Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Radio Days

“If this is a true story I am going to lose my shit” me looking at my son towards the end of watching the movie Radio with Cuba Gooding Jr., where he plays a mentally handicapped sports fan that ends up getting basically adopted by the football team he worshiped, then becoming a mascot…and inspiration for the whole damn town or whatever. Well of course the movie was based on a true story and as promised, I lost my shit. Bawled like a baby while my sweet son shook his head and laughed at me. Such a sucker for that kind of story, shit if I even hear the theme song for The Blind Side I get choked up. I can rant, argue, take fierce bites of anyone that tries to hurt or insult me but, honestly I’m basically a squish.

I woke the morning of December first, head pounding and eyes bloody red, after staying up until some ungodly time in the morning writing about my brother, our relationship and his current health. I’d slept maybe two and a half hours and not only did I look like ass, I felt it. Trudged through my morning, very thankful that the chores of “wake up, get coffee, read email, shower and go” were so engrained that I didn’t even need to use the four brain cells that were firing that morning. Shuffle, grunt, rub face and repeat as I scrolled through my emails and messages on Facebook. I was toying with reading my own post, something I almost never do when I write those somewhat exposed pieces. When I am writing one of those I just sit down, open my heart and talk to all of you as if you were right here in my living room and just as you can’t go back, or rewind a conversation, I don’t scroll back and read what it is I’ve written. Explains a lot I’m sure. So yeah, I’m sitting there swollen faced and second guessing myself when I happen to click on the bubble thingie that tells me I have a private message on Facebook. A very sweet message from a dear friend and writer I just so happen to admire the hell out of, telling me that the piece I wrote moved him, that he was thinking of me and that he wanted me to do something…something that I was unsure I had the courage to do. I followed the link he’d sent me and sat there, heart pounding in my chest thinking, “Dude, there’s no way”

The first couple of years after I started this blog I had this idea that no one would take me or my writing seriously unless I won one of those Wine Blog Awards. Like I would somehow be more relevant or respected I guess, if I could place one on those badges in the corner of my blog. Then, then people would know that I am like a serious player in the world of wine blogging and junk. Lofty right? To be a serious player in what is essentially a free for all….a girl has to dream right? The first year I was nominated I wanted to win so badly it quite honestly made my skin twitchy. I would check the website all the time to see when the finalists were announced, felt a massive kick in the gut when I didn’t make it. Took it as a sign that what I feared was true, that I was just some yammering hack that really didn’t fit in. Now as the years, posts and friendships have piled on this here blog, I long ago gave up on trying to win anything or see my number of hits, comments and accolade as any real indicator as to my relevance or writing ability. I’m profoundly moved, and honored that anyone takes the time to be here with me…matter of fact, those words are far too small to truly articulate what it means to me. At some point the drive that made me write was no longer about what I might get out of it, it was about having those non-rewinding conversations with the people that let me do this thing, this thing I seem to crave and adore, I get to write. Last year I didn’t even know I’d been nominated for a Wine Blog Award and didn’t hear the outcome until days after the whole thing was over. I think losing a finalist spot to Chronic Negress the year before might have put a nail in that coffin. I mean, if that was what people wanted in their wine blog, well right on, but I was no longer interested in being part of it. Might sound bitter but I assure you, it’s anything but. Giant relief actually. I don’t want to modify what or how I write in order to fit into some model that I don’t even find interesting enough to read. Some people get or like what it is I do here, others don’t and I’m more than okay with that.

“Oh, and the deadline is today” those words looping in my head when at 4:30, just a half hour before our final mail pick up, I was licking the flap of a giant envelope and buying stamps from The Wine Country’s stash. As I marched out to the mailbox on the curb outside our store, thick envelope clutched in my hand, a friend’s kind and supportive words like fingers in my back, pushing me each step and shrouding me from feeling afraid or anxious, I began chuckling at the very idea of what I was doing. I dumped the package in the mailbox with a thud and marched back to the store feeling really fucking accomplished. I did it. I’d applied for a fellowship to this year’s Professional Wine Writers Symposium. Knew there wasn’t a chance in hell but the fact that someone asked me to, believed that I should and that I had the sack to put myself in the line of, “I’m sorry but” fire for something that I feel as deeply as the writing I do here? Felt pretty goddamn amazing.

Woke last Tuesday morning to yet another one of my son’s late night reveling buddies crashed on my couch but was touched to find that my dear son, knowing that I’m a fairly early riser, had moved my laptop and cigarettes to the dining room table. I quietly moved about the kitchen, getting my coffee and settled in for the morning routine. Seeing as I was off, (well aside from inventory later that evening) I found myself there hours later. Scanning, picking at the breakfast burrito my son had picked up after depositing his buddy back to the bar parking lot where he was storing his car for the night, the three-way banter of my family in full swing when I saw that I had a new email. Opened my mail to see a subject line, “Fellowship winners” my rejection letter had arrived. No kicks in the gut and no anxiety as I clicked the email to open it. The hard part, for me anyway, was over. Getting past years of debilitating insecurity, my own issues with aching to fit or belong, the finding of a voice and not being afraid to use it. Those things, those things have been my award and no matter the wins and losses, they are mine…always.

“You have been awarded a fellowship to this year’s Professional Wine Writers Symposium. Your writing was the most envelope pushing of the bunch-the judges liked it”

I still cannot believe it…. 

So, looks like I’ll be heading to Napa Valley next month. There as a guest of Stag’s Leap Winery and the judges that saw something here, in me, and voted to have me there. Every time I write or say that the smile that spreads across my face and the pride that fills my chest are nearly enough to overtake me. Unreal. Never in my life would I have thought I would be here. With a family that adores me, friends that support and love me beyond measure, selling wine, traveling to Europe, the dinners, the laughter, the Champagne and this…simply unreal.

Radio, I feel ya dude.


Randy Fuller said...

Congratulations, Samantha! You are a worthy winner.

Brian in MO said...

From someone in "the business", I really enjoy your blog, Samantha. No doubt you know your stuff, and are able to convey it clearly with conviction and credibility. But, more than anything I love the sincere personal element evident in each post, and that's what I believe really connects you with your readers. Congratulations on your fellowship cool.

John M. Kelly said...

Looking forward to seeing you up this way! When you have an idea what your schedule is, drop me a note. I was on the phone with Symposium Daddy (Charlie) on Monday and we were hoping to be able to put together another dinner if Ron & Tom are free. Or even if they aren't.

Carolyn Blakeslee said...

Congratulations! That is so, so cool. (And I've started to ask several times, but have chickened out until now, how IS your brother?)

Joe said...

I fondly recall one of my Charlie Sheen sessions where you were thinking about applying. So glad you did.

There's no one formula for good writing, especially wine writing. A great bottle can elicit so much emotional, visceral response, and there are few who capture it like you, kid. They made an easy decision snubbing the guy who smells of herbed dandelion root for you.

Plus, you're not a douchebag. And Heaven knows there are too many of those in the wine world. Supposedly- by trade- I'm one now :)

Come to Atlanta after the symposium and tell us all about it.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well hello there, you must be one of those lurkers everyone keeps telling me I have. Thank you so much for the congrats and for commenting. Nice to see a new face around here.

Brian in MO,
Yeah, what I said to Randy. I can't tell you how much it means when someone in the business says something like this to me...heard plenty of cantankerous grumbling on the other side of that coin, so your words here made my day.

I will let you know as soon as I do. Kind of a whirlwind at this point but I cannot wait to see you!

You are too sweet. Thank you. As for my brother, well he has chosen to resist any help and at some point, for all of our sanity, us three siblings) I have to know when to just let him live with the choices he's made. Have no other choice..but I do thank you for asking.

Yeah that was the night I had sent off the envelope. Had I been given enough time, like even overnight, I might have over thought it and chickend out. I appreciate the non-douche moniker, what the hell else can one ask for right? Non-douchey wine chick....maybe I ought to rename the blog!

Anonymous said...

That's awesome Sam, so proud of you!

But seriously, dude, how could they NOT like your writing? You have a cult-like following for a reason, dumbass.

Go and get your wine geek on, your readers are with you every step (make that 'word') of the way.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I think it was two years ago that I was convinced to apply to the same symposium, though I absolutely knew they would reject me. First of all, I'm not really a wine writer, I'm a buffoon. And reject me they did.

I knew that they would accept you. They are writers. And anyone who loves writing (as I do) is mesmerized by your voice. Yes, your wine knowledge is impressive, but what you do here is unique. Almost everyone talks about how wine "speaks to them," but no one, and I mean no one, is able to express it as personally and as beautifully as you. Name one other wine writer who can bring tears to their audience. Name one who can write about wine sensually and not sound fake or pathetic. If they had been foolish enough to turn down your application after reading your work, I would have been profoundly disappointed in them. As writers, as wine lovers, and as human beings. You're someone special--and I long for the day when you get the notice you are so clearly due.

John, I leave the plans to Samantha, but I will certainly make myself available for as much of my time as she desires.

You should be damned proud, Samantha. And, to be honest, the Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium should be proud to have you.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Cult like?! I prefer to call it, "The Family". You guys can say what you wish but I was absolutely sure that the last I would hear about the Symposium was that thud in the mailbox. I was floored...still am.

Ron My Love,
Oh, I don't know, I think STEVE! can be pretty tear invoking and no one oozes sex like those Brix Chicks.

You were convinced I'd get the fellowship, I know and believe that. I wasn't and so this was a very moving moment for me. Through it all I knew, win or not, I would have you loving and supporting me and that, that is also mine...always. Thank you and I love you too!

webb said...

WOW! So very proud of you! You totally deserve this. have a wonderful time.

Alfonso Cevola said...

Let's try this again....

I cant wait to see you in Karen MacNeil's "How to write a wine note" seminar...That's a blog post a waiting...nuff said

Samantha Dugan said...

You've turned out to be one of my most loyal and here for me readers....not sure how I nabbed you but so grateful that I did!

Fuck. That is all....fuck.

WIney the Elder said...

Congratulations lovely lady. You have a wonderfully pure voice, please don't let the "professionals" take that away. In a sea of swill and plonk wine hacks, you shine on brightly, like few others.

Warmest regards,

Samantha Dugan said...

Fought too hard and for too long to feel comfortable enough in both my wine knowledge and my own skin to let that happen. I know my voice isn't for everyone and I know I probably won't ever be published beyond the pages here and in The Wine Country newsletter, so I'm not very pliable and I don't respond well to polish. I'm just me; a girl that once lived on pancakes, had my time running with the less than savory seeking love and understanding....and acceptance I guess, dropped out of school before high school and got pregnant at 17 and I'm too old and far too happy in my life to allow anyone, fancy pants writers or not, to try and strip me of this, this one thing that I seem to be okay at and that so many wonderful people respond to. I am so very lucky and this recognition is just one more cherry atop my overflowing sundae.

Val said...

First, Congratu-freakin-lations, hot stuff!

You. Belong. There.

Second - Hee hee - I second Ace's comment. Can't wait to read that post and all the associated 'fucks' that come with.

Hell, it's noon - can I toast you with this last bit of Torraine-Mesland I have here?


TWG said...

Actually you're more deserving of a Pulitzer. Well deserved and hope you enjoy it but I hope you don't change too much.

Samantha Dugan said...

Now you guys have got me thinking....better keep a notepad handy for the shit that drives me really batshit. Cheers to your cheers lady and enjoy that wine.

Now you're talking crazy, sweet but crazy. Now you really think there is anyone there capable to change me?! C'mon baby....

pvtrailrunner said...

Wow! Well-deserved honor! Congratulations!

I agree with the commenter who said that they are lucky to have you. This blog is far more than a wine blog.

Thank you for having the courage and passion to share your writing with us!

Samantha Dugan said...

Well hello there, so nice to hear from another new face. Your, along with everyone's, comments are far too sweet and they are going a very long way in making me feel less nervous about this whole thing. So thank you for that.

Trust me, I get far more out of this writing business than anyone so thank you for letting me do it, for listening and all. It is my profound pleasure to write here and I'm just so honored you all read.