15 September 2006

David Strathairn on a plane!!!

Most of the people I've told about this haven't cared a whole lot, but on my flight from Baltimore to Albany last weekend, I shared a plane with David Strathairn. If you don't know who he is, search for him ( www.imdb.com ) and recognize.

Suffice it to say he's not one of those actors that's gonna show up in Star magazine. I like him because he's in one of my favorite movies. He plays Whistler in Sneakers. If you haven't seen it, maybe a name-drop will interest you. He co-stars with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Akroyd, River Phoenix, Mary McDonnell, Ben Kingsley, and Timothy Busfield. And it's a fun-ass movie to watch over and over.

Anyway, I'm just chillin' in Baltimore, waiting to get on the plane, and he walks up to the trashcan nearby and sets his coffee down. I recognized him almost instantly, then surprised myself by doing the whole nervous thing. I couldn't believe seeing an actor actually made me nervous. I know famous people are just people at the core, but there's something so surreal about seeing someone in the real world that you've seen over and over in a fictional world.

Flying Southwest, he boarded with Group A, I think. I boarded later. Once I sat down on the plane, I found him from the back of his head and just sort of glanced forward every once in a while to see what he was doing. He proved himself a person by just sitting there quietly, reading throughout the entire flight. From the moment I first noticed him, I caught his occasional glance around to see if anyone had spotted him. I don't think anyone ever noticed him. I sort of felt bad for him, but I'm sure he preferred it that way, even though I think a small part of him wanted to be recognized for the skill he has within his craft.

On the flight, having struck up conversation with my neighbor, I saw fit to divulge my secret to her. She didn't know who he was either. Then, once we landed, I had to wait for people to clear out so I could get my bag from an overhead bin that wasn't right next to my seat. He too waited for everyone else to deplane. He wasn't taking any chances getting noticed. I grabbed my stuff and walked off.

As I headed for the rental cars, I listened to my voice mail for messages from Emily. I had to pick her up at the train station later, and wanted to see if her train left on time. In the process of paying attention to her message, I passed the turn toward the rental cars, so I doubled back.

And who do you think approached the turn just as I did? None other than David Strathairn. When he caught up to me, I lowered my phone, turned to him, and said, "Hey, how's it going?"

At first, I think he thought I was talking on the phone, but he must've felt me looking, so he raised his head, and returned the greeting--sort of a shy, unsure "Hi." But as he continued on to baggage claim, I saw him smile. I don't know if he was smiling because he knew I had recognized him, or because he thought he had said hi to me mistakenly while I was on the phone. I get the impression he knew I had recognized David Strathairn, the actor, in an airport, which made me happy that I might have made him happy.

I could've said any number of things to him about his movies, but I'm glad I didn't. I'm glad I didn't become the rambling moron. "Oh, David Strathairn! I'm your biggest fan! I loved you in Sneakers." I didn't say anything dumb like that, and he didn't have to think anything like, "Yeah right, douche bag. You're the biggest fan. Ummhmm. Oh, Sneakers, eh? That was 15 years ago, schmuck!"

The way things went, I was just some guy in an airport acknowledging and respecting the presence of a skilled artist. I like that.

07 September 2006

I hope it isn't temporary

In the past year, living in such a small apartment (made smaller by wedding presents, a brother-in-law, and a second dog), I've noticed what a disorganized pile my life can be when I'm busy elsewhere. In the past week though, I've been trying to slow my life down some. I'm taking the Tri-Rail more, hardly working any hours at the lab, and focusing my energy on staying active. When something requires my action or attention, I just freakin' do it, instead of waiting until it really needs me.

We only have one sink in the dishwasher-less kitchen, so the dishes used to pile up as fast as the pile of junk mail on the kitchen table. Now though, Lucas (brother-in-law) and I are washing dishes almost as soon as we dirty them. My bedroom is still a pretty nasty mess, but the other parts of the apartment keep me sane. The kitchen table, where I do most of my school work, has stayed clean. Even if clutter does collect there, I know I can reserve a corner of it for my laptop.

I must say, cleanliness is my new top boy. It's a routine I've never been able to practice, but hopefully one I can learn. I stay a lot calmer when I don't see clutter everywhere, and calmness is of great value to this poor college student.

My only hope is that I don't jynx myself with this blog, because good luck is just as important to me. I now know I'm capable of overcoming the chaos bred by my possessions, but divine disorder handed down as a major computer meltdown or a Cat-5 hurricane might turn me into a gyroscope. If that happens, I guess all I can do is take it Job-style and be like, "I don't fuckin' care. Go ahead, God. Blow my shit all over the place. See if I care!" And then I'll reach into my pocket, pull out my USB stick, thrust it high into the air as I leap and shout, "I've got a fuckin' flashdrive, bitch!"

04 September 2006

Welcome to September, me!

September means something unusual this year. I've known for months that these first two weeks of September might be stressful, but I think they'll turn out quite nicely in the end.

Emily and I went to the wedding of Brandon and Shendi this past weekend. I only knew half a dozen people there, but we still had some fun drinking and dancing. It was good to see friends I don't get to see very often. And next weekend, I see different friends I haven't seen in a while. Plus, I'm such a sucker for weddings in general.

I have lots of work to do before I hop on the plane next Saturday morning, but I have all week to take care of it. Emily is visiting her friend Megan this week, so I can stay up late working on assignments. The apartment will also seem a little empty. I admit that sleeping alone in a bed is pretty fun every once in a while, but I imagine I'll miss her being next to me before the week is over.

As for school, I think I'm going to like this semester. I'll probably be busier than past semesters, but in a good way. By taking three workshops-- all not of the fiction variety-- I am broadening my influences not only through what I read, but also in how I write. The health of fiction as an art form seems to be on a gradual decline with nonfiction on the rise. I'm hoping this semester teaches me a thing or two about how I can do my part to give fiction a thump in the chest.