Another title for this post might have been: a seriously introverted writer goes out to meet people-from-the-internet in the real world and survives.
I can’t remember how I first found Karen Walrond’s blog – Chookooloonks – I only know I am profoundly grateful that I did. I’ve written before about being a drooling fan girl. Last Sunday held a rare opportunity: Karen came to town for a beautifully different book event.
The evening felt like grace and warm honey.
For many reasons, my mother hadn’t visited us in over three years. We’ve seen her, just not here in Seattle. Mum was finally able to travel, and timed a trip so that she and I could celebrate what would have been my Nana’s 100th birthday together.
When I realised that Karen was coming to town the night before, I asked Mum to come early so we could attend the event together.
At Christmas, I gave my two sisters copies of Karen’s The Beauty of Different, and noticed Mum’s curiousity and interest in the book. This would give me a chance to give Mum her own copy, with the added bonus of meeting the book’s creator and having the book signed.
Mum and I had a great time anticipating our night out, getting dressed up (although my bed and floor were littered with discarded dress-boot-shoe combinations – why do I ever stray from the planned outfit?), and going out for dinner beforehand.
Over dinner, I admitted to Mum that if she were not there, I might have already chickened out and stayed home.
From an evening I desperately wanted to enjoy. Yep, it’s sometimes like that being an introverted fraidy-cat.
We were running late (see getting dressed above) and the event was well underway – dim lighting, smooth jazz sending inviting tones out to the street, every seat in the house occupied – by the time we arrived.
After standing at the door scoping out a good place to stand, we picked our way to a back corner. I was startled by someone reaching out to me – Karen was right there, warm hand on my fresh-from-the-outdoors cold one (okay, who am I kidding, my hands are always cold) pulling me into a welcome hug.
That set the tone for the night.
Jason Parker Quartet alternated sets with Karen reading from the book. At times a low-key bass line held the words. When Karen read 20 imperfections (that most practical people agree are just perfect), she alternated with Jason’s trumpet riffs. (The triptych at the top was from that pairing.)
When Karen told us about 8 things that freak her out, she tried to maintain her native Trini accent throughout. The crowd ate it up.
There was so much passion in the room – the musicians each deeply committed to the soul of the music, every guest held rapt by Karen’s words spoken with such warmth, Karen’s confidence and kindness.
Karen was not the only person I would meet for the first time there. I have also enjoyed a slowly growing online friendship with Tara Austen Weaver, of Tea and Cookies, and looked forward to connecting with her there.
Wow. There are some wonderful people in the world.
Tea greeted me with another warm, welcoming hug and my jitters warred between settling down and amping up. At the end of the evening, Mum and I shared a lovely conversation with the gracious Tea, and yet I could feel myself trying too hard.
I usually go home from a social gathering like this kicking myself for something I did or said. This evening was no different. I felt like a jerk more than once.
Other people mostly tell me they don’t remember it that way.
That postcard Karen is holding? She’s doing these instead of bookmarks. Because she is beautifully different and doesn’t adhere to old publishing rules that say publish-a-book-make-a-bookmark. In the upper left corner the postcard says, “you are receiving this postcard because the sender is wildly convinced you’re uncommonly beautiful.”
I know, right?
Karen’s book is sub-titled Confessions of a Confident Misfit. I crave that kind of confidence.