Not-Kathy signed on to SuziSit at the Tucson Festival of Books last Saturday. Her mom, Ernie, came along, too. The three of us, along with about 40,000 other Tucsonans, wandered through white tents and books in print and electronic books and jugglers and mariachis and The Berenstain Bears. The sun was out, a breeze was blowing, and the UofA students were on Spring Break, leaving their beautiful campus for us to enjoy.
Just another wonderful reason to be in Tucson.
Parking was more onerous than any of us had expected, but Not-Kathy took charge and thanks to Ernie's yellow Sam Hughes permit, we were on the Mall only 10 minutes later than we'd hoped to be. Entering through the kids' area, a school chorus provided the soundtrack as we strolled/rolled past a hands-on physics experiment involving a giant yellow I-beam and a movable fulcrum.
It was full but not crowded until we got to the Arizona Star's tent. They were three and four deep outside the open doorway to Merle Reagle's word games event. Last year there were some empty seats for this same opening-of-the-Festival session; next year I'm bringing breakfast and getting there at 9:30.
Turning away, we browsed the booksellers' tents and smelled the roasting kettle corn. After a brief stop in the Culinary Tent, laughing with Janos Wilder and wondering a bit about his co-presenter, we decided to listen to my friend Larry Kramer talk about his new book, C-Scape. There's a whole post to be written about his ideas; stay tuned.
It was a little bit of Marin heaven for me, and I snuggled into the wheelchair, with myegg-crate cushion wrapped in Not-Kathy's guild's quilt and a smile plastered onto my face.
Kramer is a natural raconteur, and since he's got a great face to watch and equally wonderful stories to tell the hour passed without a single ache or twinge. I love being distracted while my mind is being engaged. Ernie asked a question and so did a few others and then it was time to introduce him to my friends and to hug and talk about how all our kids are doing. As we were talking, a woman approached and I stepped back so that she could talk to the author and she stopped me.
"No, please, I came to talk to you!"
This is what my life has become. Kramer brought us SportsWatch and MarketWatch and teaches at Syracuse University and has written a book. I, who have done not much more than get shot and recover and have a positive mental attitude, I am the object of her attentions. All we could do was laugh. He'd asked me how I was doing; I turned to him and said "This is how I am doing." Not-Kathy and Ernie and Kramer got to see the love that has enveloped me since January 8th. It was nice to share, even if it was just a little bit odd.
We ate mediocre hamburgers (it was the shortest line) and I revived myself with 16 ounces of Coca-Cola and then we headed to the bookstore. Not too much pressure at all is being applied to The Youngest, a senior in high school who's been accepted to the College of Nursing at the UofA. Not too much at all. As evidence, I offer the fact that another panel was attended before we began to shop, and only one item was purchased. But the "Come to Tucson" vibes were pretty strong nonetheless.
The panel was held on the lower level of the bookstore, right at the opening of the elevator. These things have become relevant to me. We sat 5 rows back on the end and listened to Susan Wiggs #1 New York Times Best Selling Author and her daughter Elizabeth Wiggs Maas answer questions on their book How I Planned Your Wedding.
And I took a moment and thought about my life. Strangers are hugging me and Little Cuter is getting married and Not-Kathy's Youngest might live 20 minutes from my house and wasn't it 15 minutes ago that they were babies? I watched a mom talk about her daughter's wedding and it felt great.
I have been sharing my horror; it was nice to share my joy.
We thought it would be a session on turning a blog into a book; obviously I was interested. It turned out to be a session on wedding planning.
I took issue with a lot of the mom's advice/actions/conclusions, but, to be fair, she wasn't always happy with herself either. Elizabeth just smiled... with her amazing curls, and acted like the Disney Princess I wanted to be when I was 5.
Not-Kathy and Ernie and I rolled our eyes and shook our heads and nodded in agreement and wondered and laughed and looked confused. We were having our own little party over there on the side of the room.
And so started the Tucson piece of the Little Cuter and SIR Engagement Celebration Tour. We three had our own participatory experience, an experience we would never have had were it not for the kids' impending nuptials. There was some good advice and some timely warnings and, of course, there was a book to buy.
I chatted with the Wiggs girls about Little Cuter and getting shot and Tucson and others came by to share the love and then they inscribed the book for the kids and I left, fully intending to put it in an envelope and mail if off on Monday.
But something happened. I don't know why, but I opened the book with a red pen in hand and I began to read and re-write it. Right now I'm on page 30 and I'm having a grand old time. I'll send it on to Little Cuter with a blue pen attached; it's so nice of the Wiggs' to have given us the outline for our own wedding book.
The Tucson Festival of Books is many things; as a venue for an engagement event, I'm betting that this was a first.