Drama and stress. Stress and drama. Though life is mostly good, I’ve experienced lots of these two lately; not to mention, ‘miles and miles before we sleep,’ inside my well-worn Toyota (aka Lucy), as I travel the countryside. I’ve been promoting my newest book, “Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller” (hereinafter referred to as “Taller,”) and second editions (new covers, re-edited) of “Fast” and “Wide.”
And right beside me, in most cases, is hub Russ, whom I’ve promoted to the position of M.E.M., which stands for My Everything Man. That’s right—he’s keeping his daytime job, but I’ve got him clocking in almost as many hours. Some of his duties are: manager (to keep me focused—good luck with that!), bodyguard (yeah, right, for crowd control), concierge (trips to McDonald’s for iced-coffee with vanilla), transporter of books (one case weighs 35 lbs.!) and personal chauffeur (so I can touch-up my chipped nails, nearly asphyxiating both of us).
I’ve done fourteen book signings and/or events in eight weeks. Phew! I told someone I was ready for a vacation, but then Russell refocused me, reminding me of my yearly last-minute Christmas shopping. “Five days left,” he said with a sly grin. He also asked when my yearly last-minute baked goods would be ready for his office. “Hmmm?”
Like I said, stress and drama. “Breathe,” I say to myself quietly, OFTEN, then alternate with screaming, “Drive!” to the slowpoke in the left lane. I’m not complaining, but I am saying that lack of sleep, too many carbs and fast-food meals, constant traveling, current writing deadlines, schmoozing and socializing, and maintaining a household has been taxing.
In fact, one very kind editor phoned me two weeks ago to remind me that my column was due. “When?” I moaned, half-way through my final REM stage, lying in my warm bed (outside temperature: 29 degrees). “An hour ago,” she said, then gave me an extension.
To add insult to energy, my car upped and died on me, on the way out of town for an event. Yep, y’all, it was a dead battery. But I ask you: Does this EVER happen at a convenient time? Good old dependable hub-Russ saved me that time, installing a new battery on his lunch hour. I forgot to add ‘mechanic’ to his job description.
Russell is like the mailman—he delivers at all costs. Seriously, through a recent sleet and snow ordeal in Raleigh, he made five (count them, five) trips to our car because we kept selling out of books AND I couldn’t find my favorite lipstick. I’m definitely keeping him on the payroll!
The good—no, make that great news—is: I’ve seen old writer friends like Mary Alice Monroe and Marsha Tennant at signings. I’ve also met wonderful new friends.
Though George Strait, country-music legend, wasn’t at my recent NPR-WHQR Prologue interview, a retired employee of his was and offered to deliver my signed copy. Cool!
Book sales are brisk, breaking all previous records for me. Store managers are delighted and I’m thrilled: This is what I do. This is what I love. I’m thankful for good reviews, Facebook and word of mouth.
When I did a recent book signing at Barnes & Noble, two sisters greeted me warmly, then looked around, asking, “Where’s Russell?” (He was at the gym that night.) Then a couple of others wanted to meet him. A similar thing happened at the NPR interview I mentioned above. When the session was opened for Q&A, a woman stood up and began asking me questions about Russell—several questions, I might add. I recently introduced him at a Christmas party to an attractive redhead who leaned in to him and giggled, “Oh! I know all about you, Russell!” batting her eyelashes and double-dipping her Wheat Thins. Now he thinks he’s a star. So much so, that when I had an invite recently to write a satirical advice column for a woman’s magazine (which I’ve agreed to), he said he wanted that job! True, he’s way more sarcastic than I am, and almost as opinionated—but I think his two jobs are keeping him plenty busy. Anyway, he couldn’t handle the stress and drama!