March 14-15, 2020

TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS

University of Arizona campus

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

I’ll be returning to Tucson for this festival, which features about 250 authors. Come see me at my author booth or at the author pavilion, where I’ll be featured with about 10 other authors. Tucson is like home sweet home to me. I consider it home because it’s where I have many friends and professional colleagues. It’s where I met my wife, Jennifer, when we were both working for the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind. My publisher, Gallaudet University Press, has been most supportive of this event.

Find out more here.

May 4-7, 2020

ADARA

AMERICAN DEAFNESS AND REHABILITATION ASSOCIATION 

Boston, MA

I’ll be representing Little Creek Behavioral Health as business development liaison with the deaf program.

 

June 30-July 3, 2020

NAD

NATIONAL DEAF EDUCATION CONFERENCE,

Sponsored by the National Association of the Deaf 

Chicago, IL

I’ll be representing Little Creek Behavioral Health as business development liaison with the deaf program.

PAST EVENTS

Jan. 25, 2020

ORGANIC BOOKS

111 Carlisle Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

3 p.m.

My first public Albuquerque event was at 3 p.m. at Organic Books in Nob Hill. I gave a reading from Between Two Worlds and answered questions about the book.

Nov. 16, 2019

BOOKMANS ENTERTAINMENT EXCHANGE, Tucson, Arizona

My first public book signing was 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 16 at Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, 6230 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712. Details on the Bookmans site.

ALBUQUERQUE SIGNING

FUN TIMES WITH MY ACADEMIC CAREER

Organic Books, Albuquerque, NM     |     Jan. 25, 2020

At my book signing, I shared this amusing excerpt from my memoir, Between Two Worlds. It seemed to get a few laughs.

I only spent exactly one year at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, California.

Academically, I lagged as I had throughout my junior high and elementary years. I barely passed my classes with Cs and Ds.

When I arrived a Sunny Hills, I had few friends. Most of my buddies attended other high schools. I tried to fit in, but I did a poor job of that.

One day, I got into trouble in my math class. I was cutting up, and the teacher told me to stay after class. I had no intention of doing any such thing. My plan was to slip out before he could intercept me.

Mr. B was no taller than I and nowhere near as muscular—in fact, he was rather wimpy. As I drifted out the door, I was taken aback when he grabbed hold of my arm. I shoved him hard and left.

Unfortunately, I was cheered on by one of my classmates, Debbie. She was petite, with long brown hair and a smile that could knock anyone off their feet. Debbie laughed at Mr. B’s humiliation.

I relished in the attention, bragging as if it were no big deal. The following day, I discovered what a big deal it really was. I was suspended from school for several days. My father was furious.

To get back into school, my father and I had to attend a meeting with the assistant principal, a large man with a big head full of short brown curls. He seemed kind. He never raised his voice.

The meeting went to my advantage because my father was deaf and the assistant principal was hearing. With no interpreter available, I signed exactly what I wanted my father to know.

I blamed the teacher for manhandling me in the first place, and my father’s frustration with me dissolved. Gleeful with my cunning interpreting skills, I happily accepted my reassignment to another math teacher for the remainder of the year.

THE FIRST TIME I KNEW I LIVED IN TWO WORLDS

Organic Books, Albuquerque, NM     |     Jan. 25, 2020

At my book signing, I shared this poignant story from the opening of my memoir, Between Two Worlds.

 Perhaps the first time I knew I lived in two worlds was when I was seven. I remember one Sunday morning riding in the backseat of the car along the narrow two-way road through small California town after town, the familiar way from our home in Fullerton to Los Angeles, where my family attended church. My father parked our 1953 Chevrolet in the usual curbside spot, forgoing the parking lot. The car was parked just outside the church within 20 feet of the entrance to the building. In the early morning, we were shaded from the warm sun by mature trees lining the street.

It was the custom in our small family to arrive earlier than other church members. I sat in the back seat with my sister Debbie, who must have been four, and we were speaking to each other. My parents, known to the fine people of Wilshire Ward Deaf Branch as Melwin David Sorensen and Eileen Richards Sorensen, sat in the front, signing to each other in American Sign Language. We were waiting to go in for the service.

I glanced away from Debbie to see what my parents were saying to each other as their hands flew through the air: just a routine conversation, friendly, about the goings-on in the church community. Every once in awhile my mother would stop her hand movements and look back at Debbie and me with a smile, then her hands would bolt into action again, continuing her conversation with my father. I looked back at my younger sister to see if she understood the two conversations going on in our private family bubble, which was normal to me: one conversation voiced, the other signed.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two boys about nine and ten approaching our car, then standing about near the back door driver’s side, staring at us. Their eyes were trained on the front seat and not on Debbie nor me. Neither boy wore “church clothing.” They definitely lived in the neighborhood. My voice broke off in the middle of a sentence to follow their gaze and, to my amazement, they gawked at my parents. One boy scrunched his face and raised his hands to mock my parents’ signing with indistinct handshapes and gestures, wiggling his fingers and throwing his hands out in front of him. His gestures were wild, incoherent, saying nothing. He looked like he was having a seizure. The other boy laughed at the expense of my parents. The gesturing boy laughed in unison with his compatriot. The entire scene lasted a minute or two at most.

I caught my own face in the rear-view mirror. When I saw my bafflement, anger erupted from me. I leaned forward to tap my father and mother on the shoulder and sign, Look at what those boys are doing! My mother gave a sidelong glance their direction, then looked at me with a smile and shrugged it off. My mother’s implication: These boys were not worth her time. I can only assume that these inappropriate expressions were not the only time my parents encountered people mocking them. Although I felt angry and puzzled, I followed my mother’s lead. Debbie did not really understand what the two boys had done. She laughed as though it was a fun game.

Mere minutes after the boys had left, we emerged from the car and headed into the church buildings. My parents went in one direction, their Deaf Branch, and I took responsibility for Debbie to go in another direction to Sunday School with our hearing peers.

TUCSON SIGNING

SIGNING AT BOOKMANS ENTERTAINMENT EXCHANGE

Tucson, Arizona    |    Nov. 16, 2019

Coming to Tucson was like coming home, because I lived there for 15 years while I was a counselor at the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind. I received my master’s in rehabilitation counseling for the deaf from the University of Arizona.

Now I was returning for my first public book signing, which was held Nov. 16, 2019, at Bookmans Entertainment Exchange.

Over the four hours, about 50 to 60 readers streamed into the store to meet me and seven other authors, all of whom had Tucson connections.

I got to talk about Between Two Worlds with new and familiar faces. Old friends from my work life and the community came by to support the book. I enjoyed seeing how excited they were to read it Many of those friends from my past said they hadn’t known anyone who was a published author before.

MY BOOK LAUNCH PARTY

My author debut for Between Two Worlds

I had my first book signing just recently. For weeks, I tried to decide which vignette I wanted to share with my audience.  I chose my earliest memory of understanding that my Deaf parents lived in a different world from my hearing world. A video of that vignette, signed in American Sign Language, appears below.

Then for the signing, I had to practice reading it out loud most everyday once or twice just to be familiar and not feel nervous, despite the fact I have talked to large groups in the past.

For the event, I asked a friend to sign during my talk so some of my Deaf friends could enjoy it, too.

For my debut, I wanted close friends to attend an intimate small group.  About 20 people attended the reading.

As I read the nervousness subsided within a minute and I was on the road! I had a big smile on my face.  It was so much fun and exciting.

My supportive audience asked good questions. One person asked if there were things I should have left out.  Another made a comment about how my family had to drive to other people’s home just to use a phone because TDDs were not available at the time. Another was very interested in hearing about the community around Deaf sports clubs.

All in all, the group was small and friendly. I felt as though I was an author!

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