Thursday, April 27, 2006

Family Ties

Hurt my foot yesterday....much pain....can't walk....must whine....must...have...pity.

And aside from that, somethin' pretty crazy has happened. No, Roxanne hasn't broken up with her girl/boyfriend, and my immidiate family hasn't gone nuts again. However...well, see, I have this younger sister; we'll call her Sarah. She's about 20 years my junior, and I never even knew she existed until my dad died several years ago. My older sister & I met her back then, when she was about 5. Her mom, my dad's last wife, was a drug-addict & all-around shady person, pretty much like my dad. So, after his funeral, we tried our best to become a part of our lil' sister's life; my older sis (let's call her Mandy) started keeping her on the weekends & letting her get to know my nephews & neices, and I took her out for ice cream & burgers and hung out as much as I could. Sarah was an amazing little kid, and she reminded me a lot of myself when I was that age. Also, she was the last living relative I had that shared my last name; all my brother's & sisters have their mom's last name....she & I were the last ones left.

But that didn't last long. As I said, her mother wasn't the most stable person in the world, and after about a year of us spending every other weekend together, she just...disappeared. Her mom's phone was cut off, her apartment was emptied....she was just gone. Her mom, let's call her Shelly, had no family left that we knew of, and we had no way to get in touch with them if she did. We figured we'd hear from her before too long & find out what happened, but a week turned into a month that turned into a year that turned into a decade. We didn't know what to do, so finally we just let it go and hoped that one day we'd learn what happened & see our little sister again. That was 13 years ago.

So, flash-forward to the present. My friend Alan, as you may know, is a lawyer now, and being a lawyer gives him access to all kinds of nifty government records & the like. So, as soon as he got his degree, and after I'd already had him look up all the ex-girlfriends, I gave him all the information we had on Sarah & her mom and waited to see what he dug up. It took a few months, but finally, he was able to procure an address for us. Her mom was apparently living under her maiden name in a town about 2 hours away...or so it looked. So, I gave my older sister Mandy the info and we both sat down to write them a letter, not knowing if they would respond, or if they were even still at that address. That was about 2 months ago.

And yesterday, we got a letter back in the mail. It was from Sarah.

She is 15 now, and about to turn 16 in July. She had been living with her mom at Shelly's boyfriend's house for the last few years, but he had recently died of cancer, and her mom was also diagnosed with it recently. Shelly, her mom, is dying, and may only have another year or so to live. Sarah said that she was in school, and making good grades, but that things had been really tough at home, and she knew that they were really least as much as a 15-year-old can know. She left her phone number for us to call, and she sent us a picture of herself; she got all the looks in the family, apparently, because she's turned out just beautiful (and my older sister is no slouch, believe me). She sounded, against all odds, like a smart, normal kid. We were thrilled, of course, and called her immidiately.

We talked to her for hours, about everything that had happened in her life the past several years. She had a rough upbringing, like we all did, but she's smart as a whip, and she has a great head on her shoulders; she really has turned into as normal a kid as she could, given the circumstances, which were not optimal, to say the least. She loves to read, she loves movies, she liked old music, she wants to try writing someday...she's most definitely my sister. But, she's in a bad place...

Her mom is dying, and hasn't been working for months. And, during our conversation, Mandy & I couldn't help notice that she mentioned food over and over; she was hungry. She said that they had recently gone to request aid, but with all the recent action with Katrina, they weren't able to get much help. They have a few neighbors who have been helping them out from time to time, but the situation is not good. Shelly has a one sister left alive, apparently, but it sounds like she's pretty screwed up herself, and there's no way she could take care of Sarah if anything were to happen to her mother. And something is going to happen to her mother...sooner or later.

So, the question is, when that does happen, what do we do? My sister already has six kids of her own to raise under her own roof; four of hers, two of her husbands. There's no possible way she could just take on a 15-year-old on top of everything else. My older brother (did you even know I had an older brother?) is about as irresponsible as they come, and neither one of us have heard from him for almost a year now, which is par for the course where he is concerned; there's no way he's parenting material.

So, where does that leave us? With me.

I can't even begin to imagine trying to raise a teenage girl; hell, I'm still screwed up just from dating teenage girls years guys know that. I don't have the means, the income, the space, or the patience to even consider it...but this is my little sister; what can I do? I mean, nobody has seriously mentioned it yet, but Mandy & I talked about the situation, and, if it were to come down to that, we don't know what else to do. My poor momma can't take care of her, and I'm certainly not going to let my sister go live with some foster family or be placed somewhere. I love that little girl like crazy, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let anything else happen to her, so If it absolutely has to be done, then I will do it...but I have no idea how I'll do it.

Sure, she's almost 16, but when I was 16, I was nowhere near ready to go and face the outside world...and I don't know much about rearing teenagers, but I'm guessing that these next couple of years will be pretty damn important, and she's going to need somebody....

And I can't even really grasp the concept yet; it's hard enough to believe that we even found her after all these years, much less all this other stuff. I don't have any idea what will happen, but we're supposed to be going to see her this weekend, so maybe we'll get a better idea of the situation then. When it comes down to it, I'm just glad we found our little sister. I do wish I was rich, though...that'd make things easier.

I'll let you know what happens...back to the past later.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Well, so far, this has been a crazy week, too...but thankfully not due to anyone else crawling out of the woodwork; been all wrapped up in work, family drama, Lanie-breaking-up-with-boyfriend drama, hockey playoffs, and riding my sweet new mountain bike & haven't had any time to blog. Be back tonight, tho. Go Sharks!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Double Jeopardy

Alright; that was weird...but strangely ok. And no..she didn't find the blog. Thank god...

She just called to see how I'd been doing; she said she saw an ad for the new Superman on TV & it made her think of me, though I doubt she was picturing me in the suit (then again, she did buy me a sweet Spidey suit once long ago, but that's another story). It was actually sorta nice to talk to her, had been well over a year. Even though, whenever I talk to her nowadays, I have a hard time seeing how we got together in the first place. But somehow it happened.

She's just the same...but it just occured to me that you guys don't know exactly what that means yet, so I'll save it for later. One thing that bugs me, though...and this bugged me that last time we spoke...if I didn't know any better, and if it was any other person, I'd almost say she was coming on to me. But it's J.C., so you'll just have to take my word for it that she couldn't have been...I don't think.

And another thing that bugs me is that, as soon as we broke up, J.C. all of a sudden started liking things that I had always liked; she suddenly started reading comics & watching hockey in particular; two things she never did before, and never seemed all that open to when she was with me. What's that all about? Where was all that interest when I could have used it? She told me she just got back from vacation, where she got a freakin' Wonder Woman tattoo! I mean, come on! Please!

And no, I know what you're thinking; it's not gonna happen again, tattoo or me when I say that we are not compatible, not unless she's gone through some drastic personality shifts in the last few years, 'cus lord knows I haven't.

In any case, at least it got it out of the way for a while. And for a huge added bonus, my e-mail to Veronica seemed to work like a charm; shouldn't be hearing from her for a long while, and that does make me rest easier at night. Seriously, though...two in 2 days; what are the odds? And why is it never the ones I want? Okay, lose the 's' after that 'one'....

Back to the past later...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Expect the Unexpected...

In a really freaky twist of fate that I still can't really wrap my head around, I am talking to J.C. on the phone right now as I type this....she called out of the blue about 20 minutes ago. Gotta run...

Gimme Shelter...

I swear to god, these things come in waves.

I woke up this morning fully aware that it was Roxanne's birthday & prepared to have to ignore that all day. I didn't wake up at all prepared to receive an e-mail from Veronica, telling me that she just wanted to know if I was "doing ok". Well, I was doing better....

I wrote her back a short, but polite letter that said I was fine and hoped she was, but still didn't feel like we should be talking; I guess we'll see if she leaves it at that. Still, it bothered me just to know that she's thinking about me, as it always does, and I had to try and shake that off all day.

Then, for the kicker, my friend Jerry (Roxanne's brother) calls & says that he needs a big favor from me, which turns out to be giving him a ride to the stupid skating rink where they're holding her goddamn birthday party...and where they probably have signs & guards posted to keep me away for a six-block radius. Still, I did it; he would have done it for me. I dropped him off a block away, though. Then I went & got drunk. Alone. And that sucked.

And I got home & sat down here just a little while ago thinking that I felt like doing just about anything but thinking about another ex today, but the more I think about it, I figure that if I'm writing about J.C., at least I won't be thinking about the others for a little while, so what the hell...

(sound of Wayback machine)

The next Monday at work, I remember seeing her as I walked in, but we both had our hands full that day & I remember being really frustrated that I didn't have a chance to talk to her. After work that day, everyone was gathered around the front room, and after they all cleared out, I hung back a few minutes to try and steal a moment with her. We talked a little bit as we walked out & somehow, we started talking about television. She mentioned that she hadn't gotten cable hooked up in her new apartment yet, but that a friend had lent her a stack of movies to watch, and that night she was planning on watching The Stunt Man, which, no bullshit this time, happens to be one of my favorite movies. So, I mentioned that to her, and she asked if I'd like to come over & watch it with her. She was going to do laundry after work, but she told me to come by around 8 or so.

I showed up at her house a few minutes late, because I remember realizing on the way over that I hadn't trimmed my fingernails & they looked pretty ratty that day, so I had to turn around & head back home (which was only a couple of miles away) to take care of them. When I got there, she gave me the little tour of her apartment that we hadn't had time for the other day, and then we sat down to watch the movie. We barely got 10 minutes into it, though, before it was totally drowned out by our talking. We did the whole getting-to-know you thing some more & found that we really had a lot in common. And I remember noticing the way she laughed for the first time; it was this really goofy, yet adorable kind of gasping chuckle, and when I noticed it, it made me aware of how much she was growing on me. I got the sense she was on the same page, as well.

The movie eventually ended & when we finally noticed, she picked out another movie from her stack for us to watch...but I don't remember what it was. Yes I do! It was Romy & Michelle, and for some reason, we actually got sort of caught up in it. While we were watching it, we slowly & gradually both relaxed on the sofa, until she was basically leaning her back against me, and I remember wrestling with whether I should put my arms around her or not, and thinking that was an awful high-schoolish thought to be having at 26 years old. But, by the time I decided to go for it, I looked down & she was fast asleep, with her head resting against me. It was almost 11 by that time, and we both had work in the morning, but I remember sitting there, looking at her for a minute or two, just studying her face & watching her as she breathed. I remember noticing the slightly-odd yet totally cute shape of her nose & how nice her skin was, and I remembered wondering if she was a snorer (turns out she was, big time). After a few minutes, I slowly moved to get up while trying not to wake her, but she popped her eyes open as soon as I stirred.

She giggled & apologized for falling asleep, and gave me a big hug before I left. I drove home that night wondering if I should have kissed her; I was pretty sure I could have pulled it off, but I still hadn't gotten to the bottom of this whole psuedo-boyfriend thing, so I figured I'd just see what happened.

I don't remember what happened at work that day, but the next night, she called me at home. It was a little after seven or so, because I remember I had already eaten, and I was a little surprised to hear from her; I don't think she had called me before. She asked what I was doing & when I told her nothing much, she asked me, in what I remember was the shiest, cutest voice ever, if I'd like to come over for a while. I remember distinctly thinking Jackpot!, but I didn't show my cards yet; instead, I asked her "Well, what do you think your boyfriend would say about that?".

She got quiet for a second, and I could hear her searching for words before she said "Well, I guess we need to talk about that, don't we?".

"Well, I don't we?", I asked.

She sighed. "yeah, we do....just come over & we'll talk about it. I'll explain it all to you, I promise."

So, I did.

When I got there, she had some candles lit, and a really sheepish look on her face. I remember we hugged each other, sat down on the sofa, and she pretty much jumped right into it, so I just sat & listened.

"Well, about this boyfriend thing...", she began.

"You mean the boyfriend you don't know if you have or not?", I said, raising an eyebrow.

She sighed deeply, as that was one of her things to do, before she said "Okay, technically, I don't have a boyfriend..."

"Ok, so what do you have?"

"Well, nothing, really...I mean....well, it's a long story...."

And it kind of was, but it went pretty much as she had explained it before. There was this guy whom she used to date about three years ago, and at the time, she had wanted to get more serious than he did, so they had broken up. Apparently, right before she had moved back to town, he had called her up from where he was living a few states away & tried to re-kindle the relationship. At first, she said, she was excited about it, but after talking to him for a while, she had begun to realize that maybe he wasn't what she was looking for. They hadn't even seen each other yet since they had started talking again, but he was coming through town in a couple of weeks & they were supposed to meet up & talk. She had already decided, however, to tell him that she had reconsidered.

So, I asked her what it was that had made her reconsider, and she got quiet for a minute before she said "Well, I sort of met somebody....or at least I think I did."

You don't say?

"So, then you don't have a boyfriend, after all?", I asked.

", I don't", she said.

"Well, what about this other person you've met", I asked coyly.

I remember she looked up at me for a second & smiled shyly. But then she kind of freaked out on me...or 'spazzed out', as she would have said. I don't remember exactly what she said, but all of a sudden, she was a little ball of neurosis. She started going on & on about how, yes, we had met & we had obviously been flirting and we obviously liked each other, but that she was nervous about getting into a new relationship and she didn't know what it was that she wanted...and yes, she had been thinking about me a lot lately & wondered if I had been doing the same, but she was apprehensive about getting involved with someone from work, and on & on & on and yadda yadda yadda until I just figured this was the time...

So, I pulled my trusty old move: the ol' dramatic, mid-sentence, grab-by-the-shoulders & plant one firm on the lips kiss. And she went for it. Big time.

We kissed for a moment, and I remember reaching up to brush the hair back from her face as we pulled away & she smiled at me as she blushed, turning bright red. "I've wanted to do that for a long time, now.", I said.

"Me too", she said.

So, we did it again. After a few minutes, we parted again & she looked me right in the eyes.

"Ok, if we're gonna do this, there's some things you should know about me...", she said.

"Well, good, 'cus there's a lot of things I want to know", I told her.

"I'm not the type to just casually date people here & there; I just can't do it. I don't mean I expect us to be exclusive right away, don't freak out or anything; I just mean that if I'm dating you, I'm going to be dating only you...I don't know how you feel about those things, but that's just the way I am.", she said.

Somehow, during the last minute or two, we had ended up holding hands, and I noticed her rubbing my finger with hers. "Good, because If I'm going to date you, I want to date only you...I'm not one of those guys who can go out with a different girl every night of the week, either". At least, not anymore...

She smiled at me. "Well, that's good to hear". I remember we just looked at each other for a long moment. I also remember feeling like something important had just happened, and it kind of freaked me out a little bit, but in a way that I was vaguely familiar with, but couldn't quite place. In any case, it was a nice moment.

She looked down at my hands in hers & I think she was still blushing, which I thought was about the sweetest thing I had ever seen. I tried to break the ice & asked her "So, what do we do now?"

She looked up at me & said "I don't know...."

I scooted a little closer to her & said "We could do that again?", and I kissed her. We made out there on her hard, uncomfortable sofa like a couple of teenagers for what seemed like hours before we were interrupted by her phone ringing. I remember being almost relieved, because I had no idea how far to try & take it....and also think I secretly wanted her to not let me take it too far; I wanted her to be a nice girl, whatever the hell that means.

She talked to who I think was her mom on the phone for a few minutes, and I remember walking around her living room while she did, checking out all her books, pictures & stuff. She had just moved in, so there wasn't very much in the way of decoration, but I remember there were no pictures of any guys that looked like ex-boyfriends anywhere to be seen,and I took that as a good sign.

After she got off the phone, she walked over to me & we kissed again for a minute, a little less passionately & more...I dunno...I want to say tenderly, but that sounds so wussified. In any case, we were both a little nervous about how far to take things, and I'm sure we both knew it. So, we agreed that it was getting late and that it was best we call it a night, I remember her telling me that we'd have plenty of time to pick up where we left off later.

So, I kissed her goodnight, told her that I had a wonderful time, and that I'd see her in the morning. She watched me from the doorway as I walked to my car, and I remember smiling all the way. Until I got in the car, thought about what I'd just said, and realized Holy fuck! I'm gonna see her in the morning! I freakin' WORK with her! This could be bad! And this is ME we're talking about...this could be REAL bad! What did I go & do now?

But that lasted about eleven solid seconds; I was far too excited to let logic bring me down. I cranked up the Queensryche & drove home floating on air, not giving a good goddamn that I had just violated the cardinal rule that my grandpa had told me when I was just a buck: Son, you don't shit where ya' eat....

(sound of Wayback machine reversing)

Ya know...that didn't really help. Happy freakin 'birthday....

Friday, April 14, 2006

Fat Bottomed Girls

I tried to be as casual about it as I could. "So, what are you doing this weekend?", I asked.

"I don't know...nothing much; I need to unpack some..." She had just moved to town again after living about an hour away. "What are you doing?", she asked me.

"Probably not much...I thought about going to see a movie..." I let it hang.

"What are you gonna go see?" She grabbed on.

"I'm not sure...I can't remember what's out..."

"Well, that new Pedro Almodovar film is opening at the (local artsy theatre) you like his stuff?" She asked.

"Absolutely!", I said. "You want to go see it?"

Let me take a moment to confess that, I guess I've seen a couple of Pedro Almodovar movies, and I might have enjoyed some parts of them, but basically there are two kinds of movie fans in this world; there are those who like subtitled foreign films & discussing the intellectualism they hallucinate into them, and there are those who would much rather be at the all-nite Friday the 13th marathon at the drafthouse where the audience formulates a drinking game based on the frequency of the shower scenes & decapitations...and this critical factor would, ironically, go on to become the crucible of our relationship...and I guess it's funny that our first date was sort of predicated upon that...and I've never really thought about that big revelation.

But anyway, my point was, I didn't give a shit about Pedro Almodovar...but if it got me in the door, I could deal with it.

So, we agreed that I would pick her up that Friday after work for dinner at the Japanese restaurant (did I mention I freakin' hate Japanese food?) down the street from the movie. And afterwards, if we felt like it, she also suggested a band that she knew of that was playing nearby. Did I also mention I hate bar bands?

In any case, I was pretty excited. Since most of my relationships have tended to just come out of nowhere or just get sort of tossed into my lap, I've really never had too many experiences in the world of dating, proper. I mean like the courtship kind of dating, where you go pick 'em up at the front door, and you make stupid small talk on the way to dinner, and then you have to try and get to know what you can about each other before the cheesecake arrives because you know you'll be sitting in a dark theatre for the next two hours, and you sure won't be able to do anything then but try and read each other's body language & figure out where the hell you should put your hands in relation to hers & the armrest, and then after you've both had a couple of hours two stew about it all, you face that deciding moment where....

....okay, I got a little off-track there....and that's the me of the present talking, because the me of the past was pretty hyped when I pulled up to her house that night.

I had borrowed a shirt from Alan, 'cus I had no idea what her idea of casual was, and I also wasn't 100% sure that this was an actual 'date'-type date. I knew she liked me, but it had all been pretty casual so far. When she opened the door, however, I smelled the perfume, which was pretty much a giveaway (that's a rule we go by, for all you ladies out there: if you're wearing perfume, it's a date). She smiled & invited me in, and I thought she looked pretty damn cute out of her work clothes. I can't remember what exactly she had on, but I know it was cute. Demure, but cute.

We didn't linger in her house long; we hopped into my truck & headed over to my neighborhood, where the theatre & stuff was. I remember I had Peter Gabriel on the stereo; it took me a few minutes before I had left home to decide on some music that wouldn't freak her out. I can't remember a damn thing we talked about on the way over, but I remember purposefully not smoking on the way over, and wondering if she noticed. Did I mention she hated smoking?

All I really remember about the food is that it was lousy, even though it looked kinda neat in those little black compartment-trays. I do remember what we talked about, though, because at some point, I asked her "So why don't you have a boyfriend?". And I sure didn't expect it when she answed with:

"Well...I sort of do."

Time out, I thought.

"You have a boyfriend?" I asked; maybe more accusingly than I realized. She was obviously a little conflicted about whatever it was that she was telling me.

"Well, I do...and I don't. I guess I don't really know if I do.", she said, searching for words.

"You don't know whether you do or not?", I asked.

"Well, I guess I don't. But I might.", she said.

Yes, I was confused, too.

"Ok, J.C., you gotta tell me what the deal is here.", I said...and I wish i knew how I sounded when I said it; I'd be curious.

"Well...there's this guy....(isn't there always)...and we used to date a few years ago in college, and we've sort of been talking lately, and we've been talking about getting back together..."

"But you're not back together with him?" I asked.

"No...I'm not. And I'm not sure I'm going to fact, I'm probably not, but it's just all sort of weird right now..." she said, almost apologetically.

"It sounds like it...". I remember cursing myself for asking for the no-smoking section.

"Look; it's really not that big a deal...we've just been talking, and that's really all it's ever been between us: a lot of talk", she explained. I remember exactly how I felt that moment as I sat there trying to feel her out: I remember thinking that, on paper, it sounded like she was trying to steer me out of date-ville & straight on to the exit that goes directly to just-friends-ville or right out of town. But, everything about her voice & her body language said something different. It was like she telling me this almost grudgingly, and like the more the talked about it, the more she seemed to distance herself from the idea of it. I had the distinct sense that she wanted to see if I gave a flying shit or not; that maybe she didn't even know for sure if I was interested or not. So, I decided to throw her a bone...

"Well, that's a shame.", I said.

"Why's that?", she asked.

"Well, it just is.", I said with little smirk. "You ready to go to the movie?"

"Oh....ok!", she started to fumble for her purse.

"No, it's ok...let me get it.", I said, pulling out my wallet.

"You don't have to do that!", she said, "it's not like we're on a date, or something..." she said, smiling.

I thought for a second about telling her the perfume rule, but I didn't; I just smiled a little. Like I said, on paper it sounds like she was trying to find a loophole, but I got the feeling she was just trying to get me to jump through a couple of hoops to see if I was worthy, which turned out to be right, for better or worse. In any case, I let us split the check, I think...I can't really remember.

Nor do I remember a damn thing about the Almodovar movie, and I can't even recall the name of it now, but it was whichever one he made in 1998 so I guess I could look it up if it meant anything to the story, which it doesn't. I don't remember much about the band we went to see afterwards, either...other than they were just your average bar band. I do remember that she thought she saw one of her old boyfriends there, but lost him in the crowd, and that made me wonder for a minute if I was dealing with a girl who had dated everyone in town, which turned out not to be the case at all, but anyway...

I do remember doing one really stupid thing as we were leaving the club, though; we were walking out & there was this woman wearing a leather miniskirt that was, well, way too small for her frame, and, like a moron, I made some joke about her having a big ass. Yes, yes, I know...never joke about big asses around women in any way; don't even put the two words together. But, I did it, and she shot me a disapproving look & I kicked myself for once again not replacing my stupidity filter.

And I'll be damned...I just now remembered that we went to play Lazer Tag afterwards; there was one of those places downtown near the club, and we just walked in on a whim. And I remember it was fun...we shoulda done that again.

I do remember being a little nervous the rest of the night that I had been an insensitive jerk in her eyes after the ass-joke, but I don't really remember much else of what we did, other than it went pretty well, from where I sat. I mean, we hadn't jumped on each other in the middle of the bar, but we had gotten along really well all night, and there had definitely been sparks. I was wondering what I should do when we got back to her place; whether I should try for the kiss or the invite in, but with the new semi-boyfriend angle she had introduced, I figured I would wait & see what she did instead.

And, for the life of me, I can't remember what in the hell we did when we got back there. I mean, I know we didn't do the nasty...I didn't even kiss her...but I can't remember if I came in, or if I just dropped her off at the door, or what happened. The next clear memory I have is of driving home, listening to KISS at peak volume & feeling pretty good about the whole night. I remember thinking how I should have been totally put off by what she told me, but being amazed by the fact that I wasn't the least bit worried about it. I think I knew, even then, that this was going to turn into something, but I didn't know it would happen quite as fast as it did...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

As I was saying...

I met J.C. about eight years ago yesterday, give or take...

I was working at a production house, making really cheap, lousy commercials for local car dealerships & the like, when word came through the grapevine about a job on a documentary series that was being produced by a sister company. They needed a supervising editor for the project, and because I used to get high with one of the executive producers, I was able to weasel my way into the gig.

They set us up in a little house & sent me to work early setting up the equipment for the show. The plan was to hire (I think) six producers to work on the series, doing two episodes each, with me doing the remaining episode. The first producer they hired was a guy whose claim to fame was producing the video for....well, an extremely famous theme song to a big hit comedy from the 80's, so basically they spent about half of the budget to hire this guy, and filled the rest of the positions with some journeymen around town, and a couple of first-timers. By the first day of production, I had met everyone else, except for one of the first-timers; all I knew about her was that she had worked as an assistant editor at a rival company to the one I had worked for, and that her name was J.C.

On that first morning, I was setting up an editing system in the middle of the front room, when this mousy little girl with short, brown hair & glasses walked through the door, carrying a cup of convenience-store coffee. I remember her holding out her hand to shake mine & introducing herself to me as I brushed the dust from the floor off my hands. I didn't really think twice about her, other than she seemed nice. It's not that she wasn't attractive, but she just didn't immidiately catch my eye, and there was no golden light shining behind her head the first time I saw her, like some other people.

The only other clear memory I have of her that first day was that something was wrong with the computer I had put together for her, and she called me over to ask me if I could fix it for her. I remember that, as I leaned in next to her, I noticed that she had bad breath. I wasn't repulsed by it or anything, but I do remember it, and I remember thinking about it months later, when she asked me what the first thing I had noticed about her was, and deciding that I should make something up, instead of telling her that...

We worked in the same room, basically, for another few days, but I don't really remember anything that happened then. Next thing I remember is getting a call from the head office a few days into the job; they had another show in the pipeline that less than a week away from the deadline, and some huge tragedy had happened where they had lost several weeks work & had to make it up in about 3 days. I was apparently the only person who could get the job done fast enough, for little enough pay, and with no regard whatsoever for my personal health, so they drafted me away for a few days to save their ass. So, I did.

I came back to the new office a few days later, and I remember I got there a little late that morning, because I was getting new brakes on my car. When I arrived, everyone was moving furniture out the door, becuase the boss had apparently found another office down the block that he could rent for about $50 cheaper, and he was having his whole production staff haul everything over. So, I rolled up my sleeves & prepared for moving day.

And then it happened...

I remember seeing one of those long, fold-up office tables being carried out the door by a pair of unknown hands. As she put the table down, I could see that it was J.C.; she was wearring jeans & this little rainbow-striped shirt that reminded me of the seat covers in my mom's old Volkswagen. She had her hair up in a ponytail & she was huffing & puffing from carrying the big table out the door, and her face was all red & flushed. She had a light sheen of sweat on her face & neck that made her all shiny & rosy in the sun....and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, she was hot.

I also noticed that she was considerably more...well-proportioned than I had thought...maybe it was the clothes she had been wearing, I didn't know. All I know is that she had one particular asset that I had no idea how I had missed. But still, I should be honest & say that I was just more surprised at her sudden cuteness rather than lovestruck by her beauty, and the only blinding light was still the natural one from the sun outside. I still didn't have any thoughts at the time of persuing her.

In fact, I hadn't been persuing anybody for a while, then....about five or six months, as I recall. I had broken up with Veronica yet again the previous September, and the whole ordeal with Jenna had just happened that Christmas & it all still had me a bit reeling. So, I went on about my business & we moved into the new office. There was a little space upstairs that I immidiately claimed as mine, and the rest of the crew moved in downstairs. It was a day or two later that we finally got everything set up & unpacked, but the first thing I did in my office was the first thing I always do: hang up the Springsteen poster. And that's what really started it...

I was sitting in my office a couple of days later, cutting together some footage, when I head J.C.'s rather charming, southern voice behind me ask "Do you like Bruce?".

Ha. Do I like Bruce...

She came in & checked out my poster, and then we talked for a while; about Bruce, at first. Turned out she liked the more recent, happily-married, acoustic-heavy Bruce, while I'm still more a fan of the old streetwise, hot-rodding, blue-collar, steel-mill Bruce...but in any case, a female Bruce fan was somewhat rare in my life at that time (this ain't New Jersey, folks), and I was quickly enraptured...sort of. I remember thinking about five minutes in to the conversation that we were flirting with each other, but I still wasn't sure. She left after a few minutes & we exchanged a couple more words that day, but she was definitely growing on me.

So, the next day (it might not have been the next next day, but I think it was), I was pretty hyped when the exec. producer came to me that morning & asked me if I could go over to the big office & help J.C. with putting some images on the photo manipulator (an ancient, dinosaur of a machine used to put still images on film that has been obsolete for years, and is roughly as difficult to operate as a stealth bomber), which was apparently about to come alive & crush her. I remember I stopped to buy some gum on the way over, so at least one of us in the room would have fresh breath.

When I arrived, she was wrestling with the controls for this ridiculous machine and listening to Semisonic (a band that I would have never known existed were it not for her) on the little CD player she had brought in. I showed her how to manipulate the manipulator, and then just hung out the rest of the day talking to her. We talked about music, mainly, I remember, and we were definitely flirting. So, when lunchtime came around, I asked her to come with me.

We took my car to a nearby generic chain restaraunt, and I remember asking her if it was ok for us to sit in the smoking section; she agreed although she didn't like smoke, and I remember thinking that was probably a pretty good sign that she liked me, as deadly & thoughtless on my part as it was. It would also be the last time she & I ever sat in a smoking section.

We had a really good time that day at lunch, and we laughed a lot. I remember the first thing I asked her was what her initials stood for. She told me that she didn't like her full name, but that it sounded like "a type of stone, a color, and a part of the body". She was right, but I would have never guessed what it was...she had a very unusual, southern name, like a heroine in an old Tennessee Williams story. Personally, I thought her full name was lovely, but she always insisted on being called by her initials.

We talked a lot about movies & what it was that made us want to get into the business...and I remember thinking that her taste in movies was pretty cool. She was a big fan of
Blade Runner (or at least she said she was, although thinking about it now, it was never in her collection & I never remember her mentioning it again), and that scored some points with me. We also exchanged short life stories, and realized that we knew a lot of the same people. In fact, small world as it is, she had gone to school with Roxanne...although she, being only a year younger than me, was not in her class.

I remember us driving back to work that day & definitely having the sense that something was going to happen between us, but I still wasn't sure what. For one thing, she seemed like a much more...together person than the women who usually come my way; more in Maria's league, and we know how long that lasted. Still, she interested me enough to make me take a shot, so at the end of that day, before I went back to the new office, I asked her if she'd like to go out that Friday night. She said she would. So, we did...

Thursday, April 6, 2006

I'm alive...more to come.