Recently, I was asked by the Baltic Summer University to give a lecture about how I ended up in Lithuania. I titled the lecture Stranger in a Strange Land: How I went from All-American to part-time Lithuanian. That picture to the left is from the talk.
This was all well and good until it came time to actually start to put the lecture together and I realized I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about for 90 minutes. I mean come on, even if you had Neil Armstrong come in for a lecture, he probably didn’t talk more than 60, and he actually did something important (although, if you ask him, it weren’t no big thing).
So what I came up with was the idea of connecting tissue – to see how small, seemingly insignificant events, chance meetings, changed the direction of my life (to be fair, this occurs for most people, but I needed to talk about something, so…). As I started thinking about it, another thought came in.
See, as a foreigner here, and a talkative one at that, I tend to get interviewed a lot. Mostly it’s students who need a subject for an assignment or some such. As I’ve done these, I tend to tell a lot of the same stories and it’s amazing how many of them start with the phrase “so there was this girl.” I realized long ago this would be a great title for my autobiography and have held onto it, just in case.
As I started to pull together ideas for this talk, though, it came back and I thought
that’s exactly what this was about, an autobiography of sorts, and in it I traced my current position and situation back to 1987, working at the VSDA show (where I played Serpentor helping video store owners on and off a stage to have a short promo video shot with Sgt. Slaughter). There I met a woman named Paprika who helped me decide to move to Los Angeles and therefore changed my life forever.
But it could have gone back further than that, and there were certainly offshoots and side paths, and a good number of them involved meeting someone (usually a woman, but not always), who spun me around and sent me in a different direction.
When I wrote a piece recently, about a formative event of my past, I heard from one of the people involved who encouraged me to write down all I could remember about those days and those people. So I think from time to time, I may tell these stories, from my point of view, and share their impact on my life (including a full write-up of the VSDA show).
Eventually my daughter is going to want to know about me, to have questions, and while I fully intend to be here to answer them, there may be grand children and great grand children (hey, now that there’s one branch on the tree, there may be more) who will also want to know. And all of these stories will be tagged with the appellation “so there was this girl” to make them easier to find.