Booker T. Washington was one of my heroes growing up. I read "Up From Slavery" at least three times, and his biography a half dozen or more, and his wisdom, compassion, and courage inspired me, as it has many others. In honor of Black History Month, here are some words of wisdom from this survivor, educator, author, and presidential adviser.
In which Killarney attempts to complete her New Year's Resolution of watching all John Wayne movies made after Stagecoach, for no better reason than she loves the Duke and wishes she lived out west.
Starring: John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jennifer O'Neill, Jack Elam, and Christopher Mitchum. Directed by Howard Hawks
After the Civil War, Col.. Cord McNally (Wayne) searched for the Union traitor who betrayed his unit and caused the death of close friend. Helping him are two former Confederates (Rivero and Mitchum) and the three converge on the Texas town of Rio Lobo, where a corrupt sheriff is blackmailing and strong-arming his way into becoming the biggest landowner in the county.
For those of you not conversant in Wayne lore, Rio Lobo is the second variation of Hawks' classic Rio Bravo (the Duke's answer to High Noon), in which a small town sheriff stands against a superior force of outlaws. The first variation was El Dorado, - so close in story that it was practically a remake - which also starred Christopher Mitchum's father, Robert. Rio Lobo is the weakest entry of the three, but it still has it's moments. The opening sequence, where the Confederates, acting on the spy's information, hijack a train carrying Union gold, is intense, and the second half is traditional western fun, especially when Wayne and Rivera meet the spunky Shasta, mourning the murder of her friend by the town's corrupt sheriff and the independent Amelita, who harbors her own grudge.
John Wayne plays the older, gruff loner and there are lots of shout-outs to his older movies, but the younger generation are given plenty of time and action. The women are strong, but underused, and the bad guys are somewhat one dimensional, but over-all it's a fun movie and it looks like they had a good time making it. John Wayne, kinda like Jackie Chan, brings a lot of the same crew with him in every movie and this one is no exception: almost every side character I recognized from his other movies.
In short, not one of his best movies, but still a blast to watch.
Best JW Quote:
"Ketchum, we promised you in a trade. We didn't say what condition you'd be in."
Best Swagger Moment:
On his way to the final showdown, John Wayne trades the ordinary rifle he carries for his signature one with the modified lever loop, saying with a satisfied grunt, "That's better."
JW Moment of Wisdom:
(Talking to the ex-confederates about the gold robbery and the spy that lead them to it): "What you did was an act of war - what he (the spy) did was treason."
Most Surprising Guest Stars:
Victor French (aka Mr. Edwards from Little House on the Prairie) is the spy that John Wayne beats the tar out of. Plus, Santa Claus (aka: David Huddleston) plays the town's dentist!
And now for something completely different...
So I guess you know that I have to start with the usual question: Why do you write?
Sure! But it’ll be the same answer as always.
I write because I don’t have a choice. Seriously. I’ve been in publishing since I was twelve years old and there have been times that I thought it would be interesting to do something else, but it couldn’t ever happen because at the end of the day I have stories blasting through my head and characters that won’t let me sleep.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I am really interested in the reasons you wrote this particular book.
To be honest, I’m very frustrated with the lack of honesty in our culture today. We’re trained to behave a certain way, and that way curtails to pleasing and sustaining a select few while the masses suffer. No one is supposed to speak out and the prevalence, and acceptance, of silence encompasses most subjects, honestly. It drowns people.
I’m very rebellious. In my life and in my writing. And I’m uncompromisingly honest, but I can only express my own truth. I can’t speak for all the wrongs in the world, and I don’t claim to, but I can speak for the suffering of women crushed in the fists of misogyny. I’ve lived it. It’s everywhere and most of the time it’s so normal, or so subtle that women don’t even recognize it for what it is.
It was the normal, subtle things – the lies we are taught to believe and base our behavior on - that I wanted to point out. I wanted to show the undercurrent that creates a chain reaction in a woman who figures out the game and can’t take wearing the mask anymore. So she changes the rules and works it to her advantage.
It happened in my own life and I survived. In fact, I won the game.
I wanted to show how it happens, and why a woman would do a drastic thing to save her own sanity while drowning in misogyny, and the aftermath of her actions as her family, and society, reacts to her decision of destroying the silence and the status quo of what she “should have done.”
So why "Lights of Polaris"? That's an unusual title.
There is a wonderful story from Greek Mythology about Polaris, the daughter of Apollo. It’s detailed in the book, but it’s a story of love, tragedy and hope. It’s also about survival after obliteration and becoming something greater than you were. Polaris is also the North Star and the source of finding direction when you are lost, so she’s deeply symbolic in that as well.
How many of your real-life experiences are in this book?
Do I have to admit that? Uh, I really can’t because if I did the man I based Daniel on would sue me and win in court. Not all of it’s plucked straight from the pages of my own life, but I’d give it a solid ninety percent, as for Daisy’s experience. As for the rest… that was just my over-eager imagination working out subconscious issues.
You have a reputation for being "edgy". Is that a deliberate thing?
Not at all. I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime. Edgy’s just who I am, I guess. Other people say that, not me. But I get it all the time.
When I was a girl, in the environment I was raised in, being honest got you in huge trouble. Everything was premeditated and any sort of authentic response was unforgivable and punished far worse than the crime. Somewhere deep inside, I knew that didn’t work, and that kind of retribution and shame wasn’t going to serve me in life if I turned it on myself. I knew all it was going to do was keep me trapped in a destructive pattern, so I decided if I couldn’t be outwardly honest, I was going to be that way with myself. And then, when I left that environment and I didn’t have to hide my thoughts, I suppose I became what people consider abrasive, because I don’t pull punches. But I’m not mean. I don’t abide by cruelty. Ever. I don’t dish it out, but I won’t stand back and watch it happen, either.
On a scale of 1-10, how edgy are you in your personal life? Then give some details.
That’s hard for me to judge. I’m actually a really sweet person. I just have a low tolerance level for unkindness. This is what I think: everybody is set on this earth worthy of empathy and respect. Therefore, no one has the right to walk around suppressing and disrespecting another being. I’m the nicest person on the planet, but do not come at me with unwarranted insolence, because you have no idea who you are dealing with. I do not abide rudeness. Ever.
Obviously "Lights of Polaris" delves into some pretty deep issues. I've also heard from reviewers that it's is an unflinching look into what women tend to think, and how they interact with each other when they get real.
I really wanted to show how women truly are – what they think, how deeply they feel, and how the world around them affects their decisions. I wanted to show them damaged and frozen, and then the lioness inside awakening. It was really important, too, that the women in the book spoke and interacted like women actually do. There are no negligees or pillow fights in Lights of Polaris. I tried to avoid any stereotypes and be bold with the sacred truths that women hold – and too often keep secret because of the shame society places on them.
The main character, "Daisy Cade", was in your previous novel, Burning Down Rome. What made you decide she needed her own book?
It was funny, because as I was writing Burning Down Rome, there were background characters that had nothing really to do with that book. I mentioned three names in Burning Down Rome only once or twice – Cooper Thomson, Stuart Adkins, and Daisy Cade. But somehow I knew that all three had major stories. I just didn’t know they were connected to each other, or how closely.
Writing can be a very schizophrenic thing. I literally see visions and hear voices when I’m falling asleep at night. Daisy kind of haunted me. Kid Cade had five sisters, but she was the one who didn’t jump out at me. It was that quiet that I became interested in, and I couldn’t let the thought of her go, so I focused in and what I found was a deeply fascinating woman who reflected the strangulation and torture of what conformity can do to some people.
And then the other voices began…
She's a high-functioning autistic woman, which is an interesting choice for a main character. Why did you decide on that for her character?
Well, I’m high functioning Aspergers, so I applied that part of myself to Daisy so she could make sense to me, honestly. Because she’s weird. She’s a total oddball, but she’s also wonderful, warm and embraceable. But she’s often terribly misunderstood, too. I suppose putting a label on her was almost an easy way out for me to let the reader understand her sometimes unusual behavior.
Do readers need to read Burning Down Rome before Lights of Polaris?
I’d say no, but I’d also say it would help to absorb some of the depth of the story. The characters from Burning Down Rome are all in Lights of Polaris, so if you’ve read Burning Down Rome, you’ll know what happens to the kids from Cry Baby Jake down the road. It makes it a bit more well-rounded and interesting, but Lights of Polaris definitely stands alone.
About you, personally: if you could wave a wand and rid the world of only one problem, what would it be?
Ignorance. I really wish people would educate themselves and stop believing what they’re told. Open your eyes. I’d have everybody question everything all the time and realize that they are empowered already and don’t need permission to take control of their own minds and lives.
So here's the part of the interview where I ask: what about your next project?
It may be asked, but I don’t discuss upcoming projects. I will say I’m looking at writing a series, though, and it’s nothing like I’ve ever written before.
Well, I know you'll publish more novels, 'cause that's what you do. I heard that you recently turned down an offer to sign with agents. What made you decide to stay Indie?
Ouch. Yeah. That. Well, this is the thing. The traditional publishing industry likes to keep things in a bottle – a specific formula of plot versus character versus page count. I think that’s fine for a bit of light reading, or if somebody reads for entertainment alone. But I believe there are bigger books that need to be written and stories that shouldn’t be cut by 30,000 words because if they are, they lose their impact. Books can change lives. Some books have a soul of their own. Some stories are real. Sometimes fiction is more real than truth. And when that happens, an author has an obligation not to compromise the integrity of that work.
So I didn’t compromise. Maybe down the road, with the right agent and the right house, I can find a place that I feel won’t ask me to concede what I believe in. But I don’t know. I’m way too punk rock to want to cooperate a whole lot when it comes to my art.
Edgy, right? Yeah. I guess maybe I do live up to that rep sometimes.
Self-Reliance has been on my mind a lot lately - not just Emerson's magnificent essay, but the nature of self-reliance. What does it mean to be self-reliant? How does one achieve it? And is it worth the achievement?
At times it seems that society as a whole is moving away from this concept. Oh, we do not say this out-loud, of course, but the underlying movement is towards a community that supports, molds, contributes, and has a say in all efforts, personal and impersonal. And while I love the idea of a community that work with, plays with, and supports one another, I can't help but wonder if we aren't losing an aspect of our humanity - our self-reliance and, by extension, our personal pride - in the process.
So I turned to my old friend, Emerson, and was reminded, once again, why his wisdom is still quoted in our times. Here are some of my favorite quotes from his essay. Got a favorite of your own? Any thoughts on self-reliance? Comment in the section below!
Fall has finally come to New Hampshire. The green leaves are drying into mellow oranges, brittle yellows, and fiery reds. The air is so crisp and clean that breathing it is like drinking fresh, cold water - I fairly gulp it in as I walk along. The shops smell of pumpkin spice and the promise of coming holidays. Everyone is packing away their flip-flops and swim suits in favor of knee-high boots and comfortable sweaters that hug you like an old friend, and prepping fireplaces for long, cozy nights.
If you haven't guessed it, I love this time of year. And for reasons I have yet to understand (though the name probably has something to do with it), it's in Autumn that I find myself quoting Robert Frost. So here, in honor of Friday and the beginning of fall, is a quotable from the man himself:
In other news, Necessary Evil: the paperback is coming along nicely. To celebrate, down-load the eBook on October 2nd only. If you've read it already, leave a review! And if you haven't read it, now's your time to get it, on me. Tell your friends, too!
Happy Fall, everyone!
Writing a novel is sometimes like going on a trip: you have a rough idea of what to pack and what you're going to see, but you never know for sure.
In a few weeks, Necessary Evil will launch and I cannot wait for you to read it! It's got romance, danger, buried treasure, Modern-day mixing with the Civil War (side note: the war was anything but Civil - I prefer the wordier War Between the States title), and just a dash of darkness. I figured I'd like writing this book (I did) and I knew I'd learn alot (I did), but what I didn't expect was how much the research for this book would effect me.
In preparing to write, I studied New Hampshire's involvement in the Civil War, especially the town of Chester, where the book is based, and I even learned a little about the origins of the statue that stands so proudly in the center of my town. Mostly I read letters - lots of letters, letters to and from soldiers and their wives, sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, and other loved ones. They ranged from heartbreaking to hilarious, and spoke of everything from problems on the farm and on the battlefield to declarations of love and prayers for a safe return. Men worried about their families, women worried about their husbands, and children grew up missing one or both parents - and sometimes the other way around.
Reading those letters made the participants feel real and present, and I was amazed at how modern their words seemed to be. Some of them could have been written today, with almost no alterations, and sent from Afghanistan or Iraq. The sentiments were the same. While some of the soldiers boasted of this or that feat, most of them just wanted the killing to end and peace to return. It put a human heart, so to speak, into the granite Chester soldier, and a story behind all those veterans laying quietly buried in my hometown.
Times and wars and places change - but humans and families are still very much the same.
I meant to leave an awesome review and write and post a witty, scathing essay today. But, alas, this week was so enormously busy that I ran out of time and energy and wit to do either.
So I'll be running away for the weekend instead, escaping humidity and stress. Usually, I am not a huge fan of running away - I believe most problems/stresses/issues are best faced head on and dealt with in the moment - but some days, weeks, months, running away is seems the best way to get a proper perspective on the planet. Besides, I had a hard time turning down an opportunity to hang out in the gorgeous northern New Hampshire mountain region (seriously, my life is so hard).
But rather than post nothing, here are some of my favorite quotes on the writing life. If you can't runaway this weekend, perhaps these will give you the needed boost to face your every-day stresses.
Good luck, friends! Have a great weekend!
Being a New Englander, you knew I had to come to Thoreau sometime...
Moving forward requires letting go and Dream-Catching requires courage and tenacity. We are capable of all these things. Go forth and live your dream. Make Thoreau proud.
A friend of mine was upset. She'd been relying on someone for help and it never arrived.
"I don't know why I bother being a good person sometimes," she told me, her voice heavy with hurt. "Paying it forward doesn't seem to work."
It's a familiar refrain. Before my current job (author, among other occupations), I worked in a large Parish that hosted a food pantry and always among the truly needy were those who pulled up in fancy cars, stepped up in new boots, and played with the latest in cell phones while waiting their turn in line for a bag of groceries. The food pantry workers were all volunteers, people who'd seen their own families grow in relative health and prosperity and saw this as a way of giving back. But the imbalance would get to them, too.
"I don't know what good it is giving food to someone who's spending their welfare money on phones and boots," one said to me, after a long, frustrating day. "It's just seems silly."
My sister volunteers at a soup kitchen. She's not even 18 yet and already she was frustrated by what she sees.
"The same people return all the time!" she told me, after working there a year. "It's not that I don't want to help. It's that I don't think I am."
Justice, it seems, clashes with acts of mercy.
It's hard to work in charity, giving only to see it seemingly thrown away on the ungrateful. I've helped out in charitable endeavors, and know what it's like to give, only to find that not only did the person not need it, but is spreading the news of your generosity to all their other friends in the area.
It's easy to give up. It's tempting to say, 'That's it, that's all there is. This well is dry.' To wash my hands of the matter and go on my way.
But as I finished the conversation with my friend, a song came on the radio. What is Christmas? it asked. It's all about a savior, wrapped in a manger.
And there was the answer: What would Jesus do? Or rather, what did He do?
He gave first. Before we were worthy. Before we even knew we needed it. Before we were willing to accept it. He gave first. He gave and He still gives. And then He said that we were to do the same.
It's a tough lesson. I much prefer to give when I get that nice response - the grateful smile, the satisfaction of a need assuaged, that Superwoman feeling I, and only I, could have rescued this person in their hour of need. It's a good, comfortable feeling, but it's not supposed to be why I give. I should do it anyway.
My friend does: naturally, effortlessly, without even thinking about it - she's already helping out one of those that had let her down. The good people at the food pantry do: long hours in a basement, sorting stock and filling out government reports. My sister does: cooking, cleaning, serving all with a smile and an invitation to seconds. They may talk their frustrations out on me, but when the conversation ends and that call of need come, they don't hesitate. They don't qualify. They don't wince. They don't look for the accolades. They just answer. (If you worry that the world has no more heroes, I would suggest that you check out your local food pantry, soup kitchen, or that helpful neighbor right down the hall. Chances are very good that you'll find them there.)
Being Christian is not about paying it forward and hoping for an earthly return. It's about giving as we have received - freely and generously.
That's the true Christmas spirit.
It’s a gorgeous morning when I pull into the Maudsley Park parking lot. I’m here for a photo shoot, one of a string of artistic endeavors called ‘Shades of the Past, headed by photographers Monica Bushor and Matt Lavigne. This is my second ‘Shades’ experience. In the first, I got to play His Girl Friday. This time, I’m not a model – I’m a lighting tech or, as I preferred to call myself, the Bringer of Light and Shadow.
When I arrive, there is already a hub of activity surrounding the picnic tables. Models yawn, stretch, and pull costumes over their yoga wear. Make-up artists unpack brushes, powders, and lipsticks, while the prop crew fusses about with mirrors and plastic skulls and staffs. The photographers are directing traffic while juggling expensive equipment. It’s a merry mess of setting up and I’m struck by how similar it is to the film projects I am often involved in.
The theme for this ‘Shades’ project is Creeptastic Beauty. It’s the brainchild of Monica Bushor, a mother and homemaker besides artist, and she’s enthusiastic about the idea. “It’s about the beauty of death,” she tells me. “Not a Halloween horror shoot.”
That’s obvious in the subjects she’s chosen: the Fates, Spirit Dancers, La Mala Hora, the Banshee, Bean Nighe, La Llorna, Will o’ the Wisp, and the Storm Hag number among the many characters she’s has planned for the ambitious one-day project. The self-appointed project assistant has a clipboard loaded with inspiration photos and notes.
“So much for a simple little shoot,” someone remarks.
“Actually, compared to the others, this is a little shoot,” Monica says.
Eventually, we are ready to begin. A small group of techies, myself included, load up with equipment and head off down the path towards the first location. We’re going to spend all morning in the park, crisscrossing all over one end of it. It’s a good location for a spooky shoot. Remnants of the old mansion are everywhere, from the lush gardens to the abandoned bunker to the remains of the pool house.
But this morning doesn't lend itself easily to a chill and thrills. Sunlight pours through clear skies to drench the park in warmth. There are luxurious lawns, well-maintained gardens, giant, welcoming trees, and charming nooks to read in. I can imagine filming a scene from a Jane Austen novel, but not a Bram Stoker.
Still, I’m game. We reach our first destination, a tree-lined lane, and we set up the lights and fuss about positioning them until the models arrive.
The Fates are first, in the form of a dancer, the costumer, and a woman I do not know. Velvet robes cover their rolled up jeans. One carries an over-sized set of shears. They slip out of their sneakers, laughing and joking, and tip-toe up to stand in between the lights.
We stand back, behind the photographers, and watch as the women shift positions, and stare down at the camera. But while we’re trying to create a remote atmosphere, the real fates seem determined to cross us. Maudsley is busy today. Joggers, dog-walkers, and mothers pushing carriages stream around us, craning their necks curiously as they chat about work and family projects. They are respectful, but they remind us that this is not a medieval forest – this is present-day Massachusetts
When the Fates are through, the Spirit Dances take their place. Wrapped in white and black gauze, they are graceful and the little lane resounds with laughter and suggestions.
We move from set to set, and I get to see a good deal of the park. I learn a bit about lighting, and watch as the models come and go. They come dressed in fanciful clothing from a variety of places, from thrift shops to mall stores. Standing on the sidelines as I was, I can see the chipped gilt on Blood Mary’s mirror, the Savers tag on the Ghostly Girl's shirt. My Ebay-bargain wedding veil is used for a shroud for one of the ghosts. As heavily made-up dancers perform a Danse Macabre, one of the directors and choreographer takes advantage of the echoing set to sing Phantom of the Opera. While preparing for their shoots, the models compare their vocal imitations of Ursula, the villain from The Little Mermaid.
I am lulled by the ordinariness of the experience. We are, after all, only people, in a beautiful setting. But there is nothing magical or dark or other-worldly about the experience.
Or so I think.
Point of view is everything.
I am constantly being reminded of this. Every life-improvement expert teaches some form of perspective-reframing, whether it’s detachment or acceptance. It’s easy to accept this intellectually. It’s harder to put into practice, and it’s can be absolutely startling when you see it acted out in real life.
While I see a woman wrapped in a gauzy sheet, Monica’s camera captures a lonely statue, reaching for comfort. The lawyer who chats with me about her new house becomes a menacing Bloody Mary, terrifying a woman in a lonely wood. Through the narrow, focused gaze of Matt’s lens, the lovely wooded lane becomes a frightening gauntlet for the dancer in white to traverse while disembodied hands hover around her. All I saw was the ordinary. The artists saw the extraordinary.
Through the eyes of Monica and Matt, using the talents of those around them, an ordinary state park, flooded with families and joggers on a gorgeous Saturday morning, becomes a remote and otherworldly place, a place of hidden magic and menace, and ghostly beauty.
All it took was a little bit of magic.
A large chunk of ice sits under the broiling Caribbean sun. Two crewmen just left it, hefting it off the dolly and onto a tarp in the middle of the pool deck. Curious cruisers, myself included, gather around the inert object, watching it to see how quickly it’ll melt. After all, it is nearly noon, and a sheen of sweat shows on everyone’s face, even those hale and hearty members from such hot places as Texas and the western desert states.
But if the ice is melting, we can’t see it. The assistant cruise director tells us it’s been super-cooled and will last a while. This enables it to be both a center piece and creates a better carving experience for the ice artist, who will be coming along shortly to make a demonstration.
As we wait, I snap pictures, clean the humidity off my lens, and wonder what the ice-artist sees when he looks at the block of ice. Like other sculptors, artists, architects, and creative people, he must see potential where I only see ice-cubes and freezer burn. It’s as though he sees through a different lens than I do.
The artist comes out to general applause, and inspects his tools before working. Once assured that the tools are all present, and the ice is ready for carving, he starts the show with a flourish. Shards of ice fly off of the block, snowing on those sitting nearby, causing a chorus of shrieks, but he is not disturbed. Round and around he dances around the ice, chipping and shaping, his movements fast and sure.
“Can anyone guess what he is making?” the assistant cruise director asks. “Anyone?”
Suggestions are shouted. Everything from the Eiffel Tower to a seal is suggested; but as the carving continues, the suggestions dwindle, and we begin to run out of ideas. The Eiffel Tower is out, since the top of the sculpture is rounded. The seal is unlikely. Some suggested that he was carving the cruise liner that we were on, but it was much too tall for that.
The artist chips away, unconcerned by the attention. We watch and we grow a little impatient. We want to know, for certain, what he is creating. We want to offer advice, suggestion, to be in on the action – but this is his work alone. We can only wait and watch.
A lot of life is like that. While some aspects of our world are under our direct control (I can choose what I wear, where I live, what I’ll eat), others are not. We cannot see the future, nor know how certain events will ultimately unfold. While we may contribute our voices, our enthusiasm, as we did for the ice sculptor, a lot of life is learning to wait, to watch, while the Master Artist does His work.
After twenty minutes of work, the Ice Sculptor dances around the ice one more time. His keen eyes examine his handiwork, and with a swift, sure motion, he leans in to cut away one more chunk of ice. It sheers away and a graceful swan sits on the open deck, its head tucked modestly under its wing.
With another flourish, the artist throws down his tools, and bows to the applause. He has revealed what the ice had hidden, and released the swan from its cold prison.
His work is done.
He’s the first person I see as I go into the bookstore: An author, hopeful and brave, sitting behind a table filled with copies of his first novel. He is alone. The store hums with library-like activity, but no one pays attention to him. This is New England, and we don’t take to kindly to salesmen, even the friendly non-intrusive kind.
He smiles at me and I smile back as I rush by. I come here to hide from the rest of the planet, not to talk to more people. But as I wander up and down the aisles, I can’t help thinking: “I’d want someone to stop.” So I go back.
“Hello!” I say when he looks up. “What’s your book about?”
He’s happy to tell me. His book is a sci-fi novel, the first in a series, with a message about the cost of revenge. His eyes light up when he talks of alien intrigue and the social messages in his book, and he briefly outlines what the next book is about. Then we start to talk.
I learn that he’s an anthropologist and a historian - a PhD, no less, who has traveled all over the world. He studied in Ireland for two years, the best of those being in Galway. He describes the night life, the cozy feeling of acceptance, the rain, and I can tell that he misses it. We talk about Ireland and the Irish, about traveling and living in New Hampshire, about sci-fi fans and Doctor Who (his favorite is Tom Baker, while my heart belongs to Christopher Eccleston), and debate whether true Englishmen actually have a stiff upper lip. We discuss writing techniques and styles, and how to get people to stop at your signing tables. We have quite a bit in common, as it turns out - which should come as no surprise, seeing as we both love sci-fi and writing. But it does surprise me.
Then he picks up a camera.
“Would you mind taking my picture?” he asks.
I oblige, and when I hand the camera back, he winks at me.
“When you do publish your book,” he says, “that’s a good trick to get people to stop by. Ask them to take a picture of you.”
He gives me a card with his web address on it and I take a book from his table, then we shake hands and I go back to my shelf for more browsing.
A little later, I walk by his table as he’s packing up. The bookstore is still busy, with people going through the shelves, nibbling at café eats, flipping through magazines. I think how much I learned in just a short space of time with him, and I think of all the times I quickly passed by someone because I didn’t want to be bothered.
And I wonder what I’ve missed.