Okay, I’m finally back home. And let me tell you—San Francisco may have at least three songs written about it (as popularized by Tony Bennett, Journey, and Scott McKenzie), but when I deplaned in Milwaukee and was hit by the smell of fried cheese wafting from the bar & grill near my gate at General Mitchell International Airport, I almost sunk to my knees and wept. And when I walked onto the tarmac to hop the teeny plane for the final flight from Milwaukee to Appleton, I actually said out loud, “Oh my God, it’s MUGGY out! And WARM! I’ve MISSED THAT!!!”
On my flight home I sat next to a very sweet and lovely woman who lives in the same city as my next book club visits; since I’m in her city two nights in a row for back-to-back meetings, she kindly invited me to stay overnight at her house so I wouldn't have to do so much driving.
And I was swept by a wave of homesickness, because only in Wisconsin will you find people who JUST MET YOU ON THE PLANE and are generous enough to invite you to actually spend the night at their home, with their family, three nights later.
(Disagree? Your state is simply lousy with generous, thoughtful residents as well? Want to give Wisconsin a run for its money? Prove me wrong, people! Share your stories of the kindness of strangers in the comments.)
Impressions from last week:
San Francisco? COLD! And dry. And redolent of auto exhaust. Also, loud. At one point, we became convinced that the fire trucks were just racing around, sirens blaring, simply to deafen the tourists. I did enjoy the snapping electrical sounds the cable cars made, though.
Fisherman’s Wharf? Skip it. I saw the same things in Wisconsin Dells: the Ducks (!!), a Ripley’s Believe it or Not ‘museum,’ endless shops full of cheesy T-shirts, irritating families in fanny packs, nacho stands, etcetera ad nauseum.
Also? San Francisco is expensive! As I sipped a martini that cost $14, it hit me: I used to routinely receive WEEKLY PAYCHECKS FROM KB TOYS in that amount. Also, I have a hard time bringing myself to spend that much on an ENTIRE BOTTLE OF WINE back home.
Posing in the downtown San Fran Borders. Joining the fantastic crowd on the autographed copy shelf...
Turning the corner to nearly step on a pigeon pecking away at a pile of orange vomit is…one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
I know all kinds of juicy tidbits about some of our favorite authors’ sex lives. Get me drunk and I might share.
If you win an award, please don’t thank Jesus in your acceptance speech. Because that implies that not only did Jesus have something to do with your selection, but he gave a middle finger salute to the other contenders for that award. (And everyone dying in Darfur, rape victims, children with cancer, etc.). Also, you never see the losers blaming Jesus in the post-event interviews. For the sake of consistency, I think that should be a new rule.
Nothing is more humbling than hundreds of writers and readers approaching you at your signing table with a look that clearly says: “And, you are ….??”
Oh, maybe this is more humbling: after being approached by one pensive woman who reads the back of your book, after you enthusiastically (and probably somewhat desperately) tell her, “It’s a raunchy woman’s road trip story! It’s Thelma and Louise with a happy ending! Funny and heartwarming!”, she gives you a skeptical hairy eyeball and slowly says, “MAY-be…” and then walks away.
I’m in love with Kate Veitch’s debut novel, Without a Backwards Glance. She and Danielle Younge-Ullman (fellow Deb & author of Falling Under) read from their novels last week at Books, Inc., and I can’t recommend both books highly enough. Excellent stories, bravely and deftly written, and…uh, some pretty hot scenes, if you catch my drift. I'll be blogging about Danielle's fantastic debut at the Debs this Friday.
Look! There’s Danielle! Isn’t she beautiful?
Also, I’m thrilled to share a few more reviews of Driving Sideways...From The Internet Review of Books: "Riley deftly weaves a story about such potentially depressing topics within the framework of a funny book without being insensitive—no easy task."
And from Books and Cooks: "DRIVING SIDEWAYS is the most entertaining book I’ve read all year. I loved it! If you’re like me and you love sarcastic humor, you’d enjoy this book too. There were times that I’d laugh until I had tears in my eyes."
All I can say to that is...."Yaay!"