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March 2006
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May 2006

Butch gets Rejected

Butch "Butch" got rejected again. But it didn't hurt as bad as it did in Junior High. I have to trust that if I keep putting it out there, someone in the publishing industry will get me and my writing. It was another form letter, and it was the best one I've received. However, I just have to mock the patronizing parts.

I made the mistake of answering my phone seconds after I read the letter, still in the parking lot of the post office. Luckily, it was Raelene and she was outraged on my behalf. Just one of the things I love about good girlfriends. I read her the letter. Together we dissected it.

"That's not rejection. That's just incorrect. It's a great story." She said. And, of course, from the letter we know that "The Judges had a very difficult time judging all of the excellent entries." Then it goes on to advise, "A wonderful way to develop and practice is to read your work before an audience or to listen to others read their work."

True, but don't you think I know that? Maybe we could've just stuck with the "thanks-but-no-thanks" approach to rejection. I prefer it to the "take-this-advice-and-maybe-you'll-get-it-next-time-champ" variety.

Next paragraph: "You are invited to the xxEvent on Xxx. You can listen the authors who placed first read their work. We have reserved your spot at the losers table ... Next year you may well be the one reading your work and having it published."

And, the best part, "Continue to believe in yourself."

Yes, the funky sounding sentence is really in the letter, yes I made up the losers table part - and I'm sure the guy was just trying to think of a nice, encouraging closing, I'm just saying ...

Meeting Anne Lamott

Dscf2111_2 It's way past my bedtime and I am wired. It could be the Tab energy drink, or the fact that I just met my favorite author. Rose and I went up to a Unitarian church in Portland to see her speak, not knowing at all what to expect. She's not the preachy type, but still, it was, after all, in a church and she would be reading from her book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith ... but we were game for whatever. We stopped for dinner at Rose's Deli in Sherwood (YUM) where I mentioned that I wished there was a way to get another server without hurting anyone's feelings. I'm sure ours was a very nice person, I just wasn't into her. Just before our food arrives a much peppier server comes to our table to let us know that our server is coming off a long day, and he's going to take over our table now. I got my wish!

We pull into the parking lot, scoring a perfect spot near the church. We're in line to pay for a parking ticket when a man hands me a free parking ticket because he accidentally got two. Sweet.

As we head into the packed church, I say I wish we could get singled out by Anne Lamott somehow. Maybe even go out for a slice of lemon meringue afterwards. We're told there is no more seating but then Anne Lamott graciously allowed people to sit behind her in the choir section. As she begins her talk, she asks for the "choir" to stand up and sing "My Country Tis of Thee." Seriously. Since all these wishes are coming true, we bought some lottery tickets on the way home. I'll keep you posted. No lemon meringue pie though, maybe next time.

She was awesome - inspiring, gracious, funny, beautiful and REAL. I still have to process what she said and what it brought up for me, but the experience of being there was one I'll never forget. When it came time to get our books autographed, I was all nervous about it. My palms were sweating and as we're standing single-file in the church aisle I had a flashback to getting my First Communion and felt like I was going to somehow mess this up and I didn't know how I was supposed to do this. I was so excited I felt like I could vomit. Then, I remembered that it wasn't a Catholic church and so I didn't have to feel guilty about it but I still felt like puking. So, when it was my turn to have my book signed I said:

"How are you?" and smiled. She was lovely and it was just so cool to make eye contact with her and have her signing my copy of Bird by Bird. She said "Better now." We shared a smile, she signed my book, I stood there stupidly wishing I could think of something really brilliant and original to say, but nothing came. So I left her with the oh-so-original "I so enjoyed listening to you and reading your books." To which she graciously replied, "thank you for coming." Maybe someday I'll write her a letter about why I adore her so much and how reading Operating Instructions was the first time I had a moment where I thought maybe I could actually be a mom someday. Maybe I'll even mention how I was so dumbstruck when I met her all I could think about was trying not to vomit. Maybe we'll even laugh about it when we're on Oprah together.

Basking in the Rotisserie of Life

Labor_day_tom_with_knifeA little birthday blog catching up to do. Glad you were born Tom Boyer! I took a pretty instant liking to Tom. I met him while visiting Matt during spring break of my senior year at Western. His wife, Barbara, made a special dinner complete with homemade Sushi Rolls and Sake. One of my first memories of Tom is him putting a glass of Sake in the microwave, followed promptly by the sound of glass breaking. As the rest of us startled, he cocked his head to the side and said, "Huh. That's odd."

In the same week, we were checking out a barn Matt was working on. I the City Girl walking around The Country, it was windy, it was muddy and I was less than comfortable yet trying to act cool until a tree gave me away by choosing that particular moment to drop a branch, not a twig mind you but a real branch, and hit me in the back of the head with it. Maybe it wasn't personal but you'll have a hard time convincing me of that. I went looking for Matt and found Tom instead. He gave me a big hug without my having to explain my "par fatsek" from nature, and then led me back to the truck where I sat warm and waiting. A par fatsek, by the way is a neat Slovak thing where, by way of punishment for a smart ass comment, you get a little "tap" to the back of the head.

I dig this picture of Tom - he and Matt have a lot in common with a love of farming and a familiarity with Mother Nature - as well as the ability to mix a bloody Mary with a friggin' butcher knife. Tom is generous, witty, patient and loyal, for these reasons and more, we adore him.

Tom is also one of my most quotable friends. So, in your own words Tom, Happy Birthday and may you continue basking in the rotisserie of life.

Could've Met you in the Sandbox

Jo_nat_munson_falls Happy Birthday to my dear Jocelyn! Jo and I may have met at Curtis Junior High because we were there at the same time. Or, we could've met at Western Washington University because, again, we were there at the same time. But instead, we waited until I started dating Matt who grew up with her boyfriend Jeff in Walla Walla. Kinda convoluted for such a friendship that was simply meant to be. I love Jocelyn for her generous heart, her sense of humor and her strength. The girl's got guts.

Since our husbands were friends from the sandbox, it worked out pretty perfectly that she and I instantly liked each other. Sometimes you just know that someone is your kind of people. Jo is most definitely one of my people. She's smart, thoughtful and she enjoys the stationary aisle at Target as much as I do. She's game for adventures like hiking in new places or just sitting on our asses catching up. From the start of our friendship, we understood each other without even having to say a lot. For instance when her boyfriend came to visit Matt for the weekend, I wasn't invited out with the boys so I poured a glass of wine and called her in Portland. We talked and drank wine for a few hours. I knew then we were going to be good, good friends. Since then, we've been in each other weddings, shared countless special occasions, helped each other move a million times and many more random, memorable moments. One that just came to mind was at the Phish show in the Gorge when she wore her cool headlamp deal and walked with me through the masses of Dirty, Loaded People until we reached the row of Rank Honey Buckets. She even offered me her headlamp while I went in but we both decided some things are just better done in the dark. But still, it's a pretty damn good friend that crawls out of a warm sleeping bag to do that for you.

I love and adore ya Jo, and wish you a year full of happy surprises.


Woke up in a funk Saturday- which should not have come as a surprise since it's kinda how I've felt all week. I loved seeing my parents and having them visit - yet it puts me in this odd place. It's weird coming face to face with the fact that I am not what they expected me to be. That's not to say they aren't happy with the outcome, but one thing we agree on is that the way I'm living my life is very different than how I was raised. Not wrong, just different. At least that's my refrain.

Since I could hardly stand myself, I ran some errands in town to get the book I'd ordered "Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith" by the amazing Anne Lamott (who Rosie and I are actually going to see in person on Tuesday!) and then on a whim I picked up the latest issue of Poets & Writers and treated myself to a cup of coffee so I could enjoy it and connect back to what it is I'm supposed to be doing on the planet, and how there are other people out there doing the same thing who may also be a disappointment to their own expectations and those of others. I'm flipping through and am struck by a pull out quote in an article by Janice Erlbaum and after reading it through, immediately called Third Street Books back to order a copy. To tide me over until it comes, I checked out her blog. It's odd to connect with someone you don't know and may never meet but still, I felt something - and I didn't want to be a freak, authorstalker person but I wanted her to know that her telling the truth about something so personal and deep made me feel like I was really okay. Sure, sure my therapist has been trying to convince me I'm normal, but to some extent she's getting paid to do that, right? But to read someone else's own words describing something I've experienced and can barely think about, much less write about, reminded me of who I am and why I'm here. So I emailed her. Then hit send. Then angsted over it for awhile.

Today, I got a reply back from her, a real, published author and she actually took the time out of her life to check out my blog and write me back. I could pretend to be all casual about it, but surely you know me better than that by now. She said she loves my writing. And some other really cool things that I so appreciate. She rocks - check it out Girlbomb.

PS That, my friends, is the kind of writer I want to be, the kind who shares encouragement with people and is real and honest.

Paul - you da bomba

Paul_matt_woodstack His heart. His honesty. And his perspective on life are just a few of the reasons I love Paul and am glad he was born. His German heritage and foreign upbringing are also part of the reason we connected quick-like. The first time I remember meeting Paul was at his annual Christmas party when Matt and I showed up around eleven p.m. after Matt's shift at the Palmer House. When everyone else is dancin' and makin' merry like Christmas and you're all sober is not the best time to show up at a party, but we did and Paul was totally gracious trying to hook up up with food, drink and people he thought we'd click with. Paul is the kind of guy who finds ways to help a person and just does it. The photo above is Matt and Paul leaning on the pile of wood Paul cut, delivered and stacked without us knowing about it because he knew we were going to need it. How do you not love a guy like that? There are other things too, like the way he's game to do things he's not so crazy about, like playing Pictionary - here's Paul being a good sport. Yes, he does appear to be enjoying himself. A little. Pictionary_paul_2

Paul's love for his wife Rosie, and the way he shows it, is another thing I dig about Paul. He planned their ten year wedding anniversary as a surprise and pulled the whole thing off without a hitch. He's also an awesome writer who tells the truth about life and pain and beauty.

Alles gutes zum Geburstag, Palusko!

Budding Buddhist

You never know how much kids are paying attention until you see them mimicking you to a freakish tee. One of my cuteheads at school comes in to the office at least once a day. He's been there to watch me deal with a lot of sick kids and I evidently have a reliable spiel. As it was busy in the office and I was alone, he took it upon himself to help me out. I watched out of the corner of my eye as this second-grader got a blanket for the kid who just came in with a sick note. Then he said: "Would you like a cold cloth on your head? It's just a wet paper towel but it feels nice." That was followed by: "Okay, would you like the light on or off?" Then he came over to me all proud of himself and we talked about his day a little. He told me one of the big kids was picking on him. I told him it was totally cool to tell someone if they hurt your feelings because maybe they didn't even realize it. This sage little guy shook his head and shrugged. "He just be's what he be's." And off he went.

Missing Work

After six months at this job, I still consider myself the New Girl, but I have picked up a few tricks. Turning the lights off right at "closing" time is working pretty well keeping people out of the office after hours so I can get my work done. Tonight, I saw the office door open and then close but the person didn't reach above my counter. Finally, one of my favorite little 3rd graders came around the corner (it's 5:15 so I was surprised to see him still at school).
He looked at me, puzzled. "Why are the lights off?" Before I could answer he asks, "Why are you here all by yourself after school?"

"Well, buddy, I have a lot to get caught up on."

He looked at me and gave a knowing nod and impish smile, "I know, missing work."

Your thoughts?

While reading Carolyn See's "Making a Literary Life," I was particularly struck by this quote: 

"Men are raised to have enough self-esteem to take it for granted that whatever they do is interesting. Women have been trained to listen. Have you ever heard a garage band playing and you go take a peek and there are five or six girls just wailing away while their boyfriends sit politely waiting for them to finish? No. Because it would never happen." - Carolyn See

Why is this?!