Annie Proulx, awards banquets and other First World problems

So, today was a frustrating day on multiple First World fronts. I’ll spare you the details of all but one occurrence. Mid-afternoon, as I was fruitlessly trying to find a copy of Annie Proulx’s “Accordion Crimes,” which was at no bookstore – and the library was closed – I gave up and went to the grocery store.

Serves me right for waiting until the day of Book Group to read it. Sigh. I had actually planned to fly to Washington DC today. Every 10 years, it seems, I receive a journalism award that comes with a banquet. So I was excited about picking up a Simon Rockower award from the American Jewish Press Association for a story I wrote last year. We were going to fly out and stay with my wonderful friends Diana and Allen. Allen couldn’t go to the banquet, but Diana was going to. And then, a couple of months ago, I went to buy tickets.

They cost $185 apiece.

“Are you serving gold?” slid out of my mouth on hearing the Sweet Young Thing on the other end of the phone inform me of the cost. That was when I asked if award recipients got any sort of discount. The answer was no.

I’d figured it would be an expensive proposition – these events are, in part, fundraisers. And I didn’t mind paying my way. But when a trade group prices its awards banquet tickets at a higher price than the amount most of the recipients were paid for their award-worthy stories (yours truly included), it might be time for some organizational soul searching.

As a reality check, I posted what happened on my Facebook feed, asking whether I was overreacting. More than 100 comments later, I was reassured and comforted. And grateful for my amazing support system.

So, when my award arrives in the mail, I am going to host an awards banquet… for my friends.

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