Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 4

This is a significant date for me, because it earmarks the birth of one close friend and the early death of another.

Today is Gigi's birthday--the great childhood friend about whom I often write.  In fact, I wrote about her again this week and you can read what I have to say here.  She was a fabulous kid who grew up to be a fabulous adult--full of passion and social outrage and deep, deep kindness.  Her grandmother, who was like THE ROSE KENNEDY OF PROVO, would be so proud of her and of Gigi's cousin Erika Petersen, who is the driving force behind the Building Bridges movement.  Both the Mormon and LBGT communities owe Erika a huge debt of gratitude.  And also lunch.

It's also the day another great childhood friend, Becky Brown Thomas, died unexpectedly in her sleep.  She was only 47.  We'd had lunch the day before where we laughed and laughed and laughed.  And then she fell silent.

I took her death hard.  Of course I did.  So did everybody else.  And for a long, long time I went to sleep at night, hoping that she might visit me in a dream.  She never has.  But I did dream one night about my other friends--the ones who share my life right here and now--and when I awoke I felt as though Becky had sent me a message of sorts.

You're here now.

You have been blessed with these women.

Love them.

Take care of them.

Stop mourning for me.

Of course the mourning never stops.  But I also never forget how lucky I am to have the friends I do.  So, so lucky.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mean girls

So Stef and I saw The Duff and I realized about halfway into it that the film was probably based on a book I read a few years back with the same title.  I know.  I'm a genius.  I think it took me awhile to connect the dots, however, because the film is very funny and the book is primarily very angsty--no doubt because the author was actually in high school when she wrote it.  Which is amazing, but still.  Lots of angsty-angsty.

Anyway.  None of this is the point.

The point is that there are mean girls in this movie.  Really popular, good-looking mean girls who do things like humiliate other girls in public.  It's a favorite YA trope--the really popular, good-looking mean girls who humiliate other girls in public.  They show up in movies and TV shows and books.  We love to hate them, those evil fairy tale queens who persecute the ordinary nice girls.

Like us.

But, are they for real?  Or are they--you know--just evil fairy tale characters?  Because when I think about it, I have to say I've never known girls who were so pro-actively YA novel and movie mean.  Am I just being naive here?  You know--because I didn't have sisters or daughters?

Discuss please.  I don't mind if you disagree.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A letter of recommendation for myself to myself

I've been working on a letter in hopes that I'll get hired for a certain gig and gah.  It's so boring.  I sound so boring.  And yet I don't really dare to bust loose because then you become one of those cliche disasters editors always talk about when they give talks called HOW NOT TO BE A CLICHE DISASTER!  So.  Here are a few of the no-no's.

No fancy fonts.

No pink ink.

No pictures of your cats.

Nothing that screams LOOKATMELOOKATMELOOKATME even though the whole point of writing a letter about yourself is to get someone to look at you.

It's tricky, writing a thing that will make someone want to hire you when there are so many other people out there who want to be hired, too.  But I'll soldier on and try to get it right.  Meanwhile, I'll write the letter I REALLY want to write here.  For us.

Dear Fill-in-the-blank,

Here's why you want me in your life.  Because when we get together for meetings and so forth, I will not judge your bad food habits.  You want that bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos?  Honey, rip open that bag and GO FOR IT.  I'll even allow you to lick the fake cheese off your fingers and will look the other way if some of it ends up on your nose.

On the other hand, I might judge you for your good food habits.  But only a little.

See there?  You want me.  I know that you want me.

Best wishes,

Ann Cannon

P.S.  Is your name really "Fill-in-the-blank?"

Friday, February 20, 2015

What place(s) would you haunt?

I've been working on a little piece this morning wherein I ask that question, and here's how I answered my own question:

I think I’d start with Hawaii.
            Hawaii!  Seriously, what a gig for ghost!
            But my reasons are personal and not just because Hawaii is . . . you know . . . Hawaii.  Hawaii was the first big time-in-your-dreams-place I ever visited.  I went with my parents, and while we were there, I turned sixteen.  We went to a supper club in Honolulu—so glam!  Also fancy!—where someone told the performer-in-residence, Don Ho, that a certain Haole girl wearing a neon orange muumuu in the audience was having a birthday.  So Don Ho made me get up on the stage with him.  And he serenaded me while my parents looked on, wondering (no doubt) why they’d ever let me buy that neon orange muumuu.
            So that’s where I want to go.  Back to Hawaii .  And while I’m there, I want to  see myself and my parents feeling the kiss of tropical air on our skins for the very first time—with so, so much life ahead of us still.
            Your turn to play now.  What places would you haunt?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Well now HERE'S an experience I haven't had in forever . . .

I won't keep you in suspense.  Here it is.  I HAD FUN WRITING!

OK, maybe I need to walk this back a little bit.  I always have fun writing my blog.  And I often have fun writing my column.  But it has been a long, long time since I've had fun working on a novel.

There are a lot of reasons for this, some of which include the following:

1.  Writing novels is hard.  I know.  Boo-frickity-hoo.  I was raised by frickin'  Belgians.  I know this is a stupid thing to say because writing novels compared to hauling bricks on your back and walking for miles to fetch enough water for the day is a snap.  A self-imposed snap.

But here's the thing.  You have to occupy the World of the Novel you're writing for a long, long, long time.  And it's easy to get discouraged and bored.  Also.  YOU HAVE TO MAKE SENSE.  You have to tie up a lot of loose ends and make sure that the character you called "Riley" before you changed her name to "Grace" somewhere in the middle of your manuscript gets called "Grace" all the way through.  Stuff like that.  There's lots of housekeeping when you write a novel.  Lots and lots of housekeeping.

2.  Writing novels is an act of faith when you don't have a contract, and when you've lost faith in yourself or the project--no matter how temporarily--the writing can start to feel like torture as in "Who do you think you are to write a book.  ANSWER ME.  WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!"

(I apologize fo assaulting you all with so many caps today, btw.)

But yesterday?  I went to MacDonald's and wrote 1000 words in an hour.  Those words were just singing falalalalalalala off the ends of my fingers.

And it was fun.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In defense of (some) men

So, not surprisingly, the Fifty Shades column has provoked a certain amount of discussion--both online and off.

YES!  I'M A GENIUS!  Just throw the words "fifty shades" in your headline and the people, they will flock to your column.

Anyhoo.  That's not the point.  The point is that I received a few interesting links this morning from a good friend about the fifty phenom--one of which talked about organized religion's long, long, long and frequently dark history of wrangling with female sexuality.  It's like religion hasn't always known what to do with us.  Make us virgins!  Veil us!  Stone us!  Burn us at the stake!  Make a man's bad behavior all our fault!

You get the idea.  And I've certainly written about this before, how resentful I felt that the boys I knew had more opportunities both inside and outside of my church than the girls did.  But as a woman who has been fortunate enough in this life to know a lot of good men, I also think that men get unfairly treated by the powers that be, too.

Let's look at the church thing for a minute, shall we?  I have five fabulous sons, some of whom are active in the LDS church and some of whom are not.  I wouldn't trade a one of them.  At this stage of my life it seems pretty clear to me that we're all on different paths--and sometimes those paths are exactly the ones we should be on, even if they seem scary and unfamiliar to others.

Also not the point of this post, but whatever.

The real point is this--one of those boys stopped going to priesthood sessions a long time ago because all they ever talked about (according to him) was pornography and how bad it is.  Which (when you think about it) is its own kind of pornography--always talking about it, I mean.  He got to the point where he felt like a lot of people think "male-ness" in and of itself is inherently evil--the source of all mankind's problems.

So complicated.  So not black and white.  But not fifty damn shades of grey either.

Bottom line.  I know a lot of good men.  And some of them are even religious, you know?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fifty Shades as Promised

Well, here's the column with all the spank-spankity-spanking going on.  Good times!