We were hours away from the Minnesota Book Awards, and my husband wanted to know if I'd prepared any remarks in case the book I wrote won.
"I think you should," he said.
Now what? Prepare something, and feel silly if I didn't need it? Then again, we wouldn't be here if there wasn't a chance of needing it... and stumbling around for that minute or two on stage would haunt me for the rest of my life.
So I scribbled something out, practiced it in front of my sweethearts, and memorized it. Then I kept practicing -- in front of the mirror in the hotel bathroom, under my breath as we rode to the ceremony, in my head again as we took our seats.
And guess what? I needed it!
I was excited but relaxed as I walked to the stage, soaking up everything about the magic setting because I was prepared. "Congratulations!" someone said. "Don't lean into the mike," someone else whispered. "Stand about six inches back."
I walked to the podium. The lights were so bright I could barely see any faces, but I knew they were there. So I said, "Hi."
That wasn't in my script, but it's what you'd say first. And I nailed it!
Which gave me the confidence to get the rest of it out. Which went something like this...
"My hero is a weatherman I read about in People magazine about thirty years ago, who supposedly loved his job so much he was embarrassed to get paid for it. I have been lucky enough to find not one but two careers I feel that way about, radio and writing. The thing about both is that you're not generally paid so much you can't live with yourself."
And they laughed. They laughed! I let them laugh before I continued.
"The reward is in the work. And once in a while, the chance to attend a great party -- with my friend Todd Orjala from the University of Minnesota Press... and my sweethearts, Darrell and Katie Anderson. Thank you so much for including me."
And that was it. I didn't stumble on one syllable.
You don't want to know how many times I've replayed this moment and everything else about the evening. The memories we made as a family that weekend are among our most cherished.
Now imagine I'd stumbled around for my fifteen seconds (well, forty-five seconds) of fame.
I'd always remember that.
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