Monday, May 31, 2010

Never Berate Your Mother For Googling You

Wednesday, the day of my first book reading/signing event my mom calls me at work.

Mom: Hey, I was Googling you and saw that you’re speaking at a private school in Atherton the day of the Kepler’s signing!
Me: Wha? *cold sweats. quickly googles self + the school name*
Mom: Do you see it? Right there under the principal’s message!
Me: Oh god! What the? I gotta call my publicist. *hangs up on mom*

My publicist is on vacation but I get another lovely Flux publicist who assures me she will get to the bottom of this. When she gets back to me the news is even worse: there has been some disconnect and I am actually booked at TWO schools on Friday. A private school with 5th through 8th graders and a High School.  It is Wednesday, and that night after work I have the book signing in town. This means I have to pack up the family and drive down to San Francisco the next night. But logistics are the least of my worries. My biggest problem is I HAVE NOTHING PREPARED!

I call the schools; I talk to the librarians who set up the events. I calm down a bit and head to my first event, right here in my hometown. It is packed! I’m shocked. I make it through even though I hate hate hate reading aloud.  I think I do okay but I get a call the next day from my good friend and physician.

Dr. R: *gushes about book signing*
Me:  *thanks her profusely*
Dr. R: So, I’d love to prescribe a little something for your speaking anxiety …
Me: *thumps head on desk*  Was it that obvious?
Dr. R: No, of course not! Only something a doctor would notice.
Me: I’m leaving town in an hour, how fast can you call it in to the drive-thru pharmacy?

So I get the anti-anxiety medicine at 5:30 at night on our way to San Francisco. We roll in at midnight. The next day I am at the Middle School in the morning. It’s a Catholic School so all the kids are in their cute little plaid uniforms, as polite and quite as can be. The gym seems huge and I am put off by the fact that I need to use a microphone. But all goes well, very well. They ask amazing questions and laugh when they’re supposed to and they all buy lots of books from the nice Kepler’s woman and I feel as if I’ve been wrapped in a big warm blanket of adorableness.

Then, the high school. I am told I will be in the Performing Arts Center and my knees buckle. I can hardly watch performing arts without being embarrassed—and now I am one? I thank my lucky stars for anti-anxiety medicine and pop one like it’s a Pez. I walk in to see what looks like Inside the Actors Studio sans James Lipton: an enormous stage set with a desk, a chair, and a microphone. And there is a spotlight. Right where I am supposed to sit. I can’t hide my shock and neither can my prescription Pez. The stage guy mistakes my shock for something else, like indignation at his setup.

Stage guy: Oh, don’t feel like you have to sit there the whole time! The mic is on a little stand, so when you want to get up and roam the stage, just take the mic with you. I’ll follow you with the spotlight wherever you go.
Me: *convulses upon hearing, “I’ll follow you with the spotlight”*  I can’t do that!
Stage guy: Okay, you can just sit then.
Me: No, I mean I can’t be up on that stage!
Stage guy: *looks at me like I am crazy person*
Me: Can I just sit on the edge of the stage?
Stage guy: *shrugs* I still have to light you.

Kids file in. Big kids. Like, adult sized. I read the short bit that I’ve been opening these things with. They clearly do not want to be read to. I fumble, I sweat. The teachers ask questions to be kind, the kids sit with arms folded. I lose 7 years of life up there. Finally, I forget about my book and turn the ship around.

Me: So what do you guys like to read?

The adult-sized children start to engage. They love to read. They tell me what they like; I give them some suggestions for other great books. One finally asks a question about my book, so I tell them some freaky stuff about the Mayan calendar. They pretend not to show enthusiasm but I can tell they kind of dig it. More questions are asked. The bell rings. I live, but have 90% more grey hair than when I started.

And yet, there’s more. That night I have a reading and signing at Kepler’s. Some kids from the private school are there, and tons of friends and family show up. Heidi Kling even comes by. Most astonishingly, people I have never seen in my life are there. Real live people who came to see me and get the book! I am flabbergasted and, most of all, grateful.

I live through the day. Kepler’s sells out of books. We all leave happy, but mostly happy that it's over.

And the moral? Never berate you mother for Googling you—it just might save you the embarrassment of inadvertently standing up two schools...


Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Robin Mellom said...

OH My God, I'm hyperventilating just reading this!!! You are unbelievable. And clearly very flexible. (The spotlight guy had me cracking up!)
So where can I get that Pez?

Cathy Gersich said...

I want some of your Pez.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm with Robin--I was becoming quite tense reading this. I do hope it gets easier after a few times, and thank goodness the adult-size kids loosened up. Yay to Mom, and kudos to you for holding it together and braving the spotlight.

Teri Hall said...

I want some of your Pez too.

PJ Hoover said...

That's kind of scary (the not knowing about the visits part). I used to be terrified to talk in front of crowds, but I'm pretty sure I've never had a spotlight!
Yay, you!

Alison's Book Marks said...

THIS is why I love your blog - my heart is racing and my hands are a little shakey just reading that! OMG, I heart your mom!

Anonymous said...

my palms are sweating just reading about it....:)


Christy Raedeke said...

I'm so glad this made some of you sweaty! I was a mess by the end of the day. :)

Kim Ellen said...

I'm glad it worked out, but how terrifying! I'm with a few others; I was tense the whole time.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

wow - way to act on your feet! how did they forget to tell you?

nanmarino said...

I couldn't even imagine having a day like this. Sounds like you did great, though. Hurray for mom, the pez and for you! Glad you got through it.

Lindsey Leavitt said...

don't let my mom read this. She'll only be encouraged.

Anonymous said...

We stopped in Bloomsbury Bookstore tonight in Ashland and discovered your book. My wife can't wait to read it! We were hoping we could purchase a copy directly from you and have you autograph it. We would love to meet you and buy you coffee at the Starbucks in town. We are on our way from Seattle to Big Sur and will depart San Francisco for the long ride home early Tuesday (6/15) and expect to pass through Ashland around 2pm. Any chance this would work for you?
Best wishes,
Terry Proctor