Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Arkansas//Drawing Winner

I would be happy to live in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was 21 degrees and felt remarkably like Vermont. I spent the weekend with old friends who ran the Grand Canyon with me almost seven years ago. That one icy month plunging through enormous rapids on the Colorado River, in a ditch one mile deep, changed everything. It's how I met Will, and Will is how I met Dave. And that's just one example.  It was worth the frostbite, sickness, raft flips, scary swims and ice storms. At the end of the month, we would have all crawled happily back up that river just to do it all again.  

And now for the winner of the first Mystery Prize Monday! Thank you to everyone who participated, we now have a fantastic source of good things on the Wilder Coast's Pinterest Page : your own creations, handmades from your sister, portraits from your cousin, furniture by your uncle. There is Jewelry with secret messages, hand poured candles, delicate baby things, elegant wooden kids toys, swoon-worthy writing paper and supplies...the list goes on. 

Start here when you think of gift giving, it's more than just small and handcrafted- it's our own community! 

Here is Holli randomly choosing the winner. (And Holli happens to be wearing a bicycle tank from the local to Asheville, one-woman business Holdfast Outfitters!)


Congrats Marie! We love, and how awesome that the very first winner of the Make More Mail Initiative recommended a shop that makes stamps, stationary, and other mail related things. Feels like fate. Marie, email and we'll get your mystery prize in the mail.

Thanks everyone! See you soon! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

mystery prize monday

--Drawing Over--
My mom warned me never to write about writing. She says it's self indulgent to the author and boring for the rest of us. Leave it to Lammot and King. And I will leave it to them; after this post it will be all theirs.
all these letters came from you
I thought the job in Arkansas was going to pull together all the strings of my life so neatly. The jolt when that did not happen (at all) lead to some clarity of thought.

At least it did that.

1. I am going to have another job apart from writing. That job will not be 'a thing I do on the side while I nurture my writing career'. Life does not seem to allow for such wishy-washy-ness. My other job will be a world within itself. I'll train for it, be overworked and exhausted by it, rewarded for it and wholly involved with it. That is not failure; in fact I hope to be so lucky.

2. I am going to make money through writing. I have made money on this blog and I earned that. But I will not support myself or my family on it. To think that would be delusional. Delusion leads to disappointment and bitterness and other such creatures to be avoided.

3. This blog will not morph neatly into a book deal. Some blogs turn into books but most do not. If I think that it will, I will never have a book published.

Now, here is where Nico and the plate of meatballs enters the stage. There I was, being treated to this night of endless appetizers (say it out loud: endless. appetizers) and laughing so hard that tears slid down my cheeks, and yet my brain was telling me that once again I'd failed at Making Writing Work.

How funny, brain, because I only know Nico because I write and so does she.

At that moment, I started to think in a funny new way. By Sunday it was snowing in Fayetteville and I made it out just in time. I arrived home very late and the first thing I did was open the box full of letters I've received from readers. I carefully read them one at a time. Then I had to go to bed. The next day I read through the rest.

I received most of these letters while I was working on the boat and having a hard time. The letters are full of encouragement. It turns out they're still just as encouraging, years later and on dry land.
If you've sent me a letter, I've saved it. If you've left a comment, I've read it, and then hunted around to find your blog, if you have one, to see who you are. If your comment is anonymous, I've tried to imagine you. If you've donated to this blog, I remember your name, and I've sent you a letter. (And by the way! If you donate and did not get a letter, let me know! It happened to one person, she was overseas, and the letter got lost. I wrote her another one. Please do let me know.)

What did you picture your life would be when you were younger? I imagined that "life" was a big clean room with a fine desk made from a single polished piece of wood. (That desk does exist by the way, but it ended up in the wrong house! Kerry, please send me your dining room table when you get a chance, I'm pretty sure I dreamed it first.) From that desk I would type out book after book, hand them off to my agent, and then lots of money would arrive in my mailbox. My salt was artesian, my children healthy and quiet, and my dog's fur never fell out by the fistful for no apparent reason.

I have a great life but it doesn't look like that. And thank God because how boring does that sound.

I did not know that I'd connect with people all over the place who would take the time to read my posts, write me letters, leave comments, and send me books they thought I'd like. I had no idea the economy would nose-dive the moment I graduated college and despite that, people would donate their own money to support a very lengthy 'book' I was constantly writing on the internet.

I am not failing at writing because I have found you.

That's what the Make More Mail initiative is about. I love sending letters and things through the mail. Connecting with you is joy. I have some give-aways lined up, some ideas of more excuses to send out letters and photos, and something called Mystery Prize Monday.

It will happen on Mondays. Not every Monday. There will be a little post and a prompt to leave a comment. One of the commenters, chosen at random, will get a mystery prize in the mail. The mystery prize will be small, fun, maybe delicious, could be a book, it's possible you could wear it, not unlikely you could play with it, but there is one rule: if you don't like or can't use your Mystery Prize, you have to send it along to someone who might better suit it.

You cannot chuck your Mystery Prize.

You can share your mystery prize with the world and with the internet if you want. But I won't. From my end, it will be our secret.

Today is the inaugural Mystery Prize Monday and here is the prompt.

This holiday time, I'm hoping to buy all my presents from small, independent businesses. Dig, Holdfast and Melody come to mind. Who else is out there? Do you have a favorite small business, artist, or maker? Is it you, your friend or someone you just found and fell in love with? Do you donate to a certain charity instead of giving presents, or do you make your own with the help of some ninja-level-midnight-difficult craft site? Leave us the link in the comment section.

You can just leave the link, or you can tell us a little about it as well. I will compiled the links on The Wilder Coast's Pinterest Page, on the board "Local, Small, We Want it All!"  (Please don't feel bad for me because I have no followers, because I just started it. If you want to feel bad for me that my urinary system is allergic to alcohol, you may.)

The recipient of the Mystery Prize will be announced on Wednesday.

Thanks. I love you. Now go to town.
keep up with the make more mail initiative on Instagram @melinadream

Saturday, November 15, 2014

the make more mail initiative

I'm writing this evening from Fayetteville, Arkansas. I came down here to investigate an editing job, but I don't think that job is going to work out. They wanted me to move to Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and I can't do that. There are plenty of reasons that I'm unwilling to relocate, and if you're wondering what those are, just read any of this blog from the past year.

For a few weeks before I travelled to Arkansas, I was pretty convinced that the job was going to happen. I felt certain that I'd hammer out a deal wherein I could work remotely and commute twice a month. The prospect of writing and editing for a good salary thrilled me and I brimmed with optimism. One day I dragged Dave to the brand new Whole Foods. "Look at all the things we're going to be able to eat" I said. "With my new salary we will buy black mushroom Peruvian salt from a barrel and we will eat like kings."

Quitting the nursing track is a big deal, but I was ready to do that. After all, writing for a living has always been my plan A, but I have abandoned my plan A for something more stable and dependable. I want to have children, and one day I'd like to be able to support us entirely on my salary. This was my own mother's goal, despite being happily married to my gainfully employed father. And she was successful. "You never know what's going to happen," my mom would say, "so you should be able to support your family all by yourself. Just in case."

So here I thought I'd finally found a way to write for a good salary. Actually, it was a fantastic salary. My mom bought me a nice new sweater so that I could feel confident. Are you 29 and needing your mom to buy you a nice sweater for a job interview? Because I am.

They were not willing to let me work remotely. The job did not work out. The artisan salt evaporated, so did my optimism, so did my ability to buy a nice sweater for myself.

On Friday afternoon I drove from Siloam Springs into Fayetteville, where I have some very dear friends. As I drove I was forced to think about things I do not relish thinking of. I felt very down. I had that feeling you get when your big break exploded and there's nothing left of it and then you're driving a rental car alone through Arkansas.

But then someone I met through writing this blog, a woman named Nico who looks like a beautiful Sprite, took me out to dinner.

She owns the restaurant. I had never met her before, and she ordered us every single thing on the menu. The plates kept coming all night. I ate a whole plate of meatballs and a tray of cheese and I realized something.

Something that cheered me up immensely.

Then I came up with an idea, and bear with me because it's going to take a few little bit of explanation. It's called the Wilder Coast Make More Mail Initiative. Included in the make more mail initiative is something called Mystery Prize Monday.

I cannot explain it now, because then the post would be too long. I'm going to pick this up on Monday. It will be the inaugural Mystery Prize Monday. I'll see you then, alright? Goodbye.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Archives of Disappointing Men

My twenties are about over, and thank goodness, because they took a whole lot of energy. For example, every time there was a chance I'd see a boy I liked at a social event, I'd straighten my hair. This may not sound like something that takes a lot of energy, but it does, trust me. I have exceptionally thick hair. And there were a lot of social events. And there were a lot of boys I liked.

I feel so happy that I dated and hung around with so many different people, and that I was single as often as I was. I gathered a lot of mildly entertaining stories, gained some superhero-level interpersonal skills and wept buckets on my friend Steph and Ammen's couch. I was convinced I'd be alone forever, which is a very important thing to be convinced of at some point in your life.

Dave and I talk about how glad we are that we fished in the open sea for as long as we did. I'm not sure why I've been thinking so much about this lately; maybe it's those Duggar girls who are suddenly everywhere, now that they're old enough to hold hands and get married. They didn't get to be unsettled before they settled down, but I sure did.

I'm grateful for that, because when you've had a lot of strange and excruciating experiences playing the field, like I have, you tend to feel keenly aware of how supremely good things are today, now that you've found your player. Even if Today means having an argument over when it's okay to turn the heat on. Or someone forgets to text when they're come home late and dinner is cold. Or maybe dinner is hot and on time and everything is great, and then someone starts to chew very loudly.

If you have a decade plus of dating and disappointment and utterly transparent late night texts behind you, then you know that this is a teeny, tiny, minuscule price to pay for what a great thing you have.

Every day when my boyfriend gets home from work I jump out of my chair and I think, "I'm so glad I'm me, and you're you, and everything happened the way it did, because now we're here and it's fabulous."

In the past twelve years, it wasn't always fabulous. Sometimes I felt like I was on one of those reality shows they have in China where the subject has no idea they're on TV. So many small indignities and tiny fires of frustration. So much time wasted shaving my legs and choosing my underwear and it always, always ended in a long, slow trudge back to the drawing board.

There was the one who who mistook me for a midget. I never even met him. The handsome ski patroller with the strong jaw line who told me about the shingles rash that started in his right nipple as I sipped a Manhattan.

There was the guy who tried to make me eat a cobra on our first date. If I'm to believe the other girls who dated him, who left comments on that post, this was something he routinely did. I guess his 'thing' was to make ladies eat mystery meat.

Then there was the guy who was just a dick.

And the college boyfriend, the one who let a psychopath into my bedroom.

Oh those awkard times when I was single and confused and highly focused on having a fun plutonic time at game night, even though no one else was. The time that dude beat me to the punch and broke up with me, even though I already felt like I was the one settling. And I know that's a mean terrible thing to say but that's alright, because we've all felt that way at least once.
Oh those seriously sad times! I'd lay in bed for days bemoaning those break ups- for weeks! I'd do melodramatic things like wander around a Walgreens at night, far from home, having left my job and my friends for a boy who very slowly and very surely lost interest in me. Once, I saw a picture of my ex-boyfriend with his pretty new girlfriend, on an utterly terrific ice climbing trip, and I politely gathered up my things from the cafe where I was writing and went outside and threw up. And we weren't even ever in love!

I'm not done. There was that boy from the ski race I met when I was wearing the cutest tights. That still doesn't add up to me. I thought he wanted to go skiing, but really he just wanted to send some vaguely (and I mean vaguely) naughty texts about snow pack, and that was about it, apparently. That was all she wrote.

And let us not forget Washington's final gift: the boy who literally swam across a lake to get away from me.

As for the handsome cinematographer, he never did call. What a shame he lost my number, his telephone got destroyed, he became a monk, he was kidnapped and taken to a place without cell service.

The very best part is, these are just the ones I chose to write about. There were others, and for some reason I'm relatively proud of all of it.

All of this is not to say that I was miserable for the last ten years, because nothing could be farther from the truth. And I know the Blogging Hate Site will lose its jar of marbles after reading this post, admonishing me for Counting My Chickens the way I am. And they're right! I could be knocked back in the arena at any time. We all could.

But that's not the point. The point is not how much I count my eggs, or how much I like my eggs and the one basket I've chosen to put them in. The point is this: the experiences that were very difficult and sad, and annoying, and defeating and exhausting and bewildering and even degrading at times, are now proving to be very useful and insightful.

I used to feel, after each break up or near miss, that I had wasted my time. That it had all been for nothing. But that is just not true.

I wasn't wasting my time, and neither are you.

If you like this post, share it! And if you share it, email me at with your address. I will send you a thank you card. I'm growing my 'online platform' on the advice of a fantastic literary agent, and 'Shares' are worth their weight in gold. Also, I want to write you a letter.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Hard Job, The Waffle House & The Green Race

So it took me seven hours to write this "quick little article" on The Green Race. And that's not counting the hours I actually spent at the event, nor should it, because that was a really fun time. 

Whenever I have to write something that's, how do I say this, not entirely about myself, I remember how difficult and aggravating and itch-inducing writing can be. I take breaks every half hour to sprawl face down across my bed and moan 'This is HARD, this is so HARD, this is such a HARD JOB*!!'

Then I go and work a shift as a bartender at the Cidery and I remember what "Hard Job**" really means. And bear in mind, we really only serve two types of drinks at the Cidery. That, and I only work about once a month. And still I whimper myself to sleep after my shift is over, curled in a ball under the covers like a little mole.

Anyway! Check out my attempt at journalism. I even interviewed people at a Waffle House because I'm so big time.  

*Are you laughing over this phrase? Because I am.
**still funny