Monday, July 11, 2011

Scavenger hunt for famous people in Paris

I didn't expect to have a star sighting in Paris.

But that's Paris for you. Full of magical moments.

I was walking around Père-Lachaise cemetery and lo and behold, there among the plots of famous writers and painters was one of my favorite comedians. Alive. Not dead.

I left her alone, of course, because when you've lived in LA, you know the rules. You leave them alone and let them have their own lives. And you certainly don't blog about seeing them. They are in this cemetery to hunt for famous (dead) stars. Not to be hunted down themselves.

We were on the same route so I kept running into her. Leaving her alone. Letting her be. But I wanted to say, "I love your HBO special. And when you were on The Ellen Show, you were funny as shit, girl. And oh my God I can't even think of you without thinking of how you yell at Larry."

So we met up at Oscar Wilde's grave and someone shrieked with joy at the sight of her. She was nice. He got his photo taken with her. Jealousy coursed through my veins. There was slight buzz. I stood by, polite LA person that I am.
Oscar Wilde's grave.
"It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors." -- Oscar Wilde, preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray
But then the crowd dispersed and I was a little more brave since we had been at a bunch of plots at the same time already. I lean over to her. "I knew it was you but I lived in LA and I know the rules."

She laughed, understanding what I meant. We chatted. WE CHATTED! And she was funny as all get out in the middle of Père-Lachaise cemetery just like she is onstage.

She asked me what I did. I told her I'm a writer. Her eyes perked up. She's a writer. An Emmy award winning writer. I said I was here in Paris doing my own Hemingway thing. I arrived last month. She said she was on vacation with her friends.

And this is the point where I failed me.

I was sheepish about saying I was a writer. I was standing between her and Oscar Wilde. Both of whom are/were Live Out Loud writers. Why the hell was I sheepish?

We walked on, dispersing and meeting up here and there to report on famous graves we found. She helped me find Edith Piaf. I told her I couldn't find Gertrude Stein. She asked what I was working on. I said I was doing my own Eat Pray Love thing, but it was more like Write Walk Sleep. She laughed. Understanding what I meant. Writers do a lot of walking and sleeping. She asked my last name and said she'll look for my book in a couple years.

I beamed.

We laughed over the ridiculousness of the guard at Jim Morrison's grave. "Acting like he was Jim's manager or something," she said. Her friend took my photo. I bid them farewell. We parted.

For me, total thrill. But in looking back, I had an opportunity to be more myself. If she wasn't who she was, I probably would have been my usual funny chatty self when meeting another english-speaking traveler. But I toggled between being chatty and leaving her alone, even though she seemed open to chatting and meandering between graves.

She was nice. 

I could have had a better pitch about myself, too. I could have said, "Girl, I was working too hard in Woodland-Effin-Hill, making my pile of strategically-sound junk mail, and I thought, WTF. I am sick and tired of this. I've got to be writing something else. Contributing my talent in a better way. What is the point of this legacy of garbage?

Even if my point is just to come alive myself and inspire people to come alive.
Even if it's just to make people laugh.
Even if it's to bring a smile to their dreary 9-6 office lives.
Even if it's just to dare them to dream.
Even if it's just to amuse myself.
Even if it never amounts to anything,
I've got to NOT be writing this marketing crap.

So I got the hell out of dodge and started traveling. Now I'm a nomadic blogger and I'm writing what I want to write and it's funny and great and makes me happy. And I think it makes other people happy, too. And Paris is a perfect place to do it, except for the mice. I've got a vendetta against the mice."

But I didn't say any of that.

"I'm a writer doing my own Eat Pray Love thing." Sheat. I'm an effing cliché.

Next time, when I run into someone famous and start chatting it up, in the words of one of my favorite comedians, I'M A BE ME. 

10 comments:

  1. you inspire me girl!!!! To know end...You make me proud.

    one request: remember ME when you are famous, and I will NOT follow the rules if I run into you at a cemetery!!

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  2. HA! You bet. You better not follow the rules AND blog about it.

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  3. "I'm a writer" is always the second half of what I say when I tell people what I do for a living. The company name always comes first. I think I need to work on my pitch, too.

    And you are not a cliche. Your adventure is yours alone - not like anyone else.

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  4. Very inspiring post indeed Jan! I love it. I'm keeping this part for my quote library...Totally awesome! My would end with "I have to NOT be making fridge magnets." :)
    Even if my point is just to come alive myself and inspire people to come alive.
    Even if it's just to make people laugh.
    Even if it's to bring a smile to their dreary 9-6 office lives.
    Even if it's just to dare them to dream.
    Even if it's just to amuse myself.
    Even if it never amounts to anything,
    I've got to NOT be writing this marketing crap.

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  5. And of course you remember that I ran into Jeff Garlin after my reading at Book Soup in LA... More or less the same conversation except no dead bodies.

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  6. Cliché? Huh. Well, I've never been more jealous of a cliché in my life. I admire your bravery.

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  7. So... who is this famous person you ran into?

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  8. It's a lovely sculpture! I've heard to many things about it but I haven't seen anything like that before 'cos it was a "magical moment" indeed.

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  9. very interesting and beautiful sculpture, great that you can enjoy it

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