Thursday, March 6, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 5


Today, it was back to school.

In fact, it was just like the old days. As a kid, easily the worst part of every single day was when my mom opened my door to wake me up for school. I can still hear and feel the sound of that door creaking open every morning. And yes, she did this clear up to my senior year in high school. My mom loves me, and feels that alarm clocks are for underprivileged children. Or maybe we were too poor to have one in my room. One of those two things.

Anyway, I was determined to show my mom that as a 35-year-old I'm no longer in need of this service. Unfortunately, I failed. I slept so soundly last night I couldn't believe it, and if my mom hadn't poked her head in to wake me up, there would've been some awfully disappointed students at Berkeley Lake Elementary.

In fact, in yet another display that one should always listen to their mama, I ignored her warnings that we needed to leave extra early. After all, the school is only 6 miles from her house, I thought. But I'd forgotten what traffic is like in Atlanta and barely made it, just in the nick of time. Tomorrow, I leave the exact second Mom tells me to.

I really missed having Angie with me today. Okay, let's face it - I didn't miss Angie nearly as much as I missed her iPhone. Did I tell you guys how cool that thing is? I hereby declare to the world that I'm getting one for Christmas this year. In all seriousness, I really did miss her, but somehow managed to pull off the day all by my lonesome.


I did 3 assemblies at Berkeley Lake: one for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. It was cool because my mom came and saw my first one, then my sis and brother (and family) came to see my third one. It made me nervous, because I knew if I failed to be funny, my brother Paul would have cried with shame and anguish. But the neatest thing was having his children there, and hearing afterward that they actually think their uncle is somewhat undorkish.

The assemblies went great, and I felt much more polished and comfortable than I had on Monday in Virginia. Maybe I'm getting the hang of it. I was really impressed with the kids at the school, and how creative and bright their answers, questions, and ideas were. Although two kids said things that almost made my brother in the back collapse from laughing so hard.

One kid told me in no uncertain terms that I should figure out a way to have more tacos in my books. Yes, tacos. At least I think that's what he said.

The other comment was, well, um, let's just say it's something I've definitely never gotten before. We were creating this story, using volunteers, of people in a dark and creepy forest. When I asked for ideas for what one of the characters could be doing to add some mystery to our tale, a nice young man raised his hand and said, "He could be hurting innocent animals." I think we ended up going with the ghost idea instead.

No, but the kids there were really awesome, and I'm sure that little guy just reads too much Stephen King. I'd like to give a big shout out to Jennifer Helfrick, the media specialist at the school, for making me feel so welcome and making it a great event. Not to mention the fact she has such an awesome last name, which I plan on stealing for a future book. (In the one that's about tacos and animal shelters.)

After Berkeley Lake I went out to eat with my family at Ruby Tuesday and then it was off to River Trail Middle School. Now, I was major intimidated there because instead of speaking to elementary kids that laugh at almost anything, these were 7th and 8th graders who were much more demanding. But I adapted well and did my best to remain as un-oldmanish as possible, getting enough laughs to make it a success. And it was cool to deliver the Change the World message to some older students, who are just that much closer to the day when they'll need to do it.

At the beginning I told them I was a little scared because all you have to do is say poopoo or booger to elementary kids and they'll laugh for five minutes. (Although my publisher told me to lay off the potty humor because it upsets some teachers.) But we ended up having a great time in the 2 assemblies and I was really impressed with our question and answer session at the end. I'm telling you people - don't listen to the idiots out there who speak all the doom and gloom about our future. I'm here to tell you, we're in good hands with these kids that will someday run our planet.

Two of the teachers from River Trail spent a while talking with me after, and I just want to give them a shout out. The only problem is I never even asked their names. So to you two, thanks!

After a phone interview with Jodi from a local paper in Utah (West Valley Journal?), it was back to the homestead for a relaxing evening. The highlight of the day was just a few minutes ago when I got to speak to my nephew Jason, who is bravely fighting for his country in Iraq. We miss that kid like crazy and can't wait to see him in June when he comes home for leave.

The article on me for the Salt Lake Tribune ran today. You can read it if you'd like: CLICK HERE.

The pictures of today were taken by my photographer sister. You can see more of them at her Flickr site. CLICK HERE.

See ya tomorrow. Thanks for reading, and I love your comments!


Unknown said...

Very, very cool stuff, James. Your tour sounds exciting and wonderful. Great job.

Anonymous said...


So if your main character was eating them would they be Tick Tacos?

Is that supposed to tie in with the alarm clock you never had as a child? ;)

Keep up the great work!
lisa :)

James Dashner said...

Tick Tacos. I like it. Ya know, we could all use a little more taco love in our lives.

Irish said...

Long live the tacos!

Keep in mind that if you are ever in Williamsburg, VA and don't have a car and are looking for food that 'tacos don't deliver' every place else did, but not the taco of course what did everyone want? tacos. twas a sad sad day.

Anywho, I hope that your having another good day of touring.


Ron Simpson said...

You should always listen to your momma. That is rule number 1. As for animal cruelty, were you making the bad guys? If so, that is a tried and true tradition. Look at 101 Dalmations. Now if you were creating good guys.....Maybe the kid has a PETA mom and not a soccer mom.

Anonymous said...


I don't know if you remember me from high school or not, but I saw your interview in the AJC today and wanted to say congratulations. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it to the signing tonight, but I will be sure to pick up a copy soon.

So from one Wildcat to another, Peace Out.

Anonymous said...


You probably don't remember anonymous from high school, but I can't figure out how to post my name.

Any keep up the good work.

Adam Steele

Luisa Perkins said...

Dude! It's all so exciting. Thanks for keeping us updated.

(Do I have the stuff to make tacos for dinner in the house? Hmmmm....)

Angie G said...

I always knew you liked my iphone better than me...*sniff*sniff

Heather Moore said...

I loved the article, James. You better frame it!