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Thursday, October 15, 2015
Post Bouchercon Ponderings
I always enjoy myself when I go to Bouchercon.
I was a bit of a wide-eyed neophyte at my first one in Baltimore and, truth be told, still feel that way even now.
I know a lot more people, a lot more of the authors, a whole bunch of the readers and fans, bloggers and reviewers, but I am still that wide-eyed kid inside thinking, "oh, wow."
Walking down a corridor and getting a hug from one of the authors being honored, hearing my name called by someone whose name is regularly on the New York Times bestseller list, sharing a meal with one of the most respected, well loved people in the publishing industry. This is me??
If all this sounds cheeky and pretentious - I don't mean for it to. This is just what happens at Bouchercon which is, as you know if you read my last post, a bit of a lovefest.
Those things are fairly typical for so many of the attendees. I'm not unique in this.
And, 'tis lovely. That, we've already established.
But, we all, of course, also have our own little very special, very personal moments.
One of mine was when someone I had met only once several years ago approached me to say she follows me on Facebook and loves how I stick up for myself and for those I care about.
Most of you who know me know that I am, in fact, pretty outspoken. Okay. Mouthy.
What most of you do not know is that it took me a very long time to be able to even speak up for myself, let along do it as loudly as I now do.
I credit Don Barley for helping me find my voice. And not being afraid to use it.
Those of you who think I use it way too much might want to "thank" him too.
There was a life before Don Barley. It was not filled with the joy it now is. It wasn't awful, not by any means - but it wasn't as lovely.
That prior life included two "practice" husbands.
The first was just a nice guy who stumbled into the wrong gal at the wrong time.
The second. Well, there's a different story.
It's a story that I've sort of just kept in the back of my mind for a long time. But for some reason, and I'm honestly not sure why, I have been thinking about it quite a bit. It might be because it was one of the things my mom seemed to have found a few things to say about before she died.
In hindsight, I think she must have known her time here with us was shorter than Don and I realized. She would bring up things that, at the time, seemed to pop up from nowhere for no reason. I think now that she was clearing the air and getting some things off her chest.
When I got married the second time, I was so sure it was forever.
When it wasn't, I realized that after two failed marriages, I needed to take stock. I couldn't, in all fairness, place blame on someone else and I had to face up to the fact that I was at fault also. Not solely at fault - but "also."
How. some. ever.
As I said, it's only been fairly recently that I've allowed myself to look back at that second marriage and analyze it just a little.
And I realized while doing a little analyzing that this was a relationship in which I had no voice.
Because he traveled a lot, I had a huge amount of freedom. I'm not exactly proud of some of what I did with all that freedom, but those are stories most of you won't ever hear. Which is actually kinda sad - there's some pretty great stories there.
But. A voice? Pfft.
For instance. I shared this little snippet with a friend in Raleigh just a few days ago.
A fairly typical circumstance.
During a conversation around a table with friends - not my friends - "his" friends - I said something that "he" found to be a bit objectionable. His response was something like, <insert disparaging chuckle> "she's a diamond in the rough. It's my job to smooth out all those rough edges."
Well, You know. I've always been kinda proud of my rough edges. I know they're there. Any fool could smooth them out if she wanted to. I know who I am and where I come from - those things, those places, include rough edges. I don't ever want to be plain vanilla without my rough edges. It ain't gonna happen.
But did I speak up and say anything when this happened?
Hard to believe now, but no. I didn't.
If that were to happen today can you even imagine the explosion I'd make?
Funny, isn't it?
Scooting forward a whole lot of years through separation, reconciliation, separation, divorce and me being a very happy, very content, albeit poor as a church mouse single gal, life went on.
And then I met this guy.
This guy who did and continues to encourage me, boost me up, and constantly says "you can do that - go for it."
And through this I found my voice.
And you know what, it can even be heard through all those rough edges. Imagine that.
And nobody can ever take it away.
And if there's someone out there like the woman who stopped me in the Sheraton lobby to tell me she appreciated it, then, you know what - I am a very happy and proud soul.
Bouchercon. Where surprising things are always going to happen. Some of which might even come home with you.