Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Making Space

I don't act on it often enough - but I believe to my bones in making space for the people who are making space for people.

Here's one of them right here. Her name is Shayla Lee Raquel, and for the last three years, she has moved heaven and red Oklahoma earth to raise up a first-class writing community in her backyard. She runs the Yukon Writers' Society, which just hosted the FABULOUS Writers Olympics. She travels down to DFW on the regular, donating her time and expertise to make events like WORDfest possible. She has been the fiercest pro-bono advocate an indie author could ever have (including nailing a VERY pointed set of theses to the Oklahoma Book Festival's double-standard front door). And anyone who has ever taken a turn with the organizer's hat knows how completely a good cause will tornado its way through your own personal life and projects. 

But today at last, it is Shayla's turn for the spotlight. Cinderella finally gets to go to the ball - not because a fairy godmother waved a wand and apparated a Pumpkin Miata for the occasion, but because she hitched up her homespun dress, laced up her trainers and walked her own self to the party.

It is terribly important to me to make sure that people like Shayla get more than a warm, fuzzy feeling for their efforts - that they are materially and powerfully thanked for the hundreds of hours they've given to making space for the rest of us. And if you would like to sign your name to that effort, this is where you can go to give her your congratulations, read up on her work, and gift a copy to the person in your life that her words were meant for.

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Sultry 'Bootoir' Moment

Everybody has been telling me for the better part of two years now that I should start wearing boots.
The WORD squad, knowing too well what happens to *any* task I am entrusted with, took matters into their own insufferably wonderful hands.

So here is my first-ever 'bootoir' photo, captioned thusly: if you are lucky enough to know Marsha Hubbell, Kathryn McClatchy, Daniel Wells, David Douglas, Sarah Hamilton, Amanda Arista, or god help you, William Humble, then you know one-seventh of the joy, passion, generosity, patience, hard work, and unrelenting refusal to quit that knocks me acock on a near-daily basis. I expect working with these folks for the past two years has been perfect practice for donning a pair of Ropers, actually - cuz they have seen me through ten thousand miles, in every kind of weather, and they just won't quit.

Thank you for everything, posse. They fit like a dream.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Sock-Sacks and Happiness

Okay, so after Writers in The Field, I have a new thesis statement: we have too many huge, giant, apocalyptic nigh-unsolvable problems in this country, and not enough small ones.

On Saturday, for example, my main problem was not dropping the cookies (that LB Clark and Erin McGowan brought all the way up from Galveston!) while a hundred of us were running through the mud to escape the tornado warning.

On Sunday, my main problem was not owning a second pair of shoes. (As it turns out, grocery sacks make fair-to-middling sock-condoms.)

Today, my main problem is that I can't quite figure out how to get up off this couch.
And all of these are small, satisfying, and completely surmountable challenges.

I didn't have to worry about getting Kathryn McClatchy up off the floor of the ticket booth during the tornading, because Marsha Hubbell is a PTA Green Beret. Didn't have to figure out how to feed everyone after the food truck fell in a ditch, cuz Alex and Allison Campolo delivered pizza through flooded roads like Evel Knievel jumping the Snake River Canyon (in a Lexus, no less). Didn't have to know how to get the food truck *out* of the ditch, because as far as I can tell, Shane Richmond just Force-lifted it up like an X-wing from the Dagobah swamp. Didn't have to stop and thumb-type every late-breaking announcement, because Kathryn and Sarah and Amanda blew up the hashtags harder than a questionably-colored dress. Hell, I didn't even have time to wonder about getting the margarita machines in during the storm, because Brandon Burgess is the all-weather swashbuckling Jimmy Buffett this country needs.

My point is: all of these very short, specific, twenty-minute micro-crises are now 100% handled. Mostly because we had exactly the right people on point to handle them.

But also - you know, in a world where everything we need magically appears on a shelf or in a box at our front door (even as we wither in constant, paralyzing, existential fear), it was so good to remember what small, short, tangible challenges feel like. And now that I'm back home, clean and dry in my climate-controlled condo-box, I am jonesing for my next fix. Can these shoes go the dryer after I hose them off? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Tilting at Tomorrow

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a parallel universe. I get so wrapped up in making flyers, planning activities, visiting and traveling and trying to keep up with myself - and after a long, happy day of hard work and hobbit-wrangling, it's a shock to log on and read about a profoundly broken world.

I worry sometimes that I'm too fortunate and insulated - that all of what I'm doing basically amounts to building castles in the sky while Rome burns. I hope that's not true. More than anything, I want what I'm doing to matter. I expect we all do.

But here's what I know for a certain fact: there is going to be a tomorrow in which the all-consuming crises of today don't feature. Our current problems will pass away, just as surely as the Cold War and the 1918 flu did before them, and new ones will grow in their place.

And when tomorrow gets here, I want to make sure that we still remember how to co-exist. I want to make sure that clickbaiting and fearmongering and runaway intellectual inbreeding don't deprive us of our friends and neighbors. We're in the middle of a hard and essential fight right now, but there's something completely unlike it already waiting in the wings... and whatever that is, we absolutely can't afford to meet it at half-strength.

I hope you registered to vote today, if you weren't already signed up. I hope you have been using every good means at your disposal to weigh in on the big decisions, and take ownership of the small ones.

But I also hope we remember the last vital stranger who helped us - on the side of the road, in the hospital, a thousand miles from home - and how little their political views mattered when we really, desperately needed them. And I am going to join my fellow big-hearted eventroverts in continuing to raise up little tentpole-spaces for good people to meet face-first and practice helping each other out... because that's the best way I know to ensure we still have a common ground left to come back to after today's fight is finished.

And because I just god damn love wearing a fancy name tag and buying tax-deductible donuts.