed envelopes. I picked up packages. I was barely using my talents there, except for my sparkling ability to brighten up environments and make people laugh. (What??? I'm allowed to acknowledge my strengths, right?)
Since I was fired ("let-go", but, does it matter how they put it? I was fired). I haven't been doing much. At all. I send out about 100 resumes a day. (Since I got Optimum last week, I am hoping to increase that to 400 resumes a day.) I got on interviews. I rip stockings. (And, last week, I also fell in the street and got my first skinned knee in about 15 years.) I watch TV, and remind myself that I'll never be as pathetic or disgusting as those girls on the Maury Povich show who need to test fifteen men before they find out who the father of their baby is. (Then I realize I am pretty pathetic for watching it!)
I want more.
Right now, a friend of mine is getting ready to star in a Broadway show. I had appointed myself his PR rep a few years ago, and like to take some credit for his current success. (Not really.) I am so happy for him, and so excited, and yet there is a part of me that doesn't want to be the girl who just gets excited for her talented and special friends.
I want people to start congratulating ME because I've done something great. I want to be able to tell people that my book will be on stands in February, or my play is finally being produced, or I've finally landed that reality show! (Whatever, if Ashlee Simpson gets one, why can't I?)
I'm tired, and I feel like I am getting old.
"The saddest thing in life is wasted talent. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent."
Saturday, June 16, 2007
I had the sincere joy of seeing Mr. Cincotti perform last week, and have been listening to one of his new songs, "Cinderella Beautiful" nonstop.
I wonder, why didn't I ever meet boys that romantic and old-fashioned like that when I was 23? (it was quite a long time ago.)
LIKE APRIL SNOW BLOWING AROUND IN GRAMERCY PARK
THE TWO OF US WERE NEVER MEANT TO LAST
YOU LEFT YOUR TRACES AND DROVE AWAY LIKE A CIRCUS IN TOWN
A THREE-RING SHOW THAT COMES AND GOES TOO FAST
THE BEST OF FRIENDS HAVE BEEN DIVIDED BY A KISS
IF WE CAN'T LOVE AGAIN
I CAN ALWAYS REMENISCE
THIS ONE IS FOR YOU
WE ALMOST MADE OUR FAIRY TALE COME TRUE
HAPPY EVER AFTER WAS
NOW, TWO YEARS AFTER MIDNIGHT
I'M STILL THINKING OF THOSE YESTERDAYS
WHEN I WAS PRINCE CHARMING
AND YOU WERE CINDERELLA BEAUTIFUL
YOU KNOW I DON'T LIKE CHRISTMAS
BUT THANKS FOR THE HOLIDAY CARD
I DIDN'T KNOW YOU MOVED SO FAR AWAY
THE WINTER MONTHS WERE THE USUAL MESS
BACK HERE IN NEW YORK
EVERY DAY ANOTHER SHADE OF GREY
I'M DOING FINE
BUT SOMETIMES EVERY NOW AND THEN
I MISS WHO I WAS WITH YOU
AND I WONDER WHERE HE WENT
THIS ONE IS FOR YOU
WE ALMOST MADE OUR FAIRY TALE COME TRUE
HAPPY EVER AFTER WAS
NOW, TWO YEARS AFTER MIDNIGHT
I'M STILL THINKING OF THOSE YESTERDAYS
WHEN I WAS PRINCE CHARMING
AND YOU WERE CINDERELLA BEAUTIFUL
AND I KNOW OUR TIME HAS COME AND GONE AWAY
SO WHY DO I WASTE MY NIGHTS
DREAMING OF A YOU AND ME THAT CAN NEVER BE AGAIN?
HAPPY EVER AFTER WAS
NOW, TWO YEARS AFTER MIDNIGHT
I STILL THINKING OF THOSE YESTERDAYS
WHEN I WAS PRINCE CHARMING
AND YOU WERE CINDERELLA BEAUTIFUL
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I tell myself:
-At least you're not supporting four kids. At least you have a roof over your head. At least you're not starving. At least you have really pretty hair.
-You were way overqualified for that job anyway.
-They have no idea what they threw away...you are a hard worker and you made them all laugh and brightened that place up a bit.
-You took every demeaning order with a smile on your face and YOU ARE FABULOUS and any office that doesn't want you STINKS!
It doesn't help though...in fact, it makes things worse. I would have preferred it if I had been caught stealing, or called out sick four times a week and blew off my responsibilities and they finally just had to fire me...but I really did try! I did my best! And it hurts a lot that it came to that.
Maybe I never will get over it, the same way I still am scarred over not being accepted into the Young Authors Conference in the 4th grade. (Yup, still am. And I'm going to dedicate my first novel to the teacher who was in charge of that conference and denied my story.)
However, my rejection from the Young Authors Conference just gave me ammunition to keep writing and not give up and perhaps that is what getting laid-off should do for me as well.
After two years of the most frustrating jobhunt on the planet, I got what seemed like a dream job, and it all finally made sense...things had worked out like they were supposed to and there really WAS a reason for everything (and that wasn't just something people said when times were rough to keep everybody from going insane! Maybe that whole "you find love when you least expect to" adage is true as well!!!!)
I lost that dream job a week before my 25th birthday. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY DIANA!)
Now, this was especially frustrating for me, because, for the past year, I had bought every last one of my colleagues birthday cards and cakes. I would find just the right card and make sure everybody signed it. I would find out if they preferred chocolate or cheesecake or white cake, and that is exactly what they would get. And, then they let me go right before my own birthday, and I never got my own cake or card. It’s a very sad tale, really.
I deserved my own cake and card. Heck, I also deserved a parade.
My boss and the HR head pretty much sat me down and said, “You have done a great job…everybody loves you…now, go pack up your desk and get lost and never return.”
(In so many words. Does it really matter how they phrase it?)
The end result is the same…I no longer had a job. After one year of being the absolute best I could have been for them, I was being “let-go”.
My boss stood there as I packed up my desk and watched me sympathetically.
(Or, perhaps, he was concerned I was going to steal paperclips. I wish I had. The one thing I truly miss about that job was getting to order all the office supplies.)
As I walked down 42nd Street, I sobbed to myself.
Of course, it was raining. Doesn’t it always rain on days like that?
And worse yet, I had tickets to see Les Miserables that night. Probably not the best show to go see when you are feeling blue. I bawled throughout the entire show, grateful I wasn’t dying in the French Revolution, but frustrated and scared of what was going to become of me. I didn’t deserve this. I worked hard and did my best and just didn't understand why this had to happen to ME.
The prospect of going back on the job sites and interviews and pinchy shoes was daunting. I just couldn't do it. I barely had the energy to stand up.
Three days after I lost my job and part of my mind and had my soul stomped on, I accompanied my older sister on a businesstrip to San Francisco. It was my first time to the other coast, and it was an extremely short stay (less than twenty-four hours.)
During the flight there (on the flight returning home, my sister and I just watched a King of Queens DVD for six hours...nothing like a little Jerry Stiller to cheer you up), I looked down at the world, and realized that, in the grand scheme of things, a little underpaid secretary job really wasn’t too important.
There was a big, grand earth out there...there was a lot out there besides the theatre district and even the entire island of Manhattan.
Things were most likely going to be okay...in fact, maybe things already WERE okay.
It has been three months, and I am yet to find another dream job.
I spend most of my time hypnotised on MediaBistro.com and HotJobs.com. My head spins. I have already been on about twenty job interviews, and some have gone incredibly well and I come out dancing in the street. (I never hear from them again.) I'm confused, and frustrated, and jobhunting in the summertime is awful. (You're in your dark business clothes, walking by happy tourists in sundresses and flipflops. And I consistently forget to bring along rubber bands to tie back my hair with.)
But, in my heart, I know I'll once again have that feeling when I look back and go, "Ah, yes...everything DOES happen for a reason..."
I hope it comes sooner rather than later...
The other night, I watched my cousin's children. The six-year-old was very excited to show me his "Webkinz." When I saw what a "Webkinz" was...small and furry and each different animal had its own name...I said, "Ah, yes...it's like a Beanie Baby!"
Dylan looked up at me and went, "What's a Beanie Baby?" and he grabbed his little sister's baby doll and held it up and asked, "Is THIS a Beanie Baby???"
I shook my head at this clueless, dear little soul.
Children have never heard of Beanie Babies.
We are getting old.
I work with the children of my parish. They are 10 to 14. (I used to think that I only liked very little children, but these preteens have grown on me.) We were putting together care packages for the troops and flipped on the television for some background music.
The movie Titanic was on.
Remember the Titanic craze of nine years ago? You couldn't go ANYWHERE without hearing about the movie, Leo and Kate's beautiful, shining young faces on the cover of every magazine.
My church children started saying stuff like, "Oh, I think I've heard of this movie!" and "My mom loves this movie!"
KIDS DON'T KNOW THE MOVIE TITANIC.
How old ARE we anyway???
A few months ago, I had a dreadful cold and could barely speak. I rolled out of bed and went ot Rite-Aid, in my pajamas, for some cough syrup.
The pre-pubesent child behind the counter asked me for my ID.
Me: Wait...are you kidding?
Boy: (giggles) Do I LOOK like I am kidding?
I handed him my ID, thinking, smugly..."I still got it! I'm not that old!"
Boy: DUDE! 1982!!! You're older than ME!
Monday, June 11, 2007
That dreamboat's name is Peter Cincotti.
He's wonderfully talented, incredibly charismatic, and a rare combination of 1945 handsome and 2007 frat boy cute. (Is that possible? I never knew it was possible. But Peter Cincotti proves that it is possible.)
I first became introduced to the music of Peter Cincotti a few years ago when I realized that he was too much like Harry Connick, Jr. for me not to listen to him. Harry Connick, Jr. types in this day and age are rare and far between.
When his second album was released, the bookstore I was working in played it for 8 straight hours. While my coworkers would realize they were subconsciouly singing"I Love Paris" along with Peter and wanted to bash their heads against a dictionary, I couldn't get enough of that album (Which was entitled On the Moon, where I nabbed the title of this journal from.) I remember picking up my own copy of it when my shift ended, and my coworker ringing me up and asking, "Don't you hear this thing ENOUGH during the day?"
No, I didn't. Three years later, it is still my most-played album.
There is also one song on that album which sticks out, clashing with the sweet, romantic, old-fashioned tunes that Peter usually sings. "I know that look's for me/So here's your chance to be/The lucky girl for me to love tonight/This I'm tellin' you/Tomorrow we'll be through/You're just the girl for me to love tonight." (To make it even odder, he wrote that song with his big sister, so I like to think that it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek, with his sister going, "Oh, puh-lease! What girl is looking at YOU with hunger in her eyes???")
As I listened to more and more of Peter's songs and read a few interviews, I learned we had a lot in common. Like myself, Peter lost his father when he was young. (Chronicled in the beautiful song, "He's Watching", which I refuse to listen to while wearing eye makeup of any kind.)
Yeah...a lot in common...and...we are both native New Yorkers, and...both have Italian last names with double consonants.
Fine, that's a stretch...but I was absolutely taken with this young singer.
He has multitudes of class. How many guys in their early 20's have multitudes of class?
(Plus, any guy who records "Rainbow Connection" on his first album and remarks in the linear notes, "...nobody can sing it like Kermit the Frog..." is quality.)
I finally got a chance to see Peter perform last week at The Box downtown.
While the concert was much less-Harry Connick, Jr. and much more Gavin DeGraw, I was completely captivated.
The album is not due out until August, so I cannot go about analyzing and quoting his new songs (much as I'd like to) but my personal favorites of the evening were "Cinderella Beautiful" and "Goodbye Philadelphia."
"Cinderella Beautiful", from what I heard that night, seems to be about Peter reflecting on a lost love, and how he was "Prince Charming" and she was "Cinderella Beautiful."
What a freaking lovely thing for a young man to say to a girl.
you were Cinderella beautiful
I tend to put "crazy" before things to emphasis my point...
And, even "crazy beautiful" and, of course, "crazy ugly."
"Cinderella beautiful", however, is something I would never think of and is my new favorite.
I can't think of any girl who wouldn't want to hear something like that...
Peter also interjected anecdotes in between songs, talking about the differences between Los Angeles and New York (even though LA is more laid-back and people are a lot kinder...he'd rather be in NYC. A boy after my own heart.)
The Box was packed with Peter fans, including his biggest fans, his mama and sister. It's a tiny venue, and Peter (and his trusty piano) were roughly 7 feet away from me (on a diagonal.)To say that wasn't pure Heaven would be a pure lie...
Keep an eye out for this boy. I actually thought he was much more well-known, then realized he wasn't when I publicized to everybody that "PETER CINCOTTI IS DOING A SHOW DOWNTOWN AND IT'S REALLY CHEAP!"
I waited for my friends to react by giving an excited whoop, or maybe just pass-out cold because they couldn't contain the thrill, but they all just asked, "Who is Peter Cincotti?"
Peter Cincotti is a knock-out performer and a throwback to a more elegant age, brimming with class, charm, sophistication, romance and personality in the form of a 23-year-old boy.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
(Actually, I am not a vegetarian, I am a pescatarian, as I eat fish, but don't eat pork, beef or poultry.)
When I yawn, or sneeze, or cough, or am moody, my mother automatically blames the fact that I don't eat meat. My mother is a smoker, doesn't exercise, and eats poorly. However, according to her, it is my vegetarianism that will kill me, while a bacon cheeseburger is considered a healthy serving or protein.
I first became attracted to the vegetarian lifestyle at a very young age. I watched Charlotte's Web for the first time (the one featuring Debbie Reynolds as the voice of the beloved spider) and realized that the ham and pork and sausages my family often ate came from Wilbur.
I couldn't do it.
I told my mother I would never eat meat again.
This lasted for an entire summer. I still remember sitting at lunch with my sister and our cousin. They were eating ham sandwiches, I had my usual peanut butter.
My cousin giggled and shoved her sandwich in her mouth, exclaiming, "I'm sorry, Wilbur...but you just taste SO GOOD!"
I started to cry.
As the years passed, I occasionally ate meat. I couldn't always resist a cheeseburger or sausage with onions and peppers (a fixture at any Italian-American family dinner) and, yes, loved chicken and turkey. While I always have felt a pang of guilt over eating cows and pigs, I never had much of an attachment to chicks and turkeys.
(Also, I couldn't handle the thought of eating lamb. There was a great Greek restaurant across the street from our apartment. There was one "chicken dish" that my mom would always order and that I loved. However, one day I learned that it wasn't chicken, but lamb. My mother had lied to me because she knew I would never eat lamb. I once again cried.)
I'm not sure when exactly I completely stopped eating pork and beef, but I did, finding delight in veggie burders and tofu sausages and not missing the real thing too much. No cheeseburger would ever taste as good as badly as picturing a dying cow made me feel. (Kind of like that dieting adage, "There is no food that tastes so great as being thing feels!")
Two years ago, I realized I was a huge hypocrite. How come I ate turkey and chicken but wasn't eating other meats out of "ethical" reasons? Was it because I enjoyed turkey and chicken too much? Was it because turkeys and chickens aren't cute and cuddly as cows and pigs?
Before I knew it, chicken and turkey were on my "not to eat" list. It wasn't so bad though...Morningstar makes darn good 'chik'n nuggets'. (However, I am not so much a fan of tofurkey...tofu turkey.)
My mom's sister seems to share my mom's opinion of my vegetarianism. She asks me at just about every dinner (after I refuse meat sauce and I remind her that I do not eat meat), "But you eat chicken, right?"
Chicken is not a vegetable.
Chickens have faces.
Chickens do not grow on trees.
Chickens ARE meat!
Then there was the time my mother told me we were having vegetarian chili for dinner, which I often ordered at a local sandwich place. I poked at the "veggie" chili and looked up at my mom. "THIS is vegetarian???" I asked her, wondering what on earth those meat-like pieces were in my chili.
"Yes," my mom told me. "There's turkey in it."
I wonder if turkeys grow in the same region as chickens...
Recently, my mom made a dish of penne for family party.
"Is there meat in there?" I asked suspiciously. My mother rolled her eyes. "No! There is NO meat in there! Why would I put MEAT in there?"
Minutes later, I clearly heard my mother tell my cousin in a stage whisper, "There is prosciutto in the penne! BUT DON'T TELL DIANA!"
My cousin started to laugh, as I was standing right there, and we wondered...would she ever really accept the fact that I just don't eat meat?
There was also the time that she asked me if I wanted a hot dog or a hamburger at a barbeque. I reminded her, "Neither. Because I don't eat meat. I haven't eaten hot dogs or hamburgers in about ten years."
She replied with, "My life does not revolve around remembering that you don't eat meat!"
Although I am on PETA's mailing list, I don't go around preaching to people to not eat meat, nor am I throwing red paint at anybody. This is a personal decision, and many don't even know I am a vegetarian until it directly comes up.
(Or until they see me wearing my t-shirt with a little chick on it that says, "I don't eat YOUR fingers!")
And that way is being a personal friend of the Sinatra family.
Yesterday, I went to a family party, and my Great Uncle Louie, who is about 85, greeted me with, "So, are you still in touch with Sinatra?"
Being in touch with Sinatra...any Sinatra...is a big deal for a family who is full of Anthonys, Vinnys and Louies.
I was raised on Frank Sinatra. In the background of all our family movies, you can clearly hear his voice…The Voice. I loved him…loved his voice, his style, his personality, the era he represented…a time of innocence and romance, when a song was just about a guy telling a girl that he loved her. I had always said I was born fifty years too late. In fact, this was probably part of the reason that I didn’t date much in high school…I was looking for a certain sweet and romantic quality that died along with black and white movies!
I have always been a fan of writing letters. At thirteen, I wrote a letter to Frank’s youngest daughter, Tina, telling her how much I enjoyed the television movie she produced about her father’s life.
I guess she probably wasn’t getting too many letters from little girls who were fans of her father’s (which really doesn’t surprise me, most little girls aren’t so odd) because a correspondence was born. I sent her a paper I wrote about her father for my ninth grade English class, and confided in her when my own father was diagnosed with cancer.
After Frank’s death, I mailed Tina a sympathy card, telling her how I felt like a member of my family had died and how sad I was that I would never get to meet her dad, even though I felt like he had been a great-uncle of mine my whole life! She wrote back, saying, “I’m sorry you never met him, but hearing about you brought a big smile to his face.” Few things have ever touched me as much as knowing that Frank Sinatra knew who I was and that I had made him smile!
Thanks to Tina, I got to be a presenter at Hofstra University’s Frank Sinatra conference in November 1998. The night before, a representative from Access Hollywood called my house and told me they were interested in doing a story about me. Me? Why? What did I do except grow up in a home that loved Frank Sinatra (didn’t make me very different from the majority of Italian-American families I knew!) and written some letters to his daughter?
That night, I presented at the conference. Tina was in the audience, and it was my first time meeting her. My mom and dad both cried, as did a few very very old men in the front row. I guess Frank Sinatra just has the effect on people.
When the Access Hollywood story aired, I was billed as the Teen Who Touched Frank Sinatra’s Heart. (On the show the night before, they coming attraction referred to me as That Little Girl Who Loved Ol’ Blue Eyes. They must have thought I was under 7 and were probably very disappointed when a high school junior showed up.) I was mentioned in the same breath as Sting and Brad Pitt. It was weird…but after 16 years of living my life, I was quite used to being weird.
Unable to be modest about it (at all), I brought the recording to school on Monday. We watched it in every class, and my classmates clapped and asked me questions about it each time. My sister called me to tell me that she and her dormmates watched and cried over my segment, as did the rest of my family. My uncle told me that his kids rewound the story and watched it over and over. I was thoroughly enjoying my fifteen minutes of fame.
(Sidenote…years later, I managed to fit “Presenter at Frank Sinatra Conference 1998” on my resume….I had to word it that way…”The Teen Who Touched Frank Sinatra’s Heart” wouldn’t have really fit…If Frank Sinatra can’t get you a job…who can, really? I eventually would learn that even Ol’ Blue Eyes wasn’t that powerful.)
I am still in touch with Tina. I have often heard that as “tough” a personality as Frank Sinatra was said to have, once he was your friend, you had a friend for life. He obviously passed that sense of friendship and loyalty to his daughter.
My father died of cancer only four months after my Frank Sinatra experience. Three days before he died, a priest and old family friend came over to our home to give my dad his last rites. As sick as he was, my father was able to tell Father Rod the story of me and Frank Sinatra. That had made him so proud of me and he loved telling people about it. It would be the last time he would really talk. Shortly after, he became so ill he couldn’t speak, and then he was gone.
I’m pretty sure that Frank Sinatra and my dad have since met.
Friday, June 8, 2007
From 12:30 to 2:00, the casts of all the different Broadway shows perform in Bryant Park, and our story takes place on such a Thursday.
Four years ago, I was an intern for a Broadway Public Relations firm. I wasn't paid. (I think I got $5 a day for transportation, but considering I was coming in from NJ, my transportation was $18 a day. That internship didn't even count for college credits, so it actually ended up costing me! I am pretty sure that it is considered slave labor somewhere.)
I did what I was told, was yelled at frequently, and some days came home disgruntled and crying, with my mother telling me, "This is a no-brainer. QUIT! You're not even getting PAID."
However, one thing got me through those three months.
That entire summer, I kept dreaming about the afternoon that the show my office represented (a little thing called Chicago) performed, and how I would get to stand under the tent with the stars of four of Broadway's biggest shows. I would attend these concerts in the park every year, and sit on the grass sweating with the other folks on their lunch breaks.
This year would be different. This year, I was on the other end!
On that magical Thursday, I helped carry feathers over to the park (for Billy Flynn to sing "All
I Care About" with, obviously) and tried to surppress my giddiness. I knew my constant enthusiasm and fascination for Broadway grated on my bosses' nerves, and I honestly can't say that I blamed them...I was pretty obsessed, and my bosses were rather jaded. (In fact, that summer I ended up in the hospital when I fell down a flight of steps after my eyes swell shut due to allergies when I attended a Broadway adoption fair for animals. My boss told me that I was finally being punished for my fascination with Broadway.)
But now, now THIS is why I had slaved and suffered all summer long...to stand under an air-conditioned tent...an air conditioned tent!!! AN AIR-CONDITIONED TENT!!!!! with the stars of four of Broadway's biggest shows. (Chicago, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Aida and Rent, if you want specifics.)
When my boss told me to take some Vitamin Water from the bin (it was roughly 300 degrees that day and I probably looked like I was about to pass out) I looked up at him in awe and wondered if I really could just take this sacred Vitamin Water from the same bin that the Broadway stars were reaching into. To this day, red Vitamin Water will always be special to me, even though I have long-traded it for sugar-free Salada strawberry-orange green tea.
Thoroughly Modern Millie was one of my favorite shows running at the time. It was bright and fun and happy. I connected so much with Millie...she was just a simple young girl, but when she started singing and dancing on that stage, all I could think was, "What I wouldn't give to be her." I cried every time I saw that show. (Which made no sense, I know, since it was billed as the "feel-good" hit of the year.) And, it ended with Millie finding out that she really did love Jimmy, even though he didn't have any money...only to learn that Jimmy actually, like, OWNED New York City. What girl doesn't dream of that?
That afternoon, the star (well, actually it was her lovely understudy) of Millie sang "Gimme, Gimme", the show's 11o'clock power ballad. (Millie would wear a sparkly red dress when she sang that song, and ended it with her hands thrown into the air. Ah. That's what life was all about.)
Today, she didn't wear a sparkly red dress, just a t-shirt with her show's logo and jeans. Still, I watched in awe, and said out loud to myself (or to anybody who might listen, as I tend to do), "Every time I see that number performed, I just get so upset because I know I will never be up there!"
Because, of course, I couldn't sing to save my life...or dance...and I wasn't taking lessons or auditioning anyway. Yes, it was a pretty safe bet that it really never was going to happen to me, and I had to accept that...sort of...
Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard a voice say, "Oh, it will happen some day! It will happen!"
I looked up (far far up, as the owner of the voice was over a foot taller than I) to see an impossibly attractive young man with impossibly blue eyes and an incredibly warm smile. He wore a Thoroughly Modern Millie t-shirt. (I fought back the urge to laugh in his face and go, "Nope, it really isn't going to happen, but thanks for the encouragement, kind sir!")
He was a chorus boy and an understudy, and that day, he was performing in place of the male lead. We spoke for a few minutes...he really was as kind as his smile implied, and as I walked away that afternoon, I introduced myself and told him it was really nice to talk to him. He said, "It was nice talking to you, too, Diana...I'm Cheyenne!"
(Yes, I did have a brief, "No, really, what's your real name?" thought.)
Thank goodness for google. Back at the office, I looked up this fellow, who I learned was Cheyenne Jackson, and Thoroughly Modern Millie was his Broawday debut. I was able to send him a message through his official website. Within a day, he responded (actually, that was the day of the Blackout of 2003, so it was delayed a bit, because, you know...the entire city didn't have electricity) and, for some really odd reason that I will never quite understand but am eternally grateful for, that tall good-looking boy in the Thoroughly Modern Millie t-shirt and I struck up a bond via email over the next year.
A year and a half later, I watched and cried (once again, I was crying at a very, very happy show) as he performed the lead in the new musical All Shook Up. It was his first original role, and the audience fell in love with him. His picture was soon on a 30-foot billboard in Times Square and the reviews raved, "A Star is Born!" I couldn't have been prouder of him if he had been my own brother. Just a small-town boy with a dream! I'll always remember that afternoon in Bryant Park and smile.
You just never know who is going to (literally) tapdance into your life.
When that summer ended, I was terribly sad to leave my internship. (Despite, you know...the tears, the frustration, the lack of salary and that whole slavery factor). I would no longer be a member of the Broadway community. However, I had something very special to always remind me of this experience...a Playbill from the show Chicago which had my name listed next to "Press Intern." I handed out copies of it to all of my friends and relatives (including my aunt, who is a Trappestine nun in Virginia and doesn't get out much.)
My name was in a real Broadway Playbill! (I later learned that you cannot eat or pay the rent with a Broadway Playbill with your name listed after "Press Intern." )
However, I still stare at that page at least once a day (no, I really don't, but it was on my fridge for a while) and think back to that summer when it really seemed like anything was possible (I have always wanted to say that!) and even though I was going home sweaty and frustrated and in tears many days, I wouldn't change a thing about it.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
However, some of the regulars never even set foot in the store.
There was an older woman who would call every Sunday to ask us for advice. (We later learned that she was calling the library every other day, and only called us sine the library was closed on Sunday.) She would begin every conversation the same way. “Can I ask you an etiquette question?” She wasn’t looking for answers to, “How do I fold my napkin?” but things like, “I need to call my daughter, but the phone is right by the baby’s crib and he should be sleeping now, and if I call her, the phone might ring and the baby might wake up. Would it be rude if I called?” And, “I was just talking to a family member on the phone, and when we hung up, I said, ‘I love you’, and they just said, “Thank you.” What do you think they meant by that?”
She would call several times in a row, each time asking the same exact question. After a while, everybody would just automatically pass those calls onto me, because I was the only one with any kind of patience for her. Sean would page me to pick up her calls...whenever I would hear a giggle in his voice over the intercom, I knew that the Advice Lady was on the other end.
I would seriously think about her and worry, imagining how alone she must have felt that she had nobody to call but the local library and bookstore.
She stopped calling suddenly!
I wish I knew what happened to her...
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Say what you will about her, but her older stuff was quite good and impeccably researched.
When I was in high school, my stories in creative writing class were always long, romantic and melodramatic, and our beloved teacher, Mrs. Sapnar, always would say, "I think Diana is going to be the next Danielle!" Oh, nothing made me happier than to hear that. Nothing.
I started reading her novels around the 6th grade, and actually picked up quite a few history lessons along the way.
When we studied the Vietnam War in school, I remembered already learning some things from Danielle's novel Message From 'Nam (the story of a young girl who goes to Vietnam to be a reporter and learn the truth about what is going on over there after her beloved fiancee dies in the war) and when I wrote a paper on the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II, I consulted Danielle's Silent Honor (the story of a young Japanese girl who moves to the United States to live with her American cousins and go to college and then they all end up in an internment camp.)
Her historical novels are quite well-researched and compelling. Not gonna lie, I always truly enjoyed them. (I also wrote her a fan letter when I was 14. She wrote back! And said it meant a lot for her to hear from an aspiring young writer! I actually found that letter the other day and smiled really big when I reread it and remembered how excited I was to get it.)
Most of Danielle's books follow a basic structure...there's a beautiful young girl. Her first love
dies young (there's usually a war going on), the second has something shady about him (he either dies or is corrupt and the young girl notices this and leaves) and the third also has his own demons, and they kiss and go walking off into the sunset together.
She has written some nice stuff.
However, Danielle's recent novels? Kinda laughable. Back when I worked at Barnes and Noble,
I'd often take "stripped books" home. (They rip the covers off and trash the books. HORRIFYING, I know.)
I used to bring home absolutely EVERY strip and never got around to reading a lot of them.
However, I had a flat tire last year and needed to remove 5 years of strips from my trunk to get at my spare.
Finally, I had to read these books. Over one week, I read three newer Danielle novels that I brought home as strips... Answered Prayers, Lone Eagle, and The Kiss.
Oh, where have you gone, Danielle Steel?
Answered Prayers is about a woman in a loveless marriage AND her old childhood pal, the best friend of her dead brother, who is ALSO in a loveless marriage. The woman decides she, at the age of 47, wants to go to law school. Her scummy husband divorces her because of it. Her childhood pal gives her rosaries. They pray a lot. His son almost dies in Africa. They pray a lot. They kiss at the end and go, "Let's go home!"
Long Eagle is about a young girl during World War II who falls in love with an ambitious pilot. It just never works out. She gets married, and ends up in a loveless marriage. (Seriously, why wouldn't she?) He comes back into her life. They eventually end up married...but...sadly, he loves his airplanes more than he loves her. Also, she miscarries three children along the way. Must we make the children die?
The Kiss is about a woman in a loveless marriage, and her male friend, who is also in a loveless marriage. (Shocker!) The woman has a child who is desperately ill and a scummy husband. She begins to fall for her platonic male friend, who is also in a loveless marriage. They are in the back of a limo, and share a passionate kiss. The driver is so taken with their passion and gazes at them in the rearview mirror and he crashes. He dies, they don't. They both end up in comas and have near-death experiences and slowly recover together. Her husband kicks her out of her house when he learns of her affair. Her son dies. (Seriously, why does son ALWAYS have to die?) And with her son's death, she finds the courage to stand on her own without her scummy husband as a tribute to her dead son. She then professes her love to her platonic male friend. They kiss, and say, "Let's go home."
Danielle, I still love 'ya...I dare you to write something that has nothing to do with loveless marriages or children dying or affairs! Let's have some more well-researched fiction! You really don't NEED to pump out a book every two months. Take a break. Go to a spa. Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Take some time off, Danielle Steel, and I KNOW you will come back, better than ever, with
fiction that can measure up to the very best of Message from 'Nam and No Greater Love!
YOU CAN DO IT, DANIELLE STEEL!
A lawyer called...apparently, "we" had applied for "me" to be his assistant.
He left me a message, telling me that he cracked up at my cover letter and wanted to know why the hell I wanted to work for a law firm. (I honestly couldn't give him an answer to that one. I didn't want to work for a law firm! But I did want a job! So I set up an interview!)
When I got off of the subway, I found that this building had a perfect view of the building that I grew up in. I thought that was a sign. (I find signs in a lot of things, I really need to stop doing that. I've learned that if you look hard enough, you can find signs that will excuse and explain absolutely everything.)
There was a Harry Potter movie poster in the lobby, which I also took as a sign, as I was currently working in Barnes and Noble and had dressed as Harry's pal Hermione for several different occasions.
I sat down with Creepy Lawyer Man and his first question of me was,“So, are you a good liar? This position is not about managing my office; it is about managing my personal life. I live a very… interesting personal life. You will need to learn to be discreet. And not gossip about me to anybody else. You will need to learn to lie well, if you don’t already know how to.”
I glanced at a picture of his cherubic children on his desk and wondered how much I would have to lie to their mother about their father’s affairs.
During our interview...he smoked a cigarette.
He offered me the job on the spot, he said because he liked my cover letter and because I had a lovely speaking voice to answer the phone and that he wasn't impressed with anybody else he had met.
I told him I needed to think about it.
The next day, I emailed him and told him I couldn't work for him because I had bad asthma and couldn't be around smoke.
I don't have asthma...but I guess I wasn't a bad liar after all.
There was also another Kennedy relatives I had grown to adore and idolize: Maria Shriver. She was pretty and seemed to have a stable family life with her movie-star husband. (Even though I wouldn't want to marry Arnold...my movie star of choice to marry would be Matt Damon.) I would watch First Person With Maria Shriver and imagine the day when I would be a top television journalist. (That would briefly become a reality when I was an anchor for my campus newsprogram, HawkTV. A big hearty wave to my old Monmouth pals!!!!)
One afternoon, I went on a job interview. (Which really wasn't different from any other afternoon, of coruse.) After it was done, I walked past a familiar store...Barnes and Noble...and saw a sign. Maria Shriver would be there signing her new book, One More Thing Before You Go.
I noticed the date. Why, it was today! I noticed the time. Why, it was right now! I dug out a paystub out of my purse so I could use my employee discount and bought two copies for Maria to sign...one for myself, and one for my good friend , Lori...who had a well-paying job, but was as confused and lost as I was.
When it was my turn, Maria smiled at me and asked me my name. I told her, "Diana. And I don't know what I'm doing, Maria Shriver! I've been out of college for a year and I just don't know what I am doing with my life and I am freaking out!"
Maria finished signing my books and looked up at me and said, "Oh, Diana, don't freak out! What you are feeling is perfectly normal! Everything is going to be okay!" I then complimented her hair. She was wearing it curly that day.
I carried those words with me for a very long time. Maria Shriver told me that everything was going to be okay. Maria Shriver would never lie to me.
And then I got an email asking if I could meet for an interview. The small theatre company was interested in me! I had visions of a tiny, cluttered office, where I'd help them write their plays. I would soon be discovered (either as a writer or an actress)...
I did what any girl in my situation would do...I googled the name of the woman who had emailed me.
She was the agent of a puppeteer.
Then I did what any girl in my situation would do...I googled the puppetman.
I learned he was quite successful, and I considered going in for an interview, if only for the experience.
The job description listed "dog walking" as one of the duties. Now, I wonder, was that a dog puppet or a real dog? I envisioned myself walking a puppet dog down the street, or, even yet...an imaginary dog on a leash! I guess I will never know.
However, I also wondered if a friendship with this puppeteer might be a good thing to initiate.
Maybe we could become friends. Best friends!
Maybe he could teach me a thing or two about puppets.
And maybe, just maybe, this could help me eventually get my own children's show. I have always wanted to have my own children's show...(which has always been my ultimate dream). I would do things like teach children the difference between nouns and verbs and, of course, about manners.
I do hope that puppetman did find the perfect assistant he was looking for, and I know that, if it was meant to be, our paths will one day cross again.
My mother tells me that that is impossible...that I only believe that I remember so much of it because I have seen the incident on our home movies so many times. (Apparently, tormenting and traumatizing me once wasn't enough for my family...we had to relive it on television over and over and over.)
Oh, but I remember it ever so clearly...I remember the Pound Puppies birthday cake with the giant number "4" on it...and I remember how my family began to sing, and sang "Happy Birthday"...to every single person around that table but me.
"Happy Birthday Dear Aunt Barbara!" "Happy Birthday Dear Grandpa!" I bounced up and down in my chair, going, "Stop it! Everybody stop singing! It's my birthday! It's my birthday!" I pointed to myself with my plastic cake fork, crying, "It's MY birthday! Mine!"
They ignored me and kept singing, surpassing their giggles and relishing in my despair...there were a lot of people there that day to celebrate (what I thought had been) my birthday, and they simply ignored me as they continued to sing. Eventually, they had no choice but to sing "Happy Birthday to Diana", as the candles on the cake were beginning to melt. I will truly never forget that day...and never let my family forget it either.
I would eventually grow-up to become one of the most sensitive people in the world.
I graduated in 2004, with a resume that I thought was pretty darned good. I had been nationally published, graduated with honors, and I had done a few internships, including one of which I had to make 9,000 calls to bakeries to find out who had the best brownies to lure a certain actress to come to a party the firm I was working with was throwing. I then had to deliver the brownies to her doorman and had a glimpse of how the other half lived. That internship treated me like a little slave, and didn't pay me, but I didn't care! I got to have my name published in a real Broadway Playbill as "Press Intern" because of it! That made up for all of the agony. A real Playbill! I later realized that you cannot pay rent and buy food with a Playbill with "Press Intern" listed before your name. However, I handed out copies to all of my friends and relatives and still stare at that page at least once a day.
When I was a teenager, I started a correspondence with Frank Sinatra's daughter, Tina. She used to read my letters to him as he sat up in bed in his striped-blue pajamas. (Him...being HIM! FRANK SINATRA! The Voice! The Chairman of the Board!) This eventually led to me being a lead story on Access Hollywood as "The Teen Who Touched Frank Sinatra's Heart." I somehow managed to include this on my resume as well. If Frank Sinatra can't get you a job...well, who can, really. (I later discovered that even Ol' Blue Eyes isn't that powerful.)
The years I had spent working part-time at my local Barnes and Noble even seemed to be a lovely thing to have on my resume. I had read many books, planned dozens of events, and dressed as Hermione for several Harry Potter parties. (As the only staff member who was a young girl with crazy curly hair, I really had no choice in the matter.) I even cleaned up after Jon Bon Jovi's children!
I graduated full of promise and ambition! I was going to make! "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" played in my head as I bounced down the street going on my first real job interviews in my first grown-up suit, with nothing but my portfolio and my dreams!
However, I didn't get the first job I interviewed for. Or any of the others. In fact, it took me almost two years and 7,436 interviews until I finally landed my first full-time office job.
After a while, I just began applying to things left and right without even reading the job descriptions most of the time. I became depressed and hopeless, wondering when things were going to fall into place. I even confided my troubles to Maria Shriver at a book signing. I told her I had recently graduated college, wasn't sure what I was doing, and was freaking-out.
Maria smiled at me and said, "Oh, don't freak out! What you are feeling is perfectly normal! Everything is going to be okay!"
I believed her. Maria Shriver would never lie to me! (I then told her how much I loved how her hair looked. It was curly that day.)
My own mother tried to convince me that my own curly hair was the bane of my existence. I would never land a job as long as I had curly hair. Only girls with straight, short bobs got jobs, claimed my mother.
I did have some sitcom-worthy experiences at my interviews, though.
-one with a very creepy lawyer who asked me, "So, are you a good liar? This isn't about managing my office; it is about managing my personal life. I live a very interesting personal life. You need to learn to lie." I glanced at a picture of his cherubic children on his desk and wondered how much I would have to lie to their mother about their father's affairs. I decided I just couldn't do it. He told me he smoked heavily in the office, so I told him I had asthma (I don't. But I guess I WAS a good liar after all)
-a place where the HR director warned me that my potential boss would make my life miserable. He'd treat me like dirt, but the end of each day, I'd feel a victory that I survived yet another 9 hours with him. I wouldn't be allowed to talk to him in the elevator, and she guaranteed that he would make me cry
-with a place that does award shows for advertising (I know..."huh"?) where they shook my hand and said, "Welcome aboard!" and then I never heard from them. Ever. Again.
When I finally DID find a job (with a powerful theatre company) it was one of the happiest days of my life. I skipped down the street, calling everybody I knew and telling them my good news. I was now officially a member of the Broadway industry!
For the next year, I was the best office assistant (did you know that there was a difference between "office assistant" and "administrative assistant"?) I was on time every day, picked out just the right cakes and cards for my colleagues' birthdays and I gave that job everything I had.
I got free tickets to every show playing, and even got to attend the Tony Awards. Relatives came out of the woodwork to ask me if I could get them Jersey Boys tickets. I wore my title with pride. I deserved this.
Until that day (only a week before my birthday, so after all of that, I didn't even get a cake or a card) when my boss told me, "Everybody loves you. You've done a wonderful job. Now, pack up your desk and never return."
In shock, I cleaned off my desk, ripped off the pictures of Harry Connick, Jr. and my niece off of my bulletin board and went trudging down 42nd Street. Of course, it was raining. Worse yet, I had tickets to see Les Miserables that night, which isn't the best show to see when you are depressed. I sobbed throughout the show and although I was grateful I wasn't dying in the French Revolution, I was frustrated and depressed and wondering what would become of me.
I began applying like crazy once again, trying to block out my experience from three years ago out of my mind.
I've already had some amusing experiences!
-I applied to work for a theatre company. I later learned it was to be the assistant to a puppeteer. One of the tasks was "dog-walking". Now, I wonder, was that for a puppet dog or a real dog?
-One in which I accidentally referred to the HR fellow guy Jeff Meade as Daniel Meade to the hiring manager. Daniel Meade is the boss of Ugly Betty. ("Shoot! His name isn't Daniel! That's Betty's boss!" Then I thought, "You know what...if you can't laugh with this guy, then you don't want to work with him!")Me: You know why I called him Daniel by mistake...because Ugly Betty's boss is named Daniel Meade!Potential Boss: I LOVE THAT SHOW!
We chatted about Ugly Betty for a bit, and on my way out, he said, "See you later!" I wanted to say, "Oh...but will you...will you?"
-right after that one, I went to another interview, at a place the packages horror films.(Cuz...you know...I just love horror movies...yup...I'm glancing at my DVD shelf now...there's Audrey Hepburn movies and Rodgers and Hammerstein movie musicals and TONS of bloody horror movies.) Utter randomness! I really just wanted to get out of there. I was in there for all of 90 seconds, and had to sit in a chair which majorly sunk in so I was pretty much sitting on the floor!The dude begins our interview with, "So, ask me questions." Then tells me, "This office is very slow. Not much happens, and I'm not here most of the time." He asked me if I knew Quicken. I told him no, in hopes that he'd dismiss me. He didn't. I finally get to leave, called out a hearty, "CONGRATULATIONS!" to the very pregnant receptionist and then went skipping down the street, shaking my head in amusement and looking forward to watching my beloved Apolo Anton Ohno dance his little heart out on my television set that night.
Believe me, there is a lot more where that came from.
I send updates to my friends, and they have told me that they believe my lay-off happened for a reason. They believe that this means that I should just take my time to do what they think I do best...write! There are many young women out there in my position who would be amused and uplifted by my experiences.
I will be frequently posting my past, present and future adventures right here. Stay tuned!