The following was written in Dolby Digital Surround. To maximize your reading experience, you are encouraged to break into spontaneous cheering, singing, fist-pumping and random dancing. Warning: you may want to close the door and pull the curtains first.
O.M.G! Woo Hoo! Woo Hoo! Woohoowoohoowoohoo! WOO HOO!
In the immortal words of Mister Parker in "A Christmas Story," I have won a Major Award! And yes, I am considering hanging the framed certificate in my front window.
I do not see this as bragging or boasting. I am sharing my excitement over good -- GREAT -- news with friends. Come join the celebration folks. It may be noisy, because I'm tooting my own horn.
You know how I hate to cut to the chase. So let me tell you the story behind the winning.
Sometime back in the dark, dreary days of the last Iowa winter, I was feeling the need to confirm that I was, indeed, a semi-productive member of society (it had been a particularly difficult day of herding kindergarteners – I mean substitute teaching). I decided that in lieu of finding a cure for the common cold, I would finally enter a writing contest I found on-line.
After months of planning my entry, (Actually a year and months. It was a biennial contest.) I waited until the last minute to write my story. By “last minute,” I mean the email had to be sent by midnight and I finished it at 12:01 a.m. The entry form had two classifications, “local” and “national.” I figured people are people, but my little musings may not be of interest to someone living in California (heck, they may not be of interest to my next door neighbor) so I checked the box marked “local.”
As I clicked “send,” (at 12:03 a.m.) it occurred to me that Ohio (where the entry was being sent) is on Eastern time. This would make my entry one hour and three minutes late, not just three minutes late. A quick check of the contest web site confirmed my fear. It also revealed that “local” referred to Dayton, Ohio, not “local” in the sense of “limited scope of interest.” I figure my entry went directly into the file marked “DUH” for “slack-jawed mouth breathers too stupid to follow directions.”
Chagrined, but not disheartened, I found a link to another contest: the National Society of Newspaper Columnists was adding a blog category. After much consideration and input from the Little Princess, I selected three blog entries from the past year, printed them off and managed to get them to the post office before closing time. Then I sat back and waited. And promptly forgot about the whole thing.
When I received the first email stating my entry had been selected as one of the top three, I looked for the fine print that would tell me where to send the wire-transfer for my “cozin in Niarobi” to help "make speeding the red of the will."
There was no fine print. I started to do a little happy dance.
I was caught between a bump and a grind when I started to wonder how many entries there were. This was the first year for the "blog" category. Maybe no one else knew about it. Was there really much to celebrate if mine was the only entry? What if I got third place out of three entries? I decided I really didn't care and went back to my happy dance.
It was a deadly combination of Midwestern modesty and low self-esteem that kept me nervously checking my email. Every day I expected to find the message "Ooops. Sorry. We were trying to contact the author of 'Sandwich Mom on Bly,' a fan-blog for the poet Robert Bly." Or "Ooops, sorry. We're looking for a blogger named 'Ju Ann'." (To which I could reply, Dude! That is so totally me! The lawn care people have addressed our bill to Ju Ann for the last three years! I've thought about not paying it, but I'm afraid they'll come reposes our lawn.)
Finally, finally, finally the official announcement was made at the NSNC conference, and the official announcement email sent out and received. (Get ready to dance) Yes, indeed, your's truly did receive third place in the blog category! And there were two honorable mentions, so there were at least five entries! And all the other winners work for name-brand publications! First place even went to Roger Ebert -- the Roger Ebert, movie critic, not Roger Ebert, alligator wrassler (although I'm sure he'd write a fine blog, too).
The judge's comments were so nice I had to check to make sure that I wasn't related to him, or that the King hadn't recently written him a very large check. No and no. What followed next was a world-class session of happy dancing, hooting and hollering that rattled the windows and shook the walls. It also caught the attention of the Little Prince and Princess.
"What are you doing?" the Little Prince asked, looking confused and a little frightened.
"I'm dancing!" I said, stating the obvious.
"Don't," he said.
"Ever," the Little Princess added.
Thank goodness I have them around to keep me grounded.
Grounded, but still dancing.