Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can I hire my grandfather as a publicist?

My grandfather just called to tell me that he is working on a booking me an author event in Frostburg in November. My grandfather is, apparently, my publicist. This makes me giddy. I am trying to keep my excitement muted—lots of people publish books, you know, it isn’t that special—but in all honesty, I am so far beyond elated and I am thrilled to see someone in the same boat.

And I am nervous, because, inevitably he’s going to read it.

This is so surreal, and this book is so personal to me, and it scares the hell out of me that people are going to see into that. What if they hate it? What if people think it is unrealistic? What if it is?
The other day I was explaining the plot to a co-worked, and I mentioned “alcoholic” in regards to one of the characters. She frowned, and smiled, and looked uncomfortable, and asked if that was something I had “experience” with.

That is such an odd question for me to answer. When I wrote the initial story, with all the experience of a seventeen year old growing up in a house devoid of alcoholism, I can’t imagine what would have prompted me to include that affliction. Perhaps I thought I could understand what that was based on the movies I watched, and a book or two.

Oddly enough this story (and the half-written novelization of it) were far from my mind when I sat across from a stranger at a Chinese restaurant about, oh my goodness… was it five years ago? He was tall, and had beautiful eyes, and listened to me intently with an amused smile plaguing his face.

He told me, over that dinner, that he himself was a recovering alcoholic. I knew little more of it by 2005 than I did in 1998 when I first wrote about Max and Menna’s mom. I paid little attention to this tidbit about him on that day, more intrigued by what was going on behind that smile.

When we left the restaurant and I got home, it was me that couldn’t stop smiling. We say each other every day for the next three weeks, during which we discussed his addiction, my writing, our past failed relationships, my dog, his cat, and anything else that came to mind. We discussed everything save for all of the warning signs that were growing in my mind to a muted concern.

Three weeks later he told me he loved me. My mind swam, and the muted concern was instantly and officially muted, as I said it back.

The next day my mom called to tell me that an x-ray had shown a fractured vertebrae. At that point in time, it seemed easy to chalk that up to mom’s usual clumsiness (a trait I inherited). At that point in time it seemed like this was the beginning of something amazing and I had this sudden and intense feeling that something great was finally happening.

I wonder now if I had known that that something was finally happening would not end up to be so great if I would have kept moving, kept going, kept ignoring that nagging feeling. I still don’t know if I regret any of it, because I have emerged someone that I am proud of, someone my grandfather is proud of. Is it better to be proud of who you are, even if that person is a little broken, or too live happily ignorant and just below your potential?

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