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Tucson in Pictures

It’s so foreign a landscape, so clearly OTHER, that it made me re-realize that wow, this is a BIG country. I felt a little like I had flown through space to get there. Kept looking for green chicks in scanty clothing, with the requisite Captain Kirk to mack on them.

The plants are INSANE looking. It’s a very weird, very specific kind of beauty. Best part: A showy little hummingbird, smaller than my thumb, was perched on a cactus needle. I had never seen one BE STILL before.

In Alabama, my mom has little bright green ones with red throats that come and fuss and battle and beat the EVER LIVING crap out of each other over the feeders, so I think of hummingbirds as tiny beautiful vicious gang members who are never ever still. Unperchable murderers, every gorgeous one of them.

But this one? Was STILL,except for twitching its head around all pert and curious, and apparently not even thirsting for the nectar-licious blood of other hummingbirds. Alabama ones are such bewinged sugar addicted thuglets.

This one was charming, though it was having impertinent thoughts. I could tell.

Other Local Fauna included The Humpy Stick Man. He was very terrible. He walked on four sticks, hunched over and shaggy with bandages, with his weirdo insect head at an impossible angle, upsetting me by existing. And humping up the street.

Let me say—Tucson is a GREAT fest—tons of people, really cool authors. The problem was me. Coming off tour and deep in the bowels of an absolute FIRE ALARM of a book with no clear path to the end….I am NOT okay. I had no business being out of pajamas in public. I have very scant memories of the many things I said with my crazy-mouth, but I suspect myself of deeply oversharing.

My mental illness number is SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO high right now. So high you cannot count to it, and you are a very good counter. You would die before you finished, even if you never took a break to eat or pee or think up new names for the UNDEFINED BABY THERAPY ANIMAL that might be a dog or a cat or a hedgepig but is definitely VERY BABY-SIZED and adorable and that you are absolutely getting in August and which is not a lemming because those things walk into the sea and you might follow.

No wait, that is not you. The one trying to not walk into the sea behind the baby lemmings is me.

YOU are the one who does not have enough years left on this earth to start at one and count all the way up to the twitchy, gibbering, huddled-ion-the-corner SIMPLY ENORMOUS number that is my mental illness number.
Maybe you could do it if you counted by tens and have AMAZING longevity genes, but really, do you want THAT to be your life work? Counting to what I HOPE TO GOD is an unsustainably dizzy-high crazy-number? No! NO, I SAY! BE BIGGER THAN THAT! DREAM LOUDER AND IN MORE COLORS! Because really? You are awesome.

Me, I hope to change my PAJAMAS today. These have cereal dribbles.

I went to the Tucson Festival of Books in this purely lunatic state and honestly, this humpy stick man thing almost put me over the edge as it gallumped and twitched up the street with its BUGHEAD set at a thoroughly inhuman angle. Mercifully, it led us to the restaurant where I met a bunch of cool authors:

Also, the hyper-talented MARGARET GEORGE, was on the other side of Jenna Blum? I thought I was the best Camera Shy hider, as I managed to make myself be a tiny grinning-drooling-loon-sliver, but Margaret rendered herself THOROUGHLY INVISIBLE. I bow before her superior skillz.

I had a great time, PLUS I put my face in a positive VAT of medicinally required red wine, so.

Seriously though, the amount of holding it together going on in Tucson was extreme. Most of it was done by THIS GIRL HERE. She is Tiffany Baker, and she manually tamped my crazy down, as I was incapable. We love her, by the way.

This is a picture of Tiffany’s latest amazing novel. I am making it float in the air beside me using the magic power of my scraggly witch head that the ABSOLUTELY HUMIDITY FREE AIR OF TUCSON causes. Tiffany and I are quietly painting ceramic posies in a little park we found, because painting ceramic posies in a sunshiney park is very good for disturbed people.

UPSIDES OF TUCSON: hummingbirds, Tiffany, an amazingly well-attended rockstar of a book fest, dinner with a slew of cool authors, another dinner with a slew of cool readers (none of whome posted pics to facebook for me to steal…)

This is all good stuff, but seriously? The ceramic flowers were the best part. I DID THESE:

It was a ton of strangers, just hanging out making and painting them in shifts, as part of Ben’s Bells, and PS GO READ ABOUT THESE. It is the best sweetest most beautiful idea ever. This was the best part of the whole trip; being part of a community art project about kindness.

I need that. I need some kindness. More, I need to be an active part in perpetrating some kindness, as I find this gets my MI# down faster than anything else. Thanks, Tucson, you crazy looking chunk of desert. I think I love you.

24 comments to Tucson in Pictures

  • Rikki

    Tucson is my hometown – I miss it so very much, especially on cold wintery days in Pennsylvania. My brother, before I was born, told my sister that those wee hummingbirds didn’t have legs, you see, because if they stopped flying, their teeny hearts would stop beating. My sister firmly believed this until she was almost 30. It was so perplexing why she would burst into tears at the very sight of a hummingbird …

  • Shelley S

    Tucson does look like a foreign landscape, the concept of a Saguaro forrest is mind-boggling but true. And the cacti flowering, incredible. It’s a great place to be in one’s MI# is out of the stratosphere, you had plenty of company. Good luck getting the # under control.

  • I love the dessert and its alien sort of beauty.

    Stick Man is definitely creepy.

    Sorry about the high MIN. If it’s any consolation, I recall you feeling this way in the thick of writing AGUSoP, and that seems to have turned out well for you.

  • Tiffany

    Not the Stick Man!!! Noooo! I HATED that guy!

  • Aimee

    I really worry what it says about me that some of my absolute favorite things you post are the ones where your MIN is the highest. I strongly suspect (but cannot confirm) that it means that my MIN is also very high indeed. Oh well, at least I’m in good company.

    I love Margaret George. Reading one of her books is like falling into a pool of cool water and feeling it just close over your head and you’re in this bubble of a new world. I have missed bus stops reading Margaret George. By the way, that “cool water closing over my head” feeling of immersion? I got it, reading AGUKOP.

  • If you ever run out of ideas for writing books, you could make a few dollars painting flowers, but I would much rather that you stayed writing books.
    MIN’s are highly over-rated, in any case.
    Mostly I just lurk and giggle at your posts, but you really seem to need someone to look after you today…

  • What I absolutely love about these posts? These frantic, wonderful, crazy-potatoes posts? Is that I can hear your voice reading them to me. This whole post is so YOU to me that I can actually hear your voice in my brain while my eyes scan the page. I do hope for lower MI#s and joy and peace and all those great things, but please don’t ever stop being YOU.

  • Oh. My. Goodness butthisnextbookisgoingtobeincredible. Your post has smoke coming out my eyes, because I had to read it so fast to keep up with you. . .that = great novel.

    Too many great lines to list, but THIS is my favorite from this post:

    “I had no business being out of pajamas in public.”

    I may need to steal it. In fact, I WILL. I WILL steal it. And use it. And I’ll even give you credit.

    The ceramic flowers are LOVELY, LOVELY, LOVELY.

  • stacey

    I can’t think of better representations of Tucson than crazy stick man and the Ben’s Bells project. We are nutty, it’s true (perhaps the summer heat has melted parts of our brains), but we mean well. Also downtown that weekend was a gentleman with a front-loading baby carrier filled with a not-so-sure orange cat. Well-intentioned crazy. 🙂

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    I always seem to feel a little bit better when I read a post like this. That there is someone else out there who isn’t afraid to admit that she her MI# is high and that you “had no business being out of pajamas in public,” and that you suspect yourself of “deeply oversharing”. You are not alone. In fact, I suspect that most of us here who read FTK love you not “despite” your soaring MI# , but BECAUSE of it and your willingness to make it a little more okay for the rest of us by sharing.

  • DebR

    Yesterday was Pi Day so what if we count by pi cubed? Or something.

    I do not understand the existence of the Stick Man but I find that photo deeply disturbing.

    I’ve only ever seen the vicious thuglet hummers but I’ve heard rumors that the western part of the US has all kinds of other types & I’d love to see them. Perhaps I need a road trip. (Only I don’t really want to take an actual road trip. But if someone has a working transporter I could use, that would be cool.)

    May I just say how deeply, DEEPLY relieved I am that the uber-creepy spider pic has dropped off the top of your page? ~~~~shudder~~~~

  • I would tenderly hand you a full bowl of cereal and a fresh pair of pajamas if I were there.

    And if that were not total heroine-worshippy stalker kind of behavior. Also I would have to ask what kind of cereal you wanted.

    It is easy to see redbuds-in-bloom-with-fluffy-gamboling-puppies beauty. It takes a Seeing Eye Person to see spiky cactus beauty, and thanks for that.

  • Andrea

    Thank you, Joshilyn, for making me not the only one who runs around day after day sporting The Crazy. My husband always gives me the side eye when I say, “Don’t mind me, it’s just the insanity…” But it’s true. For Rills.

  • Judi (aka Dame Judi of UO)

    Glad you are enjoying our city. I believe this time of year is the sole reason it still exists.
    Along with our weather we have quail, roadrunners, and returning doves. Plus we are pretty darn proud of our margaritas.

  • Ah, Joshilyn — What everybody else said — and also, I must tell you that it’s the saguaros that I miss, the saguaros that call me back to the Sonora Desert. I have been known to talk to them, and I’d be tempted to hug one except for, you know, the prickly bits.

  • My mother’s family hails from the south part of New Mexico. The desert there is different from the Sonoran Desert, but no less alien or beautiful. The SKY is a huge dome of blue or star speckled black. I LOVE it!

  • Linda J

    pink socks chocolate pink socks chocolate pink socks chocolate pink socks chocolate pink socks chocolate

    audible.com says AGUKOP is one of this seasons top 20 books!!

    pink socks chocolate pink socks chocolate pink socks chocolate pink socks chocolate

    NYT best selling author

    We love you and your work!!!

    pink socks chocolate

  • Reine

    We love you and Tiffany. I ran over Stickman. Kendall ate him. Sorry. Hahahahahaaaaa! All the cactuseses in my Tucson backyard died. What does that say about me? Um anyways, thank you for not saying I am an inspiration. Thank you for not saying my chair could win the Indy 500. Thank you for not saying it’s nice that I could get out. Thank you for getting that theology down. It redeems my education. R&K xoxox U..U

  • Jennifer in NC

    The first time I visited Arizona I was so delighted to see the flora and fauna of my childhood Saturday mornings. “It’s the Roadrunner & Wil E. Coyote cactus!!!” I was thrilled. It is definately a different landscape than my very green NC. I loved Arizona, even though it was August and felt like 216 degrees outside!

    p.s. I don’t think your high MI# is why the Stick Man seemed creepy. I find him disturbing and my MI# is easily countable today…

  • Brigitte

    Ha, Roxanne, I also find myself reading the posts ever faster to try to keep up with the MIN!

  • Tuscon looks different in a fun, make sure you watch your step, kind of way. You look like you had so much fun. I love the pictures of Tiffany’s posies.

  • How, oh how, did I miss The Humpy Stick Man? Dang. You meet all the coolest people.

    So fun to chat at dinner! Hope to see you again soon, girly.

  • Damn, you made me cry with the Ben’s Bells link and so, in order to soothe my sadness, I bought yet another novel I have no time to read on the Tiffany link. And I am so insanely slobbering jealous of your freedom to parade your astronomical MI# while drinking medicinal vats of red wine all in the name of Book Festival….which is a BUSINESS trip for you. Sigh. Someday…over the rainbow.

    Me, I love the humpy stick man. Reminds me of the Landstriders from Dark Crystal.

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