7 Quick Takes about cool book moments, bestseller bling, overcommitting myself (again), and doing a 5K in a palanquin
For those of you who missed it, we’re writing a post every day next week!
I am one of the people who missed it and needs a reminder. I dashed out the announcement in an unfortunate spasm of optimism in which my connection to reality was temporarily severed and I lost all understanding of the realities of my life. I was looking at next week’s calendar this morning and thought, Good thing I’m free of plans, because I’m going to be crazy busy. And then I remembered with a mix of dread and confusion that Spasm of Optimism Jen committed me, Insane Life Jen, to writing seven blog posts in seven days.
Nevertheless, I remain firm in this commitment. I shall indeed write all of those posts, because if I didn’t I would have no choice but to commit seppuku in the face of such dishonor. (Sorry. I’m still reading Shogun and I’m really into it.)
I had lunch with Melanie Shankle again this week, in part to celebrate her status as a two-time New York Times bestselling author. Her new memoir, Antelope in the Living Room, took a well deserved spot on the list last week, so that definitely called for some onion rings in Gruene.
I kept asking her how it feels to be a New York Times bestselling author, and kept rejecting her answers when she would insist that nothing really changes. Finally she said with a shrug, “It’s not like they give you a jacket or anything.”
I realized that therein lies the problem. Super Bowl winners get rings and Olympic winners get medals, so why shouldn’t writing winners get something too? We need to make this a thing. I’m going to take the initiative and propose a design. I took the liberty of Photoshopping my vision onto one of the catalogue shots from one of Melanie’s recent Fashion Friday posts, so that we can get a feel for how it would look in the sartorial schema of a real author:
I dunno. Is it too subtle?
It’s that time of year again: SXSW is about to start up, so I’ll spend a full week feeling like I get an F- at life for not being part of it and and not wanting to be part of it.
I’m a black-tie gala introvert, meaning that I’d go to elegant parties every night if I could, but I see no reason to leave the house other than that. So going to a noisy bar where all conversation is haltingly shouted over drums and guitars is misery for people with my temperament. I love music and I love conversation, but I can’t mix the two.
Live music is a religion here in Austin, so it was a long time before it occurred to me that not enjoying it was an option. I can’t tell you how many nights I spent sitting in some bar, occasionally touching my ears to see if they were bleeding, as I thought, Nobody can have a conversation because it’s so loud, trying to get a drink at the bar is like being in a WWF match, and the band is playing stuff off the new album instead of the popular songs everyone knows. But there are so many other things to enjoy! Like…like… and then some drunk guys would run into me and I wouldn’t be able to tell if they were apologizing or cursing at me since I couldn’t hear anything they said, and I’d never return to the train of thought in which I tried to figure out what was awesome about this.
It was a great moment of self-acceptance for me the first year that I put on headphones and listened to dance remixes of Top 40 rap songs in the comfort of my home instead of trying to go to any SXSW shows. But every year when I’m driving around the first week of March and I see that all lifeforms in the universe have descended upon my city for the sole purpose of enjoying its live music scene, I have this pang of wanting to do the cool thing that everyone else is doing, and I must remind myself anew that this is not an activity for fragile nerds.
Actually, wait. I misspoke in #3. There is an activity that is less suited to my personality, and it’s also a big Austin thing that’s about to be back in season: organized physical activity.
Joe and some friends have been twisting my arm to get me to do something called a “fun run” with them. We had a particularly circular and futile discussion recently in which, yet again, I could not get a satisfactory answer to the question I have always had about these kinds of things: Why not just run around on your own? I enjoy jogging now and then — a fact that many a startled neighbor can attest to – but why would I get up early and do it with a crowd when I could sleep in and do it by myself in my neighborhood?
The answer they kept coming back to is camaraderie. “There’s nothing like being out there among the group, seeing people on the sidelines cheering you on, then joining in celebration with everyone afterward,” one friend said.
There is something about being around crowds and chaos that makes me want to do anything but exercise. I guess it’s the black-tie gala introvert thing again: When I’m wearing sweat-drenched workout clothes I tried to avoid, not seek out, opportunities to socialize. Nevertheless, Joe and some of our friends are insistent that I must experience one of these things. In pondering how to get out of it, I came up with a brilliant idea:
They could carry me in a Roman litter.
Think about it! The group exercise people could all be outside sweating together, so they’d be psyched, and I could get 90% of this supposedly amazing experience of seeing people cheer you on as you move down the racetrack. (I may occasionally doze off as I recline onto my satin pillows, but I’d get the gist.) Plus, they would burn extra calories from shouldering the weight of my palanquin. I would even wear a number on my back if that were important to them.
This idea delights me endlessly. I am not much of a bucket list person, but if I were, “Doing a 5K in a Roman litter” would be at the very top of the list.
I love discovering small businesses with great products, and my latest find is the Portraits of Saints shop. I actually found it because the artist left a comment on one of my posts. I clicked through and was amazed by her beautiful portraits. In particular, I love how real each saint looks. Each person has a nuanced expression on his or her face that reminds you that this saint was a real person with fears and struggles and concerns just like the rest of us.
I ordered a wooden print of the saint that was chosen for me this year, St. Martin of Tours, and it’s been a lovely addition to my desk.
If you want to do more spiritual reading during Lent but don’t think you’re up for heavy philosophical tomes, I highly recommend The Shadow of His Wings. It’s the true story of a priest who was drafted into the SS during World War II. The book contains one jaw-dropping story after another of how God worked in this priest’s life as he tried to stay true to his faith despite being surrounded by evil and destruction. It’s a page-turner that will inspire you to trust God on a new level. Love, love, love that book.
Last weekend I had the amazing experience of presenting my grandfather with an advance copy of my book. He was born in 1914, the book will be published in 2014, and it’s dedicated to him.
It was a very special moment that I’ll treasure forever.