Thursday, April 08, 2010

Inspired by Anne Lamott

My friend Diane sent me an announcement last week about a reading at the Coolidge Corner Theatre with Anne Lamott, my absolute favorite author. She is my hero and my a writer, a woman, a mother, and a spiritual person. I used to say that her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, is what made me be a writer but I now realize that it inspired me to release the writer that was in there all along.

When I was diagnosed with MS and started writing this book, my goal was (and still is) to create something raw, truthful, authentic, and funny. I would love to write the living with MS equivalent to lher book, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year. I buy the book for all my friends that have babies. It's filled with wisdom and humor and, most importantly of all, it validates the dark, ugly real stuff that we think we aren't supposed to feel as mothers. Usually my friends send me perfunctory thank-you notes while they are still pregnant, but then call me in a few months to really thank me.

When I called Brookline Booksmith to inquire about tickets to tonight's reading, I was told that they were all sold out. The person I spoke with suggested that I arrive early to wait for possible stand-by seats. I was also told that she would be signing books at the bookstore across from the theatre right after the reading. I resigned myself to the fact that I may not be able to hear the reading but that I would get to buy her new novel, Imperfect Birds, and have her sign it.

So, I went on faith. I was the first person in the stand-by line but it wasn't long before I was joined by another woman who had driven all the way down from Vermont in the hopes of getting a ticket. A couple minutes later, an employee of the bookstore come up and just handed us tickets!  They were general admission tickets so I figured I would need to sit near the back. I was still ok with that since I was so grateful just to be in the theatre. The doors open and in we went. Because I was alone, I found a single seat in the second row. I was absolutely giddy waiting for her to come out and read.

She did not disappoint. She told stories, read from the first chapter of the new book which is wonderful so far, and answered questions. I asked a question. A pretty dumb one, actually about how being a grandmother was different for her from being a mother (DUH!), but I'm ok with that, too. Earlier in the day, I mentioned to my friend Christina that I wanted to think of something really witty to say to impress Anne Lamott. Christina had the perfect answer.  "Don't worry about it. It's not like there's anything  you can say that will make her be your best friend." Kind of put it in perspective.

After the reading, I went across the street to Brookline Booksmith, bought the book, and waited in line for her to sign it. When I got up to the table where she sad, I did not ask her how she felt about her "aunties" these days (that would have been a good question); I did not tell her that she inspired me or that she was my hero, mentor, etc. I told her that I enjoyed the reading and couldn't wait to start the book on my train ride home. And I did. And I'm ok with that, too.

Thanks, Anne, for inspiring me to embrace my imperfect self. And I know that if you really knew me, you'd love being my friend.


  1. Julie, I bet this was a big deal, having your book signed in person! If it was me, I just would've been a tongue-tied idiot, so, you at least did better than me!

  2. Hi all – I just wanted to let you know about a study currently enrolling people with relapsing forms of MS. The study is testing a medicine in pill form, teriflunomide, which you may have already heard about through MS news or NMSS reports. The study is called the TOWER study. Check it out here:

  3. Way cool. I lurve me some Annie Lamott, but I would have been star-struck & tongue-tied too...

  4. Asking how being a mom differs for her than being a grandmother might only cause a ruffle if she isn't a grandma yet....But the relationship between a mom and her child and grandmothers and their grandchildren is ever so different. For one thing, kids may have baggage with their mom but their grandma is just this amazing woman that has always been there for her. Many grandparents are raising their grandchildren for many reasons. My 2 cents....I always ask stupid questions cause no one else will and sometimes cause I forget why I raised my hand :)