With the cooler weather and changing leaves comes, in my world, an even more striking sign of autumn:  the October meeting of Bella Voce.  

In case you haven’t read my blog or just don’t know the inner workings of my heart and soul, Bella Voce is an author series that meets thrice a year in Portland and which, through the kindness of my husband’s business partner and forbearance of many-an-affluent-middle-aged-woman, I am allowed to attend.  (See what I did there with thrice?  I used one word instead of two: thrice instead of three times a year.  It’s the mark of sophisticated writing, trust me.  And doesn’t come off as pretentious at all.) 

The anticipation of taking the rare day off from Life to drive down the Columbia Gorge and sit at the feet of famous writers is, well, pretty much what gets me out of my small-town, big-hair, housewife bed every morning.  And yet today—the day that I should be zooming to Bella Voce for the first time since last May—I am instead sitting here, writing about why I’m not there.  And why, ahem, am I not there?  In short:  I missed Bella Voce because of my kids.

It’s those kids—ooh, those kids!  Those mean, nasty, rotten ‘ol kids.  They make me sign them up for stuff and then they make me pay for it.  They make me drive them everywhere and then drop them early so they’re not seen with me.  They suck the life out of me and then spit it back in my face.  (i.e., Daughter on Saturday Night:  “Can I go to the dance?”  Me:  “Sure.”  Daughter on Monday Morning:  “I forgot to do my homework!  Why did you make me to go to the dance?!”  True story.)

But worse than any of that, those mean, nasty, rotten ‘ol kids make me, sometimes, miss Bella Voce.  Swim meets, violin lessons, cub scouts—all have conspired to make this “I’m a mom first” put Bella Voce last.  Okay, I get it:  on her deathbed, no mother ever whispered, “I wish I’d spent less time with my kids and more time at Bella Voce.”  But last I checked, I am not on my deathbed, so this living mother can only scream, “I WANT TO GO TO BELLA VOCE!”  (I actually did scream that, late last night, but my kids just glanced up from their phones, a little confused, then held out their hands for more Snack Shack money.)  The brood didn’t care that while I was home doing their laundry, the lovely lunching literati would be lunching and literati-ing without me.  Nobody cared that I was missing my Big Day—or so I thought.  Until I got a call from Renee.

Renee is this dreamy woman who works for the dreamy bank that hosts this dreamy event.  I’ve never actually met her, but yesterday she sent an email asking me to call her before the luncheon, as she had a “surprise” planned for me.  Ever the cynic, I assumed this was a form letter sent to all Bella Voce attendees, and that the “surprise” was likely a free money market account or some such Wealth-Management-Super-Boring-Thing.  (No offense, Wealth.  We love you.  Please don’t go.)

So imagine my astonishment when, after leaving her a voicemail telling her I wouldn’t be coming (those rotten kids!) she called me back personally that night.  And imagine my increased astonishment during our conversation which, after standard pleasantries, went something like this:

“Jennifer, we get such a kick out of your blog, and we don’t want you to be a stalker anymore.  So we wanted to invite you to sit at the the Author’s Table tomorrow.”

“Really?”  (small voice, borderline squeaky)

“Absolutely!” (gracious voice, non-squeaky)

“But” (gulp) “I can’t come tomorrow.”  (those…rotten…KIDS!)

“I know.  But it’s no problem, we’ll just have you sit with the author at our February event.”

“Really?”  (squeaky-voice-turns-whimper)  “I can still do it in February?”

“Of course!  I’ll have it all set up for you.  We’ll look forward to seeing you then, and the author will look forward to having lunch with you.”

“I love you, I love you, I love you Ms. Renee from Bella Voce!  And I promise to never again curse my children or regret bearing offspring.”

Okay, fine.  What I really said was:

“Thank you so much!”

Can you believe it?  With one phone call I go from Repressed Housewife to Glittering Member Of The Social And Literary Elite.  (At least, I think that’s what Renee was saying.)  (Wasn’t she?)


And if you think that’s exciting, wait til you Guess Who’s Coming to Bella Voce in February, and whose table I’ll be drooling at  gracing when she does?

I’ll give you three clues:

1)  She’s an Aussie—which makes her automatically cooler than you or me.  (I’m not sure how this works.  It just does.)

2)  She has a dog named Milo and a horse named Butter.

3)  She won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction a few years ago for a story related to a story we all love.  (I love it.  You love it.  Guaranteed.)

And I will love meeting this internationally acclaimed writer in a few short months!  Though I’m sure I’ll manage to make a fool of myself in the process because, as my children have informed me on numerous occasions, “You’re so…cheesy, Mom.

Well, maybe I am, but what do they know about the neglected dreams of a mother’s stolen youth?  What do they know about anything?

Nothin’, that’s what.  Rotten kids.