Last night was the monthly “Author Meet and Greet” at our local public library. A couple of months ago Joyce Wellbaum got in touch with me through another one of the “Friends of the Library” ladies who I ran into when I was in the gift shop after Preschool Storytime. (My youngest daughter and I try to hit that every week. I love it! Stories, playing, a craft, what could be better?) Next thing I knew, I was on the schedule for November.
It’s kind of anxiety inducing to try to think up something to say if you’re the featured speaker for a whole hour of something. Thoughts like, “How could I possibly be interesting to someone, let alone a group of over a dozen, for a whole hour.” Then, yesterday, my husband reassured me that he still found me interesting after 16 years, so that comforted me to an extent. (Which, by the way, is a total perk of being married to the right person. And reciprocally, I have yet to find him dull. Well, there was this one day, New Year’s Eve of 2007, when I asked him and his brother to hold off on talking about mining just for a few hours, and they did, bless them. They do love talking about mining to an unnatural degree.)
So, there I was, 6 p.m., with my stack of books for security, and my big poster of Big in Japan. I wore my boots, the fabulous ones, and steeled myself for the scary.
But it wasn’t scary! Not at all! Lots of friends came, with friendly smiling faces. I read a passage from page 45-48 (selected sections) out of Big in Japan–the part where Buck first sees the sumo ring and the most unexpected thing happens. Then I just took questions for about 40 minutes. Everyone had questions about Japan, mostly. Cultural questions, language questions, some sumo questions. I told them to take everything with a grain of salt, since my experience in Japan was uniquely my own, and I saw the whole thing through my 21 year-old “Waaaahow, totally awesome cooolnesssss” filter that I had at the time (and possibly still do). All I could do was answer what my own perception was.
There were several interesting questions, and I had a chance to tell some Japan stories. Those are fun to relive. Here’s one I told, to illustrate the cultural difference:
I had a friend who was a teenage girl. We were talking about fitting in and standing out. Out of curiosity I asked, “Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond.” To my surprise, she looked panicked, and finally responded, “I just want to be a regular size fish in a regular size pond!”
This, to me, illustrated a lot of the cultural standards of the country that are so foreign to us as Americans, where it’s rugged individualism we celebrate instead.
Many thanks to the Safford Library for the chance to ramble on for an hour about sumo and Japan and my book and stuff. And many thanks to the good friends who came out to support me. Mmmwah! You’re the best!