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June 13, 2024

Window on the World Column | On the Circuit

I’ve been on the tour circuit these past couple weeks. Not like a rock star tour circuit, but a circuit of sorts. For those of you who know me, you know I’m a writer not a speaker, so this concept has been a little against my grain. But it’s good to stretch yourself, however old, right? Teaching an old dog new skills and all that.

My friend is on the Impower board. Impower is a superior organization, powered by go-getting women who work to get professional people together to engage, visit, share bread, listen to a — hopefully — interesting speaker and invest in local nonprofits in our community. I knew that already. They also put together a nice lunch at attractive sites for those of us who like to, on occasion, cross the lettuce curtain.

“What are you doing on Oct. 14?” my friend asks me with some anxiety in her voice. (She’s on the Impower board.) “I’m going to Impower,” I tell her. “YOU ARE??” (Well, yeah, I go when I can.) “Our Olympian speaker can’t make it,” she tells me. “Will you speak?” When someone asks you a difficult question like that and you don’t want to disappoint, but you don’t like public speaking, things go a little blurry. “Ummmm. I guess I could do that,” I respond mumbly and meekly.

And then I promptly forgot about it. Until I didn’t. I woke up in the middle of the night with a jump. I had to be engaging and amusing, also interesting, in front of maybe 70 to 100 people for about 40 minutes. This was a challenge when I really thought about it. Then I went on vacation. I return home from Europe and realize my speaking gig is in two days, no pressure. This crowd wasn’t one where you could wing it. I started practicing, trying not to “umm” too much, or creepily laugh at all my own jokes.

It was a glorious day, the morn of my big speech. The aim in these situations is to be on site nice and early. It eases any nerves and situates one near perfectly for the performance ahead. We did just that at the lovely Pasadera Country Club off Highway 68. And then old friends started showing up and I realized that this was actually going to be really fun. I wasn’t as rehearsed as one might hope to be under these circumstances, but hey, I had done some acting in my time and these people weren’t going to be rude and boo me, at least, were they? After all, many were my friends.

I warned the crowd that they had been previously offered a full refund for the tickets they had purchased for the Olympian, and they had chosen not to cancel at the time; so they were stuck with me for the next half hour. They laughed! That is always a good start. I just chuckled a little, not a full belly-laugh with mouth wide open — a small, respectable chuckle. I started to find my groove. This speaking gig was not so bad.

In fact, in retrospect, it was a delightful event, and I had a really good time. I got to visit with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, I sold some of my books and I helped raise money for a wonderful cause. There was even a miniature pony there from the elected charity, for crying out loud. (No, they didn’t let me take him home!) Want me as a public speaker? Yeah, I have some experience of that. I do circuits, apparently.

Next, it was the tea circuit in Soledad — a popular joint fundraiser for the South County Animal Rescue and the Soledad Historical Society, as was a few years back. The last tea party was pre-pandemic, so it had been a while. Here I was onsite with two water kettles and two large tea pots on the go, numerous jugs of milk, English tea bags and sugar in addition. (Note to self: three kettle and tea pots might be a good idea next time. That crowd was hard to keep up with!)

Tea, sandwiches, cookies and cakes were served with the tea. Folks were able to select their own china teacup and saucer when they entered, and, fortunately, young folk from the 4H and the Aztecs Track Team were there to assist in all necessary things, including the pouring of the boiling hot English tea. (Please don’t burn anyone, I begged them!)

It was a decent event and well attended. Hopefully some money was made for both organizations, because that’s the whole idea! At the end of the afternoon, I could barely even walk, let alone talk. That tea-pouring gig is hard work!

From the tea circuit, it was onto the first fundraiser for the Cattlewomen’s Association (who knew that 2.5 cows constitutes eligibility to be a member!), so kinda like a Rodeo circuit? (Fortunately, no one asked me how many head of cattle I owned, since 2.5 might be a dead giveaway — Insert Random Cowboy: “You mean 2,500 head?”) They accepted LUNAbooks, my personal book shop, as a vendor at their event at the Monterey Fairgrounds, and I was so proud of this branching out from my comfort zone of fundraising for other entities or just giving the darn things away. I was actually, to coin a phrase, “getting out there” …

I tell you, this “getting out there” business is a lot! My friend helped me set up all the stuff at the Fairgrounds on Friday. (First you had to actually find the place, locate the spot where you unload, schlepp the boxes, unpack the boxes and all that good stuff! It was a workout!) Then we had to come up with a decent display and figure out all we were missing. Then we had to go shopping to combat our fatigue and fulfill our retail stress for the week!

Bright and early the next morning, I was off to find my booth at the Fairgrounds, armed with vital items I was missing from my display, and hopefully enough sleep onboard to get me through the day. It was going to be a long day, 12 to 8 p.m., and we all hoped for mega crowds to keep us busy. The crowd thing didn’t really materialize, but it wasn’t a bad showing and, though a super longgg day, I did sell 10 books and met some new people.

So, getting out there on various circuits is quite time-consuming and maybe not very lucrative, but it does make for an interesting life. As my clever husband duly noted, if you don’t want to “get out there” (that takes days of your life to accomplish) just print enough books for a few friends and family and don’t even worry about it. The jury is out on that, but I did some pretty good circuits these last few days and, truth be told, I am beat.

Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen
Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].

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