I have not blogged because I have been lying in bed, marinating in my own foul juices. I wish the juices were red wine infused with rosemary, but ALAS, they seem to be pernicious, bacterial, acute bronchitis. Sick sick sick. I do not often get sick (I think because I am devoted to homeopathic crunch-herb lunacy) BUT! When my immune system decides to crap out, it does so in hyperbole. I 'spose I have been a bad influence on it.
I am now on MANY FINE DRUGS, including SERIOUS antibiotics, the good cough medicine (read: has my friend codeine in it), a breathing treatment and a follow-up inhaler. I finally broke down and went to my doc -- Scott has been wanting me to go for a week, but I resisted until this weekend, when, beginning Saturday night (and this is SO UPSETTING it makes me tear up to even tell you about it now, after it is OVER) ....I WAS NOT ABLE TO TALK FOR ALMOST TWO DAYS.
That's like, my personal idea of unendurable hell. I sat there whispering and rasping desperately at Scott while he tried to stifle me with a pillow to "give that poor voice a rest." UGH! NO TALKING! UGH! UGH! I tell you what, I am ALL FOR homeopathic crunch-herb lunacy, but when I CANNOT TALK, herbs can bite me. Time to live better (and more importantly, LOUDER) through pharmaceuticals.
While I lay dying, two things of familial note happened:
1) Neither of my children engaged in apparently life-threatening convulsions nor did they bleed out nor were they eaten by escaped zoo-predators. (Yes, this is of note. With my I-think-my-baby-is-dying paradigm shift FRESH in my head, any day in which my children are breathing in and out and bright-eyed and pink-cheeked and bursting with rosy health is a BANNER DAY.)
2) My son tested into the gifted program at school. Here at Chez Jackson we are pleased, but not AT ALL surprised.
AND LASTLY -- thanks for voting!!!
The picture thing was a LANDSLIDE. I mailed "Very Serious Artiste with Issues, but at least I WEAR A COLOR" (aka #1)off to my publicist. I am holding the EVIL SPLEEN EATER (aka #3) as a back-up, and I had all copies of #2 dropped down a wormhole, ridding our galaxy of its horrors lest I frighten the little children.
The KUDZU menu thing was -- wow, practically a wash. I gave up trying to figure out which is EMPIRICALLY best and told Scott to fix it however HE likes it. We shall see what he does next week when he gets around to homogenizing it, and that will be the way it is.
MEANWHILE! Those who read or get or see Publisher's Weekly -- there is a two page ad for gods in it this week! LOOKIT! LOOKIT! *pant pant*
1) THE NEW SITE IS UP and it is GO so please! take a look at the SPLASH and hit any link to see the content pages and be sure to tell the webmaster if you see any broken links or broken images or other techinical difficulties. It is more GODS-CENTRIC because the book's release date is LOOMING (more on my nervous prostration re: the release later). The whole thing was designed by writer extraordinaire JILL "I am not a web designer" JAMES. I want to hear what you think of it, and also there are two schools of thought on the menu, and I hope you will take a sec to ally yourself with a school...
One school says: The MAIN image is VERY COLORFUL and MULTI-TEXTURED, therefore get the FREAKING KUDZU out of the salmon-colored box with your navigation menu in it and leave the content area CLEAN and SLEEK. The CLEAN AND SLEEK menu is on display here.
Two school says: Oh heck, You can NEVER have enough kudzu! Clean and Sleek is BORING and you NEED a texture stamped into that salmon-colored box with the navigation menu in it. INFEST THE MENU WITH THAT INDOMITABLE WEED! The KUDZU INFESTED menu is on display here.
2) I had to get COLOR PICTURES taken. A magazine wants to interview me (more on my nervous prostration re: magazine interviews later) and they want a COLOR photo, and all the good-enough-quality (which translates to geek-speak as: 300 dpi jpg) photos I have are the super-fantastic 200 dollar hair/professional make-up, lighting by a VERY KIND GOD pictures taken by the 'scrutiatingly talented Elizabeth Osborne. You can see one on the bio page and this Liz Photo will be on the book jacket! But. Liz DOES NOT WORK IN COLOR. So. I had to find a new photographer.
For color, I went first to my hairdresser Amanda who suggested for winter very FAINT carmel and gold multi-toned highlights. I JUST LOVE HER. Then, hair-ready but still quaking, I went to Harris Ponder of Birmingham for the photographs. He always takes my KID's portraits. He's a REALLY good photographer, and my kids' pics always come out GORGEOUS but then, look at the raw material.. So. I am more of a challenge.
He did a VERY GOOD JOB, regardless. I picked out two, and then his e-mail person sent the wrong one, so I have three. I can only send TWO to my publicist because that is what I paid for, and I thought I knew which two but... Oh heck, these are good pictures by a great photographer, but I hate pictures of me, hate having my picture taken, hate looking at them, etc etc. I look at pictures of me and I always see a serial killer or a lobotomized monkey. So. Here are all three in POP UP form, pick your favorite please, or rank them in order from least to most likely to cause you to flee in terror.
1) In which I am a Very Serious Artiste with Issues, but at least I WEAR A COLOR.
2) In which I have CLEARLY just huffed some nitrous oxide, but at least I have definitively PROVEN THE EXISTENCE OF MY TEETH.
3) In which I LOOK RELATIVELY INTELLIGENT, but am unfortunately also evil, and am plotting right now to kill you.
3) My VERY FIRST interview already happened, and it was for PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY (and they used the b and w photo) (and the woman who interviewed me was probably one of the ten coolest humans on the planet and I HAD no nervous prostration because when she called and I said a quavering, "hello" into the phone, the FIRST words out of her mouth were, "Honey, relax! I'm with Publisher's Weekly, and I am not here to hurt you!" I burst out laughing and fell in love with her. ALSO -- she turned out to be a HORSE PERSON, so it was all good, and I think she did a WHIZ BANG FANTASTIC job on the interview) (That was sure a lot of parenthetical digressions! I wonder if you recall where we were in the initial sentence before I went leaping off into the conversational long grass never to be seen again! CUZ I DO NOT, so let me go back and look...) and that interview is in the January 24th issue, OUT RIGHT NOW. On page 119, if you happen to subscribe, or if you happen to be in Borders (a lot of Borders stores carry PW).
I am one of about ten debut novelists in "First Impressions," interviews with writers whose books are PW's picks for possible break-outs. THAT WAS A GOOD DAY. What made it EVEN nicer was that they asked about seven independent booksellers from all over the country for THEIR picks for spring, and ONE OF THEM SAID GODS IN ALABAMA! It was ROBERT GRAY, a fellow blogger -- I like his blog, actually, so I mailed an ARC to him, which was kinda scary because Robert Gray is not famous for being a PUNCH PULLER, if you know what I mean. He isn't at all snarky or UNKIND, but if he doesn't like a book, he is not afraid to say so.
I just got my copy of PW so I am SHAMELSSLY going to quote him here:
"GODS IN ALABAMA by Joshilyn Jackson. As a bookseller I'm confronted every year with new books that I feel I should sell, books that I feel I could sell and sometimes, when I'm lucky, books that I can't wait to sell. Jackson's book falls in to that third category. Booksellers have many devious techniques for talking a potential reader of a book into becoming an actual reader. With this one, all I'll have to do is open it to page one and say, 'Read the first sentence.' [There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniels, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.] Done deal."
WHOOPS just noticed there is nothing to vote on here in section 3. So. HMM, Let's see. As you may recall, I decided on January 24th that SPAIN is the new black, but WHO is the new Spain? Has to be either Robert Gray or Jill James...
I am SO sick. SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SICK. I am sick. SICK SICK SICK.
Apparently, The Lord does not wish me to blog Texas, so he arranged a day of vomiting baby followed up by a The Day of the Febrile Seizure, and then TODAY when I sat down ONCE AGAIN to blog Texas, I discovered I did INDEED get me a big old snootful of Maisy's stomach virus while caring for her the other night.
For those taking notes, that would be the night I said to Scott the immortal words, "I'm sorry the baby puked on your head..." So, yeah, obviously he has it too. You can't get your HEAD puked on and not expect a virus to get in. The head --- what with the nostrils and the tear ducts and the mouth and all -- is basically a transportion mall for illness. Destination: VIRUS PARADISE.
Scott and I are SHIPWRECKS ON LEGS, shambling about, clutching our respective mixing bowls (me) and buckets (him). I am huddled in my office now, pecking feebly at the keyboard and doing all the things one does in the 90 minute intermissions between puking engagements: trembling, personifying the word "clammy," and calling for sweet, sweet death.
But I can at least throw up the pictures. *RIMSHOT* I mean, throw the pictures up ON THE WEB. That was purely unintentional, that pun, and makes me realize the virus may be IN MY BRAIN.
After lunch in Amarillo, I had half an hour before I had to be back at the airport, so the Warner rep took me by....CADILLAC RANCH. For those not in the know, this is a FIELD, just a regular, real cow field, complete with COWS (and COW POOPS, as my four inch heeled boots were about to discover), where, in the 70's, some commune dwelling, bulgar wheat eating, sandal sporting, macrobioti artists, dedicated in equal parts to DaDa and crunchiness, decided to half bury a bunch of cadillacs, nose down, butts in the air, and then let people come by and put graffitti on them.
I am sure the idea for Cadillac Ranch grew out of, oh, the collective unconcious, and I am very sure it is making a statement about art and accessibility, and I am very very sure that no one, say, took a GREAT BIG BUNCH OF DRUGS and said, "Wouldn't it be hilarious if we buried some luxury cars with their butts in the air out in that cow field where we got all the mushrooms we just ate with our peyote sandwiches?"
Anyway -- here is a pop-up image!
Then the rep took a pic of me with one of the cars and let me tell you, when you STAND THAT CLOSE? These cars smell like THOUSANDS OF CATTLE. It's like super-concentrated eu-de-cattle parfum. In this pop-up image, I look a little MYSTERIOUS as I lurk in the shade, but really I am just woozy with cattle fumes. OR perhaps -- and the hair makes this more likely -- perhaps I have been MOMENTARILY possessed by the spirit of a member of Duran Duran, circa the 80's.
Let's play a GAME! WHICH Duran Duran member DO YOU THINK I am channeling?? I personally would have to say NICK RHODES -- I mean the HAIR, the lips, the PETULANT ANGST...its Nick all the way!
I've been at the emergency room all afternoon with Beautiful Maisy. She had a FEBRILE SEIZURE which is -- as it turns out -- very common and harmless and indicative of NOTHING BAD and just a thing that happens to little kids sometimes if their fever spikes.
But when I walked into my bedroom to check on her this morning (she had chosen to watch Dora the Explorer there) and found her convulsing and spitting up foam with her eyes rolling around independent of each other, breathing in herky gasps and unable to respond, it didn't SEEM like nothing. It seemed like imminent death and/or brain damage and horror and the whole world shrunk to a pinhole with her perfect face at the epicenter and nothing else mattered.
One. Hella. Bad. Day.
Except not, because she is FINE. She is GOOD and FINE and CHIRPY, even. I have aged 10 years, but SHE is fine and you know what? That's all I give two craps about today. Thanks.
This morning, at FOUR am, I got up and put on FOUR inch heels (although I have no one to blame for that, that was MY good idea) and got on the first of FOUR flights that would take me to lunch in TEXAS and then back home in less than twenty FOUR hours.
I have a LOT to tell you.
BUT, as I came in the door at 11 PM, Maisy was shrieking MOMMY?!?! I WANT TO SEE YOU?!?!?! SO I went to her room and picked her up and she promptly puked all down my front.
Glamorous jet-setting has OFFICIALLY left the building.
For the record,
I HAVE PICTURES! AND MANY TEXAS THINGS TO SAY!
Including a theory about how you could get your car to smell like THOUSANDS OF CATTLE!
I will say these things tomorrow.
Right now I have to go hold a bowl to catch the foul eruptions of My Real Life, AKA she who is very feverish and displeased, AKA small she-person I love to distraction.
I am happy to be home, puke and all.
I have been bouncing around the house for QUITE SOME TIME now, bouncing and warbling and getting all up ons over Spain buying gods in Alabama. Scott would like it if you would write your congressperson, and ask that the following sentences become illegal to say in English:
SPAIN IS THE NEW BLACK!
THAT SPAIN, SO THOUGHTFUL!
SPAIN SAID I HAD PRETTY HAIR, OMG! SPAIN TOTALLY LIKES ME!
Today I will be visiting gas station restrooms all over the South and leaving the following graffittis:
For a good time, call SPAIN!
Oh Spain, you're so fine! You're so fine you blow my mind, hey SPAIN!
Me + Spain, 2 people 2gether 4ever, except one of us is not a people, but more like a country. Even so, the point is, I dig Spain.
If you ever have to pee in rural Georgia, choose the second stall in and see if I haven't made good on the above. Also, in case the letter writing campaign goes well, how do you say "SPAIN IS THE NEW BLACK" in French?
Yes, I know I am being unendurable about Spain, butbutbut...and here, I would like to SHARE SOME WISDOM with you. Hehe. That's sort of an in-joke from me to me --- I knew this person once, a friend-or-relation that I shall describe here as "Friend-or-relation" or "IT" so that IT has NO DISTINGUISHING MARKS and it can never PROVE DEFINITIVELY that I meant IT when I was speaking about it right here. If you follow me.
Friend-or-relation has often, when I was in a bad patch, said to me, "I want to share with you some wisdom," and then it would begin talking straight out of its butt, offering me platitudes and truisms on the level of, "You should probably LOOK before you, you know, LEAP, hmmm?" AND! AND! NEVER ONCE! NEVER! ONCE! has it followed its own self-righteous, boring, straight-out-of-poor-richard's-almanac advice. Just between you, me, and the whole internet, Friend-or-relation's personal life is SUCH A HUGE TRAIN WRECK that the debris spans half a continent. I am cleverly not going to say WHICH continent because that would be a distinguishing mark, but I do not mean something like the NORTH POLE (which LOOKS like a continent but is really just a bunch of ICE), I mean a great big sprawly serious actual huge CONTINENT.
So whenever I offer to SHARE SOME WISDOM, there is probably a whole herd of visiting tongues in my cheek, although for the record, the herd of visiting tongues is PURELY METAPHORICAL. Although, if Friend-or-relation said it, the herd of visiting tongues would most assuredly be LITERAL, which is just one indication of how serious I am when I say you can still see the ACTUAL DEBRIS of its personal life from DEEPEST DARKEST SPACE.
SO for what it is worth, here comes my SHARING OF THE WISDOM, so brace yourself, Bridget:
Whatever it is, celebrate it until you pop. Celebrate it until your husband threatens to make talking about it ILLEGAL. Celebrate it like you are going to get your head kicked in by a bus tomorrow, because, well, you might. Screw half-full, I want my glass to have a meniscus, EVEN THOUGH I KNOW a toddler is about to march through my living room and knock said glass over, and the contents will be red wine which will no doubt spatter my very favorite faun-colored suede pumps.
I share this wisdom with you MOSTLY so that I can say --- SHAMELESSLY! AGAIN! WITH NO IRONY! AND NO PAUSE FOR BREATHING! ---
Spain hearts me I heart Spain yay Spain yay Spain yay.
I wrote this yesterday, very sleep deprived, and it is a little bit rambley and whatnot -- I am in Birmingham, popping in on a superlative Indy Bookstore (The Alabama Booksmith) to get a signed copy of Cassandra King's new book, and I can't get e-mail and BLAH BLAH BLAH, so this was written in the car as I TRAVELLED AGAIN. I will post again as soon as I spend a good 14 hours facedown on a pillow, drooling. Which is the SUM TOTAL of my plans for this evening.
VIVA LA SPAIN
Except in Spanish. SPAIN bought gods in Alabama, and we LIKE Spain now. A long time ago, very long, when I was a FETUS, practically, I went on a school trip to GREECE, and on the flight over Jimmy Carter decided no one could go to Greece because of terrorism, so we were deferred in mid-air to Spain and I spent the time I SHOULD have been cruising the Greek isles in Madrid instead. Madrid is GORGEOUS, actually, so it all worked out.
Here is everything I have to say about Spain:
1) There was a little bakery by the hotel that sold these very thin, faintly sweet BUNS (they were papery and layered and may have actually been considered cookies) of which I was RIDICULOUSLY fond.
2) I will never get that Hemingway thing about bulls. Never.
3) I took a bus out of the city into Rural Spain Proper, so I could go horse-back riding. I had to negotiate the hire of the horses with the 10 year old daughter of the barn's owner. I spoke no Spanish, they spoke no English, but the girl and I both had had 2 years of German, so we worked it out in VERY VERY FORMAL hyper polite German, with terribly FORMAL verbs.
4) The money seemed fake to me. It wasn’t like spending actual money. It was so, OUTSIZE and MULTICOLORED. I couldn’t take it seriously. It is a LOVELY way to feel on vacation---very FREEing.
5) VERY LATER, I went to Italy where I got a pair of TO DIE FOR chocolate brown pumps with rounded, 40's toes and high High HIGH black heels with inlaid gold cats CLIMBING them. OH my they were sassy and if I had understood what I was paying for them in ACTUAL AMERICAN DOLLARS I would NEVER have bought them. I kept them FOREVER, tenderly caring for them so they remained practically IMMACULATE, and then ten years later I got pregnant and my feet GREW AN ENTIRE SIZE, and they never SHRUNK back down to what I still consider to be their true and spiritual size! And of all the shoes I gave away when Sam was twpo and I at last admitted they were permanently LARGER feet, those italian leather pumps were the only ones CRIED to lose. BUT that's not Spain, That's Italy.and Italy has NOT bought my book (yet! Yet! there is hope for your nation still, Italy!) but until they do I refuse to endorse their REMARKABLE ICE CREAM and all the other stuff I REALLY liked there, like, the seeing the pope, and the fact that they have no legal drinking age and, you know, Venice.
But meanwhile, SPAIN BOUGHT GODS! And, this is my first foreign language sale, because the UK and Australia can’t really be counted as a foreign language sale, although, there are thoise in Great Britain who might say AMERICVAN is not really the same thing as English….and they might have a point. BUT HERE IS A COOL THING ABOUT SPAIN: I BET THEY WILL CHANGE THE TITLE! Because it only makes sense. Alabama isn’t a terribly well-known state in Continental Europe. I would change the title, if *I* were Spain So I am DYING to see the cover and what the new title will be. Because, yes, I am a monstrous dork. But you knew that.
At the O'Hare airport there is a tunnel that leads down under the earth between concourse B and concourse C. I wish I could describe it adequately to you. It looks like it part of the set where they filmed LOGAN'S RUN, you know, the Michael York miniseries with Farah Fawcett in her break out role as "nubile young woman wearing an inadequate amount of green spangle dress".
The whole area screams "It's 1976 and I! AM! GROOVY! AND! FUTURISTIC!" You need a plastic dress and a beehive's worth of candy floss for hair to fit in. If I ever accidentally eat a WHOLE BIG BUNCH of hallucinogens, I am going to go to this tunnel and ride the moving sidewalks back and forth while the electronic winchimes sooth my fevered brain and the weird flourescent and multicolored tubes that growing organically out of the ceiling light themselves and them dim in a way that EXACTLY DOES NOT go with the music. When that becomes tedious, I will sit in front of one of the pastel walls made of glow bricks and stare deep into their translucent depths until I, you know, discover the meaning of life or whatever it is one does at such moments. I strongly suspect HALF the people in this tunnel were, in fact, gumming at little tabs of LSD or had injested copious amounts of magic mushrooms and were't going to get on a flight at all.
Perhaps it is a clever plot by the Chicago police to get all the HIPPY type druggies in one place for convenient arrest. Which makes me wonder what the tunnel is like between concourse A and B, since logic would dictate that it would be set up as an attractor for the trapped-in-the-80's cocaine and diet pill over-achieving druggies. Gogo-booted girls writhing hysterically in cages with Huey Lewis tunes pumping out at volume eleven? *shudder*...and then between c and d they would make a tunnel-trap for the prescription drug abusers...how do you catch a valiumite?
OH WAIT I took a picture of the hippy tunnel, let me code it BARGLE...CLICK THIS FOR THE POP UP.
I am SO tired. I am going home to SNUFF DESPERATELY at the smelly little heads of my adored children. I can't wait. I am SO tired that I just tried to send my publicist my agent's phone number, and INSTEAD I sent my publicist HER VERY OWN NUMBER> Which one assumes she probably already had. Next week is quiet! Just a cheerful jaunt to lunch in Texas, and then the week after that I am going to travel to several locations along the East Coast! YAY! I'll get to stay with my beloved agent and his family while I am in Connecticut and then go to boston and then the last place I go is NYC.
OH! Bookwise...I finished THE FINAL SOLUTION, and I loved it. My friend Karen asked me if I maintained my spousal-love relationship with the book until the end, or if I was only having an initial rush of drunk-on-the-language-romance. Well, the book held up for me. I have read the less than glowing reviews, and concur that if you come in wanting PULITZERRIFFIC SCOPE, it is bound to disappoint. But I had quiet expectations, and I approached it as someone who loves the way Chabon can make the language do ice-waltzing triple-lutzes, and he does here, he does, with this GORGEOUS dry formality that had me giggling out loud. And I found the concept to be charming, loved watching the past rear up, the ancient detective brushing the cobwebs from the still-mighty engine of his phenomenal brain to find a boy’s parrot. And the end of the book – it was fitting. It tasted sweet in my mouth. I give it the whole thing a big, fat thumbs up. Is no WONDER BOYS, but I ask you, WHAT IS? It was MORE than worth the price of admission.
I am hip deep in THE LAST SAMURAI NOW. and LANDING TIME...landing at HOME! BRING UNTO ME MY FILTHY LITTLE CHILDREN FOR SNIFFING!
Are written in word pad and set to upload later, whenever my computer gets a hookup...They are riddled with extremely poor typing. I feel deep, sorrowful shame. I hang my head. FORGIVE, FORGIVE.
I am now on my way to Chicago, and have to put in a bunch of disclaimers...
Whenever I get in the way way back machine and visit the mis-spent hours of my drunken youth, I always tell my mother to avert her eyes, but it occurs to me I REALLY ought to be telling it to my KIDS. I'm not actually a separate person to my kids yet, I am just MOM, you know, but presumably I will become human to them ONE day.
I was a bit of a prowler and a snooper when I was little, but my parents had the foresight to comport themselves rather blamelessly, well, pretty much their whole lives, so my prowling and snooping was for naught. I washed out on that COMPORTING BLAMELESSLY option EARLY under the theory that I probably wouldn't have kids. But then I did. OOPS! MORAL LESSON: It is better to go ahead and comport yourself blamelessly because you may change your mind and have kids after all. In the spirit of OOPS TOO LATE, and just in case you happen to be my children, reading this years later, allow me to point a couple of things out...
THESE STORIES OF LIQUORED DEBAUCHERY all take place in my twenties. I drank too much, I ADMIT THIS TO BE TRUE, but I did it legally. THANKS.
Also, kids, please note there is always a designated driver featured, because yes I LIKED ME SOME TEQUILA, but not enough to kill someone's baby over it. There are some things you simply NEVER do, no matter what. One of them drive drunk or let a drunk friend drive you. You just do not. Even if it means spending your last ten bucks on a cab. Your mom will send you another ten bucks.
I'm just saying.
I had a MAJOR score yesterday---found a SIGNED first edition of Michaeil Chabon's latest THE FINAL SOLUTION at Schuler Books in NOT Detroit. In LANSING (as Debra of schuler books pointed out in comments). My PLANE landed in Detroit. ANYWAY, I just started it And I LOVE it -- he's SO endlessly talented. I am also skanking up ARCs like nobody's business. The Warner reps all have TRUNKS FULL of books that YOU CANNOT EVEN BUY YET *pant pant* and I find myself standing disingenuously out in the snow, shivering and staring mournfully at their inventory until they toss me a few.
I got my hands on another debut, Katie Willard's RASISING HOPE, and ate it in 1.5 plane rides. OH this is a lovely book with a SWEET heart, but the good kind of sweet heart, the kind that never gets TOO sweet---it has ASCERBIC RUTH to nip any sort of sentimental shenaniganism in the bud. LOVE Ruth--- I'll remind you about this one when it comes out -- a definite must-read. I also got THE SUMMER WE GOT SAVED and THE WILD GIRL, haven't cracked them yet because Mr. Chabon and his dryly witty, understated prose and his missing parrot waylaid me. OH and got Haven Kimmel's second novel. Couldn't help myself. And Something Fabulous Something Something Hunt Sisters Something which I picked up just because the cover and the first two pages appealed to me -- my favorite kind of book shopping,
Ten minutes the flight attendant says. I SWAN, as we say back home, there is no time to LOG things. It goes SO FAST. Last night's dinner was AMAZING...the sheer pleasure of these evenings --- I am a VERY gregarious creature and yet the JOB I picked, novelist, DEMANDS that one go in a room and shut the door and this endless traveling party I am on is doing me a world of good. Snapshots from last night:
My usual response to a person who approaches me with a glass of nice red wine is to take it and say "YOU'RE PRETTY!" Thank you might be the more traditional polite-ism, but trust me, anyone who is bringing me a gorgeous full bodied zinfandel like the one we had last night IS an EXTREMELY pretty person. So I took the wine, and I said YOU'RE PRETTY and the waitress STARTLED like a deer, so I looked at her, hard, and HOLY GOD she WAS pretty. Like TELEVISION pretty, and also VERY disconcerted to be told so. She wasn't QUITE sure how to respond and I got the giggles and said, "It's just I like WINE" I think she thought I was going all JAMES SPADER on her.
BAH we are landing in Chicago ALREADY! The snow is EVERY FREAKING WHERE and the trees are black and leafless, they look like hieroglyphics, scrawled in the snow with the creepiest ink---in fact the landscape looks like all the pen and ink style animation at the end of the Lemony Snicket Movie.
DARNIT I HAD MORE SNAPSHOTS but we are LANDING, I'll just say Detroit/Lansing/Ann Arbor lived up to my good juju feelings...
Chicago is where I went to grad school...More later, I have to shut down.
I HAVE NO SPELL CHECK AND NO TIME TO PROOF, SO PLEASE SCUSE MY STUPIDITY!
Also - GO HERE : http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/shire15
Or just go to my links page (click the thing that says LINKS in the right margin) and pick FRESH EYES, it's an AWESOME industry blog by R. Gray. And...Robert Gray BLOGGED ME. *prance!* It's a BIG deal to me. BIG. Very touching - he is the VERY FIRST bookseller I ever got up the nerve to approach with a copy of my book and say HEY PLEASE READ THIS, HI, READ THIS, HI. And he LIKED IT. *dies of pleasure*
1) I hate everyone on this plane with the white hot heat of a thousand suns---and by that I mean the irritating guy in front of me and everyone who moved around after we took off to allow this stranger to become The Irritating Guy In Front of Me (Heneforth IGiFoM, pronounced like Idgey-foam). Before that he was a perfectly HARMLESS indvidual seated at the back of the plane, where he NO DOUBT was cheerfully leaning back and bouncing and being SOMEONE ELSE'S SPLINTERY CROSS TO BEAR. But fate, intent on not letting me blog, took the form of several men, all disatisfied with their seating, and they popped around switching places until IGIFoM (AKA He Who Lives to Lean Back and Bounce) moved into the seat ahead of me. And there he remains. Leaning back. And Bouncing. I can hardly type. I am trying very hard not to wish him ill even though he is obviously and intentionally DOING THIS TO THWART ME... because who is it all about? Me. That's right.
2) In Microsoft Word, if you write my name, "Joshilyn," in a document and then spell check it, it tries to change the name to NOISILY. In the spirit of IT IS ALL ABOUT ME, I am finding myself taking it JUST a bit personally.
I PAY MY TAXES! I EAT MY VEGGIES! I DO NOT WANT TO BE BOUNCED AND LEANED ON BY MUSICAL CHAIRS TORTURE GUY AND HAVE INANIMATE PROGRAMS RENAME me in relatively insulting and PROBABLY ACCURATE ways.
3) I am on a plane on my way to DETROIT where the temperatiure is currently 17 MILLION below freezing.
4) This is not really a list, but I keep putting numbers in front of the paragraphs as if it were, in the hopes that I will begin to feel organized. I NEED to feel organized because I am suffering under a STRONG PREMONITION that I did not pack something I am definately going to need. I am not going to tell you what it is. It is PERSONAL. Let's just say, delicately, that it rhymes with Schmunderpants. I suspect that the several pairs of rhymes-with-schmunderpants I MEANT to pack are sitting in a neatly folded little pile in my rhymes-with-schmunderpants drawer. I am trying to cypher the psycological ramifications of Going Commando to a formal dinner while weighing the odds of the Detroit Airport haveing an, um, Schmunderpants store in it. Which, look, the odds are BAD. So. Let me have the ILLUSION of being organized.
5) The last time I was in Detroit, I came to hear a band. At this point, I would ask all passengers to buckle in and place their trays in the upright position and for all passengers who are my mother to avert their eyes and for all passengers who are currently sitting in front of me and leaning back and bouncing up and down in an excited-about-Detroit manner to press the red eject button located on the underside of their arm rest. THANKS.
Basically a girlfriend and I roadtripped to Detroit to see some band she knew from the way back back play a pretty decent sized venue, but, more to the point, we set out to Drink Too Much in Motor City. I AM IN MY EARLY TWENTIES IN THIS STORY. So. Grain of tolerance time. We had just discovered that a champagne drunk is like no other drunk in the world--- a WATERSHED EPIPHANIC MOMENT in our young, previously tequila-soaked lives, So basically Detroit is to me a series of snapshots and mini-movies, each washed in the sort of roseate glow you only get with a textbook champagne drunk. Here is my Detroit memory slide show:
a)) My friend and I, wearing MAC lipstick and little else, order Champagne cocktails at the bar where the band is playing, and the bartender says "Look, girls, I only have big bottles of champagne and I can't open one to make 2 champagne cocktails --- It goes flat. If I open it, you have to, you know,COMMIT." This is, to us, hysterically funny. My friend leans across the bar and says, "The sun has not yet risen on the day when Joshilyn and I will allow Champagne to go flat. DO WE LOOK LIKE THAT GIRL?" And he looks at the Scrutiatingly small shirts and the MAC lipstick and nods, sagely, and says, "You do not look like that girl," and he gives the bottle a quick shake so the cork flies up with an exciting POP noise, rocketing to the ceiling. WE LIKE HIM.
b) I have NO memory of the band, who was in it, or what they played, or if they were any good, None at all.
c) We are driven away from the bar by Lone Sober Guy. He is to drive us to the home of ANOTHER BAND, they all live together, this is my friend's ex-boyfriend and HIS band, and they are not the band who played. I THINK Lone Sober Guy is IN the band that played that I ALREADY can remember nothing about. My friend and I sit in the back seat together and talk about the greatness of her ex-boyfriend's band, and then we begin to sing one of their covers, a bastardized version of R.E.M.'s Superman. We sing it all the way to the house where we are staying. We sing it wth gusto and sincerity -- it goes like this: "I am , I am, I am adequate man, and I can do several things...if you go a reasonable distance away I'll have a pretty good chance of finding you..." and so on. It is a one joke song, but it remains CONSISTENTLY HILARIOUS for the entire ride.
d) I become cold. I am singing with my eyes closed, just SINCERELY wailing, but the cold makes me look up, and I see that Lone Sober Guy has stopped the car and left. He has left the driver's side door hanging wide open, I learn later that this is because there is a TRICK to opening his car doors and had he shut it we would have been trapped inside and frozen to death in out MAC lipstick. BUT. ANYWAY, We are completely stationary and alone.
e) The House Where The Band Lives is a HUGE victorean with a TOWER and it is falling into chunks. The tower has stairs winding up and none of the round rooms have furniture. Just piles of filthy pillows.
DIGRESSION: This house appears briefly in the novel I am currently working on-- BETWEEN, GEORGIA< the book is called. In the book the house is called CHEZ CRAP and in real life it wasn't called anything. In the book a whole band's worh of filthy musicians live there, and in real life a whole band's worth of somewhat clean musicians lived there. In the book, there is a HOLE in one of the bedroom floors that lets you drop into the kitchen. I made that up though. In real life, the hole let you drop into the foyer. So.
OH Let me digress more. The REAL house was FULL of Dobermans. Dobermen. Whichever is correct. You know, those big black dogs with long, sleek heads. GOD'S TRUTH, these were the SWEETEST DOGS who ever lived. BAR NONE. There was a girl dog and two GREAT BIG boy dogs, all siblings, and their TAILS had not been docked. They were the shyest most diffident nervous dogs I have ever seen. They would come wheeling into a room and see me there, a FRIGHTENING STRANGER, and they would wheel away, nervously shying back and forth, hoping I LIKED them, hoping I wasn't the sort to go about eating up nice dogs. I made friends with these dogs and they were fascinating to watch -- they moved so...AS A UNIT. The two big boy dogs were like the female's SHADOWS as they turned in smooth curves and stood together and sat together and flowed in and out of rooms. These dogs ALSO appear the new book, although they are not associated with Chez Crap, and the fictional ones are not so shy. In fact, they sort of eat people.
Digressing EVEN MORE, I remember (although one hopes my editor DOES NOT! HA HA!) pitching this book to her WELL OVER a year ago, and I recall very clearly saying the words, "OH this book is going to much LIGHTER THAN GODS IN ALABAMA, much less HORRIFIC VIOLENCE and BLUGEONING PEOPLE TO DEATH! Much more CHEERFUL! THIS IS MORE OF A COMEDY, YOU KNOW, WITH A GREAT LOVE STORY IN IT, VERY WARM AND FEEL GOOD AND FUNNY!" And then four months after this pitch, knee deep in writing "my comedy" the evil dopplegangers of the Detroit Dogs came popping through a fence and ATE a perfectly nice little old lady and then the fires started and more and more of the characters began to OWN GUNS and KILL THINGS with them and, oh my. Oh oh oh my. Anyway. So much for that whole "feel good ook of the year" idea I had.
AND we are landing. HELLO DETROIT! I have high hopes for this city -- I met the rep here before, in NYC, and adored him. So.
1) Here are the images I talked about uploading, handily set into pop-ups so they will not trouble our dial-up friends:
In Which I Have Clearly Been Hit In the Face with a Cast Iron Skillet, BUT OMG peep the boots. (Also, the book I am currently working on features a woman who raises butterflies, so I found this exhibit to be useful, but most importantly, OMG PEEP THOSE BOOTS!)
What you see in Seattle if you fall OFF your very tall and super-fabulous boots and plop all the way down onto your butt and then roll backwards. NOT THAT I DID OR ANYTHING.
The menu from Fourth Story, probably my favorite place I ate because it was INSIDE a bookstore, which, HELLO. Tattered Cover is all about "Coffee bars and muffins are FINE, I 'spose, but come HERE if you want a book with LAMBCHOPS. Which, now that you mention it, I DO.
The menu from the dinner at The Four Seasons in L.A. and HOW did I lose two pounds on this trip?!?! That Warm Asparagus Salad was...I cannot even SPEAK of it.
2) Because THE SOLACE OF LEAVING EARLY is perfect, note perfect, and I just do.
4) I am still sleep deprived, but not so sleep deprived that I would attempt to perpetrate MATH. Instead, here we come back to Haven Kimmel--- I've been discussing her with my friend Judith. See, the thing about Haven Kimmel is, if her prose was HANDS, then God would be Palm Olive and the whole dern book would be SOAKING in it. She writes about people who are REAL people living in the now and yet they are absolutely engaged with God, emotionally and intellectually. It's...astonishing. I LOVE how she writes about God and people who love God and accept God as a given, and yet her people are allowed to live real lives and have real struggles.
Just as an EXAMPLE, and this is NOT to pick on a genre many enjoy but...You look at the guidelines for writing Christian Romance, and you can't have...passion. Not just NO SEX, but no LONGING for it and, um, well. I have to admit, I HATE THE WARM PREMARITAL CUDDLING so often found in Christian fiction. I can respect celibate characters--- The protagonist of my first novel has banked ten years of celibacy --- but LORDY! It shouldn't be EASY! When I run across male characters who are placid, cud-chewing hand-holders who profess to be in love but their deep Godliness makes it a BREEZE to stop after a friendly peck, I always think, "OH, you STUPID Heroine, if that is all the struggle he has with sex, DO NOT MARRY HIM. He CLEARLY lost both testicles in a wheat thresher."
And here I digress, as per usual: REALLY if sex is so easily resisted or replaced by warm, kindly, SOGGY cuddling, then HOW is not having it until after the wedding a SACRIFICE? God doesn't want us to offer him our mild little luke-warm fondnesses. God does not want us to place upon his altar, say, a decent box of crackers and a note that says, "Yo, God, I rather like these with cheese, please open a nice merlot at your leisure!" God wants our PASSION, and any relationship ---with God or another human or, yes, even with a book -- that does not HAVE passion -- Bah. Why pursue it at all?
Back on point: I know I am going to take some flack for this book I have coming out. I often wonder how people from my home church will react to it because, honey, let me tell ya, there's a great teeming multitude of SIN going on in this book. Everyone in it sins every other page. But...that's only because, GOOD GRIEF... people do.
I could have just called this entry DELUXE REDUX, but then I didn't.
Sorry the blog petered out. Right after the wine-laden (and 'scrutiating fun) dinner in Portland, I entered into this sort of gray twilight world where I staggered blindly through airports, uncertain of what city I was in. I was actually rather worried about the Denver Dinner because I was SO punchy the words "Denver Dinner" seemed to me to be an ESPECIALLY hilarious thing to say. Over and over and over. Yeah. Um.
BUT it was actually...amazing. Before going I sat in a tub of equal parts bleach and boiling water and scraped the stink of travel from my weary flesh and drank coffee and read a little HAVEN KIMMEL (who is SO good), and all those things made my brain check in and decide it was NOT dead after all, and then -- THANK GOD! The actual dinner itself was served in a restaurant that was INSIDE a bookstore, and the bookstore had that clean paper smell, and walking through it, touching all the things I want to READ NEXT, was restorative and then the PEOPLE were AMAZING. I love people who become physically hot and bothered about books, and these people were they.
I got home yesterday evening, kissed everyone in my house about 90 ZILLION times each (Even the cat! I kissed the CAT right on his LIPS and he protested MIGHTILY and I said, "Good grief, you wash your butt with that mouth and YOU are protesting a little kiss??? Nice. NICE MANNERS." He was unmoved by my words but secretly RATHER pleased to see me). Then I fell into the bed and slept for OVER 14 hours straight. Scott could not wake me up for church. Literally could not bring me to consciousness.
When I woke up I put my JEANS ON to do a DAMAGE ASSESSMENT and if anything I LOST a pound or two, SO! There it is: The final and absolute and uncontrovertible proof of God's existence. You may now pack away any existential angst you might have been feeling. He is up there, folks.
If you STILL are not convinced, then go RIGHT NOW and purchase and read THE SOLACE OF LEAVING EARLY by the astounding, amazing, unbreakable, spiritually gorgeous, HUGE-hearted, GIANT-souled and SUPERLATIVELY-SPEEDY-brained Haven Kimmel. When I grow up, I want to be HER. The end.
Here are things I need to DO and SHALL DO Monday, But RIGHT NOW I have to go work out.
1) Post the couple of random pics/ menus I never posted from the trip.
2) Talk more about HAVEN KIMMEL and why I need to grow up and BE HER.
3) Post a pic of THE CREEPIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN.
4) Simultaneously define SIN and BAD LITERATURE, use math to prove they are practically the same thing, and then apply the formula I extract to demonstrate that books that feature MOIST PROSE about the warm and kindly joys of FLACCID PREMARITAL CUDDLING should be hurled across the room.
If I actually attempt 4, it means I am still sleep deprived.
I am in PORTLAND, batting a thousand. I called the media rep who is hostessing this evening, and a man picked up -- the CONNECTION WAS AWFUL. I was in a cab on my cell...
Me: Is insert-name-of-media-rep there?
Him: GARBLE STATIC looking for STATIC meeting GARBLE Blue Hour.
Me: Yes, we are having dinner at Blue Hour, but she is supposed to pick me up.
Him: *sounding a bit impatient* Oh well, she didn't GARBLE STATIC GARBLE not say. So I have no idea where she is right now.
Me: So, you are her assistant? Does she have a cell?
Him: STATIC GARBLE Not here...Name-of-media-rep STATIC that number. STATIC meet at Blue Hour.
Me: NO, she has to DRIVE me to Blue Hour. Can you have her call me when she does get in? *I say my cellphone number to him*
Him: Um...okay. I guess.
Me: Um, okay then. Thanks.
I was thinking,. OMG she has the UNIVERSE'S WORST ASSISTANT!
Either that OR ... I had called the the wrong number, and had in fact been on the phone with the HOST AT BLUE HOUR.
Guess which! Heh.
Meanwhile? The BAD asistant who was actually The Host at Blue Hour got on his phone and TRACKED HER DOWN and FOUND HER and GAVE HER MY NUMBER. So, while if he HAD been her assistant, he would have been a somewhat terrible one, he is the OLYMPIC LEVEL CHAMPION OF HOSTS. I am SO hoping the shift has changed so I do not have to FACE HIM this evening...I am red just thinking about it.
Meanwhile, back at my house... Miss Maisy Jane, oh my Maisy is causing my heart to snap into chunks.
Yesterday on the phone she said "I am with daddy today."
And I said, "Yes, you are."
And she said, "Tomorrow, I want to go WISS YOU."
And I said, OH baby, MOMMY WILL BE HOME SOON!"
and she hung up on me.
Today, apparently still miffed, she INTRODUCED herself to me.
I said, "HI MAISY!IT IS MOMMY!"
And she said, "Hello, Mommy. Nice to meet you. I am Maisy. I am two."
GARGLE. I need to sniff her head.
Appropos of NOT THE TITLE of this entry (if you follow me) the San Francisco booksellers are a slightly. wild. crowd.
If you are, say, just for example, my publicist, and if you happen to be reading this, let me state here, FOR THE RECORD (and um hopefully before ANYONE ELSE TALKS TO YOU, heh),
I DID NOT EVER NOR SHALL I EVER:
1) ...Bogart the Garlic Mussels
2) ...Spatter wine on or even near anyone from Diesel Books. And if wine was indeed somehow spattered, then the purely hypothetical and wine-free person from Diesel and I will both swear under oath that it was spattered by this guy named Calvin. The fact that Calvin was at the other end of the table is not germane to this conversation.
3) ...Ask a bookseller (and fellow blogger)to loft my (RATHER elegantly shod, thanks,) foot over the table to better argue the merits of kitten heels.
But before we get to dinner, let me rewind and catch you up on the last 24 hours.
I got to the hotel and checked in, and BARE MOMENTS later Jill, my friend and a San Fran native, arrived to take me to lunch and GUMP'S (aka: paradise for zillionaires but more like "a museum for REALLY pretty things you can't have" for the rest of us). I had to check in with my publicist, and while I was on the phone, Jill got into a chat about books with the concierge. When I arrived, he was telling Jill about a local writer he enjoyed who wrote non fiction. Non-fiction in a specific and fairly limited genre. Non-fiction about whores.
Me: Excuse me? Did you just say she writes non-fic about ...whores?
Him: Yeah, but you know, not NOW. Like, historical whores.
Me: So...she is a WHORE BIOGRAPHER?
Him No, I mean, she writes about the whores of war.
Me: The WHORES OF WAR? How do you---? You mean she writes, like, "World War II's Greatest Tricks????"
Jill: *Gasping as she tries not to shoot her liver out her nose from laughing so hard* HORRORS, Joshilyn. The HORRORS of war.
OBJECT LESSON: People in California SHORE DEW TAWK FUNNY.
On a more serious note: There are things I am missing -- It's going so fast. 20 hours, maybe 18, in each city, images spill past me too quickly for me to catalogue. In San Francisco I NEVER EVEN ONCE dug out my digi-cam. Because -- no time. 500 things happen, and before I write even one down I am on another plane, waiting with no patience for the flight attendant to allow me to flip on my laptop. A SAMPLE OF A THING I WANT TO TEL YOU BUT PROBABLY WILL FORGET:
At Book Soup, an AMAZING! indie bookstore in L.A., I saw a yellow index card bent double and hung from a shelf, anchored by the weight of several copies of The End of the Affair. Someone had taken a black pen and scrawled on the notecard, "Read Graham Greene, become a better person."
This is SO true it is practically a logical syllogism.
AND we are landing. All electronic devices must BLAH BLAH BLAH.
I have to go get on a plane in an hour, but I want to blog first because I don't want to forget anything. Ever. Yesterday was ... Let's just say I had a lot of suspension of disbelief problems. You know what I mean -- it's like watching a movie and suddenly a huge obvious device rears up and the characters say things to each other that these people would NEVER SAY and it's all so they can reunite again 10 mintues later on a scenic FERRY, cue the violins. Bah. And when it happens, you stop BELIEVING in the movie because it's too improbable and silly. That's how I felt all day yesterday, except, you know, about my life.
L.A. was the scariest place I am going in a lot of ways just because it's L.A. I've lived in Chicago, I now live an easy 25 minutes from downtown Atlanta, so even though I live in the high cotton surrounded by wildlife and kudzu, regular big cities don't scare me. I LIKE them. Cities are where they keep the OPERA and the REALLY good shoe stores, so. I never want to live too far away from one. But L.A. is different. More intimidating. It's like New York in that I have seen so MUCH of its streets and buildings in movies and on TV that the whole place looks ODDLY FAMILIAR and yet I have never been here. It doesn't QUITE seem real. I have this odd sense that at midnight little mechanical doors all along the streets open and the palm trees are lowered down into the earth until the next day. And it's chock full of movie stars and everyone is so BLASE about that and I--- the living personification of the OPPOSITE of blase---have a hard time not going THARN and simply standing with my mouth hanging ever-so-slightly open, nose-picking and googling.
With all the above understood, let me say this: I WANT TO COME BACK! I WANT TO COME BACK!
I had a completely surreal lunch with my west coast agent (pause here to boggle at the fact that HAVE a west coast agent) and he was lovely, and as the hostess seated me she whispered LOVE YOUR DRESS (it was the kicky little silk slip dress I had JUST picked up 3 days ago in a flash of wardrobe panic, you remember , it was at J. Jill on MEGA SALE for TWENTY-NINE BUCKS) and I FLUSHED with the intense, whole-body pleasure you can only experience if you are a girl from the TOTAL SCREAMING STICKS getting told her dress is good by a girl in a VERY posh eatery in L.A where presumably MUCH better dresses than mine have sauntered through. Admittedly, it DOES NOT take much to make me happy, but I maintain that this is a GOOD thing!
The dinner itself, the pre-sales event, was GREAT. Both in the sense of I WON THE SALAD LOTTO and had a hard time not moaning with animal pleasure as I spooned up magical mouthfuls of hot asparagus with huge chunks of lobster and those INTENSE SMOKY mushrooms that look like little BRAINS but taste like love, and in the sense that ten minutes after I got there I had the epiphany that OH! WAIT! THESE ARE BOOK PEOPLE (um duh) which means they are practically guaranteed BY LAW to be smart and funny and well-read and articulate. So. I was able to almost immediately STOP that thing I do where I pretend to be comfortable (and have to concentrate on not having a heart palpitation), and instead ACTUALLY BE COMFORTABLE (and concentrate on more important things, like not tripping on whatever ridiculous shoes I was teetering around on and dumping my wine onto the person who wore white). I wish I could stay for a bit, but I am off to San Fran where 3 hours of rampant tourism with my friend Jill await! MORE SOON!
First class is INSANE -- You get a little fold out TV OF YOUR OWN. And Delta is working hard to create alchoholics by tracking through and plying people with cocktails once every ten minutes. I stuck to sparkling water as I have 5 drinking dinners to go to in a row this week. But SEVERAL people on the flight got SO HAMMERED and sat there giggling like MAD at the hilarious antics of...the clouds out the window? Their own headlice? The amusingly dry seat-in-front-of-them? In the words of the Immortal Sara Jessica Parker, half of first class was DRUNKETTY-DRUNK DRUNK DRUNK! It was like an OBJECT LESSON in how NOT to behave. I TOOK NOTES.
CELEBRITY SIGHTING: The mom from THE WONDER YEARS was on my flight. NOT drunk, by the way. Hehe -- I kept staring at her trying to figure out where I knew her from and then I was like, OH WAIT THIS IS A FLIGHT TO L.A.! I BET I KNOW HER FROM MY FRIEND THE BEAUTIFUL TELEVISION. Thank god I had that epiphany BEFORE I marched up and said, WHERE DEW AH KNEW YA'LL FRUM, HONEY.
Last night was my only free evening before the presales stuff happens and I was SO HAPPY TO HAVE IT in L.A.! I went out to dinner with this woman I haven't seen in 16 years -- she was a very significant influence in my life. She's probably one of the reasons I am ALIVE today as I was (WARNING: Understatement approaching) a bit of a wild child and ever so slightly self-destructive. Because of the influence of this woman, or, rather, girl---She was a girl then, we both were--- I toned myself DOWN quite a bit, made BAD but somewhat less FATAL choices, and ended up NOT getting killed or addicted to cocaine which WAS my plan until she said, "HEY! I have an idea! What if...you DIDN'T GET KILLED or even ADDICTED TO COCAINE?" And I was like, "Wow. Cool idea."
It was SO fascinating to see her now, here in our thirties. She's so...GROWN UP. When I knew her, we were both dewy and FETAL. And she's grown into this beautiful, chic, accomplished, confident woman. Like a LOT of people, she moved to L.A. right out of college to "have a rockin' career in the movie industry," and then, shockingly, INSTEAD OF JUST BECOMING A HOOKER AND GETTING STRANGLED LIKE A NORMAL PERSON, she went ahead and got herself a rockin' career in the movie industry. She took me to eat at a favorite place of hers (Snapper to die for) and, see that was her idea: Sit in elegant surroundings and eat world class food and catch up over 16 years. HER idea. MY idea? March around in the pouring rain and go look at all the FOOTPRINTS of the stars in the concrete to see what famous male movie stars have TEENY LITTLE FEET and then giggle and waggle my eyebrows suggestively. I am pleased ONE of us grew up, anyway.
So she took me on the ten-penny tour of her town -- all these sorts of DORKY tourist things I was secretly dying to see. I kept screeching OH LOOK THE CHINESE THEATRE! OH LOOK RODEO DRIVE!!! OH LOOK A PALM TREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And she said, Yeah. Um, yeah. That's a palm tree..." Because, see, she lives here.
At one point we stood in a marble plaza with HUGE elephants rearing up...gorgeous.
She said, "PEER THAT WAY. If it wasn't pouring rain you could see the Hollywood sign."
ME: OH! AH!! HOLLYWOOD SIGN!!! SQUEAL!!!" And I snapped a digital picture of some rain with a Hollywood sign presumably behind it.
I need to go hit the gym, but first, three random, surreal, L.A. moments:
On the way in from the airport I saw a street sign that said RODEO and boggled at it all hopeful and then noticed it had a BIG FAT TARGET ON IT!!!! A TARGET!
And I said, "THAT is ro-DAY-oh drive??? THEY HAVE A TARGET THERE????"
And my driver said, HA! NO! That's RO-dee-oh."
So. What a difference an emphasized syllable makes, eh?
In the lobby this woman with MANY LONG FUR TAILS attached randomly to her shirt shrieked at the front desk guy, "DARLING THE STUDIO IS PAYING FOR MY ROOM BUT HERE," and she passed him a hundred, "PASS THIS AROUND."
I just paid 12 bucks for coffee from room service. BUT HEY, it came with a STRAWBERRY!
How high is my mental illness number? OH my. See the second star to the right? Good. Now fly straight up til morning. I do not believe in Neverland, but if you get up high enough, up to where the air is thin and cold, you might find my mental illness number's CAMPGROUND where it rested briefly before it went up even higher, all the way to Venus.
I am JUST. SO. EXCITED. about this trip! I can hardly breathe. I cannot believe something won't stop me from getting on the plane.
SAMPLE: I drove over to the trail to take a long skate yesterday afternoon, and as I was locking up the van I thought, OH NO! WHAT IF SOMEONE BREAKS IN AND STEALS MY PURSE! Because, see, my purse has my driver's license in it, and if my purse got stolen on a FRIDAY at 4:30, I couldn't get on the plane on Sunday! YIKES. So I opened the van, took out the license, hid it in my SHOE, and tucked the shoe under the driver's seat. I skated away. Then I thought, but what if someone steals the WHOLE VAN??? So I went back AGAIN and got it out and skated four miles with my license clutched in my sweaty little paw.
That's not just wack, Ladies and Gentlemen. That's wiggetty wack.
And ever since, I have been unable to shake the idea that I am going to lose my driver's license. Like, today, we had to go to out and get my shaggy-headed hippy son shorn like a sheep at Great Clips. I was walking to the van when ONCE AGAIN I realized I could get MUGGED and LOSE MY PURSE (with license) and then NO PLANE.
I froze in the driveway. Scott said, "Um, Joss?"
I explained the problem, and he looked at me for a minute, trying to decide how serious I was about this. I worried at my purse with nervous fingers and made anxious eyes. Finally he said, "Well, just go put it in the house."
I put it in the house, got halfway to the car again and said, "SCOTT! But what of someone breaks in?!?! AND TAKES IT?"
Once again he paused to assess my mental health, rightly decided to take this as a serious and looming threat, and said, "Okay mental patient, go HIDE it."
So I went in the house and put in in the coat closet under a stack of old sweaters. I came back out feeling relaxed and good to go. Scott started the van and pulled out of the driveway.
Scott: So you aren't going to spend this whole morning fretting about the purse, right?
Scott: Because you hid it, right?
Scott: Some place fireproof, right?
He's an excellent husband. Infested by deamons a little bit, sure. But an excellent husband.
I am experiencing Incredulous Staring. Several things have come to my attention that are TRUE things, that are irrefutable, that are backed by scientific, physical evidence, and yet...my credulity is strained. My credulity is strained like the baby's peas. Which is to say, "My credulity is like unto a fine, green, easily digested yet tasteless paste," which is an image that strains credulity. And therefore RIGHT NOW you are sitting there boggling at this bizarre simile with your lip curled up, and you are thinking, "HOW ON EARTH is her FREAKING CREDULITY like STRAINED PEAS??? You can't MASH credulity. That CANNOT be true."
So. Now you know exactly how I feel.
Things that are straining said credulity:
1) There exists a NEW FITNESS PRGRAM called...no, really... YOGA BOOTY BALLET No. REALLY. Said program (which I am BUYING just as soon as ransacking the sofa cushions yields $69.95 in lost change) includes "signature moves" like "Bad Kitty." Bad Kitty is described thusly: "Think of this as a tiny, personal tantrum! Throw your arm down toward the floor like a kitty deftly and annoyedly shaking water off her paw, in a fit of regal cuteness." I NEED THIS TO BE HAPPY! I NEED THIS TO BE HAPPY! COME ON, SOFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GIVE UP THE QUARTERS!
2) I am leaving on Sunday on the first leg of a four leg pre-sell tour for gods in Alabama. This is the West Coast portion. I will visit 5 cities in 5 days: L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Denver. This is TRUE. I have the itinerary. I see online that e-tickets have been booked for me. The playroom is AWASH in my PATHETIC WARDROBE as I dig around seeking things to pack that a) I feel moderately non-hideous in and b) GO WITH THE SAME PAIR OF SHOES.
(DIGRESSION: I have MORE SHOES THAN OUTFITS, so packing is like a RUBIK'S CUBE of impossibly puzzling elements that must be made to fit together under some UNIFIED SHOE THEORY. I am INCAPABLE of comprehending UNIFIED SHOE THEORY. CLEARLY every outfit needs at least two pairs of shoes and possibly back-up boots, and how can THE SAME shoes work for a black and red outfit my mother gave me and a pink and chocolate brown flippy dress I got from J. Jill ON SALE FOR EXCUSE ME $29.95 down from HELLO! 130 BUCKS. It can't be done. If you happen to be an astro-physicist who minored in fashionista, OR if you are JIMMY CHOO, can you please come by my house? THANKS! --End digression)
ANYWAY, all these signs point to an actual pre-sale book tour ACTUALLY happening to ACTUAL ME, which implies that I actually have a book coming out in April and all manner of other things SO improbable that Arther Dent and the Heart of Gold could get halfway across 19 Galaxies just by applying ONE of them.
It gets WEIRDER.
3) I see here on my ITINERARY for this completely fictional trip, that I am flying FIRST CLASS to L.A. Let's pause here and just GIGGLE. I have never been in a first class ANYTHING. Ever. I am an economy kinda girl. Ever since I saw that, I have been SLIGHTLY unbearable. I keep running up to Scott and saying, "I hear that in first class you get complimentary opium, and then JUDE LAW comes by to give you a foot rub! USING SCENTED OILS!" Because that seems JUST AS LIKELY as me flying to L.A. on Sunday to talk to folks about my book...(PS when I tried that line on Matt, he said, "NO, that's first class to EUROPE. In First Class to L.A., all you get is a hit of cocaine and a cell phone.)
4) The hotel I am staying at? In L.A.??? Has upon its website a list of amenities, AND I AM BEING DEADLY SERIOUS HERE, the list proclaims that each room comes with a bathroom scale. Like, it is trumpeting all the cool things that would make you pick that hotel, and it is seriously like this: FOUR STAR RESTAURANT! SAUNA! STUNNING VIEW! AND!!! A SCALE!!!!!!!!!!! I can only assume they list this in case I am a supermodel and need to make sure I didn't gain four ounces by eating the WHOLE olive for dinner, instead of just the pimento, because if I DID, OMG! I will not BE ABLE TO DO RUNWAY!
Which brings me back to my DESPERATE need for the COMPLETE GODDESS PACKAGE from YOGA BOOTY BALLET.
Me and my digi-cam will be blogging from the road, assuming I can figure out the NINE THOUSAND CORDS that came with my "WIRELESS" LAPTOP...so stay tuned. If Jude Law DOES give me a foot rub, I will ABSOLUTELY capture it on film. And if the above list is any indication, it seems like NOTHING is impossible.
OKAY! WE HAVE WINNAHS!
Congratulations to Liz Olney Amos and Marguerite Borck, who won signed Advanced Reader Copies of gods in Alabama!
Sam pulled their numbers out of a Yankees ball cap provided by my friend Matt, who cares about football or hockey or whatever it is those guys play.
*pauses to watch Matt turn purple and stroke out*
The following people also were jerked from the hat, and they win a DORKY LITTLE PRIZE! YAY!
ViVi (La France?)
By the way, JUST FOR THE RECORD, I did NOT beat Sam in the face and give him that emerging shiner. He came home with it from an afternoon of wild hooliganism and shenanigans. He was out running with the pack of neighborhood boys. And I said, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR EYE.
And he looked at me blankly and said, I DUNNO.
So I dragged him to a mirror and said LOOK LOOK.
And he shrugged and said, Oh I think that must be from where Atiba hit me in the face with a bat.
Sam watched me freak out until it got boring and then he shrugged and said, WELL IT WAS PROBABLY AN ACCIDENT....SHEESH.
I will never understand men. Even TINY ones.
2) I have to type blog entires into WORD PAD now, instead of word, or I get all those weird ??? for quotation marks. I haven't opened word pad in probably 6 years...When Sam was very small, not even 2, he liked to be allowed type nonsense into wordpad using 72 point font. When I would sit down to open the program for him, he would crow, "STAWT! PWOGGAM! SUCCESORIES! WAR PAB! And now every time I open WAR PAB! to blog, I hear his long-gone baby voice cheering me as I wend my way through the menu.
3) We got a visitor. An EXCEPTIONALLY cute a furry darling dear precious delightful visitor with trembly whiskers and bright, black eyes and a roly-poly tear-drop of a body covered in sweet gray fuzz. Same body was, I assume, ALSO covered in Hanta Virus and Salmonella and no doubt he had racing stripes of bubonic plague decorating his diseased little tongue.
He was sitting in the middle of the KITCHEN waiting for a chance to LICK MY CHILDREN. When he saw us, the adults and the cat, he ran under the stove. We pulled the stove out and looked at him as he squatted adorably on his little fat haunches, licking viral death onto his teeny-fingered pink paws and then spreading it all over his ears.
SAM: Oh! His name is Simon Michael! Can we KEEP him??
Maisy: Lookit! It a MAW-ZEE! Dat Maw-zee! He like me!
So, obviously we couldn't kill him. I mean, he had a NAME. And the good sense to like Maisy. I am not sure I could have killed him ANYWAY, I mean...LOOK at him. Very adorable for a filthy plague ridden vermin:
Several things happened then, all at once.
Simon Michael ran out from under the stove.
The cat ran at Simon Michael.
I grabbed the cat from behind and...
Have you ever grabbed a cat that was not ready to be grabbed and surprised him? I mean REALLY, TRULY surprised him, down on the cellular level? Well, if so, then you know what I mean when I say that Schubert exploded. He just went BOOM. He leapt four feet up into the air and his eye bugged out and his four limbs and his tail all FLAILED around in completely unrelated directions and he screamed like an angry peacock and then ZOOM, Schubert fled the scene.
Simon Michael went RACING into the breakfast room.
Sam yelled, HE IS GETTING AWAY!
Maisy just yelled, excited.
And Scott, THE AMAZING SCOTT, Scott who used to do close magic to charm his niece and nephew, Scott who has won pool tournaments, Scott who apparently traded HIS IMMORTAL SOUL for superhuman hand-eye coordination, picked up a plastic mixing bowl and THREW IT, threw it open side down as if it were a frisbee, sent it spinning in a perfect arc, five feet or more through the air, and Ladies and Gentlemen, as God is my witness, SCOTT RINGED THE MOUSE.
"Well then," said Scott, absolutely matter of fact, "Let me get a piece of cardboard."
"Okay," I said. "And then let's get chopsticks and you can pluck flies out of the air."
And Sam said, "REALLY?"
We slid a piece of cardboard under the bowl and then flipped it over, and there was Simon Michael, neatly trapped in tupperware. The kids fed him Honey Bunches of Oats and cornbread with butter and honey while we all got dressed. I went to check on poor Schubert and found him holed up in my office, still PUFFY and oddly large looking. He glared at me balefully and then went back to grooming, trying to get his electrified fur to go back down.
And then we drove MILES AND MILES out to this old horse trail where I used to ride, WAY FAR from the barn (and the barn cats) in this quiet portion that goes by a meadow and and a stream and where charming little birdies are contractually obligated warble, and into this Idyllic Woodland Heaven released him, far from buildings and humanity. Fare thee well, Simon Michael.
But! I do not believe in A MOUSE. There is NEVER "a" mouse. There are always...MICE. SO we have to do SOMETHING ---something like TRAPS or AN EXTERMINATOR since our one-eyed cat's morbid obesity and poor depth perception make him an EXTREMELY INEFFECTIVE mouser. So. That's problem ONE. Problem two is, the kids really want PET FANCY MICE now, the NON-PLAGUE BEARING kind. Seems SICK to actively SEEK TO ANNIHILATE some mice while putting OTHERS in a habitrail and feeding them on buttered cornbread...
I think I will close registration on, say, Wednesday, so this is CLOSE TO THE LAST CHANCE to register for the drawing to win a signed ARC!
We cruelly put Maisy in bed for a nap again today, and once again she climbed up into her window and LOUDLY importuned the neighborhood at large for rescue.
Now, though, instead of just yawping HELP HELP, she has added SAVE ME! HELP! SAVE ME!
Kinda makes you want to scale the wall, doesn't it?
Today Miss Maisy launched a full-scale NAP ANNIHILATION CAMPAIGN, and THE NAP was declared to be an enemy of the people. She introduced into a congress a BILL whereby the time previously set aside for NAP would be instead devoted to rampant lollipop consumption and cat-torturing. Congress, made up of Sam, approved. But the the president, made up of me-n-Scott said, HA HA NICE TRY---VEEEEETO! And stuffed her little buns into the bed.
We took her to bed, and she protested mightily, but her cries for mercy fell like grass seed upon the stony, barren soil of our hearts, and there they withered. She was given a doll and a drink and left there.
A few minutes later we heard her yelling HELP! HELP! HELP! at the top of her little voice. The top of Maisy's voice is like unto the top of Kilimanjaro in that it is VERY VERY VERY high, and like VOLUME KNOB SETTING ELEVEN, in that it is VERY loud. One louder than ten, in fact.
HELP! HELP! HELP! We naturally assumed she had dropped her sippy cup, and went to assist her.
She had not, in fact, dropped her sippy cup. Maisy's little bed is nestled in a bay window, and she had climbed up to stand on TOP of her headboard. Then she had inserted her entire body in between the blinds and the window. She was spreadeagled there, her little hands BRACED into the sides of the window to help her maintain balance, and her face pressed desperately into the glass. She was looking down at the street and crying out for rescue from the populace. A small crowd of neighborhood children had gathered in our yard and were staring up at her as she plaintively bleated at volume 11 for rescue from the horrors we were perpetrating upon her tiny person. Namely, NAP TIME. But the kids didn't KNOW that and I SHUDDER to imagine the dinnertable conversations going on RIGHT NOW in the houses surrounding us.
If Child Protective Services doesn't come by and snatch up my children before I can thrust them into shoes and head out to see Lemony Snicket, I am going to call this a good day.
Amy Wilson, resident of A Very Cold Place, a winner is you! Prize forthcoming via snail-mail.
There was in fact, as Amy guessed, only ONE lie in the meme. She was wrong about which thing was the LIE, but who cares! All that counted was the number, and she guessed ONE, and she wins. The single lie was found in item number three:
"Did anyone close to you give birth?
To a baby? No. But my cousin over in Mississippi expelled a MONKEY."
Really you should have spotted this, guys. Obviously this one is a blatant falsehood because I HAVE no cousins in Mississippi. The monkey was expelled in ALABAMA. *RIMSHOT*
Okay yes. Cheap shot. But two things are at work here.
1) We opened champagne and therefore I am morally obligated to drink it all up because, see, you can't recork it. SO that is absolutely at work, in a roaring-through-the-bloodstream, killing-my-brain way.
2) Up until we opened the champage, I have been at work myself, for about 8 hours today, revising like MADWOMAN...I want to have this book printed and in the mail before I leave on the tenth.
I went for a long skate and while I was flying on endorphins I had a Moment of Clarity. I cannot recommend this. M of C's invariably lead to unpleasantness. In this case, a realization that the animal imagery in this book was TOTALLY off the charts NUTZY-FANDANGOED, and it all has to be SPANKED and made to line up so a reader can, OH I DO NOT KNOW, maybe ACCESS it?
The problem is, the animal imagery does make sense, WELL A LOT OF IT DOES, but the TOTEWM animals are clogged up and drowning in a sea of PLAIN OLD OTHER ANIMALS, killed by my own tendency to THROW IN ANIMALS at random. If goats MEAN something, you can't just hare off and say HE WAS DRUNK AS A GOAT, and NOT mean goat in the way goat has meaning elsewhere. SO. I have 50 million animals in there, and 20 of them are totems, and the rest are just...animals.
SO now I have to find every place where I said something like "Jane had all the artistic sensibility of a banana slug" and change it "No, she did not, she had the artistic sensibility of a handful of blackberries WHICH ARE NOT ANIMALS, BUT RATHER A FRUIT." Like that.
Nother drink? B'lieve I shall.