I’m writing this from my office perch here at home, where I am haunted by my still-packed suitcase and the piles of catch-up work staring me in the face. I ignored it all yesterday in favor of a day spent snuggling with T-Bone and grudgingly admiring Scott’s new car. That’ll teach me to leave town for five days.
The last stop of the tour was Houston, where my old friend Garrett Finney resides with his charming family. Garrett used to do interior design for NASA, but most recently he’s employed his mad skills creating The Cricket, an innovative camping trailer. Next to his office is John and Dee Dillman’s Kaboom Books, dubbed, “Houston’s most exhuberantly misanthropic used bookstore.” It was the perfect spot to see out my tour.
Dee threw me a beautiful party, complete with organic snow cones and cupcakes decorated to look like boobs with pasties. There was a wonderful crowd and the weather even cooperated in giving me a dramatic exit, punctuating my outdoor reading with thunder claps and sending everyone running inside for the signing.
I’ve been so touched by the friends who have showed up throughout the tour and offered me love, support and couches to crash on. In the case of Houston, I also got my first taste of friend pickles and a guided tour of the stunning Menil Collection by a four-year-old who taught me that nearly every Surrealist master work demands that one break out singing Beyonce. I wish I could always see art with such new eyes.
It has been a wild ride, but I look forward to settling back into some sort of routine. There are still a handful of Some Girlsevents in Los Angeles and San Francisco this month, in case you missed the first go-round.
It’s nearly midnight and there’s a full yellow moon and loud music in the courtyard outside my door. It’s comforting tonight rather than annoying. The music in Austin doesn’t acknowledge doorways. I’m staying at a soulful little hotel with poems pinned to the walls. The poem next to the mirror in my bathroom is called “Knots” and it’s about the dual nature, oppressive and redemptive, of one’s family, of one’s past. A timely sentiment for me.
The reading at Book People went well. Another fabulous bookstore in another great town. I can usually count on one pervert (with lots of questions about lesbian harem action) and one elderly lady showing up at every reading. This reading had two perverts and a whole gang of elderly ladies. Does that mean I’m getting more successful?
Lost toothbrush and lost sleep and lost itinerary- it’s starting to feel like the end of the tour is at hand. True, the book tour is on a smaller scale than the rock tours I’ve been on before, but the month of travel is wearing on me just the same. I haven’t seen my little man in four days and I miss him so much that I feel sick.
Yesterday morning I taped Good Morning America (to air next Thursday), then changed into traveling clothes in the car on the way to JFK to catch my flight to Austin. The interview with Juju Chang was fantastic. She’s a powerhouse. I think I want to be her in my next life- you know, the one where I don’t make the kind of mistakes that make you the interviewee instead of the interviewer.
I love that great equalizer mom moment of sharing iPhone pictures of your kids. The only difference between Juju’s pictures and mine was that I didn’t have to scroll through pictures of Sasha Obama in order to get to the picture of my kid playing Rock Band.
There are lots of good things about the Jet Blue Terminal at JFK. The first is the sushi. The second is the fact that whoever designed that place was clearly a germaphobe because there are motion sensor Purell dispensers everywhere. Scott likes to point out to me that in spite of my fondness for anti-bacterial products, I still manage to get sick all the time. But that’s not the point. The point is the illusion of control. The only thing that saves me from being a neurotic loon about germs is that I loathe housecleaning.
The third thing I love about the terminal is that the Borders there carries Some Girls. My first airport spotting! I managed to sneak in this picture before the Borders employee at the airport told me that she didn’t care what I wrote, I still wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the display books…
Phew, okay. Now I’m caught up and can give you the blog you’ve been waiting for.
Scott and I went on Howard Stern this morning. You can find the (shortened and kind of lame) transcript here. I have to tell you, I went in there with my Wonder Woman bracelets on, ready to deflect all manner of shenanigans. And you know what? I almost feel bad saying this, but Howard was a pussycat. Of course he asked me a lot of sex questions, but that was a given. I thought that he and Robin were attentive and interested and pretty respectful. I actually liked the guy. Weird, right? Howard brought out the Jewish mom in me. I wanted to go straight home and cook him a noodle kugel or something. He needs to eat more.
Scott said before the show, “You’re an author, you’re not here promoting your signature glow in the dark fake vagina toy or something. Don’t worry about it. He’ll treat you with respect.” And he was right.
I dressed like a bitchy Beverly Hills PTA mom, so maybe that threw Howard off. Anyway, Scott and I had a romantic (and surreal) twelve hours in New York together before he turned right back around and got on a plane home.
If you missed it (or just want to see my PTA duds), it airs on Howard TV tomorrow night at midnight.
Portland is author paradise. I did two events there- a live storytelling event called Backfence PDX and a reading at the best bookstore in the known universe: Powell’s.
At Backfence I shared a stage with the annoyingly talented Steve Almond, whose new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, I bought for my favorite rocker. The deal with Backfence is that there are no notes allowed. You just stand up there and tell a story. It’s run by Melissa Lion and B. Frayn Masters. Below is a picture of me with Frayn and her man, author Kevin Sampsell.
This was an entirely new thing for me and I completely freaked out. And when I say freaked out, I mean literally shaking in my boots, seeing weird spots and almost passing out. I should have paid them for the adrenaline rush alone. As it was, I got great swag and may have been bitten by the storytelling bug.
Early the following morning I rolled off my friend Tammy’s (that’s her in the lovely furry vest) couch, threw on a crumpled shirt and some lipstick and went to what I thought was a radio interview. Imagine my surprise when I saw the television cameras. I must have glanced too hastily at my itinerary. I hunted down the woman in the building wearing the most makeup and begged her to raid her purse. Here’s me with the show’s other guest, a felon-finding bloodhound named Sister and her cop/author dad. If I look like I’m in my pajamas, it’s because I am.
In fact, at my reading at Powell’s that night, a man came to get his book signed and told me that he saw me on AM Northwest that morning. I told him the story. He said, “I was wondering why you looked so much better tonight.”
So much love, so much rain. Here’s me and my fabulous friend Karin. You should read her blog about her groovy family and their journey with international adoption.
Scott and T went home so Scott could play the Ellen Show and I went on to Seattle alone. It was the second time I’ve spent the night apart from T and it brought a strange mix of emotions- an elated rush of freedom coexisted with an ever-present feeling of anxiety and loss.
Nevertheless, Seattle was the kind of experience I always imagined when envisioning my book tour. A fantastically interesting couple showed up, who had been friends with my in-laws for over forty years. An old acquaintance surprised me. Tyler Larsen, a crafting vixen (that’s us in the above pic) I blogged about when we were last on tour with Weezer in Denver, had moved to Seattle and came to the reading with friends.
A handful of us shared a wonderful Greek dinner after the show and I was able to enjoy the unexpected company of new friends. There are a lot of drawbacks to the traveling life. Right now, for instance, I’m so exhausted that my eyes look like Cheech Marin’s on a bad day. But things like a surprising dinner in a strange town and an opportunity to wear a raincoat in the summertime are sometimes enough to make me feel that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This graffiti was in a bathroom stall at Sea-Tac Airport. The Pacific Northwest even has progressive doggerel.
Only in San Francisco can I share a nostalgic vegetarian Thai dinner with four lovely friends (all mommies, mostly teachers) with whom I used to attend weird sex parties. In between ooh-ing and aah-ing over pictures of each others’ babies, we said things like, “Did I once eat sushi off your transvestite boyfriend at his birthday party?” and, “Did we ever have sex? I can’t remember.” Ah, the mid-nineties.
It’s also only in San Francisco that you get a mad sexy crowd to show up for a literary event. I read at The Monthly Rumpus, along with Beth Lisick, Kyle Kinane and Andrew Sean Greer among others. I got a little bit starstruck and creepy with Andrew, hanging around his table longer than was comfortable and trying to connect with his husband over hotrods, which I really don’t give a shit about at all and he could totally tell. I used the appearance of a poetry-reading clown to slink away.
I read at Books Inc. on Tuesday May 11. All my peeps showed. Some showed with cupcakes. Some promised to show up and try to throw me off my game by dressing as clowns and bearing gay porn, but they wussed out. If they hadn’t, I could have also started this paragraph with “Only in San Francisco…” Darn them and their disregard for symmetry.
I love this video by Steve Boling called, YE’RE HERE, CUZIN!. I did a storytelling event last night and it got me thinking about memory. The line of dialogue sounds like something my mother probably said on my answering machine a while back…
This is from the website of Exploding Moment, my friend Catharine’s theater company…
YE’RE HERE, CUZIN! is a reverse “Grapes of Wrath” road trip, a surrealist series of episodes channeling the perceptions of a nine-year-old boy. The show and its title are inspired by a billboard that greeted my family as we moved back and forth from California to the Arkansas Ozarks when I was an adolescent. This trailer was created from footage from our work-in-progress presentation at BAX.–Catharine Dill.
I’ve been woefully remiss here, but juggling the tour and the tot is about as busy as I’ve ever been. Here are pictures of some highlights from the rest of the New York trip. I read at Sex Worker Literati, where the still-absolutely-adorable Candida Royale regaled us with a hilarious story of her foray into adult filmmaking.
Then we went upstate and stayed in Woodstock with my closest friend from high school. I think that the reading in Hudson is going to be hard to beat, for me. A whole mess of other folks from high school drove up for the reading at the charming Spotty Dog Books and Ale. The reading had an impromptu, guerilla kind of feel, probably because the store is also a bar. There were a bunch of people who were there for the beer and the book was a surprise. I love that kind of wildcard.
Everyone brought their kids and the resulting crew of marauders would have made Captain Jack Sparrow quiver in his fey little boots. Tariku picked up a a light saber and it was love at first sight. He couldn’t believe I had been holding out on him about this weapon thing for so long.
And the last boundary falls. It was kind of a relief, actually.
I remember the days when I vowed that he would only ever play with wooden toys handmade by elves living on a communal farm in Vermont. But that night in Woodstock, I realized that it mattered less to me that my two year old was watching Star Wars, than it did that he was surrounded with so much love. The sight of him happily snuggled on the bed with a smiling pile of little boys (weapons or no) seemed to instantly eradicate any concern.
It was a special weekend for all of us. As per usual, the plane ride to the West Coast was a whole different kind of battle. It left me swearing that I’m not going to travel with T again until he’s like sixteen. But of course I will.
Tuesday I did a conversation event with Melissa Febos at the gorgeous Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn. Melissa’s book Whip Smart chronicles the four years she spent as a dominatrix. Kind of. Really, it’s just a kick ass coming-of-age memoir. I so enjoyed talking to her about endings (narrative not happy), power, sexual currency and the challenges of using life to make art and vice versa.
We had an all-star guest list, including Sonya Chung, Cintra Wilson, Stephen Elliott, Sini Anderson, Julien Nitzberg and Catharine Dill. Not to mention appearances by summer camp friends and by family members who are miraculously still talking to me.
It’s amazing to be back in New York touring with this book. New York is the place where I made so many of the mistakes that gave me a book to write in the first place. I love when life brings me full circle.
This past Monday I appeared on The View. You can catch the full episode here. I plan to write at length about my experience, but for now I’ll just say that it was a blast. It was an intense day on a lot of levels, not the least of which was that I reconnected with my friend Rachel (a producer on the show), whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years. I was incredibly nervous at first, but as soon I had my ass in that chair with the cute little blue mug in front of me, I felt great. I actually had fun. I made a mental note that if a host position ever becomes available, I definitely want to apply. I think I’d give them just the edge they need.
I seem to be getting a bunch of incredibly supportive feedback from people who think that Barbara was mean to me. I appreciate the love, but I have to disagree. I’ve been known to don my journalist hat every so often, so I know the difference between being mean and digging for the story. It never once crossed my mind that Barbara was being mean. I was honored to be interviewed by her and frankly thrilled to watch her do her thing, even when I did her radio show afterwards and she managed to throw me off my game a couple of times. She’s friggin’ Barbara Walters, of course she threw me off my game.
Besides, I didn’t write this book so people would like me and be nice to me. I wrote it because I wanted to tell my story. The View gave me the opportunity to do exactly that.
Hosted by Rumpus editor Stephen Elliott, back from NYC!
Featuring authors Keith Lee Morris, Jillian Lauren, Beth Lisick, and Andrew Sean Greer!
With Comedy by Kyle Kinane.
Music by Michael Mullen.
Food provided by The Girl From Empanada.
Also chances to win great prizes in our monthly porn raffle.