Tuesday, June 15, 2010

People say the darndest things

I don't want this to become the Ann-Podolske-is-dead-now blog, but she is and it's what I'm thinking of a lot of the time, so I can't help writing about it.

Two different people have said to me that they think Ann's death is a true love story. She really died of a broken heart, see. What bullshit. While it's true that Ann and Linda loved each other very much, there is no amount of broken heart that can give a person cancer.

Ann really wanted to live. She said so herself. Obviously, these people just don't know. But even so, I can't imagine saying something so douche-y to people in mourning.

When the first person said it, I was so taken aback, I couldn't say anything. The second one was just today and I responded with perhaps too much vigor. "A broken heart can't give you cancer!" I snapped. And the person sort of stopped talking. And then it was awkward.

I've had days where I've been sad but have been able to keep it together, and then others when I've been a total mess. My colleagues and friends understand and have been great. I guess my main problem is that I've never had a close friend die - or even a friend - and I don't know how to deal with it. A few people have died on my periphery. I've got two dead grandpas who were old and sick. I've considered a few people dead to me. But never this.

I was talking today with a colleague who lost a friend in high school. And while I don't wish I'd lost a friend in high school, if something like that had happened, I might be better prepared for this loss.

But nothing could have prepared me for losing Ann, so there's that.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

My good friend Ann Podolske died

Friends, it's been hard times around here.

Multiple myeloma took down my comedy colleague, big-company coworker and all-around friend last Saturday and I am bereft. Ann "Padlock" Padolske was a true friend, a delightful companion and fucking hilarious. I'm going to miss her.

I'm presenting a video of her comedy at her memorial service on Sunday and I have a couple minutes to say a few words about Ann to introduce the clip. I'm struggling a bit because there's just so much to say.

I first talked to Ann on the phone when she called me to ask me if she could come to my open mic. I decided to make friends with her when she came a few months in a row and I realized she was totally hilarious. I asked her to be my comedy buddy. We started driving to shows together and giving each other notes on the way home. She lost her job, then found a new one, and then helped me get a way-better job working in a cubicle across from her.

We used to joke that we spent altogether too much time together - working together, doing comedy together - but it really was just a joke. I enjoyed her company. A couple highlights:

One time we were driving east to Cambridge on the Mass Pike. After I-84 traffic joins 90, but before the Charlton Plaza, a person - for reasons that we will never know - came to a dead stop in the fast lane. Easily a half-dozen cars in front of us were forced to stop and so were we. I slammed on the brakes - of her car, mind you; she refused to let me drive my death-trap, no-airbags Honda Civic and she hated driving in cities, so I drove her around in her own car. While we were coming to a stop, time basically stood still. I was positive we were getting into an accident. And so I, naturally, started shouting, "We're fine! We're fine! We're fine!" even as it was clear that we were totally NOT fine and about to careen into another car.

Somehow, we didn't hit anyone and we made it out with nary a scratch. It was basically a miracle. We drove along for a while in total silence. My heart was beating out of my chest. But when things turned back to normal, Ann turned to me and said, "We're fine? What was that all about?" And then we laughed ourselves sick.

Later at work, whenever anything would start careening out of control, Ann and I would start fake shouting at each other, "We're fine! We're fine! We're fine!" And one of the funnier things about it is that other people started fake shouting "We're fine! We're fine! We're fine!" It's like a thing now.

When I first joined the ranks of corporate America, Ann was my only friend there. Honestly, I don't think I could have done it without her there to help me navigate. One of the things that got me down the most was (and still is, frankly) corporate speak. There are giant lists of things you can't say, and there are all these bullshit phrases that people abuse. A number of things I had written had been edited by a corporate moron who took out all the spirit and life. It happened all the time, but this one day it was especially disheartening. I said to Ann, "These people could edit the life out of the 'I Have a Dream' speech."

Next thing you know, Ann and I were in the cafeteria writing a sketch. We took key pieces of the 'I Have a Dream' speech and rewrote them in corporate speak. I just remember sitting in the cafeteria and laughing so hard that we were drawing attention to ourselves but we couldn't stop because it was so funny. We performed the finished product at a Girls! Girls! Girls! show in 2007, I think. God, it was funny. I wish that we had recorded it or something. All I have is my copy of the script.

I played the role of Dr. King. Ann played the role of Corporate America. Her career separates were all tapestry jackets - what she called the Upholstery Collection - so she had to borrow a corporaty-corporate suit from her lady. But man, did she ever play the part. So here's how we opened it:

Me (as Dr. King):
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

Ann (as Corporate America): I have a strategic plan to leverage our synergies.

I started to call her "Padlock" Podolske because when I typed her name Word would always suggest, "Did you mean Padlocked?" It would make me laugh quietly at my desk. It reminded me of a mobster alias, and what with Ann being the milquetoastiest person ever, you can see why I would laugh. But then one day it asked me, "Did you mean Padlocked?" and it turned out, I did, so it stuck.

She met Scott the day I did. We were planning to meet to go over comedy together and then I made the date with Scott directly before. She basically ran interference for me, showing up at Haymarket at the appointed time to break up our first date. I told her, "I'm never going to see that guy again!" Ha!

I am going to miss that lady forever. I love her so much. I'm sad that she's gone, but happy that she had a peaceful end.

Padlock, we hardly knew ye.

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