Kind of a crazy night last night. Definitely not what I expected. Fortunately for a “nerdy girl” like me, expectations aren’t always meant to be met.
We’ve gotten our fair share of snow here in central Wisconsin over the last couple of weeks and my husband and I had a shoveling date (su-per romantic) planned for after work. In retrospect, I should have eaten a snack before hand. But I didn’t. So an hour and a half and goodness knows how many shovel-fulls of snow later, I was much more hungry than I generally like to be. (Seriously, I do not handle hunger well– it makes me panicky. You’d think I’d have experienced food insecurity or something in my life the way I behave. But nope. Just food neuroses.) I was also sweaty and had cra-a-a-zy hair from sweating while wearing a hat and being constantly bombarded with snow blower snow dust. To complete the look: yoga pants tucked into snow boots. I believe this is what the kids call a “hot mess.”
I dragged my starving butt back to the truck and the husb (because “hubs” really doesn’t make sense to me– that’s not the order the letters go in!) and I decided we’d get Culvers (mmmm… butter burger…) and soon! But two quick errands first!
We went to Fleet Farm first. I was starving, so it was unpleasant. But my ridiculous looking self fit right in. In fact, there’s probably no better place in all of Marshfield to show off the kind of look I was rocking right then, to be honest. It was a quick trip, in and out, and back to the car and one more stop to go!
But that’s where my expectations went awry.
I had never actually been to a book signing, I’d only seen them on tv, really, and I expected the author to be sitting at a table, surrounded by stacks of her books and a personal assistant or security guard or something. I expected to walk in, wait in a line, have my book signed, and go.
What I forgot was that I live in Marshfield, Wisconsin, population 19,000-ish, yoga pants tucked into snow boots pretty much a-o-k November through February. (Fine, March. Whatever.) And the author was too. So this was not a made-for-tv book signing.
It was actually quite a bit better than that!
The Marshfield Public Library was hosting author Lisa Boero, who wrote the book Murderers and Nerdy Girls Work Late. (Oh, and also FIVE more in the series! Woot!) It was the first book we read as a book club and it was awesome. And different. So different.
You see, Liz Howe, Nerdy Girl heroine, has prosopagnosia, or face blindness. She cannot recognize faces. Interestingly, Lisa Boero, Nerdy Girl author, also has face blindness. So she’s actually writing her super clever fiction from a place of personal experience– and that made for a really interesting talk last night! (Because that’s what it was, a reading, a talk, a Q&A, PLUS a book signing… there’s my happy accident!) It was fascinating to hear not only what Lisa had to say about her condition and her fictional character with her real condition, but also to hear all of the questions people asked her. Most interesting of all, and very Under-the-Tapestry-relevant was her reason for writing about it.
Lisa knew she had a really hard time recognizing people– she thought she was stupid. Although she acquired prosopagnosia sometime around the age of 12 (coinciding with removal of a brain tumor), Lisa had no idea that her issues were even a legitimate medical concern until she started dating her husband, who happens to be a neurologist, in her 20s. She never even thought to ask. Instead, the number one driver in her life was the desire to be “normal” at any cost.
But now Lisa Boero has a 10-year-old daughter and what she wants for her is to know that when you experience a hardship, you can use it as a springboard for growth. (Her example: another rejection letter about her book? at least it’s not a brain tumor!) And that no matter what, you should never hide who you are. But how could she ask that of her daughter if she couldn’t do that for herself? So she did do it for herself. She came out about her condition to her friends and family (her husband knew, of course, but her kids had no idea) and “nerdy girl” Liz was born.
And Liz is fascinating. Lisa is too.
Probably not, because what Lisa Boero went through was pretty extreme. But I just kept thinking that it was such a good lesson. An extreme example of something crazy common. That middle school desire to be normal, no matter what. To fit in in any way that you can and hide your true self away if you can’t. Lisa seems to recognize now that having prosopagnosia is something that makes her extraordinarily unique… and exceptionally interesting to a lot of people, not just neurologists. Myself included.
As I sat in the next to last row with my crazy hair and dripping snow boots, I was absolutely mesmerized. I loved listening to Lisa talk and despite my ridiculously loud stomach screaming “Feed me, Seymour!” every 30 seconds or so, the hour and a half long “book signing” just flew by. Not only that, but I took the opportunity to get signed up for the Marshfield Public Library Adult Winter Reading Program and earned NINE entries into the prize drawings for registering and attending the book signing. Double bonus, much? This is way better than BookIt! (Unless what I end up winning is a pizza gift certificate… then it’s exactly like BookIt…)
A little while ago, my friend Adriane who co-shares (not a real thing) my Kindle account (shhhhh) forced me to read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks… it’s essentially a series of case reports about people with strange neurological disorders. While I technically read it, I didn’t really internalize it, probably because I couldn’t really imagine the people described in the real world. But now I can. And I’m fascinated. I think I’m going to give that man and his wife/hat another shot… there may be more nerdy girls in there and I need to re-visit that possibility!