My Downtown Savannah Escapade: The Ride.

posted in: Story, Travel, Work 11
In Savannah. Photo: Me.
In Savannah. Photo: Me.

I’m feeling weird about telling that harrowing tale straight out of the gate vis a vis my report on Savannah. Let me tell you something good.

After I had seen the strange thing, a wave of exhaustion passed over me; I needed to head back to my room. This would mean that I would need to find the ferry boat again and wait around for it with all those no-see-em bugs flying into my eyeballs. This did not seem like something I could physically manage, so looked to see how much it would cost for an Uber to take me from where I stood near Bay Street to my hotel at the convention center. When I found it would be a measly 11 bucks, I punched “Confirm Pickup” on my screen.

I have never had an Uber driver collect me in actual pickup, but within a few minutes, a young man named J.M. waved to me from inside a shiny black Silverado truck across the street.

“Mary Katherine?” he called in the best southern accent you’ve ever heard, making me glad my Uber profile uses my full name. I waved back, delighted to get to ride home in the cab of a pickup. You can take the girl out of Iowa but you can’t take the love of a good pickup truck out of the Iowa girl, trust me.

I was so happy to be off my feet and J.M. was a sweetheart, affably fielding the many questions I was asking him about Savannah. As he drove down Bay Street and we chatted, I looked out the window at the vibrant nightlife, the couples and families and packs of friends walking along the elevated strip. J.M. was so knowledgeable about everything and I loved getting the facts and figures in that accent:

“Yes, ma’am. Savannah’s the fourth lah-gist export city in the You-nahted Staits.”  J.M. was really getting into the good stuff, stories about 19th century trade customs, population numbers, fascinating history. As we approached the street’s terminus, I felt seriously bummed that my Savannah escapade was going to end soon. Then, I had an idea.

What if I paid J.M. to drive me back up Bay Street and cruise the loop just once, just so I could see the whole stretch of it? I had 20 bucks in my wallet — was that enough? Would it be super, super weird to ask him to do that? I didn’t have much time. Up ahead, just one red light away, I could see the entrance to the bridge that would take me over the river and home to my hotel (and out of Savannah for who knows how long?)

A thought popped into my head and forced my decision: Frankly, I want to be the kind of person who offers her Uber driver 20 bucks to drive her around town for a minute. I just want to be that girl, you know? So, apologizing in advance for any weirdness and assuring him I was not a creeper, I asked J.M. if he’d take my money.

“Well, sure,” J.M. said, seemingly not that taken aback. “I’m happy to do that, ma’am. It’s funny you ask; my other job is working a tour boat down on Riverside.”

Yep. I got the nickel tour of Savannah from an actual, off-dutry tour guide in a pickup truck for the low-low price of 20 bucks. Not bad; and all I had to do was ask. (Well, and fork over a twenty.) 

The drive was great. Between my own exploration on foot and hanging out with J.M., I definitely feel like I got a taste of Savannah. J.M., I told you I would blog about our trip when I got the chance and I gave you my card so that you could find PaperGirl and read it. I hope you’re seeing this so that I can say thank you once more.

Your car smelled great, by the way. As a regular Uber user, this is something I do not take for granted, sir.

Rejected For QuiltCon.

posted in: Quilting 1
Nolandia Top
“Welcome To Nolandia,” by Mary Fons, quilted (eventually) by Angela Huffman, 2014.

I submitted a quilt to QuiltCon and didn’t get in. I meant to write about this a long time ago but it’s good that I didn’t, not that I would’ve ranted about it — ew — but now that I’m at the show, my feelings went from bummed to 100% okay-ness with the decision the jury made.

“Welcome To Nolandia” is the oddest quilt I’ve ever made and one of the quilts I’m most proud of. The quilt depicts a town, and the story is told from top to bottom. The sky/gods are above, then come the houses of the people. (You can’t see them in the picture, but all the houses have little fussy-cut pieces in the windows: pink pigs flying, frogs fishing, faces, flowerpots.) The sidewalks and streets come next, then the vegetation and trees. Below that, the dirt — that’s the improv-pieced purple and black. There is buried treasure down there, represented by gold and yellow pieces; there are old bicycles and metallic fabric, too, striations of sediment. Then comes deep bedrock, limestone. This picture doesn’t show the last row I put on, which was the water far below; I pieced flying geese in light and dark blue.

[Note Yuri’s feet. This picture was taken in our East Village apartment this summer.]

Now that I’m at the show, I realize how inappropriate this quilt is for QuiltCon. It’s not modern at all. It’s bizarre, it’s got a few elements of the modern style, but it would stick out like a funky, misshapen thumb at this show. The jury knew what they were doing, of course, and if I were on that jury, I wouldn’t have accepted my quilt, either.

As a writer, I get a lot of rejections. A writer has to submit to magazines, has to try and get an agent, has to “put herself out there.” Any writer that has succeeded in any measurable way will tell you they have a stack of rejection emails and letters. The good-natured ones refer to them with a certain sense of pride.

I understand the QuiltCon organizers got something like 2,000 submissions. There are like, 100 quilts in the show. (I should verify that, but it can’t be many more.) The quilts are stunning, inspiring, and each quilter brought their A game, big time. The quilts are perfect specimens of this aesthetic and hats off to each one of them. I mean, dang, y’all.

At the risk of sounding like a motivational speaker, I say unto thee: if your quilt didn’t get into the show, shake it off. Rejection usually means you tried something hard. Good for you. Most of the time, there is a good reason your work was rejected: your article wasn’t right for the magazine, your pottery style was already represented by three artisans at the art festival, your quilt wasn’t appropriate for the show. You didn’t get the job because the hiring person thought you’d be miserable if you were hired or you don’t know Excel well enough or something.

Enjoy the quilts here, quilters. If you’re not actually in Austin, enjoy the tsunami of social media reports all over the quilter web. And if you aren’t in the show — like 1,900 of your comrades — let yourself feel lucky. You can sit back and enjoy while all the quilters who did get in bite all their fingernails off hoping they’ll get a ribbon or prize money.

And remember why you make quilts anyway. I don’t have to tell you why. You know.