My books of choice are fiction. I love to let go and ride the currents of a good story. I crave the escape. Lately, however, I’ve come ashore, kicking around in the memoir/humor/social commentary shelves at the local library.

This is due entirely to an interest in writing a book. I’m getting some encouragement, and, frankly, everyone else is writing a book, why not me? When I signed up for NaNoWriMo in November, I asked for ideas on Facebook. One idea — made by a childhood friend (one who knows I have a story or two) –stood out from the rest:

“Write about yourself, same genre as David Sedaris. You would keep anyone entertained.”

I will not even pretend to be as funny or engaging as Mr. Sedaris, but wow, what if?

What if?

I picked up “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” and fell in love. I gorged myself on his special brand of sardonic wit.  I get him.

He had a pet spider (I did, too) that he named and took to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (Unbeknownst to my mother, I smuggled my pet toad into a high-end gift shop and it got out of the box I had hidden in my backpack. Before I could stop it, Herbie hopped into one of those tall Ming dynasty-ish vases. It took some creative distraction of the store staff to topple that vase and coax that brown lump out. To this day, I get all hive-covered when I go into one of those Waterford Crystal type stores. I feel the guilt of a toad smuggler wash over me the minute I cross the threshold.)

He attracts all the town criminals and freaks to his yard (that’s my speciality), dug up all his dead pets to see how they were doing (did that), wanted to and did watch a real autopsy (did that, too,) and was a chain smoker (*cough*) who struggled to quit. I’ve done all these things. We are practically twins.

Then I read “Bossypants” by Tina Fey; the “Idiot Girls Guide“series by Laurie Notaro; and “I’m Really Sad About My Neck” by Nora Ephron. (Let me pause here to ask: is her name pronounced EE-frahn or eff-RAWN? Blame it on my late father, but I tend to go heavy on the Es, as he did. I say things such as “The days are long at the EEEEE-quayter,” instead of “The ehQUAYter is halfway between the two poles.”)

I can’t get enough. These lives, these wacky experiences couldn’t be anything less than the truth — the pathetic, funny and wonderful truth. I laughed until tears streamed down my face. I laughed and snorted and carried on until David Sedaris was officially banned from the bedroom night stand. Over and over I fell in love.

My husband is getting a little worried about all this unrequited love blurring my vision.

“What’s wrong with me? he asks. Do I gotta go gay on you, cross dress, write a rom-com? Get on NPR? What?

Most of all, these talented funny writers inspired me enough to give it a go. The hardest thing is letting go of fear, doubt, self-consciousness and laziness. My life may be nothing more than a series of stupid incidents, a handful of tragedies, a lot of mischief and mayhem, and a dark closet stuffed with bad decisions, but I’ve had a few turns of good luck and nice people who like me to keep things cheerful. So it’s balanced — enough.

Whenever I’m asked about writing a book, I always say I’ll wait until everyone in my immediate family is dead so they won’t kill me when they read it.  That family of mine? The ones who aren’t dead? They have that damn longevity gene. At this rate, if I don’t act now, I’ll be dictating to a ghost writer from my nursing home bed. No more.

If I can’t retire early on the spoils of my success, why not just write what really happened and buy a cup of coffee? Time is running out. Already I have a knee that sounds like a crinkling chip bag when I bend it, and an irrational fear of electricity, cameras, and overhead flourescent lighting.

So, I’ve set up an online site and the outline for this project. I’m compiling archived blog posts with fresh material to someday, with hope, publish something. I’m not in a rush but I do like the idea of having a goal.

It’s a first step. One that sounds like a crumpled chip bag.


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Someday I’ll marry David Sedaris*

“You studying medicine?” says the wheezy phlebotomist as he searches for a good vein on my outstretched arm.

“Ouch. What?” I say, wincing as the needle pokes my quivering vein like a nervous virgin on prom night. After a few awkward moments, he’s in and taking care of business.

Having scored, the phlebotomist, or Mr. P as I call him,  jams a cotton ball on my deflowered flesh and slaps on a bandage. His technique has all the grace of the Incredible Hulk dressing a Barbie doll.  I unclench my eyelids and glance at the plastic chair in the corner. Propped on my purse is the book I’m reading, “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris. I consider the skull on the cover.

“Oh, my book;  it’s David Sedaris,” I say.

Mr. P — a towering man well into his fifties, face blooming with gin blossoms, hands big enough to crush a puppy with one squeeze, and a generous tuft of white chest hair erupting from the top of his is button-down — knits his brow as he considers the name David Sedaris.

“Is he a scientist?”



Where’s he going with this, I wonder.  Maybe he’s never met a cigarette-smoking skeleton.

I explain that Sedaris is a humorist, author, and radio commentator. Then I wonder silently if commentator is even a real word. I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but decide it wouldn’t matter to a phlebotomist who doesn’t know who David effin Sedaris is.

“NPR?” I say, hopeful this would stir his memory.

“NPR, the radio station? Nah, don’t listen to it,” he says with a wet wheeze. (Mr. P is seriously the most unsettling phlebotomist I’ve ever met.)

As Mr. P labels the blood-filled vials and yanks off latex gloves, he stops to tell me his son is very smart. So smart, in fact, he began reading books at two and now is an international rep for a major publishing house. (Wow!) The change in topic lets me know Mr. P isn’t interested in any more small talk about this skeleton named David Sedaris.

Thing is, now that I am in love with David Sedaris and plan on marrying him someday, I assume I’m joining the worldwide fan club. Late to the show sure, but going over the storyline with anyone who’ll listen so that no one will suspect I slipped in through the back door.

OK, here’s how I change the subject: If you are not a wheezing phlebotomist and you know who Sedaris is, you still might not know that Sedaris kept a pet spider in his house in Normandy, France. It was a tegenaria duellica named Alice. He faithfully captured and fed her flies. He even took her to Paris on a train. Then, the situation got out of control and he had to let her go.

Does that story ever sound familiar to me. See? We are kindred spirits.

*Yeah, yeah, I know he doesn’t swing in my direction.

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