It’s finally time to move on…

clock clipartI used to be good at time management. I mean, I was a teacher, so I had to be. I was organized. I knew what I would be doing at any minute of the day because it was all planned.

Not any more.

I realized over the weekend that I missed graduation. I always go to graduation. I’m talking about 8th-grade graduation at the school where I taught for 19 years. This year would have been my last year—this graduation-capyear’s 8th graders were the last kids I taught, back when they were in 3rd grade. But I’ve gotten so out of sync with school schedules that I forgot to check when graduation was, and it happened without me. I’ve been talking about attending this—my last graduation—since last year’s graduation. But I was at the California Book Awards that night. (Which I was late to, of course.)

I suppose this is somehow meaningful. I’ve moved on from the world of education to the world of publishing, even in my subconscious. Or something like that.

I’m a little sad. But I’d have thought I’d be sadder in a way. If I went back to visit next fall, there would be very few people who would know me. I wouldn’t know any of the kids or parents, and probably only about a third of the teachers at this point.

So, yeah, I guess I’m moving on.


California Book Awards worth the journey

CBA logo

I recently posted my experience getting to the California Book Awards but didn’t actually write about the awards themselves, which was a bit of a tease. So I’m making good now.

First off, I love the California Book Awards logo of Mark Twain atop a bear, though I know Stephen Colbert would be horrified. Some people might be surprised that Samuel Longhorn Clemens is considered a California writer by the natives of our state, but he did spend a significant amount of time here, so that seems fair to me. And FYI for you out-of-staters, the bear is our official state animal.

Although I arrived at 575 Market Street at exactly 7:00, it turns out that the Commonwealth Club is at 595 Market Street, the building I passed in a rush a few minutes earlier. (To be fair, 7s and 9s are quite similar and so easily confuse the addled brain, or at least my addled brain.) If you read my earlier post, you know that the ceremony was scheduled to begin at 6:00 anyway. Looking at the program once I arrived, I see that the reception started at 5:15, but lucky for me, there was still plenty of wine, cheese, bread, and a cornucopia of desserts left at 7:10 when I walked by the reception area on my way to a seat in the back of the room where the ceremony was being held.

I had missed the presentation of the award that I was most interested in—the  silver medalist for young adult fiction,  which went to Marissa Moss for A Soldier’s Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero, but I still bought the book and got it signed. I love Marissa Moss and her Amelia’s Notebook series, so she may have been the main draw for me, but half the fun going to an awards ceremony is hearing from people you don’t know. And I got to see the last half of the awards presented, which covered quite a range.

The gold medal for nonfiction went to Dr. Victoria Sweet for God’s Hotel, which focuses on the Laguna Honda Medical Center in San Francisco. (She had supervised rounds across the country at Harvard’s teaching hospital that same morning.) She spoke warmly and eloquently about her time at what sounds like a very special medical facility.

CA Book Award winnersAnd I enjoyed hearing from the author of Masha’allah, Mariah Young, whose stories are centered in East Oakland. I always think it’s nice when cities in the Bay Area other than San Francisco get their share of attention. And since I love reading about places set in the East Bay, I bought a copy of her book and got it signed.

Both Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son (gold medal for fiction) and Jennifer Dubois’s A Partial History of Lost Causes (gold medal for first fiction) were edited by David Ebershoff at Random House. I congratulated him afterward too. I figure editors don’t get awards but also work hard to make books the best they can be, and here he had helped guide two of them to gold medals. Plus, he made the trip from New York to support his authors. I liked that. Of course he pointed out that the awards were in San Francisco and not in some Podunk town in the middle of nowhere, so it was a win/win. We already had The Orphan Master’s Son at home, but I bought A Partial History of Lost Causes and got that one signed too.

And just because it was the winner in the juvenile category, I bought The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, which I started reading on the ride home. And I love it! I’ll definitely be writing a review of it soon. Four books purchased in one night was pretty extravagant, but I held fast to my rule of only buying books for myself if I can get them signed.

Hobnobbing with award-winning authors and eating macaroons really isn’t a bad way to spend an evening.

For a full list of the winners, go to:

So I’m not really good at the whole time thing…

BART stationIt’s 6:25 and the train I’m on has just pulled out of the North Berkeley BART station headed for San Francisco for an event that started at 6:00.

I know.

The stupidest part is that a half hour ago when I should have been arriving at my destination, I was trying on clothes at Nomadic Traders (my favorite  outlet that is only open twice a year for two weeks each time.)

Okay, maybe that’s not the stupidest part…

At lunch I looked up the train schedule—that’s a good 6 hours ago—to find that I could catch a train at 6:24 that would put me at the Montgomery station at 6:49, which would still give me 11 minutes to find the Commonwealth Club. Which, I realize is already unrealistic, given my track record for finding anything in San Francisco. But on the little Google map on my phone, it looked very close…

Which of course, still doesn’t explain why I was looking for trains arriving around 7 pm when the California Book Awards started at 6 pm. That I can’t explain. Except to say that in my head, it started at 7 pm. But my head steered me wrong. And it’s not the first time.

While waiting for my train, I got out the piece of paper that is supposed to serve as my ticket. The one I printed out two days ago, at which time I probably saw the actual starting time of 6 pm, but for some reason it didn’t stick. I look at it again. It’s written clearly, right next to the sentence that says to be sure to arrive at least 10 minutes early so that your ticket isn’t given away.

I realize that even in the time zone that exists only between my ears that left exactly one minute for the journey from the BART station to the Commonwealth Club.

It’s somewhere around then that I realize I’ve left my phone in the car, which is parked in the station lot. Probably right under the sign that explicitly points out that only idiots leave valuables in plain sight inside their vehicles.

Well, I may have made up the idiot part.

And then my train arrived right on time. I had two choices: I could either go back to the car to retrieve my phone and catch the next train (virtually assuring I’d miss the second half of the event as well) or I could give up altogether and head home in defeat.

I chose door # 3: go to the Book Awards without my phone and show up halfway through the awards (assuming I find the venue in under 11 minutes once I make it to SF.)

I suppose it was the challenge of the thing. The possibility of adventure despite all odds.

Or maybe I’m just stubborn and a bit of a cheap skate. (The ticket was $20 after all.)

So now I’m vrooming under the bay, tunneling toward my future in a long aluminum tube. I hope there are still some snacks left at the reception. I’m getting hungry…

(copied from my little writer’s notebook that I carry in my purse at all times for just these sorts of occasions)

Stay tuned for part two. Will I find the Commonwealth Club?