Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I could never fit into the dress anyway

When I first labeled my freelance writing business, I got a vanity plate: WRITEMCH. My father stood behind my car, puzzling over the letters.
"Does it say Write Me a Check?"
Well, that would work, but since so many writers I know will work for food have day jobs to support their art, I have never been too much of a check expector for my creative work.  The writing is its own reward, right?

That's why I harbor no resentment toward my husband, who long ago as a reporter for several daily newspapers racked up press association writing awards out the wazoo. But  I was a better writer than he was  Surely that was my editor's fault. Maybe she didn't nominate me. had only been writing professionally for a couple of years at that time. And the fact that now, in 30+ years I have never been noticed with anything framable for a single word I put on the page, no, that does not matter to me. I'm a big girl. I did get honorable mention once waayy back in jr high school for a short story I wrote in green ink. Does that count? If I still have it?   I know I'm good.

I have won a couple of things, but not for the word thing. Two tickets to Cats in 1986 in Atlanta, which, because I am not really all that fond of cats, I am a dog person, was exhausting. A house portrait, which I love, though I do admit to stuffing the ballot box on that one. And I though I never was even on the Homecoming Court in high school — my lifelong deepest desire at that point in my life — I did win one other prize (see #7, in the list below). And no, I didn't stuff the ballot box or give favors of any kind to the players. 

The fact is, in my writing life, I have been stuck in that grey middle area of award dumb award-dom, that place outside the red carpet reserved for the almost rans. Somewhere between "we just love you," and "we want to reward you for how much we love you, but.." And with money

My father always told me when people said: you are so great, that I should counter with, ok, so why don't you cross my palm with green? I think that was after I had gotten glowing reviews for my first few months as a daily newspaper feature writer, and then was promptly given a $9 a week raise. Oh, I know it was 1980, but still. My future husband at The Augusta Chronicle the same nameless newspaper, got at least $10 a week more than I did that year, or maybe even $20. Oh, yeah, now I can hear ya. He was a man more experienced than I. At what? Reading the newspaper? Probably. I'm a headline comics horoscope letters-to-the-editor reader but noooo, he has to actually read the news. And the financial page. After my non-existent raise, he had to pay my parking tickets buy my groceries a time or two because I was feeding him in hopes of winning his heart.  I honestly married him for his money. Wasn't that nice of him?

(I eyed him, scowling across the breakfast table from me this morning, his head bent over the News & Observer newspaper that held my mug — not mugshot, mind you —  once upon a time. It was my dream job as an essayist and netted me $150 a pop, once a month, though I did get hundreds of emails and a few dozen hand-written letters. But press awards? Mais non! Again, my editor's fault.

And that's fine. Really. It was enough to be nominated for that story waayy back in jr. high. And I treasure all those letters people wrote to me, only one of which was truly hateful critical of me.

So of course, just as I had finally rested on the laurels of my clip file, well, whattayknow? Seems the ol' reward fairy has finally done and caught up with me. Somebody out there in the blogland has given me an award. APPLAUSE IS APPROPRIATE HERE.

Let me be serious for just a few: It comes from Alana, whose eloquent writings about grief and hope after losing her baby boy in utero, are remarkable. I stumbled on Alana's blog in December, when I participated in Reverb10. Read her post about a moment in her year when everything shifted, and you cannot break away. Each of her posts shows her beauty as a mother, a wife, a woman, who questions the turns of her life, all the while celebrating the fact her life has turns, and that she has the voice to say something about it, for herself, but also for thousands of other mothers like her. It's a silent epidemic, and Alana is giving it a strong and steady voice.

Oh, and by the way, we have never even met. In person at least. But it seems that Alana thinks I am a pretty Stylish Blogger. Well, how about that? 

She admits in her own blog about getting the same award, that it feels a little bit like those chain emails that say: tell us a gazillion things about yourself we don't give a flip know, then forward to another gazillion of your friends and either a) see how much green crosses your palm what happens on the 11th day at 12:22 p.m., or b) risk a very bad horoscope day take your chances if you don't.

I almost always hit DELETE on those crazy things. I HATE chain letters, perhaps because way back in jr. high school, carried away that my honorable mention might have actually made me popular I may have sent one to my so-called friends and waited for all those books/recipes/dollar bills/younameits to come in the mail and none showed up. So there. Stopped me right in my tracks.

And yet. It feels pretty good to think that somebody out there in blogland thinks I'm stylish. And I don't have to fit into find the right dress for the red carpet to accept. Thank you, Alana. My muffin top thanks you.

There are strings is a caveat being a stylish blogger — I am supposed to tell you mindless minutia about myself nobody cares the least bit about seven things you don't know about me. (see, I told you so.) The fact that 99.9 percent of the people reading know me as a tireless self-promoter family/neighbor/friend, I can tell you nothing I haven't already put out into the world for all to see. I mean, I wrote about my husband's boxers, for heaven's sake. 

Ok. You twisted my arm.  

1) I can't fold a fitted sheet.
2) I sometimes often use my fingers to count.
3) I always in The Color Purple, when Celie and Nettie play the pattycake game in the field at the end. Something about sisters just gets to me.
4) I had a crush on Mickey Dolenz when I was 10. 
5) I hate to admit that my editors have (almost) always made me look better in print.
6) Once, in the middle of my Calculus exam in college, I left the room and begged the TA to let me pass the course. I did. Cross my heart no personal favors led to my grade.
7) I was voted Most Valuable Cheerleader, not because of my gymnastics acumen, but because I could shout the loudest from the bleachers. Anybody who knows me today would never believe that.

The final thing I am supposed to do, as per the terms of my contractual agreement with the people at Stylish Blogger  in accepting this treasured award, is to point you in the direction of five blogs I read and like. there is nepotism involved, I am no relation to anyone on this list. Well, only one of them.

1) Southern in the City
2) Mrs. Mediocrity
3) The Barefoot Heart
4) Shutter Sisters
5) 3x3x365

Maybe some of them already have awards of many kinds. But I just want them to know that I read them often and their creative efforts inspire my own.

Now, will somebody, somewhere, on this wide wonderful reading planet, listen for a second? My palm is wide open and waiting.