Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm finally one of the cool kids

I wasn't a cool kid in high school. And not in junior high (that's what we called it back in the dark ages when I went to school) or even elementary school. I was the plain little girl with the brown pixie hair cut who was smart and good at kick ball. In fourth grade, I was the first girl to kick the ball all the way to the end of the playground and down the embankment. I was on equal footing with the boys, and the cool girls thought I was unladylike. Pfft! I'll take the glory of a long kick over being prissy any old day.

See? I've always been at home on a playground.

So here's my list of PM's coolest moments of the past three years.

~When we started, I never imagined we'd have fans. Or be recognized. It was a real squee moment in Atlanta when someone said "You're the PM from the Writing Playground, aren't you?" I just wish I could tell those prissy girls where to shove it. My 40th high school reunion will be next year. Maybe I'll get my chance.

~ The blog was my idea and I'm pretty sure I dragged the other Playfriends into the experience kicking and screaming. Having 5 people makes it a lot easier for obvious reasons. I've blogged on all sorts of topics and y'all have shared lots of life's exciting moments with me including my first sale to the confessions magazines in March 2006, #2 son's college graduation in May 2006, getting my braces off in June 2006, and the birth of my granddaughter two days later. You've all made those moments even more exciting because I had someone to share them with.

~You've also been with us through our group adventures -- three national conferences (and the decision to keep PC away from any and all cutting instruments), several mountain retreats with our RWA chapter, the others' trip to Scotland (which won't happen again without me) and our first road trip, which involved a meth lab bust in the motel room directly behind ours.

~ We've had lots of guest bloggers over the past three years and it's always fun to read what other people have to say. A guest blog gig is a chance for authors to promote their books, and I know that our own PC and Instigator will be guest blogging all over the blogosphere too. But when we were asked to do our first joint blog with Michelle Buonfiglio, I was stoked. And then her blog moved from Blogger and when we had our annual gig with her last week, we were on Lifetime. LIFETIME!!

~ I'll admit, some weeks I look at the calendar and moan, "Oh heck, it's Tuesday and I have to blog tomorrow." (That's not really what I say; I cleaned it up some.) Some weeks the topic falls right into your lap and others you're scrambling around trying to find something to write about. I don't have goats, though the rabbits eating my flowers did give me blog fodder for a while. Same for our website content. Just Monday we were emailing back and forth trying to figure out who has the December book review. But having folks at national conference tell me how much they enjoy the website and blog makes it all worthwhile.

~ Even though I could kick the ball over the embankment at R. Brown McAllister Elementary School in Concord, North Carolina, I still acted like a good little girl. I mean, I made sure my skirt didn't fly up and show my underwear, and I didn't beat up Joey G. when he called me "cow face" (though I did go to see him in an all-male revue about twenty years ago, and while he showed me HIS underwear, I didn't show him mine). Back then we had to wear dresses and skirts every day, so having your underwear show was a constant concern. Today I worry about presenting a professional appearance as a writer and member of RWA and my local chapter, and it warms the cockles of my heart to have authors compliment us on our professionalism and say how happy they are to contribute an article, interview or guest blog. (Just what are cockles and what's so special about warming them?)

~ This year, I had an extra-special cool moment when my mother took over for me on the blog when I was in San Francisco for conference. She pops in from time to time to comment; I even set up her account and made her a Maxine avatar because she loves Maxine. So when Angel advertised for guest bloggers for conference week, my mom asked if family members could apply. What were the other Playfriends gonna do? Tell an old woman no? ;-) Sorry, Mom. You're not old. Her comments are a high spot of my day. We live 500 miles apart and don't get to visit as often as either of us would like. And how many other eighty-something women do you know who can surf the internet, do instant messaging, send emails and blog?

I want to tell you about my mom. I recently had a feature piece published in True Experience's Experience of a Lifetime column. It was about my mother and how she was widowed at age 43 and left with me and my younger sister to raise and educate. When I received my contributor copy, I sent it to my mom and received back a letter from her that had me blubbering all over my keyboard. My mom's my hero -- or I suppose that should be she-ro -- because when life handed her a huge bowl of lemons, she made lemonade.

My mom succeeded in a career that was dominated by men (newspaper advertising) and was the first woman to have her name on the newspaper's masthead. My sister and I both graduated from college, we've both been married for over 30 years and our kids have all attended college (sis has one son). Even in her retirement she continues to give to her church and community. She's mom to me and my sister, gran to three grandsons and now great-gran to my granddaughter. So I'm pleased as punch that she reads the blog and tickled pink when she comments. Next summer when we're at conference in DC, I'll ask her if she wants the gig again.

I'll pick a winner from today's commenters to receive a Playground Monitor prize package. No telling what it will include, but you can be sure it'll have a romance novel in it. All the winners will be posted on Saturday.

Were you a cool kid? I promise I won't hate you if you were. I'm all over that name-calling stuff from fourth grade.

P.S. Keep track of our NaNoWriMo progress over in the sidebar. I'm at 19515 words. And I'm writing chapter 4 1/2. I know -- books don't have a chapter 4 1/2, but I got to a good ending point with chapter 4 and still had stuff to write that didn't fit in chapter 5. Hence, chapter 4 1/2.


Minna said...

No, I definitely was not a cool kid.

Jane said...

I remember when your mom was blogging during the RWA conference. I was not a cool kid, but I also wasn't an outcast. I didn't bother anybody and nobody bothered me. The important thing was that I had friends and knew most of the people in my grade.

PM's Mother said...

It must run in the family. I was also an uncool kid in school. My first recognition was when I was elected president of the 4-H Club when I was in the 6th grade; then no one noticed me until I won the DAR Essay Award my junior year in high school. My “crowning glory” in my school years was being voted as “the most original” in the Senior Class Superlatives. Of course all these little recognitions boosts ones ego.

Uncool kids have an uncanny way of accomplishing a lot in life. I suppose it is because we try harder and are more appreciative of the recognition we receive for our efforts. We develop our minds and our abilities instead of relying on superficial things like dimples, the latest fashions in clothing and living in the “right neighborhood.” Our recognition comes later in life and it is all the sweeter.

PS: Where's my hero's medal?

Maureen said...

Your mom sounds wonderful. I was definitely not a cool kid in high school. Seeing my kids go through school I think the best thing is if a kid can have a group of good friends it's much better than being the most popular.

Jen said...

I fell somewhere in the middle, not uncool but not cool either. I was however, the kid always left as the last choice when teams were being selected in pe. I suck at sports. ;)

M.V.Freeman said...

I can truthfully say "coolness" does not seem to be in my genetic code, "Clutz" and "Insert-foot-in-mouth disease" tend to prevail.

Although I don't have fond memories of my childhood and school moments, what it did do for me is help create whom I am now.

I have a great love for stories reading and writing them, and I find great joy in finding others with those same loves!

So, some good comes from walking to your own tune!

Instigator said...

Yeah, I suppose I was somewhere in the middle. Not really sure though. I had a group of friends that I loved and trusted and I tended to miss the other people around me. I walk through life with blinders on which can be a good or bad thing depending on what I'm missing.


Problem Child said...

I went to a very small high school, and I was kinda cool by default. But I never felt cool.

When a much-beloved teacher from my high school passed away a couple of years ago, a large group of Alumni ended up at a local bar after the funeral. We spanned close to 25 years of graduating classes. There were a couple of folks who were "legends" at our school (and I use that term loosely --legendary could mean many things :-)). However, it was very strange to have someone come up to me and say, "So you're Kimberly. I heard all about the time you..."

I can't say for certain how "cool" I was, but at least I was memorable! And notoriety is better than nothing, right?

Smarty Pants said...

I was not a cool kid. I was not uncool, either, though. I was queen of the nerds... one of the only girls in my computer programming track at school. I like my computer geeks, but I really wasn't one. I was on the fringe.

I always had my small circle of close friends who were a little different from everyone else and I liked it that way.

Angel said...

In elementary school I was neither cool nor uncool. I was smart, and decent enough at sports not to be picked last. But the cool kids would still talk to me and not complain if I sat near them on the bus.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was homeschooled from 5th grade up. I had a very close group of friends from church, a core set from our youth group, that I hung out with, so I didn't really miss not being cool. And I think not having to be exposed to some of the snobbery and pettiness of a normal high school kept my self-consciousness from becoming more of a neurosis. :)


Liza said...

I was in the middle...which was fine by me. I still have a few friends from when I was growing up, but my best friends are the ones I met in college.

CrystalGB said...

No, I wasn't the cool kid. I was the nerdy kid. ;)

Playground Monitor said...

Uh... hero's medal. note to self: look for hero's medal when NaNoWriMo is over

I see a theme here -- the importance of friends. And that's what we have here at the Playground -- a friendship that allows each of us to be an individual, but binds us with a common goal.

I have 19544 words so far and as I put my head on the pillow last night, the opening to Chapter 5 lit up in my head like the burning of Atlanta. So I got up and grabbed the pen and paper on the nightstand (I've learned to have it there) and jotted down the details. I still need to finish chapter 4 1/2 (it's a long story) and then I can write my midnight flash of brilliance. At least I think it's brilliant.


verification word = acurie. I guess that's what Marie was.

Anonymous said...

No I wasn't on of the cool kids at any point in school. It did bother me then but thank goodness through the years, I have matured enough that it doesn't now. I accept who and what I am and if others don't it's there loss.
word verification - noppi - what the?????

Rebekah E. said...

I'm too shy and as a child everyone took it that I was a snob. I just had no social skills. Thank goodness as an adult I seemed to develop some.

Lois said...

Hey, it's your book, so if you want a 4.5 chapter, go for it! :)

Me, oh no, not cool at all. I was the one with the mean girl bully and few, but close friends. I was the geek before I even knew what a geek was. LOL :)


Ellen said...

No I was never the cool kid. My father worked for an oil company so we moved too often for me to even get close to being the cool kid. Besides I was a tomboy all the way (I had two brothers what was I gonna do?) I would have been playing little league baseball if girls could have done that when I was of the age.

Playground Monitor said...

Oh Ellen, I woulda been right there with you on that Little League team. I didn't have brothers, but I loved to play baseball. I think that's why I loved when my boys played Little League.


Crystal Lee said...

I don't believe I was ever in the "cool" crowd. I do know that I possessed a penchant for weaving oral tales and was always in trouble for talking during my younger years in elementary school. Notes went home and stuff. Fun. But not very cool.

Sherry Werth said...

I was just in the middle and I got along great with everyone. I grew up in a small farming town in S. GA. Everybody knew everybody and I had my own little group to hang out with.

At my 10 year high school reunion I found out I was known as a goody-2-shoes. Me, of all people. The guys told me they didn't ask me out cos it would be like going out with their sister. I didn't hang out with the cool girls cos I didn't smoke, drink or party. But that was ok. I enjoyed my school years and miss my old friends from down south.

PS: PM, its funny you mentioned Concord. I had relatives there and spent a lot of summers with them.

Rhonda Nelson said...

I was somewhere in the middle, I suppose. I moved around a lot, so there was always the "new kid" syndrome for a while.

I think you're the coolest, PM!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I was cool in elementary school; it was the longest I lived in one place. After that, we moved a lot and, like Rhonda, there was the new kid syndrome to get over. So I was neither cool nor uncool.

WTG on the words, PM! You CAN write a whole book! I never doubted it for a minute. :) Sometimes you just gotta get to the point where you are ready to do it.

Virginia said...

Nope, never was a cool kid. I ran around with a girl that was. We have been friends since we where five, but I never made it to be a cool kid. That is ok with me because life has been fine not being the cool kid. I was always a little on the shy side.

Kathy said...

It appears I've missed out on the celebration. Sorry, guys! I've been trying to limit my time on the Internet in order to focus on writing. :)

I was always the 'new kid' too. That's what being an Army brat will get you. I had to learn early on how to make friends and often reinvented myself wherever I went as a way of not repeating the same mistakes. Whenever I was around Army kids, I was one of the gang. But when I spent my high school years in a civilian school, I was one of 'those' kids that never stayed around long. Definitely not the 'in' crowd. LOL!

Happy Birthday, playfriends!!

bamabelle said...

Oh, you made me tear up with what you said about your mom. My mom and I are very close too. I think it's so cool that your mom comes by to comment and support you. :)

I was not cool or uncool. I was just kind of in the middle. I always had a close group of friends, so I was pretty lucky. I think it is just a hard time because you are still trying to find out who you are.

ellie said...

I was never cool and knew it. Still am not and do not care at all since those things are unimportant now but meant alot then.

Susan said...

I fell in the middle. I had friends in both groups.

Cheri2628 said...

No,I was definitely not a cool kid. I was one of those smart, unattractive kids. I loved school and my teachers. My looks improved with time, and I became a teacher. I am still not cool, however! ;-)

cas2ajs said...

Definitely not a cool kid here, either. No one really bothered me but then I was quiet and didn't mind being left to my own devices. And when I was reading, I was pretty good at blocking out all external noise and focusing on what I as reading. But as I've grown older, I've realized the importance of a few good friends too . . . and my mom's my very best friend.

Cheryl S.

Michele L. said...

No, I was unfortunately not very cool. I had friends that I hung around with but I was not one of those Rah-Rah cheerleaders with the perky blonde hair that bounced when you walked. Sigh...

Hey, I turned out great anyway and met a wonderful Italian lover! Eat your heart out you rah-rah cheerleaders!

Hey this is fun to get this off your chest! What other fun things you guys are going to talk about? I can't wait for tomorrow!

Happy Birthday Writing Playground ladies! Woot! Woohoo! I am getting myself ready for the big she-bang on Friday! Will there be chocolate covered strawberries? My thunder thighs love the sweets! Ha, ha!

Have a fun one guys!
Michele L.

Playground Monitor said...

An Italian lover? Maybe we should be asking YOU to blog, Michele.

Chest-baring (in the psychological sort of way of course) is quite cathartic.

Friday? Oh yeah, there will be chocolate covered strawberries and more.

Smarty Pants said...

You know, the playground does have a therapist on staff for a reason. :) We're all for mental health around here.

Kammie said...

I tried to be cool riding around in my bright yellow Mustang, but I don't really think I was. lol At least deep inside I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

No def not one of the popular kids.

Pat L.

ArkieRN said...

I have always been a bookworm. Definitely not one of the cool kids.

catslady said...

No, not a cool kid at all. We had the typical clicks and I guess in a way I did have my circle of friends but not the "cool" ones lol. I probably was in the middle - had various friends from different areas but not the cheerleading crowd lol.