Monday, November 15, 2010
Happy Birthday to Us!!!
Five years ago, a small group of writers stepped out in faith. We wanted to share a few things with the world – hope, encouragement, our journey, and the little bits of wisdom that work for us as we navigate the waters of writing, publication, and life. Along the way, I hope we’ve done those few things, but we’ve done one other very important thing – created some wonderful, lasting memories between ourselves and with our readers. This year, we wanted to share some of our favorite memories of the past 5 years with you.
Two months into our blogging experience, the Playfriends took our first road trip. It wasn’t far – just seventy miles. But we were free of husbands and children and the rest of the world for overnight. Angel’s Suburban had not yet been dubbed “The Playmobile,” complete with an airbrushed tag on the front. Instigator was still a Krispy Kreme virgin (though we solved that on the trip). Problem Child had to sleep on the floor on Amazing Child’s inflatable mattress designed for a small (in other words, short) child. I still remember AC’s tear-stained face as Darling Geek held her in his arms and she called out and waved, “Bye-bye, inflatable mattress.” Smarty Pants was our computer guru who got us hooked to the internet at the motel room (she had a cat5 cable since this was before the days of widespread wifi). And I was still trying to figure out this whole writing business. Still am, actually. We blogged that first night and called it “Playfriends Gone Wild, Volume 1.”
Day and night #1 went smoothly (see reference to Instigator’s initiation to Krispy Kreme) and we all tried to settle in for a good night’s sleep (well, all except PC on the inflatable mattress but she was a trooper to take one for the team). The following morning we were surprised by a call from one of the Mavens who’d been called by another Maven who’d seen on TV that the police department in our get-away town had busted a meth lab in operation in a motel that was part of the same chain where we were staying. A quick view of the morning news revealed not only had the meth lab been operating in the same motel where we were, it was in THE ROOM RIGHT BEHIND US! We shared a bathroom wall.
Had we known this might portend a general disposition toward Playfriend travel disasters, we’d never have given PC that Leatherman tool in Atlanta.
We did have a bit of plotting fun with the incident though. Here’s what Angel wrote in our follow-up blog titled “But Not That Wild!”
“But in true creative fashion (after getting over the shock), we began to brainstorm how this could work in a book. We entertained ourselves throwing together a hokey plot with a single female alone in her hotel room, the undercover DEA agent next door whose scraggly appearance weirds her out when she meets him, and the meth lab that explodes one night, taking out the wall of her room and forcing them on the run.”
And here’s our scraggly DEA agent after the explosion. ::grin::
What’s my favorite Playground memory? Without a doubt, it’s any one of the conferences we’ve all gone to together. Four or five of us sharing one bathroom must be hilarious to anyone from the outside looking in. Honestly, you don’t really know someone until you’ve watched them put on Spanx. And you just have to be friends with anyone who will hook your strapless bra for you.
Sharing rooms. Staying up until two o’clock in the morning talking about writing, family, kids and life. Eating peanut butter-covered brownie bites because someone was smart enough to pack the important things. Working on pitches because someone *cough* didn’t come prepared. Sharing jewelry. Sharing clothes.
Blown knees and cut fingers, we’ve been through it all. You’d think that after five days of forced togetherness we’d get tired of each other. We don’t. You’d think we might fight. We don’t. In fact, most of the time I should be concentrating more on the conference and less on having a good time with my friends...but I know I won’t. Part of what I love about conferences is spending it with Angel, PC, SP & PM. It wouldn’t be the same without them.
My favorite memories aren't really specific, but they always involve the five of us, sitting around, just talking. Those nights sometimes run together - maybe we're on a porch, or in a hotel room somewhere, or in someone's hot tub or living room, but we're laughing and talking. The subjects will vary greatly from moment to moment - we'll be discussing a point one minute, something one of us read on the internet a minute later, and shortly thereafter, our kids or our parents or our weight loss.
Lather, rinse, repeat - and pay attention, because the conversation can hang a sharp left with no warning whatsoever. (Like the time we were plotting Kira's book, and the conversation meandered away from the plot for a moment, so I left the room. A couple of minutes later, I come back, and the book that used to be set at a nudist resort is now set on a peach farm and there's dead people in it.)
So I guess my favorite Playfriend memories involve laughing until we cry and crying until we laugh.
Or, on a less sentimental note, the look on SP's face when she realized I brought silverware to the Dixie Stampede. ~grin~
Like PC, there have been a lot of great moments over the last five years, but my favorites usually involve us sitting around and talking about anything and everything. There's usually food, occasionally screaming at children is also involved, but always fabulous conversation and laughter. To me, it’s really not a Playground gathering if I don't get the chance to make PC's mascara run. Earlier this year, we got a chance to take our gathering to a whole new level - to the hot tub. When we go to the mountains, rarely does a night go by that we don't climb into the Jacuzzi. We even went out in the snow. There's no stopping us.
It’s the one time I can put on a swimsuit without feeling fat, grab a bottle of hard lemonade or a glass of wine and spend time with my peeps until we turn all pruney. A lot of time we plot and brainstorm. Instigator gets very inspired by steamy water, so that works for her. When we're on a roll, we can do two books a night (although note taking is difficult with water and alcohol, so the morning after usually includes some re-caps). Sometimes we lament our personal drama and tell funny stories about our lives pre-Playground. It's just nice to sit around and relax for once.
You know how much excitement can usually result from one of our trips, so given that no one has injured themselves or had a wardrobe malfunction in the hot tub makes it a banner event on its own. We actually like it so much that when PC sent us the link to a house she was thinking of buying and it had a Jacuzzi, I was sold, sight unseen. :) This is a Playground tradition in the making and one of my favorite memories.
I had promised I would pick one memory, and I had: dancing at the Harlequin Party at every conference. I chose this memory because its fun, out of the ordinary, and a fabulous bonding experience. I also chose it because it is unique for me. You see, I’ve never danced in public before. In high school and college, I never went to dances or clubs. My husband has never taken me dancing. So when we were invited to this party, I have to admit I freaked. I mean, me, dancing in public? I’m not slim, smooth, or sexy. I was sure I’d be the person talked about the next morning by everyone there… and not for a good reason.
But let me tell you, there is nothing like boogeying with your best friends in the midst of pounding music, belting out your favorite lyrics, and smiling until your face hurts. If anyone talked about me the next morning, well, at least I didn’t know it. But I’ll never forget these moments of freedom and fun with my favorite friends.
Unfortunately, when trying to choose the pictures that went with this post, I had a difficult time limiting myself to just one memory. Each photo was accompanied by a smile and an “ah, I remember…”. Our first group pictures. First sale celebrations. Lunch with our Mavens. Sightseeing. My Golden Heart final. Phone calls. Late night talks. Tears. Hugs. Squees.
We’ve done it all. In the past 5 years, these women have gone from being my best friends to being my sisters. We can be as different as night and day, but we all have a similar drive, similar work ethic, passion for our writing, our families, our lives. You, our readers, have been there with us to celebrate, commiserate, brainstorm, and dream. We’ve gotten to know far too few of you through your comments, precious in-person meetings, and email exchanges. Today, we hope you will once again celebrate with us.
And in joyful birthday tradition, we’ll be giving away birthday gifties! Our appreciation of lovely alcoholic beverages (and their rightful role in all celebrations) has led us to put together a proper present including 2 martini glasses, a mini-shaker, Cocktails for Dummies, two mini-mixer bottles, and books, including ones from our own Kimberly Lang and Kira Sinclair.
And who knows what other prizes might be given away today?!?! To enter, simply comment about your own favorite memories – what’s the best thing that’s happened in your life over the last 5 years?
Thank you so very much for your comments, advice, humor, and encouragement here on the Playground. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun a ride without our dear friends!