In the early morning hours, in a hotel, I was preparing to be on faculty at an important conference when I discovered that an elf had snuck into my makeup bag and stolen my Lancôme foundation. For those who don’t wear cosmetics, foundation is a substance that takes your skin from “ready to read a book in the privacy of your home” to “ready to appear before important people” within moments. Because of the elf, I had the moments but not the foundation. I rarely wear foundation, so I wasn’t surprised that the elf made off with it. I always pack tubes of red lipstick in various conveyances, however, so they are too numerous and substantial for the elf to carry them all away.
Horrified, I realized I could not recover from this theft in time to appear flawless by conference time. There was no store open at that hour, not even one that carried the most inferior foundation. For a split second, I wondered if I could text the director, “I’m sorry, but an elf stole my foundation so I can’t appear today,” and go home. No. No, I did not text her that.
Instead, I summoned courage and applied the rest of my “face” before heading out for the event. Here is what did NOT happen as a result of my lack of foundation:
- The director did not say, “No foundation, no conference!” before slamming the door in my unadorned face.
- The attendees did not say, “We cannot concentrate on anything you are saying about publishing because you are not wearing foundation.”
- No writer said, “I will not submit my work to any agent who appears at a conference without foundation.”
- The Conference Directors of America did not send me a notice saying, “Because you dared to appear at a conference without foundation, you are taken off every conference faculty invitation list until further notice.”
Imps, elves, leprechauns, sprites, and hobgoblins love to steal essential objects, such as foundation, keys, coins, and jewelry. They love to play with computers, cars, manuscript documents, spreadsheets, and appliances, to name a few. But if you press on, you may discover their activities don’t result in as much tragedy as you might think.
Tell us about a time when a hobgoblin, imp, elf, sprite, or leprechaun made mischief with you. What happened?
I totally understand. I never leave my home without makeup on and my hair in some type of acceptable fashion. In fact, when I have guests at my house, I don’t leave my bedroom without putting myself together. There was this one time while attending a conference that I arose on the first morning, ready to put my hair in place. I searched and searched for my curler, but an elf must have added it to his collection of goodies. My heart sank. I had to look my best, or everyone would look at me with disgust, or so I thought. I had no choice but to attempt some type of fluff and add hair spray. To my surprise, no one shunned me, no one gasped at my appearance, and no one gave me advice on how to do my hair. I did, however, find a curling iron at a local store for the rest of the conference. It’s funny how we see ourselves and how we think others will see us.
Great thoughts. Things happen but we must press on!
At a conference years ago, I opted to iron my wrinkled skirt with my traveling iron, using a footstool in the hotel room for an ironing board. I was devastated when the iron melted the stool’s exquisite cover. I was reprimanded for not using the hotel’s ironing board (who has time to run downstairs after an ironing board when you have manuscripts to present?) and was charged $50 for the damage, but the elf who whispered in my ear, insisting I use the improvised ironing board, took flight when my presentations successfully and more so covered my mistake.
My fading computer refused to boot, so I gave in and got a replacement. When I loaded my backup data, I discovered an evil sprite had recorded one section as empty-headed gibberish. I was distraught, but I cobbled together documents from email, flash drives and (ahem) paper and reconstructed most of the missing files. Every now and then, I look unsuccessfully for something once stored, but like a dress I haven’t worn in three years, I can live without it.
Bad things in the past day, but I’m still smiling.
Somehow I will get through this,
this vicious twist of now,
my body’s latest Judas-kiss,
but darned if I know how.
There’s blood where blood should never be,
and pus to beat the band,
something one should never see,
and still less, understand.
I wonder if the courage-store
has yet some to give,
for I shall go back for more;
I so much want to live!
Please come with me as I walk there,
support my halting steps with prayer.
Praying for you, Andrew, my brother.
Colleen, thank you. I know that better things lie on the other side, but I am so very, very frightened of this process.
Patti Jo Moore
Praying for you, Andrew. May the Lord give you strength and peace.
God bless you.
Lori Ann Hatcher
I am praying for you this morning, that God will wrap you in his peace, surround you with his love, and walk with you every moment of every day (He promises He will). Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Damon J. Gray
This line got a laugh out of me:
“I always pack tubes of red lipstick in various conveyances”
High school classmate: Voni, your hair looks really great today. What did you do?
Me: (in my head): My alarm messed up, so I popped into my clothes sans shower and forgot to comb it before I left for school.
Me: (for real). Thanks. Nothing special. 😉
Hate when the elves mess with the alarm clock, lolol
I was getting ready to speak at a church service for Mother’s Day one year, but got interrupted by a family member during the application of makeup. When I returned to the process, I inadvertently skipped a step! I hadn’t even realized I had forgotten foundation until I saw pictures days later.
By the reaction of the congregation, God’s word and His love for us still got through despite my obvious flaws—it’s the way He works.
I forgot to pack deodorant for my first ever writer’s conference and had to pitch to Steve Laube!
Nervously pitched to an agent at a writers conference only to discover two minutes afterwards that the hanger ribbon from my dress had been draped across my chest the entire time. Cheeky little elf.
Having released a new book during Covid-19, I was unable to host a local launch party. I announced “pick-up times” at my home so now experiencing the stress of having to be presentable for readers coming to my door.
One day my eyeliner on my right eye melted off! I tried to hide behind my hair.
I loved this post, Tamela, and shared it on LinkedIn. Age, miles, or temporary mental deficiency will eventually cause a snafu in preparing our public persona for prime time. Humor is a gift and truth is rare. Instead of a post on “How to Insure You Pack Everything You Need”, yours is far more valuable. Self-criticism is a misery little troll, seeking every opportunity to burst our hard-earned bubbles of worth. Kick the little monster to the curb with your pointiest stiletto. If the world is fair, he’ll land face down in a puddle of foundation.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Hmmm … I sometimes have the opposite problem. When heading out to a writer’s conference, I will get someone who tries to leap into my car and hide herself there to go for a ride. Our 110 lb. dainty Newfoundland, Princess Leia Freyja does not like to be left behind. She is also very furry and her fur is black. Since I never wear black, she is in a great position to decorate all of my clothes! So yes, I have to dress in “driving clothes” so that I can not only be comfortable but also wrestle her out of the vehicle without damaging my fancy smancy garments. I guess she is something like an elf?
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Tamela, I got the gift that keeps on giving when I redesigned a graduate course recently. It seemed that, every time I thought the class was ready to run, something else went wrong. Assignments were changed, tests had the wrong amount of points, and videos disappeared and others appeared in their place. I went over the class a half a dozen times and things were still wrong. I got a supervisor to look over the course and she couldn’t find anything wrong, until it was. We never did figure out what was wrong but we think we have it right, now. Or not. I could totally identify with what you were saying. BTW, if we are at a conference together, I usually carry extra foundation….
Martha Whiteman Rogers
I was the keynote speaker at a writer’s conference here in Houston. The outline for the speech had been studied a few time and then placed in a folder. Fifteen minutes before time for my presentation, I could not find that folder or the speech outline anywhere! I was absolutely frantic. My dear friend next to me saw my face, asked what was wrong, and when I told her, she immediately bean to pray for the Lord to calm my spirit and give me the words. What a difference that made. I gave it from what I remembered and had attendees tell me how much it meant to them and how encouraging my words were. Ironic, how the Lord takes care of us. The speech I gave contained little of the original but the new the Lord laid on my heart was much better. Now when I lose a chapter or an article, I think the Lord must want me to do it better, and it usually is. Trust Him, He knows what He’s doing.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Oh, ha ha! I have an even better story. I have a grubbiness elf in my house. I have 3 sons, a pre-teen and two teenagers. One of the teens has a deep love of being shockingly untidy. He has been known to wear clean clothes over top of dirty ones so that he can get away with wearing the stinky ones, mess up his hair on purpose (yes, he puts in product, does not brush, and then just goes crazy), and pack his bathrobe in his backpack so that he can take it out at school and wear it. Really, at this age I should be able to say, “Get dressed for church,” and have it happen, right? Well, instead I say: “Get dressed in clean clothes that are fresh from your dresser and do not have dirty clothes underneath.” Well, I said something like this and then wildly got ready for church, jumped in the car, and finally arrived with one husband and three slouching sons. We walked in, sat down, and I made the mistake of glancing over at this particular son. He was dressed thank goodness. But he was wearing his bathrobe, had not brushed his hair, instead making it more messy, and was barefoot. I gasped when I looked at him, causing all the grandma ladies to turn around and look at me … and then look at him. They still tell this story to one another, claiming it is one of their favorite church memories. I really have to stop presuming that they are old enough to dress themselves, even though two of them are taller than me!
OLUSOLA SOPHIA ANYANWU
You won’t believe what cropped into my mind, Tamela, as I read your post. Like a parable that has a deeper meaning, I kind of understood you were referring to proposals and synopsis of newbies. Trying to encourage us.
Anyway, my own elf incident was when I did not have a specific spice to use in my special cooking which was already on the fire! As we were expecting guests, I felt so bad as they might have the impression I was a poor cook.
Thanks be to God, it all went well. Someone asked for the recipe! I believe it was the SOS prayer I had prayed to God.
Oh my goodness, what a wonderful encouragement (just for life, in general)! I had a friend who used to say “But, will it really matter in five years from now?”
Hmm-m-m, my question is do I have a foundation–or platform? Or one at least, that I’m preparing. Thank you, Tamela!
We were having a “dinner” at church. Fortunately at night. I was running a little late and forgot an essential…. my partial upper plate. Without which, I have not front teeth. I had the choice of going back and being exceptionally late, or living with being “Toothless.” I chose the toothless option. I had been “humbled” many years before when I had to climb on hands and knees up a boat ramp. After that, appearing without teeth seems a small thing.
This made me smile beaches I have been panicking about headshots. I don’t have foundation. You are right. ? Thank you.
Oh yes, Tamela, I can identify with that. I was getting dressed to speak at a church camp when I couldn’t find the special barrette I’ve used for years to put up my very long hair. Fortunately I was able to pinch-hit with a few bobby pins.
Another time I fell and chipped my front tooth the day before Easter. I had been scheduled to sing a special song at church the next day, and had to go ahead with it. That’s humbling.
My husband and I were presenting several workshops for my publisher on a tight schedule which included arriving early for set-up, 3-hour presentation, take-down and pack, then travel a long distance to present the next morning. With hours of travel behind us, neither of us could remember packing a DVD that played a key part in the presentation. The moment we arrived at our hotel we attacked the trunk. Voila! The DVD sat snugly in its appointed spot. After great prayers of thanks, neither of us could sleep that night in fear of what hadn’t happened. It’s good to know that our loving God goes before us.
Attending a fancy banquet for my husband’s company, I packed a glamorous full-length black gown, beaded clutch and my anniversary pearls. I spent hours on hair and make-up and was dressed and ready to go. Just needed to slip into those pretty pumps…wait the black pumps. Yep, they must have been the elf’s size. No shoes. Just the grubby flip-flops I wore to the hotel. And guess what? Not one person noticed and by the end of the night we were all laughing about it. We’re human after all 🙂
Patti Jo Moore
Oh, Tamela – – I loved this post!
When I attended my very first ACFW in 2008, I’d forgotten to pack extra earrings, so only had the pair I was wearing. I arrived at the hotel, a clueless newbie who didn’t know a soul and discovered one earring had fallen out—who knows where. I was already nervous, and then upset that I’d lost an earring. (How could I ever pitch to an editor without my earrings?) 😉 I went into the huge banquet room and sat at a table for our first dinner, and across the table spotted two of my very favorite authors! I had hoped to meet these ladies in person, as I loved their books and had even emailed with them as a fangirl. I timidly waved, and they both hurried around the table to meet me. I was so overcome that I immediately burst into tears, mumbling about losing an earring. They were SO kind to me, and one even offered to loan me a pair of her earrings! I consider those authors friends to this day. 🙂 On a closing note, the last night of the conference, a cleaning lady had found my missing earring and placed it on a table outside the banquet room—so I went home happy, blessed, and wearing earrings! 🙂
Kristen Joy Wilks
What a beautiful story, Patti Jo! Thank you for sharing it with us all.