Here Is Another Interesting Question That I Answer With Many Words

Someone asked, via the Ask the Darcy link:

If you had to pick the person you learned from and appreciated the most in your lifetime, who would it be and why?

I would first like to state for the record that my lifetime is not over, and I am really hoping that once I answer this question I do not suddenly die or something.

I am going to answer this all kinds of ways.  The first is the simplest, I’ve learned something from everyone I’ve met, pretty much.  I learned what I do NOT want to be, what I DO want to be, and all kinds of other things.  My family is the obvious choice for “learned the most from”, but I’m going to leave them out because I feel that the core of a person’s personality is shaped by the person/people who raised them, and then things get added on from there.  So I’m just going to exclude them as a given.

The next part is more complicated because there are two people and I really, really can’t decide which one was more influential and most appreciated in my life.  That means I’m going to use this as a chance to exert my powers and give two answers, and this also gives me a chance to blather on more, which I really like to do.

We will start with Manager Dave.  I shall never give his last name, because he honestly would NOT want me writing this about him.  It’s not that he’s humble because oh, he is not – he just does not like “tribute” or “Thanks for changing my life” type things.  On that note, Manager Dave changed my life.  I wrote about how Notre Dame influenced me a couple days ago, and immediately after Notre Dame, I started working at a bookstore.  I’ve said the name of the store plenty of times on here, but just because I know you are all too lazy to go back and find which one I worked at, I’m not going to say it and leave Manager Dave some anonymity.  I was 22, literally straight out of college, and needed health insurance.  I stopped working there when I was 34.  I worked with Manager Dave the entire time.  In anyone’s life, that period of time is pretty significant and usually you end up married, owning a house, possibly divorced, and with several children by the end of that time period.  I didn’t, but that’s beside the point and certainly nothing to do with Manager Dave.  I’ll try to keep this brief.  First I want to mention that I just went to take a sip from a can of Fresca and I dumped it down the front of my shirt.

Manager Dave hired me and trained me, and he was the assistant manager.  He was one of the few people ever to indicate that he had any confidence in the idea that I could do something.  Other people didn’t discourage me, but no one said straight up “You know this shit, stop spazzing out and just think”.  They let me spazz out, they left me alone to be nervous and self conscious and were never discouraging, but they didn’t actively smack me upside the head and say “Calm the hell down”.  My AIM name is SpazzyMcRetard because of Manager Dave, and I take it as a compliment – also, I know you aren’t supposed to say retard anymore.  Manager Dave taught me the essentials of looking at something I’ve never encountered and rather than saying “I don’t know what this is”, figuring it out.  He never did succeed at teaching me “The Big Picture”, as I spoke of in another post, but he taught me that there is a Big Picture.  He was my main source of support when I, and this is not an exaggeration, spent nearly two hours in the office freaking out and crying because I had a date with a boy (not AJ).  He was the one person to inform me that there was the potential the boy might Lunge and that I’d have to think of a tactic to deal with that before I went anywhere with the boy.  My tactic was to duck, by the way.  And then very awkwardly and quickly leave the car.  Manager Dave was the one who trusted me to build the entire Kids Section at his new store when he became Manager Dave and not Assistant Manager Dave (about a year into my time with the company).  He taught me how to deal with any, and I mean ANY, insane customer without losing my cool/patience/bladder/sanity.  He helped me build a bookcase for my niece.  I dog sat for his dog so often I felt more at home in his house than I did in my own.  When my parents decided to not have Thanksgiving one year, I spent it at his house with his family.  He taught me how to be a human when I felt much more like a visitor from another galaxy, and how to not spazz out as much.  I went from high school to Notre Dame and came out a different person, and I went from Notre Dame to the bookstore and came out even more different.  He trusted me to run his store when he took over another store, and then because I considered myself Manager Dave’s assistant and not the assistant manager of the bookstore, I followed him to the other store.  That was not encouraged by Manager Dave, who said I needed to sprout wings and go be a manager somewhere, but I always knew I’d either be Dave’s Assistant Manager forever, or leave the company before I left Dave within the company.  Eventually the Dream Team became less functional, in years 9-12, mainly because I didn’t realize it but I was so burned out on the bookstore world that I could not even function in daily life, let alone at the store.  At any rate, all that is to say, Dave shaped the adult me.  He was also the first person I called when I came home and found my best friend dead.

Guess who #2 is?  Catharine Fetzer, my soulmate in the universe.  She’s my dead best friend.  I very, very regrettably have a bit of a giant black hole in my memory where Catharine is concerned.  Some things I remember like they were happening right now, but the timeline of things and a lot of events I just don’t have in my brain anymore.  That would be because one day I came home and found Catharine dead and my entire world changed and was never the same.  I met Catharine the first day of our freshman year at NDC.  They were doing “trust building activities”, and Catharine and I sat on a stone wall and said “It’s hot.  I don’t know these people.  There is no way I’m falling backwards and letting them catch me”, and we were inseparable from that time to the day she died.  We bonded over medical problems – hers were 8 billion times worse than mine, but she NEVER complained.  Ever.  I could be whining about a headache while she was leashed to a dialysis machine for 10 hours, unable to go more than 15 feet from her machine, and she would be sympathetic to me and my headache.  We built a functional couch out of her corrugated cardboard boxes that her supplies came in.  We were lazy and didn’t smash the boxes and throw them out as they were used, so once every month or so, we’d fill two dumpsters with cardboard boxes that we had to stomp on to get flat enough.  We were both incredibly lazy when it came to housework, or any form of work.  We lived together at NDC, in a basement apartment in Cleveland Heights, and then we moved on up to a much bigger, second floor apartment in Cleveland Heights.  We hated hot weather so much that we’d leave one window unit air conditioner on full blast for 24 hours at a time so that the entire apartment would be cold.  We got so many parking tickets that we were constantly driving each other to pick up our cars from impound.  We drove each other to the ER countless times.  I went with her to almost every dialysis appointment when she had to do it at the hospital instead of at home, and I read her books 1-3 of Harry Potter out loud while she laid there and got her blood cleaned.  She introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Apple products, really nice linens, and eating out at restaurants a lot, which I never did before I met her.  We used to say we had “one brain, one heart, three kidneys, and one pancreas”.  We sang it as a song.  I didn’t find this out till after she died, but most of the people who knew us assumed we were a lesbian couple.  We weren’t, but I could see where that mistake would be made.  She was my date to Karyn’s wedding.  We went to family functions together.  She and Mary and Sharon got me my kitty Sabrina.  Every single thing we thought or did clicked, and we assumed we’d be old ladies in rocking chairs together.  I still feel the loss just as much as I did when it first happened – half of my soul left when Catharine died.  I’ve had loss in my life, I’ve had friends leave or grow apart, but Catharine was my other half, and I was hers.  I could dedicate many posts to Catharine, and I probably will, but for now, I’m going to leave it at that.

This question was posted several days ago, but I took a long time to answer it because I knew it would not be a simple one.  I still feel like I didn’t do justice to Catharine or Manager Dave, but there it is.

Catharine and I were going to get tattoos of the constellation Gemini.  Neither one of us is a Gemini, but the movie Face Off featured two brothers named Castor and Pollux.  They are also a mythological story.  The basic idea is that one brother is immortal and the other isn’t, and the mortal one dies and the immortal one begs Zeus to let him die, too.  Zeus makes them in to stars and they follow each other across the night sky, together for the rest of their lives.  In the movie, Castor is the mastermind criminal and Pollux is his brilliant but at the same time dopey brother who blows himself up.  That was how we originally got this idea.  Anyway, Catharine became Castor and I became Pollux.  We were going to get the tattoo that I am about to post, with the Castor half on her shoulder and the Pollux half on mine so that together, we’d make the whole tattoo.  I elaborated on it a bit, and the result is pictured below.  It is in the style of Starry Night by Van Gogh, because Catharine really loved Van Gogh.  The star Castor is in orange, her favorite color.  It uses the original design of the stick figures that she picked out.  The words around it in Latin say “You are with me like a handprint on my heart”, a line from one of our favorite musicals, Wicked.