For those who aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, it's a yearly Thing. It stands for National Novel-Writing Month, although it's extended outside of the US as well. Part of it is a charity aimed at literacy and libraries. Part of it is a creative dare, a kick-in-the-ass aimed at getting people who may have a big hunk of self-doubt to batter through it through the act of producing 50,000 written-down words in the 30-day period of November.
I take this challenge every year. Some years I succeed. Some years I fail. Every year it's amazing and I learn things.
They send out a respectable amount of stuff. There are little trinkets (bookmarks, stickers) for donors above a certain threshold. There are packets of supplies for teachers and librarians. There are fun things for area coordinators to hand out to participants. All of these things have to be sorted and mailed. Now, they could have the highly-trained employees of the nonprofit devote a couple days to doing all these things, they could hire out the work, they might be able to find an intern ... or they could get a couple pizzas and invite local NaNo participants to show up and stuff envelopes.
I was worried that I wasn't going to make it in time due to traffic and a later-than-I-would-have-wanted start (phone screening, but today I heard they went with another candidate) but I showed up just as the organizer was putting the signs up, despite GPS fail as well. (Their warehouse has an address on one street, but due to the overpass on that street at that point, the actual entrance is on the under-cross-street, and the parking is under the overpass. The map they made was very helpful.)
I had brought finger-goo, my box of markers, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, and a first-aid kit. I was well-prepared. I was set to work stuffing envelopes -- one sticker, one bookmark, seal it, blue X under the stamp. And that is what I did. There weren't quite enough blue markers to go around, so I whipped out my own. Prepared! Out of a sense of "well, if I won't, who will", I grabbed one of the cans of Dr. Pepper that had been popped out at both ends from some sort of accident or other. Even though the bottom was rounded, it balanced neatly between the box with the stickers and the box with the bookmarks.
Unfortunately, partway through the evening the organizer shifted the box a bit, before I'd had all of the soda, and inevitably -- sploosh. A few envelopes got too soggy to use, but all the precious signed bookmarks and stickers were safe. More envelopes were deployed, as exact numbers weren't vital, just ballpark.
Other people showed up, among them someone who turned out to be flyingthesky/flyingthesky. We introduced ourselves and swapped stories; we were delighted to discover that we were both Dreamwidth users. One of my stickers got "Help, I'm trapped in the OLL!" on the back. Another got "From San Francisco, with love." (Those were the only two. If you get one of those, congratulations! Thanks for donating!) A Chris came in, and I was briefly starstruck. (He turned out to be the man himself, Chris Baty.) I poked sushimustwrite on Twitter and taunted her with where I was. Muahaha. I explained to the room that I was taunting Sushi, and there was giggling, and people were glad to have confirmed that she is indeed coming to the Night of Writing Dangerously. (*envies*) Later, Nziz and Stone showed up, which raised the ambient hilarity level excellently.
Stone busted out singing "Slaughter Your World" (gross! cartoon gore!), Nziz joined him, Reili joined in too, and I hummed along. Next up was "Still Alive" (singing loudly and proudly), and "When You're Evil" (the hardest part was matching timing). We ... may have unnerved the rest of the party.
Partway through the evening someone wound up with a papercut, and I was the one with the first-aid kit. Prepared! :D
We departed at nine, having stuffed 1,500 envelopes at my table, plus all the stuff at the other tables. A couple of us exchanged contact info. Sharpies and the strips from the self-sticking active adhesive envelopes = actually not so bad for exchanging contact info. There was leftover pizza. I sang all the way home. AWESOME.
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