There were a million and one things that could have stopped it from happening. Actually, in the past 24 hours there were two, both of them significant.
1) I was told I will probably need surgery in the near future. Not life or death surgery, but minor surgery that will take me out of commission for a few days.
2) Our hot water heater decided to throw a hissy fit of spillage across the cellar, and the jury is still out as to whether or not we need a new one, to the tune of can-we-just-boil-water dollars.
But it’s a done deal.
I didn’t even tell my kids ahead of time. I probably won’t tell my mother until it’s over.
But let me get back to the beginning, which — lucky for you — means two weeks ago.
If you are reading this, you may have noticed I like to write. The truth of the matter is, my day consists of constant voices in my head — single sentences that describe the most unimportant moments with a bit of a twist. Sometimes they stay with me and sometimes I push them off, thinking they can’t possibly amount to something.
But everything amounts to something, or so the late Erma Bombeck, my hero of the humorous written word, would have me believe.
She got it. She understood that marriage and parenting and trying to do it all meant you either laughed or you cried, and it was all right to do both. She wrote about her life and times, good and bad, her husband and kids — with every step she took, she opened up a world of “Wow, now here’s someone who can make me put down the sharp objects and actually laugh about unfolded laundry or undefrosted dinner or unappreciated me.”
One recent afternoon when I was feeling particularly stressed or melancholy or some such emotion that led me to Google, I typed in these words:
I want to be Erma Bombeck.
Doesn’t that sound crazy? Isn’t this just asking for trouble — for proof that I should be thankful for my five readers (up from two) and let it go at that?
A link popped up right at the top of the screen.
The Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop.
Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
My reaction? I started to cry. Every part of me knew this was where I belonged, with my peers, the people who see everything as something to write about. I approached S with caution. Yeah, right. I told him about it while flooding the car with tears. He found a way — without selling any organs — to come up with the registration. The hotel and airfare will be the next step, but we will climb the step together, clutching onto the railings and trying not to fall backwards. In other words, without having to live on the streets to support my habit.
Registration was at noon today. I had been scouring the EBWW page for days, reading other blogs, comparing myself to winners of the writing competition that begins in January, watching for any sign that they might open registration even One Minute Early, just to throw us off track.
At 11:59 a.m., my Outlook calendar reminder blinked at me.
At Noon on the dot my cell phone alarm vibrated on my desk.
I opened up the web page and voilà — the link to register was there!
Quickly plugging in all the necessary information — name, address, credit card number, etc., I hit ENTER.
My fumbling fingers and my baffled brain were on different planets, but once I followed those pesky directions, third time was the charm, and finally the much anticipated registration confirmation arrived in my email.
That was a bit anticlimactic to say the least, right?
Here’s the thing.
I am not a risk taker. Sure, I sent a song that I co-wrote to Collin Raye’s agent. Yes, I asked Phil Vassar if he ever collaborated with an unknown when I got his autograph after a concert (by the way, I had a horrible cold and my nose was so red I looked like Rudolph, so he probably thought I was on drugs, and not from my pharmacist). And I will admit I have been trying to get Ellen DeGeneres to pay attention to my blog for a while. But other than those whimsical efforts, which didn’t amount to anything, I have a fear of flying — a fear of falling. A fear of failure.
Yet… I raised two girls to believe they can do anything they set their minds to, and I meant it. So why not believe in me for a change? They do, and so does the guy who has stuck by me for going on 30 years, even when I threatened to change the locks on the doors.
So folks, you are reading the blog of a person who didn’t let the broken hot water heater (water is boiling on the stove as I type), or the possibility of surgery (I will work around it), or her own doubts stop her this time. Whatever comes of this experience, I know it’s all about standing on the peak of possibilities and stepping forward into the unknown.
And I would like to think someday someone will say this of me.
At 53, she flew.
— Janine Talbot
Janine Talbot has been writing since before her eighth grade teacher accused her of plagiarizing a poem she wrote. She has published locally in guest editorials, and her lyrics received honorable mention in American Songwriter Magazine’s Lyric Contest. At 50-something and experiencing the empty nest (i.e., a spare bedroom with a desk), she is diving into the blogging world, sharing her stresses about her long-distance daughters, a spouse who lives for Sponge Bob marathons, a blind golden retriever and a cat she swears screams “Now” at feeding time. She blogs here.