I promised you feelings and bad words today. I considered simply posting a list of every bad word I could type in 60 seconds, but I’m not up for the resulting spam.
The thing is, I wrote this long, feeling-y post and it needs to be edited. It really, really needs to be edited. I wrote it and I don’t understand parts of it. Because you know what? Feelings are hard. They don’t make any sense, and that’s why I generally shy away from them these days. I shy away on the blog, that is. In real life I go beyond shy, and stuff those pesky feelings way down and don’t let them out. Ever.
When will somebody invent a sarcasm font?
Of course I have feelings and I try to acknowledge them. Except for when it might make someone else cry, because I am a sympathetic crier. You cry, I cry, we all cry in our ice cream. Or something like that.
So anyway… I do have this story to tell, and because I believe there is a point to the story I will tell it here on the blog. But not today, because I may have:
A) Been very busy for the last few days doing altruistic and productive things; or
B) Lost my original draft/let the dog eat it/had a really late practice and I’m sure coach will tell you that’s the truth/every homework excuse ever, so I didn’t have time to edit; or
C) Squandered my editing time today doing this…
Instead of feelings, I have excuses. Or do I have feelings about my excuses? Or should I ask you to excuse my lack of feelings?
:: Do you zone out while your kids watch TV? Mine were supposed to be getting their daily allotment of screen time while I got some work done, when many minutes and many ounces of coffee later I realized I was still sitting there. In my defense, my kids are super cuddly, and Phineas and Ferb is funny. read more
You guys just would not believe the technical difficulties happening here this morning. I know, you also don’t care. So I’ll spare you, except to say: if you’re reading this it’s a miracle. A miracle, I tell you!
Today I am honored to be at Erin Margolin‘s place telling you about my writer roots. Even though it means an extra click, I really hope you’ll go over there and say hello to Erin. You can read my post while you’re there, too. How convenient.
I met Erin at Blissdom Conference in 2011, and have been a fan of her writing (and her, in general – she’s pretty awesome) ever since. She’s writes honestly, with humor and heart. Erin hosts a Your Roots series on her blog, where others can share their stories of how we came to write and why we continue to write. It’s a thrill to be part of the Roots series today!
If you’re visiting me from Erin’s place, thank you. I hope you’ll hang around, and please feel free to click on all those social media icons in the top, right corner. I’d love to connect with you on Twitter and Facebook, or wherever it is you like to do your social media-ing.
I’ll see you back here next week. Until then, have a fantastic weekend. And don’t forget to visit Erin’s blog. Did I say please? If not, consider it said. Thank you! read more
The other day my six year old asked me to read him my piece (a slightly modified version of this post) from Austin’s 2012 production of Listen to Your Mother. He sat quietly, and when I finished reading he said, good. Nothing more. Except for this:
Why do we have hairs in our noses?
(Just in case you didn’t click the link up there, I’ll give you this: There is no mention of nose hair in the piece I read.)
Uhhhhh. Well, I think the hairs trap dirt and crud so that it doesn’t get into our heads, I offer. I give him a hug and start to stand up. Teaching moment complete.
Does the crud turn into boogers?
I guess so.
Since our noses and mouths are all kind of connected, do we ever swallow boogers?
I tell him that’s a very real possibility. It’s time to get ready for bed, so I start shooing him in the direction of his tootbrush and pajamas.
Oh, man. Then we’d have to poop out those boogers. Booger poop – now that is funny stuff. You know mom, you should have written about booger poop for your show, then everyone would really laugh instead of just sitting there while you read, like I did.
Children: the cure for delusions of grandeur.
And I suppose booger poop could have been a huge hit on Sunday, when I took the stage with a cast of Austin writers. But as sage as my son’s advice was, we didn’t need it. The show already had something for everyone.
People told me, and other cast members, after the show that they experienced so many emotions that afternoon. And everyone had their own favorite moment. We’d been told that was the case last year, that each piece resonated differently, finding a fit somewhere in the audience. And while that made perfect sense to me – logically, anyway – before the show, it wasn’t until I sat in the theater that I felt the audience connecting. I could feel them reacting with a laugh here, a sniffle there; at times, it seemed like there was a physical link between the reader and certain audience members.
Bizarre. And wonderful.
I’m an incredibly visual person, and an introverted one at that. I always thought the written word was sufficient, sitting there on its page. And it is. It is, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that, well, reading those words out loud, or listening to someone else read, changes written words. It allows the words to wiggle into spots they couldn’t reach before.
So I’m here to tell you, seek out opportunities to share your words and to listen to other people do the same. Not unlike how the crud trapped in our nose hairs becomes something else entirely, taking words from your head to the page to the stage changes them forever.
Thankfully, words become something much, much more beautiful than booger poop.
Thank you, Ann Imig, Wendi Aarons, Liz McGuire for bringing Listen to Your Mother to Austin. And thank you to my family and friends who supported me through this adventure. read more
At an obnoxious hour last Thursday morning I boarded a plane for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, OH. I was confident that a good experience waited for me, but I had no idea.
I’m not ready to snap out of the post-workshop after glow just yet. One day soon I’ll share with you some of the deep, meaningful, and hilarious things I took away from four days with Erma and Friends. For now, though, let’s stick to the numbers.
64 – Number of hours I wore Grown Up Clothes.
I work at home. At the most, I wear a real bra and business casual clothes six hours a day, one day a week. I didn’t wear yoga pants, flip flops, or running shoes for four days.
The last night, 16-plus hours after getting dressed in the morning, even my bra was over it. While workshop attendees performed standup, my bra unhooked itself. There are only two reasons your undergarments remove themselves: either they find you repulsive after so many hours between showers, or Ryan Gosling just walked in the room.
2 – Number of new Pocket People (I will explain).
Mark and I have a long-running… I don’t know what to call it. It’s just a thing. When we come across an outrageously adorable person, we say they are, “so cute, we just want to put him/her in our pocket.” Current Pocket People include, but are not limited to, Tommy Silva (This Old House), Seth Cohen (of The O.C.), and Ray (from our grocery store).
My new additions? Erma’s husband, Bill Bombeck; and Ilene Beckerman. Dear God, these people are wonderful.
Honestly, all of the keynote speakers were fantastic. I’d be happy to put any of them in my pocket.
5 – Number of times I cried, minimum.
Every time a member of Erma’s family – biological or chosen – read one of her pieces, I wept. Seeing her legacy represented in such a personal way was stunning. That is the power of words well written, of love well documented.
1 – Number of times I feared for my life.
Lesson learned: When the hotel staff at the overflow hotel points you in the general direction of campus and shrugs a “you could walk,” get another opinion. You cannot walk from downtown Dayton to the Marriott near the University of Dayton. Physically, sure. Emotionally, not so much. If you ever register late and the workshop hotel is already booked, please, for the love of Erma, take the shuttle. Do not walk. In case you’re still thinking you don’t need the shuttle, I have a subset of numbers for you here.
3 – Junkies we passed on our way.
1 – Person providing me with hilarious, distracting conversation on this walk of doom. Also, it’s nice to have your own big-city-raised Russian immigrant at a time like this; she assured me that our walk had nothing on the streets of San Fran.
2 – Gas station attendants who openly laughed when we asked to call a cab, saying, “You could call a cab, but sometimes they don’t come.”
6 – Layers of clothes and foundation garments (combined, dummy, neither one of was wearing 6 layers) drenched in sweat by the time we reached that Marriott ballroom.
4 – Number of pounds [my suitcase] gained.
I’m paranoid about surpassing the baggage weight limit, and having to remove my hairdryer or Oxford English Dictionary at check-in. I closely watch that scale at the baggage counter, and I don’t breathe easy until I see a number under 50. Because of this, I know my bag gained four pounds while we were at Erma.
I ate an absurd number of white dinner rolls and lots of cake while at the workshop. And I am thankful that I did not have to stand on the scale at the airport.
1ish – Number of criminal acts.
I lifted my roommate’s Logitech iPad keyboard. An utterly senseless crime, since I have one exactly like it. In court I will make the argument that I thought it was mine, and as it was four – in the morning – and I was packing after fewer than three hours of sleep, it’s an honest mistake. I am sure no jury of my peers will convict me.
In all fairness, she stole my jacket. Oh okay, I accidentally left it hanging in the closet. See: packing at 4 a.m.
15 – Number of hours I slept in three nights, max.
It was worth every sleep-deprived minute.
Unknown Numbers – The times I laughed and the friends I made.
I’m not naming names here. I live in fear of inadvertently leaving off a name, just as I inadvertently skipped out on my bar tab Friday night. I will pay you back, nice people I just met before I did the Drink and Dash.
But I did meet fabulous people. And I did laugh, often until I cried. So I guess I should change that number up there for “Times I Cried” to unknown, as well.
There’s no good way to say thank you to all of the people involved in pulling together the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. If I had to quantify my appreciation, it would require a number higher than my English major brain can safely handle. So, simply, thanks to all of you.
And Erma, to you most of all. read more
It’s Wednesday, so where’s the guest post? Just when a pattern gets established, I’m switching it up. But only for this week. In honor of Spring Break here in Austin, I left this week off the guest post schedule. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming next week.
This week we’re celebrating. We’re jumping for joy, in honor of
Because we have a voice. All of us. Whether you’ve started to tell your story, or it’s still brewing, you have a voice. Your experiences are pieces of this vastness through which we’re all wandering. Now more than ever, we have outlets for sharing those experiences, for shrinking the gaps between your story and mine.
I’m honored to be part of one such story-telling outlet: This spring, I am lending my voice to the story of motherhood as part of the 2012 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.
It’s humbling, and thrilling, to be involved. I’ve been a fan of the show since hearing about the first LTYM, created and directed by Ann Imig, in Madison, WI. After that show took place, videos started floating around the internet and I sat one day, mesmerized, listening to story after story.
Many of you know I auditioned last year, but was not selected for the cast. And yet, the audition experience was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done. Sure, I was sad when I didn’t get selected, but the process was completely worth it.
For those who are wondering, the audition process is tricky. It’s about putting together a show that flows, that balances all of motherhood: joy, sadness, sleep deprivation, and everything in between. I knew that liking what I wrote was merely one criteria for making the show; it didn’t come as a surprise to get the “not this year” message. Yes, it stung, but not because I felt rejected (there’s not a writer in the world who isn’t familiar with rejection* – we’re pros in that department). I was bummed because I love Listen To Your Mother, and I wanted to be involved.
Which brings us to this year. Thanks to some gentle nudging (you know who you are), I once again submitted a piece to read. This time… well, this time my story found a spot in the show. My story fits within the delicate balance that the show co-producers/directors, Wendi Aarons and Liz McGuire, were tasked with creating.
And so. We’re celebrating.
I feel grateful, humbled, excited and a bit nauseous to be part of Listen To Your Mother 2012. The show is happening in 10 cities this year, so if you want to see what it’s all about, please buy a ticket or 12. Just don’t tell me if you’ll be in the Austin audience, because knowing you’re there will make me very nervous. Click to purchase Listen To Your Mother Austin tickets or one of nine other cities (just click on ‘Local Shows’ to find the one closest to you).
The cost of your ticket will also help local families in need. Part of Listen To Your Mother’s mission is to support families in need by giving 10% of ticket proceeds to a non-profit cause. In Austin, that cause is Any Baby Can.
As for that asterisk up there…
*Lemme say this about rejection: even though it’s a familiar part of writing, of course it stings. Of course, the validation that comes with acceptance is like a drug. So of course, I longed for that validation last year when I auditioned. Being in the cast would have rocked!
And yes, I allowed myself a little wallow after I found out it was a no go. I talked to a couple of understanding friends, and a couple of understanding writers. I shared my blah-ness, and then moved forward so that I could keep writing.
I understood how complicated the audition process was, and I also felt – for once – that what I submitted was good work. Rarely do I think what I’ve written is good enough for anything. Just hitting ‘publish’ on this blog nearly kills me sometimes. That’s part of the disease. Writers could edit and rewrite every word, over and over, and still never feel that it’s quite there. I have to force myself to send stuff out in the world. Sometimes it glows, and sometimes it sits there like a big, steaming pile.
What I’m getting at here… Not getting cast last year was a little sad. But only a little. I’m telling you the truth when I say, at heart, it wasn’t about feeling rejected. In fact, I felt included in something so much bigger than myself, and was proud to have had the chance to read for the show.
:: If you’ve ever read your work to an audience, how did that feel?
:: Have you considered telling your motherhood story (you don’t have to be a mother to have something to say – you probably have a mother, know a mother, have heard of mothers)? read more
My brain is ping-ponging this week. I have ideas, baby. And those ideas are running my life, even though I suspect it should be the other way around? Or should it?
I do not know.
You’ll be thankful, I think, that I came to my senses and deleted most of this post before inflicting it upon you. I was bumbling around, writing about my high school reunion (I don’t want to. Go, that is. Period.), the gigantic bruise on my behind (it’s impressive, but not post-worthy, I don’t think. Or photo worthy, so don’t even ask.), Kindle Singles, and pancakes. I was about to launch into some of the aforementioned life-running ideas and whatnot, when my brain temporarily righted itself.
Maybe we’ll chat about some of those other things another day, but for today I want to tell you about one of my new favorite things: Kindle Singles.
Hold on! Come back!
I can’t make any grandiose promises (what am I, a politician?), but I’m pretty sure this post isn’t total dullsville. If you hate books and reading, then move along. But if you like literature and stuff, hang around. I have recommendations for you. And cookies! (The cookie part is a lie. Maybe I am a politician…)
So here’s the thing. I’m a huge fan of real, hard copy books, and as long as books are printed I will buy them. There’s no denying, however, that electronic reading is an idea with some stickiness.
There was a lot of talk at BlogHer Writers about the future of publishing, specifically around this electronic revolution’s impact on the industry. Nobody has a definitive answer just yet, but it’s clear that we’re looking at boundless possibilities for content, surpassing anything we could achieve in print. Publishers are experimenting with music downloads, video extras, and tie-ins, such as games.
We’re on the precipice here, people.
It’s all pretty exciting, but I was still slow to warm to the eReader, until I spent a weekend on my sick bed, browsing Amazon to entertain myself. Kind of by accident, I discovered that you don’t need a Kindle to get content; you can download an app and get content on your computer, iPad or iPhone. Forty eight hours later, I’d read The Hunger Games trilogy on my computer and I was hooked – on The Hunger Games and on the convenience of an eReader.
We now own an actual Kindle (thanks Mom & Dad!), and by we, I do mean Mark. It was technically his Christmas present, but I borrow it. Often. I like all the free and cheap books Amazon offers, because I’m more willing to take a chance on books that I might otherwise consider risky (don’t you hate it when you pay $25 for a book and hate it? Hate is much more affordable on the Kindle).
But my favorite, favorite thing about our eReader is Kindle Singles. Do you know about these? I am in love. Kindle Singles, according to Amazon, “offer a vast spectrum of reporting, essays, memoirs, narratives, and short stories presented to educate, entertain, excite, and inform.”
I read a single or two each week, sometimes more. The length is perfectly suited to someone with Ping Pong Brain. Lately I’m so sleepy at night that it’s taking a mighty long time to finish reading a book. I’ll continue to plug away at full-length books, but it’s nice to read a single or two, as well, and feel like I accomplished something.
Since I love them so, I decided to recommend a few of my favorite Kindle Singles today (in alpha order, because that’s fair):
:: Cooking Solves Everything: How Time in the Kitchen Can Save Your Health, Your Budget, and Even the Planet by Mark Bittman. There’s a whole post – or two or three – coming about this one. Bittman explores ways we can improve our lives, and so much more, by cooking simple meals at home.
:: The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life by Ann Patchett. Writers, this one’s for you. I desperately want to sit down with Ms. Patchett and have a cup of coffee. She seems like a fascinating and perfectly lovely person, full of wise words and a dry sense of humor.
:: The Long Run by Mishka Shubaly. Stunning. This is the story of a man who ran his way to sobriety. The subject of addiction is close to my heart – another post for another day – and I’m drawn to stories of survival. Although Mr. Shubaly’s definition of sobriety varies a tad from my own, his tale is no less riveting. I related to him even though we seemingly share a lot more differences than we do similarities.
What are you waiting for? Go on.. download and read!
:: Were you an early adopter of eReaders or are you still holding out?
:: If you’re a Kindle Singles fan, what are some of your favorites?
NOTE: Once again, I feel the need to tell you that I am not an Amazon affiliate, nor am I receiving any compensation from Amazon or these authors. I’m just sharing this info because I like you. read more