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Packing Sucks

It is the LAST DAY to enter the contest to win a signed, personalized copy of Sara Gruen’s APE HOUSE…click this link to find the rules and enter. Contest closes at NOON EST Friday.

Want some fake breakfast? Mmmm, Paper Mache-y!

I am packing to get on a plane to leave town for the rest of National Forget What Your Children Look Like Month (aka September). The good news is, I am BARELY leaving my house in October and November, so I should have time to FINALLY learn to play Halo Reach with my son, and play Littlest Pet Shop with my daughter, and stay in pajamas and finish the book.

I am getting close. I open the file and I find myself bouncing in my chair as I type because this part is SO fun. I’ve spent 220 pages getting a thousand plates in the air, all of them madly spinning, and now I am to the place where they start tipping and crashing and banging into each other and shattering in great shiny glass shard explosions.

A couple of people have asked if I am doing anything eventy or book tourish in NYC; I am not. I am there to meet my new editor, have big girl cocktails (assuming a cocktail can be both “big girlish” and foaming with pink at the same time) and chat business my agent, see Sara on tour, and to hang out in Karen’s apartment in my pajamas and WRITE.

Also, Karen is going to COOK A MEAL. Like, a real one. With actual ingredients that get mixed together, and then heat is applied to make food. If I forget to take the flip phone and capture this historic moment, I will never forgive myself!

Because I am southern and sound it, I often get jacked by NYC cabbies. They think I don’t know that they are taking me on a scenic route because of the accent; I know it should cost less than 35 bucks, tip included, to cab to Karen’s, even in the WORST traffic, and yet half the time the meter ends up saying MORE than fifty. I KNOW I am getting rooked, but I am too southern and passive aggressive to say so. This time, I called Karen in advance to plot against all Cab-kind.

I am Karen Abbott. I will bite your WHOLE face off and not even get blood on my white top. Please cab me directly to my home.

Me: SO I tell the cabbie you live on the whatter what side?

Her: Whatter what WHAT?

Me: Like the upper this or the thatter west? What SIDE do I say?

Her: Upper West—You’re coming from Queens, which is east of Manhattan. But don’t say any of that. You have to bark my address in a tone like, “Beeyotch I LIVE THERE so do not EVEN try.”

Me: As we begin should I say something like, “Are you going to go across the park or cut through east Harlem?” Like, pretend I know what that means? SO he thinks I DO know.

Her: No. Just say the address very fiercely. I bark the address and they never screw with me.

Me: Yes, but you can whip out that “I am from Norristown in Philly and I will CUT YOU,” tone.

Her: I will teach you. *Barks her address in an exaggerated Philly accent*

Me: *Barks her address like a girl from Georgia who is choking to death on a raisin*


Me: Okay…what if I CALL YOU from the cab and pretend you are my husband? I can say, “Hi, Honey. Yeah, I just got a cab. I will be home in twenty minutes.”

Her: That might work. If you wear all black and glare around.

Me: Can do!

I will report my cab tally back to you. I do not have a great deal of hope in this GLARE and BARK plan, I have to say. I feel a 50 buck tour of the park coming on.

Lastly, here is a COOL THING: I went to the DALTON-WHITFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY as part of a lecture series there. I was speaking about Backseat Saints, and they did the COOLEST window display based on some images in chapter 1, when Rose Mae makes breakfast for her husband, knowing she plans to shoot him dead in less than two hours…. Here is the display and the relevant quote below it. The bacon is painted fabric strips, the eggs are plaster of paris, the biscuits are paper mache—it was amazing looking. The picture hardly does it justice:


So on Thursday morning, I got my Pawpy’s old gun, and I lay for my husband near Wildcat Bluff. Thom liked to run a trail out there. It was too far from the picnic grounds to attract most day-trippers, and he got his miles in early, when he could trust it would be his alone. That day he had me for secret company.

Not two hours ago, I’d gotten up before the sun to make him real biscuits. I’d cut Crisco into flour until it felt soft, like powdered velvet. I’d mixed the dough and rolled it and pressed out circles with the top of a juice glass. I’d fried bacon and then cooked two eggs sunny side up in the grease. I had loaded his grits with salt and cheese and put thick pats of butter to melt on everything that looked like it could hold butter. There must have been a thousand calories in fat alone floating on that plate.

I’d often made him devil-breakfasts like this after fights, so I hadn’t thought of it as a last meal. It was more of an absurd apology. Like me saying, “Baby, I’m scared I might blow holes in you later, but look, I made you the naughty eggs.” Last night I’d made sex for him, too, in the same way, buttery slick and fat with all the things he liked best.

21 comments to Packing Sucks

  • Brigitte

    My hubs wishes I’d make SOMETHING for him that way, anyways. I won’t say which. 😉

  • Jennifer in NC

    And just when you bought your pretty pink (and other colorful tops)–you have to revert back to your basic black wardrobe! It’s best for NYC though; I’ve found that colorful Southern girls tend to stand out in the sea of black, leading to getting ripped-off by cabbies. Good luck with barking like you mean it!!

  • Jill W.

    Maybe you’ll get the Cash Cab instead. 😉

  • Carol Marks

    LOL Love. I do hope you come back to tell us all about the cab ride. If I had the card for my Glamorous Wayne (my personal cab driver when I was in NYC ONE time) I’d give you his information, but I don’t have his card anymore. 🙁

  • Jill W.

    BTW, you might want to look into a car service. We used one to get from the airport to hotel on a recent trip to San Francisco (and back again at the end of the trip), and it was a few bucks cheaper than a cab would have been, and much nicer. Just a thought.

  • I heard you’re coming to University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in February, and at first, I did the dance of joy (I live in north Dallas, so this is doable for me). Then I realized that my baby has the nerve to be due that exact same weekend, so I gave my belly evil glares.

    Already sacrificing for this little one.

    I tried to think of a way to work it out, but nothing comes to mind. My ob-gyn was not keen on me toting an epidural bag with me to the session. (If you have solutions, let me know.)

    Also, I finally, finally read gods in Alabama a few months ago after hearing you speak at Calvin (much to the relief of a couple of friends who have been bugging me for years, but, I must confess, I don’t usually love Southern fiction, so I put it off, regrettably), and I immediately put Backseat Saints–unread–on my book club’s list for October. I’ll let you know what they think. (One of the ladies keeps calling it Backstreet Saints. I hope she’s not expecting bad music with choreography.)

    I fear I might become a little stalkerish (I tend to do that when I fall in love with authors), but it’s okay, I don’t know where you live.

  • Les in AZ

    Her: Upper West—You’re coming from Queens, which is east of Manhattan. But don’t say any of that. You have to bark my address in a tone like, “Beeyotch I LIVE THERE so do not EVEN try.”

    THis made me lol – literally – right in class today…then I had to explain myself.

    Have fun in NYC!

  • In case you don’t bark viciously enough, I’ll be waiting outside to check the meter before he drives away. Can’t wait to see you! My kitchen and cooking utensils await…

  • angel

    saw you in dalton loved the reading

  • Ooh! Girly cocktails!! Went to lunch with the Significant Other on Monday and the restaurant featured a Cotton Candy Cosmo: picture a martini glass filled with pink cotton candy and then they bring you the cocktail in a martini shaker to pour over the candy. I plan to go back with my GirlChild SOONEST (they have a Shirley Temple for kids) so that we can Squee and Pink Puffy Heart and possibly even Crook Our Pinkies together!!!

  • Elizabeth

    I like Arecibo car service… but a cab is more convenient. Yeah, black, baby black.

  • Also, that display is amazing. PERFECT.

  • Um, why not get into the cab and say, as sweet and southern as you like, “At the end of this ride I’ll give you $40 – not a penny more. How much of that is tip is up to you.” (Please note, this comment is from a person who lives in a small city in Wisconsin, and has only been in a cab three times in her life. Maybe I’m not the best advice-giver in this situation.)

  • Hope the cab ride is direct and short!
    Here’s hoping you get much time to stay home and write in your PJs BUT I am hoping the BARELY leaving your home in October still means you will be making an appearance at the South Carolina Writing conference. Because I am coming all the way from Indiana. 😉

  • That is just the perfect Southern display. It looks just like every time I ever went to my Granny’s or my Aunt’s L’s. All that big heavy crockery they had and always a wooden rolling pin hanging on the wall.

    I’m really glad they didn’t paper mache that last line. That would have been awkward.

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    I like the image of you bouncing in your chair as you write. It is good to hear that you delight in creating your stories as much as we delight in reading them.

  • Shelley

    Car service is a good idea, they show up at the airport for you all nice and civilized and you know the price ahead of time. You can even pay by credit card if arranged before hand.

    I’ve been enjoying Laura Lippman since you recommended her latest book and I wanted to make sure that you’d hear of Sophie Hannah. She writes smart British mysteries that are clever like Lippman’s. Wrong Mother was particularly good.

    Enjoy your trip and cocktails.

  • edj

    LOVE that display! The opening to Backstreet Saints so rocks–it’s fun to see it recreated in papier-mache!

  • Just browsed these thoughts you wrote. They are most interesting and informative. I love how you put them into outlook.

  • Haley

    I wonder how many people will now reach this site by googling buttery slick sex. Probably not your target demographic.

    P.S. Hope the cab driver doesn’t overcharge you. The cab drivers in Florence are terrible about taking advantage of Americans. One driver who took me to the train station told me my total and when I gave him a bill refused to give me the full amount of change, even though I had not yet given him a tip. European waiters sometimes do this to foreigners. They’re like, oh, that was a tip, right? Of course I am too mousy to ask for it back. If only I were ballsier, I might have kept a few more euros.

  • Kitty

    “Packing sucks”… I’ll tell ya what sucks! My three favorite blogs haven’t posted anything for almost a week (you, FFP and Pat Rothfus). Throw me a bone here people! /whine