98 Degrees and No Lemonade Left (a story about ‘membering by the Membership Chair)
It was a sultry July afternoon, and I sat reading the New Yorker, fanning myself with the California Literary Review. No, it was definitely the other way around. I’d been so busy after a year of unexpected, life-changing crises and opportunities that to sit, just to sit and read, was a delicious pleasure. Flies circled lazily in the middle of the room, having found a cooler place to do their romancing with all the windows and doors to my house open wide. My lemonade was long gone, and the ice clicked as it shifted, melting, in the glass. A puddle formed on the coffee table and I thought about putting a coaster under the glass. There was something I was forgetting though, something really important from my list of a thousand things. Now, what was it?
My eyes wandered over the cartoons, but I didn’t laugh. It was just too hot. I should have submitted come cartoons. My first New Yorker rejection was such a trophy; every writer should earn one for their “at least I tried” file. I didn’t even get a rejection letter from the Literary Review for the essay I sent in. Did I actually remember to submit? Yes, it was before all the trouble. I’m sure I did.
Was it a meeting? A trip to the vet? Something in the back of my mind was distracting me, keeping me reading the same paragraph over and over again. I should have done something last month. Things were so busy, and now it’s just too hot. “Typically, cars whoosh past asworkers…” Did I really just read that? Oh, it’s a typo.
I remember the first time my work was published in a CWC publication. I felt so understood, so welcomed. I’ve become more accustomed to that honor. I flip through the pages and notice how many stories are in first person. The sign of an immature writer. We’re all immature until we mature. My essay was in first person. Was that my mistake?
The dog paces into the room from the open door, her long nails clicking on the hardwood floor, her tongue dripping mouth-sweat, and falls on her bed with an elderly thump. What did I forget, darnit? Dog day afternoon goes through my head. My dog looks like a bull terrier from this angle. Bull terriers, the only good kind of bully. Bullies… oh yeah, my book is in bookstores now and I should be working on my newsletter. But that’s on my list. There’s something else I’ve forgotten…
An hour later, I’ve been through joyous births and tragic deaths. I’ve felt wonder, grief, anger, and everything in between, as I’ve walked through a Japanese classroom, danced at a prom, gone to war and hung with a Mob boss. I’ve been treated to the fiction, poetry, essays and drawings of dozens of my peers—those creative and inspiring and hard-working writers, members of the California Writers Club.
Members of the California Writers Club? That’s what I’ve forgotten! I have to remind members to pay their dues! I care about this club, and I want it to be strong. There is an exciting year coming up, starting with our Annual Picnic just a few weeks away, and we need everyone to come back and get involved making our club the Premiere Writing Society in the East Bay!
I swirl my ice, suck down the watery remains of the lemonade, wipe the the cool condensation from my palms, and think. It’s been a hard year for me, and for most of the board members. But back when I first dove in to the cool, fresh waters of the membership chair job, I got a fresh new system going. All I really need to do is send out a link (http://cwc-berkeley.org/about/join-us/) and remind members it’s $45 a year (plus $2 if they use PayPal). That’s it! All I have to do is tell them they can renew online or send in a check by the end of July. (I must not forget to tell people they can also choose the auto-renewal option – so each year they’ll renew automatically – but can also cancel at any time.)
But now I want to go back to reading my magazine. And maybe let my eyes close, and listen to the fan beat the air. And maybe, as I drowse off a bit, say a little prayer that my letter will inspire someone out there to contact me and say they’ll take on some membership chores, since I don’t have a successor yet. I can relax now, for a little while. I’m glad I remembered, and hope all our members re-member, too!
Membership Chair Emerita (almost)