October 12, 2005

B4B Finalists? Meet my Friend, Cranberry Lime Flirtini on the Rocks...

Who is speedy? Kira of KiWords, that's who. She picked out the seven finalist in October's Blogging 4 Books contest, which challenged bloggers to tackle the subject of a a personal relationship they feel they had with a song, because they are mentally ill. HEY! MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE! SONGS ARE NOT KITTENS. A SONG CAN'T LOVE YOU BACK, OKAY? A SONG HAS NO EYEBALLS! But whatever, apparently most people like this "music" stuff. I thought it was a fad and would pass---I was shocked it got so much play in the first place. SO, since I am completely dead inside, I obviously was not qualified to judge this round. And Kira stepped up...

KIRA: Oh my LORD IN HEAVEN ABOVE, why did I ever agree to do this? As I said to my mom the other night, "My life is SO HARD, you have NO IDEA." Now, it was midnight at the time, and she was pulling on her boots to go out through the snow to take care of her elderly parents, so she did give me something of...a look. Still.

I read and read and read. I have snippets of seven thousand songs from the 70's or 80's, mad-cycling through my head. I want you to know I took this VERY SERIOUSLY. I made a little rubric by which to score the entries. I kept charts and notes. It has seriously cut into my engagement ring admiring time. DID I MENTION I GOT ENGAGED THIS WEEKEND? Oh, right. I did. Anyhow.

After much agonizing and rereading (my fancy-pants rubric left me with several very close scores, leaving me to writhe and moan and question my rubrickable ability. Shut up, totally a word.), I have culled the entries to the following seven: had a hard time! In no particular order:

Madame Rubies

Through These Glasses

Just a Normal Day

Write Out Loud

Red Shoe Ramblings

Talking To Myself: Poems From Now & Then

Milliner's Dream

Guest Author Jennifer O'Connell has the DAUNTING task of picking the winners, including the grand prize winner, who shall walk away with a hot, fresh (and here hot means "signed" and fresh means "first edition") copy of Jennifer's book OFF THE RECORD which was the inspiration for this month's theme.

Since I had no B4B responsibilities (other than coding 7 THOUSAND links and standing around in a virtual hostess caftan saying, "Oh thanks for coming. Thanks! Thanks!") Last night I took 10 hot, fresh pages from my new novel to my writing group. The pages were so---say it with me--- HOT AND FRESH! that they were practically steaming, but since it was a DRAFT and a brand spanking new one, they steamed more in the manner of cow patties than delicious cinnamon rolls. I was hopiong my writing group would help me FIX that. But...

I was supposed to meet up with my friend Jill for a vegetable plate at the OK Cafe BEFORE writing group. BUT I had to run some errands in unfamiliar parts of town while I was there, and so I built in all this extra time to my schedule. I gave myself a LOT of extra time because whenever I go to an unfamiliar part of town I probably am going to get hopelessly lost, then drive in panicked circles, weeping, until I accidentally stumble across some Atlanta landmark I recognize (for example, The Big Chicken) and then I start over, and then get hopelessly lost a AGAIN, this time in a dangerous area, and then I crash into something, and then I get stabbed in pancreas by roving packs of criminals who will take my purse so that when the ambulance comes no one can find my insurance info so of COURSE no self-respecting surgeon will begin the life-saving but PRICEY pancreatic reconstruction until Scott shows up waving a policy number and a fistful of cash, and then I have to recover from the surgery, and then wait at the boduy shop for my smashed car to be fixed, and then go back to The Big Chicken and start looking for the unfamiliar area of town and get promptly lost again.

You do not need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that errands in an unfamiliar area can take QUITE. SOME. TIME.

But then this weird miracle happened where EVEN THOUGH I DO NOT HAVE ONSTAR I went directly from point A (my house) to point B (some nebulous area of Atlanta that I would not recognize again if it came up to me on the street claiming an aquaintance and greeting me in the European double kiss manner. I'd have to look at it and feign surprise and delight and say things like, "OH! It is, um, YOU! How nice to see, um, YOU!) I DID NOT GET LOST EVEN ONCE! It was UNPRECEDENTED. So, instead of going to OK Cafe I went across the street to this upscale swankified Buckhead Bar because I was in Scott's car and it is CLEAN. I dug around in the glovebox even, and all I found was the pink sheet title thingy and a MAP and some Altoids. If I get somewhere too early in MY car, I have 5,000 books strewn all over the van's floor, a veritable stomped upon library to choose from, and so much trash and flotsam that, if I didn't feel like reading, I could probably dig around and unearth a nice family of refugees living undetected there, or maybe Jimmy Hoffa, to keep me company.

SO. I knew this bar had a shelf of books for drinkers (i.e. a tattered copy of the 7th Stephanie Plum novel, but not one through six, so if you haven't read them, you just have to kinda do a shot and GO with it).

I went in, and was being charmed by Miss Plum, when this writer named Karen walked in. I met her at a gods signing at the Decatur library and remembered her because she's working on a very cool sounding non-fic book for Random House. APPARENTLY, Jill had invited her to join us for dinner, and she has this HORROR of being lost because she always is, and she's a midtown girl so she doesn't know Buckhead, so she left FIVE HUNDRED years early, and arrived at the OK with a clean car and a solid hour to kill, and ended up in the SAME bar trying to choose between the 37th in the Kay Scarpetta series and a yellow hardback of dubious and stained origin.

And I said, "KAREN?" And she said, "JOSHILYN?" And then we figured out the Jill/OK Cafe/Vegetable Plate connection and the Lost/Early/Bored/Proceed To Closest Bar connection. And then -- and when I say this, I say it in the grand epic storytelling sense, like, if Frodo was about to set off to hurl the One Ring into the fiery pit of Mount Doom, you might say "And so his journey began," but you would mean AND SO BEGAN HIS EPIC JOURNEY TO ALMOST DIE A BUNCH OF TIMES AND SAVE MIDDLE EARTH AND LOSE A FINGER. Like that, see? -- It is in that spirit that I tell you:

We began drinking.

An hour later Jill joined us. (We alerted her by cell that we were not at the OK). Karen wisely STOPPED drinking, but Jill took over for her. An hour later my writing group began. I was busy though. We had just decided that we needed some food to soak up the alcohol, and had cleverly ordered a HUGE platter of wood-grilled pepper balsamic asparagus, because, you know, NOTHING soaks up alchol like, um, crunchy vegetables. Half a drink after THAT I called my writing group from the bathroom of the bar and screamed something about being in a loud bathroom and oops, not really in any solid condition for the working of motor vehicles, THANKS, and did they want to come down and help me and Jill with some drinking we were having trouble finishing on our own, or would they rather stay there and, you know, work and stuff? They elected to work, and they offered to come get me and I cackled like a hyena and said, I AM NOT SURE HOW USEFUL I WOULD BE TO THE GROUP and hung up. Then I went back to the bar and drank off the tiny bit of liquor we had saved for them.

Karen took us to Jill's because Jill was also NOT okay to drive, and Jill and I lay around on her sofa eating FISTFULS of CAKE because (and yes, I know you will find this SHOCKING) the wood-grilled asparagus hadn't done a very good job of alcohol soaking. (I KNOW! It defies SCIENCE!) and I crashed there until the wee hours of the still dark morning or so when I was so sober I could have served on the supreme court. I went back and collected my lonely car and went home.

I wonder if I still have a writing group. That'll be interesting to find out.

DEAR MY CHILDREN WHO MAY ONE DAY READ THIS: In the above story, rest assured mommy is exagerating a little bit for comic effect. Mommy actually had three drinks. BUT, you see, Mommy is a light weight. And her stomach was empty and three drinks affect person more than you would think. You can easily become too hooty to safely drive on three drinks, even if you drink them over the course of three hours. Part of the reason the law says people can't drink until they are over 21 is because adults can REALIZE they have had one (or three) too many. Here's a tip that might help with that: If you find yourself clutching a Stephanie Plum novel in one hand and a cell phone in the other, screaming in a crowded bathroom that your writing group should "chuck it and come have martinis"....that's a HINT that yes, you might NOT BE OKAY TO DRIVE! Once you have even the TINIEST suspicion that this might be so, THEN YOU DO NOT DRIVE. No matter what. You have a designated driver, or you pay the money for a cab NO MATTER HOW BROKE YOU ARE (and belive me, if that's an issue, I will HAPPILY reimburse you) or you call a friend to come get you, or you call Mommy. Mommy will ALWAYS drop everything and come get you, even if you are 1,000 miles away at Stanford. Solemn Promise.

Posted by joshilyn at October 12, 2005 9:43 AM

Sounds like a fun night, Joshilyn. I adore Flirtinis, particularly with wood-braised veggies and designated drivers.

And congrats to Kira on her engagement!

Posted by: Edgy Mama at October 12, 2005 10:50 AM

WooHoo! Thanks for hosting and I'm excited to be a finalist. I feel the proverbial, "I'm glad just to be among this group of finalists" speech welling up. I am honored though, after re-reading the other six (I had read all the entries once already) to be chosen. I think I have two favorites (not mine) for the winner.
Thanks for the fun... Hh

Posted by: Hannah at October 12, 2005 10:51 AM

P.S. Congrats, KIRA!! And thanks for staying up late and reading...and reading...and...

Posted by: Hannah at October 12, 2005 10:52 AM

It's official. Im changing my name to Andreia Joshilyn S. My friends are getting a bit tired of me sending the link to this with subject lines like, READ THIS! READ THIS and Who I Want to Be When I Become a Grown-Up Writer.
Thanks for the laughs.

Posted by: Andreia at October 12, 2005 10:58 AM

Some people have the gift of the fantastic, some people have a gilded pen - Joss, you've both. You always make me laugh. Thank you for the laugh, but what is a flirtini? Yummmmmmm - the asparagus sounded soooo good, but the friendship sounded best. Oh, and btw - if the bribe to get back in the writing group is to be your hot, fresh 10 pages, well if they are like us, it will be a breeze because we are hooked.

Sage advice for all and for your kids

Congrats Kira!

Posted by: Cele at October 12, 2005 11:48 AM

But... did anyone expound on the asparagus pee? You missed me, didn't you... what with all of you drunk and no one (read: me not) there to drunkenly babble on about the drunken bathroom surprise of the asparagus pee.

Also, I would pay good money to be lost in a car with you, if only to listen to, "Fliiiiip? I'm... well... I'm near the thing and I want to go over to that other place. Help?"

Posted by: Mir at October 12, 2005 2:14 PM

FIRST, Thank you for the picture of the Big Chicken! The kids and I LOVE the Big Chicken and we MISS it! We stood around the computer IMITATING it and laughing like Flirtini-drinking LOONS. LOONS, I tell you!
I may have had too much sugar today!
SECOND, what was your book club thinking? I would chuck all and come drink with you ANYTIME. But then, I would chuck all and do almost anything, wouldn't I...;)

Posted by: Amy-GO at October 12, 2005 5:01 PM

1) I'm on the B4B finalist list! Yay!! Thank you, Kira!

2) I'm totally envious of your Big Chicken! All our KFCs are plain and boring!

3) Your writing group should have gone to the bar. You can't tell me that the night at the bar wouldn't have provided some sort of story inspiration for someone!

4) I woke up this morning with a huge surplus of exclamation points! Thank you for allowing me to use some of them!!!

Posted by: DebR at October 12, 2005 5:54 PM

Congrats again Kira!!!

And OMG! Wow! I am a finalist!

Posted by: Heather at October 12, 2005 9:20 PM

Tonight is Yom Kippur, one of the most holy days in the Jewish calendar, and the prayer we sing tonight is called "Kol Nidre", which literaly means "All Vows", in which we ask forgivess for all the vows we have made in the last year which we were unable to keep.

My father used to sing "Kol Nidre" at services on Yom Kippur. His soaring tenor voice and the sweet sound of the cantillation were an inspiration. "Kol Nidre" was the other song I almost wrote about.

Thanks for honoring both of us on this Yom Kippur evening...

Posted by: Daniel Barkowitz at October 12, 2005 10:23 PM

The asparagus, fistfuls of cake and booze were yummy, but not as yummy as this recap!

Posted by: Karen Abbott at October 13, 2005 7:31 PM

YAY for madame rubies! go Heather!

Posted by: norah at October 21, 2005 4:39 AM