Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nostalgia and newstalgia

Do you ever watch those nostalgia shows on VH1? I Love the 80s (the original and best), its two sequels and other decade spinoffs, When Star Wars Ruled the World, etc. I LOVE the format of these shows, although the quality varies widely. A good rule of thumb: if Michael Ian Black is involved, it's gonna be good; if not, it's a crapshoot.

I'm a sucker for nostalgia, espcially if it's connected to pop culture from the 1980s. My sister Julie made me an '80s time capsule for my Christmas present, and it was amazing. It included a He-Man t-shirt, greatest hits CDs from Bonnie Tyler and Berlin, some WWF colorforms, and lots of other cool stuff.

I enjoy reminiscing about the past so much that in the summer of 2004, my former roommate Will and I (and later other friends joined in) began making plans for a show called The 40 Most Outrageous Members of the 130th Ward, or alternately, I Love the 130th Ward (both of us were in the BYU 130th Ward for several years).

We made our list of 40; "outrageous" was taken from some countdown show that VH1 was airing at the time (the countdown show is a related genre to the nostalgia show, and I get sucked into watching them all the time) with a similar title, and we definitely were using it as a compliment to describe some of the more memorable characters from that great ward--people like Bill Petrosino, Chris James, Greg Wall, the Brittany 2 guys (Al, Dave, and Barth), Ashley Hawkins, and of course Dovy all were featured prominently on our list and the ensuing e-mail "commentary" it inspired as we reminisced about these legends' greatest moments.

So why bring this up now? Well, in case I haven't made myself clear enough, I love nostalgia, but also because on my first Sunday in my new singles ward in New York I saw not one but two of the women from our list! This fact is even more amazing when you consider that our male-heavy top 40 only included about ten Sisters.

That Sunday, I arrived pretty early at church because I had never been to that chapel before and wanted to make sure I had enough time to find it. I was the first one sitting in the chapel, but one of the very next people to walk in was none other than Debbie Bartholomew! Debbie earned her spot on her list through her small size and obvious nickname ("Little Debbie"), her outgoing nature, and being one of the few (my sister being another) who continued attending our ward after moving out of its boundaries, along with other "outrageous" qualities.

Debbie had just arrived in town and would only be there for a week; apparently she comes to NYC fairly often--this time she was cat-sitting for a couple who were on vacation, so Debbie had to buy a plane ticket but had a free place to stay (which is the offer all y'all have from me, and I don't even have a cat to take care of). So I was pleased to have someone to sit with, and even more pleased to have someone to hit the town with that week as I invited myself along on her adventures with her friend Nancy, who was assisting Debbie with the feline care (thanks for letting me tag along, Debbie). I'm sure I'll end up blogging about some of the stuff we did together.

After sacrament meeting ended, I started as I heard another familiar voice behind me.

"Jeff Hofmann, what are you doing here?" asked, Jessica Allred, the top-ranking lady from our 40 Most Outrageous list, a spot she garnered by making a documentary about people's obsessions, developing her own obsession with China, getting Jeremy Weber to dance, teaming up with Ashley for the infamous "How does Snoop Dogg get his clothes clean?" joke at the ward talent show, and, as demonstrated earlier in the paragraph, being one of those people who calls you by your first and last name. She's now an elementary school teacher here in the city; I had no idea that she was living out here. We've hung out several times, mostly at ward activities and FHE and such, but I was very pleased to find out I already had a friend in my new ward.

That first Sunday I also bumped into Tiffany Smith, an acquaintance from the BYU Comms Department. So three people at church that first Sunday that I already knew.

It's tempting to describe these reunions as random, but when you think about it, it's really not very random. While the specific people I've bumped into have been surprises, I fully expected to see some familiar faces when I came out here, since most of the people I know are Mormons, and many of the things I'd be doing here outside of work would bring me in contact with other Mormons. (I described a similar kind of predictable randomness when I blogged about seeing Scott Owen at the airport on my way out here.)

And there have been quite a few more of these incidents since that first Sunday, including the KBYU connections: Luke Stay, who worked in KBYU master control when I worked in the HFAC studio, was in my ward in December (but not there that first Sunday) but has since moved out (I think he got married, actually); at Institute last week I saw Josh Francia, who came in all the way from Connecticut for the class. Josh was in the same mission as me for about two months until I got sent home (not early, it was just time), and he started working at KBYU not long after I graduated. Basically, he's been riding my coattails. At the Lingos, the singles wards' film festival that I still need to blog about, I saw Anna Robinson for the first time in years. Anna worked in the HFAC studio with me way back in '02; she'd be in my ward here if she wasn't so old (just kidding, Anna (but she does go to the family ward)). Neal Lutz, who I had several classes with, was in town on business that week and also attended the Lingos.

There's also been people whose names I recognize but are actually my sister Lori's friends. One of those Lingos featured an appearance by Mark Broschinsky, and I met him at church a few weeks later. Then, one week at FHE, I ended up at the apartment of Jill Cecil (her roommates are in my ward but Jill also attends the family ward). She even called me Adam (my older brother) once; I hadn't been mistaken for my brother since about the 4th grade.

More recently, though, I've made some connections that could be more easily classified as random, although there's still the overarching "we're all LDS" factor that prevents them from being completely unpredictable. (This, I guess, would be the "newstalgia"--copyright Jeff Hofmann 2008--I referred to in the title.)

My friend Larissa, whose blog you can read by clicking the link to the right, called me last week to find out when and where church was for a friend of hers that was going to be in New York for a month. As we discussed where I live and where her friend Katie would be staying, we discovered that we'd be very near each other; when I met Katie the next day on the way to church, we found that we were literally next door neighbors! I live in 307 and she's in 307A. Now that's at least semi-random. So now I have a new friend very close by, and Larissa (who I first met when I came to New York four years ago) will basically HAVE to hang out with me when she visits NYC sometime in the next month or so, which she keeps telling me she's planning to do.

And finally, the coolest one of all...I was at FHE this week, and a girl in the ward named Rachel Smith pointed out that I spell Hofmann the "right" way--not the way of Oscar winners, but the way her relatives spell it. We began going back on the family tree, and soon discovered that we're second cousins! Her grandma and my grandpa are brother and sister. Plus, she's a fun, cool girl. I was always jealous of the McCunes and other people I know who have close relationships with cousins; I haven't had any semblance of a relationship with any cousin since I was about 14, and even then I never thought any of them were people I'd hang out with outside of family vacations or reunions. So now I have family in New York City!

That's all of the "random" connections I've had so far in the city, but I'm sure more are coming. If you've ever wanted to visit New York but find it too intimidating, don't stress too much about it; there's so many people here, you're bound to run into someone you know!


Andrew said...

Just as a by-the-way, your blogs are outstanding Jeff. Its good to hear how things are going out there, and they're dang entertaining, too. Makes for a great study break. One of my old roommates moved to NYC a while ago- do you know Gabe Jones?

Andrew Lindsay

Juliekins said...

So I read all of your blogs today. Quite entertaining, I must say. And I always like reading my name... It's all about me right? Thanks for the props on your present, it was fun making it. I hope everything is going well (it sounds like it is!), and you never know... you might see a VERY familiar face sometime soon. Love you!

jeff said...

I don't know Gabe Jones. If he's a business guy like you Andrew, he can probably afford to live in a nicer part of the city.

My blog DOES make for a great study break. It's also good to print out and take into the bathroom if you need an extra break at work.

Julie, does that mean you're coming, or is that just a mysterious statement like you'd get from a fortune cookie or a Dove chocolate bed!

Larissa said...

Huh...well since this is the random connection blog, I might point out that I know Gabe Jones. I definitely do! Nice dude!
Thanks for the shout out for my blog! I read yours regularly, but I can hardly keep up with the posts - you animal!
And Jeff...check your e-mail.

rachel said...

yeah, i looked through your blog until i found the post where you bragged about meeting me. i knew it had to be here somewhere. sorry that i haven't done the same yet...i'm too busy being maudlin.