Monday, September 25, 2006

Get Me to the Bookstore On Time

My friend Laura called me a few hours before my first bookstore reading. “You’re strangely calm,” she said. I was, too. I’d planned my entire day, and so far it'd gone off without a hitch: early morning workout, a few errands, then work on the new novel. Then rehearsing, both to get my timing down and get myself used to the sound of my own voice (I know from teaching that if I don’t do this, I sound weird and stupid to myself as soon as I open my mouth in front of a group). Precisely at 5:30 PM, I began making brownies. If organizational skills were an Olympic event, that day I’d have scored a perfect 10.

The whole point, of course, being to get me to the bookstore--prepared and relaxed, with my copy of Tallulah Falls and a tray of warm brownies in hand--no later than 6:40 PM, twenty minutes before the reading was due to start. So explain to me—how did it suddenly become 6:35 with me still in sweatpants, my hair in a ponytail, nothing loaded in the car and a houseful of animals who needed to be fed?

Call it a wardrobe malfunction. No, not the Janet Jackson kind. The kind that makes every item of clothing in my closet seem like it was beamed straight from Planet U-R-Freakazoid. My bedroom looked as though someone had tossed my closet into a giant blender and turned it on without the lid. It was the real-life version of that nightmare, you know, the one where you have to be somewhere in one minute and the gorgeous dress you just put on suddenly morphs into orange overalls with fringe.* If Laura had called me at 6:35 PM, she’d have gotten a whole different take on my emotional state.

Thank God for the simple black blazer, that’s all I can say.

After the ordeal of getting myself dressed, the reading itself went down smooth as pumpkin pie. The bookstore, St. Johns Booksellers, was cozy and bright; so many people showed up that Nena and Liz, the store owners, had to put out all their chairs; and this lovely, lovely audience laughed in all the right places and afterward bought copies of the book. They’re going straight to heaven, every single one of them.

Even the brownies were a hit.**

Not all readings will be so charmed, I know. But this one was. Thanks to everyone who came, thanks to all who couldn’t come but sent their best wishes, and thanks especially to Liz and Nena of St. Johns Booksellers—you gals rock!

*I'm not the only one who has that nightmare, am I?

**Full disclosure: They were made from a box. But hey, I had to set the oven. And I stir batter really, really well.

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