Monday, September 24, 2007

Reflections of a former bookshop girl...

I once heard a saying along the lines of, "Ask me for somebody who has a hatred for mankind, and I will show you somebody who has worked retail."

While I think that is a pretty harsh statement (what, with wars, and starving children, and natural disasters, and diseases and all of that), I can't help but understand where they are coming from.

I worked retail (Barnes and Noble) for several years. I have been gone for over a year, and there are times when I miss it very much. (I even considered getting a part-time evening job at the Borders next-door to Penn Station for a few nights a week...then realized I was crazy for even considering adding that to my already crazy and exhausting commuting schedule).

I miss being on top of every new book that came out...I miss the comrodity I could only share with my Barnes and Noble coworkers (like those times we'd read trashy romance novels outloud to each other after closing, and when we'd break out into a conga-line to Michael Buble's "Save the Last Dance for Me" when we'd get punchy)...I miss my 30% discount...I miss the stripped books...I miss seeing children get excited over reading and dressing up as Hermione for Harry Potter parties...I do miss it all.

What I do NOT miss, however, is the occasional customer that is so unhappy and insecure with their own life that they must go to Barnes and Noble and pick on the random clerk making $8 an hour there.

One wintry, Sunday evening, I put on my coat and gloves and got ready to leave the bookstore for the night. There had been a family sitting in the children's department for a while...they had been rather rude and left quite a mess.

As I started to leave the bookstore, a man walking back into the store stopped me.

Man: Did you find my kid's hat?

Me: Excuse me? (then realizing it was the rude father/husband from before) Oh...I'm sorry, I'm actually on my way home right now, but if anybody found the hat, they would have turned it into Lost and Found over there...(point).

Then my manager called me over to talk about something, and after I finished, I went to my car, and noticed the same man being picked up by his wife in her car.


Man: I already ASKED her. And you know what the bitch F---ING SAID TO ME? (whiny voice) "I'm offfffffffffffffffff."

I was quite tired after a long day working retail, and spun around and went over to the family and said:

Diana: No, that is NOT what I said to you, I TOLD you that I was going home for the evening and told you where the lost and found was. I'm sorry, SIR, but it is NOT my responsibility to find your child's hat.

Man: (quite taken aback)'s fine...don't worry about it.

Diana: Oh, I am NOT worried about it, but I also was not rude to you, and I don't appreciate you saying that I was.

When I got home, my friend from the bookstore called me to tell me that the ENTIRE FAMILY went back into the bookstore so the wife could complain to the manager about what a "nasty bitch" the girl who works in the children's department is, and how they "just wanted help finding her child's hat" and this "nasty bitch" snapped at them and was very rude.

My friend, who had overheard my first encounter with the man (when I politely explained that I was on my way home and directed him to the Lost and Found) rolled his eyes and shook his head at the woman. My manager, who knew me for a few years and also knew that "nasty bitch" was probably the LAST thing I was, listened to the woman and then laughed when she was out of view.

Makes me wonder...

Where do people get this sense of entitlement from?!

What if I had been a struggling single mother supporting three kids? What if this job was my means to feed them? What if my manager was looking for a reason to fire somebody, and when that mother complained about me, they used it as an excuse to get rid of me?

I try to feel nothing but SORRY for people like that woman who called me, Diana Rissetto, a nasty bitch.

The other day, I was shopping in that big shoestore by the train station. It was a busy Friday afternoon. Narrow aisles. Lots of bags and people and shoes. I knocked into a woman (who I had actually SAID, "Excuse me" to) and apologized right after. She gave me the NASTIEST look I had gotten in a while, and I couldn't help but exclaiming, "Okay, I SAID I was SORRY."

I felt deja vu coming when I was at the Broadway Flea Market on Sunday, and I heard a young woman shout out, "Um, EXCUSE ME, lady."

The lady who had knocked into her (who was an older lady) replied, "I SAID I WAS SORRY BITCH!" She put her hand over her mouth, shocked that the words had come from her.

I was standing next to her, and couldn't help but tell her, "Don't worry, the same thing happened to me in the shoe store the other day...seriously, these people act like you murdered their cat or something."

The lady thanked me, just as the young woman's mother came over and said, "You just called my daughter a bitch...AND SHE JUST GOT STICHES!"

The lady responded with, "At least your daughter is ALIVE! I lost one son to AIDS and one daughter to leukemia!"

There's a point to never know what somebody else is going through.

So just relax.

Be polite.


Don't freak out when somebody knocks into you.

We all make mistakes.

It's all going to be okay.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Beauty of the Broadway Flea Market

'Tis a wonderful event.

Every September, theatre freaks from around the world (or, at least, the New York City area) gather in Shubert Alley for the Broadway Flea Market.

I wrote this entry about the Broadway Flea Market a while ago, and I shall post it again to get everybody (all four or five of you reading this) in the Flea Market Spirit as they continue reading this entry:

Seriously, who doesn't love Delta Burke? If you weren't moved by tears by the episode of Designing Women when Suzanne was dieting because she wanted to be thin for her high school reunion, went to the high school reunion, was ridiculed for gaining weight, and then met a little starving Ethiopian boy who told her she was beautiful and she realized she was worried because she had TOO much to eat...then you just have no heart at all.

And, she gained my eternal respect several years ago when she was in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She went on Regis and Kelly and said in front of the whole world that Sutton Foster was an amazingly talented woman and that she is somebody everybody that should be a huge star and should know the name of, and not Joe Millionaire and the likes. Right on, Delta Burke. RIGHT ON. We all know my feelings towards Sutton Foster, and Delta Burke immediately became a kindred spirit when I heard her say that.

Four years ago, at the Broadway Flea Market (my favorite day OF the year) Delta Burke was in the celebrity booth. Wouldn't it be funny, I thought, if I got a photo with Delta Burke and put it on my fridge?

(Well, to me, anyway.)

Because then people would come over my house and see my fridge and go, "Is that a picture of Delta Burke and yourself?"

"Yes, it is," I'd say.

So, I got on line and gave a donation to BCEFA and took my picture with Delta Burke.

Delta chewed my ear off.

She stared at my Celtic cross and told me it was beautiful and asked me if I was Irish. She wanted to know if I was an actress, and I told her I was a writer (well, I am). She wanted to know what KIND of writing. She told me I was just lovely. She told me she always dreamed of having a girl just like me play her daughter in a Lifetime movie. (Maybe that's not what she said. Maybe I misunderstood that part.)

The photographer yelled at her to stop talking to me so much.

We were holding up the line.

She put her arm around me and tilted her face against mine and we smiled. It is a lovely photo.

At last year's flea market, I spent lots and lots of money on things I never knew I wanted.

I got an All Shook Up martini shaker. (Shook...shaken...get it?)

An original Fantasticks playbill (from 1960! With Jerry Orbach's name in it! I almost began weeping in the middle of Shubert Alley.)

Masquerade fans from Phantom. (I have an ever-growing collection of odd Phantom memorbilia...including beads from the ORIGINAL CHANDALIER and signed toe slippers.)

A beach towel with this past year's logos on it.

Stuff I needed.

Stuff I really really needed.

And then I saw it.

A Steel Magnolias bathrobe.


It was only $10. Long, white, soft. How often do you FIND a bathrobe that is only $10?

And then I heard those magic words:

"Delta Burke wore that bathrobe backstage."


A Broadway star wore this as she sat in her dressing room and had her makeup done. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!

And what makes it even MORE awesome is the fact that that Broadway star was the one and only DELTA BURKE!

The only way it could have been better was if it had been worn by Valerie Bertinelli in a Lifetime movie.

I didn't know what I was going to do with this robe.

I thought of washing it in bleach so it was nice and clean and wear it after showers. (But that would involve washing off Delta's blush stains. Delta's essence would be gone.)

I considered blowing up the picture of Delta and myself and framing it and hanging the robe over it.

Or I could just wrap the robe around my clothed self a couple of times and watch Designing Women reruns every night.

Whatever happened to that robe, it just goes to show you how magical the Broadway Flea market is.

One moment, I didn't have Delta Burke's bathrobe. And now, I can't imagine life without it .

I wear my Delta Burke robe often.

Maybe her shoes will be on sale at the next flea market!

Diana Rissetto

This year did not disappoint.

For the first time in the years I have been attending the Broadway Flea Market, my mother chose to join me. Now, I was nervous about this, since there is a science to the Broadway Flea Market and it can be quite overwelming for newcomers.

However, I lost my mother within ten minutes (the Broadway Flea Market is a crowded, dangerous thing) and trusted that she would fend for herself. She did, after all, grow up in New York City. (but she did NOT grow-up in Shubert Alley during the Broadway Flea Market.)

You just never know WHAT is going to happen at the Broadway Flea Market or who you are going to meet.

When I was a youngster, I loved Hollywood Squares.

Loved it.

My favorite square was Mr. Jim J. Bullock.

He was so funny and such a lovable goofball on that show! An absolute joy! I loved Jim J. Bullock!

(I think my affinity for funny gay men began at a very young age.)

In fact, I wrote my first fan letter ever to Jim J. Bullock.

My parents never mailed it (probably because they thought it was really cute and funny, or just flat-out odd), but kept it in my childhood photo album.

In my letter, in my childish (yet rather neat) scribble and writing on the wrong side of the looseleaf paper, I told Jim J. Bullock that I loved Hollywood Squares and watched every night and that he was my FAVORITE on it. I also told him my age (six) and gave him my phone number. (Why?)

Today, at the Broadway Flea Market, I spotted Jim J. Bullock, now headlining in Hairspray.

I went right over to him and said:

Diana: I just want to tell you, I wrote my first fan letter every to you!
Jim J. Bullock: You did?!

Mr. Jim J. Bullock was a sheer delight! He shook my hand and asked my name and told me how great it was to meet me "after all these years."

Not going to lie, that exchange made my day, as that little first grader Hollywood Squares that I was many years ago never really died!

Thank you, Mr. Jim J. Bullock!

Other memorable flea market purchases:

-an AIDA opening night bathrobe. Now, AIDA is my all-time favorite show. This bathrobe wasn't worn by Delta Burke, so it's not quite as special as my Steel Magnolias robe, but I was still very happy that I snagged it.

-a signed button with a picture of my wonderful and big-star pal, Cheyenne Jackson, on it, looking quite evil with "HUZZAH" written across the top. (See? You never really realize what you want to waste $10 of your hard-earned money on until you actually SEE it. A signed button with a picture of my wonderful pal, Cheyenne Jackson, on it, looking quote evil with "HUZZAH" written across the top?! Just what I never knew I always wanted.)

-about 32 old Playbills from shows I never saw, just so I can marvel at the very dated advertisements and future superstars, then unknowns.

-a Grey Gardens t-shirt. The little girl who played Lee Bouvier was selling the shirts, and she told me they "only had extra-smalls...but the extra-small is pretty big on me, so I'm sure it will fit you." (Okay, how old is this child??? You're not supposed to know anything about clothing sizes! You wear whatever your mom buys you!) She was adorable.

My mother told me that after attending the 2007 Broadway Flea Market, she doesn't think I am as crazy as she always thought I was when it comes to theatre. In fact, she says that after pushing through crowds of the most devoted of the Broadway fan community, she now considers me quite normal and calm.


Miracles DO happen at the Broadway Flea Market.

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So, I gave a speech

A couple of months ago, I wrote this entry:

I was quite a nervous wreck over giving a speech at my sister's wedding.

Part of the reason WHY I was such a nervous wreck was the fact that my sister told me that she KNEW my speech would be clever and funny and great. This put pressure on me.



It took me about eight minutes to actually WRITE this speech, but once it was written, I reread it about 90 times and had several people go over it.

(I gave the most amount of power to my two cousins, Jenny and Kelly, who obviously know me and my sister and our family and would know what would work. They both told me that the speech made them cry just by reading it, so I took it to mean that it was good enough.)

Now, I feel I failed as a maid-of-honor in some ways. I didn't help plan the bachelorette party AT ALL (nor was I even drunk at the occasion), and my mom took over for the shower. (She really WANTED to, though...)

During the ceremony, I was never sure when I was supposed to be messing with my sister's train and when I wasn't supposed to, and when I sat down at mass, the heel of my fancy gold shoes got caught in the lining of my dress. The bridesmaids in the front row heard the loud "RIP!!!!!!!!!"

However, I think I DID come through as a good Maid-of-Honor when I said my speech.

I have always been a pretty knock-out public speaker. I know how bad that sounds, but I always have been. I had to take a Communications Law class (or something) in college, and we had to do mock trials. My teacher told me what an excellent public speaker I was and asked if I had considered being a lawyer.

("No," I replied. "But I HAVE considered...THE STAGE!")

I gave my made people laugh and cry, most of all my sister and new brother-in-law, and those were the two people that mattered the most.

When my new brother-in-law hugged me, he said, "That was the best speech EVER!" and for the rest of the night, I kept hearing the words:

"best speech EVER" (once again)
"Diana, why the heck aren't you pursuing a life on stage?"

(The best man's dad even told me I made his son's speech look bad...which wasn't true at all. His speech was lovely.)

After a paragraph about my dad, I figured I had to crack a joke, so I announced that I was going to sing a song I had written for the occasion. The people who knew me cracked up. The people who DIDN'T know me, nodded earnestly, most likely thinking, "Wow, she's given that speech and now she's written a SONG! What a thoughtful sister Andrea has!"

My sister finally said to her guests through giggles, "SHE ISN'T REALLY GOING TO SING!"

I am quite proud and honored to have played a special role in my sister's day...

Whenever I had to give a speech in class, I would never even think about it until about ten minutes before I had to do it, but somehow I always managed to pull it off. However, for this speech, I made outlines and jotted down notes and really, really stressed over it, because my sister and Mike and their wedding is much more important than any Public Relations class at Monmouth University ever was. (I bet when my sister had to give speeches for school, SHE was always completely prepared…she was always the much-better student.)

On my first day of kindergarten, my teacher saw my last name and she instantly recognized it and told my class the story of Andrea’s first day of kindergarten, when she tried to escape and ripped a doorknob off of the classroom door…probably because she wanted to be home with my mom and me. At that moment, at five years old, I knew that for the rest of my life, people would hear my last name and associate me with my sister, and that I would always be trailing behind her. Now, if I had any other sister, that might have been a bad thing, but because I had MY sister, it was one of the best things in the world.

Even though I have always thought that Andrea and I were as different as the textures of our hair, I think the older we get, the more alike we are, the closer we get, and the more I love and admire you. I think anybody who speaks to Andrea for five minutes would know what an incredibly caring, generous, selfless person she is. I think she has illustrated that over and over in the line of work that she has chosen. I don’t think there is another person here tonight who has driven a busload of developmentally disabled people to a Barry Manilow concert in the middle of a tropical storm. Anybody? Yeah, didn’t think so.

My sister has always been there for me, always patient, but also always giving me an extra push when I needed it, which is very often…like when I was learning to drive, and was a nervous wreck and was going about twenty miles below the speed limit, and Andrea sat in the passenger seat going, “Faster! Faster!”

There are so many stupid, inside, random jokes that only we will ever understand and, let alone, find hysterically funny. We can’t even sit next to each other at some events, because odds are, we’ll be making fun of people and things too much…all we need to do is shoot a single glance over to the other and we both crack up, reading each other’s minds and knowing exactly what the other is finding so funny. I know that I can’t and never will be able to do that with anybody else...and that's okay.

Mike!!!!!!!!! Mike, I always wanted a big brother, and you definitely became one to me very quickly, teasing me mercilessly, but also coming through for me, like when I was stranded in the train station at 2 AM because I forgot my car keys and you were the only person I could call to help me. I first met Mike when Andrea brought her platonic roommate to Bobby and Erica DeMarco’s wedding three years ago. I remember the guy in the suit sitting on my mother’s couch, and now he’s the guy that is going to make my big sister very happy for the rest of her life. My mom and sister and I are a very hard gang to break into…I’m sure you have noticed…and you have fit right in with, which I think is a rather difficult thing to do. The three of us have been through a lot together, so we are fiercely protective of each other. Congratulations on being approved and accepted into our family…it is a very great accomplishment and I doubt many men could handle it.

Personally, one thing that has endeared Mike to me forever is the fact that he always asks me what’s going on in the world of New York City musical theatre, and he even pretends that he is somewhat interested when I respond. Not many 30-year-old straight guys would do that, so he really MUST love my sister for listening to me ramble about the strengths and weaknesses of the Chorus Line revival. He was definitely brought up right, and has a wonderful family, and I feel we have gained some great family members today.

I know a lot of people here tonight are thinking about a very special guest who is missing. I don’t think his absence is ever more sharply felt than on these special occasions and I know how much we all miss him and wish he was here to celebrate with us…but I know our dad IS here, I can feel him, and I know how much he would have loved Mike. And, of course, Mike would have loved him...because everybody loved my dad!

Now if you'd just give me a couple of more minutes, I'd like to now sing a song that I wrote just for today...

Since this is the first wedding toast I have ever given, I had to google “how to make a wedding toast” so that I would know exactly what to do. There are even websites where you can fill out questionnaires and this guy writes you a really touching toast to give! I didn’t use one of those. However, I did find some good instructions.

According to Wickopedia, you should “end the toast with a formal indication to inform them of the ending of the toast and what to say next. For example “Let us now toast the happiness of Jill and Jack. To Jill and Jack!”

So, “Let us now toast the happiness of Andrea and Mike. To Andrea and Mike!”

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, September 9, 2007

"the wolf is always at the door..."

The other day, I had to make a bunch of phone calls at work.

I called about thirty different people and I mostly got voicemail greetings. Each time, I had to recite that "the meeting that was set for Tuesday, September 11th has been cancelled."

And everytime I said those words, I felt that sick and depressed feeling that has been reserved only for those words...

Tuesday September 11 Tuesday September 11 Tuesday September 11...

THE September 11 was a Tuesday as well...

In a New York minute
Everything can change
In a New York minute
Things can get pretty strange
In a New York minute
Everything can change
In a New York minute

Has it really been six years?

There are days when I am on the commuter train in the morning, and as we approach New York City, I stare at the skyline and try to remember when those buidings were there, the days before 9/11, which really seems like another lifetime. I lived on Fulton Street when I was a child, so when I watched those buildings collapse on television, part of me felt like I was watching my backyard be attacked.

I had a class that morning...Mass Communication with Professor Huber..and he entered and told us to just go to the student center to watch what was going on downtown.

We made it there just in time to see the second plane hit.

September 11, 2001 was also the first day I had ever driven alone.

I was a VERY nervous driver, and didn't get my license when I was 17 like all of my friends did. Finally, I was forced to learn to drive because I transferred to Monmouth, which was only eight miles from my home.

That morning, I got into my dad's old car and drove...all by was a huge milestone for me, and I remember thinking what a beautiful day it was. The sky was so blue and I had overcome my fear of was good.

I was so happy and relieved to get to school in one piece that morning, and then about ten minutes later, watched the World Trade Center collapse, and went right back home...driving about five miles a minute...trying to erase those images from my mind just for those eight miles.

I called my mother, and the first thing she said was, "Don't worry, everybody is okay." I'm not exactly sure HOW she knew that so soon, and even though our close friends and relatives weren't hurt or killed that day, the truth was, NOTHING was okay. NOBODY was okay, and it would be a very long time before any of us began to heal.

There was a girl on television that day...she was probably a few years older than me, and Katie Couric was interviewing her. Both her boyfriend and her older brother worked in the World Trade Center, and she hadn't heard from either one of them yet. I remember how fast she was speaking, how hard she was trying to keep her composure...she even made a joke with Katie about how her boyfriend had never heard of Katie Couric, and "who hasn't heard of Katie Couric??????" I remember that girl, and I still think about her, and wonder if her boyfriend and brother survived...or if neither had.

Two days after the attacks, I went to work at the bookstore, and it seemed like every person who came in wanted a book of Nostradamus' prophecies...because, apparently, Nostradamus had predicted ALL of this. I wanted to wack these people on the HEAD with the biggest hardcover of Nostradamus' prophecies that I could find. Who cares? What difference did it make? Nothing was going to brings the thousands of people back.

That night, I had my first real cry over what had happened. It finally hit me, and I just broke down and cried all night.

Lying here in the darkness
I hear the sirens wail
Somebody's going to emergency
Somebody’s going to jail
If you find somebody to love in this world
You better hang on tooth and nail
The wolf is always at the door

Last year, on the 5th anniversary of 9/11, my train was stopped because of "suspcious activity" at Penn Station. They made us get out at Seacaucus, and we all pretty much did the same right back on trains going home. When I called my office to alert them that I wouldn't be coming in, I was greeted with annoyance. This was the first day I was missing in seven months, and my voice certainly sounded upset and shakey. I realized that if somebody couldn't understand why I would be so upset on this day of all others, it was their problem. I'll never forget that feeling of, "Something is happening again, something is happening again..."

And so I spent the 5th anniversary of the attacks watching family members of the victims read their names and crying.

For some reason, I can never turn off any kind of television special on 9/11. I just feel a responsibility to it some kind of survivor's guilt? I'm not sure.

There was one thing I was incredibly grateful for after these attacks...and that was that my father was not around to see what happened to his city. (My father died on a Tuesday as well.) I always had the feeling that my dad wasn't nearly as happy living in New Jersey as he was when we lived on Fulton Street...and part of me feels like if we never moved, he wouldn't have died. (I know this is a weird way to in New Jersey doesn't give you lung cancer...smoking does.)

I know my sister once said that she had a feeling that if my dad hadn't died of cancer when he did, he would have died on 9/11. While I don't know if I feel the same way, I understand it...and that losing him on 9/11, the way that so many people lost their parents, children, friends, spouses...would have been infinitely harder.

If anything, watching his city go through that would have absolutely broken my father's heart...and I felt an immense sense of relief that he was spared that.

What the head makes cloudy
The heart makes very clear
The days were so much brighter
In the time when she was here
But I know there’s somebody somewhere
Make these dark clouds disappear
Until that day, I have to believe
I believe, I believe

I went to see the movie United 93 when it came out, mainly because I had a friend in the cast. I am honestly not sure if I would have gone otherwise, but I am glad that I saw that movie. I admit, I barely ever gave much thought to what happened in Pennsylvania or Washington that mind and heart were too consumed with the city...MY city...and what had happened there. There were a couple of college-aged girls on Flight 93...there's no difference between them and my friends. It could have very easily been one of us. Nothing makes it all seem more "real" than thinking about that.

When we were kids, we would draw pictures of the skyline, and the only part of the picture which was remotely accurate were the two tall towers in the center. I don't think we ever bothered to include the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building in our artwork. Makes me do children draw New York City's skyline now? What sets it apart from San Francisco or Chicago? I know it's a petty thing to think about when thousands of people died, but I'd be lying if I said it never crossed my mind.

The weeks after the attacks,I'd read the obituaries in the local paper and see all the commuters who were killed that day. One young woman's read "she was murdered on September 11"...that stuck with me...murdered...she was murdered...they all were murdered.

I remember on the day after the attacks, I was IMing with my cousin, and as we signed off, I typed, "I love you." I realized that with a lot of my relatives and friends, "I Love You" is reserved for major life events...weddings, funerals, baby arrivals. I believe the only other times this cousin and I had exchanged those words were at my father's funeral and her own wedding...but ever since that day, I have always tried to make "I love you" be the last words I say to somebody when we're saying goodbyes.

As cliche as it might sound, you never know when you are talking to somebody for the very last time.

And in these days
When darkness falls early
And people rush home
To the ones they love
You better take a fool’s advice
And tak care of your own
One day they’re here;
Next day they’re gone

And as the sixth anniversary of that dark, horrible day approaches, I once again realize just how fleeting life can be...

In a New York minute
Everything can change
In a New York minute
You can get out of the rain
In a New York minute
Everything can change
In a New York minute

Diana Rissetto

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What a freaking DELIGHTFUL song

I get so happy whenever this cheesy old tune comes on the radio.

It also reminds me of our "Misheard Lyrics" conversations at the bookstore (which we had often.)

Melanie: He's saying..."I'm not talking 'bout leavin'...

Me: But WHY would he be saying 'leavin'...the song's about getting too serious...of course he's not talking about leavin'...

Mike: No! He's saying..."I'm not talking 'bout your linen..."

Melanie: Because that REALLY makes sense.

Me: Actually, it kinda, he's not talking about their linen...about getting so serious that they'd get married, and she'd change her last name and the monograms on her he doesn't want to move THAT fast.

(And then Brian entered and said that he always thought "Bette Davis Eyes" was "She's Got Better Days than Nights.")

I'd Really Love To See You Tonight

(England Dan & John Ford Coley)

Hello, yeah, it's been a while.
Not much, how 'bout you?
I'm not sure why I called,
I guess I really just wanted to talk to you.
And I was thinking maybe later on,
We could get together for a while.
It's been such a long time,
And I really do miss your smile.

I'm not talking 'bout moving in,
And I don't want to change your life.
But there's a warm wind blowing,
The stars are out, and I'd really love to see you tonight.

We could go walking through a windy park,
Or take a drive along the beach.
Or stay at home and watch t.v.
You see, it really doesn't matter much to me.

I'm not talking 'bout moving in,
And I don't want to change your life.
But there's a warm wind blowing,
The stars are out, and I'd really love to see you tonight.

I won't ask for promises,
So you won't have to lie.
We've both played that game before,
Say I love you, then say goodbye.

I'm not talking 'bout moving in,
And I don't want to change your life.
But there's a warm wind blowing,
The stars are out, and I'd really love to see you tonight.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Four Percent Club

Ten years ago, I watched and cried with the rest of the world over the coverage of Princess Diana's death.

However, at the time, I was crying as a kid who didn't yet know what it was like to lose a parent at a young age. I was simply crying because this was Princess Diana, whom I was named after, and she was gone, so suddenly and tragically. I was also crying for Harry and William, but I didn't yet really know their pain.

Yesterday, I watched and cried as Prince Harry eulogized his mother as his older brother listened, bowing his head sadly. This time, I was crying as somebody who knows all too well what it feels like to lose a parent before you reach adulthood. It is something you honestly cannot comprehend until it happens to you.

My father was diagnosed with cancer only months after Princess Diana's accident, and would be gone a year after that. I had just turned seventeen the week before he died. It has been over eight years, and I still feel the pain of losing my dad every day of my life and, as much as I try not to, am constantly wondering, "What if?" differently would my life had turned

I remember reading that four percent of people lose a parent before they reach the age of twenty. When I heard that, I remember wondering what exactly I DID to deserve a spot in such a dreaded, exclusive club.

It is really odd how immediately connected I feel with others I know have been in similar situations as I have been...even with complete strangers...Anthony Rapp, one of the original stars of Rent, published his memoir a couple of years ago. It focused on his rise to fame with the ground-breaking show, but also of his mother's long, brave battle with cancer. So much of his book clicked with me, and I felt such a kindred spirit with Anthony. I found myself reading the book on the train and constantly having to pause and regain my composure before I could continue reading.

Singer/songwriter/pianist (the boy does it all), Peter Cincotti seems to have grown-up in a close-knit New York City Italian-American family similar to mine. When he was a teenager, his father died of a heart attack while Peter was performing. Peter has a song called "He's Watching", inspired by his father's death. I've listened to it multitudes of times, and feel like I could have written it myself.

Throughout the months following my father's death, I would have many days when I just wanted to cry nonstop and scream at my friends, "You have no idea what I am going through!" They truly didn't. Their biggest problems at the moment involved proms and football games and SATs. Sure, some of them had experienced deaths in the family, but they were of grandparents and great-grandparents. (I never knew three of my grandparents, let along my great-grandparents.) When people would tell me they knew JUST what I was going through because their 98-year-old great-grandma had died the year before, I honestly wanted to shake them, as well-meaning as they were. It is truly not the same. A grandparent's death doesn't change your daily life or the course of your future, as I feel my father's death did.

In fact, I found that the only people who understood what I was going through were the very few classmates I had who had also lost parents...I'll never forget what it felt like to be able to talk to them. When we got a new "school psychologist", I remember crying in her office after one of my many breakdowns after my dad died. She told me that she lost her dad when she was fifteen. My sister had gotten close to a girl who lost her dad two years before our dad died. (She will be one of my sister's bridesmaids in two weeks...bonds like that are very hard to break.)

My father's death changed my life...I used to feel like it ruined it as well, then realized it could only ruin it if I let it. I know my dad is still with us, because I can feel it, and for all the members of The Four Percent Club, I offer my thoughts and prayers. We're all in this together, after all.

Peter Cincotti He's Watching Lyrics
(Music & Lyrics by Peter Cincotti)

Within the darkened skies above I see a sign
Within the distant clouds I see a friend of mine
And then as the shadows disappear
He smiles at me
And I know
He's watching

He lives within the heaven
And he lives within my mind
All I can feel is the love he left behind
Then he will whisper in my ear
He tells me, I should know he's watching

And now I'm grown
I'm strengthened by the tears I've never shown
I'm strengthened by the years I've never known
Once afraid of facing them alone
And every day I always have some place to go
I've travelled very far from the life I used to know
But still when I close my eyes and dream
I feel him near and I know
He's watching

And now I'm grown
I'm strengthened by the tears I've never shown
I'm strengthened by the years I've never known
Once afraid of facing them alone
And every day I always have some place to go
I've travelled very far from the life I used to know
But still when I close my eyes and dream
I feel him near and I know

He's watching
He's watching
He's watching
He's watching
He's watching

Diana Rissetto