As a kid, I used to stand in front of the bathroom mirror and practice my Oscar speech. As I grew older, I daydreamed about the acknowledgment page in the back of my first book. I thought that writing my thank-you list would be a blast. I was wrong.
It started much like Woody Allen's movie, Manhattan. Thank you, much gratitude, mad props, etc.
"Too corny for a man of my taste."
I tried thinking about my favorite writers. Steve Almond thanks dead people (Abe Lincoln). Laurie Halse Anderson thanks rock stars (Dave Matthews). As much as I wanted to thank Mrs. Kenny, my second grade teacher, well...I knew what she would say. "Keep it simple." And short. Otherwise you might hear the orchestra kick in before they cut to a commercial.
Then my editor emailed another request. She wants an Official Author Photo, a phrase I heard in capital letters. I couldn't picture me standing, arms crossed, in front of a bookshelf. So my boyfriend took a roll of pictures in his studio.
"You look like you're in pain," he kept saying.
My cheeks ached from pseudo-smiling. I slumped in the chair, remembering the horror of junior high yearbook day. Back then, they herded you into a line in the cafeteria and handed you a plastic comb, which you dumped into a shoebox to avoid lice contamination.
Neither of us were crazy about the studio portraits, which Harlan called "presidential." So we cropped a couple of the shots taken for my website. That's me, climbing a mangrove tree near Biscayne Bay. I'm barefoot and laughing. I've got mud between my toes and spiderwebs in my hair.
Out of all the shots, it's the one my editor picked.