David Sedaris and the Fatty Tumor

A few years ago, my one of my best friend’s from college, one of our English professors, and myself went on a 45-minute quest to see David Sedaris do a reading. We all loved his work and were completely fangirl-ing in line, waiting to get our books signed. I’ve never met a movie star, but I suppose it’s the same sort of nervous energy. I mean, you want to make an impression, right? Just there, in front of you, is someone famous. Now, I understand that not everyone knows who David Sedaris is, but that doesn’t matter when you’re a fangirl.

So, we’re standing in lidavidsedarisne, the sun is setting and he’s still there, signing books. He didn’t cut anyone off or decide that he was too tired to keep signing books. I mean, we shut the place down. This gives the three of us ample time to figure out how we’re going to be different from any other fangirl/fanboy in line that night or at any book signing; however, Sedaris had already set the bar pretty high during his reading. I can’t remember now if someone asked him to talk about the craziest fans he’d ever met, or it was part of some bigger story, but it was there. One story, and I’m not sure what it was might have involved someone’s big toe? Possibly their toenail? I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember the challenge. Different ideas were tossed around, and then it was our turn.

I think in your memories, you tend to make yourself the star of the story – especially if it’s an epic one. I’m not saying this is how it happened EXACTLY but it’s how I remember it.

I stand there and tell him that I’m majoring in creative writing. He politely asks appropriate questions and signs my book, “To Caroline, I can’t wait to read your (underlined) book one day.” He then turns to my friend and they start talking. The time has ALMOST come to where we’re supposed to get the hint and leave, but I don’t. I pause.

“So – could I see your fatty tumor?” I ask.

This is not as completely random as it might sound at first.

In his reading, David Sedaris informed the entire audience of the existence of his fatty tumor. Is was a new thing to Sedaris – never having had one before. He mused on all the ways a fatty tumor might be use/useful. Again, it was years ago and the details are fuzzy, but he did mention using it to fry food in.

See? Are the pieces coming together yet? I mean, he’d already laid the groundwork – I just had to accept the challenge.

David Sedaris looked up at me from his sport behind the folding table he was using as a desk with a look somewhere between confusion and disgust.

My confidence began to falter, and I started to think my fangirl moment would be one of ridicule down the line and not one of the epic-good ones.

“You want see it?” He asked.

“Y-yes…” I stammered out.

“Ew, no. You can’t see it.” My balloon was deflating and that sunburn of embarrassment was starting to creep up my neck. “But!” he shouted as he jumped to his feet and turned his afflicted side towards me. “You can touch it!”

Now it was my turn to flash him the look that was somewhere between disgust and confusion, but I’d made it this far…

“Sure,” I said as my finger started slowly to close the space between it’s tip and his fatty tumor that covered by his white and blue stripped button-down shirt.

“No, not like that.” David Sedaris grabbed my wrist and pulled me forward. “You really got to get in there and grab it.” So I did. I grabbed David Sedaris’ fatty tumor and gave it a few light squeezes.

“Can I touch it too?” My friend asks.

“Sure!” And I stood there, in slightly stunned silence and watched as my roomie/best-friend proceeded to give David Sedaris’ tumor a squeeze or two of her own.

As we made our way out of the venue and back to our car, our professor was beside herself with what we’d done.

I haven’t had a chance to see David Sedaris again since then, but I like to think that every -once-in-awhile when he’s at a reading he’ll tell the story of the two girls that felt-up his fatty tumor.

 

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Life After Grad School

*waves sheepishly from slumped down position in chair*

Hello. I know it’s been FOREVER since I posted here. I haven’t forgotten about my blog. Nope. I’ve just been super busy. Not a fantastic excuse, but when you’re working on a thesis it’s what happens. 
Well, I am totally done with my thesis! 
Some of you may have forgotten or are new here and may be asking, “What was your thesis?”
It was (and it still exists but now as my WIP) a YA novel that is a little bit urban fantasy. I say a little bit because it’s not so much urban, but its not high fantasy. However, that is a discussion for another day! (Along with writing a YA novel, I also had to write a 12-15 page paper that went with it. That got me doing a good bit of research on the whole “urban fantasy” category).
Okay, so my thesis is done. What have I been doing since then?
Trying to figure life out. And reading whatever I want! 
So…. trying to figure life out is not super fun. I mean, I love life. I love my husband and where we are in our lives right now, but I have this thesis and MFA and I need to do something with it. That means trying to figure life (as a future author) out. 
I am starting the querying process and trying to find an agent. Why do I need an agent? Why not just straight to an editor? Well, the market keeps changing and it’s good to have someone on your team. I’ll write a whole blog post about why you need an agent and my querying process. 
Now, reading whatever I want.
Holy crap. I haven’t been able to do that since… I don’t know, like, middle school. I’ve always gone to fairly competitive schools and have always had a pretty heavy reading list handed out to me at the beginning of each semester or summer.
But now. Now I don’t. 
It’s been amazing! Right, so there’s a phrase “happy as a kid in a candy store.” That’s me. It’s not candy though. It’s books. If you’d like to keep up with my reviews and whatnot you should check out my articles on CultureMass. Also, I have a goodreads widget that keeps track of what books I’m reading this year (just incase you’re dying to know….)
So. Now that I have free time I’m planning on posting a good bit more. I promise. For real this time.   

BWAAAAAA!

Okay, so this is me freaking out a bit.

I really wanted to keep up with the Top Ten Tuesday. I really did. It’s been super fun and easy to do several posts at once in advance… but I just can’t commit to it anymore.

I’m sorry to say, but I really just can’t commit to my blog right now. Here’s a list of what on my plate….

  • Thesis (research, reading models, planning, writing, thinking…)
  • Reading
  • This writing project I’m doing with some Peace Core Volunteers where I write a short story (in English) based on the town/village that these children live in in Ethiopia
  • The 12-15 page paper that goes along with the novel portion of my thesis
  • Housework/ being a non-slacker partner to Husband (who has been working 12 hour shifts on top of school and is just plain worn out) and trying to keep some order in the house to balance the chaos of his schedule
  • My job
  • Having a life
  • Oh… and sleep

That’s a lot on one plate. And look, my blog isn’t even on it. Oh, and I’m going to be helping my buddy Cameron and some others out with a new entertainment blog that launches in March. The only reason that that isn’t stressing me out is that it’s not a whole blog/project that is on my shoulders alone. I get to make up lists and whatnot. On this blog I feel that I have a bit of a difference audience. I know that some of you enjoy the personal aspects of the blog and I do to…

I also enjoy writing about the books I’ve been reading. But that’s not happening.

Last night I did finish Paper Valentine one of the books on my 2013 Top Ten that’s being released this year. It was…okay. I stuck with it because a lot of the relationships in the book were similar to ones in mine and I wanted to see how the author went about showing these relationships and not just telling

Okay… whew. I would say I feel better but it’s late, I need to unload the dishwasher and write one more chapter before tomorrow and all I want to do is sleep.

WHEW! 

WHERE IS THE CAFFEINE DRIP WHEN I NEED ONE?    

A New Year

Well, I think husband and I are cursed for New Years Eves. Our first one as a married couple he had to work at 4 am the next day so we went to bed at like, 10. And then this year I was sick with a cold. BUT, we have many more to look forward to and it gave me time to think.

I was going to discuss my New Year’s Resolutions… but now I’m not. You may ask, why? Well, come back tuesday and you’ll find out 🙂 I wanted to do goals rather than resolutions. I think they’re pretty much the same thing, but the word “goal” just seems less daunting.

I do want to talk about why I’m really excited about this year. Kind of like what I expect out of 2013.

Before I go into what I’m looking forward to this year, I think you might need some background. I have been in school, like my whole life. The summer I graduated from college – about a month and a half later I began my graduate program. Then I think I’ve only taken one real semester off while in the program. So, think about it: That’s grad school pretty much year round. I love my program, but here’s one of the things I’m looking forward to….

Not being in school. This idea just blows my mind. 

Other things… I’ll have a completed manuscript done that I can start sending out to literary agencies. Woah. Like, this isn’t just a “some day dream” anymore. It’s like, ahh – yeah, mid-May. Again. Mind blown.

Also, no required reading. So that’s new. Um, time that would be spent on thesis and school can now be devoted to other things. Like cooking and running. Hanging out with husband more and doing lots of fun things. And writing other things that aren’t my thesis.

I say all of this, but I know, come September… I’ll start to get antsy again. I’ll begin thinking of research papers to write. I’ll look into teaching programs or other degrees and everyone will call me crazy, but I can’t go that long without school. I love to learn (yes, nerd and proud of it! What’s wrong with that? Nothing.) and I love to hone my skills. I love to improve my mind. I think it’s a genetic thing. My grandfather was a doctor and studied psychology and like, *fingerwiggle* other medical stuff. General doctor stuff *ends fingerwiggle* and he kept attending classes until he was like 75. Sure, he could pay for it (and that’s my biggest restraint but I”ll just work harder). 

But no, getting off that tangent – I’m just really excited to be that person I’ve been working so long to be. I will have a Master’s degree. I’ll be a Master of something. How kick-ass is that? Very. 

So, I’m super excited about where I’ll be at the end of 2013. What about you? Any big finish lines for you this year? Any goals?  

Pressure

Right. So, this blog is a little bit about my life, a little bit about my writing/writing in general, and mostly about what it’s like being a creative writing grad student out in the “real” world.

Recently, I’ve been posting about life and hardships and inspirations and whatnot. Now I’m coming full circle back to writing.

I know what you’re thinking, “Ahhh – she’s a writer. It’s November. This is her National Novel Writing Month token post.”

Well, you’re wrong. I’m working on my thesis. I don’t have any time to write another novel on top of this one.

This is a thesis writing post.

Sorta.

Today has been brought to you by the letter “P”

P is for PRESSURE

Who is under pressure here? *I raise my hand*

Why – you may ask.

Well, I’ll tell you. So I rewrote chapter one. And it’s pretty awesome as far as I’m concerned. My thesis advisor even said it was some of the cleanest writing she’s ever seen from me. So naturally, I’m all like “woooooooo”

Then I sit down to write chapter 2. And the freaking cursor just sits there blinking on the damn page and no words are appearing.

Here’s what’s going through my head….

What if I can’t get back into that voice?”

What if my characters feel forced?”

“What if chapter 2 is not nearly as good as chapter one?”

“What if I can’t finish my thesis?”

“What if this is all I have in me?”

“What if this chapter is epically shorter than that last one?”

“WHAT WAS I THINKING?”

Yeah. It’s awesome. 

And really, who the fuck cares about most of that? Page count? I mean, come on…

Then I close the computer and read or watch TV and think, “Alright. All I need is a break. I just need some space.” 

ANNNNND then the cycle starts all over again. However this time it’s accompanied by that David Bowie and Queen song, Under Pressure.

You know, this one…

Well, I know how to beat the cycle! I will open the document and pretend that I’m not writing for my thesis. My masters degree doesn’t ride on this. No one else will see it. EVER. Just me. So really, all I need to do is have fun and write because it’s fun. Get back to the basics as it were. 

That’s what made chapter one so awesome. I was having FUN while writing it. 

This is a new plan of attack. We’ll see how it pans out… updates will follow.

Wherein I Feel Like A Rock Star and English Saves A Life

Well, enough of me talking about the downsides to being a writer and whatnot. I’m sure we’ll come back to it at some point, but today, I want to touch on two things:

  1. When/how being an English Person makes me feel like a rockstar 
  2. What the world  would be like if everything depended on English 

So- as some of you may know, Husband is in nursing school. He’s brilliant when it comes to scientific things and numbers. All the things that completely confound me. He also knows grammar very well. But papers (while he’s good at them, he hates them) are his Achilles’ Heel.

Yesterday morning the alarm buzzes far too early for me, and he hops out of bed to get a jump start on the mountain of homework he has to have done before he goes into the hospital after lunch. Well, I just roll over and go back to sleep for a little while. Then, once it’s a reasonable hour for me to get up on an off day, I walk out of the bedroom bleary eyed into the kitchen where he’s set up shop.

Picture this:

I walk out of the bedroom. The sun, a bit too bright for my still sleepy eyes causing me the squint and rub them. My sock-footed feet shuffle on the hardwood floor to the kitchen. Half way through a yawn HUSBAND looks up at me. His face brightens.

HUSBAND: Will you proof read this for me? And maybe help with the citations? He shoves a handful of papers into my hand. 


I look down at them and the wheels in my brain start to move. I need to answer him. I glance back up.


ME: Yes, but only if you make me eggs and an english muffin


HUSBAND: Agreed! You rock baby!

And here’s how I feel:


Awesome. Simply awesome. 

I love it when my talents as an English major kick in. It’s times like this, and when I can help my mother solve literary questions on her crossword puzzle, that I feel like a total rockstar. 

This is what the world kinda looks like when I’m all pumped up on feeling awesome:

It’s a great view.

So, this brings me to point two. If the world depended on English.

Right, so there are days when I come home from work, particularly grumpy over having to make what feels like a million salads while helping horrible customers. I walk into the house and see Husband, sitting on the couch totally deflated. This is about the time when he tells me that one of the patients he was working with died, or had major complications, or is just in a horrible situation with terrible injuries and no insurance.

As you can imagine my day gets put into perspective. And really, there are some days where I totally beat myself up about this. Even if I get my dream job as a kick-ass writer, it’s still not like I’ll be saving lives. My career won’t be anything like what Husband will have to deal with. But after I think really long and hard about it, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being a part-time English rockstar. 

Here’s why….

DOCTOR: Quick! This man is dying! There’s no pulse! We need some literature! FAST!
ME: What? What kind?
DOCTOR: Anything you silly girl. Just recite something!
ME: (floundering for something and watching the medical people scurry around the poor man that’s dying on the bed in front of me.) ‘To be, or not to be — that is the question…’
DOCTOR: Good! Keep going!
(There’s a slight beep on the heart monitor and then it flat lines again)
ME: ‘Whether ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles…’ 
(The heart monitor starts producing a steady beeping sound and a smile breaks out across the Doctor’s face.)
DOCTOR: You did it! Thank God, he has a pulse once again. 
ME: (shaking and horribly glad I didn’t have to recite the entire thing. Because let’s face it, I couldn’t really remember any more than that) Yeah, any time. 
(And then I run like hell away from the hospital and hide under my bed for the rest of my life)

Yes, I’m very glad we don’t live in a world where life and death matters are solved by english instead of sensible things, like medicine. *shivers* I don’t think I could handle the pressure.

When I think of things like this, and that quote about fish and flying, then I am very glad that I am an English person. No, I may not ever drill a hole in someone’s leg in order for the to be able to walk again one day. And no, I may never have to incubate anyone. But I really REALLY glad of that. 

The way I look at it is, maybe I can’t save their lives in a hospital  but I can save them on a different level. I can create stories and characters that make them feel happy, or not so alone in the world, or even just connected to an idea that’s bigger than themselves. I can entertain them. I can’t attend to their physical needs, but maybe to their emotional needs.

And that will make all the difference.   

The Dangers of Being True to Yourself

There’s all this emphasis on being true to yourself. Google “being true to yourself quotes” and you get like a million hits of a million pages all full of inspirational quotes.

Well, words will only get you so far.

I’m not sure how many of you watch The Big Bang Theory but at our home if one of the few channels we get has it on, we’re watching it.

If you’re not familiar, I have a clip.


So, a lot of days I feel like the guy in the blue shirt. “It’s not that I think you are worthless. Just what you do (or let’s substitute in the word “like”) is.”

Yep. That’s how I feel most days.

I am someone who…

  • loves Star Wars – so much so my license plate reflects this love. Also, there is an R2-D2 action figured super glued to my dashboard
  • is falling in love with Star Trek. I didn’t want to really, but it happened. 
  • watches Dr. Who
  • reads like a meth-head smokes
  • loves children’s and young adult literature
  • enjoys discussions on how the Disney princesses reflect various views of women/ why Sleeping Beauty sucks/ how Disney himself sticks to the tradition of fairy tales much like the Grimm brothers
  • enjoys debates on the psychological undertones of Harry Potter
  • loves animated movies – I can’t wait to see Hotel Transylvania 
  • is getting a Masters degree in not only creative writing, but in Children’s Literature

 None of these are horrible traits. However, when they’re all combined …well, let’s just say I tend to feel like a minority. I know that there are other people like me out there. That’s why I love my program. I can totally walk around in this shirt …

… and people get it. I can have serious discussions about Disney princesses and not get ogled like I’ve just grown a second and third head. 

I would like to pause and mention that none of this comes from anyone in my family. They tend to share a lot (but not really all) of the things listed above, and support me none-the-less. Granted, on more than one occasion a few of my loved ones have exclaimed upon meeting my grad school friends, “Oh look! There are more people like you!” I know that’s supposed to be encouraging but what I’m hearing is “Oh honey, you aren’t as big of a freak as I thought.” Is that what my loved one means? Hell no! They just are excited that I have people I can relate with.

*sigh*

Okay, here I am getting to the real meat of my post. I am who I am and that’s not going to change. I’m damn stubborn enough to like what I like and march on. But the thing is, I just get so freaking tired some days.

Here’s how I want some days to go at work:
(PS – I work at a catering/ cafe/ bakery place)

Me: Hello there, can I help you with anything today? 
Customer: I think I’d like a few frozen casseroles.
Me: Well, I can help you with that [INSERT CASSEROLE SPEIL HERE]
Customer: (while I’m ringing them up) So, are you a student?
Me: Yes I am.
Customer: Oh, that’s nice. What are you studying?
Me: Well, I’m getting a Masters in Creative Writing with a focus on Children’s Literature.
Customer: THAT’S AMAZING! HOW IS IT THAT YOU ARE SO COOL?

Reality:

Customer: (while I’m ringing them up) So, are you a student?
Me: Yes I am.
Customer: Oh, that’s nice. What are you studying?
Me: Well, I’m getting a Masters in Creative Writing with a focus on Children’s Literature.
Customer: Oh, well, so what …uh… what do you want to do with that?
Me: Well, write. And maybe teach. 
Customer: That’s sweet.
Awkward silence
Me: *sigh* well, my husband is going to be a nurse. He’s finishing up his degree.
Customer: Oh thank God! Well, at least you’ll have him and won’t have to starve. 


Yes, I am so thankful for my husband. 

But come on. I mean, upon reading those two different scenes to him out loud just now he laughed and said, “Oh dear, that’s horrible.”

I know. I live it.

So like I was saying, sometimes I just get so tired of being unique. I mean, I know that there are more people like me. I see them when I go to other places in the US. But if there are any near me (and no, the creepy comicbook store guys don’t count – why?  Because the main adjetive there is “creepy.”) I sure can’t find them.

What do I do? I mean really, how do you just keep on going all the time when people ask you what you like/ what you want to do and you get that same damn blank stare over and over again? 

Really, I see two choices:
  1. Suck it up and just keep going. You will find people who understand you and when you do, you should really develop those relationships and get fulfillment there and from yourself.
  2. Give up

I don’t like choice number two. I don’t want to force myself to like TV shows I hate just so I can relate to the general public.


I guess what I’m saying here is yes, it’s exhausting staying true to oneself when you seem to be in the nerd minority. But what other choice do you have?

If you are reading this and are like, “Holy shit that’s me!” Awesome. You are not alone. Keep it up. Keep doing what you do and loving what you love. 

On those days when I feel the weight of the world on me. Like I’ll never fit in. Like I’ll always get those blank stares and that no one will understand me again, my amazing husband comes through. He reminds me of this quote… 
  
Ending thought: Stay true to yourself. Sure, we may be some fish among birds, but at least we can breath underwater! Kapow!