True Blood Bliss: Six Degrees of Alan Ball, Synchronicity and the Gifts that keep on Giving

April 28, 2009 by  

Now that my hubby is minus one appendix, I am back with part two of my story of True Blood Bliss! I am taking those ratfink lemons life keeps hurling my way and making some delicious lemonade…

Hmmm, now where was I?

It all started with Alan Ball. Where he leads, I inevitably follow. I guess I should call it “Six Degrees of Alan Ball” since I originally discovered his work in American Beauty, which led me to Six Feet Under, which then led to Michael C. Hall, then to Dexter, which led me to Comic Con, and inevitably to discovering True Blood…what a fantastically strange and illuminating trip it has been!

I have discovered that Alan Ball is a genius at telling a tale…someone who is absolutely fearless in confronting the deeper questions of living. He invites and encourages us to feel deeply, to laugh with our whole heart and to let ourselves cry to the depths of our souls…and most of all, to think about many things we might not think about otherwise. To put it simply, he always leaves me wanting to hear the rest of the story… and Charlaine”s stories were just begging to be brought to life by someone who really “gets it”. But, I am getting ahead of myself here.

When we went to Comic Con in 2008, we were very excited to see the panel on Dexter. Little did we know that we would discover True Blood as a result, opening up our world to include the addictive adventures of a telepathic waitress and her wild and wonderful world. It just blows my mind when I remember that we almost didn”t make it to Comic Con at all …  due to the unfortunate combination of a fan flying out of my bedroom window and colliding painfully with my ankle…which in turn led me to limp into the Dexter panel an hour or so early…which then, fortuitously, led me to be there to see the panel on True Blood. Such synchronicity in life, when we are open to discovering it.

I had never heard of Charlaine Harris prior to the Comic Con True Blood panel…but my sister and I were hooked on Sookie Stackhouse and her adventures right away. I got such a kick out of Charlaine … she has a joie de vivre that is infectious and describes her characters so vividly that you cannot wait to dive into her world and get to know them yourself.

After having read the books and watching every episode of the premiere season of True Blood, it became evident to me that she and Alan have created a particular kind of alchemy through the combination of her original stories and his ability to bring them to Life. At Comic Con, Charlaine spoke about “entrusting her babies” to Alan and he spoke at length about his commitment to remain very true to Charlaine”s vision and the spirit of her stories. I believe that they have more than achieved a balance between the particular gifts and strengths they each bring to the project and I feel so grateful to look back upon this first glimpse of True Blood and to have seen their hopes and dreams blossom into storytelling at it”s finest.

It was such fun to hear Alan and Anna and Stephen talking at the Comic Con panel with such excitement about bringing Sookie and Vampire Bill and True Blood to glorious Life. When I think back to the fact that we could have met them, including Charlaine!, it makes me a little crazy (crazier?!) but we had absolutely no idea how much True Blood and Charlaine Harris would come to mean to us just a couple of months later. We marked our calendar for September 7 and could hardly wait for True Blood to begin!

As soon as we got home from Comic Con, my sister and I started reading, “Dead Until Dark“… and, in the next months, we devoured the other 7 books and couldn”t wait for more. As Alan Ball has rightfully stated, the books are absolutely “…addictive, like crack!”  We then shared the books with our friends and family and have created a veritable army of Charlaine Harris enthusiasts! Charlaine has woven a world so textured and layered and delicious that it often feels as though you have wandered through a doorway into another dimension…but one which feels familiar and cozy enough to suspend all disbelief entirely.

As we all waited for the first season to begin, the excitement began to build and we watched all of the promos for True Blood on HBO… everything from a look at Vampires through history (cinematic and mythological) as well as perspectives on making the show by Alan Ball and comments from cast members as well. When the show premiered on September 7, we were glued to the television set and never missed an episode throughout the entire season. I have to tell you, True Blood was everything promised and so much more. We even got together with our kindred True Blood addicts and watched the marathon on New Years Eve…what could be more frightfully yummy than ringing in the New Year with your favorite Vampires?? It put a grin on my face which I have yet to erase!

Flash forward just a bit to the announcement being made about the True Blood panel at the PaleyFest.  I very nearly had an emotional cramp from feeling so happy upon first hearing about it to then feeling so heartbroken that I would not be able to attend. To say that things are “challenging” in my life is the understatement of the millennia (but never fear, I am still keeping my Wonder Woman bracelets at the ready…)

Then I saw the announcement on TrueBloodNet.com about an extra ticket to the PaleyFest being available. I almost didn”t follow through to inquire. But then I thought, why not? The very next morning I was given an email contact for Sarah so that we could discuss particulars. After numerous emails back and forth, we decided to chat by phone. By the end of the day, we were making plans to attend the Fest together! I was beside myself with giddy happiness at the possibility of suddenly having a chance to go…and I don”t know that I can really put into adequate words what I was feeling at that moment. When the world seems impossibly dismal all around you, sometimes what you need the most is a dose of kindness mixed in with all the joy your heart can hold. This is what I found when I met Sarah.

I am pretty much convinced that Sarah and her husband are angels in disguise! To put things in perspective a bit, Sarah is a mother of 4 at the tender age of 24. Her amazing hubby gave her the tickets to the PaleyFest True Blood panel and a trip to California…which she intended to take with her sister. What makes the gift particularly bittersweet is that her hubby is being deployed in June. For a year. She has been in the military herself, having been to Iraq when she was only 18… so she is well aware of what her husband will face when he goes. Sarah volunteers at the USO and everyone was very excited when she mentioned that she would be seeing Alexander Skarsgard at the PaleyFest… especially since they loved and respected his amazing performance in “Generation Kill” (also on HBO.)

When Sarah discovered that her sister would not be able to attend with her due to a family emergency, she contacted TrueBloodNet.com and asked them to help her find someone who could go with her…and she literally took a leap of faith that she could find a person she would be comfortable with and who would enjoy going to the PaleyFest as much as she would.

Enter yours truly! What is truly extraordinary about the whole thing is that Sarah was not looking to sell her ticket but, as she described it, “she was given a gift, and she was just giving a gift in return”. That is the kind of person Sarah is. Not only did she give me the gift of attending the Fest, but she gave me the gift of a true friend at the same time. True Blood and True Friends. Who could ask for more? It is the Gift that keeps on Giving.

Can you even imagine the fortitude it would take to leave her hubby and young children to drive by herself to the Fest, from Colorado, for 1200 long, long miles … and then to get into a car accident 25 miles from her destination? Talk about a Welcome to California! Not exactly the one she had been dreaming of…and I don”t even want to relive those phone conversations right after the accident. I have never prayed so hard in my life. Thank heavens it was not a serious accident but we were both concerned about how she would be feeling the following day. Ever the valiant trooper, Sarah was fully intent upon enjoying herself to the fullest!

Up next:  Sarah, Cheri & her local True Blood posse take on Hollywood, meet up with TrueBloodNet.com editor Kasandra and lots of kindred True Blood addicts at the ArcLight cafe, complete with raffle and hilarious Vamp-tastic goodie bags. And, drumroll please…True Blood takes on the PaleyFest!  Highlight reel, sneak peek into Season Two, the cast crack themselves up!  Nearly everyone auditions for the part of Vampire Bill!  Stephen shares a tale of emerging into a graveyard, covered in peat moss and we discover what Alex really thinks about pink leggings!  True Blood “fan-demonium” takes the ArcLight by storm!

Sarah and Cheri

Sarah and Cheri

(photo graciously given to post with permission from Barbara)

Just as a little sneak peek of my own: As you can see by this picture, Sarah and I had the time of our lives. Extra ginormous thanks to Alan, Alex and Sam for making her day (year? lifetime?) with attempts at pictures and a gracious willingness to “meet and greet” as many of us as they possibly could. I don”t think the ArcLight nor the folks at the PaleyFest had any idea how, shall we say, enthusiastic the crowd was really going to be about meeting the cast. They were treated like True Blood rockstars… and it definitely had the feeling of a mosh pit at times. (please don”t think I am complaining one bit since I was more than willing to wade into the crowd just for a chance to say a heartfelt Thank You…)

Part 3 on the way very soon…and apologies for taking so long between “instalments” but my hubby just got out of the hospital as I was finishing this part (and is very thankfully on the mend!)

*Fangs* so very much for sharing in my experience with me (couldn”t resist a little Vampire pun…Vampire Bill would be so proud!) I”ll be back in a flash with the rest of the story…

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  • Sarah

    Love love love it!! You are doing an amazing job sharing our story!

  • Debbie from NY

    Absolutely fantastic piece! Enjoyed it immensely and especially your style of writing! I, also, was at the Paleyfest and still cannot believe I was even there! I’m still not on this planet and can’t stop thinking about it. Hoping your family is doing well and looking forward to your next edition.

  • Andrea

    That is such a beautiful story…hope your husband is feeling better and you are OK..and best wishes to Sara on her husbands deployment,I am glad everything worked out so well for the both of you. Can’t wait to hear the rest of your experience…

    • JustMe

      WOW, I love the way you write! Thank you so very much for sharing this story and I’m looking forward to hearing more!! Sarah, you angel…thank you for spoiling my dear friend, Cheri! I wish you all the best!

  • Susan P

    Great story Cheri! You make me feel like I was there. Oh, wait, I WAS there (for some of it anyways), so I guess you make me feel like I’m there again, experiencing the ups and downs and ultimate joys. I will be eagerly awaiting your next installment.