|Mike with author Jon Scieszka at PLA 2008|
Next week, my friendly traveling companion is packing his bags and heading west to sunny Anaheim, California. We are fortunate enough to be attending the American Library Association's Annual Conference. It's a pilgrimage librarians all across the country make when budgets and time allow. This will be our first attendance. In March I was honored to be selected as a 2012 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. I'm still not quite comfortable with the accolade, but humbled that co-workers and fellow librarians think that highly of me. I get to attend a special luncheon and the conference was a part of the package.
I think, that perhaps, I will be one of only a few, or the only, librarian who is bringing a garden gnome to the event. I do this for a couple of reasons. 1) It embarrasses my library director who is making the trip with me, and seeing as how she nominated me for the award, I feel it is my right to at least make her a little uncomfortable as well. 2) Mike is an excellent conversation starter. (I'm not implying he starts conversations. I'm weird but sane.) I'm not the best with small talk, so having my foot high ceramic friend with me tends to break the ice. 3.) My parents generously purchased an excursion for me for my birthday, and Mike will hopefully be getting his picture taken standing on Dean Martin's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And 4.) There is a chance I'll be able to sneak over to Disneyland one evening, and a picture of Mickey Mouse holding Mike is on my list of 25 must-one-day-have pictures.
But briefly back to number one. While my family and friends have become accustomed to me pulling Mike out of my backpack and posing him in very public locations, there might be some cause for my director to worry. When I call Mike's traveling an "adventure," I'm not exaggerating. Case in point: a few years ago, my younger brother was running a cross-country meet in Memphis, Tennessee. Yes. The land of Elvis. I can see the wheels already turning in your head. Gnome...Elvis...BRILLIANT! I decided to tag along for a roadtrip with my parents, because, come on, an opportunity to have the gnome's picture taken at Graceland should not be passed up. We didn't have much time, so the morning before the race, my parents dropped me off in front of the mecca of Elvis and parked just down the road. I posed Mike in front of the wall of messages and then in front of the famous gates before working up the nerve to ask the security guard if I could walk shortly up the walk and get a picture of the house.
She waved me on, so I quickly made my way up the walk and, still a fair distance from the house, took Mike out of my bag and sat him in the grassy lawn. I was just stepping back to get the money shot when I hear the security guard yelling at me. I turn around, and she's hurriedly making her way up the walk. I might have started smirking a bit. She not so kindly tells me that me and my little statue have to leave. And then I'm definitely smirking. I ask her politely if I could please just take one quick picture. She says no, and when I go to beg, she interrupts me and tells me to leave. Now I'm laughing. I was a little nervous, but more just so terribly amused. Without hesitating, I quickly take a step back, shoot my picture, then grab Mike and run down the sidewalk, the security guard following closely behind.
Yes. Mike and I have been escorted out of Graceland. Perhaps if I hadn't been laughing, things might have ended a little differently. But I'm glad it didn't, because, DUDE!! WE GOT KICKED OUT OF GRACELAND!!
So my director might have some cause to worry... Stay tuned next week from news from ALA to see what shenanigans Mike and I can get ourselves into!