This post is also available in: Spanish
A guest post from our very own Chandra Ramirez on Isabel’s PEN award—complete with good, old-fashioned name-dropping:
Recently I got to experience a day in the life of the rich and famous when I tagged along with Isabel to Los Angeles — Beverly Hills, to be exact — where Isabel received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the PEN Center USA’s 26th annual literary awards festival.
PEN’s mission is to “stimulate and maintain interest in the written word, to foster a vital literary culture, and to defend freedom of expression domestically and internationally.” Which is why Isabel—who throughout her lifetime has pretty much said and written whatever she wants, sometimes even getting in a little trouble for doing so—is such a huge champion of freedom of speech and has always supported PEN: She vividly remembers living under a dictatorship where people were not allowed to speak or write what they thought, because when they did, there were dire consequences if they wrote something considered critical of the government. Living in those conditions left a lasting impression.
Okay, enough about that. On to the important stuff. We got to meet Winona Ryder and Cote de Pablo! Winona Ryder even asked if I was Sarah, since apparently she reads the blog (OMG, HI WINONA!!!) I don’t want to name-drop (Sean Penn) but there were quite a few impressive (Bill Maher) and accomplished (Amber Tamblyn, David Cross) people there. Winona and Cote even sat at our table. We felt pretty cool. Actually, I did. Isabel is used to this kind of thing. Cote and Winona (yes, we’re on a first name basis now) introduced Isabel with heartfelt and kind words, and Isabel gave a speech about what free speech has meant to her in her life.
We were there less than 24 hours but the people at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (the Pretty Woman hotel) and PEN made us feel like princesses. The only mishap was when Isabel was getting dressed for the gala and realized she had brought two different shoes…and not a matched set. We scrambled, and since we were in Beverly Hills, quickly found a shoe shop where she hastily bought the first pair she saw. Fortunately, the event was in the hotel so Isabel didn’t have far to walk — a good thing, since the shoes were stilettos and possibly the most uncomfortable shoes on the planet. They did, however, help her see over the podium once she was up on the stage.
Within 24 hours we were back home like we had never even been gone, and Isabel gave away the shoes and now is back to writing whatever she wants. Stay tuned.