Attention, Yale University Press: I just sold a caseful of Teachout Readers. The occasion was the lecture I delivered on Tuesday at Smalltown’s old train depot, which has been turned into a museum. I spoke about how the new information technology has changed my life as a journalist, and when I was done I spent a good half-hour selling and signing copies of A Terry Teachout Reader. Granted, half the people in the audience knew me when I was in kneepants, but that’s still a whole bunch of books.
– This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever given a formal lecture without a script or written notes. I was too busy taking care of my mother last week to do my usual painstaking preparations, so I flew blind. It seems to have gone well, though I would have felt more comfortable reading from a prepared, rehearsed text.
– As always, I spoke for a half-hour and took questions for a half-hour, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve never been asked sharper or more pertinent questions by a lecture audience. Go, home team!
– In the audience was Dr. Joseph Blanton (known to Smalltownians of all ages as “Doctor Joe”), the kindly, all-knowing pediatrician who looked after me from infancy to high school and beyond. It is an awesome thing to gaze out into the upturned faces of a listening crowd and see for the first time in years a man who used to know you inside and out. I had to bite my tongue to keep from choking up.
– The Smalltown Depot is the place from which I caught my very first train. The year was 1962 and my kindergarten class was taking a field trip. We rode a passenger train thirty miles north to Cape Girardeau and were collected by our parents at the station. I vividly remember thinking to myself that riding a train was the most exciting thing I’d ever done in my life and that I wanted to do it again as soon as possible. Alas, passenger service to Smalltown was terminated a couple of years later, and it wasn’t until I grew up and moved to New York that I rode another train, realizing at once that my six-year-old self had been right. I think of that maiden voyage every time I ride the Metroliner between New York and Washington, and I always smile at the memory.
I’m so tired now that I could tip over: I got three hours’ worth of sleep last night and have dark circles all the way around both my eyes. (I wore one of my black outfits to the lecture so that I’d look dissipated rather than merely exhausted.) I have to wrench myself out of bed at seven this morning to get my mother’s car inspected, after which I’ll be putting in at least three hours’ worth of hard slogging at the iBook. That spells bedtime to me. I may blog again twenty-four hours from now, or I may not….
P.S. I’m sorry I haven’t called, OGIC–I miss you!