A (Imagined) Conversation with David Sedaris

David Sedaris, author of my dreams.

Me: I understand you’re interested in writing my biography. First, let me say I’m flattered.

David: It’s something I’ve wanted to—

Me: Wait. I’m not finished. Again, I’m flattered. But I’m also concerned. Your last book—what was it, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk ?—wasn’t my favorite. Actually it probably wasn’t anyone’s favorite.

David: Let me explain. Things—

Me: I’m not done. It wasn’t my favorite, but I still want you. As long as you get back to your Me Talk Pretty One Day mindset, I’d be happy. I’d even take the Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim years. I just think it’d be best to leave animals out of it.

David: But you love animals! How can I write your life story without animals?!

Me: You’re right, but it’s pets. I love pets. Not the odd parings in that book. And that was fiction, anyway. There’s no mouse with a pet snake in my life, so we’re good.

David: Got it. Which essays in particular did you enjoy? Just so I get an idea of your tastes.

Me: What did I enjoy? What didn’t I enjoy? Besides anything in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, that is. The one that still makes me laugh is your speech therapist story from elementary school, where she kept baiting you to pronounce s sounds and you kept answering her questions with obscure words that had no s’s—or sh’s. Sorry—it’s been a while. The way you avoided saying “Christmas”? Genius! Ohhh—and the time you visited a nudist colony! That’s great! Your not wanting to sit on the furniture? Contemplating the intelligence of serving chili? Commenting on the bravery—or stupidity, I don’t remember which—of the naked fry cook? If you could do anything close to that in the biography, I’d be thrilled.

David: Do you mind if I open the window a crack? (Throwing it open without waiting for an answer.) Here’s the thing: nothing funny has happened in your life. I don’t have much to work with.

Me: What do you mean?

David: Think about it: you read, you write, you run. Rinse and repeat, and you’ve got tomorrow. And the day after that. And—

Me: Wait! There’s funny stuff! Why, just the other day—

David: Hold on. If you want serious, I can do it. But funny? I’ve got a reputation. I’m pretty sure my agent wouldn’t approve, anyway.

Me: How about if I let you do animals?

David: But you said no to animals, yes to pets.

Me: I was wrong! C’mon, David! We have to work something out! Now that I think about it, that story about the mouse with the pet snake was great! Maybe I just didn’t get the irony at first. But saying it out loud, I realize it’s some of your best work!

David: Honestly, Linda, I—

Me: No, David! Please reconsider! Creative license! That’s what I’ll give you! Write whatever you want!

David: Anything?

Me: Anything!

David: Even pattern it after that nonsensical “motherless bear” story?

Me: Nonsensical? Are we both thinking of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk? Because the motherless bear story was priceless! Hey—I’ve got it! How about I pay you? Would that work?

David: I don’t know…

Me: No, really. Name your price. (Taking out checkbook.) I’m sorry. I’m being crass, aren’t I?

David: No. It’s just that I don’t know how long this’ll take me, how much to bill you for. Because I’ve read your outline—it’s going to take me a while to make something out of nothing.

Me: Then just take a blank check. Fill it in for a fair amount whenever you’re done. I trust you.

And that is how David Sedaris came to write my biography. Or will come to write my biography, just as soon as (1.) something worth writing about happens and (2.) David Sedaris becomes destitute and needs the work.

 

(Image courtesy of CC:en.wikipedia.org)

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Falling Flat

Did you watch Cake Boss? Or the Holiday Baking Championship at Christmas?

Me neither.

I tried Cake Boss but couldn’t do it, and not just because of Buddy’s New Jersey accent—because of the caliber of cakes these “amateurs” put out. It’s nothing I relate to. Same with the holiday baking show: I knew when the contestants threw together a cranberry meringue pie or a white chocolate, pear, and fig morning bread at a moment’s notice, it was over. Amateurs, indeed. But back to Cake Boss.

I’d love to learn cake decorating, and if my second attempt (see? I’m not totally unrealistic.) looked anything like the cakes on TV, I’d do it. And the beauty of being a glass-half-full person is that in my mind, my cakes would look like that, with fondant smooth as glass and roses so realistic your allergies would flare.

How I imagine it looking.

But here’s what would happen:

First, there’d be stacks of unfrosted cakes reminiscent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that were too lopsided/stuck-to-the-pan-to-come-out-cleanly/homely-to-be-resurrected-with-frosting—your pick—to bother with. The cakes that were salvageable would be lopsided/homely when I was finished with them.

My fondant would look like a patchwork quilt and my roses would be mistaken for globs of frosting that dropped when the decorating tip fell off the bag. Oh, they’d taste fine, as long as you ate with your eyes closed.

How it would look. As you can see, I’d give up on the roses altogether.

But that’s not what keeps me from trying—what keeps me from trying is my family. They’re polite. To a fault.

I’m not sure if they’d encourage me because life’s just easier that way or if they’d genuinely desire being force-fed cake for the rest of their lives, but here’s how it’d go down:

My cake would sit magnificently on an elevated plate in the middle of the table—no dessert in front of the TV tonight!—like the turkey in that Norman Rockwell painting. Once it had been duly admired, I would cut it, serve it, and pretend not to see the sideways glances when they eyed Mom’s creation, their looks of pity and disbelief. I’d ignore their praise spit out in short bursts, belly laughs threatening to escape. But still, I’d know. A mother always knows.

So I’ll keep my cakes in my head, where they’ll always be perfect, and stick to knitting. Because I do a mean garter stitch.

 

(Images: CC:Flickr)

Funkytown

153I checked my email early this morning and read the Daily Post. It asked if you’re good at what you do, and what you’d like to do better.

Perfect timing.

The last two or three days I’ve written exactly one six-line paragraph for a synopsis I’ve been working on. And the paragraph stinks. It sounds stilted. Insincere. Forced.

I’ve hit a wall. Not a what’s-a-better-word? wall. A mile-22-in-a-marathon wall. And the harder I try, the more elusive the perfect words become.

Answering the question, “Are you good at what you do?” is easier if your skillset yields concrete results: if your risotto is perpetually undercooked, you’re probably not going to be the next Master Chef.

But how do you gauge subjective results? Do you rely on others’ input? Or is self-satisfaction enough?

I wish I knew.

Today we’re attending an outdoor wedding on a brilliant 85-degree afternoon, and tomorrow we’re having lunch with friends we haven’t seen in over a year, along with their daughter, son-in-law, and new baby girl. I’m counting on changes in scenery and smiling faces (not that my husband hasn’t been smiling—he’s been great through my blah-ness) to wrestle me from this writing funk.

Wish me luck.

Me, Only Better

It’s been said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. For the sake of argument, I’ll pretend that’s true (though really I don’t, because I spend an awful lot of time with the Target cashier and know nothing about her). Now, if it was true, and we could choose those five people…well, now we’re talking.

Who would your five be? Here are mine, in no particular order:

Carrie Heffernan from “King of Queens.” Is she a little brash? Maybe. Sarcastic? Perhaps. But you’ve got to hand it to her—the girl speaks her mind; in that regard, she’s my alter ego. And I know for a fact she uses MAC lipstick.

 

Mother Teresa. To counteract the Carrie Heffernan qualities.

Erma Bombeck. A healthy mix of the two.

Betty Crocker. I love watching “Top Chef,” but “lemon vanilla crème with mint puree and hazelnut sable” for dessert? C’mon–give me brownies any day.

Bill Gates. Not for his philanthropic nature or even his business sense. For his technological know-how. Recently my husband told me to stop using data on my iPhone because we’d almost reached our limit. He texted this to me, which I found ironic—I thought texting was data. I rest my case. Actually maybe I don’t need to channel Bill Gates. Maybe an average fourth-grader would do.

Burnin’ Love

Okay, the house is on fire and I can only grab 5 things. Assuming humans and animals are safe, here’s what’s coming with me, in no particular order:IMG_0442

Racing medals. Some bring back fond memories and others…well… Let’s just say some came with a price. But it’s not the memories that are important. It’s the symbolism. Because I was 52 at my first race a few years ago. 52. I think that’s older than some of the items on Antiques Roadshow. I’d save my medals not for me, but for my daughters. To remind them age does not—and should not—define them.

IMG_0438A quilt. I saw this color wheel quilt on the Purl Bee and fell in love with it. Since I’m a challenged button-sewer-on-er, I asked Mom the Seamstress if she’d make it for me. Purl Soho didn’t have these fabric bundles at the time, and I can picture she and Dad—who, as a retiree, is a frequent companion on Mom’s fabric-buying junkets—perusing the choices. I think she apologized when she gave it to me, because the points don’t lay completely flat in the center. But I think it’s perfect.

Christmas ornaments. Assuming I had time to pull out a ladder and climb in the garage—okay, who am I kidding? Assuming my husband had time to pull out a ladder and climb in the garage—I’d save the box of ornaments our now-adult daughters made as kids. You know the kind: pinecones with lopsided gobs of glitter, and silver bells made from cut-up egg cartons and foil. Precious.IMG_0446

Dog toys. I don’t know why. Probably because they were in the middle of the floor on the way out.

IMG_0364

 

Running shoes. Again, not sure why. But since they can be pricey and these are already broken in, I’m glad I got them.

 

 

Fingers crossed that whole iCloud thing works. Because I might have left an item or two behind.