Dinner with Joseph Boyden

Oh. My. God. 

So, it's a Monday afternoon. I'm sitting in my new home office, looking at a thousand pieces of particle board strewn about the floor, trying to figure out how they're going to come together into a desk. Then the phone rings; it's one of my bosses (I work at the local public library). Joseph Boyden is in town. The school board is throwing him a dinner, and the head librarian has been invited to attend. She can't make it; do I want to go in her place?

Um, yeah. Yeah I do. 

Life is so weird sometimes. I discovered Boyden's writing this past summer, devoured his first two books in a matter of a few days (Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce), and was totally charmed. His writing is exactly the kind of writing I love most: very Canadian, while at the same time managing to be questioning/critical of the experience of being Canadian. 

I suffer from pretty terrible social anxiety, so I was actually terrified; I knew I probably wouldn't know anyone at this dinner. Sure enough, I didn't. But I ended up at a table with a bunch of teachers from Seven Generations, as well as Donna Chief, who had organized the event and is hilarious and totally delightful. I felt like an outsider, but they welcomed me and were so kind. 

When Joseph arrived, he went and personally introduced himself to everyone in the room. He complimented my tattoos (swoon). Then dinner was served and that thing happened where I forgot how to eat and kept choking on everything because I was so nervous. 

After dinner, Joseph spoke about education, and the power teachers and board members have to introduce literature to kids that will inspire them. He talked about reading The Outsiders and Catcher in the Rye as a teenager, and how he knew then that it was his calling to write books. Then he read from all three of his novels, finishing with the prologue of The Orenda. It was a beautiful reading. 

After dinner he signed books and I got to chat with him a bit (swooooooon). I somehow didn't know that he teaches in UBC's opt res program, but it makes sense. Everything in life has such strange ways of coming together. 

I left feeling totally silly (as I always do after meeting someone I admire), and totally energized to write. 

Just as soon as I put this desk together.