As you know, I am not good at creating short recaps of anything.
So this is a long one.
Maybe read it in two parts. When my dear friend Shannon called me last fall asking me if I wanted to go to the Erma Bombeck Writers workshop with her in April, I was intrigued.
I hate that I just used the word intrigued.
OK, I was curious.
YES CURIOUS IS A BETTER WORD.
Because I remember Erma from my childhood.
My mom and gramma would watch her on Good Morning America, buy her books, laugh at her newspaper columns.
I personally didn’t read her or watch her or laugh at her because I was, like, 7.
I was busy laughing at Scooby-Doo.
But because she made two women whom I loved and respected laugh, I laughed by association.
When I got the chance to be a part of this writing conference, I was so excited.
Because a writer is what I wanted to be.
Not “just” a blogger.
A writer who writes a blog.
And pens the next great novel.
About baby poop and chevron.
Hey, it’s possible.
It was this comment on this blog post that has been in my heart and soul since April of 2012:
I absolutely loved your island makeover! I think I loved, even more, your
commentary–you remind me of Erma Bombeck–sooooo funny!! Keep up the
good work and keep me laughing!! You are great medicine for what ails
This comment meant so much to me.
So very much that I kept it in my heart for two years.
It is that comment that weirdly enough, made me realize that when I write “funny”, people dig that.
|I have a minor peanut allergy. This was on the back of my name tag the whole weekend. Of course, I have no nuts.|
I love to blog, I love to make people laugh.
In fact, when I make people laugh, I truly think it gives me some of those hormones that Dr. Oz talks about that are good for your heart.
Except for me, it’s like they are keeping me alive.
And possibly keeping off those last 10 pounds.
I have a hard time being serious.
Even when I am upset and angry, I make something funny out of it.
“Laughing through tears is my favorite emotion”…. best movie line ever.
It is laughter that makes my world go round.
Which is why I was and am so attracted to my husband.
Humor has gotten us through some very dark times.
So being at this amazing conference with not only a dear friend and pie accomplice….blog post to come…..and 350 other funny people, was like every atom in my body was exploding.
That sounded dirty.
Are there atoms in our bodies?
And do they even explode?
It was a feast for the senses.
Nice people, funny people, cake with EVERY SINGLE MEAL, and I learned.
I took eight pages of notes.
Front AND back.
|Phil Freakin Donahue, Y’all. Is that lady in front of me asleep? MAAM, THAT IS PHIL FREAKIN DONAHUE.|
-That Phil Donahue is drinking from the youth fountain. He looks exactly the same. Hubba Hubba.
– Friggin is a good word.
– don’t ever pay an agent to read your manuscript.
– that life at home can’t exist without me. As evidenced by the massive amounts of texts sent to me from my family.
YES, THE 14-YEAR-OLD HAS TO GO TO HER SOCCER GAME.
NO THE SIX YEAR OLD CAN’T EAT A CHOCOLATE EASTER BUNNY FOR BREAKFAST.
YES LEGO’S CAN FIT IN A NOSTRIL.
NO DON’T PUT THEM THERE.
By the way, NONE of the texts were from my husband.
Who was amazing in diffusing every situation while I was gone.
AND had tulips on the table when I returned home.
I love that man.
And he deserves props on this public forum.
– that I will never want to self-publish a book.
– that it is hard to get a book published.
– that you most likely won’t ever see a book from me.
– women release a hormone (oxytocin) when they get together.
There were so many takeaways.
Some of my favorites were:
“Girlfriends are like an apple a day” – Suzanne Braun Levine
On day two, I attended my favorite session.
About women and their relationships called Women Writing Their Lives.
Three strong and amazing women-led the panel, Suzanne, Gina Barreca, and Ilene Gingy Beckerman and were moderated by another amazing woman, Patricia Wynn Brown.
I want to be them when I grow up.
It’s funny how as women age, we run out of female role models.
There were so many when I was in my teens and twenties but as I enter my mid-forties, where are they?
They were in Dayton, Ohio on this week.
I have never been more proud to be a woman in my life than I was at noon on Saturday, April 12th.
“Let’s blockade the cake! THEN the whole table will split it! Seven ways.”
This was an actual conversation at our lunch table on day two.
I only knew two other people at this table, one of whom Shannon and I just met at breakfast the morning before.
This is the thing about this workshop, there were no cliques.
OK well, there probably were but we didn’t know of any.
Because at each meal, the only constant was Shannon and me.
We tried to sit next to new people every single meal.
That was really in part because of Shannon and her awesomeness.
She wanted to meet ALL OF THE NEW PEOPLE and I, even though I might seem very outgoing, can be timid when happening upon a table full of new people.
But after hanging out with SuperShannon all weekend, by Saturday afternoon I was all, YO IS THIS TABLE TAKEN?
I didn’t say “yo”.
Totally saving that for the 2016 workshop.
So in short, at lunch on day two, there was one spot open at the table.
And one piece of extra cake at said open spot.
So we all banded together to defend our hidden gem.
EXTRA CAKE IS GOOD.
EXTRA CAKE IS RIGHT.
EXTRA CAKE IS WHAT WILL TAKE THIS WORKSHOP TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL.
We blockaded the cake with the pansy centerpiece, a pitcher of iced tea, and maybe a table number tag.
And reasoned that we would then split the cake seven ways.
So we would then have our individual pieces of cake in addition to the sliver of cake split into seven tiny slices.
EXTRA CAKE IS GOOD.
When someone sat down in the empty spot.
We all laughed about it while giving her the side-eye.
It was all good though.
She looked just like Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids.
And had a good sense of humor.
|Sorry. Bad timing of picture placement. But this sign was in a McDonald’s parking lot in Indiana on the way home. And I just had to take it. I mean, NO EXIT. Ok. HOW THE HELL DO WE GET OUT OF HERE????|
Pooping! I did it!
I know there are a few of you out there COUGH DAWN who will really only want to know one thing.
Did I poop?
If you are offended by potty humor, skip this section.
But not the entire post because it gets better.
At the last and only conference I had attended, I had not pooped.
In four days.
For those over the age of 30, that is not a good thing.
For those over the age of 40, that is a tragedy.
I looked like I was in my fourth month of pregnancy.
I was in pain and I felt awful.
A lot of it was that there was this unspoken “no pooping” rule set for our room.
Of four grown women.
Side note: If you need to save money by sharing a room with four grown women, you have no business being at a conference, to begin with.
So add the stress of not being able to poop or fart for four days and you have an explosive situation.
This time, I got to poop.
And it felt right.
I think Shannon is the first woman I have fart in front of besides my mom, grandma, and daughters.
So there’s that honor.
I don’t remember much of 1987-1988 apparently.
I got to reconnect with a friend from high school who I haven’t seen since graduation day.
It was so good to see her and meet her adorable family and just be with her.
She brought Ohio back to me if that makes sense.
There is just nothing in this world like my Ohio friends and family.
They are the real friggin deal.
But apparently, I have blocked most of the late 80s out in my head.
I had no idea she worked with me at McDonald’s.
For two years.
In fact, I had no idea her boyfriend worked there either.
Or that she moved during high school.
I blame the love hormones of having my first boyfriend during my senior year.
Damn mullet-wearing 80s boyfriend.
|My friend’s adorable daughter. After being away from my daughter’s for two days, I was missing them. I didn’t want to let go of this sweet girl.|
Next year, I want to come here and write for an hour.
On our last morning in Dayton, there was one stop I wanted to make.
I had heard about someone who had visited it while in town for a previous workshop.
Here is the thing, I feel a need to connect with dead people.
Not on a paranormal, go through a closed mental institution at night kind of way.
If I know of someone who I have a connection with, family member, friend, or a writing great, and they are buried within a ten-mile radius, I want to visit.
So I knew we had to see her grave before we left Ohio.
I found out from a cool lady who I sat next to at breakfast on day two IT PAYS TO SIT NEXT TO NEW PEOPLE AT EVERY MEAL that Erma is buried right across from the University of Dayton campus, which is where the workshop was held.
So on our way to breakfast with Shannon’s aunt, uncle, and cousin (HI JEAN, BILL, and JEFF!) in Kettering, we had a stop to make.
It was magical.
I know that sounds cliche and weird to talk that way about a gravesite but it was.
The breeze was blowing, it was partly sunny and the tree that overlooked the rock where her grave sat was blooming.
The birds were singing.
It was a beautiful way to cap off a great weekend.
I said to Shannon on the way out of Dayton, “Don’t think I am weird, but can we go to her grave next time and write for an hour?”
She didn’t think I was weird.
|Why yes that’s a miniature baby doll. With a handmade ski mask on. Visit her blog to get details.|
When you get 350 humor writers in a room, there is bound to be trouble. And by trouble I mean amazing.
Omg, the awesome that was in one general vicinity.
OMG, THE AWESOME.
So many new friends, SO MANY NEW FRIENDS.
Each night we met a new group of new friends.
Then the new friends introduced us to newer friends.
And so on and so on.
I met journalists for Pulitzer prize-winning papers, magazine editors, published authors, moms, and dads of real and fur babies from all over the USA.
These aren’t just people who I exchanged business cards with and friended on Twitter or added their blogs to my blog feed.
I added most of these people to my personal Facebook.
I hardly ever do that.
That’s when you know it’s hardcore.
|Go home, Scary Baby. You are drunk.|
“Don’t take this the wrong way but your ass looks really good in those jeans.”
What an amazingly cool chick it was named after and in honor of.
I will never forget this experience, the laughter, the realness of it all.
And I can’t wait to do it again.