Friday, September 01, 2006

Dear Diary

My parents sent me a box of my high school diaries this week. I was suspicious, as I had taken the extra precaution of writing my innermost thoughts and feelings in journals with a fabric cover, under the assumption that if anybody came upon it, they'd bypass the whole smash because it didn't have the little leather binding with DIARY emblazoned on the front as most other girls' did. Amateurs!

"You didn't read any of them, did you?" I asked my mother.

She said she hadn't, because as it turns out I had also taken the security measure of writing them out by hand, rendering the whole lot illegible to the rest of the human race.

I paged through some last night. It's not exactly Anne Frank. Most detail the comings and goings of certain gentlemen upon whom I had large, embarrassing crushes and whether or not they deigned to look in my general direction. So if my entire generation is snuffed out and all that remains are these little books, posterity can at least rest securely in the knowledge that on June 21, 1993, I ran into Mike Shaw at the snack bar and we conducted a 42-second conversation about the Reds and he totally said "See you around."

Most of these detail the latter years of the high school experience, which means there are descriptions of many geometry tests and wailing "What am I going to do? What am I going to do?" two days before graduation. You're going to wear clothing of your own choice, that's what.

One entire book is dedicated to recording nothing but a play-by-play analysis of every thrilling moment of a state Mock Trial competition. Actual sentence: "Mock Trial is a part of my very being." Another actual sentence: "Boy, do I need help." Sadly, they do not appear in the same entry.

Some moments from my senior year contained touches of kindness I had forgotten about, the slow unfolding of finding social acceptance for the first time in my life, the wonder of friend tying to my locker a mylar balloon with a picture of Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men at the end of the string the day I made the Mock Trial team. So ten years later, I got to wrap myself in warm fuzzies all over again.

It is good that I'm journaling again, only this time in a slightly more legible fashion, with pictures and timestamps and comments from cool random people in Australia. Moments such as these must be forever preserved.

saving it all for the smithsonian at:

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Shade In France

Business trip! To! France! draws near. I fear its Frenchy ways. I'm going to be mocked, I just know it.

I've never had the opportunity to be off the continent before, so this should be interesting. Possibly broadening. Definitely war-provoking.

Momentarily I thought I might emphasize my European heritage in order to ward off potential Gallic sneers. Perhaps I could pass as German. Yeah! The French love Ger-- oh.

The thing is, I circulate a high concentration of Ugly American blood cells. Probably I should just relax into the the truth and bust into the Louvre with a neon pink fanny pack, a leather NASCAR jacket, and an enormous Nikon with a telephoto lens the size of the Hubble that plays recordings of Mickey Mouse bearing greetings. They will love me.

I was sharing my concerns with Fletch The Extremist, who suggested that I break any potential international tension with a joke.

"What you do is," he said, "ask everybody why there are so many trees in Paris. Then when they say you don't know, you go, 'Because Nazis love to march in the shade.'" Yeah, that will smooth things right over.

croissant at:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Oath

Josh The Pilot has now been in Airplanes Running Together Avoidance Training for a week now, and on the first day they made him take a federal employee oath, which was slightly less formal inauguration than I'm used to. There was no platform, or tasteful bunting, or formal galas featuring top hats. There were, however, Donettes.

Somebody brought in a whole big box of powdered sugary goodness, and everybody had some, and all of a sudden the trainees had to stand up and raise their hands and take the oath without even passing around a WetNap first and I suppose it's still valid, even with the additional majesty of the Donette leavings. It's a good thing I never had to be sworn in as a writer, because my right hand is always holding a cheese-based product of some sort. I wouldn't want to debase the procedure further.

He is enjoying the training. His favorite pilot-oriented task is to talk on the radio, and now he not only gets to talk on the radio all the time, he gets to talk about talking on the radio. There is always the drive-thru, I suppose, if the whole ATC thing doesn't work out.

Right now the FAA people are making Josh do all kinds of word problems featuring moving airplanes and knots and vectors and I don't know what-all. People and math problems and exactness and pressure: I cannot imagine anything I'd be worse at. Air traffic controllers command a speedy intelligence and multitasking abilities I'll never know.

For example, during the drive to Oklahoma, Josh called me in great excitement. "Guess what," he said. "I just passed a subdivision? And you know what they named it? 'Morning Wood.' That's awesome! Isn't that awesome?"

Tomorrow, I am told, will feature a great deal of staring at a map with a bunch of little lines. Small snack cakes may or may not be involved.

prefer zingers myself, but only the vanilla kind at:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Today, I am part of a book. The "Release Date" hold is gone from the Amazon page of Twentysomething Essays and Blah Blah Blah Biggest Longest Title In the Whole Freaking World, replaced by a shopping cart icon. It is an odd thing; it's not fully mine, and yet if you look at the copyright page, there I am.

It isn't real yet, I suppose. I was hugely thrilled over the galleys, largely because it was kind of like a book-sonogram: not born yet, but the heartbeat was truly there.

"Are you strangely bummed?" one of the other authors emailed me. Yes. Perhaps the chronic depression has something to do about it, and also the fact that we're writers and being perpetually morose is part of the job description. Then again, it could be the book birth postpartum. I should ask Tom Cruise about the proper vitamins.

We broke 6,000 on rankings today. Largely I'm terrified of the reader reviews, which I'm totally convinced will be like, "This book is outstanding except for the part by MARY BETH ELLIS, who SUCKS." It'll be like teacher evaluations on a global scale.

copyrighted at:

Monday, August 28, 2006


The Formerly SuperSecret Double Probation Project is officially released tomorrow, and you may recall my extremely professional approach to the reviews. But now, due to an alert from Tamar The Reader, I've had the authorly luxury of whining about being underappreciated ripped away. Thanks a lot, Tamar.

Normally I bypass the "Womens' Interest" section at the Barnes & Noble, so I don't know much about JANE. What I do know is on the sparkly side: They once did an incredibly nasty, and therefore true, article about the general horribleness of Faith Hill, and I met one of the writers once at a conference, who said she thought I was funny, which of course reflected extremely well upon the entire publication.

So I wasn't sure about picking up the September issue even though the Twentysomething Authors are in it. This was foreign territory, apparently populated by women who actually pay $60 for a belt. As in, a belt.

I had to ask around for it. I went through two different B&N staff members, and it was on "special display," which meant it was out of the magazine section and positioned at the front of the store in a totally separate rack, which at first thrilled me until I realized that JANE was on the very very bottom rack to the far right of the display, and people were, like, kicking it on their way to the Starbucks line.

Hopefully they were kicking it open to page 64:

"You'll devour this compilation of essays by funny, smart, insightful young writers in just a few hours. While there are the requisite stories on Internet obsession and cubicle angst, there are ones that have that 'How did ya read my mind?' feeling. In 'The Waltz,' Mary Beth Ellis details what it feels like to have OCD, and in 'Sex and the Sickbed,' Jennifer Glaser writes her thoughts as her boyfriend dies from leukemia. You'll bawl after that one, but don't worry--there are laugh-out-loud essays just a few pages later."

The whole section is tagged in the TOC as "New books that aren't on the fall semester syllabus--but should be." That's what my syllabus is missing! More MEEEEEEEEEEEE!

belt shopping at:

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