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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Linda Rader Overman & ordinariness

When I began this blog I thought about what it would be like to record the simple, unaffected, ordinariness of my life.

I don't know if I really knew what the word ordinary meant, I just felt compelled to type the word, ordinary. Something I have been afraid of being labeled most of my life. I always thought the wallflowers at the dances in middle school were ordinary, or that girls who had no boys chasing them were ordinary, or girls who stayed home on Saturday nights were ordinary. And then I became best friends forever with a girl who embodied those traits, and then that forever friendship suffered when she died in a very ordinary way, but that is another story, and some of it is in a novel I published a couple years ago and needs no reiterating here.

Anyway, I would rather talk about this ordinary moment, this non-fictive element.

Last night sitting in a hospital room while I watched my 97 year old aunt (my dead mom's sister) hovering between the now and her past, her death or its coming has turned out to be quite ordinary. Something she never wanted it to be.

My aunt's beautiful Hollywood Hills home was taken back by the bank when she was moved into a nursing home a few years back. The result of a reverse mortgage decision, which became irreversible when money troubles loomed long ago. She had filled the house with expensive and tasteful possessions, which when viewed more closely by assessors, later, turned out to be quite worthless and ordinary. The point for her was to make her life and everything in it look extraordinary.

And as I continued sitting by her hospital bed, with my daughter and I telling my aunt that she should just let go and embrace the light that will come to her as it does to all who meet their end, I realized also that transitioning from this life to the next does not have to be anything out of the ordinary.

It just is what it is and that is just fine.

Never mind the drama and the sadness of my aunt's life, which was not exactly what she wanted it to be. Two marriages, one divorce and a daughter who hated her so much that she stopped speaking to her years ago and now is missing from her mother's life caring not a whit whether she lives or dies.

Sad choices but of my aunt's own making. And isn't that what life is--a choice we make. And now she is making her death her choice, refusing all food and medications. She is ready. And maybe I am ready to consider the ordinariness of my own life more seriously without feeling like a failure. But I am not entirely sure yet.

I only know that my being labeled as ordinary is not the worst word I have been called.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Linda Rader Overman presents @ Univ of Cumbria-Lancaster, UK

 

Presenting some initial research on my PhD studies at the Doctoral Colloqium at University of Cumbria-Lancaster Campus in the UK.
I look like I really know what I am talking about .....or do I?
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Linda Rader Overman: How Everyone I Knew Has Died Too Soon

Recently at the memorial for a dear friend, and former boyfriend of old, I sat and pondered how was it that so any of my old friends from teenage-hood either did not live to see 40 or have not made it to 60?

Tony Peluso and I met when he was 16 and I was 15. He was in a band a bunch of us girls had hired to play at a party we were giving for our friends from Hollywood High School. It was 1966 or thereabouts. It was in the spring and for some of us, our junior year was coming to an end. I had skipped first grade and was a year younger than most of my friends. This would plague me for most of my secondary school life as I was always too immature to fit in. I crashed and burned when I failed my entire freshman year of college, dropped out, and then did not complete my undergrad year until I was almost 40. But that's another story.

Tony was also not a particularly good student. In fact, he had left Loyola High School and was attending the dreaded Hollywood High Continuation school. That way he could focus on his passion: playing and composing music. He was actually quite the prodigy. Upon meeting Tony and his band mates in The Abstracts, filled with kids who had all met and attended various catholic schools together, Blessed Sacrament, Loyola, Notre Dame, St. John Vianney (before it became Daniel Murphy)--I met a large group of guys and girls who were all trying to fit in. That is what the high school years are partially about belonging...doesn't necessarily matter what, just belonging.

We all shared a love of Tony's band and the various clubs on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, CA that his band was paid to perform at. Later, I introduced some of my girlfriends to some of these cute young men and relationships and even a marriage or two resulted. My first roommate out of high school and I enjoyed socializing with the band members and its group of band groupies. We all did what a lot of people did in the swinging sixties....participate in those free loving rituals Dr. Timothy Leary opined. Tune in, turn on, and drop out aka sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. We were invincible. We were against Vietnam. We enjoyed the rituals of smoking marijuana and experimenting with hallucinogenics. We protested "The Man" and what he stood for especially what the man did to blacks in those days.

Many of us went on to college and did very well, many of us did not go to college and still did well. Many of us were enmired in drug addiction and struggled out the abyss it threw us into, some of us did not, and succumbed. In our late twenties and early thirties some of this crowd I had hung with started dying off for a variety of reasons. Illness--physical and mental, drug addiction, AIDs, heart problems, Cancer, and the list goes on.

It all came to a head for me one afternoon, when I was visiting the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio with family members around 1996. We were simply tourists and I stumbled into the screening of a documentary of the Sixties and The Who were being interviewed. Pete Townsend was very upset at the grim reality that so many of his friends in some of the most famous rock 'n roll bands in the world were all dead. He was in tears as I heard him say, "All my fucking friends are dead!" And that phrase exploded in my head because so many of my fucking friends were also. I had to run out of the museum immediately. I rushed out of there balling my eyes out at the loss of over a dozen of the old crowd I had so long ago become friends with, partied with, cried with, smoked weed with, done other drugs with, regretted it with, and then laughed about it all with. I was in a rage at the stupid naivete we all showed by our cavalier approach to living. We inhaled life in that devil-may-care way that so many young people do, even today, except when I was growing up AIDs was not an acronym.

Tony was charismatic, diligent in his goal to be a rock n roller. He was a genius at his ability to play the guitar, arrange and produce records, as later evidenced by his long list of Grammy awards and other amazing musical accomplishments. See below from the Hollywood Reporter obit page:

Tony Peluso, who played lead guitar with the Carpenters before becoming a successful producer, died on Saturday, June 5 in Los Angeles of heart disease, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Peluso, 60, was a four-time Grammy winner who made an impressive mark on the world of pop music, performing and producing on records that, in total, sold in excess of 150 million copies.

Peluso got his start working with teen idol Bobby Sherman in the late '60s and played guitar with Paul Revere and the Raiders before joining the Carpenters in 1971 at the age of 21. Following the death of Karen Carpenter in 1983, Peluso signed on with Motown Records, where he was an A&R executive. He produced records by Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, the Temptations and the Four Tops in his 10 years with the label. He most recently worked on the Oscar-winning soundtrack to 'Brokeback Mountain.'

In 1992, he and Latin artist Santaolalla helped define the Roc en Espanol genre. Through this affiliation, Peluso was later tapped to produce the 'Brokeback Mountain' theme song 'The Wings.' Peluso is also credited for producing and engineering records by Kenny Loggins, Seals and Crofts, Apollonia, Animotion, Stephanie Mills, the Fixx, Ricky Martin, Café Tacuba and Boyz II Men with Selena, among others.

Peluso is survived by his sons, Joe and Andrew. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 26 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Northridge, Calif.


Sitting and listening to Tony being eulogized and afterwards talking with so many faces (that at times I didn't always recognize), I realized how old I am and that I feel much older. I realized that some four to five decades ago, how many mistakes I had made as young girl who was narcissistic, concerned with how much of an impact I made entering a room, and totally unaware of life's dangers. I, of course, would never have any problems, that was only other people, not me. I realized, too, how much I had eaten my life in one large gulp instead of one bite at a time, and yet I had relished doing so.

Many of my friends who I had not seen since the last memorial service we attended, in the fall of last year, also ate life on those terms in their youth. Yet here we were still surviving: our hair was whiter, our physiques showed how good a life we were still living, we had wrinkles, we wore glasses, we embraced and bemoaned how we had to stop meeting like this. And we all mourned a friend, a father, a musician, a former altar boy, a husband, a boyfriend, a band mate, a colleague, and in my case one of the first men I actually fell madly in love with, when I was a college freshman. His insatiable appetite for music and for me frightened me so that it took all my power to run from him. His intensity for those things terrified, mystified, inspired, intrigued, attracted and repelled me. He did not let go without a fight. But to survive, I had to turn my back on him and that life.

I can't believe how much I miss that me, that him, those friends who stood in a semi circle that day at the church for a group photo. And what makes me even sadder is that when I see them again, another one of us will have died. Another one of us will remind us all what we were, what we did and should not have done, what we loved, embraced and lived.

Our lives were better because of and in spite of each other. And to one who had a compelling impact on my early life I say:

Dear Tony,

Goodnight sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Linda Rader Overman travels with...





Mother of the Bride (Mary) and Mother of the Groom (Linda) are talking about skipping their daughter and son's wedding and going on a road trip with a recent acquisition!



However Mother of the Groom selfishly wishes to keep this chariot all to herself!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Linda Rader Overman & PhD at almost 60...a work in progress


Pictures speak but people are too busy too listen.

Thank you to my Hollywood High School buddy, Ben Babbitt, from so long ago for this card...a picture of a writer at 4 years old an Ordinary Woman who is beginning her chronicles.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Linda Rader Overman agrees that Sinead O'Connor deserves an apology!

Sinead O'Connor deserves an apology for sure!!
I remember watching her tear up a photograph of the Pope on Saturday Night Live and I appauded her for it! Everyone else who viciously criticized her should send her an apology too. She knew what she was talking about. Sadly no one has discovered the horrors of what she tried to point out until 18 years hence. And it's much worse than she even indicated.
Read her editorial in the Washington Post. There is a link to it on the blog I have linked to here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Linda Rader Overman & PhD at almost 60...a work in...

Still in progress with maneuvering the waves toward my PhD....
Writing at the beach can be exhilarating or distracting. My colleagues Nicole and Kathleen attest to the exhilarating part.



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Linda Rader Overman & PhD at almost 60...a work in wonderment

I wonder at times why I began this expedition of PhD academia?

Ekphrasis a word I am excited by and how it relates to photographs.

It all begins with:
The act of ekphrasis, (derived from the Greek as in ek for “out” and phrazein for “declare” or “pronounce”) in effect is “to describe” or “to tell in full.”

And then comes Roland Barthes
who writes, “In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art” (13).

And I can't stop wondering?

While I sit inside the

Friday, February 19, 2010

Linda Rader Overman & PhD at almost 60...a work on fire


Sitting across from my colleague Nicole while she writes her dissertation. Kathleen sits at the kitchen table and writes hers. I sit near the fire and wonder why mine isn't on fire also.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Linda Rader Overman & PhD at almost 60...a work in progress

Writing by the fire with my colleague who is also writing, a peace resides between us as the fire burns. Both warm the swiftness of our fingers as they glide across the respective keyboards rendering us ever closer to that far reaching peak.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Linda Rader Overman & PhD at almost 60...a work in progress

A writing afternoon, working on my PhD spent at the Oviatt Library at CSUN was made all the more interesting with a bomb scare. Thankfully it was at the north end of campus and thankfully it was all over within a couple of hours. Meanwhile, hard at work with my colleague Nicole Warwick working on her PhD also, we did not quit until the library closed at 5:00 p.m. So where did we go . . . up to our office in Sierra Tower to continue writing. Now that is dogged determination in a rainstorm no less.

Saturday, January 30, 2010