Monday, May 10, 2010

So much has happened since my last post, it's hard to know where to begin. I've wanted to write all about my Midwestern tour, but it feels so long ago already--I'll just share a couple of snippets now. I had an amazing time, especially because I got to see so many family members and old friends, including an aunt I hadn't seen since I was a teenager, since she and my mom had become estranged. It's been very meaningful to reconnect with her after my mom's death. I saw a bit of my mom in her eyes, which was quite an amazing experience. But let me back track a bit...

This was my first family book tour--I had my little entourage with me, Michael, Asher and Hannah. Our first full day of the trip (after missing our flight and not getting into our hotel until about 1am), I got sick, one of the stomach episodes I've written about. I had been invited by a Western Michigan Humanities Council to do a couple of events (thanks to the lovely Nurya Parish), one at 9am (6am our time), and one at 4pm. With the help of some mint tea, I got through the first event with a warm and wonderful library book group. I went back to the hotel to rest afterwards, and started to feel worse and worse. When it was time to leave for the next event, a talk about crafting a writing career at Grand Valley State College, I could barely stand up. I considered canceling my talk, but didn't want to disappoint Nurya, who had worked so hard to get me there. I told her that I'd play it by ear and see how I felt after the 20 minute drive to campus. I definitely didn't feel better when we arrived, but I decided to push through after I saw how much they had been publicizing the event. I'm so glad I did.

The room was packed, and someone had even put together an amazing broadside featuring an excerpt from Fruitflesh (you can see part of it above--I have several copies; if anyone wants one, let me know. I'm not quite sure how to mail them--they're very long--but I'm sure I can figure it out.) I told the audience at the beginning that I wasn't feeling well, but said that I had been inspired by Lady Gaga, who had passed out during a recent concert and had told herself, when she came to, "Get up and finish the song, you little bitch" (not that I would ever call myself--or anyone, for that matter--that). I said that if I threw up at the podium, they could call me Lady Gag-Gag. I was worried this would mortify my daughter, but she said she was impressed; she told me she didn't think I had it in me.

I burst into a cold sweat a couple of times during the event and had to clutch the podium to stay upright, but I managed to get through the talk and book signing without passing out, and had some great conversations with the students. After the room cleared, I lay down on the floor as the pain got worse and more constant. We eventually decided I needed to get to an emergency room. On the way there, I knew I was about to throw up--I dumped as much out of my purse as I could, and then used it as a barf bag, hoping that would protect Nurya's car. Later, after several hours in the er with meds that made me goofy as Hannah sat with me and Michael tried to keep the baby happy in our hotel room (I had never been away from Asher for such a long time before), we threw the purse away, thinking the only thing still inside was Asher's rattle. Once we were almost in Chicago, though, I realized that my keys had been inside the purse, too, including the keys to the car waiting for us in a parking lot at LAX. Thankfully Michael asked if my ex husband still had a copy of the car key; I called Matt and he searched around and found the valet key, which he fed exed to us, making life so much easier than it could have been. It's all quite funny to me now, but it was quite a fraught experience at the time. I'm grateful the rest of the trip was drama-free (aside from learning my book had been censored by a couple of school librarians because it contains the word "vagina." But more on that, and my fun school visits, later.)

This is Lady Gag-Gag, over and out.


Cheryl said...

Wow. A true tale of literary heroine-ism!

Donna said...

Wow! That's quite a journey. I will never ever complain about working through an illness. You are already my role model, but I'm adding this new feat of "literary heroine-ism," as Cheryl called it.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

That is some book tour, and you are amazing to be able to think of such a funny quip when sick. Those were lucky audiences to get you.
As for those librarians, sheesh. But then again, getting a book on the "banned" list can be good publicity actually.