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And, The Name of That Hat Is……..

I think it was Princess Diana who turned me onto hats in the first place. For much of my teen years, I insisted upon finding a hat for Easter, making selections that became more and more ridiculous the older I got. By the time I hit twenty or so, hats were out of fashion. Diana had moved on to make other trendy statements, and the world groveled along behind her.

Well, most of the world did. England continued to produce some fascinating hats, toppers their ladies carried off to mixed results. Yesterday’s Royal Wedding gave us a parade of them, and that’s mostly what I studied. Hats that looked like electric blue canoes and explosions of weird flowers and hideous lace doilies in gravity-defying angles and perch points. It gives me chills to think I am about to be handed the fashion green light to own more hats than I do shoes once again.

I forgot that I possess one English hat. And, just like the scatterbrain I am, I failed to WEAR it in honor of the day.

Here is a picture of it:

Okay. No. That’s one I saw in a museum and coveted it for the sheer, ahem, entertainment value. It was called “Sex on the Brain.”

Here is a photo of my Ian Bennett hat:

Doesn’t it look like it belonged at the Royal Wedding?

Too Much Will Never Be Enough: HATS!!!!!!

I Wore White to the Last Royal Wedding

The only royal man I'll ever need.

Barbasol. Shaving cream is the thing thoughts of royal weddings conjure for me. Every time I read a story or see a photo of this ‘wedding of the century,’ I cannot help but think of the last one.

I was twelve years old. It was the summer before my entry into junior high school. Growing up with an English next-door-neighbor, I was fascinated with everything about jolly old England. My head inflamed with the fumes of fairy-tale-fantasy, I followed the last lead-up to a royal wedding – that of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer – like a candidate for the insane asylum. I was convinced I would end up with my very own fairy tale, too.

Church camp shattered my visions of watching the royal wedding. I grew up in a church where every teen was required to go to some hellacious, filthy camp every July or August in an effort to get us all straightened out for a few nano-seconds each year. My parents never forced me to go, but, for some reason, my school made it a requirement for me that summer. I found myself marooned in an un-airconditioned building with about forty other girls, sleeping on wooden bunks three high.

Bugs were everywhere. The lake was orange. We were forced to play dumb games outside in the heat for hours in between sitting through two or three chapel sessions per day.

And, all I wanted to do was watch the blasted royal wedding. Somehow. But, the television was contraband at this place. My own dreams of royal bliss defeated, I gave myself up to the orgy that was the Annual Shaving Cream Blast.

Held in a dark field, the purpose of the Annual Shaving Cream Blast was to allow boys to fill their hands with cheap shaving cream and grab the bits of as many girls as possible in an hour, or until their shaving cream ran out. Okay, that was not the ‘official’ purpose of the event, but every horny teenage boy made it the reason they came. Squirting streams of white foam from my own can did nothing to ward them off. By the end of it, I looked like a human marshmallow, my hair matted with multiple cans of Foamy, my entire person obscured in an oozing white cloud.

I made the most of that night. I was one of the last people to leave the dark field.

Only to find myself in the communal shower with NO WATER. Everyone else wisely bathed and went to bed, leaving me to stand under a drip-drip-drip from the shower head, no prayer of getting that foul mess off before going to bed. With a mounting sense of futility, I did what I could (which wasn’t much) and trudged back to the hot, stale, giggly-girl-filled cabin and crawled into my bunk.

I awoke the next morning with the realization that Charles and Diana were husband and wife, and I had missed it. All of it. To this day, I have never viewed footage of that doomed event.

Somehow, getting felt-up I don’t know how many times the night before failed to stand in as a substitute for the pageantry that was the real thing.

Too Much is Just Enough: Making the Most of a Bad Situation

Through the Eye of the Needle

I’m finally done………..sort of. Consolidating all the notes and suggestions I got from nine readers of the third draft of my novel has been an invigorating experience. And, I’m not just saying that for some future agent or editor to pull from here and fling in my face when I complain about revising.

Really. I’m not.

In case I haven’t pounded it out enough times, I am writing a novel. Living with pretend people who insist upon being given page time and wake me up in the middle of the night and veer in unexpected directions has been a surreal experience in recent months. I’ve probably written close to a quarter of a million words to drill down to the 80,000 or so that will end up in my final draft. Stringing that many letters, phrases, locations and people together is mammoth. It is impossible for me to even remember what I’ve written, let alone be able to ‘see’ the whole work.

That’s why I asked nine people to read my third draft. I needed fresh eyeballs on the story to help me determine whether it was worth telling. Asking those nine people to read for me was not an attempt to exclude others. I had specific reasons for giving the book to each of them, and they fulfilled their roles beautifully.

After feeling like I’ve been living in a hole with imaginary people for months, it was rewarding to have real people engage with my fantasy world. Nobody thought my book ready for submission, but I didn’t expect them to. That’s the scariest part of giving out a third draft: the writer knows it isn’t ready, but she can’t always see its shortcomings anymore. It’s a state of vulnerability I haven’t felt since I was ordered to cry on the spot in an audition for ‘King Lear.’

Now, I will spend the coming weeks going through the eye of the needle to arrive at a final draft of my book. I feel like I’m supposed to perform surgery, and I might fall and splat my head open on the hard tile floor before I even make the first incision. I don’t have a problem cutting my own words. They aren’t precious. The thing I fear is striking something good and letting the banal remain.

I have to readjust the way I see. Again.

Those nerdy surgeon super-glasses sure would help.

Too Much is Just Enough: Good Feedback

Did I Stick It Where the Sun Don’t Shine?

Last week, I called MTM in an elevated state of panic. I thought I lost my sunglasses, and I was on the verge of tears at the thought of never seeing them again.

What is the big freaking deal? There are bazillions of pairs of sunglasses on the market. Just go buy another pair. (I know you thought this already, Dear Reader. Perhaps you do not form attachments to inanimate objects like I do.)

My sunglasses are old. I bought them in the fall of 2006, rendering them unfashionable at best and unfortunate at worst. The memory of wandering into a shop on a cobbled pedestrian street and finding sunglasses still fills me with glee. MTM dragged me in there to worship the modernist-minimalist pocket watch he wanted. Architects do not mar the elegant lines of their arms by filling their wrists with watches – UNLESS the watch has the ‘weird glasses‘ quality that architect types are attracted to like flies on…..

Well, never mind.

Back to MY sunglasses, my ‘not weird’ eye shades I never expected to find in a store selling silver jewelry. They were unforgettable, displayed in minimalist fashion in their own wooden case lined with ink-hued velvet. The lighting somehow put a glare on the price tag, causing me to perch them on my face before I realized HOW MUCH they cost. By then, it was too late. I bought them on the spot, and I never looked back.

Those glasses are still the only ones I have. The lenses are scratched. I’ve dropped them on the sidewalk so many times that the left-front face is pockmarked with craters. No matter how much I tighten the screws, they slide down my nose and fall off my head. And, did I mention already that they are SO FIVE YEARS AGO?

Still, I called MTM in a frenzy, begging him to leave work and run back to the hellacious post office, my last stop, and ask if they had my glasses. I knew I left them there. It was closer to his workplace than to mine, and I was on my way out of town for an appointment. Bless him, he was ready to sprint through the door and save them for me.

And, he found them sitting in the middle of his desk. Somehow, my no-brained-self left them there instead.

They’re on my night table right now. I have decided to sleep with them. Maybe that will keep me from losing them again.

If I don’t roll over on them and squash them first.

Too Much is Just Enough: Finding Something You Thought You Lost

I Saw. I Conquered. I Came.

I took Latin in high school. I KNOW the title of this post isn’t the order of Julius Caesar‘s famous comment “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” (I came. I saw. I conquered.) One would have to be living on Urbanka to be unfamiliar with that oft-quoted phrase.

When I saw the Latin splayed across a flag on Monday night, I swelled up with pride. I could READ it. All of it. The whole thing. I knew what it all meant. I even knew that in Latin the ‘v’ is pronounced as a ‘w,’ and I practically ruptured with boasting that I alone could pronounce the entire phrase as Caeser himself did.

MTM turned around and read the phrase on the flag. Only, he kept reading it wrong. “Vidi. Vici. Veni.” He said this over and over to me, his wife, who, in my shrill, know-it-all mode, kept correcting the order of his comment. “I TOOK Latin,” I said one too many times. “I KNOW it is the way I say it. The ‘veni’ part comes first. Because I KNOW.”

Sometimes, I even tire myself.

On our first date, MTM pointed out to me that he is patient. And it is the truth. Patience must be the preeminent quality in anyone who wants to yoke himself to me. With a quiet smile, he said – ONE MORE TIME – “I saw. I conquered. I came.”

And, he looked at me, his eyes resting somewhere OTHER than on my eyes, longing written there.

I may know a few things. I knew when to shut up on Monday, and I knew when to be grateful for that man of mine.

Too Much is Just Enough: Finally Shutting Up


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