Monthly Archives: January 2015

Inked

December 1995 ……. my best friend Kim and I hopped on a plane and headed west. Destination: San Francisco. Neither of us had started college the September after high school graduation, and the plan was to go visit the Academy of Art College to see if I wanted to attend. We stayed at the Ramada Limited near Lombard Street. It was a quick trip, just a few days to make the decision.

I fell in love for the first time walking back to the hotel one night. I thought I had been in love before, but this was different. There was a moment when I turned around while walking up one of San Fran’s dangerously steep streets, and the lights that surrounded me, glistening at different heights in all directions, made my heart melt. This was it. I was going to move here. When I left a few days later, I left my heart in San Francisco.

When I returned at the beginning of January, I was alone. Strange place, strange roommate, far, far away from family and friends. My second day there I met Brian. Brian was a boy ….. I was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious? He was a punk. She did ballet ….. blah, blah, blah ….. he had really baggy clothes …… (If you didn’t follow that, you never dated a skater boy.)

Long story short, Brian was a graphic design student and we were madly in love by the end of our first date. We went to the SFMOMA ….. and laughed at how a white canvas with a single black dot was considered art. He took me for pizza in Union Square ….. Blondie’s ….. and he said it was the best pizza ever. (It was horrible, but huge slices and cheap ….. great for struggling college kids.) He had a single tattoo between his shoulder blades, sexy tribal art that he had designed himself. A few months in and he had convinced me to get a tattoo as well.

We headed off to Haight Street and made our way into one of the world reknowned tattoo shops. (I do not remember the name …..) The tattoo artist was pretty impressed with Brian’s design and said he’d do my tattoo for a mere $50. I had mentioned to my parents that I wanted to get one and they were adamant that I not do it. My mother said don’t charge it to her credit card, so I charged it to her credit card. (They also paid for my second one a few months later, also against their will.) Somewhere in a basement  in CT, there is a picture of me, messy blonde hair clipped up, looking mildly buzzed with my brand new tattoo in my dorm room. He was proud of me. (I was not buzzed ….. but the rush from getting a tattoo was alive and well.)

Fast forward 19 years and that tattoo is coming off. Brian and I lasted a little over a year, and broke up a few times for various reasons. San Francisco turned out to be a little too far, and I moved back east and ended up in Miami. His tattoos stayed with me. Brian is the one ex I do not have contact with. I tried to find him once Facebook surfaced, but he was nowhere to be found. Two years ago, while working at WTNH, a photographer and I were bored and snooping around the internet and stumbled across his name, listed as a hair stylist, still in San Fran. We clicked on the salon link and there he was ….. all tatted up, crazy curly skater boy hair …. and further research showed he wasn’t gay. (Any female who discovers her ex is a hair stylist will assume he’s gay, or her family will.) I subsequently found him on FB, friend requested him, he accepted long enough to stalk my page, and then unfriended me. Ouch.

I don’t hate the tattoo. I don’t think I regret it. It’s just time. (I’ll keep the little heart on my back …..) Both of my tattoos have dots in the design ….. single black dots. I’ve been thinking about getting the leg tattoo removed for a while and it was on the list of things to do last year and didn’t get done. So, this Thursday, I will venture into a little shop, with a photographer in tow, and we will begin our story on tattoo removal.

Rumor has it it will hurt. From what I’ve read it will hurt less now than it would have four years ago. New technology, less treatment time. I will have fun with the story and laugh at how it all came about.  Sorry, Brian, it just wasn’t meant to be.

I wonder if I can just leave the dot?

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Cruise got Cruise, And I Got a Mink …..

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV; ….. that’s his real name. I have it on good authority that it was shortened to Tom Cruise by a woman by the name of Tobe Gibson, who is credited with discovering the young actor and landing him his first major roles. She was a talent manager in NYC and a little research shows she got him started, launched his career, and like many in Hollywood do, he left her behind as he climbed the ladder. If you read his unauthorized biography, or search their names together, it’s clear they were connected.

I met Tobe when I was 32. The twins were about 4 months old, I was unhappy in my marriage, and struggling to figure out my direction in life. (Once again ….. ) I had recently started an acting workshop, had new head shots done, and realizing I was ‘over the hill’ for the business, was advised to seek out a manager to guide me on the path to success. I sent out 30 photos …. and got two calls back….typical. One was from a rough sounding woman who instantly reminded me of Joey’s agent on Friends. (Estelle ….. remember Estelle?!?!)

I was standing in my kitchen. I remember the call. I was jotting notes on a scrap piece of paper on the granite island. She told me a bit about herself, explained her claim to fame was discovering Cruise and said she wanted me to come to her office. It was in Hartsdale, not Manhattan. We scheduled an appointment for a few days later, I hung up the phone, and Andy and I danced a little in the kitchen. (That was always our thing ….. dancing in the kitchen.) Maybe this was it. Maybe this was the beginning of what I was meant to do …..

When I met her, it was cold and snowy. Her building was less than memorable, although I remember it vividly. I arrived at her office and she had someone else there so I waited outside in the hallway. When I went in, she looked me up and down and told me to sit down. She had on a lot of make-up….. and was wearing a navy dress suit. Her office was cluttered with photos. She had my head shot in her hand, flipped it over to look at my resume and declared, “Well, you haven’t done much. I don’t know what I can do with you.”

????? What?!?!?! She had invited me there! I drove an hour and a half, in snow, to have some old lady dismiss me just like that?!?! No way!!!! I smiled, which I do occasionally, and made conversation. She said, “Well, do a monologue or something. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

I did. When I was done she said, “Well, you’re good. I guess I knew it from the picture. You really don’t have much on your resume … I’m not sure how I can promote you. I’ll sign you for a year. Just a year. I normally do two but you really don’t have much. Can you sing?”

“I don’t sing, ” I replied.

“You can sing. I know you can sing. I hear it in your voice. Trust me ….. you can sing, ‘ she said.

“I can’t sing.”

“I’m pretty sure you can sing.”

Thus began our beautiful relationship. The short version is we connected. I don’t know why. She was overbearing, in your face, demanding, and yet completely irresistable. She talked about my career, about her visions, how she felt ‘there’s just something about you’ ……

It was February of 2009. Two months later she had yet to send me on a single audition or meeting. She wasn’t feeling well, she said. She would have me stop by on my way to/from NYC on an almost weekly basis. Her apartment was cluttered. She had stacks of photos everywhere. She told me she wished I was her daughter. (She had two daughters …. one was a notable SOAP actress, the other a Hollywood Madame….I shit you not…..GOOGLE Jody Babydoll Gibson.) She was heartbroken over her daughter’s path, and perhaps she saw me as a way to make up for something she felt she had done wrong. She wanted me to succeed.

One weekend she came to my home in Connecticut. I picked her up from the train in New Haven and on the way home we had to stop at the grocery store to get her favorite foods. Aidan and Zach were with me …. ages 6 and 4 …. and she yelled at them in the car for being silly. I was taken aback, not surprised, and mildly irritated. I’m the mom …. I called the shots, but not in Tobe’s world. I kept my mouth shut. I tucked her into bed and she watched a Barbara Streisand special on TV. The next day I drove her to Rhode Island to get her haircut. Why?!?! I couldn’t tell you why ….. there was just a connection.

She took me to all you can eat salad bars, forced me to eat strawberry shortcake, and called me regularly. I drove her, in a near blizzard, to pick up a friend miles away from her home ….. I couldn’t say no. In four months she sent me on one meeting with a casting director and that was all. Andy and I talked about what I should I do …. did I tell her I needed more and wanted out of my contract?

In June she called and said she needed to see me. I went to her apartment and she apologized for not having followed through as my manager. She told me she loved me like a daughter ….. the good one …. and said she needed to go to LA to be with her family. She was sick, they were worried, and she was getting old. (I never knew how old …..) She was spunky, relentless, and outspoken. She asked me if I wanted some of her furniture …. an old lamp, a mirrored armoire. I sadly said no, I didn’t have room for them. She then told me to sit on her bed and walked across the room. She came back with a mink stole. She wanted me to have it. It meant a lot to her, as did I, and she wanted to know that someone she cared about would keep it safe. I couldn’t say no.

She said she would call when she got to LA ….. she was going to work with an agent and would have me come out. I never heard from her again.

I left her a message in July. No return call. I called again in August ….. nothing. It was strange. This woman had called me regularly and as much as she drove me insane, I missed her. At the beginning of October I received an email from a common connection. “In Memoriam …. Tobe Gibson …..” She had passed away. I cried …. and cried….. and cried. I was heartbroken.

Tobe had a rare brain disease … I think it was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. She may have contracted it fifty years earlier, and it causes memory loss, strange behavior, and dementia.Once the symptoms present, it can be a rapid decline. Suddenly it all made sense.

At her memorial, I met her daughter. (The good one ….. as she put it.) I cried along with a roomful of people I did not know. Tom wasn’t there. Her friend, the one I picked up in the snowstorm, announced to the room how much Tobe loved me, and how fond of me she was. I asked her daughter if she wanted the mink and she said no, her mother had wanted me to have it.

There is so much more to this story ….. the anger Tobe felt that she shared with me and the discussions I had with other industry professionals once I realized her connection to her ‘other’ daughter. I felt as if I had been robbed of the chance to truly know this woman, to fully develop our relationship. Five years later I can say her impact one me, in just those 5 months, was tremendous. I still feel the loss now and wonder what she would think of where my life has gone. I wonder what may have happened had she not fallen ill? I think maybe that wasn’t ever in the cards, and perhaps I was sent to her for some reason.

I don’t know if I can sing. I know that because of Tobe I try. I belt out show tunes at the top of my lungs, when I’m alone, and I think sometimes I do ok. I think the key is we think, or are told, we can’t, and therefore never try. If you’re uninhibited, sometimes you can. Maybe I needed lessons ……

The mink is in my closet. Well, it’s in Andy’s closet. He hasn’t moved it and won’t until I’m ready for it. I wore it to Christmas Eve once, but that was the only time. (I can eat the cow, can’t wear the mink ….) When I tell this story I often end it with, “Cruise got Cruise ….. and I got a mink.”

In reality, I think I got so much more than he did.

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How Cold is Cold?!?!

I’ve been up here in Anchorage for twelve days now. I’m settling in at work, learning my way around the city, and making some new friends. When I first announced I was heading north, most people would comment on how crazy I am because it’s so cold up here. (Then they’d quickly talk their way out of that statement by thinking about the adventures to be had in The Last Frontier….I did the same thing.) As I sit here, coffee in hand in front of my cozy little fireplace, I can look out one of my amazing picture windows and see standing water on the ground. It is not frozen. Not today, anyway.

What I’ve realized thus far is that there seems to be a big difference between seven degrees and fifteen degrees. (I’m talking fahrenheit, people. Alaska might have moose, bears, and sled dogs, but they do not have the metric system. Rumor has it they tried once, but Bigfoot ate the conversion chart so US Standard remains …..)

I am not a meteorologist, nor have I played one on TV. I do happen to know a few and perhaps they can weigh in on how, why, and when this happens, but it appears to me that everything crystallized once the temps dipped below 15. I’ve been trying to put into words how amazingly beautiful that is but I just can’t seem to do it justice. It’s stunning. Peaceful. Inspiring. It reminds me of Narnia. (If you have ever seen the movie you would know what I’m talking about.)

I have always loved a good snow storm, especially the immediate aftermath when the snow still clings to the trees and coats everything in sight. This is like a cross between an ice storm and a snow storm ….. and it’s touched by the amazing sunlight we are blessed with for six hours a day right now. The sun doesn’t get very high in the sky, and seems to cast a pinkish/orangey glow on everything. If it’s cloudy, there is a bluish hue that blankets everything, making it seem colder than it is.

In an attempt to do something touristy and adventurous, George and I went horseback riding on what was the coldest day yet. We drove an hour outside of the city and saddled up at around 2:30 in the afternoon. When we left Anchorage the temp was about 22 ……. when we got to Palmer it was 7. The guide said we were nuts, George assured him it was me who was the nutso. I wore two coats, lined boots, toe warmers on the tops and bottoms of my feet, hand warmers in my furry gloves, and a hat and a hood. During the two and a half hour trip, I was totally fine. My knees were a little cold as I had on jeans but other than that I bundled up right! (I had on jeans and thermal leggings but probably should have had snow pants on.) George only had his cowboy boots with him, and despite the toes warmers, leather just does not protect from the cold. His feet were frozen within minutes.

We rode a little through the woods and then out into a valley that we were told is a marsh/lake in the summer. Everything was crystallized. The views were breathtaking. It was just the three of us and an occasional moose spotted in the distance. We could hear gunshots off in the distance, hunters and a firing range miles and miles away. We saw many small planes flying low over the valley and as we stopped to light a fire and warm up a bit, one of them made its way right above us to make sure we were okay. A friendly wave and they were off again. I don’t even care that I looked like an Oompa Loompa all bundled up in the pictures the guide took for us. It was a truly spectacular day. As we rode back to the base, a full moon was rising over the mountains. Call me crazy, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

So how cold is cold? Does a phenomenal backdrop make it more tolerable? I have a ten minute drive to work and that is not enough time for the car to warm up. If it’s below 15, the ride combined with the quick walk from the car to the building, means my toes are cold for at least an hour. The past few days have been around 30 and now that feels like summer to me!

I live in Anchorage, not the far north. When you “southerners” think of Alaska, you think of subzero, rugged outback, bearded men in a remote village somewhere. Up north it’s frigid, so I am told. I will probably visit one or two of these places in my time here. For now, I’ll stick to the beauty that is below 15 but above 0 and go buy some more fuzzy boots. (With a little heel of course.)

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Welcome to Anchorage

I haven’t blogged in a while and for that I apologize. If you follow me on FB you know why. I’ve been busy! The Great Alaskan Adventure has begun!

Today will be my first day on air at my new station, KTVA. I’m reporting nightside, and I think my story might be about the city of Anchorage possibly canceling their moose hunts this year. (Or a part of them, I really need to study this a little more as it’s very foreign to me.) There is a meeting tonight to discuss the repercussions/benefits from such an action ….. I’m glad my first story involves a moose. A fire, shooting, stabbing, or school board meeting would be way too lower 48 for me. (This is news, and the story topic is subject to change at any moment.)

The station is a work in progress. GCI, the cable company up here, bought out KTVA about two years ago and has completely rebuilt the studios, purchased all new equipment, hired many new people, and now call themselves the New KTVA. Another station up here has dominated the news world, and we are now primed to give them a hefty dose of competition. It’s exciting to be a part of a new beginning! The set is amazing, and won awards last year for Set of the Year. Later this week I will co-anchor the 6 o’clock show so I will get the opportunity to spend some QT with it! Thus far everyone has been very friendly and inviting, as not to long ago most of them were me, just getting here themselves.

As for getting settled, a lot of people have reached out with questions about the move, the family dynamics involved, and various other questions. It’s been hard to respond to everyone so here goes:

The twins, along with their babysitter, will be arriving within a few weeks. They’re staying here for the duration, however long that ends up being, and they’re excited about the mountains, worried about Bigfoot, and can’t wait to see their new home. The big boys, being a tougher age to disrupt their world of school, friends, and activities, will be visiting in March and then up for the entire summer. We face time regularly, text all the time, and they are excited about the adventures waiting for them up here!

It’s almost 10 am, it’s getting light outside. George left last night and so I’m on my own now. It hasn’t really hit me yet. He and I had some tearful moments while he was here, but dropping him at the airport last night, somehow I got through it. (I think mostly because it was cold, and the car was warm, so I wanted back in,) He helped me get settled, car shopped with me, had a few adventures, and will be back soon. Love that crazy man ……

I’ll be throwing myself into my work and giving it all I’ve got. I’ll be back in CT for a long weekend in mid-February. Counting the days until my days have some six year old giggles in them again …..

There are 3,351 miles from Anchorage and Hartford and 4,468 miles by car.

Anchorage and Hartford are 3 days 14 hours far apart (by car).

That’s far.

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