Last night I had the honor of participating in the 5th Annual Family Read Night for Hamburg Middle School, my former junior high (yep, it was still considered a junior high way back then). The last time I’d been in the school, I was finishing up 8th grade more than 20 years ago.
Events are difficult for me, no matter how many I do. It’s the public speaking part — especially with kids and teens, who are the toughest kind of crowd because they’re so honest. Deep down I’m still an introverted, awkward writer who does much better on paper than in real life. I get all crazy and nervous the whole entire day before any public appearance, and my poor husband has to resort to all sorts of trickery to calm me down. Last night was no different. I think I stopped speaking to him about two hours earlier so I could devote my entire brain to cooking up scenarios of me tripping on my way to the podium, me making inappropriate jokes to a roomful of kids and parents, me being booed out of the school, that sort of stuff. At least 2 out of those 3 things have never happened to me, but my mind still finds a way to freak itself right out before each and every speaking engagement.
But soon after I arrived at Hamburg Middle School, I started to relax (or at least freak out a little less). Maybe it was the dedication of Hamburg Middle School’s library media specialist, Megan Moelbert, and the other librarians and teachers who worked so hard at the event. Or the amazing giant Twenty Boy Summer flag the students painted, which now hangs in my office (yes, this might be my favorite thing ever). Or roaming the halls and remembering the good times I had in junior high. Or chatting with the enthusiastic librarian who was my elementary school librarian when I got to go on my E.T. “book tour” in first grade. Or the fact that my book got rave reviews from the Hamburg bulldog. Or the amazing awesomeness of all the teens and kids who stopped to chat with me after the presentation and filled the halls for an event dedicated to the love of reading. Either way, it was a wonderful evening in celebration of books and imagination and dreams, and I was so glad to be part of it, nerves and all!
A huge thank you to Megan Moelbert and the Hamburg Middle School librarians for organizing the event (and for rolling out the red carpet for a former student!), and to all of the faculty and students (especially the library club members! I totally want to join library club!) for working hard to make the night such a great success. I’d also like to thank Jane Bell from B is For Books, my favorite local indie, who came prepared with lots of books and didn’t blame me for being too nervous to chat with her before all the public speaking stuff. And of course, thanks to my super patient pet monster, who carries all the heavy stuff, takes all the pictures, and puts up with all the wackiness that comes with being married to a neurotic writer. 🙂
By the way, have you ever seen a cuter bulldog? I don’t think so!