Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What's Your Helmet?   By Grace Burrowes

I'm fortunate that my sister Gail lives about an hour east of Atlanta, so when RWA 2013 wrapped up, I could spend a day at her house decompressing and call it a sibling visit. We had great fun comparing our Works in Progress--Gail is about to submit a PhD thesis on the use of certain metaphors in Virgil's "Aeneid,"and I'm wrapping up a third book in a Regency trilogy for next year. Plenty of overlap there--and what do you know, Virgil hid Easter eggs in his 9000 line epics, and Easter hadn't even been invented!
This is what happens after I've been at a conference of romance writers for a week.
So there I was at the breakfast table, scarfing up hot blueberry shortcake with ice cream for breakfast (the rule is, your post-conference penitential fast doesn't start until you're home), when the topic of music and exercise comes up. Gail notes what a bummer it is when the iPod dies mid-work out, or mid-run. Boy, the remaining exercise is so much tougher.
Up from his copy of the New Yorker does my brother-in-law Tom peer. He's a retired Art History professor, which I guess explains reading The New Yorker at breakfast. "I listen to music when I exercise too, and I never run out."
Gail has lived with this guy for decades, she knows better, but I bite. "What do you listen to?"
For those of you fortunate enough not to know your music history, this is a Wagnerian Opera, full of huge emotions, big music, and much drama. I'm a recovering music history major, and the blueberry short bread was really good, and I was less than 24 hours post-conference, so I started heartily da-da-dumming the theme, which you will find here.
Tom takes one look at me across the table. "You need a helmet," and he dives back into The New Yorker.
YES! At that moment--and often--I NEED A HELMET. This is a true perception of a significant aspect of my persona. Big emotions, big music, much drama--all superimposed on a rather unprepossessesing, well fed, granny-in-training. 
I need a helmet. That one accessory would save me a lot of words, and save other people a lot of time trying to figure out what I'm about.
I might also like to keep a quill pen tucked behind one ear--though that would rather preclude the helmet.

What one accessory could you add to your ensemble--or to your significant other's--that would personify you or them for all to see?

To one commenter, I'll send an audio copy of "Once Upon a Tartan," my Scottish Victorian romance coming out next week, featuring a hero whose one accessory might be a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary (unabridged!), and a heroine who leaves him speechless anyway.


  1. I think I need a fascinator. I had such fun wearing mine at RWA. It would add elegance to all of my daily ensembles. Yoga pants and t-shirts lack the elegance I require.

    And, seriously, I love opera, but who works out to opera? #weirdo

  2. Well, we must not be too hard on Tom--he's living with a PhD candidate in Classics. And yes, fascinator is so YOU, dahling. Might you try wearing yours while you write? I'm sure Baby Galen would LOVE wearing one too!

  3. Actually, Shana, you could get a good trotting rhythm going to The Marriage of Figaro, particularly the overture! Mozart is always spritely.

    I guess I'd need a disguise to hide my secret identity as a romance author--oh, wait! I already wear glasses. If it works for Superman...

  4. I love, love, love your cover. Instead of chips and salsa at one of the hotel's restaurants, we had chips and ice cream...lots of fun! Glad to see you there!

  5. Any time my daughter sees a picture of a dark-haired woman wearing glasses, she tells me, "that looks like you, Mommy." So I think I've found my trademark look. I do like the idea of a horned Viking helmet, though: costume, drinking vessel, weapon, safety's the sort of accessory that can serve many purposes.

  6. Fun (big) barrettes and hair ties. I've always had long hair since grade school and love putting my thick hair up as much as I can.

  7. My first thought was not a fun one at all. I was thinking I needed a big sign to wear when I go out with my boys telling people that I am not a bad mother, that 3 of the boys are autistic and they(the public) are more than welcome to try and get them to behave how they think they should and see how it goes. I guess I have seen way too many admonishing looks and overheard way too many asides about my lack of parenting skills lately. Really my boys are very well behaved, considering. Seth just likes to run back and forth in the same space (over and over) and really as long as he is near me and not in anyone's way, I let him. It's much easier than having him scream at the top of his lungs. Now if he looked like there was something wrong with him I probably wouldn't get such looks. The same thing with the twins. We had the sweetest lady helping us at the shoe store yesterday and let me tell you how much of a difference that makes in my life. I will definitely be shopping at that store again. Sorry to get off topic.

  8. I told my juniors back in the spring I needed a tiara to wear every day. They asked "Why?" I said "Why not?" it made sense to them and one of them brought me a fascinator/headband that I wore the next day. I'm still considering purchasing a nice tiara to wear most days of the week.

  9. A kimono, of vibrant colors...the opera, Turandot, to listen to...and my hero husband Harry in a kilt!.. or David Gandy.

  10. I think many of my friends think I match to a different drum. So maybe a majorette baton?

  11. wedding ring

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  12. Mia, I get distracted listening to music, maybe because once long ago I learned to listen analytically. Of course, wearing a helmet might be distracting too, especially with those long horns sticking up and out like that...

    Terry---chips and ice cream? Does thing mean somebody will soon be drafting The Billionaire's Secret RWA Conference Baby?

    DRINKING VESSEL! Yes, always handy to have one of those slung around your neck. I am (sorta) dark-haired and have worn glasses since infancy (literally), but that helmet... that's me.

    Lody, barettes are cool. My daughter is blessed with thick hair, and she has fun with hair bands--also her hair color--and her latest trick was to shave it all off.

    Sarah, somebody told me early in the parenting game that they could always tell who had kids and who didn't by whether they got look of judgment or sympathy when the Prodigies were acting up. Hang in there. You're a good mom, and it does get better.

    Sabrina--would you wear it to the gym, too?

    David Gandy in a kilt... Juanita, how am I supposed to get anything done today with that helpful image ricocheting around in my head? For the rest of the week, in fact?

    I like the idea of a baton. The lords of days of yore used their walking sticks and canes as accessories, also weapons, when wearing a sword became unfashionable. For me, maybe a riding crop--a short, flexible jumping bat, that could double as a toy and an accessory.

  13. I think my accessory would be a tote bag full of books. I love to read and usually have at least one paperback with me and I carry a tote bag rather than a purse most of the time. Would want the tote bag made of material with lots of cats on it since I'm known as a "crazy cat lady".

  14. I think I would choose, as an accessory, a mascarade mask to add a touch of intrigue! Then I could charm anyone I like!

  15. this is a really fun question - who would thinik it would be so hard to come up with something that would idedntify me - we all where so many hats to identify us - i'm thinbking a nice simnple cowboy hat -

  16. I reckon my gray hair is my helmet! Maybe I should attach a big red rose to the side?

  17. Well, I already have my top hat and metal band shirts. I've always wanted a smoking jacket. :)

  18. Shana Galen: I fold laundry to opera. :)

  19. Hmm...I pretty much always have a book in my hand so I guess the perfect accessory would be a hands-free holder of some sort, lol.