On Saturday, I went to the National Book Festival, where I sadly missed the John Irving book signing (well, I was in line, but they were already over his signing time with about 300 people still to go, so they cut it off) but I *did* get to hear him speak, along with Julia Alvarez, who I haven't read but have heard of before. She did a really interesting talk about how coming to America where there wasn't censorship the way there was in her home country helped shape her into the writer she is today, along with the accessibility of literature in American public libraries. When I hear things like that it reminds me that despite many flaws with the American system and things that can be complained about, Americans are still very privileged compared to other nations. Not that I forget that - just that this sort of thing reminds me anew. She mentioned How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, which I believe I've heard my (English teacher) mom mention, and think I will look up now.
John Irving spoke directly after her, and I expected at least *a few* people to move along, but only about literally 10 people got up and left, so the tent was REALLY packed, plus it was raining hard (a hazard of the last 2 book festivals!). I was really trying to find a seat, but they kept clearing us out of the aisles, so finally I asked some nice people in the 2nd row if I could sit at their feet, and they said sure. :) So I had a pretty good vantage point of John Irving, and didn't get *too* dusty by sitting on the free bag. (Another hazard of the book festivals: the amazingly pervasive yellow dust of the National Mall.) They did John Irving's talk as an interview, and it was a real pleasure to listen to him. Among many pithy things he said, my favorite quote was (in reference to a student he had once saying he was interested in the creative process but not in the re-writing process): "If you're not interested in re-writing, then you don't know sh*t about the creative part." Hah. A corollary to that being, as he pointed out, that if you got tired of reading your own words after a few revisions, then why on earth would you think anyone *else* would want to read them? Very wise observations.
After the talk Kelly met me at the tent (well she was there too but we couldn't find each other beforehand) and we went back to my place to pick up some stuff for a girls' night, which we've been planning forever but kept having to cancel before the con. But finally last night I got to hang out with Kelly (and Mike). We had a nice dinner at Chili's and then watched some Black Books and ate brie (mmmmm, Kelly makes an amazing brie recipe). We like to do crafty things, so last night Kelly had the idea of doing a charcoal drawing based on a randomly picked object on Black Books. We ended up picking the snail-encrusted wine glass. For mine I was going for a kind of vaguely art nouveau. It was fun.
And then we watched some Neverwhere with Mike. So nice to get to spend some time with them. Sunday they dropped me off for lunch with Amanda and Jeff, so I got to see them and little Ben, who I haven't seen in several weeks. He's getting so big! AND his hair is getting little curls on top. So adorable.
Today I had a lovely lunch with my friend Michael Dirda at Bistro D'Oc, which I commend for their delicious crabmeat, eggplant, and bacon omlette and their almond cake dessert. Mmmmm. It was nice to see Michael again and we had a nice long lunch conversation. And tomorrow is more excitement - I'm going to see U2 with Phil! So excited, since I've never actually seen them live before. Yay!
It's also been an exciting week for packages - the NADWCon shirts from Fo'Paws arrived, the chocolate from England came in, I got an advance copy of Unseen Academicals, and Nate sent me the newest members of Clan Deadpool, The Three Pooleteers! (Mattepool, Clearpool, and Sparklepool) They have been quickly assimilated into the group.
And now, bed.