Feeling all full of self-pity and down in the dumps, I forced myself to get out of the house and trudge over to San Francisco to hear Dennis Kucinich talk. You know what a great speaker he is. And Dennis, who is running for president in 2008, was in top form. So I sat back and let the Kucinich magic wash over me.
"We must all figure out what we ourselves stand for. We are all brothers and sisters. We share a common destiny -- to act upon a vision of an America and a world ruled by peace. Such a world is eminent. It is only waiting for us to step forward. And we are here not only to save ourselves and our families but to save the entire planet." Standing ovation!
"What kind of a world do we wish to create? I heard the President [sic] say the other day that he decides. But WE decide. Americans decide. And Congress has an obligation to stand up for the people of America!" Everybody stood up. Again. And clapped a whole lot. Go Dennis!
"When I grew up poor and sometimes homeless in Cleveland, you got a feeling when you are being hustled. I now get that feeling in Washington." And on the issue of funding the Iraq misadventure, Dennis was firm. "We need to demand that Congress cut off the funds. Our troops are silently suffering. And the world is being destabilized because of this illegal war. We need to stand up and say, 'Stop the funding.'" And if we can afford to write off the billions of dollars that Halliburton stole from us, we can surely afford to bring the troops home!
"We need to elevate the human condition out of the ashes of war. This is our moment. This is what our lives are for -- to evolve. To create a new world."
Just then a man brushed past me on the way to the stage and the guy next to me whispered, "There goes Sean Penn!" Wow. I hadn't even noticed.
Then Sean -- Mr. Penn? -- got up on stage and said, "I just stopped by, I didn't plan to get caught." Then everyone laughed and that was that. But as I was leaving, I saw him standing outside the building all by himself. He was wearing slacks and a windbreaker that looked like he had bought them from a second-hand store and he carried a plastic grocery bag filled with miscellaneous stuff. Good grief! Sean Penn looked just like any other Average American Joe, possibly just getting off work, tired and ready to go home.
"Hi," I said. "Will you say something for my blog?" How lame is that?
"Sure. What would you like me to say?"
"No, it doesn't work that way. You've got to ask me a question." Oh dear. I don't think very fast on my feet.
"Uh...er...what is your favorite food?" You know me. My mind is always thinking about food.
"That's what you want to ask me? What is my favorite food?" I had this golden opportunity to ask some fabulously meaningful question of a man known throughout the world for his acting ability and his ideals and all I could come up with was food? Jane!
At that point, I managed to forget about food for a moment and take a closer look at Sean Penn. Who exactly WAS this man? What was he all about? What was it like to be rich and famous and heroic? And was I bothering him? Was I being too pushy? I looked again. He had deep, intelligent, serious eyes. And then it hit me. Good grief! Sean Penn was a real person! And he was nice!
"I usually write about how much I really don't like George Bush...." I said.
"Well, then ask me something about George Bush," he suggested helpfully. But that question was even WORSE than the question about food. I mean, think about it. I'm here chit-chatting with Sean Penn and I'm gonna waste my time talking about George Bush? Yuck! C'mon, Jane. This is a really unique opportunity. Think of something profound!
"Uh, I write a blog...." I said next. But I'd already told him that. "I live in Berkeley?"
"How do you like that?"
"I like it!" Yeah, duh. Except for the ex-friend and the cat.... "Well, thank you so much for putting up with me," I finally said.
"No problem," he answered. And I got the sense that he meant it. I got the definite sense that Sean Penn was genuine, the Real Deal. And that the genuine Sean believed that other people were genuine too and that he had faith in people -- faith that they were also the Real Deal. And that he was a good person and actually assumed that I was a good person too.
After the interview, I walked down Geary Street through a crowd of out-of-town tourists and Saturday night bar-hoppers and I was TOTALLY excited and pleased. I had interviewed Sean Penn for my blog! And I had heard Dennis Kucinich speak too. This day was turning out to be a good day after all!
Now if only we can end that stupid slaughter in Iraq and put Bush and Cheney in jail where they belong, it might even turn out to be a good year!