Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trip debrief starts here. Celebrities in our midst

I've been spending time thinking about an incident that occurred in the last moments we spent at Rhinebeck, on Saturday. About knitting celebrities, about stalking, about privacy, about respect. How it goes both ways. And now, how it affects me.

There were so, so many people at Rhinebeck; it was somewhat like stampede, crowd-wise. For me it was a minor inconvenience, I had a few problems getting to a washroom in a timely manner, and getting close to a Bosworth spindle.. but overall, I wasn't being pushed around (tho Sherry was) nor accosted. Not so for the celebrities.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee had a posse (the few times I spotted her), and I noticed that they did a very effective job of surrounding her and affording her protection. I cannot fathom how stressful it must be to attend a festival celebrating your biggest passion, yet not be able to have a moment's peace. The fact that the Yarn Harlot writes a great blog and super books does not give the general population permission to speak with her or share her day at their convenience.

And on the other hand, if a knitting celebrity is in the center of her customer base, her demographic, her fans... well, can he or she expect not to be constantly approached? Is there a way to determine when it is appropriate to approach, and when it is not? Is it ok only when the celebrity is sitting at a table selling their books and doing a signing? Is it ok if the person on the approach comes bearing gifts; or perhaps a donation? Do we act as though the celebrity is for sale, and we've bought our slice?

I am baffled. I don't know the rules.

A minor situation occured at Rhinebeck, and I'm still processing it. A group of us were leaving the park and saw that the Yarn Harlot and her posse were very close by; perhaps 6 feet or so. We approached to say:

(Insert the names of two mutual friends) say hi!.. and we look forward to seeing you in November at the retreat.

[If I was being totally honest I would have to admit that I would have asked if Denny was at Rhinebeck (she had told me that she would be), because I think she's fabulous, and I would have wanted to send a hello along to her.]

As we moved towards her, the posse closed in and she turned away. Her body language clearly said: Do not approach.

So we didn't.

I definately respect that she is a woman with a job, and I happen to be a customer, not her very best friend. At the same time I think that she couldn't have been in a worse location if it was peace she was looking for.

I haven't resolved how I feel about the whole thing.. surely it was a non-event, yet in a few short weeks I'm in a 6 hour class with the very same woman. I'm sure many would offer up their stash for the same oppotunity. I feel confused about boundaries and expectations, and a bit like an interloper.

I dunno.. I'm not done thinking it over.


Kayla W said...

Heya, Annie!

I'm glad you're home! I'm sure that she had probably had enough of people. I don't know how closely you follow her blog, but the woman was travelling like mad recently. She was probably tired and worn out and decaffinated (not a good combo).

As a personal aside, when I used to perform with different folks, some of them would be really gracious, chat with you all day long, joke around, etc. Others just needed some space, personal and otherwise. Tom Jackson, for example, and Roch Voisine, were great guys to work with. Very kind and gave a young, naive kid like me a lot of good advice. Susan Aglukark, on the other hand, was one that needed her space.

I'm sure you'll have a great time in November with her. I wouldn't sweat about it.


Anonymous said...

Annie, I'm sorry if it seemed to you like I turned my back on you... I don't think I would do so intentionally, but at the end of several weeks on the road - frankly I'm not myself and I have no recollection of that moment, so who knows.

Interestingly, I don't think of myself as having a posse, but instead of being with my friends, many of whom I can only visit once or twice a year. I can see how we might look like a tight group though. We're good friends and it must seem like they protect me (or have trouble sharing our day.) Maybe they do.

I have to admit though, that a lot of the questions you raise are ones that I struggle with myself. I could have written this blog entry. Am I entitled to privacy? I dunno. Have people bought a slice of me? I dunno. Should I welcome all comers at all times and accept that Rhinebeck won't ever be for me now what it used to be... a time to shop and visit and meet people at my own pace? I dunno.

I'm eager to meet people. I generally even like people, but I am shy and a little skittish, and struggle with wondering if it always has to be on their terms, or if my terms matter - or if the terms have changed in a way I don't understand all the way... like, if I go to Rhinebeck, can I expect to have any terms - or if I'm at Rhinebeck am I free to all comers, which might even be ok with me, I really don't know.

I do know that I am grateful to people who feel that we've made a connection with the books and the blog, and that I'm always happy to meet them... even if it means that I can't really exist the way that I would like to every minute.

I'm only human. I get tired, I get scared, I get overwhelmed, and I don't always get to make rules about whether my day stops at that point or not - all though I guess on a lot of levels, that's the same for everyone. I'm really sorry you didn't come up and say hi though... Whether I was tired or not, I've never turned someone away.

See you in November. I'm really looking forward to meeting such a thoughtful lady.

aunty tink said...

After reading your post and Stephanie's reply, I have realised what happened that sunny afternoon.  I'm sure that the sun's rays were reflected off your bright new tiara, and Stephanie was temporarily blinded. Perhaps you should have worn your smaller tiara,without the dangles, we would have all met, had a brief chat and waited with excitement for our next meeting.  Don't think that I am suggesting that you shouldn't wear your tiara to the retreat.  Just hope for cloudy weather!

Anonymous said...

Great post; great response. Win/win all around I think. I didn't realize that you were still ruminating about this. xoxo.

Annie said...

i'm sure aunty tink has it right. it was the tiara... i probably blinded half the attendees!

i really appreciate the thoughtful and kind response that stephanie has written. to be honest, this afternoon when i read her blog i realized how totally exhausted she must be.. but i still think and wonder about this whole situation. i have a solution. i'll blog it. ;)

Anonymous said...

I did say hello to Franklin, but he was signing my book at the time, so I thought that was fine, but when I saw him later, on his "own" time, I did not approach. As for Stephanie, we have a mutual friend, but have never met. I know from her friend, and reading her blog, that being overwhelmed is a constant battle. That girl's schedule makes me tired just reading it. I did spot her (realized it belatedly - doh!) shopping at one point, but figured, again, that she was now on "her" time and best left alone.

I agree ... it's a strange situation to be in. Everyone must feel like they "know" you because of reading your books and blog, but you don't know them from a hole in the ground. And it is a sort of celebrity, albeit in a small corner of the world, where you need it to earn your living, but probably realize too late that there are now no boundaries between work and life.

In that vein, dear Annie... did anyone at all come up to you at the fair or the Rav party and say "you must be Annie! Linda says hey!"? How could someone wearing my loud hat and your sparkly tiara *not* find each other even in that crowd? The mind boggles...

Jocelyn said...

Does this mean the knit baby is back on? sigh. too many projects!