My sister is in town for the American Library Association Annual Conference. We had plans to get together for dinner but then she told me if I came down early I could go with her to see the opening key note speaker. Guess who?
Oh yes, ma'am. I will be there! I was super-excited at the invitation because I've seen Hillary speak (twice) and met Bill and saw him speak. But I have never seen either of the Obamas live. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden moderated the discussion with the former First Lady.
Carla was very popular among the ALA attendees, as she's the first woman Librarian of Congress AND not only that...but the first one who is an actual librarian. Super-shero to these ladies.
Oh but wait! Before these amazing ladies appeared onstage there was this:
My pretend boyfriend Trombone Shorty and the Trombone Shorty Academy Kids! Michelle Obama and Trombone Shorty...my librarian sister from Virginia has a much cooler life than me.
Michelle Obama is laughing because Carla Hayden told her, "It was nice to have someone in government who understood libraries - or even someone who READS!"
Of course the first question was about what MO's been reading: Commonwealth (Patchett), anything by Zadie Smith, Exit West (Hamid), The Nightingale (Hannah). "I love stories," she said. "Sometimes I need to escape for a moment...get in someone else's story."
[This is also why I love to read.]
On her mother:
"No nonsense, unimpressed, tell-it-like-it-is Marian Robinson. She wouldn't let anyone do her laundry at the White House. And she taught my daughters to do their own laundry."
She said her mother was always her sounding board, even (especially) in the White House, but she raised Michelle and her brother to be self sufficient. "She wasn't going to solve your problems. All I would get from her was 'Mmmm. Mm-hmmm. Mm-hmmm. And then what?"
"We have to teach kids that they have a voice worth listening to."
"Kids don't need that much. If they know you love them unconditionally, whether you live in the White House or the south side of Chicago. It takes a lot to break a kid. Which makes me worry about all the broken kids. There's no such thing as bad kids. Kids aren't born bad."
"Life is long and there are trade-offs that you make. As women, you have to ask for what you need and don't assume people are going to just give you what you need. You have the freedom to ask for what you need and know that you are worthy of it."
On life in the White House:
"Barack and I knew early on that we would be measured by different yard sticks. We could not make any mistakes."
[I refer my readers once again to the chart of criminal indictments/convictions/prison sentences by administration]
On her book:
"It's the ordinariness of a very extraordinary story."
"We all have stories to tell - and stories worth telling. We need to know everyone's stories so we don't forget the humanity in each other. So we can be more empathetic and forgiving and open."
After the MO session, my sister had an appointment with a company who distributes periodicals (or something) so she encouraged me to walk around the expo. "If you see lots of the same books stacked at a booth, you can just take one! They're pre-pub, and they're free!" she whispered.
Once all her business was done for the day, my sister & I went to dinner. (Josephine Estelle in the Ace Hotel. A+ 4 Stars)
Thank you so much to my sister, Melissa, for sharing this terrific night with me!