I bounced down the driveway on my way to Fred Meyer for some thank you notes when red lettering in my peripheral vision caught my eye. In between the storm door and the side door of my landlord's house there lay a UPS package. "Extremely Urgent!" it declared for all the world to see.
Exeunt all thoughts of thank you notes. My curiosity was peaked.
I tilted my head to read the address, hoping that maybe something was "extremely urgent" for me. A secret Swiss bank account that needed emptying perhaps? A letter from Oxford begging me to join them across The Pond, all expenses paid? A really uppity wedding gift giver? A complete and total accident that would leave me sitting on the couch with a tub of Ben 'n Jerry's, depressed at my exciting-less life? Imagine my surprise, then, when the address read "Cynthia Lambert". Something WAS "extremely urgent" for me!!! I launched through the door and grabbed the envelope, scanning the return address to see who might possibly send me something with so much excitement attached. "Zondervan Publishing House/Grand Rapids, Michigan". My stomach dropped. And then, completely ignoring that "Extremely Urgent!" business, I stowed the package in my bag and set off in search of thank you notes for our recent wedding presents--poorly named and otherwise.
Here is where I insert my confession: I'm not just blogging for the sake of blogging here. True, "Just Alaska" started as "Bolaskoxfordia", a travel blog meant to inform my family about how my summer in Bolivia, Alaska, and Oxford was going. It turned into "Chicaskashireland" when I decided to keep it up back at school in Chicago, and it was therefore renamed "Just Alaska" when I stopped globetrotting and settled down in Juneau. Somewhere in between posts about Bolivian orphans and wedding presents, though, I got bit by the writing bug. My degree is in Biblical and Theological Studies, but that doesn't mean that I'm necessarily going into the clergy. After discerning that idea a few years ago, I realized that I'm meant for academics. Specifically, writing academic level books on Biblical Studies for ordinary Joes who happen to be interested in the topic. It's not fair that I learned more about the Bible in half of a semester of my freshman Intro to the Bible course than I had in 18 years of going to church. The truth is that there isn't much of a middle ground between "Jesus loves me" kind of devotionals and high academic monographs that use words like "eschatology" in Christian literature, so I want to write to fill that void. I want to explain about the things I learned at school and why they're important and how they actually relate to daily faith--all in a way that the average Sunday church-goer can understand. And until I have enough smarts to write those sorts of books (and perhaps even when I finally do), I blog.
There was a turning point, however, about a month and a half ago. One of my professors, Dr. Mary Veeneman, emailed me and five other students saying that she and Dr. Brad Nassif were inviting us to each write a few articles for the new Zondervan Dictionary of Christian Spirituality under their supervision. To put this invitation into perspective, this is the Biblical and Theological Studies equivalent of President Obama calling me up and saying, "You've studied a bit of history, why don't you help write that new amendment to the Constitution?"
This. Never. Happens.
Naturally, we all jumped at the chance and the honor. And so, when I saw that fantastic envelope of joy sitting in the door today, I knew that it was something exciting. Not just the monthly Zondervan catalog. And so I had to wait to open it. I couldn't just rip it open in the driveway, jumping up and down like a six-year-old. It was like senior year of high school when I had to wait for both parents to be present to open any college mail that slightly resembled an acceptance letter. Here was my very first unsolicited letter--maybe even a contract!--from a major publishing house (the major publishing house for Christian publications, in fact) and I wanted to share its Grand Opening with someone. Seeing as my closest family members were approximately 3,000 miles away, I decided to wait until Kip and I could open it together.
And quite the opening it was:
For the record, Kip wanted me to state that he hadn't been awake for very long when this video was taken, so that's why he looks so out of it.
There you have it. My very first set of contracts from Zondervan, just begging to be signed. While skimming through the fine print, Kip and I did some quick math and realized that my professors neglected to inform me that I'd be paid for my contribution--a whopping 7 cents per word, that is. Altogether, that means that I'll make about $73.50 for my efforts, just enough for a celebratory splurge on something without feeling too terribly guilty about it. I'm thinking a Vera Bradley duffel. Any other ideas are greatly encouraged.
And, as if this spectacular type of mail weren't enough, a FedEx guy came stomping up my stairs moments later with three huge Crate and Barrel boxes, all of which were marked with one of Kip's correct names (I believe they chose Daniel this time), and one of which misspelled my name as "Cyndi". Kip was very happy to have the score slightly evened out. What a day for mail!