Thursday, May 25, 2017

Northwestern Imminence

Okay. I've spent a week hiding out at an undisclosed location in the Oregonian hinterlands, mending dented promises and waiting for my words to grow back. Now the results are in: Oregon is officially better than you. 

Don't feel bad. It's better than me, too. It's full of organic free-range buses, user-friendly temperatures, and Jennie Komp does baked goods drone-strikes on the weekly. Plus, the Willamette Writers have a safehouse and a distribution network in every city. Orit Ofri and her Salem WW crew will bring cookies and graciously overlook your catastrophically terrible humor. Valerie Ozgenc and the Eugene WW team will wine, dine and recline you at first sight. And Kate Ristau's Portland WW people... well, I guess you and I are gonna have to find out together, cuz I'll be doing "Auntie M's Guide to Greaseless Self-Promotion" there on the 6th. (You should go. It'll be rad.)

In the meantime, I will grudgingly consent to depart Oregon for this so-called "Montana", if there is any such thing, and bestow my presence upon MisCon in Missoula. (Apparently the town's original name was Hellgate. I'm still not convinced the whole thing isn't a geographical snipe-hunt.)

BUT THEN I am ripping RIGHT back down to Eugene, because the heartbreakingly divine people at Wordcrafters In Eugene are having me on to present their Master Class Retreat from June 1st to June 4th. Yes. Correct. You and me and a select few other of Earth's most intrepid hero-scribes, forsaking the mundane world to spend four days working microliterary miracles in the Word Alchemy Lab. Your prose will not be polished. It will be dissected, atomized, and reborn. There are three seats left, six days remaining, and one under-the-hat promise from me to you: if you do sign up for this, I will read your manuscript beforehand. (Yes, the whole thing. I do epic fantasy. Your word count does not scare me.) We will talk about it together, one on one. And I will not make you cry.

SO. Texas friends: hold that fort.

Northwesternauts: I think you know what to do.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

For Eleanor - A Life Unlidded

So there was this one time when I was visiting my grandmother up in Oregon, and all of us ladies went out to lunch together at Shari's. She ordered the nachos (an appetizer) and got an ENORMOUS plate of chips and cheese - enough for any five ordinary humans to eat.

Unfazed, she ate some and then piled the rest in a to-go box. After we left, we stopped at McDonald's drive-through so that she could get a drink. My aunt Molly was very sure that Gramma needed to put the lid on the soda, and said so several times. Gramma listened patiently, and then replied, "I'm going to do whatever I darn please." At which point she calmly reached into her purse and paid with a nacho.

(Which turned out not to be the quarters she was looking for. She found the money on the second attempt.)

That's the goal, you guys. You might not get to beat her record - 96 is a hell of a number, and none of us knows how many good days we'll get. But if you can roll up to Mickey D's and tell your well-meaning friends and family exactly who's in charge of your senior Diet Coke, you are Doing It Right.
Thanks for showing us how it's done, Gramma. You didn't always know what to do with the likes of us, and we sure as heck don't know what we're going to do without you.

Eleanor Mayhugh (1921-2017)