Hurray! Today is the official birthday of my memoir, Waiting for the Apocalypse (W.W. Norton). The book is no longer a nagging idea within my own sequestered mind, but a physical thing that people can hold in their hands, open, turn the pages of, and read. Inside the covers is the story of my life between the ages of 10 and 17, and the lives of my parents and ten siblings.
What an adventure! What madness! What were we thinking?
I should not say “we” as much as “they,” since even though we kids went along for the ride it was my dad who was at the wheel of our vehicle with his lead foot on the accelerator, and my mom who, even though she was a rather nervous passenger sitting shotgun, was egging him on and encouraging him take us where he wanted to go, come what may. The rest of us were hanging on in the back seat, too trusting of our parents to care about anything besides the breakneck speed at which we were traveling.
Well. . . You can’t go on like that forever without crashing or running someone over or breaking down. Luckily we didn’t crash and explode or drive off a cliff. But one by one my siblings and I (those of us that could, anyway) bailed out of the vehicle and took our chances on the road rather than end up where Mom and Dad were going. The amazing part of the story is that we all survived, and that we are closer than we’ve ever been, because nothing brings a family close like going through a wild ride together.
Writing this book was an adventure in itself. Interviewing my parents, I learned a lot about them—what made them tick, where their passions came from, why they did what they did, and also how much they loved us. I also learned a lot about myself—how I never blamed them for their passions, or for dragging us along on their crazy mission, and also how much my family means to me. On top of that, I realized, in a strange way, that despite it all, having a passion is a wonderful thing. It will always have its consequences—and sometimes terrible ones—but there seems to be nothing worse than going through life without a tremendous zeal of some kind. Whether it’s a zeal for religion, art, nature, family, science, sports, you name it, life is about living to the fullest and to the best of your ability and savoring what you love.
I just count myself lucky that my passion happens to be writing, which is about as slow a ride as you can go on, and with a much nicer view of the landscape!
So today I am going to take a copy of my book and drive around Berkeley and introduce myself to the local bookstore owners (that’s what an author is supposed to do, right?) and sign the books they have on their shelves, or ask them to order a few copies for me to sign.
On Saturday I will be dancing all night at my book launch party, the next week I’ll be making a promotional video for the Book Smith bookstore on Haight St. in San Francisco, as a way of promoting my reading there on February 27th. For the rest of the month I’ll be doing readings at other bookstores, and very soon I hope to be on KQED’s Forum (they want to schedule me for an interview with Friday’s host, Dave Iverson). So I will keep you all posted, and let you know how the landscape looks from the driver’s seat of my vehicle.
Causes Veronica Chater Supports
Sierra Club; Public Library; Public Schools; Crowden Music Center; Women's Cancer Resource Center; Democratic Party