September 1, 2000
The Month That Lasted a Year


I've just flipped all of my calendars over from August to September. I don't mind telling you that I've never in my whole life been happier to see one month end and a new month begin.

Basically, August was the month that lasted a year.

And before Cranky Denver Lady pops a blood vessel dashing to her computer keyboard, this has nothing to do with the Tot Visits. The Tot Visits were the BEST thing about August. The Tot Visits were the highlight of the summer, in fact. I have no gripes about the Tot Visits whatsoever.

It was all of the other stuff that wore me out.

The logistics of getting three teenagers from Seattle to the Bay Area and back. All of the preparation involved: grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, ant extermination. All of those trips back and forth to Oakland International. All of that time spent standing around Baggage Claim. All of the sight-seeing. All of the school clothes shopping. All of the crisis management. All of the posing for groovy photo opps.

All of those gut-wrenching goodbye scenes at the airport ... and the six-day emotional hangovers, afterwards.

At the same time, both David and I had phenomenally stressful months at work last month. For David, it was being maneuvered into taking a "promotion" that will actually mean less money. And for me? (Need you ask?) Getting up and dragging ourselves into our respective offices, every morning in August, was a little bit like reporting for carcass-boiling duty at the gelatin factory. It made the month seem just that much more interminable.

And then ... there was this little matter of the Diarist Awards.

Ironically, the only thing I've ever really won in my life -- besides sanity, sobriety, the three most beautiful Tots in the universe and a bitchin' cool boyfriend, that is -- was a writing contest in sixth grade.

My deathless essay, "What Fire Prevention Means to Me," won me the fabulous title of Miss Fire Prevention 1969-1970.  J.P. Patches himself plopped the little rhinestone tiara onto my head at a school assembly.

For the next little while, I thought I was pretty hot stuff: seeing my picture plastered on the front page of The White Center News  ... making TV appearances on local kiddie shows ... riding in parades ... passing out stuffed animals to needy children at Fire Department Christmas parties.

It was my fifteen minutes of fame.

Here's the amusing part, though. The essay was written in the spring of fifth grade. I had to wait for three months, until the fall of sixth grade, to find out whether I'd won or not. I remember those three months as nerve-wracking, excruciating and interminable ... waiting to see if I won the writing prize I so deeply, desperately coveted.

Not unlike August 2000.

Funny how some stuff never changes, isn't it?

It's important for me to explain to you why winning these writing awards today means so much to me.

It means that my ex-husband was wrong: somebody really IS reading "all that stoopid journal stuff."

It means that you have placed me in the esteemed and formidable company of journalers like Laurie, and Karen, and Viv, and Sasha, and Steve, and Ana. I feel like the nerdy Loner Chick who has accidentally found herself sitting at the Cool Kids' lunchtable. Any second you're going to get a whiff of my tuna-and-tomato sandwich and order me back to my solitary seat on the radiator.

It means that twenty-seven months of my life, three computers, four Zip Code changes, one copy of "HTML For Dummies" and $43,897,621 worth of ISP charges, shareware programs and Polaroid film have not been wasted.

And it means that David was right. I can write when I'm sober.

The morning after I won the Miss Fire Prevention contest, I came downstairs to breakfast, still wearing my red velvet cape and my little rhinestone tiara over my regular school dress.  Grandma took one look at me ... and ordered me to go right back upstairs to change.

"You were Miss Fire Prevention yesterday," she said. "Today you're back to being Terri Lynn."

I remember how offended I was. How dare she treat a queen with such disrespect?? Just yesterday, TWO fifth-graders asked me for my autograph! But by the time I got to the school playground -- where Kenny O'Hara and Greg Nelson were waiting to taunt me with choruses of "Look! It's Miss Fire Hose!" -- I was glad I wasn't wearing my royal regalia. They would have eaten me alive.

Do me a favor?

If you ever see me sitting at the breakfast table, wearing a stoopid red velvet cape and a little rhinestone tiara, over my regular Internet journaler clothes? Send my insufferable ass right back upstairs ... order me to change my clothes ... and remind me that I'm just plain old SecraTerri, underneath it all.


(And thank you  --  I mean this, sincerely, with every *molecule* of my being  --  for validating me with these Diarist Awards. It means more to me than you can possibly know.)

Have a great weekend, everybody.


throw a rock