Catch Up!

Hey everyone,

Well…I’m back in school! In fact, I’ve been a bit distracted lately (mainly by school) which is why I’ve been a lazy blogger. But no longer, friends! Still, why don’t I recap?

So, I had an AMAZING time in Texas. One of the highlights was definitely riding around on the back of my cousin’s vespa. A guy in a Beamer even offered to race us (an offer I immediately accepted) so that was exciting. I also crashed a party at Rice University where the theme was: Don’t Mess with Texas.

They were foolishly giving out squirt guns and badges.

So naturally, my cousin and I were instantly armed combatants. Don’t worry, y’all: I kicked her ass.

Sort of.

Anyhow, one of the other highlights was spending time with my good friend Stephanie. I hadn’t seen her in roughly four years, so you could say this visit was long overdue. She decided I needed an authentic Texas experience.

Which led to this:

And then to this….

Go Rams! Or…longhorns? GO TEXAS FOOTBALL TEAM WHOSE NAME I CAN’T REMEMBER!!!

This is my best impression of sports spirit.

Anyhow, Texas was fantastic but it was a relief to escape the humidity. Portland is gorgeous right now and I definitely appreciated being able to walk outside without feeling like I just entered a sauna.

It really does feel good to be back. I’ll be sure to post pictures of my dorm room soon….once I clean it again.

And just when I thought life couldn’t get better at Lewis & Clark (because I’ve been able to see so many of my amazing, gorgeous, brilliant and talented friends) a special something arrived in the mail….

AWKWARD!!!!!

I have my Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)!!!! They are so insanely beautiful that I couldn’t resist carrying a copy everywhere I went. Part of me felt like if it wasn’t in my hands at all time it would disappear.

BUT I STILL HAVE THEM!

Can you tell that I’m excited?

This leads me to a very exciting announcement: if you live in Portland, have a blog and are willing to pass on AWKWARD after you read it…you can have an ARC!

I know, there should be no strings attached. But I REALLY need help spreading the excitement of AWKWARD into the the blogosphere. And the Twitterverse. And Facebooklandia. So I’ll be sure to announce when AWKWARD hits NetGalley so that everyone can review it.

In the meantime: Portland people! Hit me up!

I have to admit: it’s pretty tough to beat out an ARC for exciting news but I am definitely looking forward to being the proud parent of three fish! Right now they are recovering from a fish disease called ick (I’m not making this up. At first I was tempted to tell the Fish Lady that I suffer from ick too. Primarily when people serve me food that I really don’t want to eat) but soon they’ll live with me!

I’ve set the aquarium up in anticipation.

And that’s about it for now. I should probably start my homework now…you know, since it’s due in 9 hours….

More later!

~Marni

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Christmas in July

Hey everyone!

So…I know tis not the season yet. In fact, the only people who seem to have been infected with holiday cheer are the people selling Christmas ornaments and twinkle lights at garage sales. If I had a penny for every time I saw an ugly candy cane pin or Santa Claus necklace…I could buy a grande drink at Starbucks with the earnings.

So wonderfully tacky.

And yet even though we’re in the month of fireworks when Old Navy insists that I need a new wardrobe for upcoming camping trips…I’m secretly in December.

You see, I’m working on a holiday themed novel so I need to get into the feeling of the holidays. Which ought to include carols except…most of them annoy me. Maybe because I’ve gone on too many trips over the holidays where reggae versions of Here Comes Santa Claus played on an endless loop. Let me assure you it did not put me in a jolly mood.

The exact opposite of jolly, to tell the truth. I began contemplating the many ways I could destroy the plastic Welcome Santa that belted out holiday tunes at anyone unfortunate enough to go near the damn thing.

Nevertheless here I am, in July, fa la la la-ing as I edit away. I have found that singing usually helps curb my impulse to bury my head in a blanket and screech, “OH MY GOD, THEY’RE GOING TO FIND OUT I’M A TALENTLESS HACK AFTER ALL!”

It’s really a shame I don’t have any musical ability. I’m trying to belt out All I Want for Christmas is You when my mom isn’t around to hear it. The only concern is that I may inadvertently upset neighbors into filing a noise complaint.

Considering that sort of happened at school once…I feel the concern isn’t entirely unjustified.

I’m actually enjoying my Christmas experience. Which is kind of funny because as a Jew I usually have a hard time getting into the spirit of things. When I was at my friend Gwyn’s house I always had a blast decorating the tree and admiring our handiwork. But at school…I felt left out. To be fair, there aren’t that many good Channukah songs out there.

Which is why the first time I saw Candlelight by The Maccabeats I may have teared up. Just a little.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSJCSR4MuhU]

But for some reason Christmas in July is really nice. Maybe because I’m choosing to listen to the music instead of being bombarded by Christmas everywhere I go.

So if I appear even more oblivious than usual, it might have something to do with the fact that I’m pretending it’s December.

Although there are a few other reasons I’m excited about December.

Reason #1: I will have graduated from Lewis & Clark College.

Reason #2: I might be spending the holidays in Kenya/Tanzania.

Reason #3: AWKWARD will be closer to its release date!

Clearly, lots of excitement in December. But I’m looking forward to a wedding that’s only a few weeks away now! Especially since I can certify that the dress will be 100% sequin-free. Sadly, the same can not be said of my mom’s rugs. And the first week in August I’m flying to Portland for the Willamette Writers Conference where I’ll be on a panel with Laurie McLean and Grace Ledding.

That’s going to be even better than Christmas in my opinion!

So I’ve got lots to look forward to…just as soon as I finish writing this freaking book.

Sigh. So true.

That’s all for now, folks!

~Marni

Odd Duck

Hey everyone!
It might surprise some of you to hear that I’ve gotten a reputation in Australia for being morbid. At first I thought it was unwarranted. I’m an absolute optimist. I’m the girl on the bus who merely smiles as the baby shrieks—and not because I’m imagining ways to shut her up. I choose to be entertained rather than annoyed. But my fellow classmates know that if we in any way discuss the seedy underbelly of society, I’m going to have some questions.
Okay, a lot of questions.
They thought it was funny when I asked our first lecturer if selling Aboriginal artifacts on the black market has the potential to make some serious cash.
They smiled indulgently when I asked our tour guide about how brothels were organized at the mines.
They shook their heads when I asked which creature in the mangrove swamps posed the greatest safety hazard.
And they traded knowing looks (and a few groans) when one particularly brave lecturer said that he welcomed all questions. No need to raise hands. Just shout them out.
So . . . yes, sometimes the screaming child and I both need to keep our mouths shut. I openly admit it. But I only ask questions when something captures my imagination. Once that happens I just have to know. Even if it means asking museum curators how the security of certain objects could be compromised.
I know! I just can’t help it.
So yesterday when I asked the museum expert if the Aboriginals wore anything particularly comfortable, it wasn’t meant to be awkward. It was just that . . . no way could dangling a humongous shell to cover up certain bodily bits be comfortable. Which explains why it was ceremonial and not for lounging. I understand now.
But apparently while I was pointing to the piece that had ahem, captured my attention, a member of my group pointed out the obvious:
“Marni asks the most awkward questions.” Beat. “I probably shouldn’t have said that out loud.”
To which my teacher responded, “Oh no. That’s what all of us were thinking.”
Which . . . okay, fair enough. My questions are weird. I get it.
And I wasn’t mad or offended when I heard about it. I’m sort of used to it, to be honest. I’ve heard a similar sentiment expressed throughout my life.
Except back in high school . . . and middle school . . . and elementary school I desperately wanted to blend in. If I could have swapped my life for someone else’s I would have done it. Absolutely. I probably wouldn’t have wanted to trade back. See, no matter how hard I try to act normal, I have always been the odd duck.
I’m the square block that looks at the round hole and says, “Um . . . not to be critical, but you know you’ve got the wrong piece, right?”
Even in elementary school. I was the one kid who couldn’t tie her own shoes or read a clock. And I could never figure out the stupid game where you hopped from state to state on the blacktop outline of the U.S. because the rules kept changing. One day it was “don’t step on the orange states” then it was, “don’t step on the states that start with a vowel!” But mainly it was, “Marni, what are you doing? That’s not how you play!
Elementary school had its share of rough social moments. People who look back to the simpler times and sigh must have been the cool kids on the playground. When you are the square peg, no matter how many adults supposedly love your “pegginess” you generally feel like crap. I used to fall asleep every night berating myself for my daily social faux pas until I cried. So . . . maybe it’s a fair assessment to say that I’ve always been a bit different.
And while I like to think I’ve grown smarter, stronger and more articulate with age when it comes to some things I’m still the kid who can’t figure out the hopping game. I still don’t know how to be anyone other than myself.
The difference is that now I’m 92.7% okay with it. Instead of crying over my social mishaps, I laugh. I pull the covers over my face, squinch up one eye and smack my forehead in amused disbelief. Then I pull out my laptop and imagine what would happen if one of my characters said a similar thing only worse!
My awkwardness, the thing I always thought would hold me back, has actually allowed me to make a living doing what I love.
I’m a square peg and I can’t fake it. I’m always going to want to know about heists, assassination attempts and evil genius plans. It’s the way I’m built. So if any of those things make me “morbid” (characterized by or appealing to an abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects) well, okay.
But what other people see as an “unhealthy interest in disturbing subjects” I find fascinating. And I will always choose to be intrigued instead of bored. So to all my fellow pegs: hang in there. At some point you’ll look at that stupid round hole and realize that slinking down with the others actually sounds pretty dull.
So before I leave this blog and find some other way to procrastinate on my research paper (The City Built on Gold: The Boredom Story. I mean the “Ballarat” story . . .) I want to wish my sister a very happy birthday. I thought this shout-out might make up for the fact that (as my brother so elegantly put it) I’m stiffing her again this year. But maybe not. Oh will you look at that! I’ve got to go.
Sincerely,

Marni