Anne Notations

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I am an enthusiast

Two weeks ago our department played a game at work: Guess the Colleague. We each submitted a sentence about ourselves that was something our co-workers probably wouldn't know. Then everyone filled out a combined questionnaire, guessing who owned which feat or trait or experience. Shouting out guesses was fun. Along came this clue:

"This colleague owns a sweat-stained handkerchief thrown by Tom Jones at the Warwick Musical Tent."

In a millisecond, all eyes turned toward me. People smiled and shouted, "Anne! It's Anne!" Not because I've ever expressed love for Tom Jones. No. Clearly the answer had to be the department's best known fangirl. Yours truly.

I quickly denied the connection, putting my foot in it by exclaiming indignantly, "Tom Jones? No way!!! Never Tom Jones," only to learn that it was our boss who had caught and kept the Tom Jones relic. The same boss who was sitting mere feet from me. Sorry, boss!

Last night on Facebook a cyber-friend and fellow Brown grad commented on my reference to the delightful Web site Cute Overload, a trove of hilarious animal photos and videos with clever captions. I had said on my FB wall that was where I go to relax and laugh at the end of the day. Robert replied: "It's one of your many sources of mirth and de-stressing – photography, food, Jack White, Federer, other pop culture, other silliness. You've embraced life as FUN. I like your style."

Even though he missed some biggies – Star Wars, ice hockey, dogs, kids, books, Los Lonely Boys – Robert gets it: I am an enthusiast. Not fangirl. Although I've occasionally described myself as the latter – it's more contemporary and kooky sounding, an image I'll admit to cultivating up to a point. But really. I'm nearly 58 years old! Too old to be a "fangirl." Right? Am I right???

I know to some I appear silly and lightweight because of my numerous and varied enthusiasms. (And that "some" includes, at times, my own kids and husband.) Those who roll their eyes should know, however, that my hobbies were hand-holds by which I pulled myself, inch by inch, out of years of anxiety, panic, and depression. Once, not so long ago, I was too agoraphobic to attend concerts or even movies. Now, I am a virtual club rat. Once I couldn't travel without my husband at my side. But in 2005 I went, alone, to Indianapolis for Star Wars Celebration 3, a week that rocked my world. I met my online Star Wars sisters, found my way by myself in a strange city, and for the first time in 15 years was myself – Anne – instead of Mom.

It can't be bad, or wrong, to love Jack White's music so much that I'll travel around New England to see any of his three bands, and the same goes for Los Lonely Boys. Certainly shouting myself hoarse at a close college hockey game, riding the rollercoaster of triumph and defeat, is a useful catharsis and stimulant. The giddy fun of the Star Wars universe, my worship of Obi-wan Kenobi (particularly in the person of Ewan McGregor, ha ha), the way good electric blues-rock moves my body and soul: these passions help me through the other stuff, the times I resolved not to dwell on here – the nightly melancholy of missing my husband, my worries about Kevin's schoolwork and Melinda's discipline at college and Andrés's continuing lack of a real career, the self-loathing my weight evokes in me every single hour of every day.

A fellow mood-disorder sufferer is fond of noting, "Depression hates a moving target." So I say no to the bleak aspects of life when they try to grab my ankles and pull me down into a black lagoon, yes to my passions. Yes to being an enthusiast.

Yes to life as a fangirl at any age.


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