Monday, November 12, 2007


On Saturday afternoon after work I went to Mariposa Bakery to see Shauna James Ahern, who's touring behind her new book, Gluten-Free Girl. Tea turned me on to her blog, and I've been reading it for a long time even though I can eat anything that doesn't have peanuts in it. The blog and the book are focused on eating foods that won't make someone who can't eat wheat and other gluten sources, and include recipes with flours that I've heard of but have never baked with (even though I do little baking, I did make her almond cookies once and felt like I was getting away with something).

I've been reading Gluten-Free Girl because this lady can write.

After reading her blog for awhile I started to suspect that the person who wrote Gluten-Free Girl was someone who attended the same college that I had. Eventually, Tea, who knew Shauna in real life. confirmed that this Shauna James was the same Shauna James who had worked on the college newspaper at a time (mostly, but not only, my freshman year) when I was engaged in serious hero-worship of all of the people who worked on the Trail. Not that I knew any of them personally. . . I believed that they were the smartest people on campus, journalists who weekly produced this newspaper out of the basement of the Student Union on top of their academic pursuits. Also, they were all upperclassmen and women (or I thought they were) and therefore automatically smarter than I.

I was so intimidated by the Trail staff that I joined the theatre department for my extracurricular activities because I thought they would think I was a dummy. I'll say this in my defense: I went to college just before I turned 18, knew next to nothing (and didn't know it) and had attended a very small college-prep high school where I had been a big fish. I had actually produced one edition of the school paper with the help of four or five people, but it wasn't a "real" newspaper, it was four mimeographed sheets and I can't even think of what the stories could have been about as WTH had no teams and few clubs in those days. I loved working at the Inside Theater and playing with the other crew and actors and do not regret doing so, but in retrospect I got involved there for such a silly reason.

I was such a dork.

When I went to see Shauna and The Chef at Mariposa, I had three goals in mind:

1) I wanted to tell her that Zirpu and I had also been hit by the lightning bolt too and I not only dig, but "get" her love story posts.

2) I wanted her to know that what I respond to in her blog is that life is about saying YES to life, that advocating for yourself is not only possible but often required, that happiness is possible and that every single person could be happy if she believed that she could be.

3) I wanted to tell her about how I had worshipped-from-afar her and five or so other people who were Trail editors my first two years at college, and about how I had been so intimidated by them that I had steered clear of signing up to be a reporter. I thought that she would think it was funny, because we are all just ordinary mortals, whether others know it or not.

It was raining on Saturday and the walls in the bakery were white, with a big window letting in grey light. But it didn't look grey inside the bakery. In my mind's eye I see lots of orange-yellow light shining on Shauna and Danny as I saw them talk to gluten-free people, including a six year old girl with glitter eye shadow who asked Shauna to sign her book. These are happy people. Shauna talked to everyone as if they were her friends, and Danny engaged with me by eyesight before I worked through my shyness about approaching and interrupting someone else's conversation.

Shauna laughed when I told her about my hero-worship and about being such a dork. She said that she'd thought she was the biggest dork on campus at the same time I thought she was the coolest. Because Tea had arrived and she and I had gone and come back at the end (thanks for the wine, Tea! I totally needed it), we had some more casual conversation. I asked her to sign my copy of her book, and part of her message to me was "No more intimidation, okay?"

Well, she did write a book and did get it published and all I have is this little blog. . .


pj said...

*Little* blog?

Oh PAL please take that last sentence out!!!

Tea said...

Hey, I'll snake wine for you when you've had a crappy day any time!

Good to see you too! And glad you got to connect with Shauna again. She really did think she was the biggest dork on campus, she told me so afterwards:-)