Bridge to Delrod

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I’m a huge fan of irony, so I take great pleasure in referring to my friend Devon, who is a beautiful woman with a beautiful name, as Delrod. She earned that clunky moniker at a diner in L.A., where the workers were well known for mangling customers’ orders. When Devon’s food came out, the waiter glanced down at the receipt and yelled, “Delrod!” Devon looked at him, eyebrow cocked in disbelief, and suggested, “Devon?” He observed her with some suspicion, studied the receipt for a moment, then looked her full in the face and repeated, “Delrod?” At which point she just said, “Sure,” so he would relinquish her food.

And that is how Devon became Delrod, which I find endlessly amusing, not only because Delrod is such a silly word and not a name at all, but also because it is a continual reminder of that guy’s refusal to admit that the receipt did not say Delrod. He may not have been very bright, but at least he was consistent.

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I’ve got big heart love for Devon, and here is something I’ve learned over the twenty-five years of our sustained friendship: for people to stay connected from adolescence into adulthood, bridges must be built on an ongoing basis. As our living places, friends, significant others, goals, ideas, jobs, and everything else about life have changed, we’ve continually had to build and maintain bridges of communication, trust, loyalty, and respect between one another to keep the friendship alive and strong.

Thankfully, Devon and I have bridge-building experience.

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[For the sake of clarity: we did not build this bridge. I just think it’s cool. Also, look how cute my dogs are.]

During our senior year of high school, Devon and I were lab partners in physics class. Neither of us had a science mind, and we both had a serious case of Senioritis (which began to develop about halfway through sophomore year), so much of our time in physics was spent writing rhyming couplets about our classmates and crawling around under the lab tables, sneakily removing students’ shoelaces and draping them over their knees.

Near the end of the year, we were given an assignment to build a bridge out of toothpicks and glue. Each completed bridge had to be strong enough to hold a bucket of bricks suspended from its center. I think we were given a month to complete this project, and our teacher mentioned about twelve hundred times that we should not, under any circumstances, wait until the day before the assignment was due to get started. I guess all Devon and I heard was, “Blah blah blah wait until the day before the assignment is due to get started,” because that’s what we did.

As it turns out, glue dries at an annoyingly slow pace. Here I am at about 6 p.m. on bridge-building day, demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of anything physics-related. (“I know, I’ll just dry the little pieces with this here blow dryer…”)

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The results were predictable. That did not work. I should’ve paid more attention in class.

Here is Devon pretending she cares about measurements.

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And here she is remembering she doesn’t give a shit.

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In truth, measuring was completely unnecessary. I think we just got out the ruler to seem more scholarly.

And now…drum roll please…here is our magnificent bridge.

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Once it was thoroughly dry (about 90 seconds before we had to hand it in), we wrote, “This Bridge Is Fierce” on those little blue flags. Do you think anyone else’s bridge had fancy flags? No indeed. They were boring, and flagless, and probably took weeks to make. But me and Devon, see, we had our priorities straight. Bridge-making photo shoot? Check. Little blue flags identifying bridge’s fierceness? Check. Only one afternoon out of our terribly busy, 17-year-old lives devoted to the construction of said bridge? Check.

Also, we got an A. Our bridge kicked ass. It held all of the required bricks and then some. The looks on our fellow classmates’ faces were priceless. I could just hear them thinking, They built that bridge? The girls who take out our shoelaces? The girls who left class and told the teacher they were going to Chuck E. Cheese? (This is true. We did ditch class one day and go to Chuck E. Cheese, informing the teacher of our intended destination on the way out the door. Sometimes you just need to eat terrible food and play skeeball in the middle of the day.)

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Now we’re all grown up. When we were kids, she loved to act, and I loved to write. Now that we’re adults, she’s an actor, and I’m a writer. (I guess that diner dude isn’t the only one who understands the value of consistency.) And because Devon is awesome, and super talented, and a member of my band, she has agreed to narrate the audiobook of Aret. Ah, joy – artistic collaboration with a beloved friend. I’m so grateful for our lifelong bridge-building skills. They’ve served us well.

When Aret is released in printed form, I think it should come with a little flag in each corner. And these flags, of course, will be emblazoned with the words:

This Book Is Fierce.

The Band I Always Wanted

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They say it takes a village to raise a child. I’m raising a novel, not a child, so instead of gathering a village, I’ve assembled a band. I always wanted to be in a band, but since I don’t play any instruments, that desire never went past the “I want that” stage. But now it’s official – I have my band, formed of a bunch of people who asked to read Aret and subsequently got sucked into a maelstrom of extra work they never expected. Ha! It’s terribly exciting. For me, at least.

On Super Bowl Eve, my new band got together for its first gig – a pre-publication book club. The band members arrived right on time, with heads full of feedback, hearts full of sincerity, and arms full of refreshments, e-readers, and even notes. Very impressive.

Our volunteer maestro conducted us beautifully. Everyone was focused. Thoughts, questions, and suggestions filled the air. The band was rockin’ it. They analyzed the story in terms of little picture (self-discovery; romance) and big picture (how to create peace when it seems impossible). Links were made to the Bible and the Gaza-Israeli conflict. The book was called time-, genre-, and dimension-bending. Participants expressed their attachment to Diana, the super badass protagonist, and their contempt for the Blue Matriarch, who was described using colorful language I will not include here.

About 90 minutes passed. Ideas were exchanged. Snacks were consumed. As was alcohol.

Quite a bit of alcohol.

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The conversation took a turn. I learned that many people have strong feelings about the word slacks. (I’d always considered it a rather innocuous synonym for pants, but WOO BOY was I wrong.) I was asked to change the Red Matriarch to a Blue Matriarch to correspond with a band member’s personal color preference. A request was made for three-headed, ocean-dwelling dragons to be added to the plot, because that would be cool. There was an extensive discussion about whether or not dragons fart fire. Finally, it was brought to my attention that Aret needs LGBTQ dragons, and a suggestion was put forth that I create a Rainbow caste to represent them.

After the meeting, we all received the following photo via group text:

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(Thank you to sweetlynumb63 at Deviant Art for this unbelievable image.)

That picture has now been linked to my number in one of the band member’s phones, so whenever I contact her, I will appear as a portly, gun-wielding dragon farting rainbows.

And that makes me very happy.

I love my band.