Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Connections and coincidences abound, my appearance on the Tonight Show, and my weekend adventures

After reading this post, Rita emailed me and informed me/reminded me of a few more coincidences that I'd like to write about. I love coincidences, like this one, and also love hearing about how people know each other, especially if the connection is a tenuous one, which is one of the tiny reasons why I love my group of friends I call the Randoms.

So, here are the Rita stories. First of all, we first met because of coincidences. I was a speaker at the LA SCBWI conference last year, and after my talk people lined up to talk to me (I felt very popular). When I got to this one woman, she looked embarrassed and said something about how she didn't really have a question, but she wanted to say that she thought we had two people in common. The first was a friend of hers named Calvin who was doing consulting at my company--yes! I knew him! (I remembered sitting in meetings and watching him taking notes in between nodding off.) And the second was that she was married to Damon, who I was friends with in college. I think he lived on the same dorm floor freshman year as one of my high school friends, and coincidentally one of HIS high school friends lived one floor below me in MY dorm. And that high school friend turned out to be one of Rita's best friends (Rita and Damon also went to high school together). It's all connected, right?

So Rita and I saw each other a bunch at the conference, kept in touch, read each other's blogs. My post on things I want to learn/try spurred her to email me about the Fiesta Bowl parade--she had marched in it, too--senior year of high school, as the clarinet section leader, front and center, setting the pace for the whole band. And you know what? ME, TOO! ME, TOO! Senior year of high school I was also the clarinet section leader, and also marched front and center, setting the pace for my marching band.

But that's not all:

About five or so years ago I was home for Thanksgiving, playing pool with my brothers in the basement, and the TV was on (but we weren't really watching,) and it was tuned to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I actually think it may have been a repeat of an old show, because I don't think it was that late, but I'm not sure. Anyway, he was doing a skit about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with one other person, and there was some generic parade footage playing behind them. I kinda glanced at it and after seeing a banner I realized that the parade footage they were using was the Fiesta Bowl parade.

"Hey, that's the Fiesta Bowl parade!" I said to my brothers. We started to watch.
"Wait...omigod, that's Diamond Bar!" (our high school)

Sure enough, it was the purple-and-gold Diamond Bar High School marching band--my band, and I slowly realized that it was my band during the time that I was in it, during my senior year, and wait...

"Hey! There's me!!!"

They showed the front of the band a few times, and I got a glimpse of myself marching along in my purple-and-gold uniform and playing the clarinet (not a pretty sight, I should say). Now, I hardly ever watch the Tonight Show, first of all, and that it would be that exact parade footage, from that exact time that we marched by...now that's a coincidence.


And now more coincidence and connection stories from my weekend. This turned into an account of almost everything I did this past weekend, so please stop reading now if you don't want to be bored:

On Friday night I went to happy hour (well, a happy hour that turned into a 10-hour, 4-bar, 2-food establishment night), and Tracy's friend who was visiting from out of town came out, and he brought a friend who bore an uncanny resemblance to Hugh Grant. The next morning Rose and I were talking about the resemblance, and not ten minutes or so later I got a text from her. She was walking in Central Park and saw the REAL Hugh Grant walk by! I kid you not.

And more about that happy hour, it started as a work thing, but as I often do, I extended the invitation out to others. Now, usually when I do this, maybe one or two people end up coming out, but this time, maybe it was because it was a Friday right after the holiday, I had a ton of friends from different walks of life come out. Rose and her friends, my skydiving buddy Craig and his girlfriend, some of the Randoms, and of course my coworkers. And people kept asking how everyone else knew each other, and it was fun remembering. (One example: Eleanor's coworker Annabelle was roommates with Charlie, who interned with James, who went to school with Miguel, whose brother Jorge dated Jen, who went to college with Eveline, who I worked with.) We took over the Salt Bar for a good 4 hours. And if you've never been there, you must go just to try their bacon-wrapped-dates which are so good that we have dreams about them. Oh, and in honor of making the year 2007 two-thousand-and-risk, I tried a drink called the Bullshot that had beef bouillon and horse radish in it, and I liked it, dammit!

Saturday day was spent at brunch with my cousins Nate and Ingrid, and then a nice long walk in the park on a 70-degree day in January. Now, you'd think that connection is easy--cousins, right? But Ingrid is actually my step-cousin, as Ingrid's dad married my aunt about 4 years ago. And I guess Nate is my step-cousin-in-law. Right? So, what am I to their 2-month old baby Owen? His second-step-cousin?

Saturday night at Pete's housewarming party in Brooklyn was more of the same in terms of how people knew each other: Pete's originally a friend of a friend of a friend. There were other friends-of-friends there. And friend of a friend of a friend's coworkers. And friend of a friend of a friend's coworker's friend's friend. But hey, now we can all just say we're all just friends.

And on Sunday night, as I was heading out to watch Pan's Labyrinth (amazing movie), I got a call from a friend with a random question, and it turned out we were both heading to the same Times Square theater to watch movies (they were seeing Children of Men which I just saw last week), so we got to say hello in person outside of the theater. Another coincidence.

And I truly did not set out to tell you everything I did this weekend, but, well, there you go. A weekend in the life of me.

So that's the story of my Tonight Show appearance. And stories of coincidences and connections. I have more up my sleeve that I'll save for another day, but I'd love to hear your stories, too.

Oh, and I answered the anonymous query from the last post yesterday over at the Blue Rose Girl's blog.


Anonymous said...

I love stories about coincidences! Yours are awesome! (And I think Rita is great - I met her at the same conference!)

Okay, but I do have to swoon - you saw Hugh Grant! *envy* ;)

alvinaling said...

Ah, I wish. No, my roommate Rose saw the real Hugh Grant, I only met the copy. But according to Rose, the copy looked better than the real thing.

Rita said...

Oh my goodness, you guys. My ears are burning.

But, that aside, GREAT POST! Seriously, great post. I love the chatty tone.

And, back to the ears burning:
Damon loves it when I tell band stories. He loves to roll his eyes.


But what I wanted to say about Leno is:

How great is it you appeared in stock footage? That's not just representing your own band. You've now become the face of high school marching bands everywhere.

Everyone loves that.


calvin said...

nodding off?! i resemble that remark

Anonymous said...

Here's a coincidence story. Mom is at some meeting, and an acquaintance (some lady) comes up to ask her if Dad still works at "X company." And Mom replies yes, so the acquaintance asks, "Oh, does he happen to know a Ben? Apparently he is my friend's daughter's new boyfriend and he works there too, so I'm curious if your husband happens to know him."

So coincidentally it happened that the one person that the lady thought to ask, not only does Mom of course know them personally, and not only does her husband also know who I am, but she just asked the Mother of the person in question, about their own son, trying to find out if her husband, our dad, would know ME!

alvinaling said...

haha--that was confusing, but funny.

And Calvin, see you at the next Change Governance Meeting for Pub Track. Even the title of the meeting makes me nod off.

Jenny Han said...

Um, I think I need to be introduced to the Hugh Grant lookalike! Is he young, British, and single? Bring it.

Agyw said...

I love this stuff too, Alvina! I seem to be one of those bridesmaids kind of thing and there are so many of them, I may just bore you to tears (means I probably should put it on my neglected blog, eh?) but here's a few, I've been assaulted by a serial killer, have a strange in-out dance with the King of Horror.

I had two longterm boyfriends, one's great-great-great was the founder of Akron Ohio and nearly ruined by by his friendship with John Brown and the other's grandfather was President of Arizona's Mormon temple, stepfather a renegade government protester. The first I loved because he was quirky and interesting-- a machinist by trade and a supreme expert on Watches, Clocks and other antiques. I learned so much with him. The second a wonderful sculptor, I ended up working at foundries, living on the side of a mountain for four and a half months while being a docent for Sedona Arts Center, and finding myself in the desert.

I went to school with Corey Allen (of Chuck Mangione/jazz music fame), Greg Stump(originator of the atheletic hotdog snow movies), a survivor of the Pinochet coup (she was an AFS student at the time of Allende's fall), to name a few. And I'm just a podunk from Maine, though a few of my forbears have done noteworthy-- good and bad-- things. Will and Ariel Durant and Cecil Maxam, which explains my cantankerous soul.

Even my husband story is one of those coincidencental thangs. At one point we lived three doors away from each other for nearly a year and never met. I had been friends with his sister, though not close (he was much younger then, lol), and he dated a friend of mine the night before she left Portland to move to Arizona as my roommate. We didn't meet until both of us were humbled a bit by life and a lot more understanding of human foibles. It's been a truly interesting challenge and a bit of a crucible.

I have an OT question, Alvina, do you take unsolicited queries? You can answer me privately if you'd like (or not at all, if I'm being too bold, in which case, forgive me). My email is nospam_agyw13@aol.com. I understand if you don't or won't.

alvinaling said...

Thanks for the stories!

Jenny, I wish I could introduce you to the Hugh Grant lookalike, but I don't have his contact info and he didn't express any interest to meet again. He was a friend of a friend of a friend.

Agy, I love your story about your husband! And I'm sorry, but I don't take queries via this blog. I'm buried right now at work, and still have mss from over six months ago, which I know is unacceptable, so I need to get caught up before I request new stuff.

Agyw said...

no problem, Alvina, just wanted to know if I could snail mail you a query. Understand perfectly (Verla and a few others have shared pictures of the slush piles, so you get little envy from me, unless some of it involves pizza and massive amounts of Coca Cola). The older I get the more I believe there are no coincedences (it's late, did I spell that correctly? Geh).
Thank you for answering, though! P.S. you new line up from the BRG looks wonderful! Can't wait to see them in print!

Anonymous said...

Hello Alvina,
I come in a little late, BUT I just have to share my coincidence story, because I do think you'll like it. It happened at the SCBWI Los Angeles conference, last August. I did exchange a few words with you, at the very end, and I'm positive you do not remember me, but that's not what this is about. On the second evening of peer critique sessions, I went down to the room a little late and approached one of the two tables shown to me. I sat there, took out the manuscript I wanted to read, and tried to blend in as quickly as I could. At some stage, I noticed the woman sitting next to me giving me strange looks. She had been reading the name and address on top of the manuscript. Now, I live in Hyderabad, South India. So, she gives me a suspicious look, and says: You live in Hyderabad? Yes, I answer. That's my hometown, she says. REALLY ? Now, what were the odds of my sitting next to a person who grew up in Hyderabad, India, that very evening, during a 4-day conference that attracted some 600 people ??? Her mother still lives in Hyderabad, and my new friend came to visit her for Christmas and we met, I met her mom and her brother, and we went to see a 500 year old baobad tree outside a 14th Century fort at sunrise, spending four hours climbing old fortification walls AND the baobab tree, and taking fantastic early morning pictures. Isn't that a wonderful story? AND she writes for children. I simply still haven't gotten over that one :-)

Unknown said...

Alvina, this is totally bizarre, but I was also my HS band clarinet section leader. I didn't even know you played the clarinet! Alas, I have never marched in the Fiesta Bowl Parade, only in the Philadelphia Mummer's Parade (a Philadelphia New Years' day parade), and that wasn't with my HS band. Still, it's a bit of a coincidence.