losing my religion

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When I was 12, two things defined me – my crush on Wil Wheaton and my love of R.E.M. Neither one of which was much understood by my friends and was pretty much seen as uncool. But I didn’t care. I never missed an episode of ST:TNG and the very first CD I ever bought was R.E.M’s Green, and when they toured for that album, I made my mother take me. It was the first concert I ever attended.

Of course, years later it was cool to be an R.E.M. fan and all my friends were then joining me at the concerts and going on about how wise I was in the ways of music to have known from such an early age how awesome they were. Knowing what a huge fan I was, they wondered what would I do if I was ever to meet Michael Stipe, the lead singer of R.E.M.? The mere idea of such left me speechless. “I have absolutely no idea” I would tell them. “Probably stammer, say nothing, and make a complete fool of myself.”

When I first met Wil, he was in town for a Linux convention and did a thing at the Alamo Drafthouse where they showed Stand By Me. It took me a good fifteen minutes to work up the nerve to go introduce myself. During the 2006 WSOP, Ryan took a group of us to dinner at Nobhill where on advice of the server Wil and I agreed to share the lobster potpie. When he decided he wanted to add a steak too, he asked if I’d be up for sharing that as well; when I agreed, he jokingly remarked “Okay, now it’s official, you’re my date.” 12 year-old me fainted and had to be carried away on a stretcher. Adult me has made a great deal of progress. Maybe a little too much progress…

Tonight, after checking in at the St. David’s church and confirming that yes, there was no way I was going to get in to see M. Ward (how awesome would that have been?) I was headed down 7th to Stubb’s to see Okkervil River. Mind as empty as the street. Will there be a line; what to wear to brunch tomorrow (Betty can confirm losing 30 pounds really crimps the wardrobe); what a nice night it is; etc. Walking along when I look up and there passing me on the left is none other than one Michael Stipe. Michael fucking Stipe.

In the split seconds it takes for us to pass each other on the sidewalk, 12 year old me wakes up and says “Holy shit it’s Michael Stipe!!” while 31 year old me says “Yes. Indeed it is.” 12 year old me responds with “You should stop him! NOW! Say something! Do something! It’s Michael FUCKING Stipe!” 31 year old me responds with “Oh? So I stop him and then what? What are you gonna do? What’s your big plan there smarty? And watch your fucking language.”

Deep down though, 31 year old me knows 12 year old me is right. Cause it was the 31 year old me that nearly cried, knowing that with each step I took I just became more crazy obsessed fangirl. I mean it’s one thing to stop the guy when he’s right there next to you on the sidewalk; it’s another to chase him down a block cause you’ve been having this bizarre internal dialogue.

So of course, when you have a moment like this, you immediately Twitter it, because it’s SXSW and there is an unwritten law that that’s what you do. Standing on the corner of 7th & Red River, shaking from more than the chill and texting away, I was approached by a homeless guy asking for “just 50 cents”.

I’m sorry, I can’t help you right now. I’m… look, I’m kinda freaking out right now.”
“Aww, I’m sorry. I won’t bother you.”

So if nothing else comes out of this, other than another one of April’s what the fuck moments, I can offer to my fellow Austinities a new line for giving the brushoff to the homeless guys on 7th. Just tell them you’re kinda freaking out right now. Apparently they understand it.

And next time Stipe… next time. 12 year old me and 31 year old me have made up and are preparing something just in case.