Thursday, July 25, 2013

A preview

So there are probably other things I could blog about.  I'm kind of feeling lay though so I'm going to cheat.  Back in November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and actually finished a book.  It still needs serious editing.  Which I will do... Eventually.  You know.  When I have time.  But anyway, I'm just going to post the prologue here for the general population to read.  So there you have it.  I hope you enjoy.

 I suppose there are worse things to be defined by in life than your incredible luck, and I imagine there are plenty of people who would trade their own luck for my incredibly stupid but also incredibly undeniable luck. The problem for me, though, was my luck was the only thing I seemed to be defined by.
In most things in life, I was fairly mediocre. When I was in high school, I was a good student and did the honors classes and whatnot but I was never particularly good at any given subject, nor did I like any subject over another. I was an A and B student in every subject. I wasn't especially good at art or music or dancing or cooking. I had no talents to speak of.
From the time I was three up until I graduated from high school, I had done gymnastics. I was far too tall to ever be great at it but I worked hard and I was consistent, making me an asset to my club team, even if I was never going to go to the Olympics or get a college scholarship from it. At five-six when I was in high school, I had towered over more or less every other gymnast I had ever met. I also, like most girls (but not most gymnasts) went through puberty, though a bit later than normal. As a result, I was the strange tall gymnasts who actually had a full chest and hips to match the ripped arms and huge shoulders I had from throwing myself through the air and catching a stationary bar. As I said, I was okay. I wasn't a superior athlete naturally, I just worked hard.
Having no particular talent or love of any particular subject, college became quite the dilemma. With no better ideas going through my head, I had gone to the closest state university and majored in business since I figured that would be useful no matter what I wound up doing. Part of me had also been hoping I would find something I really liked in the course of taking my electives. Again, I did fairly well in my coursework, well enough to graduate cum laude but not so well that I thought I wanted to do my MBA.
Following my graduation from college, I simply wasn't sure what to do with my life. I thought God was playing some sort of sick trick on my life as my high school friends pursued their dreams, some finding their dream life, and others falling flat and finding a new dream. My childhood best friend, Alba (yes, she was named after the place Napoleon ran off to), was off at vet school, well on her way to becoming an Equine vet, like she had dreamed of. Her longtime boyfriend Brett was working as a police officer and was planning to propose to Alba soon.
I really felt like a loser compared to my friends and their perfectly laid out lives, with their plans all turning out exactly as they had hoped. I had made no plans so I supposed there was no room for me me to be disappointed that my life wasn't going according to plan, yet somehow their was an emptiness. I was twenty-four and working as a barista at a coffee shop. I was a good barista, in that I made the drinks properly and was friendly with all of the customers, even when all I felt like was being grouchy. I was not one of those artistic baristas who made insane art with cappucino foam. I liked my boss and I liked the people I worked with. In fact, I liked my coworker Lucas a little too much...
I digress, however.
The point of this story is not how lame my life was in those murky first post-college years. The point is how my life changed from that point, how I grew out of being a mediocre, un-talented young adult and into the person I was always supposed to be.
Remember how I said my only defining characteristic was luck? If you were as lucky as I am, you might have been defined by it as well. I was lucky in a strange sense that required no talent or preparation or skill at all.
It all started when I was five years old and the library was having a raffle for one of the very expensive American girl dolls. I was not yet old enough to appreciate the price of such a doll so my parents had thus far refused to buy me one, saving it for a gift when I was older and wouldn't drag it around by the hair and play with it in the mud, like I was apt to do with my Barbies. My parents couldn't say no to letting me buy a raffle ticket to benefit the children's division of the library, however, especially given that there was a one in 10,000 chance I would actually win the overpriced doll.
Imagine their surprise when we got a call from the librarian the day after the drawing, telling us to come to library to have my picture taken with my pretty new American Girl doll. At this point, there was nothing to cause anyone, including my five-year-old self, any alarm. The odds had just come out in my favor that one time, it seemed.
My parents, as it turns out, should not have been worried about the level of care I would administer to the doll. I treated her as if she were made of the fragilest glass and gave her a place of honor in my doll cradle, shoving all the other pretty dolls to the floor so she would be warm and safe under the softest pink blanket I had.
At Christmas time that same year, the Lion's club was raffling off a bicycle to benefit the Toys for Tots campaign. I dearly wanted that purple bicycle with its shiny pink streamers and the polished white training wheels. My parents let me spend my tiny allowance on a two dollar raffle ticket, reminding me that winning the doll giveaway was a once in a lifetime thing so there was virtually no chance I would actually win the bike.
The giveaway for the bike was held at the annual town Christmas parade after party in the fire hall. I remember I was wearing my favorite pink hat and drinking a hot chocolate with marshmallows. I had been inspecting the various plates of cookies when my Dad gently pulled me by the shoulders to come over to watch the drawing.
I remember very distinctly that the volunteer fire chief, a buddy of my dad's from work, smiled as he reached into the big basket full of tickets. As he dug through the names, he told the crowd that five thousand tickets had been sold. As he pulled a name out and opened his lips to read it to the crowd, I took a big drink of my hot chocolate.
“Lucille Harris,” he called.
I choked on my hot chocolate and Dad had to thump me quite hard on the back as I coughed.
“Will lucky Lucy come to the stage to get her prize!” the fire chief called.
As I was still recovering from choking, my Dad picked me up by the armpits and deposited me on the small stage to get my new purple bicycle. I beamed, despite the hot chocolate dripping from my pink fleece jacket. The stain, no matter how many times Mom washed the jacket, never did come out. Nor did the nickname “Lucky Lucy” ever leave me.
After I won the bicycle, my parents became concerned that my five-year-old brain would not be able to understand how unusual it was that I had won two contests, right in a row. They needn't have worried because even at that young age I had concluded that obviously I had run out of luck by now.
A few months later, when my elementary school decided to raffle off a memorial day vacation to one of the kids who participated in the read-at-home program, I didn't think much of it. I was automatically entered because my parents had faithfully filled out the logs every night when they read me a bedtime story.
In my six year old way, I was fully flabbergasted when my name was called and I was presented with a packet of information to give to my parents about the vacation we would be taking in a few weeks.
I think it was at that point that both I am my parents started to suspect there was something to my luck than just chance. When we were on that vacation, my parents decided to test my seeming luck and had me sign my name on a giveaway for a kite at the toyshop on the boardwalk. Lo and behold, I won the pretty rainbow kite and all of us, even me, the small child, understood that I was lucky.
My parents raised me in the church so with a lot of prayer, they came to the conclusion that it was a blessing from God, if a bizarre one. Incredible luck was a gift that was to be cherished, and not to be used without at least some discretion. I did not enter contests for the sake of winning things I didn't need or want but there were still many things I had won through the years. My family hardly ever paid for a vacation. In college, I won lots of book store gift cards and hardly ever had to pay for my textbooks. I had won free gas, cash prizes, gift cards, and all kinds of stuff, ranging from boxes of cereal and free hair products to a full kitchen makeover for my parents. By the time I had reached my 24th year, I hardly ever entered contests because a lot of the giveaways were stupid and I honestly did not have enough vacation time to go on every stinking cruise and Disney vacation they gave away. Blog giveaways were great though. I had won a kitchen aid mixer and a electronic cutting machine in the same week.
My luck had not solved every problem in my life. My dumb luck had not saved my parents when I was in just a sophomore in college. Luck had not kept me from feeling alone in the world or kept me from crying when I went through my mother's things in preparation to sell their house to fund the rest of my college education. Luck had provided me with a lot of things in my life but it had not made my life perfect by any means.
Luck had not found me a husband or even a serious boyfriend. I had dates to major dances during high school, but other than that I hadn't dated at all in high school. In college I had dated a few guys but nothing long term or very serious. I had a suspicion that height had something to do with it. Unlike most girls who stopped growing by fourteen, I continued to grow until my sophomore year of college. I think sheer force of will in gymnastics had kept me from growing beyond my five-six in high school but I shot up to five-ten in college. Combine that height with my favored high heels and I was as tall or taller than a lot of men.
When I was 24, I thought the direction of my life was set. I thought that the only defining characteristic of my life would always be my luck and never anything I enjoyed or was good at. In September, the thought that my whole life would be defined by my luck was further cemented in my mind. Everything changed and yet nothing had changed. I got up in the morning and picked up the paper. I nearly choked on my coffee. The headline blared at me.


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