Friday, November 16, 2007

A night at the Tattered Cover

Those of you who follow my blog know I appeared tonight at the Tattered Cover in Denver. I spent the first 40 years of my life largely bereft of friends, but I’m sure making up for it now!

I had dinner tonight with publicity consultant Bella Stander and her husband, and literary agent Kristin Nelson. We were a bit late getting started and I had to dash off to the event, but they followed along a few minutes later and seized the last couple of seats in the reading room.

This evening’s event was special for several reasons, all of which were unknown to my audience until they occurred.

I had two surprise assistants, young Aspergians, eight and ten years of age, respectively. I introduced my little helpers, one of whom was driven all the way from Colorado Springs. But mere introduction was not enough. They wanted more. So I brought them up to the stage, and ensconced them upon the two thrones immediately behind my podium.

They took the microphone, and we did the introductions. After that, the younger one - Alex - was content to reign over the room, while his older sidekick - Bryce - assisted me.

For the first time, at the Tattered Cover, I introduced a guest reader. Ten-year-old Bryce read the first paragraph of Look Me in the Eye to acclaim from the crowd, after which I finished the story while he stood beside me and acted out all the gestures.

Later in my talk, Bryce quietly arose from his throne and went to the desk, which the Tattered Cover staff had thoughtfully stocked with Velcro, any young Aspergian’s best friend. As I spoke and Alex gazed placidly at the crowd, Bryce velcroed everything in sight, out of sight of the crowd, in plain sight of everyone.

It was truly a magical evening. The unexpected addition of two young free range Aspergians was great. The questions from the audience were the best part of the night.

And the people from the blog world . . . Sex Scenes From Starbucks was there http://sexscenesatstarbucks.blogspot.com/ , and she was younger, blonder, and better looking than I’d been led to expect from the name. Woof. Lisa Kenney from Eudeamonia http://eudaemoniaforall.blogspot.com/ couldn’t make it, but her friend Karen came down with a book for me to sign.

I talked more about what it means to be an Aspergian, and how parents and young people should focus on their Aspergian gifts as opposed to the weaknesses, because it’s our gifts that the world needs. The world needs more geeks.

I talked about the need for compassion and understanding, and the great things we can accomplish together. And my Aspergian assistant spoke briefly of his fascination with ancient Egypt and his ability to name all the presidents, forward and backward, in order.

It was another fun night. I wish I’d made plans to stay a few more days, but I’m back home first thing in the morning.

Before I go, I have to mention one more thing . . . Denver is full of trains. Light Rail. Trolley cars, like I rode as a child in Philadelphia, updated for the 21st century. Buses too. It was such a refreshing alternative to taxis and congestion I've encountered elsewhere.

19 comments:

Church Lady said...

I wish I could've been there. It sounds like a magical night, and what a wonderful idea to introduce the children. That will be an experience they will never forget!

John, I will venture to say that it's more than friends who are flocking to you. You are the first person to successfully spotlight a group of people who have been either neglected or misunderstood for a very long time. You've started a movement. These aren't just friends--they're followers.

Woof. (whatever that means)

:-)

Jan said...

What a beautiful story - event, occassion. I know this will inspire you and all there to embrace the acceptance and understanding that you are promoting. I, too, wish I could have been there but your writing and sharing makes it so real, I feel we are all sharing this experience and your excitement and success. Keep it up - you are doing an awesome job.

Have a safe flight - hopefully you can get some rest.

The Writers' Group said...

John, I love "free-range" children. And you have many, many friends because you're generous with your advice and compassion, and brilliant to boot. You deserve every bit of success you've earned.

Amy MacKinnon

beerkitty said...

thank you so much for coming to denver for this reading. i brought my parents with me, as we had all read your book. my nephew was diagnosed PDD-NOS last year at the age of three, and subsequently my brother was diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of 38, and his wife tested high on the scale as well. after reading you book, my parents finally understand my brother a lot more than they ever did, and my brother suddenly realizes that he is interesting and belongs somewhere and is excited about himself for the first time, ever. my mother had you sign her book to Brian (my brother) and we will be sending it to him on Saipan, where he and his family lives.
really, thank you so much for your book and your visit, and please keep writing.

Sustenance Scout said...

John, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your signing! Your two free-range friends were a wonderful addition. I'm about to post on the whole experience...then I'll be off to deliver Lisa's personalized, signed book. I know she's waiting for it! K.

Sustenance Scout said...

p.s. when do you sleep?? :)

sex scenes at starbucks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sex scenes at starbucks said...

You're making me blush, John--not an easy feat.

It was a great evening. Lack of social skills??! Pfft! You handled everything beautifully. Wish we could have talked more, but you had so many fans waiting to speak with you! (Good job, Denver)

My mom immediately read half your book last night. She's loving it.

WOOF!

StubbyJo said...

John,

We had a great time last night in Denver and were so excited to see you had already blogged on it when we looked this morning! My son, Alex, was one of your assistants last night (the 8 y.o., quiet, and well-behaved one - yes, I was very proud of him). He really appreciated you speaking with him at the end of the night and getting to tell you about his love of American history and Ancient Egypt.

Just for clarification, we're from Colorado Springs,(not Colorado City), and Alex and I thought that you may have confused him as the kid that was at the desk fiddling with everything in it. That was actually Bryce, the other boy, who had also acted while you were reading, and who had read previously himself. (Alex wants you to know that he was the "good" kid. A bit of competition for your favor I'm guessing.)

It was such a positive experience for all of us and Alex really came away from it feeling good that he had met an adult that had achieved so much (rather than just reading about famous folks who are assumed to be Aspergians). BTW, why "Aspergians", instead of "Aspies"? Makes no difference to me, but I've wondered.

Thanks again, and we'll be "keeping tabs on you" in the future. Alex says we should say "woof" at the end of this, so "WOOF!"

Alex's Mom, Debbie

StubbyJo said...

Hi, This is Alex. I'm one of the two kids that you brought up on stage at the Tattered Cover in Denver. I was the 8 y.o., sitting very quietly and I thought you might want to know more about my family. So, here is a link that you might like to look at.

It's about our family, mostly about my little sister, named Courtney. She's one-year-old and we adopted her over the Summer from China. But, there's alot of posts by me on this blog, too. Just look for all the one's titled by my name, Alexander Randall - www.youbelong.net/therandalls

Also, look for more comments from me and my mom in the future, because I'd really like to keep in touch with you. Oh, and "Woof!"

Lisa said...

Karen just stopped by to bring the book you signed for me and I am kicking myself so hard for not skipping class to come to the signing! I missed a magical signing indeed and you'd better know I won't make that mistake again. I'm so sorry to have missed the chance and I'll have my eye on your touring schedule and make plans to head out to any appearance within a day's travel! I am so glad that Denver was good to you and I hope you come back and other authors will be inspired to add our town to their tour schedules. Woof!

Kim Stagliano said...

I love Bella Stander! And Ms. Nelson is a goddess among agents. So glad we did BEA John!


K

Polly Kahl said...

WOW! Magical indeed! So happy for all who got to enjoy such a great evening.

Kim said...

Thank you for a great evening. It was well worth the drive to come. It is always great to hear the positive side of aspergers, all too often it's the other way around. It's publicity like this we need more of, please keep it up. My son will someday be making his way in the world and it would be nice if everyone understands the gifts of aspergers - as well as the difficulties.
Thanks for talking about the good stuff. I also enjoyed the 2 assistants - a bit of added entertainment.

Kim Hetherington
Colorado Springs

Robin S. said...

John,

This sounds like a wonderful experience.

Trish said...

That sounds spectacular. Gotta love it when an evening exceeds your expectations! And what a night for your two assistants!

Well done, my friend :)

Maprilynne said...

*sigh* I wish I could have made it. I think that's as close as you're going to come to Utah. But another time perhaps. I love reading about it anyway.:)

ORION said...

Hearing fun things like this makes me sorry I'm stuck on this island in the middle of the Pacific...

PLANET3RRY said...

That's awesome that you let those kids help you. As an Aspergian, that's very unstructured of you, letting them change things up like that.

There is such a demand for this stuff out there. Not only for the NT to understand us better under their microscope, but for other Aspergians to say "I do that!", "That's so true!" Through your book, you are helping others with Autism to become more self aware and self confident that they can do things in the Big Bad World out there and for parent to realize that it's not the end of the world, it's just a little different then what movies and other mass media has been peddling for the last 50 years.