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February 22, 2007

I Need Wide Open Spaces (probably because of the restraining order, but anyway.)

I moved all over as a kid. People ask me all the time where I'm from, and they especially ask it when they hear the twang in my voice. Sometimes I say Mississippi, or Louisiana, or Tennessee, all of which are true. I lived a long while in all three of those states, moving from middle school (Louisiana) to teenage angst (Mississippi) to college (Tennessee) and back.

But I am and always will be from Texas, having been born there and hauled around from one South Texas town to another during most of my early childhood. Being born in Texas is like being born Catholic... you just are. When I think of that big, rambling state I think of Comfort, Texas, population 200. It is a town so small and perfect the way all small towns are, and I loved living there, I loved the school bus stop and the cows on the farm (Holstein, in case you wondered) and I also wanted desperately, terribly to leave it the way you do when you are young and want to know there is more to the world than chickens and cows and shoveling manure out of the barn.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I obsessively listened to the Dixie Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces" and as we drove up through Van Horn, Texas, the last outpost on the way to the west, I finally saw a sky so big I thought it would swallow me whole and I knew what wide-open spaces meant in the song and in Texas and in my life. And how I was moving to a city wide open to me, new, completely terrifying and exhilirating at the same time.

There would be no manure shoveling where I was going, unless it was metaphorical manure. (Of which there was suprisingly plenty!)

Anyway, you might be wondering what this has to do with restraining orders. Ya'll know how us Southerners are with the storytelling. All in good time! And it ain't a story if it doesn't end with the law being called!

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, in a high-rise fancypants building, working away on a design project and living about as far away from manure-shoveling in Comfort, Texas as possible when my phone rang. It was Jeff, the husband half of Jeff and Audrey, friends of mine I met through Stitch 'n Bitch. Now this was a rather strange occurrance seeing as I have met Jeff a sum total of three times and we don't phonecall each other on a regular basis or ever.

On the suggestion of Audrey, his amazing and also thoughtful and very much saintly wife who I will be thanking for years to come, also she has a great haircut, he had phoned to invite me to a special screening of "Shut Up & Sing," the documentary film made about the Dixie Chicks and the fallout from lead singer Natalie Maines' controversial comments at a London concert.

And normally I would say no to invitations or not show up because I am terribly socially awkward and talk too much and am shy, conversely, and also usually take the bus so I have a built-in reason to decline on the grounds of having no homeward-bound transport. But coincidentally, I missed the bus that morning by ONE DADGUM MINUTE and so I had driven in to work and arrived late and had not understood why the universe of traffic was punishing me so.

Apparently, traffic wanted me to see the Dixie Chicks movie. Also, apparently I am turning into my father because I just said DADGUM, a word I have never before uttered in my life on principle. Nice.

I was SO EXCITED to see this movie! Because I do not care what your politics are. I like people who reside in blue, red, and purple states. I even like people who reside in orange politics although that color is very unflattering on my skin tone. I like all ya'll as long as you are nice to animals and have good table manners. But more than all that, I LOVE ME SOME DIXIE CHICKS. They have been the soundtrack to my life. They mean something special to girls like me, girls who would totally bury an Earl if her best friend needed her to.

So even though I was wearing my schlumpiest clothes and Cardigan Of Constant Sorrow and my hair was a mess and I had a blemish sizably recognizant of the Lone Star State, I said yes to Jeff and Audrey's invitation. Because it is Year Of The Pig, and in the Year Of The Pig we do things we are afraid of like leave the comfort of our day-to-day lives and we take the opportunies life hands us because we are piggy! And hungry! And we want to eat life! In the good, polite southern way of course, with nice table manners.

feb21dixie-me-audrey-jeff.jpg
From L-R: Me, Audrey and Jeff. My photography skills are so... unique.

This event took place at the Los Angeles Library, one of my favorite places in all of L.A., and was part of the Young Literati series (you can learn more about this cool organization at www.youngliterati.org). They host a series of events that you should attend if you live anywhere near the Los Angeles metro area, because you never know what can happen when you hang out where the books live!

I was excited enough just to see the film, but then I found out the filmmakers would be attending for a Q&A session afterward. Barbara Kopple, co-director of Shut Up & Sing, is a big-time filmmaking documentarian superstar and Cecilia Peck, the other co-director, is the daughter of Gregory Peck! I felt very Hollywood and smart attending such a thing, especially since ya'll know the extent of my personal glamour is usually evenings involving some combination of Tivo, wine and yarn while a cat sits on my foot. Sexy!

So this story could end right here and be perfect. The end.

Except... you will never guess who was at the screening and got up on stage for the Q & A session.

NATALIE MAINES, LEAD SINGER OF THE DIXIE CHICKS.

Hello, restraining order. You are beginning to make sense now. We are getting to you! And here are pictures and also some video I took of the Q&A session:

feb21dixie-panel.jpg

Video, crappy quality but it's from my little Kodak digital camera:


And this story could end RIGHT HERE now and be perfect, except it isn't a party until we get our stalker on, now is it? At the end of the Q&A session, I was about to fall over with excitement of having breathed the SAME AIR as a Dixie Chick, royalty to a countryass girl like myself, when Jeff suggested we make our way up and say hey.

Which I would NEVER do. Because already when he just mentioned it I started to shake a little with nervousness and stuttered. But then I remembered Year Of The Pig and said, "Hell. I have one chance in my lifetime to meet NATALIE FREAKING MAINES and I will take that chance and probably stutter! Here Goes!"

Ya'll, I am not a person who foists herself on others. I do not even foist when foisting is desired, say, with the cute UPS guy or the checkout eyecandy at Trader Joe's. I am not a foister. But I walked right up on that stage and made a big huge stalkery fool of myself and it all poured out in one huge run-on sentence, something twangy about Comfort, Texas and "Wide Open Spaces" and how much I loved that they were Texas gals made good, and thank you oh thank you, can I have a picture please? And also blah blah blah not a stalker but I love you! So much!

And Natalie Maines is likely having the FBI draw up some sort of profile of a crazy woman right now and calling up the law about that restraining order, but although I definitely made a fool ass of myself and I know I was shaking with nervousness, I could feel it, and I was sweating under one armpit, I still actually did it and I talked to her and I even got my picture taken with her:

feb21dixie-me-natalie.jpg
Notice how BIG I am smiling. Notice Natalie Maines is... not so much. Heh.

Consider that one lesson firmly learned. If you get an opportunity, you should take it and say to hell with the foolass part of you that stutters and likely is on a Stalker Watch List somewhere. Even if you are dressed in your Cardigan of Constant Sorrow and are profusely sweating under one armpit, good things can happen if you just leave your dadgum house.

Posted by laurie at February 22, 2007 9:45 AM