ABC yadda yadda Z

November is here! The month of month-long challenges: No-Shave-November…National Novel Writing Month…and now, most famously, ABCDEFriend-Blog-Challenganza. (Official name still pending.)

Wet Hot American Alphabet

This month, three friends and I will embark on the epic blog-adventure-task of being inspired by a different letter every day on our blogs. (Or reasonably close to every day… so long as we get through all 26 letters in the next 30 days. We are Morgan Spurlock.) There will be photography, drawing, writing, music perhaps…

It’s exciting! My last blog challenge (see February 2011) was a surprise smash success, so I can only hope the added motivation of partners-in-crime is going to give me the extra push I need to make it through 26 posts in 30 days.

I imagine it’ll go a little something like this:

And also this:

What it is.

Super awesome Wet Hot poster found here.
I saw the show in L.A. last June. It was the berries.
B is for berries.

how’s the writing going?

The Sarahs (what Sarah Jones and I have come to be called at work. Saves time.) were walking to a meeting today, along with a favorite professor-slash-colleague, when he asked me, “how’s the writing going?” (Meaning, the non-work kind.)

I was tripping over my “well…that’s a good question…” deflectory response when Jones reminded me that I did in fact (almost) win a contest last week. “Well yes I DID!” Check it: Microstyle Writing Contest.

(You guys! That’s MY name on that list!)

The contest called for a memorable quip, involving wordplay, in 20 words or less.
A la Dorothy Parker: You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.
Or Groucho Marx: If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me? 

I wrote this little pithy number on Twitter a few months ago, and I tweaked it for the contest in September. Check it:

If there’s a special circle of hell for procrastinators, I think I’ll get to it eventually…

(Ironically, I entered the contest on time. Cosmic bonus points for that.)

I got the form email last Thursday letting me know my one-liner was one of the best! I freely admit it felt good to have external validation from someone besides my parents, friends, coworkers or local comedy fans (people who are supposed to find me clever and charming…). Now, thanks to this little contest, I know that there are complete strangers out there who find me clever and charming, too.

Turns out that’s HUGE for the ol’ writerly self-esteem.

"a major award!" --dad from A Christmas Story

So today I came home to find a nondescript package in my mailbox from W.W. Norton & Company, New York. My runner-up prize is a copy of Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little by Christopher Johnson. This NYT article from July tells you more about the book and author. Kind of cool. This guy, published and reviewed in the New York Times, read my little line, and said, “weeeeeell…it’s not the best, but it’s not the worst. In fact, it’s one of the five best. Let’s send her a book!” And so they did. And so I have it.

Thanks to the contest, I have this book + hope. Hope that next time somebody asks me “how’s the writing going?” I might have a better answer. I’ve been revisiting past journals for inspiration lately, and inspire they do.

I was wrestling with this writing question in November 2008. (So backstory, fall 2008. Work is up in the air, boys are…as always, a mystery. I’m feeling lonely in general and find comfort in listening to podcasts while doing dishes. {yup.} I’d just listened to a This American Life episode about music, featuring David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell and Anne Lamott. Some of my absolute favorite writers. Okay you’re caught up.) Here’s my reaction:

…The day I’m having a big, ugly existential crisis, a little reminder that writing is what I love, and maybe I can do it, and there are people out there to inspire me who are funny and smart and have a following and make a life, somehow, out of doing what I love. And it can be about your crazy family, or deep-rooted nerdiness, or duct-taped faith, and still be beautiful and witty and relatable and true.

So, three years later, do I start to take my own advice? That’s a good question.

Dance while you can…

This weekend I went to a wedding.

This was my fifth wedding (1,2,3,4,5th) since June. (Plus one honorable mention that I sadly couldn’t make. Almost six.) That’s a lot of summer nuptial celebration—with a surprisingly minimal amount of “always a bridesmaid…” feelings on my part. (Really.)

Plus I was in none of these weddings. So more “always a guest, never a groom” if anything.

But I can’t help but engage in the as-yet-unmarried activity of musing about my own Happiest Day—in the “if/when” sort of way, of course. It’s kind of fun, and what else is Pinterest for, after all? My favorite thing to imagine is not the dress, the ring or even the spouse (Really.), but the little details that will make the event my own. Funny details mostly…I don’t suppose most pre-brides fantasize about having the most hilarious wedding her guests have ever seen, but I sure do. Shoot, people, by the time the day rolls around (if/when it does…) the jig will fully be up. Entertainment will be a necessary item on the agenda.

The advantage in waiting so long for Mr. Right to actualize: it gives me all this time to plan. Observe. Scheme. Decide.

One detail I especially enjoy whimsying over is the First Dance Song. Ever-important and meaningful is the FDS. (Obviously meaningful, mostly, to the Mr. & Mrs. in question. So, no, I obviously can’t really plan that part yet. Really.) And yet I love thinking about it. And TONIGHT, wouldn’t you know, I found one that I like quite a bit! Elsie at abeautifulmess put this song on her fall blog playlist (love that idea, too). Lykke Li is a familiar delight, but I hadn’t heard this song before. It’s so good, you guys!

Give it a spin:

we will live longer than I will, we will be better than I was
we can cross rivers with our will, we can do better than I can
so dance while you can, dance cause you must
love out of lust, dance while you can

Perhaps I’ll muse some more on weddings in the coming days. Like I said, I’ve done a lot of observing this summer and fall…

For example, random fact: 3/5 celebrations featured sparkler send-offs.
Sparklers are the new bubbles is the new birdseed. (Really.)