Congrats, you made it! Almost. Welcome to your final resolution of 2013.This resolution is like getting to the end of a world in Super Mario Bros…but this time, the princess is NOT in another damn castle. The princess is right in front of you. You just need to do one final task. And it's fun, so don't even think about skipping it. Cassette tapes might be dead, but that doesn’t mean mixtapes have to be buried. Remember that excitement you felt when your BFF or your foxy crush handed you a scribble-y new mixtape? Or the rush you felt when you made one for someone else? We spent hours on these things. We obsessively created the perfect flow, the perfect mood, the perfect secret message. Cutting out the radio commercials was half the battle! Do it again. Send some love, music-style. Create mixtapes for all your favorite weirdos. Use iTunes, Spotify, whatever, but do it with the vigor of a 1992 version of yourself. (Plus/minus a few years depending on your age.) If you can hand deliver your mixtape and snap a pic to share with me, even better. Since this is the last month, there is a BONUS resolution. And yes, it's groan-worthy. Any guesses? Kara-freaking-oke. Find your inner Shelly. Choose a song that reminds you of the old days. The awesome days. Be spastic, be ridiculous. If you send me a video of your performance to share on Facebook, I'll send you a signed copy of the book for FREE. Your performance must be NEW. No recycling old footage. For inspiration, I shall share one of my most embarrassing, yet rewarding moments of all time with you.
So…pretty sure you can't do any worse. As always, I look forward to hearing from you!
If you want to give WHYLTS as a gift, I'm accepting orders while supplies last. See post below.
Oh, Sunday, how I love you. After a gnarly Thanksgiving holiday (also known as "Barfsgiving"), I'm getting holiday orders ready to ship. NKOTB's Funky Funky Christmas is offering great inspiration to book inscriptions, so look out!
Here are the details. $16 + shipping gets you a signed copy of the book and a free mixtape. I'm not professional enough to have an arsenal of go-to messages so I personalize every single one of them. I apologize in advance if you get a wonky one. But hey, you're probably the only person who will get that brand of wonk!
If you're interested, please send me an email at email@example.com. Hurry, this offer is only good while supplies (and sanity) last!
Now feed your face with some Funky Funky shizz.
Humbled. Honored. Delighted. Oh, who are we kidding…I'm freaking out-of-my-mind excited! It was just announced that We Hope You Like This Song won the Chicago Writers Association's Book of the Year Award in non-fiction. I'm legit now! People, other than my friends and family, and friends of my friends and family, have embraced my book.
You might remember the chapter where I talked about getting first-runner-up in the Miss Walcott Day Pageant. I was disappointed, but Shelly had me laughing in roughly 1.6 seconds. Well, this time, my crown will not be taken away by a girl from Durant who sold more buttons than me. And I (probably) won't be wearing white L'eggs nylons when I accept my award. I wish Shelly could be by my side this time around, but I'm 99% sure she's been doing spastic splits jumps since I found out the news. Our story matters to people. I think I just might do some splits jumps myself.
Ow. Forget that shizz.
But enough about me. (Oh, we will definitely be getting back to me.) The other two finalists in my category had me writing my concession speech from the moment I found out I was being considered. (Snot would most def be running down my face, but it would be eloquent, dammit!) Chicago Sketches by Richard Reeder and Records Truly is My Middle Name by John Records Landecker/Producer Rick Kaempfer are no small potatoes. Upon initial investigation, they both seemed more like "real" books to me. Very respectable, well-written, totally professional. I wasn't sure WHYLTS had a chance. Maybe it's because I saw mine when it was 300 pages of unedited, unformatted brain spew. Or because I spent months querying literary agents and pitching publishers, wondering if it'd ever see the light of day. I could go on and on with all the steps I stumbled through, but in the end, I DO have a real book. And thanks to this award, it feels even realer. (I know it's not a word. But I like it.)
This whole process has been one big teeter totter. (Remember when the mean kid would suddenly hop off the bottom while you were on the top? My tailbone remembers it quite well.) Anywho, yes, publishing a book consists of constant ups and downs. Today, it's up. Extremely. Up. Regardless of sales, publicity, and all that other soul-crushing business junk, this book has brought so much positivity to my life. It's brought me closer to Kim, Shelly's sister. (We're closer in the way that we now walk to the cemetery together late at night with sneaky whiskey drinks and have "Shelly parties" when I'm home. I think we also freak a lot of people out in the process.) I already had a great bond with Shelly's parents, but we now have a bond-on-steroids. Along with my own family, they are my biggest cheerleaders. It's brought me closer to preeclampsia survivors. One of the themes in the book is about how life is better when you let other people in. I continue to learn that in spades. So many women have been affected by this disease. And they aren't sad, quiet, mousy women. They are bold, and strong, and freaking hilarious. I feel like they've let me into their crew because of my connection with Shelly. Seems a lot like high school…in the best possible way.
On that same note, the relationship I have with Hailey, Brad, and Michelle is nothing short of amazing.
And of course, this experience has continued to heal my heart. Every email I receive, every conversation I have, where someone tells me about their "Shelly" inches its way into my psyche and consoles any broken pieces that are still floating around in there. So thanks for that.
You guys, I won an award!
Thank you for all the support.
A couple more things:
- The Shelly Bridgewater Dreams Foundation is under way. I will keep you in the loop as things progress.
- I'll be signing books at the Blankets for Babies event in Chicago. A percentage of each sale will be donated to the cause. Buy tickets here.
- If you're interested in getting a signed copy for the holidays, send me a note. (See "contact" tab.)
- No matter what you're reading, there is an author somewhere "casually" stressing over what you think about his/her book. (Unless you're reading Drinking and Tweeting by Brandi Glanville.) If you like a book, review it on Amazon. Especially if it's my book. It helps the author out, big time.
This month is about giving even though we usually just stuff our faces with turkey and some form of potatoes.
Think of ways to help anybody and everybody. Babysit for free, donate to a charity, give a friend a book (hint, hint), tie someone else’s shoes. Just give, give, and give some more.
Last week was big.
To be honest, it was the kind of week I dread. So many obligations, so many ways to eff up.
As you may know, I have a day job. It's also a night job most of the time. I'm an advertising copywriter. I've been busy the last few months writing ads, commercials, and ideas that may or may not make it past the word doc in which they were conceived. Why does this matter? Well because of my nerves. They work overtime, too, so I usually over-prepare for any sort of presentation/interview/pizza order/etc. But because of this day/night job, I had no time to over-prepare for the crazy week to come.
Here is a rundown of the week I had on my plate:
- Tuesday - Paula Sands Live interview. For those of you not from the Quad Cities, Paula is big time. She's pretty much the Oprah of the QCA. I had the chance to be on the show back in May, but some jealous tornado decided to touch down and cut my interview short. A TV interview might not seem like something that involves a lot of prep, but again, I'm not good at winging things. Ever. I tried to anticipate every question she might ask so I wouldn't come off like the scatterbrained basketcase I actually am. Also, outfit selection. This involved multiple days of angrily trying on dresses. I like wearing dresses, I hate shopping for them.
- Thursday - Presentation at the John Deere headquarters. I was invited to speak about 'the power of friendship and accepting those who are different than you' by an awesomely intelligent woman named Kris Voyna. She is well aware that public speaking is not my forte, but welcomed me anyway. Basically, her reputation was on the line if I sucked. Pressure. Also...outfit selection.
- Friday - Saving Grace, the annual Preeclampsia Foundation gala. Social functions are scary. Social functions where people think you're cool on paper and want to meet you in person? Terrifying. And again...outfit selection.
How did it all shake out? Okay, Tuesday morning, I woke up with a cold. Snotty, slow, gross. Add that to my nerves and I was a big pile of mess. I was staying with my parents and have no idea how to work their coffee machine. (They use beans! I've always been impressed by people who grind coffee beans. I use a Keurig. I am a coffee wannabe.) I drove down to the local Casey's and bought the following things: Dayquil, 5 hour energy, Mountain Dew, a cup of coffee. I didn't realize how insane my loot was until I put it all on the counter.
"Wow, um. This is not all just for one day, I swear," I said to the girl behind the counter, afraid she was judging me.
"No worries. I just assume you have to go to work and aren't feeling well?" Okay, that's sweet, I thought.
"Yeah, sort of. I'm going to be on the Paula Sands show today."
"Actually, I'm really nervous."
"Just be yourself. No one's judgin'. You'll do great."
Such simple words, but I truly felt the weight of ten John Deere tractors lifted off my shoulders at that moment. She was right, no one was sitting at home with a box of popcorn and a remote control waiting for me to fuck up and ruin everything. No one expected anything. This girl, working the counter at Casey's, changed my day in a way no one else probably could've. Strangers say the darndest things!
Sure, I showed up at the interview all hopped up on coffee, but I had a great time. You can see the interview here:
That night, I found out that We Hope You Like This Song is a finalist for the Chicago Writers Association's Book of the Year Award
(non-fiction). This is ridiculously exciting, people. I feel legit now. I just need to have morning cocktails with Kathie Lee and Hoda and I'll be the real deal. (Trust me, I've tried. Ellen, too. Even Steve Harvey. A million times each.) Instead, I had an evening Templeton Rye or two at local gem/dive, the Rusty Nail, and tried not to be nervous about my next event.
Thursday rolled around. I practiced what I'd say in the John Deere presentation all morning. I wrote notes onto my notes and more notes on those notes. I was still feeling under the weather, so I took a Dayquil. (I hold this responsible for what comes later.) After receiving one of the best intros of all time from the great Kris Voyna, the light turned green, and I crawled to a start. I couldn't control my shaky voice, but that's nothing new. What was new, however, was flipping to the third page of my presentation and noticing that page was gone. No page 3. Dayquil is a bitch. The kind faces in the audience kept me from bursting into tears and fleeing the scene. I stammered a bit and moved on. Then it was time for the Q&A. Question number one came from someone on the phone. (This was one of those high tech video conference type things where people could watch from different locations.)
Caller: Why am I here? What is this?
I shit you not.
Kris to the rescue. This woman is quick on her feet. She quickly answered the question as to why I had been invited to speak and explained that perhaps the woman got the link by mistake. I have to admit, the question rattled my confidence a little, but the mood quickly shifted as other people in the room and on the phone started speaking up. They got it. They got me. And when the whole thing was over, I was glad I did it. And even a little glad that strange question #1 happened. Funnier story that way. Right?
Finally, Friday arrived. I was excited for the Saving Grace event that Shelly's family and friends had worked so hard to put together. But of course I'm me, so I was also nervous about talking to nice people.
I sat at my little book display, looking around as if I wasn't secretly wishing I could be imbibing with the people taking part in the tasting. It's almost as if Shelly's sister, Kim, heard my thoughts. A sample of bourbon found its way to my table. A few minutes later, it was joined by little plates of finger foods thanks to my high school friend Andy Hosmanek's wife, Elizabeth. As I shoved a giant piece of shrimp into my mouth, two women walked up and introduced themselves. I creepily recognized one of them from Facebook. I probably should've kept that to myself. From that point on, I met so many wonderful people. And learned that a lot of them were as nervous to talk to me as I was to talk to them.
Then of course this happened. And once again, I got over myself.
Okay, so now I have to just jump to the big news because this post is way too long and my greatest fear is to bore people on the intranets. (There are so many cat/panda/people falling videos you could be watching instead.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, with the support of University of Iowa Hospitals, there is going to be a SHELLY BRIDGEWATER DREAMS FOUNDATION!!! I don't have many specifics yet, but just knowing her legacy will live on in such an amazing way makes me ridiculously happy. I will keep you in the loop.
The next day, I brought her flowers. And because the cemetery had removed ALL decorations the day before (they do this twice a year), it was just me...and her...and two flowers from my parents garden. I got the alone time with her that I always treasured.
NOT THIS MONTH.
I just realized I never posted October's resolution here. I'm the worst. I'm also much more punctual on Facebook
, so please connect with me over there for more up-to-date info. Let's get on with the resolution, shall we?
The usual. It’s safe, it’s dependable, it’s…boring. There’s a comfort in always doing the same thing: you know how it’s going to end. Change the ending this week. Don’t have your daily cup of joe. Don’t take the path you know with your eyes closed. Don’t be you. You just might learn more about yourself.
Court and I did a resolution similar to this during Fifty2resolutions and I made myself listen to a podcast while running instead of listening music. I was very grumbly at first because I love the sacred time I get with the thousands of songs on my ipod. But with podcasts, I lost track of time. I enveloped myself into stories. And I've never turned back. I'm now a podcast junkie.
If you're interested in checking out some of my favorites, click these things:ComedyBangBangWTF with Marc MaronWho Charted?The MothDoug Loves MoviesAsk Me AnotherThe NerdistRadioLabHow Was Your Week?
Okay, that should be enough to get you started.
Send me your stories! Good or bad, I want to hear them.
PS. The annual preeclampsia gala, Saving Grace, is this Friday night. If you haven't already registered/donated, get on it, yo. Do it here
. VIPs get a free copy of We Hope You Like THis Song. You need it. You know you do.
You know that kid in class who always made shit up? After my weekend trip to San Francisco, I feel like that kid. (Call me Thad. Wait that's a dumb idea. Don't call me Thad.) But please believe me. I'm not that good of a writer. Well, what I mean is, my imagination would never even think to turn down Batshit Crazy Street, SF...only reality turns down that street.
Let's start with Friday, shall we? For those of you who don't know, Foxy has (sadly) moved to San Francisco. I planned a trip to visit her as soon as I had a spare moment. I made sure to include the best possible thing to travel with...Courtnee. Turns out, Foxy has this tour guide thing down. A leisurely wine tour in Healdsburg was the first major activity on our itinerary (after eating fries smothered with goat cheese & marinara, of course). Foxy had our schedule in hand when she gave me a look.
"Bree? Look at the confirmation code..."
What the huh? Our confirmation code: Warner. As in Shelly's maiden name. I have to admit I got chills, but I was ready to prove that there was an explanation. Surely it was our tour guide's name. After 3 - 7 glasses of wine, I approached the tour guide and asked him. Go ahead dude, rain on my parade. His name was not Warner. There was truly no explanation. Okay, so I guess that's pretty cool.
Cut to Saturday. Foxy and I have watched every Iowa vs. Iowa State football game together for the last five years. This year, that game just so happened to fall on the Saturday Court and I were in town. Plus, Mike, one of my best friends from high school, also an ISU alum, lives in San Francisco and planned to join us. I chalked it up to luck. No matter what the outcome of the game, I already knew the day was a winner. (Mostly because I already had a feeling we'd lose.) Then we got to the bar that was listed on the Iowa State Alumni Association website and found roughly zero ISU fans. And zero ISU games on TV. We ordered a drink while deciding what to do next. Our enthusiasm for the game dwindled to a level just above "I don't give a shit."
But then a small, spritely crew clad in ISU shirts walked in. They were much more intent on finding the game than we were. They talked to someone in charge and then turned and headed toward the door. We accosted them even though we had no ISU gear to prove we were worthy of learning the secret location. They could've just told us where to go, but Iowans are friendlier than that. "You wanna come with us?" Don't mind if we do.
Once we got to the bar, it was a free-for-all to find a place to sit. Foxy, Court, Mike, and I meandered toward the back until we found a clearing. The game was the least exciting thing I saw at that moment. There, two feet in front of me, was Jon...Shelly's ex-boyfriend from college.
I. was. stunned. And probably not yet drunk enough for the extreme WTFness I felt. He wasn't just a random two weeker, this guy actually traveled to Florida with her to visit me while I was at Miami AdSchool.
Instead of acting like a normal human being and saying, "hello." I whispered to Court. Then to Mike. Then to Foxy. I was not going to talk to this guy. I didn't know all the details of the break-up, but I did know Shelly was hurt when it ended.
Then I texted Shelly's sister, Kim.
She said this: Do it. You'll never get another opportunity like this.
So I did.
When I walked up to him, he literally looked as if he'd seen a ghost. I guess maybe he sort of did. I hadn't seen him since Shelly's funeral. His face quickly turned friendly. And I think maybe we even hugged. Eventually, ISU failed us. But it didn't matter. Nothing did. I was in this weird world where time teased me, confused me...and I was ready for it to mess with me even further.
As the game ended, those lovely people we followed into the bar resurfaced. I pounced on them and told them about the magic they inspired by offering to be our sportsbar sherpas. I probably hugged them too. You guys know that's a big deal for me, right? I was a hugging maniac.
I had dinner plans with my dear friends so I told Jon I'd meet him later for a drink. Here's where I became an asshole. I was with some of my favorite people on the planet, but as I sat at that dinner table, tears kept welling up in my eyes. Shelly hijacked my brain and she wasn't going anywhere. So I split. I left dinner. And then talked to Jon for five hours straight. It felt therapeutic to share such different memories about the same person. He told me some of the drama that happened between them...and I couldn't help but laugh. What wasn't funny at all back then became hysterical. She was a pistol. We all knew she was a lovable, fucking pistol. Then he told me how she bragged about me the whole time I was in Florida. I wanted to hear him say that over and over. It was yet another moment where I believe she was telling me she approves of me and the way I've shared our story.
It's not over yet, friends.
When I got back to Chicago, I checked the notes app on my iphone and discovered a random email address. Okay, let's be honest...I experienced a bit of a brown-out that night. (Not black-out because I remembered things when given clues...such as an email address.) I had told one of the sportsbar sherpas that I'd email her info about the book. I did just that. And you guys? This is her response:
I just watched the trailer and it kind of struck home for me. One of my best friends, my roommate from college, just had twin boys about 2.5 weeks ago. Her and her husband struggled with getting pregnant and after 3 tries of in vitro (first didn't work, second was a miscarriage) she was able to get pregnant. About 4 weeks ago I got a text from [...] saying she was in the hospital with Preeclampsia. She had to remain in the hospital on bed rest and either be induced or go with natural birth, depending on how long she could hold out. Thankfully she went into labor naturally and gave birth to two healthy boys. One of them is still in the NICU and will be there until he can gain enough strength to bottle feed. I am actually heading home this weekend so I'll get to see them myself!
I know that was probably more than you needed to hear, but I was so scared when [...] told me she had Preeclampsia. I tried reading about it as much as I could, but it was hard to understand everything.
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Are you as goosebump-y as I was after reading that? I was skeptical of the wine confirmation code coincidence. Floored by running into Jon. And so, so touched by this woman's story. And even happier that her ending was different than mine.
Thank you, Foxy. Thank you, Courtnee. Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Kim. Thank you group of people in ISU shirts. Thank you, Jon.
Thank you, San Francisco.
For letting Shelly visit me.
If we don't take care of our memories, they shrivel up and die. Don't be a memory murderer!
Now that you've wooed your friends via "friend date," it's time to make the bond even stronger.
What are your favorite memories? Reach out to the people who were involved. Share photos, notes, emergency room reports, whatever helps bring it all back. You’ll be surprised at how fondly they remember, too. And they just might fill in some blanks you never knew were there. (Feel free to send me your stories!)
If you're hoping for a more active September, combine the above challenge with eating foods/making recipes you've never tried before. I hear pig face is good this time of year...One more thing, the Saving Grace Gala is in Iowa City this year! Please help support this very special cause. More info here.
This chick is coolness.
As I'm sure some of you know, being a "first time author" comes with its challenges. The 'Oh my god, I'm on a bookshelf somewhere in America' feeling outweighs those challenges by a kazillion, so I'm not complaining. Well, I'm only complaining a little bit.
The problem is Snooki. And Brandi Glanville. And teen moms. Because they have a recognizable name, they end up on the Best Seller List. Neat! Meanwhile, I send "charming" emails to major publications begging to be featured. And am usually ignored.
Ok. Done with that.
Earlier this year, I saw a review in my favorite magazine, Bust, for a book called Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way To Monogamy by Ophira Eisenberg. Immediately bought it, read it, loved it and then tweeted her like a fangirl. She's not your average first time author. She's an NPR podcast hostess. She's a stand up comedienne who's been on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. She's a big deal.
Well, she tweeted me back. Then she bought my book. We exchanged emails. Wait...were we becoming...friends? I decided to test this hypothesis.
"If you're ever in Chicago, maybe we could do a reading together," I wrote.
"Yes, that would be fun!" she wrote.
I must say, this felt a little like that thing I mentioned at the beginning of the August Resolution. "We should totally get together!" Inside the head: we will not get together.
Shortly after this, I read that her book was being adapted for film. Well, it was fun while it lasted, I thought. (I felt the same way after getting to hang out with Rachael Harris during a commercial shoot for Quaker Rice Snacks. We exchanged emails, I sent her a Christmas card, and in the grandest of gestures, I sent her t-shirt from the World's Largest Truckstop. Eventually, our relationship fizzled. Hm...was it the tee?)
I was wrong. Ophira didn't fizzle.
And now I have a reading/wine tasting event scheduled with her in Chicago/Evanston.
Please come. I need her to think I'm as cool as I try to be on the interwebs. Also, invite friends. I'll even extend August's resolution so you get credit. More info here.
Sharon and Susan said it best. With amazing haircuts.
August is a special month. It's Shelly's birthday month. Let's get together (yeah, yeah, yeah) and celebrate her. Ya know those friends you run into randomly in the Tombstone pizza aisle on a Tuesday night, the ones you catch up with for a couple minutes and then say, "We should totally hang out soon!" But you never do?Well, DO IT. All throughout August, make plans with old friends. Or new friends. Or enemies that you want to change into friends. And maybe, if you don't think they've read We Hope You Like This Song, give them your copy. Or better yet, get a signed one from me to give them. (I promise I won't use the word "boner.")One more thing, please make a friend date on August 3rd, Shelly's birthday. Send me pics of you and your friend celebrating her and I'll post them to Facebook.