Nerd Prom

Authors’ kids took over the green room this weekend at the LA Times Festival of Books. Here’s T-Bone with Claire Bidwell Smith’s Vera and Samantha Dunn’s Ben. They’re starting a band, which is way more sensible than a literary journal.

There was a party on Saturday night at the Main Library downtown. Scott and I made a date night out of it and went for oysters at The Water Grill on the way. In front of the Biltmore Hotel, we passed a bunch of kids on the way to their prom. The girls swished by us in sequined mermaid skirts, teetering on their heels and hanging on the arms of rented tuxes. It occurred to me that the Book Festival is like a grown-up nerd prom, with less slow dancing and more panel discussions.

It’s kind of nice of the world to give me a second chance at this prom thing. I’m doing much better this time around. Here I am at the awards ceremony with Rachel Resnick, Janet Fitch, Elissa Schappell and Carolyn Kellog.

It’s heartening for an author to spend a couple of days in this swirl of enthusiasm for books. I felt grateful for the chance to mingle with readers and colleagues.

And for the last dance of the nerd prom, I got to see Amanda Fletcher, my mentee from the PEN Center Emerging Voices fellowship, kick so much ass at her reading at the Hotel Cafe that I got a little tear of pride in my eye. Watch out for her. She’s about to conquer the world. Or at least make homecoming queen.

Where’s My Brain?

I look out over Austin as I’m writing about San Francisco but that’s how tour is- time just spirals away from you until the best you can do is hold onto your seat and hope that it’s a seat on the correct plane at least. Come to think of it, that’s kind of how parenthood is, too. Or at least it feels like that to me much of the time. And Scott and I have been doing both the tour thing and the parenthood thing with gusto this month. It’s been crazy, crazy pants ’round here, let me tell you. It’s been a wet-towels-on-the-bed, just-order-take-out-again, oh-shit-where-are-my-keys, oh-no-I’m-late-for-my-plane, no-I-didn’t-feed-the-dogs-I-thought-you-did kind of month.

Last week Scott and I had colliding tour schedules, so I wound up taking T with me to San Francisco. I was trepidatious about it, but it turned into a week full of those magical Bay Area moments. Moments when the fog dissipates and the light is buttery and people are considerate and just when you think you’re lost a bus comes out of nowhere with your destination printed right above the windshield.

For example, when we arrived we discovered that it was Fleet Week in SF. We were greeted by a welcoming committee of Blue Angel fighter jets. Which, in Tariku’s universe, would only be bested by DJ Lance showing up at our door with a gallon of chocolate ice cream and fourteen new toy airplanes. Maybe.

We were able to go down to the waterfront the next day and watch the Air Show with T’s Uncle Paul and Uncle Vincey. The weather, the timing- it was mystical. And my tour/toddler trepidation was replaced by gratitude that we get to share these adventures together.

As for the SF events, they were awesome. I read at Writers With Drinks at The Makeout Room (above), told a story at the Litquake edition of the Porchlight Storytelling Series, and threw a little shindig with Rare Bird Lit at The Hotel Rex, which was emceed by my buddy Tony DuShane (photo below- looking very Beat poet, I think). Here’s the podcast of me on his radio show before we headed over to the party. The delightful Paul Myers played us some songs and I was humbled and inspired by Elissa Schappell’s reading (which is the best way to feel when watching another writer read.) I saw old friends, made new ones and heard some incredible stories.

I wouldn’t say I left my heart there exactly, but I did return with it feeling full. My brain, on the other hand, was toast.

Now where the heck are those keys?

PRETTY Book Tour: Portland and San Francisco

I’m in PDX right now at the lovely Heathman hotel, having a “drinkable chocolate” (as decadent as it sounds) for lunch and cruising the stacks of their amazing library of books signed by authors that have stayed here. If you’re nearby, come see me tonight at Kevin Sampsell’s Booty Call at the Blue Monk at 9. It should be down and dirty and I’m reading with the likes of Steve Almond, Dena Rash Guzman and Chloe Caldwell.

Scott is leaving for tour, so I’ll be meeting Tariku and Jen, our intrepid treasure of a babysitter, in SF tomorrow. Tariku’s “aunties” (who are really men with an occasional fondness for women’s footwear) already have a carousel/beach outing planned for Sunday, so I imagine that this leg of the tour is going to be much work and much fun, topped with a heaping measure of balancing-baby-and-book-tour stress. I’m looking forward to showing T the Golden Gate Bridge. No one loves bridges like that kid. I’ll let you know how it goes…

I’ve got three Bay Area events scheduled.

Saturday October 8, I’m doing Writers With Drinks at the Makeout Room at 8pm- with Rebecca Solnit, Tomas Moniz, Diana Turkin and Geekporngirl. Because it ain’t San Francisco unless you do at least one reading alongside someone who has the word “porn” in their name.

Monday, October 10, I’m doing the Litquake edition of the Porchlight Storytelling Series at the Verdi Club at 8pm, with Donnell Alexander, Rob Baedeker, Susan Freinkel, Jillian Lauren, Marc Maron, Vanessa Veselka. Get tickets for this one in advance, as it’s going to sell out any minute.

Wednesday, October 12, I’m thrilled to be throwing a party at the Hotel Rex at 8:30, with the fabulous Elissa Schappell, Tony DuShane and musical guest Paul Myers. The flyer is pictured above.

Tariku might actually make an appearance at the Rex. Special guest- Tariku Moon Shriner and his one man band! He’ll be performing selections from his “pre-school adaptations of pop songs” album, including his hit single “Jump Up Whales” (based on “Pumped Up Kicks”). Sing along: All the little whales, all the humpback whales and the mommy whales, JUMP UP my whales!

Hope to see some of you there!