dressed up like a lady: Happy Birthday, Margaret!

Dec 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Margaret!

Today is Margaret's birthday! She's my best friend, the most badass babe I know.

I wrote a tribute to her a while ago, based on the awesomeness of her being my maid, er, I mean, blade of honor. But I'm retrofitting it -- because ya'll might need a reminder of what a generally tremendous mutant of a human being she is. Is it silly for me to use such visceral imagery to describe something as tender as friendship? Possibly. But the thing is, 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 called Margaret my Blade of Honor.

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:

Oh, and she's also a loving, giving, sweet person. Which is a rare quality, especially in addition to being extremely smart, extremely capable, and extremely hilarious.

For example, during her stay, Margaret gave Gbear some aerospace engineering lessons, by teaching her how to make paper planes. Margaret opted to decorate hers with flames and the face of a dragon. Gbear's mind was kind of blown because she hadn't considered the idea of drawing anything other than flowers and stuff on there. Fascinated, she asked Margaret why she did this, and Margaret paused for a moment, looking for a more child-appropriate word than "badass" to describe the idea. "Well," she said, "because this plane is really strong and tough, like a dragon!" Gbear proceeded to draw both hearts AND flames on her plane. 

Margaret teaches Gbear how to make/decorate paper planes during her recent stay at our house.
Old FB status update offering insight to Margaret's awesomeness.
Margaret appears effortlessly adorable while being unselfconsciously silly making a late-night trip to Meijer (left) and trying on hats (right) 
Margaret contradicts her seemingly serious image as the writer of critically acclaimed poetry, starring in this ridiculous poster she and I made to celebrate her crossing the country in her Hundai for like the sixth time with her two cats this past summer.

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, taught literature in Korea, teaches/tutors kids online 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 fucked. 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.

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. You can read a transcript of it here. 

Happy Birthday, dood.


  1. when I first you two together in some picture here on your blog, I thought you were sisters.
    it is a blessing having such a person in life :)

  2. A really great tribute. It made me go back to read Margaret's speech again. True friends are such a blessing! It is amazing how many lasting friendships livejournal is responsible for.


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