This weekend I had the honor of participating in the Ballard Writer’s Book Slam, featuring 22 writers from our neighborhood (must be all the coffee shops) reading for three minutes each as well as delicious food and drink. The event was organized by Peggy Sturdivant, neighborhood champion and author of the At Large in Ballard column and blog. We had a great turnout. I encourage you to check out these fine authors.
Here’s my three minutes of fame:
Shortly after I turned 50, I began taking a Zumba class at the Sonny Newman Dance Hall in Greenwood. Taught by an infectious Peruvian woman named Ida, the participants come in many shapes, sizes, ages and nationalities and even include one 60 year-old transgender person in pink sweats. While we attempt a series of complicated salsa and meringue steps and the cha, cha, cha, Ida carries on a running commentary, translating the meaning of the songs. “Oh,” she wails. “It is so sad! He loves you, but he cannot have you, because you are promised to another. But he says he will always wait for you. Now esqueeze your butt chicks!”
I am intoxicated by the music, my classmates and especially by Ida, whose voice and personality remind me of Gloria, the passionate, outspoken buxom Colombian trophy wife played by Sofia Vergara on the sitcom Modern Family. We all are. When a hip -hop band commands “If you’re sexy and you know it, clap your hands,” everybody makes some noise.
Not long after I began dancing Zumba, I found myself in the bathroom, brushing my teeth side-by-side with my husband, who had been away on a business trip. He looked fondly down at me, in my cheerful green pajamas, and said “My wife, the pickle.”
He called in our twelve year-old daughter. She is savvy enough to bank brownie points whenever possible, so when she saw the frozen look of horror on my face she said, “Actually mom, I think you look more like a snap pea.”
I’m pretty sure that was the moment I decided to liberate my inner Gloria.
The original plan was to dress like Gloria, talk like Gloria and act like Gloria solely for the benefit of my family, waiting for them when they came home from work and school.
My friend L, who is going through a divorce and knows a thing or two about personal transformation, had other ideas. “You need to be Gloria all day. You have to go to the grocery store as Gloria, pick the kids up from school as Gloria …”
I imagined myself in the organic produce section of the Ballard Market, leaning forward to reach a zucchini, in stiletto heels and a buttocks-hugging pencil skirt, ample cleavage spilling out of my tight blouse, calling for help: “Excuse me, can you get me a tickitini???”
Though Ballard has its share of artists and tattooed moms and restaurants worthy of review in the New York Times, it still bears more than a passing resemblance to Lake Wobegon.
I couldn’t go through with it.
So I settled on being Gloria for Halloween and I started a blog instead.
As all of the writers in this room can attest, putting your work out there can be as intimidating as pretending to be Gloria in the Ballard Market. There will be editors and agents and critics and inner voices who may tell you that your work isn’t good enough or that your book can’t be marketed to fit into one of today’s popular genres.
But as Michael Schein said at this gathering last year, if you want to write, write. Don’t worry about whether anyone will read what you write, just write.
And if you think you are sexy enough, then dance the meringue, even if you are a 60 year-old transgender person in pink sweatpants or a 50 year-old minivan-driving mom who looks like a pickle.
Revel in your crunchy, sassy, half-sweet, half sourness and don’t forget to esqueeze your butt chicks with passion and with pride.