Wednesday, September 17, 2003


While I was freaking out just before the agent interview, one of the published authors in RMFW decided to take me under his wing. He talked me into a better spot so I felt more like a small satchel of nerves, instead of a whole basket. After the agent interview, he bumped into me in a class and asked how things had gone. The next morning, he waved me to his table at breakfast, and I thanked him for helping me out on Saturday. We got to talking, and then he gave me a business card. But this was no ordinary card. It had a penny glued to it. "This is an unused wish," he told me. I thought that was a pretty neat idea, but the penny caught my attention. It just seemed a little odd considering my penny experience from a few hours before he gave me the card.

Saturday night, I had been so engrossed in my conversation with Teresa that I completely forgot to call Mark and tell him I might be running late. So when I finally turned on my phone at 1:15 AM and called him, he was understandably upset. While I was apologizing and trying to tell him why I hadn't called, he mentioned why he had gone from concerned to really worried about me. He had gone out onto our porch to walk around and pace away his uneasiness. But on the porch he found a penny. A penny from 1978. The year I was born.

Mark's not a very superstitious person. But he'd heard somewhere about finding a penny from a person's birth year when they die or on the anniversary of their death. And so he started to get really upset about why I hadn't called.

When I finally did call, we were both all over the map emotionally. The buzz I had from chatting with Teresa and the other two women was still propelling me forward, keeping me awake. But I also felt guilty for not keeping my husband in the loop. And I also knew exactly what Mark was feeling. A year or two ago, Mark and our friend PJ decided to hike two 14,000 ft peaks in one day (they're fairly close together and wouldn't require them hiking all the way down to the base of each peak and then back up). He told me they would be back around 5PM or so. At 10PM, I was trying to figure out who I need to call to report a missing hiker. Hell, I even pulled out the yellow pages to see if I could find the number for "Rocky Mountain Rescue" there. Just before I figured out the people I needed to alert, Mark called and said they were on their way home, that they had run into some trouble but were fine.

All the different feelings and thoughts and concerns scrambled my brain, and I could tell Mark was still in a bad place. So I hooked up my hands-free set and talked to him the entire drive. When I got home, Mark showed me the penny he had found. And I told him it was a good penny. That he had found it because I was having such a good time and because I had wished he could've been sitting right next to me the entire night, experiencing everything with me.

When the author gave me a business card with a penny's worth of unused wishing Sunday morning, I thought of the penny Mark had found. I thought of all the good things that had happened that weekend. And I knew I'd have to think hard to come up with a wish. But I knew I could think of something.

Monday evening, my mother called. And she told me how proud she was of me. For the past year and a half, I've been waiting for my mother to say this. She hasn't understood my need to leave a PhD program with a masters, to abandon that degree by getting a job as a secretary, and to keep that "nothing" job so I can chase my dream of writing. And her lack of understanding chipped away at my heart. But Monday night she apologized and told me how eager she was to fully support my writing, instead of just tolerating it as she had before. Tears, laughter, vocalized hugs, joy. Another big, huge, amazing bit of good news to add to the mix.

Tuesday I realized that I was kinda out of wishes. I was out of an agent's slushpile. I had a human face to put on the publishing industry. I had learned numerous things about my craft. I had the energy to stop the destructive thought processes about my writing. I had friends cheering me on. I had my mother's support. And I had my husband right beside me for every step. I had no idea what was left for that wish.

I thought maybe I would use it for something bigger than myself. I can't do much to bring about world peace, but maybe adding a penny wish to my hopes and prayers would at least make me feel a little less impotent about the state of the world. For a moment. I put aside this thought and decided I would come back to this unused wish later.

And then I talked with a friend of mine this morning. Over the weekend, one of her two cats had escaped the house, and they fear the worst. Add to that a messy divorce, the battered health of her soon-to-be ex, and a myriad of other issues. That's where my wish belongs. I'm glad I waited to use it.

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