Except for the part about tanning. I do not tan. I either slazz myself in SPF a million or I turn pink and peel like a crackly shrimp. The Irish, we are a BOG people.
Anyway, I am leaving for the airport. I am taking the next 5 days off from blogging as I am trying to get 3 - 4K a day drafted, and if I blog it won’t happen. ALSO I signed up for NaNo under a SUPER SECRET name to get access to the enticing blue word count bar which is fun to watch as it moves inexorably RIGHT. Also, it makes me accountable, as my husband can go look and SEE it slide right and know that I am actually WORKING at Super Fabulous Resort and not just charging 120 dollar citrus sea salt toe refreshment pedicures to his Amex. Larlarlar!
Since I already started working on THE OTHER MOSEY SLOCUMB, I am definitely CHEATING at NaNoWriMo, but on the blue bar I am only counting words I write in November, so it isn’t AWFUL cheating. If you are NaNoing and want to know my SUPER SECRET NaNo name, here is a a purely awful Golem-Bilbo style riddle I dreamed up in less than 45 seconds, and I SO apologize for the embarrassing forced rhyme at the end:
My first fronts for “Folks,” Or did back in the day.
My second? Its mirror in every way
Letter for letter, same second and first,
My whole is a streetname, like “cops” --- only worse.
And just when you think you have got it, my Wench,
I smile slyly and tell you, “The spelling is French.”
Agnes Scotties, Momwriters, my BoBly WOWers, crit partners and TOM – you know my secret name. PLEASE NO CHEATING and NO TELLING OTHERS or spilling in the comments so they can cheat. I want to see if some riddle genius can actually SOLVE that mess above. It is close to impossible. But .... you read that and manage to know my SECRET NANO NAME, you too can supersecretly check up on me and make sure I am not supersecretly slacking on the beaches. There may be mysterious other prizes as well, but nothing great because I want you to try to DO IT FOR LOVE AND FUNSIES. I love riddles. It is a sickness.
So no blog updates til Tuesday, but...tweets? 140 characters? THAT I maybe can manage! I am going to try to TWEET from my cell, which should show up in the widget here on the blog. Tweety Twial and error. Tweet by fire. I hereby and forthwith eschew all manuals, FAQs, helpful friends and How To pages. I shall Tweet by the skin of my chinny-chin-chin via Google searches, skim-reading, and my most especial pet favorite cussings I save solely for moments when I am stymied by technology, and with that I give a shouty outy HULLO to my new DELTA-FRIENDS in the runway line when we are still allowed to use electronics!
I am going to be a fun seatmate.
If I do not Tweet, you will know my phone defeated me. Also, let me apologize in advance just in case I destroy the earth’s oceans or accidentally create sentient life as I trial and error my tipsy-topsy way into new technology. I LOVE New Technology actually, but I hate learning curves. Oh well, at least I am fighting off my inner old crank, the anti-boob one who spent yesterday standing in a furry bathrobe hollering, YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN and adding “shenanigans” to my vocabulary.
Monday I impulse bought the above book to read on the plane---that fantastic cover caught my eye, and I like the title: Dismantled. I flipped it open when I got home just to read a page or two and four hours later I closed it, having gulped and gobbled the whole dern thing and not gotten any work done. HEH. I was plumb worn out. I can’t wait to read it again because the author has got a HUGE VOICE, but I could not slow down and listen to her.
I was zooming so fast due to the unendurable WHAT NEXT factor that I am sure I missed lovely turns of phrase and wordplay—such voice. But also plot, and you know I like a big scoop of plot. I haven’t been so riveted since I discovered Tana French. Someone compared it to The Secret History, one of my favorite books of all time, and, yeah, I can see that, too. I was talking about the book with Karen and it turns out I know the author’s agent---really great guy. I dropped him a line, and I hope I can get her here for a 3Q.
Okay, pray me traveling mercies, wish me mighty word count, and I shall see you on the tweet-side, Oh very most Best of all possible Beloveds.
This weekend. YAY.
This is where you can find me, or, for you click-through-hating rebels, I will be at the First Baptist Decatur Chapel Stage at 11:15 o Saturday. You be there, too.
I am headed to the airport RIGHT NOW to get Karen and Sara.
This makes me so happy I may let escape a ren-fair geek HUZZAH.
EDIT: Below is a rare extant Decatur bookfest photo. I call it rare because I am amazed at all the decorum with which I am behaving. I am innocently hanging out---probably discussing Proust!---with my buddies from the AWC. Please note that both my hands are CLEARLY visible and I am not molesting any of AWC's venerable members. Although, perhaps "members" was not the best word choice considering the history.
As for the unpictured portions of the fest...let's just say it was a fantastic weekend.
I can't say more. What happens at Decatur Bookfest, stays secretly recorded on Patti Callahan Henry's i phone.
Remind me to be SUPER nice to her.
There is a contest/game/thing one entry down â€“ Scroll! Scroll and play!
So with dinner at Saraâ€™s we each injested what I would call a modest amount of Champagne,BUT I have to say we DID get a little giddy from MASSIVE PILE FRIED CARBS WE GOBBLED. OH! OH! Poutine!
Anyway, after dinner, I was still SO excited about the possibilities of riding in the morning that I begged carrots and we all trooped down to the stables so I could make friends with Fancy, the spare mare.
Giddy with carbs, Sara decided it would be a VERY GOOD IDEA to have a little midnight bareback ride on Tia, her horse. Giddy with carbs AND the intoxicating smell of HORSE, I thought so too. Yeah.
Now. Tia is a BUNNYâ€“ sheâ€™s like 14.3 hands, which for the non-horsey, means she is just a HAIR over pony. Sheâ€™s spunky, and sheâ€™s got such a PRETTY face and is a tidily built and an altogether nifty little horse. LITTLE is the operative word here.
MY horse, the Parker, aka Parker Posey Pony Horse, was a green broke gelding I share-boarded for a goodly span after we moved to Georgia up until I fetched up pregnant with Maisy. At that point, I realized if I did not stop ATTEMPTING to leap tall hedges in single bound (and I say attempting because Parker, Lord love him, did not always make it) Both Maisy-fetus and I were going to end up broken. Parkerâ€™s coat was red dun --- very flashy ---a strawberry blond color, and though he had the QH requisite huge round apple of a behiney, his BACK was 50 feet long â€“ very bad. He was a big genial boneheaded dumpling. BIG is the operative word here. He stood 16 hands in his sock-hooves.
For the non horsey, this would mean Parker is to Tia as Michael Jordan is to Billy Barty.
SO. I gave Sara leg up, which means, basically she gathered the reins and crooked her leg and I squatted and made a sling for her leg with my arm and then, straightening from the knee, I threw her onto the horse. Or rather, I threw her onto A horse.
Unfortunately, the horse I threw her on was PARKER.
TIA was CONSIDERABLY under the space that Parker would have occupied, and Sara CLEARED the top of Tia like a HURDLE, at which point gravity intervened, and Sara went splatting down onto the ground on the far side. Tia., THE DARLING, who could have made things bad by stamping on Saraâ€™s face, looked down in faint surprise and then twitched her head in a horse-equivalent of an EYE ROLL and stood waiting for us to be JUUUUUUUST stupid enough to try again.
Which, of course, we were.
IN MY DEFENSE, Sara is a slight little thing, maybe five four, and she weighs about as much a bag of kittens. We DID try again, and this time, I tossed her into the general area of Tia instead of, you know, space, but she was a little borked from the fall and went slithering off again and ended up flat on her back.
At which point, with a mare ROLLING HER EYES AT US for the SECOND time in 40 seconds, even we figured out this was a double plus ungood plan.
You know, I am DEADLY serious when I say weâ€™d had a modest amount of champagne, and weâ€™d eaten ENOUGH CARBS to successfully feed a locust plague of BIBLICAL proportions which you would think might soak it up, and Sara is fit and rides that horse alla stinkinâ€™ time --- and yet truthfully, NEITHER of us had any business operating heavy machinery, even heavy machinery with a heartbeat. And YES, kids, this is me doing another DESIGNATED DRIVER public service announcement, because cars do not roll their eyes and love you and decide not to stamp in your face when you make a bad judgment call. Just saying.
ANYWAY, next morning I DID ride Fancy, and OH LORDY how FUN, but MAN I am SAD AND RUSTY. I barely had enough leg to get Fancy to the rail, and our circles got smaller as she got tireder. I could hear my friend Lydia in my head (she trained Parker) hollering across the ring at me to â€œGET THOSE STINKING HEELS DOWNâ€ and â€œDO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT WANT TO, I DONâ€™T KNOW, CLOSE YOUR FINGERS???â€
This morning I have a long, slim stretch of muscle running down my inner thigh that feels as tight and twangy as a guiar string â€“ a muscle NordicTrack and hiking with the dog cannot touch. Itâ€™s a purely HORSE muscle, and every time I get up to refill my coffee and feel that pleasant and familiar ache, it reminds me how much I miss the whole-body conversations you can have when youâ€™re sitting on a good, good horse.
This is what happened: Monday about a week ago, my dad had some weird chest feelings. We all --- â€œweâ€ meaning the Jacksons--- have esophagus weirdness conditions that mimic heart attacks, so speaking as a doctor, he decided it was that. Oh wait. He is NOT a doctor. He is a former airborne Army ranger, so speaking as a former airborne Army ranger, he said, â€œMeh. Probably not my heart, and anyway, I EAT PAIN FOR BREAKFAST. ROWR!â€ and soldiered on.
Aside: I donâ€™t; know how much of this â€œOh whatâ€™s a numb left arm and some chest pains between friendsâ€ attitude comes from ARMY TRAININâ€™ SIR! And how much from justâ€¦being a Jackson. We are all of us extremely mentally ill when it comes to our own mortality. Very willful. When Death comes for a Jackson, we tend to piffle at him and say he needs to come back later, for we are very busy. Death, startled, has obliged more than one of us.
By Friday, the pain was bad, and he thoughtâ€¦ â€œHmmm,â€ to himself. He called his doctor, who met him at the hospital, did a few tests, and said, â€œUm, yeah, this is not your esophagus,â€ and admitted him to the hospital.
Dudes, donâ€™t get sick on Friday. Basically he sat in the hospital having little tests and waiting to have big tests until Monday. There were no private rooms, so he was put in with a man named Mr. Crazyhead. <---not his real name. But it should have been.
Mr. Crazyhead was thirteen years younger than my dad, but looked five years older. He liked to take his teeth out and put them in a mason jar, and this, combined with his small, hunchy build and the way lounging in his hospital bed made his long tufts of side hair (the only hair he had, really) puff and hump outward, made him look like a pale, insane Yoda. Mr. Crazyhead took absolutely every pill offered him and buzzed the nurses every few minutes to say, â€œPlease, sir, I want some more,â€ like an Oliver already so overmedicated his pupils were spinning. When my dad passed on pain pills, Mr. Crazyhead offered to eat them FOR him.
At one point, Mr. Crazyhead went to the restroom and I said to daddy, â€œWhatâ€™s he in for.â€
Daddy shook his head sorrowfully and said in a dry voice, â€œOh, he has TERRIBLE hypochondria.â€
Mr. Crazyhead would perch on the side of his bed as we talked to Daddy, head cocked, waiting for one of us to say a word that coincided with a random thought that was pinging around in his brain, and then he would interrupt and yodel and holler the whole thought at us. The thought would be several disjointed sentences long and he would say it quickly, as if he had run out of punctuation marks. Then we would nod at him in a friendly manner and go on talking until a word said by one of us made him ululate out some more thoughts.
They kept trying to release Mr. Crazyhead on the basis that there was nothing wrong with him, and Mr. Crazyhead kept declining to be released. Meanwhile, I would say to Daddy, â€œCan I get you anything,â€ and he would cock a hopeful eyebrow at me and say, â€œA ride home?â€
They tried to give him a stress test, but Ranger Bob is in such good shape that they couldnâ€™t get his heart to GO over 130. They kept upping the speed on the treadmill, and daddy would speed up, and his wounded heart would just shrug and adapt and STILL stay under 130. Not that it was a competition---but he is a Jackson, you see, so it probably WAS secretly a competition---not that it was a competition, but every other stress tester in the hospital---even a guy in his early twenties --- got up over 130 before Dad. The nurses kept dragging doctors and other nurses and orderlies in to see this guy in his mid sixties win the Olympic Treadmill Stress Test Gold Medal. And NOT that it was a competition, BUT MY DAD COULD TOTALLY KICK YOUR DADâ€™S BUTT ON TREADMILL. Just sayinâ€™.
At last it was Monday, and they did the dye test weâ€™d been waiting for, and instead of open heart surgery, which was the big spooky option, they said he needed a stent, which was the milder less spooky option, though not as unspooky as, â€œYou need some medicine and to go home.â€
To put in a stent, they go up through the femoral artery in the leg, threading their sneaky way up through the circulatory system to the heart, and they put it in whatever piece is closed up and not working properly. Itâ€™s not hugely invasive and they said he could come home the next day. Dad had ONE 80% blockage and otherwise looked super.
Here is the part where your credulity? She is going to feel a tiny strain. Dad declined anesthesia. He got a LOCAL and sat there and WATCHED them do this, fiddling his thumbs as they cut his leg open, and watched on the screen as they threaded up to his heart to put in the stent.
When I heard he had done this I said, â€œDADDY? Are you DRUNK?â€
And he said, in his usual mild voice, â€œOh, it was very interesting. I wouldnâ€™t have wanted to miss it.â€
Heâ€™s home now, and perfectly fine, Thank God, except for being irritated by his docâ€™s orders to take it easy. Mom and I spent the back half of last week trying to keep him from climbing ladders and marching willfully up and down the stairs. I have no doubt that the man would be PAINTING THE HOUSE right now if Mom would let him.
Once, almost forty years ago, when Dad was in Vietnam, he came around a corner of a building right in the middle of their home base camp and saw an enemy soldier had snuck into their perimeter and was standing four feet away, aiming a pistol right at the center of him.
BANG! Went the pistol, and Dad leapt back around corner and started feeling all over himself for holes and blood, wondering where he was hit, because the massive dose of adrenalin his brain had released was overriding any pain he might have felt. But he knew he had to be hit. Four feet away, the guy READY for him, pistol up and aimed before Dad ever appeared. So. The only questions were WHERE and HOW BAD. He felt around, and felt around, andâ€¦everything seemed to be in order. There he was, alive and whole inside of the undamaged envelope of his skin.
The guy had missed, MISSED, From four feet away! And so Daddy got to come home a few months later and then about a year after that I was born.
This feels much the same to me.
Ranger Bob, dodging another bullet.
There is apparently some furfural in Europe about my gerbil, Cozy Mole Mouseâ€¦If you can read SWEDISH (I think Swedish???) Please take a moment and go here and tell me WTH is GOING ON??? Tell us ALL in comments. Inquiring rodent owners want to know.
Please note the POLL...Does WTF in SWEDISH meanwhat it means in English? Because it is winning. I may vote for it myself.
ALSO! I keep getting concerned e-mails from people who think I am in danger of buying some toe bells and spending my days chanting at crystals so I can be a little more all-seeing. Actually, I am learning tarot because I THINK I am going to have a rather important character who reads the cards. I think she is sincere and good at it, and I think this bugs the crap out of my devoutly Catholic narrator. Itâ€™s an interesting tension that may or may not end up mattering in the final draft, plus I always like games/cards and suchlike in books, both as a reader and a writer. BUT.
I did not spend a week in Cali and return believing even remotely that I have so much as a SPECK of psychic ability. I WISHED I did in middle school â€“ wanted desperately to be KNOWINGLIKE and MYSERIOUS. So my friends and I spent a weeks on the bus home leaning over the seats to take that CARD TEST with the squiggles that Venkman gives to hapless volunteers hooked up to electrodes in Ghostbusters. Our results showed over and over that the entire pack of us combined were less psychic than a box of rocks.
While I DO emphatically believe there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of in MY philosophy, Oh Beloved Horatios, I approach people who claim to have psychic ability with a healthy dollop of skepticism, and that skepticism rises along with the amount they wish to charge me. In this PARTICULAR case, Jill is correct about â€œnext stepsâ€ in the comments:
My NEXT STEP was to go get a feminine cleansing. Even though it was free, I skipped it and went to lunch instead as it sounded slightly more gynecological than I was strictly comfortable with. Then I was purportedly needing to go to the same RAWTHER expensive workshop Jillâ€™s aura indicated she was â€˜sposed to attend. A small amount of loitering about aimlessly allowed me to overhear two more ladies get the exact same NEXT STEP. Letâ€™s just say that my opinion of these events is currently filed under, â€œThings that make you go hmm.â€
My experience (and interest level, quite frankly) in Tarot is limited. Itâ€™s research. I mucked about in much the same way with Ouija for a scene in THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, and once I got the scene right, my interest dissipated. BUT! As you know if you are a reg, I am a devout Christian, so I will get serious for a moment if you will indulge me, and tell you, at this aura reading, I recognized the VIBE in a QUITE personal way, and became so uncomfortable that I cut the reading short by claiming I had to go to the bathroom.
I have smelled these same AGENDA vapors emitting before -- I whiffed them first in a church. A friend invited me to go to her services â€“ this was years ago â€“and at that time they had a preacher so slick he seemed OILED. He claimed to have the gift of healing and many other spiritual gifts, and the service was very much ABOUT him and his gifts, if you follow me. BAD JUJU, thought I to myself, and so I took a little wander around the building.
The guy was using a GEL LIGHTBOARD more sophisticated than the one at the theatre where I was employed, and if you have studied lighting design at all, you know how deeply it can change mood. OH, but he was working that crowd! He was charismatic and the lights and music were carefully choreographed to boost his appeal. HOW the money flowed in. I never went back, and not 18 months later that church collapsed when it was learned this guy was both systematically looting the collection dish and sleeping with a great many of the more nubile female parishioners.
You see this subversion wherever people seek meaning, because the search itself is powerful and has influence. There are always those who are waiting for a chance to USE that influence. I suspect that people who attempt to use the faith of others for their own material gain are going to the special hell. Just saying. Oddly enough, I resent the psychic â€œguidingâ€ me toward a pricey workshop LESS than I resented that preacher, because the psychic wasnâ€™t tapping into my faith. I was pretty much immune.
Pragmatic as I am, I DO think there is more to the universe than what I can see and smell and taste and touch and hear. Faith is a force in my life. It changes my behavior. I believe, for example, that prayer is powerful. I pray for people. I appreciate it when people pray for me. I appreciate it less, however, if they want to charge me five bucks a prayer and are set up to take VISA.
At the same time, I tithe faithfully and give to Christian charities that do things like run an AIDS hospice, operate a halfway house for the mentally disabled, and give homeless families in our community shelter and food til they can get back on their feet. I think these are good things to do, but I know there are charities out there that spend 80% of the money get on â€œoperationsâ€ and 20% on the actual work, so I never give money spontaneously, or over the phone, or to a charity I have not researched. I try to give without getting taken. Itâ€™s a fine line. We all have to draw it for ourselves.
Living by faith makes tons of these fine lines, and some days I feel they are spread in a web all around me so that I can't take a baby step without breaking my motherâ€™s back. I try to respect other belief systems and yet remain faithful to my own. I try to live by faith and at the same time not let savvy, manipulative, dishonest people use it as a tool to control my actions. I try to be a good person, but I fail, and let pettiness rule my minutes and sour my hours, and I am never as kind or open minded or openhearted as I want to be. I tend to be gullible and yet am often so cynical I make myself angry. I navigate these lines every hour, but they are not things I talk about much here.
I break that habit now to say, please donâ€™t think that because in this blog I speak lightly about, well, everything on earth, that I am insensate to the larger issues. I am not, but this is not the place for them. This place is MEANT to be off the cuff and fun to write, fun to read. I am not interested in discussing The Meaning of Life here, unless you mean the Monty Python movie. If I experience spiritual growth or despair, I probably wonâ€™t yarp about it here. I talk about it with Scott and God, and of course it ends up infesting my fiction.
I am endlessly interested in grace, in the imperfect human modeling of unconditional love, identity, the effects of violence, in poverty and privilege, how sex works in and out of marriage, what it means to be a parent, and of course I like blowing stuff up. Thereâ€™s ROOM for that and a big scoop of plot, too, in a novel. Not here.
I think of KUDZU as a playground. SO! If I, for example, have a spiritual crisis and find myself unable to remember how to forgive, I write THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, and if I DO talk about it here, it is a single entry that comes in the guise of owls, hidden between naughty pet stories. BUT! If I get told my relationship rose kicks SCOTTâ€™s roseâ€™s buttocks, I ABSOLUTELY have to immediately blog it. AND call everyone I ever met and say so. I MEAN COME ON. You would, too.
INTERESTING AND COMPLETELY UNRELATED AND TOTALLY KUDZU APPROPRIATE FACTOID: Before I left for San Fran, I had plans to go see a TAROT READING CHICK here but um â€“ I drove by and it was on this STRIP CLUB INFESTED street. And not shiny yuppie lets do a naked boobie chicken wing good ol' perverted boys club lunch upscale strip club either â€“ more like the one in THE SOPRANOS. I could absolutely imagine a person getting beaten to death in the back room. So I kept driving. Later I learned that here in Atlanta (and maybe elsewhere, I cannot say) a great many â€œtarot card readersâ€ with the electric palm signs up in their windows are ACKSHULLY hookers. (!!!!) Glad I chose to ix-nay THAT an-play.
To answer another question in the comments â€“ Heather wanted to know why an indoor technophile such as myself who routinely says things like, â€œI do not like nature. Nature is where they keep the roachesâ€¦â€ should have a relationship ROSE. It seems more likely that I would have, say, a relationship SPARK PLUG.
I dunno. Maybe this is common lingo. You would have to ask someone more prone to AURA SEEING than me, which would be, um â€“ just about anyone ever born. Box of rocks, remember? Apparently this particular aura-see-er saw I had a relationship rose lurking amid my auraâ€™s barbed wire and cigarette butts... I think we need to focus on what REALLY matters here, which is NOT that I had a rose, but that it is WAY TALLER than Scott's. LA LA LA.
Really though. I think my aura is a big fat liar.. Anyone who has been in a ROOM with the two of us greets the revelation that Scott has a long way to go to reach my dizzying spiritual heights by laughing until they choke on their own tongues.
Scott is very centered and balanced and steadily progresses via reading C S Lewis for FUNSIES while I thrash around and shriek and fuss and argue with God and myself and take ten baby steps forward toward grace and then I holler OH MOTHER MAY I? And back I go in two giant steps. I am venal and vain and dreadful and my path toward goodness is marked by willingness and weakness in such equal measures that it makes loop-de-loops.
If I do indeed have a relationship rose? I betcha it has aphids.
I am not the best one at HORN TOOTING and I mean to tell you when things that happen that are good, but then I get HINKY. I get bored with author blogs that are just a series of press releases, you know? TODAY THIS SUPER GREAT THING HAPPENED! SO GO BUY MY LATEST BOOK! But, sometimes, every now and again, a super great thing or two DOES happen and I want to tell you, and then I get all diffident and toe scrubby and decide not to say or put it off until I find I have about 10 things I'd like to tell you but STILL do not as I do not want to be TRUMPETTY and go all LOOKA ME! LOOKA ME!
I wish I had an ALTER EGO. Like a made up CO-BLOGGER named LOUISE who could tell you the good things so I don't feel like Ego McBraggerson. Louise would have a better hair cut than me and wear The High Shoes and march all over New York in them without then getting such AWFUL blisters that she had to go back to the hotel and soak her feet in the ice still melting away in last night's wine bucket. This happened to me last week when I walked from Central Park to the Algonquin in 4 inch peep toe sling backs COMPLETELY unable to get a cab...Louise can ALWAYS get a cab.
I feel like Louise is a red head. But her purse is maybe a LITTLE too matchy matchy with her shoes--like she tried just a SPECK too hard with it and I do think she should have taken off one piece of jewelry before she left the house. If Loiuse was here, she would push her Kate Spade glasses up and say...
"Joshilyn and her editor have been sending out copies of THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING (fondly know to us here as Togwiss) to ask for blurbs, always a nerve wracking thing, especially since Joshilyn is such a FANGRRRL STALKER TYPE. You know she has a hard time speaking to writers she truly admires, and three authors whose books have ALL blown Joshilyn out of the water agreed to read it in PAPER form, not even bound, which is SO beyond generous, really, and then THEY LIKED IT -- enought to say so publicly in glowing prose.
At Chez Jackson, there may have been an indecorous amount of ecstatic screaming followed by a victory-dance-like...flopping motion that I am sad to repoort was not particularly flattering to the dancer, although Mr. Husband reports being amused right up until the dancer stumbled sideways into the big wooden chest in the keeping room and gavce herself a HUGE bat shaped bruise on her leg, and I hope she has learned a valuable lesson about being repulsive and perpetrating victory dances.
Still, if you wanted to go read the blurbs or say something cheerful or encouraging in the comments, I think Ms. Jackson would be flushed with pleasure, although, if there is a merciful God in the heavens (and Beloveds, I DO believe there is) she won't be SO pleased that she feels any sort of AWKWARD SOFT SHOE is warranted. The blurbs may be found on this page if you scroll down."
I kinda hate Louise, now that I've invented her. And on what planet does SHE get to call you guys HER beloveds??? Let's OFF her, shall we? Please? In a creative and painful way? AND BY THE WAY, MANY people have said that I am a very FINE dancer. *cough*
So I am in San Francisco, staying at my friend Jill's house and doing research and this is why I am so quiet. Research so far means eating WAY TOO MUCH South African Tapas and doing a stock signing so I could go hang out with a bookseller I adore from Books. Inc.
Jill and I also met fellow GPC author Cornelia Read yesterday, and she is awesome. I already loved her writing but now I love her, too. Remember the NYC pizza thing? Cornelia said, OKAY COME WITH ME ---NOW IS THE TIME ON SPROCKETS WHEN YOU TASTE REAL YANKEE NEW YORK FOLDABLE STREET PIZZA. She took me to a little wooden SHED where you buy pizza and raspberry lemonade through a hole cut in the wall, and the VERY sweaty shed guy was an east coast transplant...Conrelia calls him part of the PIZZAFARIAN DIASPORA, which is so clever on so many levels Jill and I had a hard time not lurching across the table and kissing her. The pizza was indeed foldable. And slick with grease and dotted with hunks of pale garlic. And SUPER GREAT. I now see what Karen means, but I find it ironic that I had to fly 5 hours west across 3 time zones to actually taste really for true "Yankee" pizza.
And I STILL like Mellow Mushroom, SO THERE.
We were talking about what to do in San Fran and I I have this older lady---an Alabama Expat who tries a LITTLE too hard to go native---and I asked Cornelia if they have support groups for Anger Management now---I wanted one with a good LOCATION though, like an interesting place to meet.
Her: I dunno about anger management, but one time I went with a friend to an AA meeting on a barge.
Me: Did you say in a BAR? UM ... who has AA meetings in a BAR???
Her: *very drily* No no a BARGE. It was LOVELY. But honestly I'd rather have gone to one in a bar. Could NOT get a decent Mojito on that boat.
She's like THAT. You would LIKE her.
Then I went to dinner with my friend Jill's writing group, and we talked JUST enough industry stuff to make the whole thing feel sincerely tax deductable. Tra la.
San Francisco is relentlessly beautiful. Look.
Jill says I need to quit sitting here blogging and come with her to eat Vegan something at this GRAIN HOUSE place -- you will not BELIEVE the menu. I will try to scan it for you. Every sandwich comes with a blessing. NO! REALLY! I am SO happy about this that I cannot express it.
I came home to the delightful news that I had won â€“ or rather, Between, Georgia won - the Georgia Author of the Year Award for fiction. I am very pleased and honored!
One goal for this New York trip was to go all AMERIGO and intrepid and discover the here-to-fore uncharted-by-me high caloric wonderland known as Real Yankee Pizza. Karen and I tried to get some first by asking the concierge, and that little prat sent us to this touristy nightmare of a place where everyone wore NO SLICES t-shirts and the thing we ordered tasted like what would happen if you put a little Ragu and some cheese on white pita bread and toasted it. Not just plain old regular blah. This pizza was SO ULTRA-blah it could have made the Boring Food Olympics team and handily beaten Chinaâ€™s Plain White Rice and ALL of Englandâ€™s Pub Food in the first heat.
Karen is from Philly, and she thinks Mello Mushroom sucks. Now, I think the Shroom is located just left of heaven, so that is a BOLD statement. REAL pizza, Karen says, is flat and foldable and dripping with orange grease and the cheese stretches when you bite off the succulent tip. Humbug, says me. She says I only humbug it because I have never experienced it, and so I was not ALLOWED to leave NYC without giving her chance to convert me to the One True Pizza. After the Toasted Ragu incident, I was more skeptical than EVER, but I agreed to give Real Yankee Pizza a second go.
On Sunday, our last day in NYC, Karen and I woke up so tired and wired that we were on the edge of hysteria before weâ€™d even hit Starbucks to caffeinate. By noon, we were punch-drunk and giddy. On the way back out of our hotel room, repeatedly pressing the button that allegedly called the elevator, we were talking all MANNER of exhausted nonsense.
As the elevator did not arrive and did not arrive, I hypothesized that Karen had been too ROUGH with the elevatorâ€™s button and harmed her in the feelings, and now she would not deign to pick us up.
Karen denied it, but even after the elevator had at last lumbered up and grudgingly cracked its doors to allow us access, I maintained the belief that she had made the elevator feel shoved and unappreciated. She countered then, suggesting, as the doors closed, that I may have been GENTLER, but that I had been impatient and punched the button many many times to make the elevator arrive sooner (this completely works, btw) and how this sort of brusque demanding treatment made the elevator feel like I was not really her friend, but only using her to change floors.
The elevator ground to a halt unnoticed by your punch drunk heroines, and as we argued, a woman joined us. As the doors closed behind her, I said, â€œWe could be reading this wrong. Maybe the elevator is a boy.â€
The womanâ€™s head cocked to the side like the head of a quizzical dog and she said, in a hesitant voice. â€œIâ€™m sorryâ€¦but..umâ€¦did you just say maybe the elevator is a boy?â€
I have no idea what came over me. I gave her best deadpan face, then cocked an eyebrow and said, very earnestly, as if slightly worried about her, â€œNo! That would beâ€¦crazy.â€
She flushed and we stared at each other for five endless seconds. I WISH I COULD HAVE PULLED IT OFF. But I could not. I ABSOLUTELY broke and fell out laughing. She started laughing, too, and she said, â€œYOU DID! YOU DID TOO SAY IT WAS A BOY!â€ By then Karen had broken down and was cackling and saying, â€œWell it might be. How can you tell? I wouldnâ€™t even know where to LOOK on an elevator.â€ We all stood there giggling like loons for the rest of the ride down. I suspect the woman had been in town for 5 days too and was JUST as punchy as we were.
The second try at pizza, by the way, was better butâ€¦meh. Karen says we still didnâ€™t find the mythical IT, the ONE TRUE PIZZA, and is now badgering me to come to Philly to eat something called tomato pie that has no tomatoes in it and isnâ€™t actually like pie in any way. â€œItâ€™s COLD!â€ she says, like this is a selling point. I will NEVER fully understand Yankees.
IN OTHER NEWS, here I am, CLEARLY so excited that I appear to be demented, and here is Stephen Colbert looking insouciant and relaxed and gorgeous. My publicist sent it because he is AN EXCELLENT HUMAN BEING with a BIG RED BEATING HEART CHOCK FULL OF VIGOROUS KINDNESS, and MAYBE because he wanted you guys to stop badgering me to get a decent camera. *grin*
The tour is officially over, and I am sad and happy, and by the way NOT going home. My family is in FLORIDA right now anyway, frolicking on the single grain of white beach sand the hurricanes graciously left for them. They won't return until Sunday. That's okay, because I have to stay here and live forever at the Ritz Carlton in St. Louis.
See, here at the Ritz Carlton, they went and got a bunch of peeping adorable kittens and then they EVER SO GENTLY combed their belly fur to extract only the softest wisps of angel-fluff, and then they used this magic material to make the bed. I haven't slept the way I slept here since I left home. I slept HUGELY. I slept with passionate mad abandon.
I slept HARD and DEEP and TRUE on Tuesday night, went and did TV and stocking signings and then, in the break before the Library event, I got RIGHT back in that bed and slept even harder with even more deep truth. As soon as the event was over I went BACK to new best friend, Kitten Fluff Bedding, and passed out again. I was SO tired I could NOT manage to drag my body from its sluglike repose in the 1 million thread count arms of the perfect bed, BUT I was starving, and all I had to do was pick up the phone and then a nice lady came to bring me an ENORMOUS cheeseburger. I ate it off the bedside table, hanging my head over the floor to not DEFILE the mattress of paradise with crumbs, and then passed out again.
ALSO? They have DUCKS that live in the turn around. Two young dewy-eyed newlywed ducks showed up one day in spring, and all the doormen adopted them. Then the original pair made MORE ducks, and the doormen adopted the ducklings, too. Now the whole little family has an apartment in the front bushes here and are estatic even though they have no place to swim but the fountain. They have given up all hopes of a lake or pond to stay at the Ritz, and I WANT TO BE THOSE DUCKS.
Seriously. Not. Leaving.
I learned a new technique for getting your picture snapped from Sara Gruen. You know how when you are about to have your photo taken, and you say CHEESE and SMILE and then....the person with the camera fusses with the flash and punches the wrong button and the picture doesn't get taken for QUITE SOME TIME. As the seconds tick past, your face starts to seize up and by the time they actually depress the button you have this sort of over-happy rictus-sy corpse face? Like, you can FEEL your face starting to seize up into this horrid plasticene parody of cheerful? YEAH WELL. SO Sara invented the 1,2,3, Betty.
You stand with your back to the camera until the camera person says they are ready, and then you count 1 2 3 and turn around do your best Betty Face. You get a LOT of pictures of the back of your head before you and the camera guy get on the same page...If you are sort of natually gorgeous like Sara you can try for less monkey-grinning and do a sexier VERONICA face, but me, I go for the Betty.
Look, here's me and Sara doing our 1 2 3 Betty and Veronicas respectively:
PLEASE NOTE the AWESOME window display behind us. I wish I had a better shot. The EXTREMELY COOL FOLKS at Park Road Books did this amazing dual window for me and Sara... Sara's side had a circus tent and little hay bales and an elephant under the book display, and my side had peaches by Between and a copy of gods riding in a convertible, AND the dispayed books were draped in kudzu vines. You can see the vines in the pic, but I SO wish I had gotten pics of the circus scene and the car and peaches...
ANYWAY, also from the Charlotte stop, here is another attempt by me and an FTK reg known as dee (of deeceetalks).
In this one I am sort of doing 1 2 3 Maniacal Ax Killer. She has more shots and stuff up at her blog, linked above. I am now all about the 1 2 3 Betty, a true convert, because I think the resulting pics look more like ME, for good or ill. It's at least better than my usual deer in the headlights stiff-mouthed horror. ANYWAY, TRY the 123B next time you have to get a casual snap.
I would like to point out that the 1 2 3 Betty is DANGEROUS in that it DOES tend to reveal your TRUE INNER SELF. Marisa (a mondo-coolio bookseller from Davis Kidd in Nashville) got her legendarily vicious cat to try it. Here is Boo the Bad, doing the 1 2 3 Satan....
I kid! I kid! I TRULY like dogs. In fact I LOVE the dern things. I find them to be hopeful creatures filled to the brim with simple sweet unadulterated love and goodness. The only reason I do not HAVE a dog is that I haven't had a heart for one ever since the dog I loved most on the earth ever, Hobbes, and then the dog I loved second most, Tobidog, died (BOTH OF EXTREME OLD AGE, thank you) and now that I DO have the heart for one again, Scott BALKED because of my travel schedule.
For over a year my only Petly Interactions came from my inert sack of fat cat flesh whose idea of good company (now that he is An Older Gentleman) is to sleep in the same room I am in. In spite of the fact that he weighs as much as any three cats, Der Schubert is not enough little animals for my house -- and a house without little animals is a dark and sorrowful place.
But Scott said NO DOG at least until I finish touring and finish the next book, but STILL I was in an ANIMAL DEARTH and sorrowful which is how we got the two BROTHER gerbils who turned out to be incestuous and at least ONE brother had some ovaries tucked away somewhere which is how we got to have (at current count) TEN gerbils, ALL OF WHICH gnawed through the cage top and GOT LOOSE while Scott was in Birmingham (he came over to let me see my kids while I signed books), AND so he came home after a two day road trip and had to spent UMPTY man hours with both children playing HUNT INCH LONG SUPER SPEEDY GERBIL BABIES, plus Mama Snicketty and Cosy Mole Mouse (we kept Cosy from the LAST litter to help raise this one because we were for DERN SURE removing the daddy, AKA The Immediate Re-Impregnator, the very moment that the first litter was weanable and adoprable). All ten of the rodential escapees had scattered upstairs and downstairs and tucked themselves into the tiniest spaces imaginable, and how comforting do I find it that my ENORMOUS cat managed to track down exactly ZERO of them and eat them?
Well, on the I LOVE MY LITTLE GERBILS side, I am DEEPLY comforted. On the "sometimes little honta-soaked diseasey field mice get in and want to lick my children" side, I am a little skeeved. Still, on the whole, worthless cat-hunter equals ALL ten gerbils safely accounted for, and that is a definite WIN for our side. BUT... can you see that it would have been better just to get me THE BEAGLE-MIX PUPPY?
ANYWAY. I LOVE DOGS, OKAY?
That established, I will now tell you that I AM SO TIRED I am NOT thinking straight. And I had this terrible terrible exchange with a woman at a bookstore.
Sometimes, in my writing, the vagarities of plot require that I, as a novelist, perpetrate the deaths of COMPLETELY FICTIONAL creatures. Sometimes, these completely fictional creatures are...dogs. And because I write Southern Gothic, my fictional dogs tend to die in SPECTACULARLY violent and disturbing ways. I also kill people---including innocent little children--- with mad abandon, but NO ONE EVER COMPLAINS ABOUT THAT. *sigh* What can I tell you? Sometimes, in my books, things get violent and disturbing. Flannery O'Connor says that SOuthern fiction includes the grotesque always because we are are still capable of recognizing it. So. FLANNERY is backing me on the dogs, kay?
ANYWAY, an animal rights activist and I had the following exchange...Please understand that HER tone is QUERYING and INTERESTED, NOTNOTNOT accusatory or vicious, and my tone is exhausted and insane. Are you with me? OKAY!
Her: I have not read this book *holds up gods in Alabama* but I have heard from VERY ANGRY AND DISGRUNTLED READERS WHO HATE YOU FOREVER NOW, that you SHOOT A DOG in it.
Me: No, I do not.
Her: Well, a dog gets SHOT. And this has turned a LOT of readers off your books...as a volunteer at the Humane Society, the things I have heard are what has kept me from reading this book.
Me: No dog gets shot in that book.
Her: Well, people have told me that one does...
Me: No, not in that book. Dogs get SHOT in BETWEEN. In GODS, they get beaten to death with shovels.
She BLANCHED in absolute horror and I realized what I said. In my tired head I was just setting the record straight about what thing happens to which fictional dog in what book, BUT it came out like the meanest most casual off the cuff YEAH I KILL DOGS ALLA DERN TIME callous hateful thing to say. I thought I was going to burst into tears and then the ABSOLUTE absurdity of the moment hit me...I started giggling helplessly WHICH OF COURSE she thought I was giggling with delight at the thought of, OH I DON'T KNOW, getting the hell out of there to go string up dogs by the feetses and beat them like pinatas....I REALLY wished the earth would swallow me.
She was actually a VERY nice and infinitely patient lady and once I had managed to get myself under control I apologized and explained the scenes and what happened to which dogs and why it happens and pointed out that SHOT dog was actually an abused and mistrained animal that was EATING A GRANDMOTHERLY DEAR OLD LADY at the time of its death and etc... and I asked her to read the books herself before judging me. She was gracious about the whole thing, considering.
I was near suicidal with despair as we left---really it's been one thing after another and I can't seem to do a DERN THING right these days---but luckily I had the Universe's best Media Rep with me. As I sunk down into the depths in the seat beside her, she said OH JOSHILYN LOOK!
We were passing THE HUMANE SOCIETY!
Her: Want me to drop you off there?
Me: You think I could work off some bad karma?
Her: Nahhhh...I was thinking you might want to go by for some of your usual recreation. March in with a shotgun and yell PULL!
She raised her amrs up and n a simple, fluid gesture she TRULY managed to capture the essence of canine skeet shooting...
Oddly, this cheered me up. The ABSURDITY OF IT. Because I've never hurt an animal in my LIFE. I"VE freakin' worked as a volunteer for the humane society MYSELF TOO. I used to be one of their dog-washers for their summer fundraisers, and I have dragged home AN INFINITE number of lost wandering animals and either found their original homes or, if no one claimed them, found good homes for them, and I am the one who, when my old cat died and I was left PETLESS for the first time in my life, realized I was sinking into actual clinical depression from NOT HAVING AN ANIMAL FRIEND IN THE HOUSE..The media reps over the top suggestions kinda put it all into perspective.
But later, tried and alone again, at the airport, I replayed my AWFUL THING I SAID over and over and fell back to brooding over my horridness. Then my phone chimed. I had a message. It was my very favorite media rep again, crooning to her dog that she had managed to get me out of town before I ate him, and then pretending to notice that the message was recording and saying she was calling to wish me a good flight. LORD but I LOVE her. She gets me. I half thought of going to her house and whanging her over the head and stuffing her inert body into my suitcase and taking her with me EVERYWHERE. FOREVER.
You think I am kidding, but considering the way I treat fictional PEOPLE, I wouldn't put it past me...
I go to BIRMINGHAM TOMORROW.
See the yellow button? The one that says "Order signed books" that sits under that teeny little cover shot of Between, Georgia over there to your left? WELL. Ask not for whom the button entices with its warm gold glow. It entices for you. The virtual signing, it is upon us. All the Alabama Booksmith Orders will get signed and filled TOMORROW. If you have been hesitating, poised on the brink of punching that button and then turning coyly away LIKE THE MINX YOU KNOW YOU ARE, now is the time to give it up. Punch! Punch now! Lest the punching moment pass you!
I miss my people and my house, but I am not going back for a good piece yet. I am comforting myself with the knowledge that my husband has not yet called MOXIE. In fact (and I hope you are reading this Scott) if the book tour ends, and he has STILL not called Moxie, I may call Warner and beg them to send me other places---cold northerly places like ALASKA and the icier parts of the former Soviet Union, where I am SURE they will love my books and, more importantly, where the bugs don't come.
Right before I left, TWO enormous roaches and a great creeping hairy centipede appeared in my slag pit of doom (aka office). They came staggering out from behind my desk all loopy and slow as if they had been sitting around a hookah casually SMOKING the deadly chemicals I like Moxie to come spray all around my domicile. See, after they spray, the roaches don't come in your house. Of course, you also grow a third eye in your bellybutton, but life is about compromise.
Some nice things are happening---gods in Alabama in paperback just went into its third printing. This is because you are buying it, and you are liking it, and you are telling other people to buy it and they are liking it, and on and on like that SHAMPOO, and WOW but you are pretty. Have you lost weight? gods is also #7 on the SIBA bestsellers list (trade paperback) and Between, Georgia is in a RACE with it, neck and neck at #7 on the SIBA hardback bestsellers list. Once again---why? You are buying, reading, liking, and recommending. Did you just get a haircut? COME SIT BY ME.
I have to PACK UP and get ready to go to Birmingham tomorrow. TONIGHT I am in FAIRHOPE, one of my FAVORITE Alabama towns and HOPEFULLY some members of the Fairhope Posse will come out to see me. Frank Turner Hollon. is there (go read THE GOD FILE, I double dog dare you) and Suzanne Hudson and Joe Formichella. My friend Sonny Brewer is off gallivanting about the country promoting his new book, so he won't show, but I hope some of the others do. It may get interesting.
Joe and Suzanne live near another writer I haven't met yet, but rumor has it he has seceded from the union and formed his own country. He is trying to get a bunch of women to come "Live Free" there, and by free I think he might mean naked. I hope to someday be cool enough to be invited to formally become the Georgia Branch of the Fairhope Posse. I hear REAL members get T-shirts. And Tattoos. If I visit the new country, I will be sure and report back, and, law of the land aside, you better believe I will still be in full possession of my underpants. I don't care to live quite THAT free.
AT ANY RATE, I will be at PAGE AND PALETTE, so come on out if you are a Fairhopian. They do it up RIGHT!
OH number 1--- My friend Mamie was touring China with her daughter and they saw BETWEEN for sale in the Hong Kong airport. HOW. COOL. IS. THAT.
OH the second -- and there is this! Go here and scroll down to LIVE magazine's podcast. This is a BOOK CLUB thing, so if you have not READ gods in Alabama yet, then don't go listen. It has some spoilers. Part two comes out next week.
Tour is WEIRD. It's very feasty-faminey, and if you get feted until you grow The Big Head, fear not, someone will be along to pop it directly.
Scene One: I see a Bookstore that is not on my schedule, but I have a rental car and some time, so I drop in to do a stock signing.
I walk up to a long, thin young man who is putting discount stickers on a gift book.
Me: Hi...can you point me in the direction f the manager on duty?
Him: *straightening* That's me. What can I do for you?
Me: I'm Joshilyn Jackson---
I stop talking because I see I don't have to say "and I wrote gods in Alabama and Between, Georgia." When I say my name, his eyes widen, his mouth opens up into a delighted grin....HE KNOWS WHO I AM. And he is HAPPY TO SEE ME.
He gets all the store stock out for me, and tells me I am going to be at his sister store and that he ordered a copy of gods in hardback to be signed by me when I am over there, and gets me to do him a Between, and calls over another bookseller who has read one or the other of my books and SHE is also quite happy to see me, AND, on TOP OF THIS, a passing woman doubletakes when she sees me signing and stops and is VERY excited because her husband has been wanting to read my book and NOW, she says, she can get him a SIGNED COPY and surprise him, and everyone is all PLEASED, me most of all, and as I leave the manager thanks me for coming by, and I say, oh no THANK YOU for the warm welcome you have made my day, and its back and forth like that for a little, me and him with a stream of OH NO thank YOU! Oh NO, thank YOUs! in this orgy of good manners, and when I finally stagger out into the warm sunshine I am POSTIVELY SHOCKED that the papparazzi aren't waiting in a crafty pack to snap me. Because of me being so notoriously famous and and universally recognized and, dude, I didn't even have to sleep with a Greek billionaire's son!!!!
Scene Two: I go to a signing. I am pretty much the only one who does.
Eventually, three people show up for the discussion part, and I always think if ONE person comes, you do the WHOLE THING because that one person's time is as valuable as mine. You have to respect that they came out to hear you and give them something to hear. SO, I drag out the dogs AND the pink ponies and tap around HA-CHA!
Then I move to a table at the front of the store, but foot traffic is SLOW. The event manager is a DOLL and keeps me company and assures me they like my book and that they will handsell the signed stock and etc. Two guys show up to ask me ENDLESS questions about who my agent is and how I got him, and then leave without getting a book.
Shoppers hurry past, afraid that if they meet my eyes I will leap on them and make them buy something. I begin to feel like I have GAZE leprosy, so quickly do folks avert their peepers, EXCEPT for one gently rounded little elfy looking guy with tufties of white hair sprouncing out by his ears. He stares right at me. His face is impassive but then he flares his nostrils, as if his nostrils are amused, but the rest of his face is reserving judgement.
I say HI! and in my wake the store's Event Manager says, HOW ARE YOU?
The elf man looks me UP AND DOWN and DOWN AND UP and then turns to the event manager and says, "I'm doing better than HER, anyway" and then walks off, snickering.
The bookstore people were SO nice and encouraging and ethusiastic about my books that, up until that point, I was actually feeling okay about the whole thing, but that was sort of like getting hit in the face with a pan. WHANG!
AH WELL, what are you going to do? For every lovely someone who takes the time to come tell me they enjoy my work and talk about it with me, there are an equal and opposing number of little poos who MUST spit in my Wheaties. There are times on tour when I feel an inch tall, and I pray for a huge and merciful foot to come stamp me.
OH MY DROOGIES, if you live in the south, you should come see me--- here are my tour date for July. Just think, if we get enough FTK regs at an event and that ELF guy shows back up, we can grab him up and throw him in the stew pot and cook him and eat him. MMmmmm, nothing like a tender haunch of boiled jerk to make a girl feel better...
YES, Virginia, Wallgreen's sells underpants. Not a huge selection mind you, and not in my size, but any port in a storm, sez me.
Last night was my twentieth High School Reunion. VERY VERY WEIRD. SO Weird. I kept looking around and having deja-ja-vu-vues. Everyone one was telling stories, and I didn't much remember them....perhaps I blocked the four years out? Apparently I had a sass-mouth back in the day.
BAD THING - I forgot my digital. If anyone from the reunion reads this, send me a coupla pics. If don't look like a googly eyed crazy-monster, I'll post 'em.
The Boy I Liked The Very Most ALL through middle school and high school did not SHOW, that potzer, even though he was on the confirmed guest list. The boy I liked the second very most ALSO did not show. ONE boy I crushed on hard showed---he was very much a prototype for what would be my type after I grew up. Tall? Check. Dark Hair? Check. Quiet? Check. ENORMOUS brain? Checkittycheckcheck. He looked exactly the same, only more confident, and apparently he has become some sort of brilliant brain trust person who thinks for a living. VERY cool to see him. I liked him early on in my high school career, before I grew the sass-mouth, and I found out he never even knew I LIKED him. I remember I would get around him and BIG BRIGHT ORANGE LINES of boy-liking would start radiating off my head and I would have to flee before he saw them. *sigh* Really would have liked to catch up with the other two.
20th reunions are nifty. I didn't go to my tenth because I was in Illinois, but I imagine it would have been different. I probably would have had a big chip on and felt like I had to front like a player, like OOOH BUT SEE SEE I am hip and in grad school and I work with an experimental theatre troop and my PLAY just got PRODUCED, yes, in CHICAGO THAT"S RIGHT, NEENER NA---and at the tenth might have gone with some Schadenfreude, you know? That's GONE by the twentieth. We've all grown up --- I liked that about us all, how everyone seemed genuinely interested in each other. The air in the room was heavy with this odd and universal good will.
I was just kinda excited and relaxed (as relaxed as I ever get anyway). I was in jean gauchos and a T shirt until my mother in law told me I could NOT wear that. I called my old best friend at her mom's house and said, "What are you wearing?" After she busted a gut laughing and saying, "If this was twenty years ago, I would say I DO NOT KNOW I DO NOT KNOW WHAT ARE YOOOOOOUUUUU WEARING...." she told me she was wearing nice pants, and her sister said I couldn't slouch in like a scumbag in my jeans either, so I changed not one of my Pretend To Be An Author outfits. I didn't bother to put contacts on though, just peered at everyone through my clunky birth control glasses.
ALTHOUGH, horrid vain thing that I am, I must confess whipped those suckers off like I was Clark Kent any time a Camera pointed at me. AND this guy from drama club accused me of reapplying gloss more than any other woman alive, so, it's not like I am saying I am GHANDI, but...I've grown up a lot in the second ten years. I think we all had.
I might have gotten the teeniest bit tipsy, so when it was winding down and the place we had rented was getting ready to kick us out, one chick came to invite me to go on to a smaller less formal gathering.
Me: No -- I need to go back to the hotel and make out with my husband.
Her: I'll just file that under too much information.
Me: Did I say the quiet part out loud again? OOPS SORRY, it's just, you know, I'm on book tour until the end of the month. He drove down here to meet up with me, and I won't see him until, like, AUGUST. This is my LAST CHANCE to make out. He gets crabby if I make out with anyone else.
I think she needed to keep that TOO MUCH INFO file NICE AND OPEN for me. *sigh* BUT, on the brighter side of celibacy, remember that they had all my flights booked under my maiden name because I forgot to tell my new publicist that my ID is all in my married name? Yeah. Well. So much for not getting any action----Because they had to go in and change my name on every ticket, I have a SECURITY RISK FLAG, and now I am getting felt up in every airport I go through.
OH OH OH! Further humiliations. I stole our old high school literary magazine from 1983! It had a TERRIBLE poem by me in it, I mean BEYOND terrible. I do believe the words "wild white stallion" appear. No, I am not kidding. I'm bringing it to the signing to day in hopes of giving it back. I ran off with it to show Scott and then never could find the people who had it originally and then we left. WILD WHITE STALLION!!!! *dies of mortification* Also, still not kidding, the poemicular stallion is charged with riding me away someplace where "I can be alone!" Exclamation point included in the original. Yeah. Hi. I am a sophomore in high school, but in my off hours, I moonlight as Greta Garbo. Dramatic much?
The state of Georgia really SHOULD fund a grant and give it to me to NOT write poetry.
I do NOT have time to proofread this. SO. Try not to be a hater when you see my multiple and enormous typos.
Yesterday, 6:30 PM: I'm off -- On the plane right now, heading for Pawleys Island, The first stop on this book tour. I MEANT to answer some e-mails before I went.....too late now, eh? If one is yours, I will answer it in Agust. I am on the laptop now. BY THE WAY, this would be a great time to punch that yellow button to your left if you want a signed copy of Between (or gods in Alabama --- he has first eds and the paperback in stock, too)----Booksmith Visit is LOOMING UP FAST AND SOON.
SCOTT took Lappy 2000 here by the Geek Squad so they could fix my rebellious V key. Remember last year I blogged in a BROGUE, typing Hae for Have, and etc. Well, the Geek Squad charged me 19 bucks and now I have a working V. YAY THEM. Not to be to technical, but the main problem with the key was that it had a cookie in it. My guess would be white chocolate macadamia nut. Dern cookies.
I ALMOST didn't get on the plane! I have a new publicist (my old one got promoted to Empress of All Publicists, remember?) and it never occurred to me to tell him that, while I WRITE under my maiden name, my Passport and other I.D. and even my credit cards are in my married name...It's little oversights like this that cause Scott to have to walk around charity events with a nametag on it that reads "Hi My Name Is....Scott Jackson," when that is NOT his name. So. There it is. There was no reservation under my married name, and with a growing sense of dread I had the DeltaBot check under Jackson and THERE I WAS.
You know there are the two kinds of behind-the-counter people, right? The kind that are going to MOVE THE EARTH two inches left, if that is what it takes, to get you what you need, and then the other kind, who seem to LIVE to tell you all the reasons why whatever you need is impossible while looking at you so soaked in glee-filled regret that they DRIP IT ON YUR SHOES. WELL! I am sorry for calling her a DeltaBot. BECAUSE I GOT THE FIRST KIND.
I pointed out that my oddly spelled FIRST name was the same on both my ID and the ticket. She processed that, then she wanted to know did I have anything, ANYTHING, with Jackson on it. LIGHTBULB! I had a copy of my BOOK in my laptop case, because I planned to dig through it on the plane and pick out parts to read at the event at Litchfield Books tomorrow, I showed her the book, with my AUTHOR PICTURE in the back.
Now, look, earlier today I had a mental breakdown and went roaring over to my hairdresser's house not THREE hours before I had to get on this plane. AMANDA! I said. I have to go on booktour AND also to my TWENTIETH HIGH SCHOOL REUINION ON SATURDAY. I HATE MY DRAB HAIR! I WANT TO BE FANCY! CAN YOU MAKE ME FANCY??????
Ladies and gentlemen....I am SO fancy now, on my head parts. She put in these very streaky pale blonde highlights, and these very dark chocolate lowlights, and then, in honor of Between's red-headed heroine, added some very cherry red MIDDLE lights in as well. Dude, my head may well be where fancy goes to die.AND I had on my big clunky black framed Kate Spade birth control glasses, which I got because when Scott's old job closed it's Atlanta office and I refused to move to Vegas, the LAST thing I did before that job ended (and it's eyecare insurnce with it) was go blow EVERY BIT of my entire family's Eye Care Allowance for the YEAR on these monstrously expensive frames. I love them, but between the glasses and my striped 'Do, I wasn't sure the author picture LOOKED much like me.
While the helperrific Delta Chick went off to ask her supervsor if a novel was a legit form of ID, I WHIPPED the glasses off, widened my eyes, and tried to make my mouth be the same shape as in the picture---what Scott calls my Deep Thoughts Mouth. I could NOT for the life of me remember how to make that mouth. They were a LONG time coming back, so I pulled out my compact and practiced, and when they arrived, book in hand I gave them my sad version of BLUE STEEL over my shoulder, trying to make my face match the pic without benefit of lights and professional make-up and a monstrously talented photographer, They looked at me like they already regretted it because I was CRAZY, but told me they had ALREADY believed me, even without me replicating Deep Thoughts Mouth, and gone ahead and changed the name. Yeah -- They had taken so long because they were printing out my boarding pass. AND HERE I SIT. Whoops landing must shut down....
BUT FIRST! GUESS WHAT I AM DOING RIGHT NOW! Eating a little pack of Delta Gingersnaps! Directly over my keyboard! Oh Geek Squad, go ahead and sign the lease on that new Porsche----you are all but guaranteed another 19 bucks.
UPDATE THE FIRST: When I landed, I discovered that my luggage had not come with me. Aparently, it FAILED to look like its author photo, and was left on the ground. The bookstore owners took me to Walgreens to buy Crest Toothpaste and Underpants, and then took me to an AMAZING place called ---I will get the name for you - I can say it but can't remember how to spell it. *sigh* Louis? ANYWAY, they fed me on Shrimp and Grits and enormous cocktails until I felt better about the whole thing. Seriously, in the top three Shrimp and Grits EVER, and you KNOW if a place has S-n-G on the menu I don't have to read any farther. ALSO The Vodka Soda Lime was made with a local vodka, called FIREFLY, and it was....awesome. Today is Travel-Crumple-Walgreen-Underpants Day, but derned if I don't feel JUST FINE about the whole thing.
While we wait to hear who won B4B (Judge Jennifer O'Connell is touring, so we shall be patient like spiders...) Let's play round 2 of CONFERENCE TRUE OR FALSE. In Saturday's PRACTICE round, all those things, every one of them, was shamefully true. Even the butt thing. *sigh*
This time, we play for keepsies --- Prize is the long-ago promised signed UK edition of gods in Alabama.
-- If you were personally AT THE CONFERENCE, you cannot win.
-- No less than 1 and no more than 5 are false. Just write the number(s) of the FALSE ones in your comment. That's your entry. First to list all the Falses without listing any of the Trues wins.
1) Three people separately told me I look like Joan Cusack.
2) One person told me that, in my glasses, I look like Merryl Streep.
3) One person told me I look like Bernadette Peters.
4) One person told me I look like Jessica Simpson.
5) One person told me I look like Jessica RABBIT.
6) One person told me I SOUND like Kristin Chenoweth. In Wicked. As Good Witch Glenda. Heh.
7) One person, who was seated at the back for one of my sessions, came up to me with a copy of gods for me to sign after, and did a little double take. She said, "I hope you do not take this the wrong way, but you are prettier than I thought you were. I mean, you look better when you are CLOSE UP."
8) One person overheard me talking about the book and she said, "Wait, YOU wrote gods in Alabama?" And I said, "Yes." And she rallied a bunch of spit into her mouth and seemed to think about PUTTING the spit on me. After a long, spooky, freakishly charged moment, she gargled, "Congratulations" in the iciest tone she could muster through all that spit, and then pretty much turned her back on me. She didn't speak to me or look at me even once for the rest of the weekend and whenever I came into a room she seemed to be galloping out of it. I have NO idea what it was about, but my inner neurotic would construct a whole new 'nother elaborate why-she-hates-me scenario every time I caught a glimpse of her...
9) At 9:45 on Saturday. I went down to the B and N booth to buy a couple of books I wanted to get signed while I was there, and did not see my own book for sale. They told me that they hadn't been able to GET any copies of my book because INGRAM'S (which basically distributes for ALL THE SOUTH) told them they either didn' have or were not carrying my book. I can't tell you how bad this is. A large percentage of my sales are in the south. I PANICKED and left a LONG WEEPY, HOPELESSLY PATHETIC message on my editor's machine. The machine AT HER HOUSE. ON A WEEKEND. I SNUFFLED for the love of pete, SNUFFLED, and asked didn't Ingrams LIKE me anymore? What had I done? WHY! WHY! I had ALWAYS liked INGRAMS? Could we send Ingram's a NOTE asking if they still liked me with boxes to check that said yes and no and maybe? pulepuleweep. Then I went back downstairs and was told they had gotten my book mistaken with another that they had not been able to get. They actually HAD had copies of the book, it was just they sold every copy they had within 30 minutes of opening the bookstand. Heh. I considered leaping on a plane to my editoprs house and doign the Seinfeld-style break in answering machine tape swap, but settled for calling back to leave a chagrined "Um, nevermind. So, how about them Yankees" message.
10) The first thing I did when I got there was lose my nametag in the potty. Then it was returned to me. The second thing I did was lose it again. Into a black hole. They made a hand-written tag. I took it off at supper, put it back on later, wandered around for an hour, and then looked down to see my tag said I was JANET SOMEONE. I took it off and went to find Janet Someone, but lost THAT tag by the time I found her. HEH.
11) When I turned in my expenses, I basically added up my $16 soup-salad-iced-tea lunch as a $160.00 lunch. That must have been SOME good soup, huh? That gave the conference chair the DELIGHTFUL task of approaching me to try and delicately tell me my math might be the TINIEST BIT off. HEHE. How would you like that job? She was very polite and delicater about it, and I laughed and said, "Oh, see, the problem was you asked me to do math in the first place."
12) After standing at the front of a room leading a two and a half hour session, I began to SERIOUSLY hate my chocolate brown knee boots with the four inch heels.
13) After three Amstel lights and half a Mini-Bottle Super Madras, walking down to the beach in my chocolate brown leather knee boots with the four inch heels seemed like a GREAT IDEA, so now I need new chocolate brown leather knee boots with four inch heels.
14) The phospherous was active (although after three Amstel Lights and half a Mini-Bottle Super Madras, I couldn;t remember the word PHOSPHEROUS and called them/it "the diatoms, the light up diatoms, you know they are like diatoms in that they are little, but more, you know, ELECTRIC in that they light up, so not REALLY like diatoms but small like that. Also, I once ate diatoms. In earth. Diatomacious earth. Tasted kinda lemony, for dirt.") I am pretty dern blase about the whole "beauty of nature" thing, but it was SO spectacular that I kept interrupting whoever was speaking to shriek "LOOKIT THAT! LOOKIT THAT!" every time the phospherous popped and bloomed like a firework set off under the waves.
15) I had a SMASHING good time. It's a great conference.
I am home!
Sort of. I am off the boat anyway. And SO grateful to celebrity guest blogger Mir (of Woulda Coulda Shoulda) who was given MOD ACCESS TO KUDZU and never ONCE abused her newfound posting powers to perpetrate a A Very Bad Word Indeed upon these hallowed and generally PG-14-Year-Old-Nephew grounds. She never even ALLUDED to Female Problems Better Not Discussed. I am proud. Most importantly, she stepped in and ran B4B single-handedly. She. Is. Pretty.
Also, big thanks to celebrity guest author Melanie Lynn Hauser (whose book, Confessions of Super Mom is garnering great reviews) and MORE thanks to the B4B entrants who have kept Kudzu metaphorically floating in quality reading material while I was floating in a more literal and Atlantic Oceanly manner. The WINNERS are in the entry right below this one, posted by her beautimous Mir-liness. I'm so out of the loop of my OWN DERN BLOG that I started reading the second half of the ORIGINAL ENTRIES today with my morning coffee. WOW am I GLAD I delegated the job of narrowing the entries down!
SO back to the being sort of mostly HOME-ISH.
I am HOME in an AMERICA sense but not in the sense of MY house: I am at my mom-n-dad's place. But I WAS home, for a minute. Day before yesterday. Then I kissed Sam 500 times until he was all, MOM OKAY I MISSED YOU TOO JEEZ, and then I snatched up Maisy and we got in the car with my dad and came over here to meet with the Tonya Terry's Book Bunch in Mongomery. I was on WSFA's morning show, and then met with their very large and VERY chatty and VERY VERY OPINIONATED group of exceptional women (and one man) last night. The interview with Tonya (she's a PISTOL!) can be seen in streaming video here.
I wish the meeting could too, quite frankly.
Let's just say that gods in Alabama ended up being a SLIGHTLY controversial choice... A large and (Thank you, Lord) very vocal segment really took to the book, and I got that satisfying sense I almost always seem to get during book club visits---that these are more than surface readers. Very few of them missed a trick, and as always the reactions and opinions varied widely. I never regret finding time to go to book clubs.
There was a (Thank you again, Lord) much smaller contingent (about four) that wanted the book banned, and one of that number thought banned didn't quite cover it. She thought that all copies of the book should be gathered into a heap and set on fire and then I should be tossed on top of the burning heap in a literary version of suttee. She hadn't made it out of Chapter 2 when she became SO enraged with Arlene's *cough* blunt vocabulary and *cough cough* frank depictions of ...let's say, "scenes of a delicate nature" that she took it BACK to the bookstore, yelled at them for CARRYING such smutly filth, and demanded her money back.
Digression: I got tickled about that, because how much do you want to bet that ALL of those booksellers have now read the book? I dare to think that most people who read it like it, And if you can get a bookseller to like it, they help it find its readership. And by "Its readership" I mean, the folks who don't stop reading two chapters in to begin the laborious process of mailing me some dead animals or bombs because of Arlene's cheerful, uncomplicated relationship with the F word, and her incredibly convoluted relationship with the act that the F word purports to represent. If you follow me.
My favorite of the nay-sayers was the woman who did not attend but sent her friend with this message:
"I think the title was very misleading. I thought it would be a religious book, but this book is so graphic that it ought to have been called "OH GOD! OH GOD! OH GOD! In Alabama."
I may disagree with her assessment (as I have said before, I DO think of gods as a "religious book...") but HA! What a GREAT line! She should write reviews. I also liked meeting Tonya's co-anchor who greeted me with, "Oh, is this the Effin' author? How the Eff are ya?" He'd read the letter from the this-is-smutly-filth-book-returner, see.
AH WELL. ONWARDS, HO! (With the Ho being Arlene, apparently.)
BUSINESS: If you have written me e-mail in the last 2 weeks, I most likely have not answered you. It cost 50 cents a minute to have web access on the boat. YARP! I am going to catch up on all that my-real-life-stuff on Monday. Today I am driving home, and Scott and I plan to spend the weekend hanging out with our kids and our cat and our newts...
I have MANY MORE boat stories to tell you, About Jacek and Nicola, and what I have named each of my five COUNT THEM ...FIVE! brand new pounds of cruise-induced butt fat and my 20 day plan to murder each of them in turn, and about Why I Will Never Have A Second Career in the British Royal Navy (alternate title: Adventures of a Puffy Pink Puker) etc etc etc, and I shall try to not let all this stuff go the way of the roller-blade socks, but you know, every day, more life keeps happening. You can't stop it. So.
Hi. I am violently ill.
No, I did not eat a bad banger. No, Isaac-the-bartender didn't talk me into trying a spangle-french-Bellini shooter or seven. It is the WAVINESS. Good LORD, but the ocean is very MOVE-Y. This morning I stood out on my little balcony and exhorted the dern thing to PEACE, BE STILL, but it ignored me, even when I offered it my breakfast as a sacrifice. Stupid ocean. The boat tips around and sloshes while all of me stays still except my stomach, which chooses to slosh cheerfully right along with the waves.
After a perfectly miserable morning, I learned you can get injections for sea sickness at the clinic, and as a BONUS, the shots make a person dreamy and pleasant to be around. The injection works FAST, and then suddenly you are cruising along, seeing tigers and singing tuneless little songs that celebrate the beauty of the word marmoset. So that's all right then.
As soon as I had finished with the naseua and its accompanying "praying for death," I began having a FANTASTIC day. Scott and I are now QM2 certified to CHA-CHA. We can do basic cha-cha, and also he can TWIRL me, and also we can do a move called THE NEW YORK. But only if we do these steps in a certain order. We experimented with a little free style cha-cha-ing, and it invariably leads to toe stomping and bonking into other dancers and madness. So we sit near the dance floor, hovering like cha-cha vultures, waiting for the right sort of beat, and then we leap to the floor and do three basic, twirl once, then straight into two sets of THE NEW YORK and bang-oh, tally-ho, Bob is one's uncle, and there we are back at basic. Once back at basic, we lather, we rinse, and we most humbly and obediently repeat. Tomorrow we shall learn to do about three tango moves and then go do them over and over in the exact order we learn them, OH such`good little dance monkeys are we! Hopefully we will also remember our CHA-CHA sequence, and so tomorrow night we can leap onto the floor twice as often and feel VERY pleased with ourselves. IT IS FUN AND ROMANTICAL to ballroom dance, even BADLY.
Tonight we have been invited to have drinks with the Commodore, and I am feeling very posh indeed! I am wearing shoes that are SO excrutiating I think they are ILLEGAL in 14 states but OH lordy, are they pretty? Why, Yes. Yes, they are.
ALSO we took a bridge class, and played bar trivia, and listened to Harrison Ford explain the origin of the planet while watching a ceiling film in the dome of the planetarium and yes, YES, you heard me, they DO have a planetarium on board, as well as Oxford dons offering lectures about modern art and dada--that's tomorrow. Scott is SO happy. OH they have this art auction and we were wandering through just LOOKING and we saw this painting, and Scott said, "Wow -- that guy was so influenced by Chagall he might as well BE Chagall." And then we looked at the signature, and um. It was. IT WAS CHAGALL. They have FOUR of them. FOR SALE. We stood there googling at it like rubes and then noticed a one-eyed woman by PICASSO was loitering all bizarrely profiled right beside it. FOR FREAKIN' SALE. OH man, I am COVETING.
Also on board, Dick Francis. That's pretty cool, too. When I was VERYVERYVERY pregnant with Maisy I went through this DICK FRANCIS thing where I read everything he had ever written. I could read one about one every two days, and nothing else made me happy. NOTHING. Even Jane Austen irritated me. It was DF or bust, DF or nothing, DF or listen to me sit flat-bottomed on the floor with my legs spraddled, wailing "LITTLE FAT PREGNANT IS TIRED! GET IT A BOOK! IT WANTS A BOOK WITH HORSES IN!" Scott, who probably SHOULD have spanked me to death, would instead kindly go get me another DF mystery, and I would shut up for 4 or 5 hours at a time. It was a good system, especially the part where I didn't get deservedly killed.
WHOOPSIE lookit the time. I need to suspend my disbelief and go nibble on dramamine and then put on my twirly-skirted green spangle dress and The Cruel Shoes for the commodore's cocktail party. And THERE'S a sentence I never thought I'd say....
Yesterday I went and met my UK editor and several other Hodder editors and a great deal of the publicity department and various and sundry other people who...um. I don't know. Let's just say they "work in publishing" as my understanding of the way a business is run is SO rudimentary that is pretty much a LARVAE. And not even a larvae who is likely to blossom into a less rudimentary dragonfly type understanding. More like a sulking larvae. An ungrowing, crabby with little larvae with clinical depression and a Prozac allergy.Oh heck, not even. More like a dead larvae. But anyway, I met some people who have jobs I don't understand, but that mean the great wheels of the publishing industry grind on, so we likes them, my preshus, indeed we do.
There was a little champagne reception among the boxes and orange crates (Hodder is moving offices) AND! The VP of sales AND the VP of marketing came, which delighted me. Those are good people to have liking ones book. Gods is gettign the same kind of backing from Hodder that it got at Warner, and oh my goodness...I can't tell you what the backing of the house means, but it probably rhymes with, "beverything." The way they've aken to gods warms the cockles of my heart, or, alternatively, whatever internal organ actually HOLDS the cockles, assuming girls even have them. Which I doubt.
I also got a brilliant bit of news (<--note my obnoxious slang appropriation is not stopping. And brilliant is just the TIP of my anglophile iceberg. I have completely banished "TENNIS SHOES" and even "SNEAKERS" from my vocabulary. I have TRAINERS now, thanks much, because that's what WE over here in ENGLAND say. Since I was a resident of London for FOUR SOLID DAYS I am practically a NATIVE. So. Trainers. But I digress....) As I was saying, I got BRILLIANT bit of news while in the office, but I don't know if I am allowed to say yet, so I will say it later. IT IS NICE THOUGH!
My editor is funny and a charming conversationalist, which one expects editors to be, actually, BUT she is tall, which is new. My U.S. Editor and a few of her fellow editors I have met at Warner and my publisher and my publicist are all petite, like 5'2' and slender to boot. When I first met them I was intimiated because they all had good shoes and glossy hair and came up to my bosom. Tall women intimidate me less, probably because I am tall, BUT...On the other hand, my UK editor is ridiculously pretty which can also be intimidating. I swan, I am used to it though---my personal and anecdotal evidence indicates that that is just the way editors ARE, everywhere. There was a gent (<--SLANG APPROPRIATION!!!!) there, in his forties I'd say, also a Hodder editor, and he lifted his champage glass and waived it at all the ridiculously pretty editors and said, "I guess the reason is plain why *I* went into publishing." At any rate, she was very chatty and easy to talk to, so I didn't get the shy's or have a nervous prostration or pour wine down my front.
Then my editor took Scott and I to lunch at a RAWTHER POSH SPOT <--- SLANG APROPRIATION! OMG you should have SEEN the ceiling--a mosaic of all these tiny mirrored tiles. It was made in the 1800's. Just gorgeous. I ate a warm goat cheese tart that I shall always remember with fondness.
We are now on board the QM2 and I have to go find the GYM because OH LORD but bangers and mash are good. Under good, file also: Fish and chips and the INDIAN FOOD in London. I am STUFFED on chutney and prawn curry ("PRAWNS" is what WE over here in ENGLAND call ....oh how do you Americans say it....shrimps? heheheh OKAY, OKAY, I am stopping. Soon. Probably.) And I have to tell you about the plays we saw on the West End -- we saw Sienna Miller and the ASTONISHINGLY CHARISMATIC AND AMAZING Helen McCrory in AS YOU LIKE IT, and that won.
QM2 pics and info later ---I need to go throw streamers and find Julie-our-cruise-director and MORE IMPORTANTLY, Isaac-our-bartender and learn where the lifeboats are. Scott tells me that they have instituted this new POST TITANTIC safety program where they have enough lifeboats for EVERYONE on board! HUZZAH!
B4B note -- If you do not blog and yet you want to enter, you can send your essay to ANNE FITTEN aka Edgy Mama, and she will put it up on a blog especially created to host entries. Her email address is
I can't make links work right now GAH. Edgy Mama is on my BLINKS PAGE and you will have to write out her e-mail address...SORRY. And now some of the pics I promised you!
At my hotel, there is a picture of this guy we call Lord Nipple. This is him:
I don't understand why he is wearing see through armor, or what disease he has contracted that could cause flesh-lions to grow from his bare shoulders. BUT OKAY. I admit I enjoy the presence of Lord Nipple. I like his supercilious nose, and you have to admit, he's pretty bold to sit out in the living room and receive guests in such garb. I am trying to convince Scott that we need to kiss our hands and slap Lord Nipple's belly every time we pass his portrait, but Scott resists joining me in what I feel is a fitting tribute to Lord N's unapologetic nipple-ness. I think Scott holds back because Lord Nipple is right by the Concierge, but see, I think that's what would make it CHALLENGING. We would have to come up with elaborate schemes to distract the concierge long enough to carry out the belly-slap of nipple tribute. Alas, it is not to be.
I want to look him up when i get home and get the story.
HEY -- I found an independent bookstore yesterday in my quest to sign every copy of gods in Alabama currently out in London. That was cool -- it is called Foyles, and it was family owned and every bookseller there was a READER. They had quite a few copies of gods and it had very nice placement, and hopefully one or two of the handsellers I met there will follow up and read it and help it find readers. Just one or two can make quite a difference...I also went to several chains, and talked to booksellers there----met some MORE booksellers who read and that's always so heartening and delightful. I LOVE finding booksellers who essentially think selling books is not the same as selling cars or coffee---who love what they sell. Here they have different chains than we have in the states; Books, INC and Blackwell's and W. H. Smith and Waterstones---No Barnes and Nobles, although they do have Borders here. I have YET to see an OTTAKER'S, and I really want to find at LEAST one, since they made gods their August book of the month...maybe today.
LOOK This was at the tower of London --- This is a GUN!
I like the goat-lion-thingy, cheerfully holding up the heavy end. It seems an odd thing, to tart up a very large and destructive weapon until it looks like a cheery carnival ride. It's a very medieval thing to do, though. Scott and I love medieval history and theatre, so we are pretty much in heaven here.
West End theatre is VERY different from American theatre. Not in terms of quality -- there's no choosing between the West End and Broadway. Superlative acting, gifted designers, great directors are par for both courses. But here theatre is much more ACCESSIBLE. You can wear jeans, whereas in New York it's more...social. The theatre tickets are the one thing that's CHEAPER over here. Here, a burger that would cost you three bucks stateside is four or five pounds. And a pound is worth 2 dollars. just about, so. Do the math, it;s doubly doubled. At the same time, a theatre ticket that would cost you 125 bucks is only 40 pounds. There is this feeling that theatre is fun and a nice and for everyone. Stateside, in New York it is a BIG event to go because it's so prohibitively expensive, and you dress up for it. It's an event, not something you do every weekend. Out of New York theatre, excepting travelling LION KING productions, is often seen as elitist---something for big smarty-pants intellectuals. Going to see THE CHERRY ORCHARD is often viewed as GOOD for you, like medicine or spinach, but not necessarily a pleasure. But here, it seems theatre is just one of the things everyone can go and do for fun. THIS IS RIGHT AND GOOD AND SMART. I envy it.
That's me, looking dyspeptic in front of the sunken garden at Kensington Palace.
And this is one of the Ravens at the Tower of London. THEY ARE AS BIG AS CATS and they CANTER around like 2 legged black ponies.
MORE LATER --- This is our last full day here and Scott is making impatient noises. Lord Nipple awaits our passing, and beyond him, all of London.
TODAY! I am leaving for England! For England! For England!
Things I am excited to eat, even though I don’t really know what some of them are:
Bangers and Mash (no clue)
Toad in the Hole (This is EITHER an egg fried inside toast or a mysterious sausage)
Bubble and Squeak (no clue, but who wouldn’t want to eat that? It sounds cute and friendly.)
Pie and Mash with Parsley Liquor (no clue, but it has PIE in it. And it has LIQUOR in it. Sign me up.)
Lancashire Hotpot (no clue)
Ploughman’s Lunch (Bread and cheese and a bit of pickle. I have it on good authority that one needs to eat this with beer)
Here is a list of all the things I categorically refuse to eat, even though I don’t really know what some of them are:
Kidney Pudding (Just reading the words makes me smell pee)
Bacon Roly-Poly (Down here, a Roly Poly is a BUG. So.)
Pease Mash (A sauce of boiled peas that some places put on fish and chips---it’s been described to me as “finger soup.” )
Black Pudding (THIS IS SOMETHING MADE OF PIG BLOOD AND LARD! IT IS FOR BREAKFAST!!!! I USE ALL CAPS TO INDICATE THAT I AM SCREAMING!!!!!)
Stargazy Pie (This is a fish pie and that seems fine except it is called stargazy pie because the fish are cooked tails in, heads up, which indicates that the HEADS are still on the fish and the GAZY part of the name indicates that the EYES are still in the heads. I can’t eat things that look at me. Or even things that look at the stars. I can’t eat things that look, period.)
Marmite (It is brown and in a jar and makes me think, inexorably, of creamed marmoset.)
Oh wait. I am from the South. Her we eat hairy slime (commonly known as okra) and we invented the Fried Dill Pickle. I have relatives who routinely say, “Slop yer aigs around in them grits, honey, and then sop up the yallar with your biskit!” We have Mullet Fries. We came up with CHITLINS and have been known to PICKLE the FEET of perfectly nice pigs.
I probably need to set this rock down and get out the windex so I can polish up the walls of my pretty glass house.
Next time we speak, I will be across the pond.
I WILL TAKE PICTURES!
One of my regular blog-and-coffee morning reads, Fresh Eyes , is talking about bookstores and humility in response to NYT best-selling novelist Tess Gerritsen's 8/24/05 (scroll down) blog entry about her spiritual slaughter at the hands of Hawaiian booksellers. OH MY FRIENDS. Let me tell you, you don't have to go Maui to get thoroughly belittled! If you want to understand the smallness of your space in the universe, all you have to do is drive down the STREET. People in your home town will quite often be happy to oblige, because, hey, nothing good can come out of Nazareth! Of course, given my druthers, if one HAS to be humiliated, I say, better to do it in Maui and then comfort yourself with a GIANT hollow pineapple filled with rum and melon liqueur and juices and plastic mermaids and teeny tiny umbrellas.
Mine for Summer: I heard from no less than three people that a local store was out of my book. This store is the CLOSEST bookstore to my house that exists (if you do not count a beloved small independent children's bookstore). These three people ALL went in to PURCHASE gods in Alabama and couldn't. I heard this from these people over the course of two weeks, so the store had apparently been out for quite some time.
I went by near the beginning of August. I snagged a bookseller who was near fiction, introduced myself, explained that I was local, asked him if he had read it, asked him what kind of books he liked, he listed some authors that led me to think he would probably like my book, so I told him so. I asked him to read it, asked him to help readers find it, told him why he might like it ETC. ETC., just talked about it with him and made sure he knew people had come to the store wanting to buy in the last two weeks and did they have any on order and I would be happy to sign their stock when it came in and ETC. ETC. ETC.
I left feeling better. He seemed like a good guy, a READER you know? I am always disheartened by booksellers who say "Oh well, I don't read very much," when I ask them what authors they like. This has happened more times than you would imagine! It's like a devoted environmentalist selling cars..."Oh well I wouldn't drive one of these air poisoning death machines for a million dollars and think that anyone who does is going to spend eternity on a spit being slow-basted by the hounds of The Arch Deamon Mechasadaic, but if you have 20 thousand bucks and don't mind destroying the earth and all, I would be happy to fill out the paperwork that will charge you exorbitant interest AND damn your immortal soul...Want some organic soy gum?"
On the way out I see they have a HUGE DISPLAY SHELF up of Local Authors. RIGHT at the front of fiction. Seriously, except for NEW RELEASES and BEST SELLERS, it's probably the nicest placement in the store. They have put EVERYONE who lives in Georgia up there---even people who I KNOW live in ATHENS and SAVANNAH. And all the books have big LOCAL AUTHOR stickers on. Pretty much every Georgia author who comes out in hardback from a NYC house is up there. Except um ... one. That would be the one who lives 7 miles away. If you are this store, you cannot GET a more local than me. BUT OKAY THEN!
Honestly? My feelings were a little hurt. I'd been in the store before when gods came and had introduced myself to other booksellers there. BUT I thought, well, maybe it WAS up there and they sold out? But I can't help but notice there is no HOLE where another book could go...The shelf is full.
A week later, I go back to follow up. Still no copies. Not on the local author display. Not anywhere. I go and talk to one of the booksellers there again, the fiction section manager this time, intro, ask about book. OH yea, she says, people come in here and ask for that book a lot. Let me see. I will go ahead and order some right now!
I watch her order five copies, rush job.
I mention the local authors table and she says, But your book says it's in Alabama.
Me: Yes, the book is set in Alabama, but those books aren't all set in Georgia. They are just written by Georgia authors.
Her: But your book says Alabama on the cover.
Me: But....yes but. I know the book is set in Alabama, but... I live 7 miles away.
We look at each other for a minute.
Her: Okay, I guess we can put you up there.
Went back yesterday. No on the display. No copies in the store.
Hypothesis one: In the grand scheme of things, I am simply not that important. These book sellers have a lot of other things to do, and fixing my stupid little personal problem of hurt feelings fell off the radar. Perhaps I should get over myself.
Note: I don't much LIKE that hypothesis. Let's move on.
Hypothesis Two: One day, all the employees of this bookstore were in a van heading out to get coffee together and talk obsessively about their favorite local authors who live in Savannah, and I was not paying attention and I CUT THEM OFF in traffic and one of them took a picture of me with her cell phone camera and then took the picture to her FBI agent boyfriend who ran it through some database and I came up because I had to get fingerprinted and SCREENED before I was allowed to work in my church nursery and he sent her the info back and they realized I was a local writer and they said, OKAY WHENEVER SHE COMES IN JUST BE POLITE AND THEN DON'T ORDER HER BOOK. OR ORDER IT IN FRONT OF HER AND THEN IMMEDIATELY CANCEL THE SECOND SHE WALKS OUT. AND THEN WE CAN GO IN THE BACK AND LAUGH AND LAUGH AND THROW MORE DARTS AT HER PICTURE! Because OBVIOUSLY their lives revolve entirely around THE HOPE THAT THEY WILL BE GIVEN THE A CHANCE TO RUIN MY DAY.
Yes, hypothesis 2 seems much more reasonable.
SO in the hopes of fostering peace between me and this cult of book sellers who clearly spend WAY too much time thinking about me, allow me to FORMALLY SAY:
Dear alla ya'll at the bookstore,
I am so sorry I cut you off in traffic. Let's be friends! PLEASE STOCK MY BOOK AND PS I AM LOCAL. I AM SO LOCAL YOU COULD SPIT AND HIT MY HOUSE FROM YOUR JOB, and in fact, you probably do. Please stop, that's gross. Please put me on the local authors shelf! I love you!
XXOOO KISS KISS HEART SPARKLE DIAMOND KISS TWINKLE XXXO,
I am leaving for England tomorrow and I will be doing quite a bit of drop in stock signings. I am sure to run into book sellers who don't know me from Adam's Housecat, and I am certain to be humbled again but, I have two BIG comforts:
1) There is no London bookseller who can POSSIBLY spit far enough to hit my house and
2) If THEY will make me feel 3 inches tall, they will at least do it using a RAWWWWWWther sexy accent.
Between these comforts and the actual getting of a TRIP TO LONDON, well. Never shall I say this job don't got no perks!
I am back on the road (I took my kids with me. I love summer.), so here is brief update.
1) Maisy is fine. MAISY IS FINE. Everyone has looked at Maisy and thumped Maisy and said STRIDER and nodded wisely and they all agree that she is FINE. SO. I am going to accept that SHE IS FINE. For now. Someday she may even sleep her own room again, allowed to breathe unsupervised. I know my husband would probably like that.HEH!
2) I am fine. I have this weird thing where good things in my life scare me, because I feel I am racking up some monstrously huge karmic debt that can only be paid by losing 3 or 4 of my limbs or being burned up in a fire, and that's just silly. Life doesn't BALANCE like that. No one gets equal and exact scoops of ice cream and dog poo on their plate. LIFE. IS. NOT. FAIR. This is one of those times that I should be HAPPY that life isn't fair, because if it WAS, I would be OWED SO MUCH DOG POO! I would have a dog poo deficit to rival the federal deficit. AND so I have made a new good pure truthful resolution in the deepest pink part of my sincere heart to BE HAPPY WITH MY ICE CREAM and SHUT UP. It is actually going well so far! No fretting at ALL! '
But, you know, it's seven AM, and I instituted this policy 6 AM. So.
3) If you are doing book promotion, and Stephenie at the Huntsville Library invites you to come speak...hear me on this...GO. She did SUCH great event promo that the auditorium was PACKED (very unusual for a first time novelist) and she had 5 cases of books there and sold all but 6 copies. AND??? Gave me Godiva truffles. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Stephenie. Also it was a GREAT engaged fun crowd who asked GREAT questions -- many I had never heard before, and they asked ZERO of the three questions you always hear that have no answer. I had a good time.
4) If you are a person who has put my book on the side of your blog in the WHAT I AM READING or your FAVORITE BOOKS THIS YEAR or your RECOMMENDED READING slot, then you are SO excruciatingly pretty and I wish you would send me the link via e-mail. I DO know of a couple of blogs who have done this that I have found GOOGLING or who DID send me mail, but I have gotten letters from readers who found gods in Alabama on the sides of blogs I have never HEARD OF and I am SO CHARMED BY YOU, YOU SECRETIVE UNKNOWN DARLINGS. Word of mouth (and its internetterly equivalent, which would be...what? Word of blog?) is EVERYTHING with a first book, especially now that the book is a few months old. Thank you anonymous unknown lovely bloggers. You are almost flawless, but you did not SEND ME A LINK so I can THANK YOU and tell you that you are having a GOOD GOOD hair day and that NO, those pants EMPHATICALLY do NOT make you look fat.
First a CLARIFICATION: I am not unhappy to have 50,000 rowdy boys churning the air into butter in my basement. We picked our neighborhood because it had a PACK of roving boys playing kickball and etc in the cul de sacs EVERY TIME we drove through, and we picked our house in it because of the basement and the big pondy-froggy-turtle-y lot. Then we set up the downstairs with specific CHILD ATTRACTING equipment. As Sam gets older we will finish out the BIG BASEMENT ROOM and put in a MOVIE THEATRE and get rid of the KIDDIE POOL TABLE and put in a real one (Scott is PANTING to do this right now because he is a SHARK!) And I'll add a downstairs fridge and keep it stocked with cokes and popcorn and ice cream and strawberries and let Sam and Maisy pick the colors and put the old, comfy furniture and not care if it is utterly destroyed or permeated with the smell of adolescent boy feet. Because I want to be THE HOUSE. You know?
It is IMPORTANT to be THE HOUSE. There is ALWAYS a THE HOUSE. When Sam (and later Maisy) is a teenager, if it is 1 AM on a Friday night, and it becomes necessary to ask the question WHERE IS SAM, I want the answer to be, "IN MY BASEMENT WATCHING MOVIES AND SHOOTING POOL AND EATING FREE FOOD WITH A HERD OF HIS FRIENDS." Not, "At some other THE HOUSE, licking investigatively at a big block of heroin and fondling a hooker."
WELCOME BACK TO TRAVEL SANS MERCY!
I have been to, what, like 19 hotels in the last month? And you have ONLY heard about the 2 where I had bad things happen. SO. Let me say, the others were like Barbie's Dream House, all lofted ceilings and flat screen TVs with monstrously good cable and hot and cold running naked oiled cabana boys and crab cake room service and starbucks coffee free in the lobby....VERY nice hotels. NOT the sort of hotel where the bed has a slot for a quarter and if you put one in, the bed jiggles you for ten minutes. More like, the bed had a slot where you could feed it five dollar bills and it would play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for you. Maybe a little TOO good for a cotton and kudzu backwater rube-chick like me.
And even the bad experiences...they were NICE hotels. One was a very nice hotel, except it had an evil money-sucking exploitative restaurant manager who is going to be SO SORRY when he goes to hell and is thrown into a pile of burning credit cards to smolder eternally in the stink of melting plastic. One hotel was having a genuinely troubled day, what with the SPIDER and the MEAN PERSON and the CONSTRUCTION, but for the record I stayed at that SPIDER MEAN PERSON CONSTRUCTION hotel on the pre-tour and it was PERFECT. So.
I say all this to say: I am at an internet cafe FULL OF TEENAGE BOYS playing WarCraft. It's a pretty cool cafe...it is trying to be THE HOUSE and attract the kids here to avoid the heroin licking/hooker thing. It is NEXT TO and OWNED BY this cute little church, and it has FREE INTERNET,and a stage for BANDS and cheap coffee drinks and cookies and sammies. EVERYONE in here is 17 or under, except me, yet here I sit, listening to my FOURTH SOLID HOUR of contemporary Christian Music as I write this, and...wow. Four hours is a LOT OF CCM. HEH. But I WILL NOT GO NO NEVER NO NEVER because, are you ready for this??? The hotel where I am staying is EVIL.
Oh, it has a BAY VIEW and a DOWN COMFORTER and a HEATED indoor outdoor pool and a four star restauraunt...But...are you ready??? You are not. SIT DOWN and hold hands with someone comforting:
THE HOTEL HAS NO INTERNET CONNECTION.
Pause and boggle with me. NO. INTERNET. CONNECTION. That's right. I cannot get to you from there, nor you to me. IT IS CUT OFF! IT IS SILENT! IT IS A WIREFREE TOMB OF DOOM! I like me some internet in the same way I like me some oxygen...
I got there and the FIRST THING OUT OF MY MOUTH??? As per usual...
Me: How to I connect to the internet? Cable ro wireless?
Hotel Guy: Um, neither!
Me: *boggles at him* HA! HA! NO, BUT REALLY BECAUSE. UM. BUT REALLY WHICH?
Hotel Guy: Well, we have dial up.
Me: HA HA HA. Um What is dial up? THE PHONE THING with the WREEEEEE noise? Because um..*nervous tittering* you are scaring me. No really. HOW DO I CONNECT TO THE INTERNET???
Hotel Guy: You come back in 2006 when the 40 million dollar renovation is over and we have internet.
SO I have spent the day here at Cafe CCM. I LOVE IT HERE. All the kids are looking at me all askance but HERE is good, and I do not MIND that this News Boys CD has played through 4 times now. BECAUSE THIS CAFE HAS YOU, OH MY BELOVED INTERNET! MY LOVELY VIRTUAL FRIENDS! MY POSSUMS, MY BLOSSOMS, OH MY BEST INVISIBLE BELOVEDS. I was SO lonely without you yesterday....But ALAS! My ride is coming to take me to the event, so I must post this and trail sadly away, back to a place with...with...*choked sobbing* NO CONNECTION!!!!!!!!!
Travel. Sans. Mercy.
It wasn't that bad. I speak in the TEENIEST bit of hyperbole sometimes. The spider? He probably really only contained enough spider material to make three good sized garden spiders. Three and a half, tops. And probably the hotel is not so much VERMIN INFESTED as having construction, so that the banging and and the spider showing up in my room were related facets of a single, unavoidable problem. And the fact that some construction workers did not come when they heard a woman POSSIBLY BEING DISMEMBERED can not be blamed on the hotel, because I doubt they hired the construction company by checking to see which one had captured the MOST axe murderes.
As for the door man---it really WAS my fault. I have forgotten how to speak CHICAGO. And HE never had any idea of how to speak GEORGIA. Had I gone up to him and said, directly, "May I please have a ride to the gym," I bet he would have gotten me one. However, I am PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE OF SAYING THAT. Because that, see, would be asking directly for what I wantslashneed. And um, I would sooner eat my own intestines. SO what happened was, I went down and tried to INDICATE, indirectly and politely, that he should probably get a car for me.
What I said: How far is it to the gym? Do I need a ride or can I walk?
What I meant: I need a ride to the gym.
What he heard: How far is it to the gym? Do I need a ride or can I walk?
What he answered: It's only about six blocks. You can walk it easily in under ten minutes.
What I heard him say: I am busy and important.
What I said: Oh but, look! It is raining.
What I meant: I need a ride to the gym.
What he heard: Oh but, look! It is raining.
What he answered: It's not raining hard.
What I heard him say: You are bothering me.
What I said: Is it very cold? I don't have a coat with me, or an umbrella. Everyone out there looks to be in big overcoats.
What I meant: I need a ride to the gym.
What he heard: But I don't have a coat with me, or an umbrella. Everyone out there looks to be in big overcoats.
What he said: Well, I am not sure how cold it is. Probably not too cold. Just go outside and walk a little and see if it is too cold. You can always come back.
What I heard: Please go away. And PS, I hope you get frostbite and die.
And IN GEORGIA that IS what he would have meant. BUT SEE, I was in Chicago. I remember in grad school I had to LEARN TO SPEAK A WHOLE NOTHER LANGUAGE practically, because people would ask me to serve on committees or come to meetings and I would answer with words that seemed to me to be a very clear, NO. Not just NO, but more like, NO NO NO AND NO AND PS THE DEMONS OF SEVENTH LEVEL HELL WILL OPEN LEMONADE STANDS TO COOL THE TONGUES OF THE DAMNED BEFORE THAT COMES TO PASS. But what the CHICAGO-ANS would hear would be, "Yes, please, I would love to." SO. I just forgot.
AND ANYWAY NOW I AM IN VERMONT staying at the VERT BEST HOTEL EVER. It is called 1811 house and you should come stay here. It's a BandB but not RELENTLESSLY FLORAL. It's PRETTY and UNDERSTATED and LOVELY. This is a B and B that the Gilmore Girls WOULD stay at and ENJOY and I think I may just LIVE here.
And tomorrow is NORTHSHIRE (awesome bookstore) and OUTLET SHOPPING with my friend Mir which MAY be either FUN or WAR because it is ALL about shoes, on this we agree, but we may come to blows over the kitten heel v/s the wedge. She is a pointy toe afficionada and I am all about the ankle strap. It could get UGLY.
ALSO! THE WARNER REP is coming and bringing me a NEW ARC of WIDOW OF THE SOUTH and soon I will go home and I have SO MUCH TO READ! OH OH the BOOKS omg. Every place I go I am meeting HANDSELLERS, right? And I am a BIG junkie and now I have books scattered across my house like ORPHANS. Orphans with feet who move themseleves around. The worst sorts of well-fed, roving orphans who seem to move themselves all over my house---Dickens wouldn't have saved a one of them, they NEVER sit still and say PLEASE MAY I HAVE SOME MORE. They WANDER. I wil never find the one I want to read when I want to read it, so. I will have to have THE GREAT BOOK RE-ORG when I get home and...YIKES that will take forever. SO, I won't go home. I will just live here at 1811 house which has CHOCOLATE and an HONOR BAR and NO SPIDERS. Yay.
ONE OF THE REPS gave me an ARC for a book I am DYING to read. It is called WIDOW OF THE SOUTH by ROBERT HICKS and it is coming out this fall and, oh my best beloveds, you heard it here first: Hothothot buzz all OVER this book. I LIKE ARCs, I LOVE getting my hands on a book before it is released. It makes me feel DIRTY. But in a good way.
SO I am all BOTHERED to read this ARC but I couldn't because it is SOUTHERN and I don't read southern when I am working and (I am pleased to report) I AM WORKING. My brain is a bag of low-fat popcorn revolving in the microwave oven of my head, poppoppop. I plan to read WIDOW at the end of this month when I take a little 2 week break to work on some SUMMARIES...SO LONG STORY UNBEARABLY LONG... I GOT a copy and I just went to LOOK for it to show my mother who is here to raise my children as I gallivant off to Chicago and Vermont, and I realized I must have promptly LOST it. DERNIT. I was on the road.
WAIT NO! It was in New Orleans!!! I think. I think I may have mailed it to myself, or handed it to the media escort to mail to me! OH MY LORD it is seriously all coming back to me as I type. That's where it is. My LUGGAGE got overweight and somewhere in New Orleans is a media rep who has a BUTTLOAD of my books actually that we kept meaning to ship and we kept being thwarted by post office hours and the not having a box where they would all fit and there are COOKIES in there too I think, COOKIES! I was trying to mail myself these LEMON COOKIES and a SHARP pink purse that Gabi gave me and a PANTSLOAD of books, and we never could get them mailed, and the media escort said, DO NOT WORRY MY LITTLE POODLE, MY DUMPLING, MY BELOVED SHY HERMIT CRAB! FOR I SHALL MAIL THEM TO YOU! MEDIA RATE! BECAUSE I AM THRIFTY, NOW LIE YOUR HEAD UPON MY RAMPANT BOOOOSOMS AND I SHALL PET YOUR HAIR AND SING TO YOU AS WE GO TO THE AIRPORT.
I love media escorts. They pick you up and tote you around and feed you at regular intervals and are usually BOOK people to boot. It's like a WELL-READ NANNY for grown-ups. I want one for my house.
FAVORITE SAM STORY OF WHILE I WAS ON THE ROAD:
Sam: I think we're going to add another baby when Maisy is five.
My Mother: Oh? Really?
Sam: Yes. That's only two years away, so we better get ready.
My Mother: Why do you think you guys will be adding another baby? Did your mom and dad say something?
Sam: I think mom wants some more people around here. You know, to help with the chores.
ADDENDUM: FOUND THE BOX! The media rep DID ship it. My husband PUT IT IN A SPECIAL PLACE because I was on the road. WIDOW OF THE SOUTH NOT IN IT. Distraught. I was SO sure that was where it was. Taking WHITE TEETH to read on the plane, anyway, but. Where is that BOOK????
1) REALLY want chips. YEARN for chips. Desire chips not just for CHIPS sake, but because you are very hungry, and it is late at night, and you are BACK in Memphis at the MONEYSUCK hotel and you REFUSE to order room service. You would sooner be eaten by zombie monkeys. Slowly. SO. YOU NEED CHIPS.
2) Follow signs to ICE AND VENDING. Find Ice and a coke machine and another sign that says, "CHIPS are located on the third floor in the guest laundry."
3) Go to third floor.
3) Find no chips.
4) Find no guest laundry, even. Instead, find MORE ICE and a coke machine and a sign that says "CHIPS are located on the third floor in the guest laundry."
5) Pop your head of of ICE AND VENDING and look at all the room numbers that say 324, 325, 326, etc but no signs for guest laundry.
6) Wander the third floor like an aimless ghost, wailing about chips.
7) Did I mention you are in your pajamas? Well. You are. You have decided that since you have put on sandals and a bra and since your pajamas are actually a VERY soft pair of Moroccan pants your friend Amy gave you and a 9 year old pilled knit maternity top (SSSSSSSEXY!) it's okay. See, you got locked out of your room once before in modest but VERY OBVIOUSLY PAJAMA pajamas, so on THIS leg you took non-pajama looking sleepies. Assessing your sleepwear in the mirror, PRE-chip-hunt, you concluded rightly that most people would think "escaped mental patient" before they would think, "ah! pajamas!" and since it is VERY late and you are VERY hungry and you aren't GOING ANYWHERE really except right down the hall from your room to vending, you thought to yourself, "HEY! Why CHANGE?" Except now the OBVIOUS answer is, "Because you are going to have to go to the lobby."
6) Go to the lobby. In your pajamas. Have nice human explain that there are TWO third floors. A north tower one and a south tower one. You have been wandering the halls of the NORTH tower one....guess where the chips are.
7) Go to SOUTH tower third floor. Follow signs to guest floor laundry where person-who-is-unhappier-than-you is doing his laundry. God bless him. He is doing laundry in the dark of night in a hotel far from home. He is probably unhappier than EYEORE.
8) SEE! CHIP! MACHINE! Do a small internal prance (VERY internal because it is untoward to prance gleefully by someone who is RADIATING I-am-unhappier-than-eyeore vibes).
9) Put dollar in slot. Watch machine placidly put dollar RIGHT back out.
10) Repeat step nine about eleven times.
11) Notice that the repetition has attracted Eyeore, who watches with sad yet unsurprised eyes.
12) Bang head on chip machine, and as you do, notice a FLASHING RED SIGN just above the placid dollar-spitting slot that says CHANGE ONLY.
13) GO BACK to lobby in pajamas and get CHANGE for your dollar.
14) BACK to guest laundry. Eyeore watches your approach with something akin to hope. You suspect Eyeore is rooting for the chip machine.
15) Start to not like Eyeore. Lift your chin and decide NOT to be defeated. Walk to machine, undefeated, put in change, undefeated, and undefeatedly press button for chips.
16) Be defeated.
17) GO BACK TO THE LOBBY and get ONE of your quarters swapped out for two dimes and a nickel.
18) BACK TO LAUNDRY. Eyeore says, "I do not think that will help. I tried it earlier with all dimes and I could not get it to work either..."
19) STRONGLY consider murder.
20) Decide against it and put EXACT change in, hold breath, say teeny prayer and watch in mounting joy and disbelief as the CHIPS SLIDE TOWARD YOU and by some MIRACLE do NOT catch on the edge of the wheelie thing and hang there paid for but ungettable thus necessitating Ben Stiller type antics where you try to WORM up into the machine and get them and then failing that you ROCK it back and forth in a moronic frothing rage, a course of action that can only lead to you dead under a chip machine with Eyeore standing over your corpse saying something PITHY, but instead chips FALL into the slot and are YOURSYOURSYOURS.
21) CONTROL impulse to victory dance because you are NOT dancing for Eyeore in your pajamas. Chips or no Chips.
22) Clutching chips, run to elevator and head up to the tenth floor, and then stand outside your room for a long time putting key card in and getting a red light before you realize....your room is actually on the SOUTH tower's tenth floor, and you are currently assaulting a door in the NORTH tower.
23) Creep away before whoever is crouched inside the room terrorized by your predations can call the cops, and go BACK down to lobby (The pajamas at this time are beginning to think of themselves as LOUNGE WEAR) and then back up the OTHER tower where a merciful God lets you back into your room to fall asleep in front of Law of Order before you even get the chip bag open, but it doesn't MATTER because you WON, you WON CHIPS, you defeated Eyeore and, more importantly, you defeated ROOM SERVICE, and you sleep the beautiful sleep of the just.
BUT... some linky love before I have it...The GCC is touring me this month!
New interview up at Karin Gillespie's blog ---SHE ASKS GOOD QUESTIONS.
Another interview, this one with known smarty-pants and poet Gayle Brandeis.
Lastly, a review (and the press release) by Megan Crane, who BOUGHT THE BOOK and who is SO pretty. Also she REALLY LIKED it, which makes her EVEN EVEN PRETIER. We heart Megan Crane.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled temper tantrum...
I AM MAD!
I am mad at the hotel that I stayed at in Memphis. I think it is a 12 story moneysucking BUTT.
I got back after the signing at about....8 and noticed there was NOTHING around the hotel but banky-looking offices. NO places to eat or get food. Just one LUNCH place that closed at 2. OOPS. So. I looked at the room service menu because I had been ON all day and I wanted to sit AWAY from people and have a glass of wine and some meat in peace. Just me and my beautiful friend the TV talking unhearable nonsense at me while I finished reading Kate Atkinson's ASTOUNDINGLY GREAT NEW BRILLIANT AMAZING PERFECT NOVEL (Case Histories) and wore pajamas and had bare feet and ate with my fingers and grunted like a savage.
The room service menu was limited and VERY expensive, like 30+ bucks per boring, regular entree. And I just can't DO THAT. I mean---I CANNOT pay five dollars for ICED TEA and then 25 for CLUB SANDWICH WITH ONION STRAWS or whatever. I mean, LORD. That would make my stomach hurt even if *I* was paying for it -- but I am not, which makes it WORSE. When I am getting reimbursed, or someone else is paying for dinner or whatnot, I am uncomfortable ordering something I KNOW I dern well would NOT be willing to pay for if it was MY dime. It feels like bad manners and what do we hate? BAD MANNERS.
So I went down to the restaurant in the hotel -- they had a lot of good sounding choices at slightly more reasonable prices. So I saw I could get a salmon thing with veggies and salad for like 19.95 which is PRICEY but LORD there was NO OTHER PLACE to get food. SO. I went and asked the guy if I could order a thing to GO, as take out. And he WOULD NOT LET ME.
Him: "No no sugar,--" (WHICH, UM...did you just call me SUGAR????) "we cannot give it to you to go because we can't have our guests CARRYING THEIR OWN FOOD UPSTAIRS like British Butlers, that would be SICK AND WRONG. BUT! I COULD send this meal up to you as room service."
Me: But I have opposable thumbs and am STANDING HERE already so can't you pretty please just let me take it upstairs since I am starving and room service takes forever and REALLY I DO NOT MIND, I LIKE British Butlers --- you can call me Smithers.
Him: NO. WE CANNOT ALLOW IT. GO TO YOUR ROOM.
So I ordered the salmon as "room service," and then dropped by the bar and paid TWELVE DOLLARS, no really, TWELVE DOLLARS for a glass of shiraz -- I FREAKED because I ordered a wine I often buy at the grocery store at home for 9 bucks, and I sipped it while she ran my card then I looked at the bill and CHOKED and had to bite my tongue to keep from shrieking, UM ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? like a a tight-wad harpy.
The meal comes---and the tab is FORTY BUCKS. TWICE what it cost in the place downstairs and I said WHATS UP WITH THIS?? DUDE, THIS IS WRONG and he was like oh no, on room service this SAME meal costs thirty bucks and change and then there is a 20% service charge and a clearing fee and then my tip is factored. I was SO MAD. OF COURSE the manager would not let me tote a styrophoam box upstairs---he could DOUBLE the bill by refusing. I was LIVID but what do you do??? It's not the room service deliverer's fault or the bartender's fault. No point in fussing at them. It's the HOTEL'S fault, and once I had eaten my solid gold diamond encrusted fish with ruby sauce, I lay in my bed waiting for Jack Nicholson to start breaking my door down with an ax (Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's JOHNNY!) because everyone knows THAT is what happens at evil hotels. At least the meal came with a roll. And um. Salad.
BUT! It was a BAD salad. A wedge of iceberg (bleh--the wonder bread of lettuces) sprinkled with that horrid cheese that smells like the back end of a monkey and some onion. The end. BOO.
See how it is? I told you before. I get so TIRED on the road there is only HATE AND LOVE. No mild feelings.
I spent all my hate on the hotel, so had only LOVE left for Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES ---- It's about this detective with about 5 cases going, and about halfway through the book, they start to connect in the most startling and lovely and horrifying ways. It's funny and visceral and brilliant.
PS TEMPER TANTRUM ASIDE, Compared to KIMBERLY, the hotel is made entirely of angel spittle and sugar.
There is no like or not-like. There is no mild interest or pale disdain. Here on the road, at Chez Travel Sans Mercy, there is only passionate delighted love, and black, bleak hopeless loathing.
What I Love: Greenville, with its darling downtown, and its parks full of waterfalls, an awesome indie called Open Book, and its owner, Duff. Great guy, STEEPED in SC history, smart and funny. I had....BUMBAH! The Signing. The one everyone warns you about, the inevitable one where no one comes at all really, maybe 6 people, and you kinda sit there feeling like a dork in your pretty-ish clothes, travel rumpled and stinking of flop sweat and that awful, unkillable, faint, desperate hope. The signing was 'sposed to be announced on the noon news with a little interview, but I got PRE EMPTED BY THE POPE! That kinda tickles me. It's not every girl who can say, "THE POPE! PRE-EMPTED ME! Anyway, Duff was GREAT and made me feel like not-a-total-failure, and kept me company and assured me the book was selling well at his store and that he had plans to sell the many copies I signed before I left. And assuming NO MORE POPES feel like they need to get elected, the taped interview will run today.
What I Hate: Greenville airport. Especially Kimberly. I hate Kimberly SO much. AND I DO NOT HATE PEOPLE EVER. I generally ACTIVELY LIKE people...but she is evil and petty and mean and a bad person. I spent less than four minutes in her presence, and yet I say this with total confidence: She is no good. When God was passing out the milk of human kindness, she sniffed and said, "No thanks. I am allergic to dairy." Really, I don't think I could dislike STALIN more than Kimberly today. I had to get up at 3:30 and grab a 4 am cab to the airport, and I was SO tired when I got there. I stood in line for 20 minutes trying to check into DELTA before realizing I was booked on another airline, so now late and worried, I RAN down the line dragging my 50 pound luggage and ready to weep at my own stupidity. I had had no coffee. 3 hours of sleep because I COULD NOT fall asleep last night, just lay in the bed missing Scott. SO. I get to the non-Delta other airline, let's call them Air Bogus, and I am so tired I am almost blind. The world is a pinhole of pale gray light to me, and I stand in staring and drooling in line and this woman behind the counter WAY down 5 seats over from where the WAIT HERE sign is, calls to me...and this calling woman, I will tell you, is KIMBERLY-I-HATE. Look at her for a sec, before she speaks. She is pretty and well-put-together and has on cool, efficient lipstick and an even cooler and more efficient smile.
Loathesome vile disgusting evil mean Kimberly-I-Hate: May I help you?
Me: Is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Waves one hand sort of lackadaisicaly at me in a meaningless gesture.) May I HELP you? (MEAN voice, with a parenthetical, YOU MORON. Do you KNOW the parenthetical YOU MORON? It's when someone's tone makes it CLEAR that the proper end of their sentence is YOU MORON, and they DO NOT say it out loud, but it is so PATENTLY obvious that they are THINKING it that the words are PALPABLE, hanging silent and unspoken in the air. My son ---who is 8 and cool and clearly much smarter than his stupid uncool mother--- is the MASTER of the parenthetical you moron, and I am the master of sending his butt to his room with a lecture about manners, but alas, Kimberly-I-hate-forever was CLEARLY not Raised Right.)
Me: Um, but...are you with Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Waves hand again, flipping her arm up to shoulder level and then doing a little finger waggle* May. I. HELP. You. (You moron)
Me: I'm not...Is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Arm lift, finger waggle*: MAY. I. HELP. YOU. (and at this point the parenthetical YOU MORON has been replaced with a parenthetical YOU STUPID PIECE OF CRAP ON MY SHOE)
Me: Um but, is this Air Bogus? (I am only halfway through saying it when she begins her armlift, and just as I finish asking for the FOURTH time, a lightbulb goes off over my head---she is waggling her fingers at a HUGE sign that is RIGHT behind her that says AIR BOGUS. BEFORE she can ask me in an even ruder tone if she can help me, I speak again...) What are you pointing at?
Her: The sign behind me...(you moron)
Me: *drawing self up with gentle but still wounded dignity, meeting her eyes bravely* But you see....... I can't read.
Her: ....oh. Um. OH! I am SO sorry. What an ASS I have been. I have clearly wronged you and I apologize, this IS Air Bogus. May I see your ID please, ma'am?
OKAY THAT LAST PART IS A TOTAL LIE. But wouldn't that have been great??? What a FANTASTIC line, huh??? I CAN'T READ! HA! It would have been just like THAT VERY SPECIAL EPISODE OF BLOSSOM except I would have been LYING. Unfortunately, I only thought of that response ten minutes later when I was randomly seected for special screening and was standing off the side, red-eyed and puffy and sniffling, with my brand-new especial pet pervert watching gleefully from the regular unspecial unscreened line while a nice older lady poked shame-facedly around in my bra. So. Let's rewind and see what really happend...
Me: (for the fourth time) Um...is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Arm lift, finger waggle*: MAY. I. HELP. YOU. (and at this point the parenthetical YOU MORON has been replaced with a parenthetical YOU STUPID PIECE OF CRAP ON MY SHOE)
Me: Um um but, is this Air Bogus? (I am only halfway through saying it when she begins her armlift, and just as I finish asking for the fourth time, a lightbulb goes off over my head---she is waggling her fingers at a HUGE sign that is RIGHT behind her that says AIR BOGUS, so i said...) Oh, right. I see.
LVDEMKIH: *Sarcastic half-smile, rolls eyes at my obvious and boring stupidity.* May I....HELP you? (you WORTHLESS moron)
Me. *Bursts into tears*
Yup. BURST. RIGHT. INTO. TEARS. Just stood there and wept hopelessly, uncontrollably, dropped my head down and wept and wept. Handed her my ID, schlepped my luggage onto the scales, got my boarding pass, WEEPING WEEPING WEEPING, so so so humiliated to be weeping in public beneath her dry-ice gaze. We did the transaction total silence, and finally, SO emabarrased and out of control, I spoke.
Me: I am sorry. I am just so tired.
Her: *coldly* Pull yourself together. (Parenthetical you moron, eye rolling.)
I crept away, where my suspiciously splotchy faced suicidalness gave me a ticket to the aforedescribed scene, with the random screening and the pervert watching me get felt up.
What do we hate? Say it with me...KIMBERLY.
I swear to the Lord the next time I fly on my own steam, I will give my money to JOHN'S HOUSE OF DISCOUNT HAMSTER-POWERED DEATH-TRAP PLANES before I will hand my credit card to the company that employs Kimberly.
What I Love: My old friend, my beloved old friend from the way back back, Waylon, who rented a hotsy-totsy red sportsmobile and squired me all over and ate with me and took me to parks and who lay around in my hotel room with me watching Game Sow Network and arguing lazily with me about which gameshow host was hotter, Gene or Richard. (um DUH! GENE! OBVIOUSLY.... but then I have always had a weekness for the tall, funny, smart and slightly dorky sort. So.)
What I hate: Kimberly. And crying in public. And Kimberly.
What I love: That a girl---woman now -- that I knew at CORDOVA PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL with saw my picture and book in the paper and came to the signing. She and I were like...bus friends. She was a shy and pretty little girl as I recall, very sweet. She is now a less shy, soft-but-well-spoken woman, still pretty, still sweet. She said to me, "I wasn't at all surprised to see you in the paper...you were always so confident and self-assured when we were kids." WHICH...um. I was not. I was a teeming mass of terror and lonliness and desperate longing to be loved, like EVERY OTHER 9 year old. I was just...LOUD. It LOOKED like confidence to her though, and how nice of her to say so...
What I hate: Kimberly.
What I love: The Shrimp and Grits and Soby's in Greenville. If you EVER go to Greenville, GO EAT THAT with a glass of pinot grigio. SERIOUSLY. You have to. It is spicy low-country love in a bowl.
What I hate: Guess.
Hint: It rhymes with Mimberly.
SAD ANNOUNCEMENT: I only have INCOMING e-mail at this hotel. All my OUTGOINGS get stuck. SO. If I do not write you back for the next 48 hours, blame technology, not my unwaning love for you, oh my Hallmarkian internet ducklings who care enough to hit send on the very best.
STORY FROM THE ROAD:
The guy in front of me in line at the airport wouldn't take his shoes off.
BUT THEY ARE SNEAKERS, he kept saying.
SIR YOU MUST REMOVE ALL SHOES FOR X-RAY.
BUT....THESE ARE SNEAKERS.
I stood there, watching the clock close in on Midnight, too tired to even work up a froth of loathing for his LOUD belief in the International Sneaker Exemption Rule. I stood there mildly hating him, a very dull and blanketed feeling. The airport employee, female, pretty, 35 or so, was clearly hating him more than me, as folks piled up in the Disney-World line organizer.
Her: YOU MUST HAVE NO SHOES TO RIDE THIS RIDE...
Him: But.. these are SNEAKERS.
Her: How would you like a body cavity search?
Him: But, see, there is no METAL in SNEAKERS. These are SNEAKERS.
Her: SIR, WE ASK THAT ALL FOOTWEAR BE SENT THROUGH THE X-Ray.
The word "footwear" did it Perhaps he thought he could prove SNEAKERS are NON-SHOES, but not even Daniel Webster could make a case against sneakers-as-FOOTWEAR. He was stymied.
He looked desperately over his shoulder, and then he leaned forward and said to her, quietly, "I have been travelling for three days. I do not want you to smell my socks..."
He was very dear and embarrassed and I flippy-flopped instantly from lackadaisically loathing him to being charmed.
She said, "Sir, I promise to mouth breath."
They kinda grinned at each other for a second, having this neat little human moment as we moved like cattle in a kill line, down the chute and into the machines.
I am HOMEHOMEHOME from Birmingham. I had to DRIVE MYSELF! Oh, the humanity! Usually Scott drives me (SPOILED! TOTALLY SPOILED ROTTON!) and I spend the ENTIRE TRIP reading so I LIKE travelling, but UGH. With no book on tape, DERNIT, I was forced to be a danger to myself and others by spending the entire two hour trip yacking on the cell phone JUST LIKE all those LAWYERS and whatnots who are so busy and important as they bark intensely into their cell phones that they run me off the road into the kudzu. I always feel irked as I plummet to my death because of them, except now I am more tolerant because I think perhaps they are not so much busy and important as they are WILLING TO DIE (and kill others) because highway driving is SO FREAKING BORING. I know I was perfectly willing to die by the time I hit intersate 20, and so I called everyone I knew and made them talk to me in shifts until I got home.
AND the truly irritating thing is when I got home, my author copies of the AUDIO VERSION of gods in Alabama were there, waiting for me! I'd been dying to hear it, and it would have been PERFECT and MUCH SAFER to have in the car. Alas! At any rate, I barricaded myself in my office and stuck the first CD in...The actor reading it is Catherine Taber, she's a Georgia native who has done ALL KINDS OF TINGS here in Atlanta, very young, very cute, right at the beginning of her career out in LA. I had never seen her or heard her speak and I was a little bit nervous. Listening to her read the book I wrote was a VERY strange experience...I am trying to figure out a way to explain it.
OKAY! GOT IT. You all know I am a great big geek, so how surprising is it that I read The Fellowship of the Ring 945 times, starting when I was about ten. SO, a few years ago, when the movie came out, I of course went to see it in the theatre. And I was sitting there watching it, and we got to the part where the four hobbits are crouched off the road, underneath this canopy of roots, and one of the Nazgul is there, leaning over, craning, SNIFFING these horrifying deep sniffs and the hobbits' backs are pressed hard onto the earth ...watching it, I got DIZZY. I got this weird feeling of deja vous, and I knew I had seen this EXACT THING before, in detail, perfectly, just exactly like this. And I could not place the scene for a few seconds, and it was making me crazy, WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS??? And then I realized... I had seen it exactly the way it looked on screen in my BRAIN, every time I read that scene in my childhood. Tolkien is an EXTREMELY visual writer and Peter Jackson NAILED that image.
Listening to Taber read gods was EXACTLY that way. Vertigo. The accent is perfect---a southern girl who has been out of the south for a bit, so it's distinct but light, never hokey or overblown, her inflections, the tone, the pitch, she sounds INTENSE and the voice sounds like it is coming from a small frame. GREAT comic timing...She's Arlene. She is perfectly and absolutely Arlene JUST like I heard Arlene in my head when I was WRTING this book. It gives me the shivers. And she has NAILED the secondary characters. One of my favorite characters in the book is Arlene's bitter, tough-as-nails Aunt Florence, and when I do readings, I always CLIP the ends of Flo's words, so she sounds hard and terse but still SO alabama -- Taber got it PERFECTLY.
I am half-inclined to leap into my car and drive out to L.A. and find her and kiss on the mouth, but I think that would only end in a protective order and arrest for murder in multiple states because Lord only knows how many unsuspecting folks would get run off the road and killed before my cell phone battery gave out.
HOLY CRAP ADDENDUM: A Faithful Reader ordered the book from Amazon, AND he just e'mailed me to tell me...IT SHIPPED TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!
In NYC, the pre-sales event was a LUNCH.
Dinners are easier. At dinner, everyone is in their HOME clothes and off the clock and it's leisurely and more WINE-laden. At lunches (I have learned on this tour) people might have meetings to go to later, they have power ties and briefcases, and you know how easily intimidated I am by that sort of thing --- remember my Boardroom Induced Nervous Prostration at the Warner building? Yeah. Okay. So. Lunches are more likely to be like that.
BUT IT WAS GOOD. Book people in power ties, I have discovered, are still BOOK people---funny, smart, well-read, charming---and the RESTAURANT was, bar none, the best restaurant in the universe. Period. Forever. It wins.
The food was sublime, but that isn't why. In fact I had a minor RUN-IN with the food. I ordered the tenderloin, which came on a bed of greens with potato risotto (!!!) and THAT was FAB, but beside the meat there was little ROUND slice of something that looked like maybe a heart of palm or a slice of a pale root veggie. The woman beside me, more experienced in NYC cuisine than I, was looking at it with a jaundiced eye, and she made NO MOVE to eat it. I should have heeded the small inner voice that said, 'WHEN IN ROME, do not eat that which is troubling to the Romans,' but alas, I did not.
"I wonder what that is?" she said.
I cut a hunk off and said, "Maybe a turnip?"
Just as she repeated her question to the waiter, I popped the bite into my mouth. It was...cool and gelatinous and it...pulsed. I held it whole in my mouth, panicking, as the waiter said (in a voice that I retrospectively feel was INAPPROPRIATELY CHEERFUL), "Oh, that's some delicious bone marrow! It COMPLIMENTS the meat!" Maybe so, but I prefer a simple, "Meat, how charming you look in that morel sauce," as a compliment. I swallowed the gobbet of (YARK!) bone marrow, swallowed it WHOLE, and dived DEEP into my wine glass. I refused to emerge 'til I was POSITIVE my inner stomach-waiter wasn't going to send the (YARK! YARK!) bone marrow back, as it were, to the kitchen.
MARROW ASIDE, I WAS a little nervous at first---lunchophobia---and it showed I think, because I knocked my fork off the table. ABOUT ONE HUNDRED TIMES.
And here is why the restaurant wins forever. The wait staff was FANTASTIC and acted as if it was NORMAL and RIGHT for a patron to be hurling cutlery to the ground every 20 seconds and then desperately kicking her MULTITUDE of dropped forks under the table. One of them would just GHOST UP and invisibly insert a new fork where the old fork had been. And then, of course, I would knock THAT one down and kick it under the table, and so on, and so on, forks without end, amen, and I am sure this would have gone on ad infinitum except that everyone there was, well, book people. So I got sucked into the conversation and very quickly started having a really good time and forgot to hurl my silverware. SO all is well that ends well, and I only hope the maitre d didn't have to send a waiter sprinting off to Neiman Marcus for extra forks since most of theirs were under the table stabbing my ankle every time I forgot they were there and got excited and bounced my feet around.
And that was it---thus endeth the pre-sales tour. I am SO SO happy to be home...but...but...it is like my editor told me...nothing like this will ever happen to me again, because even if it does, I won't experience it in the same way. I realized how RIGHT she was when I was walking down the streets of MANHATTAN on the way to this last lunch, MANHATTAN! a MYTHOLOGICAL place that only a year ago I secretly thought was really a LOT in L.A. that someone invented so they could film Sex and the City, a completely FICTIONAL MAGIC-LAND where BOOKS get bought and published. It was NEVER real to me, even after I had been there a week! But this was my fourth trip, and I had been to CT and Boston and was jet lagged and I smelled like a cab. I trudged down The Avenue of the Americas staring at my feet and I DID NOT NOTICE I was in Manhattan! I had lost that breathless giddy THRILL I used to get just OGGLING the REAL! NEW! YORK! It had become a part of what I do... Wonderful, yes, exciting, yes, but the new had come off it, and New York City is a real place now.
When I realized what was happening, I threw my head back and looked up at the mighty buildings and the herds of wild cabs roaming free and the women in their fantastical shoes and breathed in the living smell of the city. In this way I managed to catch it again, that nerve-strumming thrill, felt it move through me and leave me, reminding me of the tail end of a first real kiss. I got tickled with myself, with my melodramatic need to make-out with the city, to "have a moment," as they say. I laughed out loud and my editor and publicist looked at me, raising their eyebrows, and I said, "It's just...I'm in New York." They nodded and we kept walking, my editor flagging a cab, and I thought to myself, "OH! PONYBOY! I WANT TO STAY GOLD!"
But you can't, you know. You really can't.
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!
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 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!
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.
I am now going to go begin the arduous process of picking out a new name for Evelyn Crabtree, so this your LAST CHANCE to enter The CONTEST TO WIN FREE THINGS!
Let’s say no more entries past 6 AM tomorrow?
NOW, I shall share with you…My New Beauty Regime. I invented it on the retreat.
1) Get very nervous about Public Speaking and throw up a bunch of chicken.
2) Don’t sleep for 36+ hours.
3) Cry a lot.
4) Take Tylenol PM and sleep on your face for six hours.
5) Draggle out and march around in the rain so your hair puffs up into humps.
6) Cry more.
AND THEN YOU WILL BE GORGEOUS!
I followed this plan over the weekend and was SO amazingly lovely that by the end of the retreat I am surprised people did not go BLIND when they gazed upon me. A few people, come to think of it, may have pulled their eyes out and stamped on them as I passed, but I don’t count that. I mean, like, spontaneously go blind. From my GLOW.
Another plus, I now know EXACTLY what I will look like on the day I turn 50. That is, of course, assuming that I pick up a giant heroin habit and drop dead about a week before the day I turn 50.
Or, in plain English…let’s just say I have looked better.
Okay---I may have come home looking like hell AND sick as a dog, but it was a fantastic retreat in other, quieter ways. I am RENEWED and making all manner of vows to be a better person.
We’ll see how that works out.
I AM BACK from the Warner thing in NYC. I have many many many many things to yap about! A quick overview before I go lie down and spend some MORE time SERIOUSLY repenting my ILL FATED and STEWWWWWWWWPID decision to open my throat and put in a bunch of alcohol. I would say I was RELAXED at the cocktail party, warmly toasted at dinner, and had I gone to bed then I doubt I would be at all sorry.
BUT I was SO wired I simply could not FATHOM going up to my room. So, (mother, avert your eyes) I went to the hotel bar. And sat there yawping on my cell phone with my agent like a drunken starlet for a good 40 minutes whilst I had a VERY VERY VERY BIG COCKTAIL, and then another, and that last one tipped me over the edge from toasty into what can only be called, to borrow the immortal word of Sarah Jessica Parker: Drunketty-drunk-drunk. AND LO, I WAS VERY SORRY LATER.
EVERYONE! EVERYONE! If you live ANYWHERE near Wilkes-Barre, PA, you are MORALLY OBLIGATED on my behalf to go to the Barnes and Noble in the Arena Hub Plaza and purchase SCADS of books (recommendations below). Because at the hotel bar I met the manager of that fine establishment and he was SCRUTIATING kind and sat around with me obligingly yacking about this lunatic business we are in ‘til way into the wee small hours and didn’t let me get killed or harmed in my dreadfully impaired state and was a perfect gentleman and an all around lovely human being. As I believe I told him. Several hundred times. Drunketty. Drunk. Drunk. Drunk.
I am heartily ashamed.
In my more SOBER moments I hit SEVERAL shoe stores. Hard. Bootsbootsboots. And if you are thinking something about didn’t she just BUY boots, um…shut up. Because these ones were completely different and NECESSARY.
I read two NEW books while squatting the required 2 hours in the airport and then as I sat for 2 more on the planes:
The Dogs of Babel Quirky, elegant and haunting – you WILL weep. Audibly. GOOD PLANE CHOICE, HUH?
Time Off for Good Behavior – charming and saucy – you WILL cackle. Like a hyena. So, once again, a fabulous choice for the plane.
And I reread two old favorites that I can always reread with intense spasms of pleasure, Drowning Ruthand Bel Canto.
I must remember to tell you about the DROWNING RUTH coincidence.
What else….I played SPEED CHESS in Bryant Park. Shockingly, I LOST. In I think about 8 moves. Fancy!
On MONDAY I walked 28 city blocks to see some art at the Met. PS, Did you know the Met is CLOSED on Monday. Yeah? ME NEITHER.
I went and saw EVERYTHING YOU CAN GO SEE in Central Park. Including turtles. AND I have to say: WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, oh famously rude and callous New Yorkers? All I had to do was stand still with my little map unfurled and look faintly puzzled and within 30 seconds some gracious native or ‘nother would bound up and point me in the right direction.
I did two research interviews with folks who have been helping me get stuff right for the book I am currently working on.
Matt took me to eat the food of half his people. He’s Jewish-slash-Puerto Rican, and he took me to a Kosher place. Mostly Kosher. More like Kosher-esque, Matt said. There he introduced me to MY NEW BEST FRIEND, the half-sour pickle. I SO heart the half sour pickle. Then we ate a LOT of brisket. It’s sad that I can never really return the favor. There aren’t many places that specialize in IRISH cuisine, mostly because the Irish don’t HAVE cuisine. We just have food.
Irish Sample Menu: TRY OUR NEW IMPROVED POTATOS! NOW WITH THE GOODNESS OF SALT!
I must go lie down and suffer now. I’ll tell you about the actual events at Warner tomorrow.
OH I forgot to tell you a New York Trip thing.
I SWAN this is the world’s most disorganized blog. You read most blogs and they are like, LINEAR and say “Today I…” or at least “Yesterdsay I…” and then you come here and I spew reviews of ten year old movies all over you and say HEY REMEMBER TWO MONTHS AGO WHEN I WENT TO NEW YORK? NO? OKAY WELL SO ANYWAY!
This was actually my second trip to New York. A few months after the books sold, Scott and I hurled our little children at my parents and went on our first REAL kid-free trip since…um…our honeymoon. The book selling coincided with our anniversary, so we took a trip to celebrate ten solid years of making out and we picked New York because I had never been, they have arguably the world’s BEST theatre, great restaurants, and it’s romantical, and obviously I wanted to meet my editor and have some face time with my agent. (DIGRESSION: It’s a weird business. That man has worked SO HARD FOR ME and believed in me and shored me up and loved my work and demanded I finish things and revise things and picked out my titles – he’s been SUCH a mentor to me for five solid years, and until that trip I had NEVER SEEN HIS FACE.)
SO we went by Warner and there were BOOKS everywhere. Galleys and proofs and stacks of review copies and hardbacks and trade paperbacks. They were everywhere in piles, in shelves, whole rooms filled floor to ceiling with stacks and heaps and mountainous swellings of them, whole herds of books, tribes of them migrating through, and me, I am SUCH a junky I practically started drooling into my shoes, giving the book stacks covetous looks and licking surreptitiously at their glossy covers as we passed. And as we were touring this wonderland my editor said, casually, SO JOSHILYN WOULD YOU LIKE SOME GREAT HEAPING HAIRY FISTFULLS OF FREE BOOKS?
Which, hey, books are my crack of choice. And FREE is my favorite price. But I was all surprised and SHY and taken aback, and I was Raised Right by a Southern Lady, so I said, ever so politely, WHY, THAT WOULD BE LOVELY. I BELIEVE I WILL HAVE A NICE BOOK, THANK YOU. A SMALL ONE. JUST BREAK OFF THE CORNER OF THAT TINY ONE THERE.
OKAY so this trip? I was PREPARED. When Emily made the inevitable offer, I whipped open my purse, pulled out a giant plastic pumpkin bucket ands said FILL ‘ER UP! MORE! MORE! WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU GOT? I WILL TAKE IT! I WILL READ IT! WE CAN STUFF A FEW MORE IN THERE! HEY WHAT ABOUT THAT BLUE ONE HEY?
What’s neat is a lot of the books I snatched and ran away with ARE NOT PUBLISHED YET. They are GALLEYS. Galleys look like a trade paperback but instead of the jacket copy they say explain what kind of publicity and tour they are doing to promote the book and list blurbs from in house editors and other authors. It’s neat and reading them kinda makes you feel like a great big plugged-in hipster. I always was a sucker for those comic book ads…be the first on your block etc etc.
Today’s Valuable Lesson: The pumpkin was not enough. Next time I go to NY, I am taking an empty suitcase.
While in New York, I went to this brunching spot called Norma’s to meet up with my friend Matt and blow my eldest child’s college fund on a one thousand dollar egg frittata. YES. They really have it on the menu.
NO. OF COURSE I did not really order it. If I had a thousand dollars lying around I would NOT spend it on BREAKFAST! Especially not in NEW YORK which has SO MANY WORTHY SHOE STORES. Anyway.
I went to meet Matt. Matt tops six feet and has dark hair and dark eyes. He’s a bit of a hottie, but not in a clothes-horse way. He’s your basic GUY, you know? A khaki pants and a Yankee’s hat kind of guy. You can’t IMAGINE him in a Pierre Cardin yachting jacket and a monocle.
So I haven’t seen him in a while and I head to Norma’s to meet him, and as I am walking up the stairs toward the front door, this man comes down the stairs toward me, grinning, clearly delighted to see me, already holding out one hand to clasp mine warmly and pump it solemnly up and down. The light is behind him, but I can see he is the right height, dark hair….similar facial features…but…but….
I am looking at a three hundred dollar hair-do on top. Below, I spy freakin’ VINTAGE RAT PACKER WINGTIPS. And…heaven help me! A TIE. In the months since last we met, my friend Matt has apparently been killed by the Queer Eye guys and replaced with a fashion conscious Matt-esque robot with a pointier nose. I pump his hand warmly and solemnly back and say, “Um hi. Hi.”
Wait a second. A MUCH pointier nose. And Matt has become NARROWER in his shoulders. He has clearly had shoulder reduction and is now shaped more like a cigarette than a carrot. And he has bleached out his skin a shade lighter and he has PIERCED A HOLE IN HIS FACE AND PUT A RING IN IT! IN HIS FACE!
“Where do we want to sit,” croons Matt to me, still warmly clasping my hand. “Are we dining alone?” I boggle for a second longer and then the switch that powers my brain apparently flips to the ON position and I realize that this is NOT Matt. It is Faux-Matt and he is the HOST. He is trying to SEAT me in a very personal, hand-clasping, warm-to-the-point-of-being-moist bizarro way. And I could have at that point carried it off but instead I got the giggles and laughed until I started snorking which made me giggle more until I had to let go of his hand and lean against the wall. “I am SO Sorry,” I said. “SO SO. SORRY. I thought you were my friend MATT. I just couldn’t figure out…*giggle* you looked different but…*snork* not…*giggle snork*”
He hovered near me, radiating concern and interest for the nice crack-smoker who was making pig snork giggle noises and choking for air in his entryway. Finally I got myself under control and crept back down the stairs to the lobby, mumbling, “I’ll wait for Actual Matt out here.”
SO Matt shows up, and I tell him all this as we hide out by the poufy chairs in the lobby until Faux Matt steps away from the podium and then we DASH up to get seated by the NON-Mattish Replacement Host. NMRP seats us in the normal brisk manner, with no clasping and without employing the nursely “we.” It’s a little disappointing.
So we sit down, we order, and Norma’s has that weird kind of brown coffee with the BLACK coffee that LURKS under the regular coffee so every time you set your cup down there is this SWIRL of evil darkness that catches your eye but by the time you flick your eyes down to LOOK at the coffee it has already subsided. It’s like drinking coffee that was directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
We are still at the amuse bouche smoothie stage when I notice that Faux-Matt is circling our table like a shark. Our eyes meet and Faux-Matt veers off and disappears into the kitchen. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Every time I look around I catch Faux Matt zooming away. I cannot figure out what in God’s green meadows he is doing, and then it clicks. He is trying to get close enough to get a GOOD LOOK at REAL Matt to see if Real Matt a) looks anything like him (he does) and b) Is cute enough so that this is not mortally insulting. (He is. Real Matt is SO cute, in fact, that Faux Matt keeps circling and scoping out Real Matt LONG after point a) has been reasonably established. Which is SOMEWHAT DISCONCERTING for Real Matt, who is straight, and who finds that being cruised by his doppelganger while trying to catch a glimpse of the Something Evil in his coffee before it subsides is a little bit too WACKY for 8 am. I mean, the psychological ramifications!)
Then our meals come and Matt’s Huevos Rancheros have a completely inexplicable SWAN SHAPED FRITTATA thing sticking up a good foot into the air. The Swantata is POINKY and BOLD and I am DYING for him to eat it, but he refused to oblige me. He insisted it was GARNISH. It wasn’t though. I mean who ever heard of 11 inch FRIED garnish. WITH A BEAK. But Alas, he wouldn’t even TASTE it. It was too frou-frou for a Yankees cap guy who reached his maximum weirdness capacity about one cruise-run-by-a-look-alike ago.
Other than the sadly untasted Swantata and the disconcerting coffee, I have to give the food at Norma’s a solid nine. I had some sort of variation on benedict that was worth the 9 zillion calories. If you go (and you should) try to time it so the tall, dark guy with the really good hair cut seats you. If he does, do a little double take and say “MATT? Is that YOU?” I dare you.
1) Osteria Stella is a fabulous Italian Restaurant in New York with the standard number of restrooms (two), divided by sex and neatly labeled. In Italian. Which I do not speak.
2) Two semesters of college Spanish and three years of high school Latin don’t really help a person decipher whether donne (which looks sort of like “dame”) or uomini (which looks sort of like “women”) means “Ladies’ Room.”
3) It isn’t Uomini.
4) Any architect worth his salt is going to put the urinals against the BACK WALL of the men’s room. Not the side wall. Certainly not the side wall right in front of the door.
5) The architect who designed the men’s room at Osteria Stella is NOT worth is salt.
6) The surprised man who was using the urinals at Osteria Stella was emphatically not Jewish.
7) Contrary to my previously held beliefs, it IS possible to leap four feet up and six feet backwards while wearing two hundred dollar shoes with three inch heels.
8) It is not possible to learn ten things from a toilet. Even a New York toilet.
9) You can only learn about seven or maybe eight things. Then you have to PAD to finish out your list.
10) I would have learned more things – apparently there was some fantastical art waterfall in the lobby men’s room at my hotel, but I forgot to sneak in and look. Bah. Or maybe I was afraid. I DID go in the women’s room in the hotel lobby and OH. MY. GOODNESS. This was soon after my misadventures in wiener-seeing at Osteria Stella, and I opened the door and there STOOD A MAN IN THERE. He mercifully had his pants zipped up. After a moment of panic, I realized he was cleaning the mirrors. SO. We stood there looking at each other for a second. Then we scootched past each other doing the face-to-face tippy-toe dance because the room was so narrow.
The hotel was mod and hip and funky. I took some pics of it (getting developed), but you can get an idea HERE..
The ladies’ room was about half the width of a standard hallway but twice as TALL. It was lined on one side by shallow bowl-like sinks and the opposite wall was made entirely out of a floor to ceiling mirror. It was starkly and dramatically lit. There were no visible toilets or stalls.
I stood staring blankly around the room, looking for a lever that would cause a hidden toilet to pop up out of the floor or for some structure that was actually a toilet cleverly disguised as artsy-fartsy-ness. There was a long narrow vase against the back wall, but it looked difficult to sit on and plus too it had reeds in it. Finally, in desperation, I pressed one finger on the floor-to-ceiling glass wall. It gave. Behind the nine-foot-tall, one-foot-wide mirror door was a TINY CUBICLE with just enough room for a toilet and my knees. I got in, the door closed behind me, and I stared up at the teeny square of distant ceiling as the walls pressed in around me and I thought, “I am going to die in here. This is a long vertical coffin and I will die here. DIE. HERE. ON THIS TOILET. HERE IS WHERE I DIE.”
Obviously I made it out alive, but the tenth thing I learned from the toilets of New York is actually this: No matter how hip and mod and funky or European and sophisticated you are, when it comes to the ladies’ bathroom, you should rein yourself in and commit to plain regular normal stalls and then stick a picture of a chick on the outer door. Really.
I have returned from my nine day beach vacation extravaganza. I spent most of the time eating. I think I ate Florida. It is very sad. Now everyone will have to pick and pick to remove one embroidered star from their American flags and then go and manually scritch the sunshine state off of their globes. Even sadder: I suspect Florida has settled onto my butt. I will have to manually scritch Florida from its new home by raising my step and adding two more little bars to my ankle weights. If you play, you pay. And if you eat most of a state, you pay in sweat. BOO!
TOMORROW I will tell you the ten things I learned from the toilets of New York. It will be a very touching blog entry, so you will need to bring a Kleenex, and yet it will also be filled with sage wisdom. Sort of like Tuesdays with Morrie, but with flushing.
So the basic purpose of this trip to NYC, really, was to spend a little time getting to know the large and diverse crowd of people in various departments and companies who now have total control over the deep core of my tender pink heart. I mean, over what happens with the book next. Okay, same thing.
Here is the nifty part: It’s a big NY publishing house --- that’s a job market that is SO competitive. To get the kind of jobs these folks have, you have to be:
1) Very good at whatever the job is, and
2) Bright, witty, well-read, articulate and at ease with yourself and the world
Because if you are only very good at your job, there are 50 people who want your job that are not just good at it, but also possess all the qualities listed above. So everyone was very easy to talk to and funny and low key and unstressed and unstressful. AND they ALSO did everything they could to make me feel at ease too and to pull me into the conversation…Between the whole car service thing and everyone being so nice, I am sure I am spoiled now and very rotten.
Since what they expected from me was mostly: Go to restaurants and eat things that taste SO AMAZING you have a hard time not rolling your eyes up into your head and sinking under the table and moaning in a state of catatonic ecstasy and go to bars and consume icy pink drinks that are chock full of nutritious liquor all while hanging out with cool people who have glamorous and interesting careers and who think sparkling repartee is the normal way to communicate, IT WAS A DARN FUN TRIP. In fact, if I could find someone willing to PAY me, I might give up writing and try to hang out with cool people professionally. It’s nice work if you can get it.
The ONLY bad moment came at 4 when my agent and my editor’s assistant and I headed down to a conference room for the larger of the two meetings. And we walked into this huge empty room, and it was so…professional. It was very cold in the room and it had a big square terrifying table surrounded by businessy power chairs, and you know, the whole room just scared the crap out of me.
This is the kind of room where flow charts and projected budgets and statistics occur naturally in the wild. It was SO NOT my habitat. I have never really done anything corporate. Put me in a coffee house, a classroom, a library, a bar, a bookstore, a restaurant, a living room ETC ETC, and I am happy as whole crowds of clams. But a boardroom? I will be in the closet thumbsucking, thanks. I could feel myself starting wither and panic simultaneously, shrinking so that my feet could no longer touch the floor, a five year old in clothes from the dress-up box who has just gotten caught frontin’ like a grown-up.
THEN the associate publisher came in alone and said “I just realized it’s silly to meet here for an hour and then troop all the exact same people downstairs for cocktails in the middle. Let’s skip this and go straight for the drinks.”
I COULD HAVE KISSED HIM. I came leaping up, suddenly feeling bright-eyed and easy and very much myself again, and we trit-trotted down and sat in a place both cozy and elegant and people came trickling in and joining the table by twos so I got to meet them in waves instead of in a BUNCH so it was very SOCIAL and NON THREATENING and I got a pretty good feel for who they all were and what they did, and I had SUCH fun the whole thing just FLEW by. I was sad when the waiter came and flapped at us in the nicest possible manner and told us to GET OUT. I think the bar was closing – it was a bar in the bottom floor of a big office building and I think they shut down at 6.
I am heading out IN THE EARLY AM tomorrow for my family vacation, BUT when I get home I have some FUN NYC CRAPS to tell you – let me make a list here so I do not forget:
1) The Toilets of New York
2) Matt, Faux-Matt and the SWANTATA
3) Trolling the airport for free chocolate and the six-play guessing game
4) SHOPPING and Shoes (girls only)
5) Lamb with Lamb Reduction and Lamb Sauce on a bed of Lamb
I will be back in 9 days, fatter, burned pink and peeling, rashy with sun poisoning, and VIOLENTLY SICK OF THE CAR. But happy!
OKAY -- I JUST got off the plane, I have had maybe 4 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, I had a GREAT time, the stuff at Warner went well (I thought it did anyway), and I will I SWEAR be all detailed and forthcoming tomorrow. I am too sleepy to tell it all it all tonight.
Tonight I will just tell you about the Hot Cops.
I want to bed last night early --around 8 maybe, I was so tired from leaping at 4 am to catch my flight -- but could not sleep. Too hyper and revved up on thrill-of-New-Yorkness and adrenalyn and caffeine. So I decided to walk down to Times Square and people watch and march around to tire myself out a little.
So, there was all the usual fun Times Square stuff to look at -- a VERY GIANT wonderwoman drag queen pedaling tourists about on a rickshaw-slash-bicycle thing, for example, and also a guy dressed entirely in tinfoil who STOOD VERY VERY STILL for money. No, really. He basically wears tinfoil and STANDS STILL. That's his job. And he had this big TUB of money and people would stop and watch him stand still, and they would say, "MAN, that guy is still!" And then they would say "And he seems to be dressed entirely in tinfoil!" And then they would drop a dollar in his vat-o-cash. I watched that for quite some time.
I started to get tired so I began looking for 44th to walk back to my hotel. On the corner of what seemed like a probable 44th, some Hateful Street Preachers had taken up residence, and they were yelling many many racially inflammatory and dreadful things in the name of God. An Angry Crowd was massing and arguing with the hateful preachers and there was some verbal fussing going on, and so, just to keep an eye on things, a couple of New York's Finest came over.
When I say they were New York's Finest, I mean that on SEVERAL levels. If EITHER of these cops had pulled you over, you would NEVER believe you were getting a ticket. You would think that any moment they would flip the switch on a boombox and rip off their pants and start undulating about in leapard-print G-Strings. They were too cute to be real life cops. They were like TV pretty.
And look -- okay -- if you read this blog regularly, you probably by now have figured out that I honestly believe that the reason we HAVE a moon is because my husband climbed a big ladder carrying a lot of powertools and hung that sucker up there. BUT. That doesn't mean I can't pause for a moment and appreciate a truly hot cop. I'm only human. Also, you know, my dad and my brother were both airborn rangers, and so I have that whole MEN IN UNIFORM ARE COOL thing.
So an ugly crowd was watching the hateful preachers, and the hot cops were watching the crowd and the preachers, and I was pausing for a moment to watch the hot cops and getting tireder and tireder and thinking, OKAY really needing to find 44th.
Meanwhile the hateful preachers are thundering out utter tripe, drowning out members of the angry crowd who are trying to argue with them, and they keep saying what GOD SAID, they begin every sentence that way, and they are dead wrong every time.
and GOD SAID this hateful disgusting thing
and GOD SAID that other hateful, disgusting thing
and GOD SAID something Satan wouldn't utter on a bad day, and I turn to hot cop 1 and I say, "Did God say this was 44th street?" and hot cop 1 says, "Yes. God DID say that this was 44th street," and right on cue hot cop 2 chimes in and says "And Lo, it was good."
Hot AND quick-witted. New York really DOES have everything.
Hello, my name is Joshilyn, and I am a monstrous geek.
Yeah. Like anyone who reads this blog hasn't clued in to that. *snork*
But I herewith offer you all new proof:
Remember I am going to New York on Wednesday? To meet with various marketing folks at Warner? Well, okay, I am thrilled down to the very core of my being, obviously, and that is not geeky or weird, that is WELL within the realm of normal human behavior. She said defensively.
BUT. Do you know what ELSE is thrilling me? Yea, down unto the already thrilled core of my being? I shall tell you....They are going to "send a car for me." THIS MEANS that when I get off the plane there will be a PERSON there, and the person will HAVE A SIGN, and the SIGN will have MY NAME ON IT and I will go up to the person and say, "Hello, why YES! That IS me! THAT IS ME ON THE SIGN YOU HAVE!"
I have a THING about it. Whenever I see a signholder at the airport, I always want to march straight up to him and say HI YES THAT'S ME. No matter what the sign says. "Hi, yes, that's me. Yes. I AM TOO Steve Jones! As a matter of fact. Yeah, that IS weird. Guess my dad really wanted a boy, huh? So. Where are you taking me? Oh? Really? I am a lawyer then, huh? OH! A Judge! COOL ON ME! Hmm do you think we could skip that and you could drive me straight to Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum? Because they just put in an INTERACTIVE JENNIFER LOPEZ. Seriously. She stands there with her back to you (for obvious great big voluptuous wax reasons) and looks over one shoulder, and if you talk to her, she blushes. Also they added Hulk."
I can't wait.
I am going back to New York, looks like.
Up north of me at Time Warner, my editor (who was about to go on leave for eight weeks or so) decided to storm the building with the galleys for gods in Alabama. She sent one to every person in the building who had a pulse, and then she placed them on the graves of former editors, and then she put some more by the toilets. She went by personally and asked every person to read the galleys, employing a medium to ask the dead folks. Since asking the toilets seemed a bit over the top, she simply left graffiti: YOU + THIS BOOK = 2GETHER 4EVER and FOR HOT MONKEY LOVE, READ THIS BOOK.
I adore my editor. Really.
The result of her unwavering support was this: Someone in marketing read it and liked it. This led to other people in marketing reading/liking, and now the folks in Marketing want to meet with me. To say that I am excited about this is to say Patrick Henry thought liberty might be okay or whatever.
My husband was excited FOR me, until we had the following talk.
Scott: (kidding) This means shoe shopping, doesnt it?
Me: (deadly earnest) You better believe it.
So today I am going to this little shopping place I have never been that is rumored to have amazingly great shoes. Its called The Avenue at East Cobb. HUZZAH. I am going to get some power shoes and I have been thinking about them for two days now in a growing frenzy of desire. I have a chocolate brown short skirt and a cream patterned cami and blouse I am going to wear, but my old brown suit loafers are a little too Ally McBeal for 2004. SO CLEARLY, new shoes are required. I feel the shoes will be in the BRONZE family, and strappy, and scrutiating painful to walk across a ROOM in, much less 15 blocks in Manhattan. BUT HEY. THESE ARE THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE.
I called my friend Jan (who is both fashionable and thrifty) to see if she wanted to go with me and rein me in before I fell headlong into love with shoes that cost more than my car.
Me: What are you doing today?
Jan: Hoping someone will take a fork and kick it into my head and end this misery.
Jan: Hey. You asked. Im also cleaning out my garage.
So. Maybe not. Since Jan apparently has *cough* other plans and Julie has her kids (Jans and mine are going on a fieldtrip with the church kids) I am going to go alone and place my so-fierce-it-borders-on-mental-illness love of shoes and my sky miles credit card at the mercy of a saleswoman.
We who are about to need a second mortgage salute you.
Caryn took me to lunch at Milos where I unabashedly craned around looking for celebrities and ate the most expensive grilled scallops that ever were. They came in a cup with exotic citrus fruits and a something something compote cilantro something reduction roux with frittered loblolly pine froo-froo garni. OR SOMETHING. Then I had a crabcake with all manner of decorative fanciness. Then I had something made of nuts. I could not pronounce most of the food but it was VERY NICE to look at at and even NICER to put in my mouth.
Caryn (Editor) was very SAD SAD that no celebrity showed up for us to gawk at. We were there for a couple hours and change nattering on and STILL, not one bleeding movie star popped by. Very irritating of them. Caryn told a VERY funny story about when she took her new assistant to lunch at the same place, and it is such a GREAT story, I have decided to pretend it happened to me, and tell it here as if it did.
So anyway, we are in Milos, and NO movie stars appear, and as we are leaving, Caryn is pushing open the door, and she turns and says over her shoulder, "I am so SAD that no celebrities showed up...Usually here you can always see at least one!" and then she turns back around and framed in the doorway is Steve Martin, who has OBVIOUSLY heard every word, and Caryn and her assista---I mean, Caryn and I google at him, open-mouthed and embarrased, and he throws this HUGE shakesperian BOW and says "HAPPY TO OBLIGE!"
Later at JUMPERS -- which is a revival of a Tom Stoppard play on Broadway that Scott and I give TWO RAVING SCREAMING GLORIOUS OVATIONY THUMBS UP -- we did have Nicole Kidman sitting a little in front of us. I gawked freely. Nic -- as she asked me to call her after we became best friends -- LOOKS really GREAT in person. I man, obviously she is beautiful, but IRL she looks prettier than she does on screen -- in her case the camera seems to remove ten pounds, so IRL she looks creamier. She had on slim-fitting black pants with a sort of goldish bolero jacket. Hair slopped up in a bun so casual and tendrilly that it probably took 5 hours and at least 4 of the Queer Eye guys to create. That was our only celeb sighting, but we did see a mugger. He failed to mug us. Nother story.
In my head I s'pose I had constructed a rabbit warren filled with, oh, you know, Hobbitses and trolls and editors, everyone scurrying about deep under the earth carrying stacks of paper taller than themselves with sentient glow worms lining the walls to light the place. But no, it was very SQUARE and WHITE and cubicled and officey.
One of the oddest things about being in New York was seeing all these regulation, square, normal, tall buildings that said "Simon and Schuster" and "Warner" and "Random House" on them in SUCH casual letters, making RANDOM HOUSE a PLACE instead of...a thing on the backs of books.
Getting into the building practically required a DNA screening...post-911 security. Sad and sadly necesary.
I met my editor (who turned out to be LOVELY) and she took me around to the various departments and introduced me to my production editor and foreign rights editor and a LOT of people in Marketing and some of them had read my book -- not a polite "oh yeah sure I read that cough-cough" way but in a "I can discuss characters and themes with you and I REALLY actually read it and liked it" way. I got to meet the PUBLISHER, too -- She was a tiny Powerhouse. Seriously -- nothing comes out of a house if the publisher doesn't love it....she's a major player and it was NEAT to get to meet her.
Scott -- being a buisnessman -- noticed stuff I did not pick up on, stuff that makes me feel good about the way the auction went and that we ended up with this house and this editor. He said that in every department we visited, my editor seemed to be both liked and respected---that's vital but not somethign I would have THOUGHT about or observed as I have never had any sort of OFFICE job.
Funny moment: Scott and I were standing there with a BUNCH of folks... my Editor, her assistant, the production editor, the publisher, the asst publisher and the publisher's assistant and the publisher asked how I had gotten hooked up with my agent.
I said, "I cold queried him."
There was this pause, this TINY beat, where everyone there kind of widened their eyes in a pulse of disbelief and then quickly the conversation resumed. It was so fast, so subtle, that if I had blinked I would have missed it. But it really brought home to me how incredibly LUCKY and blessed I have been to get this far.
Got in from New York yesterday -- I will be blogging the trip for probably a couple of weeks because SO MUCH STUFF HAPPENED.
But today I am slammed so just one quick thing:
I have this sex-potty-hotty friend named Jan. She has the Body of Death. And Jan gave me this little cocktail black dress (emphasis on little) and I packed it to wear in New York because I don't think I have the big bold hairies to wear it in my home town. *grin* Plus, really, how many times a week do I need a cocktail dress here in rural Georgia? Answer: Even less than you would think.
Anyway this dress...It's SASSY. It's VERY short, it's very PLUNGY in the front, it isn't what one would call "baggy" but it still manages to look elegant instead of trampy. Like, in this dress, it is very probable that I look PURCHASABLE, but at least I look EXPENSIVE.
So I put it on to go to a VERY NICE restaurant called March and then to see a Broadway show, and I am craning all around in the hotel room mirror trying to decide if I can wear it out of the room, but Scott (whose opinion is suspect because he is a MAN and traditionally men are Pro-Not-Enough-Dress) says BABY I LOVE THAT DRESS LET'S GO.
SO we trot on over to the elevator, and its a LONG ride because we are on the top floor, so IN the elevator I am still craning and peering at myself in the highly polished brass doors and trying to pull the hem down without having a boob pop out the top and then trying to pull the neckline up without flashing my underpants. And I am thinking I am going to have to go RIGHT BACK UP and CHANGE because I can not POSSIBLY wear this out in human public.
Then the elevator stops on the 17th floor and PERSPECTIVE gets on. Perspective is about my age, and she is blonde, and she has her navel pierced. I know her navel is pierced because the neckline of HER little black dress allows me to SEE her navel. Or, no, not really the neckline, because the dress HAS no neckline. In fact, it has no front at all, just SIDES, and then two pointy pieces of fabric that come out from each side. They do not attach to each other, they just stick out in points to cover Niplandia and they have either been glued to her boobies or she is making them stay in place by a Superhuman Act of Will. The skirt is nothing more than a hint of loindrape -- the sort of about-to-blow-away-scrap you might see on a bit of classical statuary. She has long french manicured claws on both her hands and her feet and her mouth is an unapologetic slash of carmine and her hair is SO SO BIG that she could wear it to ANY Alabama shopping mall in the 1980's and not feel shame.
Suddenly, I realized I am positively NUNLIKE in my FASHION RESTRAINT, and I quit worrying about the dress and had a lovely time.
All this month I will tell all the NYC crap like meeting my editor and agent and what it's like behind the scenes in the big publishing house and what shows we saw (in 4 shows we saw 16 tony nominations!!) and where we ate and THE MUGGER story and Steve Martin and Nicole Kidman sightings and we will discuss HOW one MILKFEEDS a HEN... STAY TUNED