Today was an extraordinary day.
It started with a private tour of the Ernest Hemingway archives at the JFK Library. Wow. Super duper wow. (Sidenote: If you will be in Boston anytime before the end of the year, please go through this phenomenal exhibit.)
Then lunch at a table with, in a room with, some of the most talented American writers, who, it turns out, are also funny and charming and kind in a variety of ways.
Then the award ceremony where Joshua Ferris, presenter and a judge, along with Alexandra Marshall and Jay Parini, of this year’s PEN Hemingway award read aloud the citation from the judges for People Like You. I could not breathe as he read the following paragraph:
And then I couldn’t breathe for two seconds after that either because, oh my sweet stars, did they just put the names Chekhov, Carver, Beattie, Moore and Twain in a sentence about People Like You? But I had no time to not breathe because I had to walk up onstage and accept the certificate and shake hands and pose for a picture and then somehow walk, without falling, all the way back to my seat, and the whole time my heart is not thumping along in my chest cavity the way it’s supposed to. No, it’s flailing, kicking, pushing, punching so loud I wanted to audibly ask it to shush please. But then I thought better of it and thanked my heart for reminding me what an undeniably extraordinary beautiful moment was happening… to me. Right that second.
Nothing left to do, then, but to simply take it all in.
My deepest gratitude to PEN New England; to judges Joshua Ferris, Alexandra Marshall, and Jay Parini; to the winner Ottessa Moshfegh, my fellow finalist S.M. Hulse, and honorable mention honorees Karim Dimechkie and Chigozie Obioma; to the crazy talented editor and publisher Mark Allen Cunningham of Atelier26 Books; to Diane Prokop, publicist extraordinaire; and most importantly to Brian Padian who kept the home fires burning (and the kids from burning the house down) so I could be in Boston, and he not only never once complained but told me again and again of how proud he was, of how much I deserved it, of how hard I’ve worked, of how much he loved me.
All of you, you changed my life today. Really.