When I was planning this Birthday Bash, one of the last days to fill up was July 4th. I was on Twitter one night, wondering “aloud” if anyone would actually read the blog on the 4th. (Being a Canadian, I know the US isn’t *gasp* the centre of the universe, but still …they do seem hooked on the internet. Well, almost as much as my family.)
Susan has dual passions – writing and music. She’s worked in record stores and radio stations. She’s worked for tour promoters both in the office and as part of the stage crew. She’s even organized Metallibash – an “unofficial Metallica fan convention.” So it should come as no surprised that when it came to writing, she’s combined both loves and created her own fictional band, Shapeshifter. Those who have followed her blog have come to love the band – Trevor and Mitchell are my faves.
Enough of my palavering … here’s Susan — the “hero of the day.”
Maybe you Canadians capped off Canada Day earlier this week with fireworks. Many of us Americans will be awaiting the arrival of dark tonight with the same expectation.
Me, I’m fireworks blasé. It’s a by-product of living near Pittsburgh, which has got to be the fireworks-show capital of the world. I mean, in Pittsburgh, fireworks are set off when the Pirates win (okay, so that’s not so often anymore). Or when they score a home run (even less as often). We set off fireworks within our local communities to close out Community Day. Fireworks light up our skies because of a regatta, a parade. Heck, I even set them off indoors once, when my fictional band ShapeShifter celebrated New Year’s Eve onstage. (You can read all about it in my book: The Demo Tapes: Year 1) And you’d better believe that there will be some during the upcoming G20 summit, when world leaders gather to see my city strut its stuff.
It wouldn’t surprise me if fireworks are so common here that on any given night, you can find at least a few in the greater metro area. After all, what better way to celebrate Uncle Joe’s 101st birthday than with some boomers? If we get the really loud ones, he might be able to hear them without his hearing aids in…
I don’t know who came up with the idea of fireworks. I do know that Pittsburgh and fireworks go so well together because a couple of the big firework manufacturers are located here, about an hour north of the city itself. Maybe the city and the surrounding townships and municipalities (and everything else, from towns to villages to boroughs) get a deal on their fireworks. In exchange, we’re the testing ground for the new and innovative things being developed up there near New Castle.
Maybe sheep really come in all those cool colors that you can buy wool socks in, too.
It never dawned on me that this proliferation of Oohs and Aaahs was anything but normal. It never dawned on me that if I lived anywhere else (and I have, actually. Three different anywhere elses), there wouldn’t be nearly so many fireworks.
I never thought about, not until the local media pointed it out. To me, it’s just another cool fact of being from Pittsburgh. We have champion sports teams. We have fireworks. That’s how it is in Western Pennsylvania.
Now, this blasé spirit hasn’t stopped me — or the rest of the people in the city — from flocking downtown to watch the biggest of the best of the displays. For the past three years, my family and I have gone down to the Carnegie Science Center around dinner time on the Fourth. We’ve spent a few hours playing before going out on the patio for front-row seats.
Front row of what, you ask? Well, mostly front-row for the massive display set off over the confluence of the city’s famed three rivers. But invariably, every year as we wait for our monster show, earplugs in hands, we get to watch three, maybe four, smaller shows.
Maybe it’s the local townships and municipalities. Maybe there are a lot of Uncle Joes who have birthdays to celebrate. I don’t know.
After the fireworks have died down and the smoke cloud begins to float up the river, slowly dissipating, we head back inside the Science Center. More fun awaits us inside; the exhibits are open until midnight, and then we bed down on the hard concrete floor for a few hours of bad sleep.
It’s been awesome. It had become a tradition.
This year, for whatever reason, the Science Center isn’t holding the sleepover as part of the Independence Day festivities. I’m at a loss as to what to do with myself.
I’m okay with the idea that I might miss fireworks. Really, I am. I can see fireworks the next time I’m downtown, I’m sure. Like I said, they happen all the time here. I remember the night in college when I was driving across a bridge and, just like that, pulled over to watch some fireworks. We never did figure out why they’d been set off. Must’ve been Uncle Joe’s 101st birthday.
Instead, I think I’ll spend the night and the morning after doing something decidely un-fireworks-like. I’m going to turn on my TV, grab a manuscript to edit, and soak in the start of the three week challenge that is the Tour de France. I’m going to dream about being physically fit enough to do something so amazing as the famed race. And I’m going to work on my books.
Because as Leah and all of her other friendly guests will tell you, when we writers create really good fiction, we create our own fireworks. When a scene clicks or a character comes to life and steals a scene… fireworks. Oh, they may not go as high into the air and they may not go bang as loudly as the real things, but in terms of the way those moments set a writer’s heart to pound…
Have a safe and happy Fourth, all my American friends. And the rest of you, the next time you see a fireworks display that has no apparent reason, go on and wish Uncle Joe a happy hundred-and-first birthday. Or be sure to wish Leah a happy *coughfiftiethcough*. That firework above? One of Pittsburgh’s best.
For one of Canada’s best.
Oh, and Happy 4th to all those of you south of the 49th parallel. (And those of you in Alaska too – didn’t mean to exclude you.)