They say you don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve tried it.
While that may be true about a lot of things, I’m pretty sure I’d draw the line at genital piercing and eating any form of potted meat, but that’s just me.
This past weekend I experienced many things that I never knew I was missing. Things I’m damn glad I tried. Things I can now check off my list of “Things I have never done that I didn’t even know I wanted to do”, or more importantly, “Things that I didn’t even know were in the realm of possibility” for me. And things that I damn sure want to do and experience again.
The list is comprised of items from the indescribably amazing and reaffirming Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop I’ve just returned from and things that when they occurred, all left me shaking my head and muttering, “How the hell is this happening right now?”
And no, “drinking too much cheap conference wine and probably making an ass(cat) out of myself in front of famous and well-respected people” isn’t on the list.
I’ve totally done that before.
THINGS I’VE NEVER DONE BEFORE THAT I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I WANTED TO DO…or, THINGS THAT I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WERE IN THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY
1. Shake Phil Donahue’s hand and pose for an awkward photo with him.
Sure, I know who Phil Donahue is, and more importantly, who he was.
Sure, I was impressed that he was going to be one of the keynote speakers at the Erma conference.
But it wasn’t until he spoke so eloquently (and so very Phil Donahue-like) about his decades of friendship with Erma and then delivered the same eulogy he’d delivered at her funeral that I became more than impressed; I became enamored.
He’s a legend…a class act…and a very good sport as evidenced by the fact that he stood posing for photos with geeked out people like me for about an hour after the dinner.
2. Meet famous writers and television producers who have won real, meaningful awards (and whose bodies of work I have admired for years).
2a. Lisa Scottoline (and Francesca Serritella) –
I’ve been a big fan of Lisa Scottoline’s novels for years.
Her newest novel, “Keep Quiet,” was just released last week and I brought it to the conference for her to sign. It’s also the #1 reason I was able to keep quiet on my return flight home on the model-sized airplane I was strapped into. It’s so riveting that even the two Xanax and the glass of wine I’d ingested to keep me from losing my shit at 30,000 feet didn’t interfere with my absolute absorption into this novel…until I fell fast asleep.
But what I didn’t know about Lisa Scottoline before last week — besides the fact that she is a fabulously energetic, engaging and hilarious verbal storyteller — is that she also writes a weekly humor column with her lovely 28 year old daughter for the Philadelphia Enquirer. After listening to their presentation (twice!) I immediately texted Thing 1 to tell her I had her career path (and mine) all planned out for the next 10 years.
She’ll never get rid of me now. *insert evil genius laugh*
I was excited, and in hindsight, more than a little over exuberant I’m sure, to get the chance to say hello to them (and tell Lisa that OMGI’vebeenafanforsolongandyou’rehilariousandloveyourwriting!!!), shake their hands and have them sign my books (check, check and check).
And then Saturday Lisa Scottoline favorited my tweet.
Might as well call the publisher and wrap this deal up.
2b. Dan Zevin –
You might be asking me (through your screen), “Who the hell is Dan Zevin and why is he so important to make it on your VIL of things you never thought were possible?”
One, stop talking to me through your screen — I cannot hear you — and two, Dan Zevin is one of my new humor idols. Humor male idols, that is (step aside Dave Barry, Zevin took that Thurber Award right outta your hands last year).
His book, “Dan Gets A Minivan,” is hilarious.
OK, I’ve not actually read one single word of it yet, but after sitting in on his session on humor writing, I’ve already decided it will be my favorite summer read.
Oh, and in case you were wondering who I might have had a 15 minute conversation with after two (three) glasses of cheap conference wine and who I have no doubt made a real positive impression on?
Take a look at his inscription to me in his book.
That might answer your question.
2c. Bruce Ferber –
If you ever watched “Growing Pains,” “Bosom Buddies,” “Home Improvement,” or “Coach,” you know Bruce Ferber.
You didn’t know you knew Bruce Ferber, but you do.
And now I do, too.
Bruce Ferber produced and wrote many of the shows that I loved in the late 80’s/early 90’s.
I not only met him, took a photo with him and had him sign a copy of his new novel, but spent about 10 minutes chatting with him and getting some good dirt on Tim Allen and Craig T. Nelson.
And no, I hadn’t had too much cheap conference wine before that conversation.
I’d had a Cosmo and a glass of cheap conference wine.
However, I still can’t be sure that I didn’t appear completely idiotic because the entire time he was talking to me and telling me stories I was having an out-of-body experience where I was listening with one persona and geeking/freaking out with another and am fairly certain I had an expression of extreme schizophrenia where I forgot to look like I was holding it together.
Never mind. After writing that sentence? I’m sure.
3. Stay in a hotel room all by myself.
I’m 45-years-old and it occurred to me yesterday that I’ve never stayed in a hotel room all by myself.
That’s either really sad or — —
Nah. It’s just really sad.
If you’re over the age of 35 and have never stayed in a hotel room all by yourself go and book one now. Immediately. Even if it’s the Super 8 down the road.
There’s nothing like waking up to silence and a pot of coffee enjoyed in bed.
4. Survive air travel on a small plane.
You know how I felt about this.
But I mean, when I took a seat and looked around at the spacious (cough) surroundings I was fiiine.
In all honesty, it wasn’t that bad…after we got tossed around like a kernel of popcorn in an air popper on take-off, that is.
But thankfully, the gods were on my side and not only did I survive, I did so with the assistance-by-way-of-excessive-chattiness-to-match-my-own newfound BFF Lisa — who is pretty damn acclaimed in her own right — and who, as luck would have it, was also on her way to the conference and who was instantly bonded to me for life (and no, not because I sat in her lap on the plane and had her rock me like a baby).
Let me tell you, non-stop conversation is a much better distraction than Xanax. Plus, it keeps you awake so you don’t miss the wine cart.
Funny how you find new — fabulous — friends in the unlikeliest situations.
But perhaps the most important item for me to add to my list isn’t someone I met or something I did or a fear I overcame, it was a feeling I had.
A feeling that as the months go on and on I continue to feel grow, and a feeling that I’m starting to embrace.
I felt legitimate.
And feeling like a legitimate writer is something that two years ago I can tell you with certainty that I didn’t think was in the realm of possibility.
Erma Bombeck had a teacher at the University of Dayton who once said three words to her that she often reflected on as life changing:
You. Can. Write.
And after spending the past four days hearing it, I think I’m gonna believe it.
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