One difference between adulthood and childhood is a pebble. Here’s what I mean. Sometime in second or third grade a teacher told us that if we were stuck in the desert with no water, we could temporarily quench our thirst by putting a pebble in our mouth to stimulate the flow of saliva.

Man, I wanted to get stuck in the desert so I could find out if it worked.

Now I know too much to be eager for the adventure. I know that dehydration would soon put the kibosh the possibility of EVER gathering saliva in my mouth, and being stuck in the desert would be awful in more ways than thirst. A little knowledge is a drag…

On the other hand, I seldom get pebbles in my shoes, and when I was a kid, it was a constant problem. It’s been at least 57 years since (thank goodness) I had to go to the doc to have embedded pebbles cleaned out of my scraped knees. The worst pebbles were the solitary pebbles of a slightly (but not much) larger size that I stepped on barefoot or landed on in a bike crash.

It seems as we grow up, the pebbles become more metaphorical and less actual.

My “pebble” today is a lot like that pebble that would save the little girl from thirst in the desert. I’m taking ALL the books to the bookstore/coop in Alamosa to see if they will stock them. I’m also going to see what’s involved in setting up a book launch party for As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder. Nothing big, just an hour, me ready to sign books, do a short reading, a small giveaway, and pass out cookies. I’m writing a press release for Baby Duck, too.

I hate doing this stuff. I feel totally exposed and absurdly vulnerable when I “peddle my papers.”

I sent As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder to my thesis advisor, Dr. Robert D. Richardson, Jr., because he had so much to do with my going to China. He recently sent me a letter telling me how my book affected him. I’ve received letters that thrilled my soul and warmed my heart, but none more than his.

He had visited China in the winter of 1980 (maybe 1979) and he found it unutterably depressing and named it “Dicken’s China.” He didn’t understand why I wanted to go, but he supported my adventure once he saw I was determined. After I got there, and wrote him, he decided to come himself and the summer of 1983 he and his wife went to Chengdu in Sichuan to teach for 6 months. Anyway, my book awakened sleeping memories and touched him deeply.

I don’t think I can ask for more. He wrote, “Your lovely book opened all the floodgates. You have written the best account of being a foreign teacher in China I know.”

So, as much as this pebble hurts, I owe it to my books to make a little effort on their behalf.

6 thoughts on “Pebbles

  1. What a lovely compliment. I’m sure it is true. Do you know if there are any local bookclubs? Maybe you could put up a sign at your book signing, indicating that you are willing to come and speak/answer questions at local bookclubs. It may encourage them to select your book to be read by their group. Just a thought.

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