Five days before I left on my European tour, I got an e-mail from NASA.
I've gotten a lot of interesting e-mails since becoming an author. Aggravated letters from ASCAP. Letters from the First Lady of Wisconsin. Readers telling me that they put on SHIVER as a school play.
But it's safe to say I never really anticipated NASA. I'm not even good at algebra. I am, in fact, willfully bad at it.
So I was a bit bemused with this e-mail, which was NASA asking if I was willing to speak at the November 4th TEDx conference at Langley. Langley, as in where NASA does their thing. I did what any author would have done. Assumed it was a spam mail and sent it to my publicist saying "look what they're sending me these days, what a laugh, right?"
She was not laughing.
Which is why I found myself on a conference call with NASA and my publicist a few days later. Again, these are not words I ever thought I would be stringing together.
NASA: So you will be speaking to a crowd of your 1700 of your peers.
ME: I think you misunderstand what I do for a living.
NASA: Ha. Ha.
ME: What is it you want me to talk about?
NASA: Just be profound.*
ME: Again, I believe you misunderstand what I do for a living.
NASA: Ha. Ha.
ME: Any other advice?
NASA: Write the best speech of your life.**
*They really said this.
So this is how I find myself writing a blog post about how I will be speaking at the TED conference on November 4th. About profound things. Also, it will be the best speech of my life.
Also, it will be 12 minutes long. NASA wanted to know. So it'll be twelve minutes long. I think it will also involve a chair. I've been thinking about it, and I think that it'll be a lot easier to be profound if I have a chair on the stage with me.
If you're not one of my 1700 peers, you can also watch it online, NASA said. They told me this after I made a strangled noise following the words "seventeen hundred." "Oh, don't worry," said NASA. "The true number is much larger. 100,000 people will watch the video afterward."
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go do some algebra.