Where to begin--this is a blog so I get to start at the very beginning (well sort of anyway).
I am trying not to go to ABWA meetings. Whenever I go to ABWA, I get sucked into more and more responsibilities that I do not have time to do. It has been that way for years. I've tried to say no, I've tried to sign up for smaller jobs, but I have failed miserably and often end up volunteering for much more than I have time and energy to do. The chapter suffers when someone who doesn't really want to do something does it. Other members miss out on growth opportunities and the chapter misses out on fresh ideas. Hey, I'm not a lawyer for nothing.
Anyhoo, we were going to have a Bingo last week that I couldn't go to because of Marisa's birthday (excellant, timely and absolutely true excuse), but the bingo got cancelled. Normally, this is not a bad thing--I couldn't even go, so why would it mean anything to me at all. Go explain that to my psyche--the cancelling of the event that I couldn't even attend made me want to commit that I would attend the next meeting, even though I had decided to myself that I would not be going.
I was having a little war in myself over the issue, when my friend Elysa (who is also in ABWA) told me that she couldn't make the meeting because the library was having an author coming to speak that she wanted to see that night. She decribed the author as someone she really admired and she was quite excited at the prospect of seeing her. She got me intrigued. I've been wanting to get involved with the library and I certainly need a new author. (I am up to reading some Nora Roberts' book three times--I really need a new author. The reason I read the book a third time is because it was the only one available on e-reader on my iphone--I love reading books on my iphone. Talk about convenient--except for the run out of juice part, but I digress.)
So I ditched ABWA and made plans to go to the library event with Elysa. Then it turned into dinner first at Outback and then the library event. Talk about icing on the cake. If I know that I am going to Outback, that $20 meal provides days of happy anticipation. [As a haunting side note, the idea of going to lunch at McDonalds has started to become a "look forward to" event--now that is scary, but I digress.]
Elysa had the book, so I made plans to go to Borders (which is right on the way to Outback, all within walking distance of the library and my office) to purchase "Shanghai Girls" by Lisa See. Now I have been getting lots of e-mails from Borders--I think I signed up for a discount card at an Airport Borders. When you are at an airport, you feel so grateful for being able to find a book that you really want. You feel disconnected from reality--a little universe of the airport makes you do things you wouldn't ordinarily do, like say yes to purchasing a discount card that you will never allow yourself to actually use. I promptly filed the card away so that I would not be tempted to go buy books. Anyway, one of the e-mails from Borders said 40% off of the new Nora Roberts book. 40% off--I'm there! It was a one day coupon and you had to have the card and you had to buy other stuff too. I hate those coupons. I had a left over gift card from last christmas though so I reasoned that was just as good as a coupon. Borders had the new Nora Roberts book, but not the Lisa See, which surprise, surprise was sold out because of the author event planned at the library. I was disappointed that I wouldn't have a book to be autographed, but such is life.
I should not have worried--the library was selling the book and lots of Lisa See's other books. Between Elysa and I, we bought most of the book titles that we will share with each of us having our own copy of the new book "Shanghai Girls" to be autographed. I didn't look at the bill and I'm not gonna until the credit card bill comes next month, but I digress.
I saw so many people that I knew from Kiwanis, Glendale Beautiful, Curves, working at the elections, PTA and Toastmasters. There were about 200 or 300 people and more spilling out behind the area with chairs. Lisa See was signing books prior to speaking, but the line was cut off and I didn't make the cut off. We got terrific seats because Elysa works for Friends of the Library and they had reserved seats up front. We sat in the front row. Over to the side, but the front row. I did make a comment that we should sit in the back to be first in line after the event to have our book signed, but that comment was quickly forgotten at the opportunity to sit in the front row.
Lisa See was a wonderful speaker. The information was so interesting and enlightening. Her great-grandfather was a Chinese immigrant and her family is well known in Los Angeles. I'm not sure if it was part of her talk or if it was to answer a question, but she also told us the process of how she came to write fiction. Her first book was non-fiction about her own family's story. Her first fiction books were murder mysteries and then she wrote more about women and now her latest book is about two sisters coming to the U.S. after Japan invaded China in the 1930's. Her books are filled with nuances of the culture that she learned growing up and from stories in her family and from planting herself on the sofa across from anyone who would talk to her to give her information. She described herself as very stubborn about getting the whole story out of people. She described the 1957 amnesty law for Chinese immigrants. There were lots of loop holes that Chinese immigrants used to get into this country. The 1957 law allowed immigrants who had cheated to come into the country a chance to confess and then they would be given citizenship. The catch was that they had to rat out family members and friends who also cheated, who were then deported and if they happened to know any communists, well that was pretty good too. She said that people who did that and saw their friends and family (one guy saw his wife) deported were so ashamed that they would never talk about it or admit it, even all these years later. She is facinated by history though and she really wants to get all these stories before they are gone forever.
It was such a wonderful talk. Afterwards we waited in line to have our books signed. She asked me if I had any sisters. Later I thought I missed my golden opportunity to tell her about my Amazon Van Houten Sisters. So many stories, so little time.