Sunday, December 19, 2010

Someday...

I don’t remember a time that I didn’t have a book on my bedside table. I love books. I come by this adoration honestly. My parents are both avid readers. My mom prefers fiction and my dad likes some fiction, but is able to devour non-fiction as well. Words have always had a huge impact on me. Written and spoken. It’s just the way I’m wired. I have so many books in my bedroom just waiting to be opened and enjoyed. I prefer fiction because, like movies, I view reading as a form of escapism - going to a different place, learning something new, gaining a new perspective, using my imagination. I have tried some non-fiction, but that John Adams book has been sitting on my pile for years now. The funny part is, I think it’s my dad’s book, but neither of us is sure whose it really is. I have a ton of respect for John Adams, George Washington and the conundrum Thomas Jefferson. The most I can do is watch the John Adams HBO mini-series (which is excellent by the way).

Part of my problem is time. I’m not the fastest reader and I need to make time for it. As the kids have gotten older, it’s been easier to make time for myself, but it’s still at a premium. Sometimes when I come home from work I don’t sit down until 8 or 9 p.m. I might watch a show, catch the weather (which is somewhat worthless), read a couple of pages and fall asleep. On occasion I’ve stayed up late trying to finish a riveting book, but I pay for it the next day. Actually, I just drink more coffee – it usually does the trick. Recently, a friend of mine got me interested in short stories. I never really liked short stories growing up – there was always so much hidden meaning that it was evidently too much of a mind bender for me. Now I appreciate the brevity and maybe now that I’m older (and of course, wiser) I can understand this. I think some short stories are created for emotional impact.

One of the coolest (ok, and probably geekiest) things I’ve done in recent years (although not lately) is to meet authors. There are events at bookstores to see authors – hear them speak about their latest release and then there is usually a book signing. I have tried to think about why I like to do this kind of activity. I think that part of it is that the authors become real people, not just a name on a jacket. Maybe it makes my dream of becoming a published author more attainable. Sort of like the time my mom had me touch a baby’s hand so that I would get pregnant (or maybe not).

Here are a couple of examples of my brushes with brilliance. I’ve already written about meeting and corresponding with Lisa See – she’s just an amazing woman. I also met Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein at different events in the same year! They are the journalists from the Washington Post that cracked the Watergate scandal wide open. All the President’s Men is their story (or one piece of it). The movie of the same title is excellent as well – starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffmann. As a journalist major in college, I just really dig this story.

In so many ways, these men could not be more different. I met Mr. Woodward at the National Book Festival. I waited in line from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. to see him. The line was thousands strong to see him. He was driven to his tent surrounded by security. People clapped when he arrived. The actual moment when you meet these authors tends to be brief, especially in DC if there is a monster line. I went up to him, and while he was signing, he was very cordial and asked me where I was from and I thanked him for coming. I had him sign a couple of books – one of them being All the President’s Men.

When I met Mr. Bernstein, it was in a bookstore in Milwaukee. It was a much more intimate event and I was front and center. I think my parents went with me on this trip as well. It was exciting! He hadn’t released a book in years – he was promoting his Hillary Clinton book. He had an interesting talk – he’s my more gregarious than Bob Woodward - followed by a diverse Q & A session. I had him sign his book (part of the deal) and of course, I had him sign the copy of All the President’s Men that Bob Woodward had signed as well. He said, ”Oh, I see you had Bob sign this.” I think I mumbled a “yes”. My mom was busy scolding him because he wasn’t spelling my name right. Hilarious! One of my prized possessions is this book. They represent a piece of history that happened in my lifetime (not to mention we know the truth about their main source "Deep Throat"). It was when journalists really believed in finding out the truth and wouldn’t stop until they figured it out. They held people accountable – it was a natural check and balance on unbelievable power and authority in our country. It was a proud moment in our history – maybe a tiny piece of me feels like I was a part of it. Books are powerful in a very special way. Someday…

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