September 16th, 2008

Sailing off the edge of the ocean

Certain events so wig me out–graduations, new jobs, moves, any sort of big change–they I start to see them as the end of all that came before. The fact that I am typing in my blog, wearing my cardigan and knee socks, eating my pear, on the day *after* my book launch, seems a bit impossible. It as if I thought I was going over the edge of the horizon, and should no longer be visible to the human eye.

And yet, here we are, and though I am very very very tired, it does seem nice here on the other side. I do not think that one can write up an event like the *Once* launch without seeming a little like a hopping up and down ten-year-old, but that *is* a bit of my personality, plus I do know there were a few people who wanted to be there last night and couldn’t be. So, for you, the blow-by-blow:

I wore my bright yellow swirly dress, which I’ve had for years and love very much. I had bought a new dress for the occasion, but suddenly I realized that I don’t *know* that dress, and wasn’t sure I’d feel myself, feel comfortable all evening in it. Also, the yellow one is the same colour as the Pantone of the cover text (look right). In other news, my hair was actually flawless for an hour, but that was at 7:30 in the morning, and it was a stressful and windy day, so no one who saw me at the launch would’ve known about the perfection.

After all the wind and stress, I was vibrating six inches above the ground by about 4:30, so I gave up on reality and went bikini shopping with J. When she found exactly what she wanted for $4, even though it is definitely not high season for these things, we felt it was an excellent omen for the evening ahead.

J. drove me downtown and I left her with her dinner companions and went off to look for The Walrus, which according to subscribers contains a review of *Once*, which I would very much like to obtain a copy of. I walked quite far, but no love, so I walked back to the The Gladstone Hotel to meet my mentor Leon Rooke, editor John Metcalf, publisher Dan Wells and kind benefactors Steven Temple and his wife Jennifer.

I have no idea what was said at dinner. I think it was nice. I think I was fairly appalling company.

My family came (the other Rosenblums do not have a web presence–they are much more self-effacing than I) and I introduced them to everyone. Eventually, we went upstairs to the gallery reading space, which is very very pretty (I’m so sorry, I had my camera in my bag the entire night and didn’t once take it out. In fact, I lost track of the bag for more than two hours, and am pleased to still have a camera, as well as my wallet.) At first, it was pretty quiet in the room, though with the family, the six of us from dinner, and stalwart friend Scott, we still could’ve had a nice little intimate event.

A few more cool people trickled in. A few more–and they brought me gorgeous flowers. Then a lot of people came. I signed a bunch of books and then the amazing This Is Not A Reading Series team, headed by Chris Reed and Marc Glassman, shepherded everybody into their places, those being off in a wing beside the main presentation space (not an actual stage–hooray–nothing for me to fall off or trip over!). Chris introduced Dan, who gave a warm speech on the history of the Metcalf-Rooke Award (er, that would be the thing I won!) Dan introduced Steven, who talked about the state of bookselling and publishing in general. It was a smart speech, quite funny, a little scary, but I *am* looking forward to being unjustly ignored by history! The key is the worthy few who will protest the injustice. Also, I’ll be dead by then.

Leon and John were also then introduced, each with their long lists of accomplishments and kindnesses and books (it was then that I actually started hopping up and down. Not *too* many people could see me in my wing, though!) Then they presented the award, a cheque that I was expecting (and do heartily appreciate) and a trophy that I was not expecting, and also really appreciate. It’s so much nicer to display a pretty engraved glass thing than a cancelled cheque!!

When I got called out of the wing to accept these things, I was then able to look forward into the gallery and see all who were there. So as I was smiling and thanking, I was also boggling at the people sitting on the floor and clumped in the doorway and sitting on the steps in the hall. I totally owe every friend and stranger who came out last night, but among the most deserving of gratitude are those who listened to the whole thing *from the stairs*. Thanks, guys.

Thanks also have to go John and Leon, who spent most of our presentation eloquently batting a ping-pong ball of praise for my work back and forth while I, catlike, watched it fly over my nose (I was sitting in the middle). I think it is human nature to discount praise and honour criticism, but when such esteemed folks as those say such amazing things, well, it at least makes a girl think wonders *might* be possible.

The ball was struck my way a number of times, of course, and I got to talk a bit about waitresses, a bit about sex, magic, work and relationships. All the good stuff. I liked the Q&A, too, especially when Julie Wilson said something nice about my dress (and asked a cool question also).

And then I signed a *lot* of books. It was very very fun, and so amazing to see so many people, although I’m afraid I didn’t really chat as much as I would have liked. By the end, my signature was a scrawl and my head was spinning and the evening was closing in on ten. But there were amazements still to come. I’ll point-form it for you:
–I met for the first time the astoundingly talented artist, Marta Chudolinska, the creator of the linocut art that graces my cover. She is as lovely as I had expected. I hugged her rather hard.
–my parents stayed out until past ten o’clock.
–Very briefly (and disastrously): indoor Frisbee!
–two launch attendees, invited by me but unknown to each other, struck up a conversation and, after a few minutes of talk, discovered that they are cousins. Much embracing ensued.

It was pretty great, though I had made myself fairly ill with anxiety before hand, and the room was quite warm, and after all guests had departed, I wound lying down on a table to talk over the evening with Dan (yeah, I know, I’m working on this). I had meant to go play *outdoor* Frisbee, which would have been much safer, but I was clearly in no condition to do so, plus hadn’t really *talked* to John and Dan in the whole lunatic evening, so we went down to the bar for a while.

It was so great to be sitting still and listening to good talk, and as woozy as I was, I clung to the tabletop with my fingernails like a child that does not want to be sent to bed. I made it until nearly midnight…so I think I got the whole of the day.

There will never be another like it, I’m pretty sure.

Love is noise
RR

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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