To call my best friend Margaret my Maid of Honor would be accurate, but Margaret is just such a generally tremendous mutant of a human being that allowing the limitations of any existing title to describe her -- let alone in the capacity she rocked during our wedding -- would just feel like calling Michelangelo a mason. Besides, she and I like to fancy ourselves to be badass action heroes plucked out of a Kurt Russell movie and dropped charmingly into our lives as art and science nerds, just like some bitingly witty screwball single-camera sitcom that serves equal parts creative-intellectual commentary and shamelessly opportunistic "Your Mom" jokes, and probably gets cancelled after one season.
Anyway, that's why I call Margaret my Blade of Honor.
At first didn't want to burden her with the title at all -- because she lives on the other side of the country, and I love her so much I just couldn't deal with laying a bunch of guilt and responsibility on her. But then, she flew out and stayed with us for a week before the wedding, and before I knew it she was wing-manning the whole affair. She was scheduling, triaging tasks, making pennant banners, watching Gbear, and of course, quietly caring for my sanity. Which she mostly just does by being there.
Oh, and she did all this without being asked. I kept up the schedule she hand-wrote when our printer ran out of ink, just because it was such an awesome reminder of Margaret's ass kicking love.
Additionally, Margaret is the only person I know who is as animated as I am:
She also understands the inherent comedic value of a bouquet phone:
At the reception, Margaret got up and gave a totally heart melting toast, which made two wedding party members chicken out from speaking because they didn't want to follow her. YOU HEARD.
Margaret is an effing writer. I don't mean that word the way hacks like me use it. I don't mean that she decided to "become a writer" as some airy fairy notion, I mean that Margaret set out, serving as her own exclusive support system, to become a good writer. She didn't begin with some deluded idea that her voice automatically deserved to be heard, she began with the goal of developing her voice.
She did all the enriching, uncomfortable stuff that I've heard a zillion people say they would "just love" to do but somehow never actually do it. She went to NELP, she did a year abroad, alone in a cold, foreign country, she got into the best creative writing grad program in the country, where, I might add, she spent a hard two years learning to take and use brutal criticism about her deepest and most personal work (every. day.), and she's spent subsequent years winning spots in various extremely competitive and coveted fellowships all over the country, even though that means moving all over the map, all the time.
She also wins awards, and publishes her poems in literary journals. Peer review. Hardcore. I also think it's impressive that she's worked for literary agents and taught creative writing to developmentally disabled people, but I'm pretty sure that in M-dawg's world, that's just "paying the bills" type shit.
Anyway, when misguided folks ask me for advice on being a writer, I tell them to go to the Margaret school of writing. If you don't start with the premise that you have to work your ass off before your work will be worth a damn, you're probably already effed. It's not about making art that's necessarily adored by some elite academic class or something, it's about being totally willing to constantly take rejection and criticism because you want to be better, whatever path to betterment your work ends up taking, and because if rejection or criticism is enough to deter you from a creative field, then you clearly aren't in the right field.
Margaret's a damn genius made of wrought iron and rainbows and maybe she'd be on her way to ruling the poetry world anyway, but that's just one particularly important thing I've learned about being a writer as a result of being so lucky as to be Margaret's friend: girl, you better work.
Margaret's Toast:"When I first got to know Cammila in the summer of 2005, I signed on for something larger and more fundamentally life-changing than I could have imagined.Having initially met while I was an undergrad at U of M (I lived in a co-op, and she was dating someone I lived with -- not Matt!), Cammila and I started out, as many great friends in the early 2000s did, as Livejournal friends. Our long-distance friendship bloomed as she helped me get through a truly crappy year of homesickness while I studied abroad in Scotland during my final year of undergrad. When I got home, totally broke and jobless to boot, she not only helped me find a kickass job as an editor at All Music, but she became one of my best friends in the world.That's just how it is with Cammila. Once you're in, you're in. Back when I first met her, I remember Cammila referring to herself as a den mother, and she's wasn't kidding -- she is a fiercely loyal friend. More than this, she is probably the most honest person I've met in my life. With Cammila, all the cards are on the table, the book is open. She puts her whole self and heart out into the world, fearlessly. To put it in terms of one of those analogies they used to put on the SAT: Cammila is to her life, as Tawny Kitaen is to a Jaguar in a Whitesnake video.And as if this weren't enough, Cammila's an insanely talented person. To paraphrase EB White: it isn't often you meet someone who's a good friend and a good writer. Cammila is both.There are a lot of ways in which I feel like I haven't lived up to my end of the bargain. I moved away to go to grad school in 2007, and though I kept telling Cammila that I wanted to come back to Michigan, it turns out I wasn't able to. Something always came up -- a job, a residency, a relationship -- and I keep moving from place to place. In spite of all this, she still sends me care packages full of tiny gifts: MTV Jams trading cards, these weird Japanese puzzle erasers, candy of dubious quality, letters.I forgot to mention that I still, to this day, have a bunch of stuff in storage in her mom's basement in Chelsea. I really do mean to get it out of there someday. Cammila keeps telling me, "Dude, it's a basement, it's okay." She keeps telling me, "No matter how far away you are, you know you're still my friend, right?"I feel honored to be numbered among Cammila's best friends -- and I know there are a number of people in this room who can lay claim to that title. Cammila has taught me what friendship, real friendship, is. And for that, I am grateful.So, a toast. To Cammila, one of my very best friends: the Ferris Bueller to my Cameron, the Jack Black to my Kyle Gass, the Wayne to my Garth, the bitchin' guitar solo to my moody power ballad. And to Matt, the love of her life. I can think of no better compliment to Cammila than you. Here's to a long and totally righteous marriage."