Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Anne Lamott at City Arts & Lectures Monday April 19, 2010

(c) 2010 K Smokey Cormier

I placed the book there but not the mouse ... or Willy Billy Button

On Monday night I went to City Arts & Lectures to see Anne Lamott. There was a podium and she mostly stood there and talked to us about what her life had been like lately. (An exception about standing at the podium: She left the podium once to hand a cough drop to a member of the audience who had been coughing. Lamott herself was nursing a cold.)

She talked about three partamajigglyfrutu things in her life. “Partamajigglyfrutu”? Well, I didn’t have a tape recorder and that’s what my old-as-dirt brain tells me she said. It means something like chaos + joy + loved ones + rich experience + lots of colors. Of course, once again I’m relying on my old-as-dirt brain in remembering how Anne Lamott described that mysterious word.

The things were: birth of her grandson, trip to India ... and ... g'ddam it, I can’t remember the third thing.

Lamott is so generous. She gives of herself so deeply. And, humorously. I sit and listen and think: How does she do it?

She told stories about her family and friends. Interesting stories about flawed mensches that pulled me back from the cynicism and disgust I often feel about humanity. At least the humanity that is out THERE ... not my friends. My friends are what humanity is trying to be. (Those words remind me of a postcard I just bought: "Don't be a snob, hob nob")

She quoted -- really good quotes -- from other writers ... encouraging the writers in the audience to write. Write. Get down to it.

She talked a lot about the alcohol and drug problems of teenagers. That’s one of the things her latest book is about. Frightening for me, mother of two teenagers. But she was also encouraging. The biggest thing for parents is to NOT become ostriches. This is definitely NOT the time to put your head in the ground. Be alert. Give drug tests if necessary. (She didn’t advise this directly but that’s what the parents do in her book.) Keep connected and alert. Don’t be your child’s buddy. You must parent (lovingly) with all your might.

Would I like Anne Lamott to read this? You betcha. Because I want her to know how much I love it that she shares so much of herself. (And I do not mean “overshare overshare!”) It looked effortless and as if she were just stream-of-consciousness talking the other night. But, those were not effortless words. Lamott thought long and hard about everything she said (and probably wrote about all of it too). How do I know? Because it all came together. (Okay, she could be a talented channeler ... but I don’t think so.)

Advice alert! If you ever get a chance to see Anne Lamott in person, please do it. You’ll learn a lot of things that will be flooding into your subconscious ... you’ll be sitting there thinking you’re just having a fun time ... but you’ll be learning too. (Most fun way to learn, in my humble yet haughty opinion.)

If you'd like to read an interview with her, go here.



Disclaimer: Don't know Ms. Lamott personally, don't know her publisher, don't know anybody in her life. (I believe that to be true ... although there is that Six Degrees of Separation phenomenon.) I'm just an enthusiastic fan. Although I do see her at activist events from time to time and haven't yet been bold enough to gush at her one-on-one.

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