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Will Semi-Success Spoil Jean Teasdale?

2010 was a banner year at good ol’ Casa Teasdale. In March, the tire center gave Hubby Rick a $2-an-hour raise. This summer, our landlord replaced the grout in our bathroom. And in October, my first book came out! Just goes to show that big things tend to happen all at once.

I have to admit that the hubby and I are not used to such good fortune, or really just anything different happening. I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far, my Crocs have stayed firmly on my feet! To someone who generally associates change with clean sheets on the water bed, this is all pretty momentous. Especially the published-author part. Because for the first time, I’ve accomplished something that no one else in my circle of family and friends has done: written a real-life actual book, with a bound cover and a price and everything!

Don’t get me wrong, Jeanketeers—I admire the talents and accomplishments of my loved ones. Hubby Rick, for one, is really good at that game at the carnival in which players shoot water into a clown’s mouth and a balloon inflates on top of its head, and whoever’s balloon pops first wins a prize. (That is, he was really good at it until he stopped—his buddy Craig had teased him about it looking like he was doing something very unprintable with the clown!) As for my mom, well, she can preserve rhubarb like a champ. And I’ve long admired her talent for not getting her bright red Merle Norman lipstick all over the filters of her cigarettes. I’m still not sure how she man≠ages that.

But none of that is really on the level of writing A Book Of Jean’s Own!, is it? (Which, by the way, makes a great Christmas gift! Hint hint!)

And now that I’ve actually earned some laurels, I think it’s as good a time as any to rest on them. I’ve always yearned to experience how it feels to be truly complacent. Complacency, they say, means being overly content with one’s achievements. Doesn’t that sound just wonderful? Sure, I’ve had moments of smugness and—on one glorious occasion long ago, after I beat then-Boytoy Rick at foosball at our local recreation center—gloating. But never full-blown complacency. I know, I know—this is conduct unbecoming a Jean Teasdale. But think of it this way: Shouldn’t even the most modest and unassuming of us get the opportunity to indulge in a little complacency at least once in our lives? I get the feeling that, like a blooming flower or a soap bubble, it only lasts a short while anyway before it withers or pops.

I’ve brainstormed some ways to let my achievement go to my head. First of all, I was thinking about parking my Dodge Neon across two spaces in my apartment’s parking lot. I’ve seen a neighbor do this a bunch of times, and while it’s arrogant and annoying, I’ve always wondered what it feels like to do that. Does it feel carefree? Sweetly vengeful? Or is it just natural and unself-conscious? I suppose I could just ask the neighbor, but it would be no substitute for the real thing. (Also, the other day, I saw someone double-parked in front of a submarine sandwich joint, blocking traffic. I’ll have to try that, too!)

Another thing I might try is giving attitude to a customer at the indoor flea market where I work. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and maybe it’s time. I get some real uptight folks coming to the booth, always wanting to haggle you down, even when a simple paperback costs a quarter! I might tell them that the price is fixed, even when it really isn’t, or I might tell them that an item isn’t available for purchase. And then they’ll get all puzzled and walk away. I really think I’ve earned this. I’ll just put a quarter or two in the change box if Fulgencio finds out and complains to me about losing business.

I can act entitled, too. I could butt in line at the bank. (Oh, that gives me chills just thinking about it!) I could pretend not to hear someone call my name. Maybe I could even refuse an autograph, if someone asks me for one on the street. (Hasn’t happened yet, but it just might!) I could express vague irritation at strangers’ attentions. I’ve even practiced rolling my eyes in front of the mirror. It actually hurts a little, like I’m straining unused muscles. Guess I’m not used to that level of dismissive standoffishness!

But I think what I’ll mostly do is become a fixture at Gloria Jean’s at the mall. I usually go there a few days a week anyway to grab a coffee and read Us Weekly, but now I’ll make a concerted effort to be there daily. I’ll snag a favorite table in the corner and plant myself there for a few hours nursing a large hazelnut mocha and watching the parade pass by. Or I’ll deliver profound monologues to my small following of Jean≠keteers that will cluster around me once news arrives that Jean Teasdale herself holds court at Gloria Jean’s. I’m sure these things develop naturally when you become a published author.

If any other published authors are reading this, maybe they could e-mail me with complacency suggestions. I must be leaving out good stuff that I haven’t thought of. I hear that many writers go years between books, so their laurels must be pretty darn flat by now!

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