Yesterday began with me dragging Olive out of bed early, because yesterday was my book signing.
The signing began at 2PM, which falls right in the middle of her usual 2 hour nap so I had hoped that by waking her up early, she would nap early, and then finish napping early, so that I could get to Chapters in time to hand her off to Adam, and start the fun!
This did not happen. Of course not! Ha! Haha! Oh god! Why toddlers, why?
Spectacular backfire. Not only did she not nap an hour earlier than normal, but she didn’t even nap at her regular naptime and so then, there we were with an hour until I had to be at the bookstore, with her rolling around in her crib, moaning and giggling and just generally being completely oblivious to the fact that she was at that very moment ruining my life.
So I did what I think any sane mother would do, I ran around getting my stuff together and packed her out the door, relying on the magic of the automobile to lull her to sleep. It worked, thank
With a powerhouse of a child like Olive, it’s always good to know that she has a weakness. That kid is absolutely powerless against anything with a motor.
So, O asleep, I drove downtown and sat, in a sweltering car outside the bookstore as my hair gradually fell apart, taking terrifying anxious selfies as the butterflies in my stomach grew and multiplied.
When it was close to two I woke Olive again, and hauled her and everything else (including my cardboard box for Terracycle collections) into the store.
Turns out Adam had a scheduling conflict at work and wasn’t going to be able to make it, (which kind of broke my heart, and I think it broke his a little, too) so I called in reserves in the form of my fabulous friend Colleen (armed with about four pounds of blueberries for O) and my sister-in-law Kate (armed with a coffee jar, water bottle, apple, and nectarines for me.)
These women, I tell you. THESE WOMEN. They are the shit. I do not at all deserve them.
Once all of that getting there chaos was out of the way it was just me sitting at a table with a bunch of books. My books.
I sat there, and I looked at that stack of books. I looked at my hands and the pen and thought about what was happening, and I felt this swell of incredulous pride rush through me.
And then they just pushed it right over the top- one of the fabulous Chapters staff came over and brought me a peppermint tea, and then someone else announced me over the store loudspeaker and I swear it was like I was a real somebody, or a lost child!
It was absolutely surreal.
The best part, hands-down, about this fantastic experience was that when each person would approach the table they would pick up my book and start to leaf through it. I would smile and say hello, and then they would usually ask something like, “So, you wrote this?” and I would smile so big that my cheeks hurt and say, “I sure did!”
And almost without exception, every single person would meet that response by raising their eyebrows and saying, “Wow!”
And look, I understand that wow is kind of a placeholder word, a word that stands in line waiting for other, more coherent thoughts to trickle through and usurp them. I know that wow doesn’t always mean wow!, sometimes it means oh, and sometimes it means I see, and sometimes it simply means, I don’t know what to say.
I know this.
But still, each time someone would say wow, I would repeat it in my head, feel it echo in my heart and resonate in my bones and I would start laughing.
“I know!” I’d say, “How’d that happen?”
I needed this signing. So much of this side of the book gives me intense anxiety. The radio interviews and podcasts, the thought of speaking live to an audience who I can’t see and can’t reach, my words lasting forever online where anyone can access a flub or a missed word or a sentence that was stumbled over.
I really enjoy them when I am in the middle, deep in the swing of it, but am a wreck before each one, just like I was a wreck in the hours leading up to today.
It’s not that I am terrible with people – I think I comport myself fairly well in social situations and have been really happy with how my interviews have gone so far. It’s just that this zone, the going and doing and meeting and speaking, it’s not where I live. I prefer to reside in these carefully measured written words where I can delete or erase or edit without censure.
So although I am incredibly, truly grateful for the reason behind the stress (I mean radio interviews?! What a fantastic problem to have!), I still find it challenging to manage.
I think I am improving a little each time, each time it feels more and more natural, but it is a definite learning curve for me. A steep one. A large, lurching step outside my comfort zone.
Anyway, all of this senseless blathering is trying to say that I absolutely loved being able to see people face to face, one on one. I loved being able to have conversations where they spoke back, asked questions, shared their own stories. It was something I had been missing and I am so glad I was able to experience it.
If you came today – thank you! If you didn’t, we missed you! I really hope that I will be fortunate enough to have other opportunities like this in the future, but even if I don’t – I mean.
This really was one for the books.