Stories Make the People

First, congratulations to my cousin Kristen, whose show on AMC was a smashing hit last night! The Killing — if you missed it, go watch it! They premiered the first two episodes from 9-11 last night (and I’ve been reading tweets about it all morning—and getting a little too excited, but totally can’t call Kristen yet based on our time zones). I know all about it, but I haven’t watched it yet because I don’t have cable. I know–I should have subscribed to cable just to support my cousin. Believe me, I considered it. Most of my friends don’t have cable either–AppleTV, iTunes, and Hulu (and cable at the gym) have totally made cable unimportant to me…except on the rare occasion that my cousin is producing a TV show.

I just looked up the replay schedule of The Killing….and I’m SO going to be rocking the AMT at the gym at 3:15 on April 8th. Phew.

I’m sorry, Kristen. My lack of cable is not indicative of my level of support for your endeavors.

With all the excitement surrounding this premiere, it made me think a lot (more) about how we get immersed in other people’s lives. People watch tons of reality TV (RHNYC—sign me up!), and there’s a reason for it. It’s related to why we read blogs and can’t wait for our bloggie friends to post the next tidbit about their lives.

Some people are attractive and funny, and others have knowledge or things we want. Once we start to get to know their stories, we follow them because we’re interested in their stories.

I was lucky to have attended a conference workshop when I was working on my Ph.D. that introduced me to the methodology of Narrative Inquiry. It’s a qualitative methodology (read: no numbers) that is based on the idea that people live, tell, re-live, and re-tell their stories—and by doing that, we experience life and make decisions and have feelings. When we read/watch other people’s stories, we are, in a way, experiencing the experiences of them. As soon as I learned about this methodology, I was sold.

We live in stories—so what if we surrounded ourselves with stories that made our own stories better?

I think that might be what blogs are for–we’re enhancing our own experiences through reading about others. I know that if I start reading a blog that doesn’t resonate with my own values, I don’t usually return. It’s nothing personal, it’s just not the story I need to follow.

Kristen and Me nearing the end of her 30th bday weekend in LA

In stories like The Killing, which is about the aftermath of a 17 year-old being murdered in a small community, there is something that pulls at our hearts. For my cousin, who believed in this show as soon as she discovered the script, continued to pitch it even when people told her the unique format wouldn’t work (the entire season takes place over thirteen days), she followed it through anyway. And it’s working.

K at Niagra Falls --she thought it would be bigger...

When she came to town a few months ago (and I carted her all over the region as she talked on the phone—they were casting for the show at that time so she had lots of phone meetings…but that’s a different story), we had this really teary conversation about how she was immediately drawn to the script for this show because of the death aspect of the story. It related to her own life because her cousin (my sister) died seven years ago, and she wanted to learn more about what my family and my parents had to go through. She and I used to talk on the phone for hours when I was living in my sister’s house after she died. Kristen is more dramatic than I am and we’ve had our disagreements…and I’d love it if she’d eat more veggies, but she was always there for me when I needed her (and still is).

My birthday at our cottage on Keuka Lake in 1982---the story? Lake property with a trailer and an outhouse, for family gatherings, not for spending the night. The shore is lined with gravestones--the prior owner threw his mistakes down the bank. The best seat for campfires? Molly Manley's gravestone.
Summer 2003, the last time Kristen saw Jen. After we drank too much the night before and right before Kristen recklessly backed her rental car into the ditch. p.s. Jen would totally kill me for posting this pic of her---but she can't. haha.
August 2005. During the aftermath--At her parents' home in Fallbrook, CA. I'd been dumped two days before, and couldn't swallow food--just wine. Her bro and I visited her on the set of The OC, where she was assistant to the Exec Producer at the time. I have pics of myself on Seth's bed and all over the set. I should find those!

So how can we use other people’s stories to enhance our lives instead of putting us in a position where we’re just envying people?

What if we took an inventory of why we’re following someone’s story? What about their stories do we want to adopt into our own lives?

What do I get from my cousin’s story? Inspiration, the history of our lives together, a bond that has always been pretty good (although she idolized my sister), a little humor, hard work, and free spirit (she often travels to foreign countries by herself…for fun, and she totally doesn’t pay attention to little details like car repairs. No sweating the small stuff for that lady!). I spent Kristen’s 30th birthday with her in LA last year, which happened to be immediately after she sold the show to AMC. It was an exciting time—we didn’t sleep much that weekend, but it was awesome to share a little piece of her story.

I didn’t ask for permission to post this, but I’m going to do it anyway—her friends compiled this list for her birthday, and I ended up putting it in the photobook I made for her that documented that weekend.

30 Reasons We Love Kristen Campo:

She is always open to a new adventure (ie: sleeping in a trailer on the side of the road in Australia)

She thinks a good movie must have a “Happy” ending, and thinks a bad movie is everything else

She is always up for a skosh of wine and good conversation

She takes great pride in all her friendships

She can talk more than anyone else at any time, any place, and in any situation

She is extremely driven and successful, and is passionate about her work

She asks for advice and genuinely cares and listens to what you say

She ain’t afraid to kiss and tell

She holds the Guinness Book of World Records for most weddings attended

She has a fish named Nicholas Sparks

She loves scrap booking, and thinks every major event must be memorialized in one

She sleeps on top of 10-15 scripts every night

She has the ability to name every Rom-Com ever made since 1981

She is a hopeless romantic

She puts all shame to the side and will ask for photos at even the most awkward times (ie: Carlton, and Ian)

She kept her room clean for 30 days, and still didn’t pick up the habit

She thinks wine is about quantity not quality

She does more for her friends than for herself

She believes “Sweet Home Alabama” should have won 11 Oscars

She thinks grocery shopping is picking up 2 frozen dinners and a bottle of wine

She is not scared of traveling in a foreign country, where she doesn’t speak the language, by herself, drunk, while bungy jumping

She makes a mean turkey chuck

She believes “Rom-Coms” are reality and “the News” is fiction

She taught at a cooking school……..still doesn’t know how to cook

She believes her blankie will keep the bad goblins away

Her average daily bath time is 1 minute 42 seconds

She is the only person in the history of life who has been jet lagged for over a week

She holds the Guinness Book of Records for most photos on Snapfish

She is the only person (aside from kids) who thinks “30” is REALLY OLD

She is a beautiful person inside out and out

Happy 30th birthday Kristen! We love you.

Kristen’s story is fun and funny, and pretty darn successful–I think we all have that in our own way. If you had to write your own story, what would the next chapter be?

Also, did you watch The Killing?

p.s. if I get in trouble for posting that 30 Things list, I’ll delete it!

138 thoughts on “Stories Make the People”

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