Sunday, February 12, 2006

LIFE TAKES A SNOW DAY

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This morning woke to a predicted blizzard. All plans cancelled. A day deferred. So I put my hands behind my head and stayed in bed, thinking about all kinds of crazy things. Like the book tour I may or may not be going on next year. Traveling to 10 cities in 10 days or 14 cities in 14 days seemed about the remotest thing I could imagine as I lay in my bed, the snow whirling outside my window, turning the world where things like book tours happen into a white blur.

Instinctively, my eyes drifted to my closet. Now I don't know much about what people wear on book tours, but I can tell you one thing--it's nothing included in that closet: a lifetime supply of waitressing shirts, some pilly sweaters, and a few dresses which that have been taking up space for a decade or two, waiting for an event worthy of playing "dress-up". (Not many have come along.) Clearly, I need to go shopping. (And from my last post, you all know how skilled I am at that.)

Then more serious issues intruded. Nevermind what I'd wear: how I would ever get to the airport on time? I've never traveled alone, and the one time I took a trip with two of my kids, we had to run breathlessly for the plane. Then there was the issue of sleeping. How does a world class insomniac, who can get so overstimulated by a shot of brandy and a really good conversation that she doesn't sleep for two days, ever catch any Zs travelling from city to city in 14 days? I imagined how I would look by the time I reached the last city, sleepless, bleary eyed, and wearing the last of my frayed waitress shirts...

I wanted to get up at that point, since clearly nothing good was happening inside my head, but first I had to face the ultimate book tour bugaboo: what would I do if no one showed up at my readings--or if a lot of people showed up and I stepped up to speak, opened my mouth, and nothing came out but a frog-like croak. I could almost envision my slack jawed self, in her unfashionable clothes, and the hair that has never once in XX years known the meaning of a "good hair day".

At that point, I leaped out of bed, eager to shovel snow or build giant snowmen with carrot noses or tunnels to China--anything but be left alone with my own ruminations. But by then I was too exhausted from something that had nothing to do with today, and may well never happen.

"What's for breakfast?" my son asked.

"Breakfast? Are you kidding me. I'm too worn out from my book tour."

At that point, my husband gently reminded me that most writers don't even get a book tour (only something like 15%, actually) and I should be so lucky to worry about frogs popping out of my mouth on the road.

Well, that knocked me back to reality. At least for a little while. (I'm a writer, remember. I never stay in reality for too long.)

But it was still a day off from life. There was time to lay around in my pjs, drinking my coffee and reading the paper. One article I read said that there were four basic personality types: the Explorer, the Builder, the Negotiator, and the Director. Didn't really feel that any one of them described me, so I went around my house taking one of my little surveys. (My family is used to my nonsense.) No one else seemed to see themselves fitting neatly in those categories either. Aren't we all a little of each at different times?

Of course, there were lots of other things in the newspaper, too. Scary predictions about the economy, the environment, the continuing furor over the Danish cartoon. Usually, I would have gotten myself into an uproar about some of them. I might have even followed a couple of unsuspecting family members around, reading aloud from the most disturbing bits of news until I had defused my anxiety by passing it along. But it was a snow day. That meant I got to coccoon and ignore the larger world.

I took blankets and pillows onto the couch with my college age daughter who was home for the weekend, each of us in our corner like a pajama party, and took in a guilty pleasure. Single White Female, a movie I'd never seen but always been a little intrigued by, was on TV. An on-line review described it as "gruesome and pointless," but that didn't deter me. When it comes to gruesome and pointless, everyone has their weakness. Now me--I don't care much for macho Bruce Willis style stuff, and the endless creativity of serial killers and the writers who think them up would never cause me to give up a couple hours of my life--even on a snow day. But give me a good story of psychological obsession and I'm hooked--especially about two women. Somehow the cartoonish violence and pathological identification almost seemed like a metaphor for the dark side of female friendship. Gruesome and pointless it may have been (and slightly pornographic, too, especially when watching with a daughter!) but if I enjoyed every wasted minute.

Jennifer Jason Leigh was wonderful as the deranged roommate. Even her lustreless hair managed to give off fumes from the asylum. (Actually, she looked a bit like my fearful imaginings of myself on a book tour.) Wondered idly what happened to her--and to Bridget Fonda, whose angular face and body were ubiquitous for a while, and then just seemed to disappear.

Later, we had wine, and homemade chicken soup and bread. We played with the dogs, and checked out the Olympics, considered the fate of Michelle Kwan (can someone really be called a dinosaur at 24) and cheered Shaun White's amazing half-pipe performance (not to mention his hair!) Then we cleaned up while the snow eddied around the house, locking us in--and giving us permission to do whatever we wanted.

Oh yeah, a day off from life is good every now and then. But tomorrow, I look forward to getting back to work.

33 comments:

Stephanie said...

It's always such a pleasure to get a true snow day in New England. Nothing seems to allow for a day of rest like a good snow day. :) Enjoy!

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Patry! Since I have a first book coming out around the same time as yours, but I've been telling myself it's very unlikely I'll get a tour, because like you said, so few authors do, and also because it terrifies me! In college I worked at a wonderful independent bookstore that got all the good authors who stopped in the Bay Area to speak, and I got to introduce the less famous of them. Some wonderful authors, some of whom had less than stellar turnout, but even when not a ton of people showed up, those who did always made the event worthwhile. Still, scary scary! I'm interested in promotional possibilities I've heard about like having dinners with librarians and booksellers in certain cities - a different kind of tour - to give them a vested interest in your book, and that way you don't have to wonder who will show! Have you discussed that possibility? Sounds nice and cozy to me! Fingers crossed.

Patry Francis said...

Yes, Laini! Also been thinking of putting together a blog tour. Go to different cities and meet blog friends at the local book store for coffee and talk. Now that sounds like something that would be really fun. They say a lot of the promotion falls on the writer these days.

Myfanwy Collins said...

All I have to say is that if you are touring anywhere near where I am, I'll be there with bells on, eager to hear you read.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

What a fine snow day you had. The best part of snowstorms is how it compells everyone and everything to slow way down.

I love the idea of creating your own blog book tour. On your own terms, always. The only way to tour!

Diana said...

Yep, you come anywhere near Seattle or Portland and I'm there. Oh! And if you do, I have a book club who would love to then read your book and meet with you! The wheels are turning...

P. A. Moed said...

Hi Patry!

I'd love to hear you read too.

And remember, of the strangers who come to hear you read, I bet at least half will know your work and like it very much. Otherwise they wouldn't trek to the bookstore in the snow, rain, whatever to hear you read. Who wouldn't love a group of admiring fans?

colleen said...

I would be asking the exact same questions! I enjoyed catching up here and getting a little peak inside your life and head.

Patry, I would love to nominate you for "best written blog" for the blog award I mentioned on my site today, but I'm not sure you'd be interested in participating. It'a a small and new award done by and for women in a "just do it" sort of way. Look on my sidebar for my email address and email me your answer if you want. The nominating process is over tonight.

Also, let me know if your book comes to Virginia or North Carolina. I'd love to come.

colleen said...

PS Malaprops in Asheville is a wonderful independent bookstore that gives wonderful support to authors....mostly regional but others too. My son eldest son lives there. It's 3 1/2 hours from me...but it's my favorite bookstore and they always have something interesting scheduled.

Amishlaw said...

Wearing your waitress uniform on your book tour might not be a bad idea. The purpose of a tour is to get publicity for your book. The waitress schtick would do it. A lot of bookstores have small cafes. Doing an hour of waiting on customers might be another way to get your book noticed. Just be glad that your non-writer occupation isn't something like janitor.

marja-leena said...

Oh, I wish we could have a snow day! There's something so peaceful about the white outdoors and being cozy indoors. No guilt trips about being lazy. Yet I get so excited that I do outside to play. I don't like to drive in it on our hills though.

Any chance your book tour, if you should have one, would bring you up to Vancouver, Canada?

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Patry, you know which of the personality types you are. It's right there in your post: "I'm a writer."

Looking forward to attending if your tour takes you through Austin.

Dale said...

Well, you know you'll have a crowd if they book you in Portland :-)

I wouldn't worry about the clothes. Waitresses are expected to be much better dressed than writers are. If it works to pour coffee, I'm sure it will work to read a bit aloud and answer "where do you get your ideas?" for the twentieth time :-)

Joel said...

YOu know, I want some of that snow. Pack it in boxes and send it air freight. Don't worry if it melts on my doorstep: we need the water.

floots said...

I took a day off two years ago and haven't gone back yet!
There is something special about that snowed-in feeling. I just bought an old generator and now I almost want power cuts and isolation. My wife seems less keen ....

MB said...

Oh, Patry. If you do tour, I'm counting on you to let us know so I can try to entice you (probably unsuccessfully) to my out-of-the-way neck of the woods.

finnegan said...

I've been so lazy that a bumper-crop of snow right now would put me into permanent hibernation.

The snow reflects my drifting tendencies.

andrea said...

What a lovely post! You are such an excellent writer. I felt I was following you around this morning, talking to your husband, reading the paper, etc. Enjoy your marelous snow day!

andrea

Patry Francis said...

stephanie: I swear your comment wasn't there when I responded to laini t. But yes, I agree with you--being snowed in is one of the rare occasions that allows a no-guilt day of rest. Kind of makes one miss the old mandatory sabbath.

myf: Oh, bells for me, too--if I make it to your beautiful snowy (!) area.

r.d.: Yes, a blog tour sounds much more appealing--impersonal hotel rooms and airports, balanced by the faces of very real people I've met here.

diana: after all the raves about the Portland area in my "best place to live" survey, I wouldn't miss it!

patricia: thank you for reminding me of that. The inherent friendliness of the crowd (or even one solitary listener) who might show up is something I forget when my anxieties get the better of me.

Colleen: I've got to see Floyd after reading about it on your blog. Maybe even stop into the cafe and let you whoop me at scrabble! Thanks for the nomination btw.

amishlaw: Actually, I've thought of that...maybe wearing my nametag, and having anyone who's ever waited tables or done any job that requires a badge to wear their's. Ex-waitpeople comprise a huge and wonderful club.

marja-leena: probably not the official tour (if I get one, of course) but I may take a side trip if I get close. Vancouver sounds like a wonderful city.

richard: Your words made me smile. I've always known I was a writer, but for most of my life, I didn't get to say it out loud much--or hear anyone else say it. Thank you.

Dale: I suppose you're right. Come to work in a wrinkled uniform as a waitress and you'll probably get fired. But as a writer, you're just a bohemian.

joel: Did you get it yet?

floots: power cuts and isolation are fine (and appealing to me as well at times) as long as you keep your computer running.

mb: maybe you could come out and read some of your poetry with me! It's all part of the blog tour concept. I hate to read alone.

Finn: "Drifting tendencies" I have a few of those myself--mostly in the wrong direction. Might even explain why I'm up at 3 in the morning typing comments instead of sleeping.

Andrea: Thanks for coming along--and great to see you here.

Dave said...

The insomnia thing: yeah. Considering how many writers are HSPs, I can't imagine too many make it through a book tour without turning into sleepless wrecks. I know I couldn't.

My mother, a mid-list nonfiction author, has found that signings are relatively worthless - few people show up - but readings can sell quite a few books. Needless to say, if you do do a book tour, you can count on all your blog readers showing up!

Perfect Virgo said...

Each post you hide a little gem and I am always on the lookout for it. Today I chuckled at the "pilly sweaters." Someone who knows about pilling knows about life. Good on you Patry!

Swirly said...

That sounds like a lovely day. I can totally relate to all the ways our minds start to wander when we are in bed, half awake as the sunlight grows stronger through our windows. I woke up super early this morning and was so comfortable in my bed, but with my mind racing the way it was I finally gave up, got out of bed, and started my day. Sometimes movement is the only cure to a busy brain....

zhoen said...

Yeah, try living in hospital scrubs and having a "Wardrobe." I know I can't. Jeans from Land's End and t-shirts from Filene's Basement.

Wear clothes that are comfortable and "you." Anything new you get, that doesn't look or feel like what you already have, but newer, is just going to make you feel self conscious. Dale's right, be a nicely eccentric Author.

Congrats on the tour. Let us all know where you will be. Good luck with the sleeping.

melly said...

I really enjoyed your off day with you and your family, not mention touring with you :)
Hope you get to TO on the book tour. Wouldn't that be fun?

Patry Francis said...

dave: maybe I could borrow that red wool blanket of yours?

p.v.: Ah yes, there's nothing like a well-worn pilly sweater.

swirly: So true. Many mornings if I didn't force myself to leap up, my thoughts would keep me pinned to the bed for hours.

zhoen: Never worked in a hospital, but somehow I've inherited a couple of pairs of blue scrubs. They are SO
comfortable I could easily live in them.

melly: fun is the word!

Alexandra S said...

We are expecting snow this weekend- the weekend we have to move ourselves into our new place. Normally, I would be so looking forward to a day as you described-those days where the world disappears in a whur of white.
AND if you do decide to do any kind of tour, I promise to be there if you come to Portland. This must be such an incredibly exciting, unreal time for you. Savor it savor it!!!

Fred Garber said...

We live in northwest Iowa and we are use to snow. This year we have had very warm weather until this week. We got about 6 inches of snow last night. My wife does not like to drive in it. So she had me drive her to work this morning at 6. We had to go get her friend Martita before heading to the cold storage plant. The conversation was all about the maldita snow...the crazy people on the calles and how the yellow hats at work think this and that. At her plant different kinds of hard hats are worn by different classes of workers. So after I dropped them off I headed to the Pierce Street Coffee Works and had a double espresso and listened to the morning political banter....Cheney...Iraq.the local bond issue...

Patry Francis said...

Alexandra: We moved into our house during a blizzard, too. It wasn't easy; I remember feeling a bit like refugees coming in from the cold into a place that wasn't quite a home yet. Treat yourselves well!

Fred: Thanks for sharing a little bit of your day. The yellow hats where your wife works sound a bit like the un-uniformed class where I work. The same stuff seems to go on everywhere...

liz elayne said...

The imagination kicking in full force with images of 14 day book tours dancing in your head. Wow. That would be intense. I think you would need an assistant to help you keep your sanity in the midst of it all. Seriously. (pick me...pick me...)
I love the idea of the blog tour that you wrote about in the comments. Now that idea is fantastic.
And sounds your snow day was a good one. Has it all melted?

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