Our kitchen is white — actually, it's off-white, an off-white that my husband claims to like, while admitting it's not a color that he would have picked out himself. Our kitchen table is new and wooden and from Ikea. Neither of us loves it, but it was cheap and it fits, so we now have, after six years, a table in our kitchen.
That's where I'm sitting when the phone rings.
I don't pick it up.
It rings again.
I consider picking it up.
But I don't.
Rather, I continue staring blankly at my computer screen (also blank), thinking my usual mantra as of late: If I were someone who smoked (LIKE I USED TO BE AND NOW LONG FOR), this would be a great time to do it.
I look at the caller ID and see it's my brother, Tom, so I pick up.
"Hey," I say.
"Yo," says Tom. I don't know why he chooses "yo" as his greeting, but he's said it as long as I can remember, which wouldn't really be all that weird except that in most other regards he'd have to be described as preppy. "What're you doing?" he says.
"Blogging," I say.
"Cool," he says.
"Or not blogging. I'm thinking about blogging." Then I tell him how I'm still feeling sort of wiggy about the whole thing, that I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to be blogging about (What I'm doing? How I'm feeling? How I write? Who I am? Who am I? Where am I? WHY IS MY KITCHEN SO OFF-WHITE?). He suggests that I spare nothing in my pursuit of self-promotion — "Prime real estate. Opportunity. No brainer." — but I tell him I just don't think I can do it. As hopelessly self-involved as I am, even I'm sick of myself. He suggests that I frame the blog like a story about the two of us talking and I can give him all the self-promotion lines. "I mean, at the very least," he says, "tell them about all your great reviews, like in the LA Times, and the Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, Magnet, Hollywood Reporter, the Boston Phoenix and the Globe and the Herald, etcetera etcetera, you know, all that stuff."
"I'm not sure that'd be transparent enough," I tell him.
"And definitely send them to your web site, you know, just in case they don't know who you are."
"Just in case nobody knows who I am? Nobody knows who I am — but whatever. I'm the one writing the blog. They're gonna know it's really me saying it."
"They'll never notice," says Tom. "It won't come off that way. And besides, this conversation is really happening, right? I mean, it's true. So if it's true, you can write it, right?"
"Just cuz it's true doesn't make it interesting." This is something I say a lot that has never done anything for me but end conversations.
So then Tom says how he's really just using me, how he hasn't talked to anyone yet today but has this important business call to make, how he's trying to rid himself of that I-Just-Woke-Up voice.
"Do I sound like I just woke up?" he keeps asking. "Now do I sound like I just woke up?" He clears his throat. "How about now?" Then he says, "Okay, okay, let's talk about — I know! My awesome PSP!" and he starts telling me how he's so into the PlayStation Portable I got him for Christmas, how he was up till 4:30 in the morning playing poker on it, how cool it is for this or that technical reason, and I start wondering (not that I'm not listening...) if maybe I should just go for the jugular and blog about my BBT (Big Book Tour), and that's when I can't help but remember that truly creepy middle-of-the-night "opportunity" I "took advantage of" called The Joey Reynolds Show.
After informing me that I'd be taping the night of my NYC reading from 2-3am at the studio (they'd send a car...), my publicist assured me that Joey Reynolds was "a real guy," that he'd been a DJ "back in the day," and that "real people did his show," (i.e., she was pretty sure Jon Stewart and maybe Bill O'Reilly had done it). I responded with the following words in the following order: Hmm. Well. That sounds interesting. Do I have to? Who's gonna make me? You want a piece of me?
I explained to my publicist that after my NYC reading, I really wanted to "celebrate" (READ: get shit-housed) and really didn't want a pending 2am radio interview to "dampen my enthusiasm" (READ: keep me from getting shit-housed).
In the end (after much complaining, foot-stamping, and finger-pointing (why finger-pointing?)), I acquiesced (which sounds a whole lot more graceful than it was).
So after a really fun and hectic day (FUSE TV appearance, WNYC interview, Barnes & Noble at Astor Place reading, champagne-drinking dinner somewhere in the village with many people including my agent, editor, father, mother, stepmother, friends friends friends), I sloggily made my way back to where I was staying uptown and stood by the window, trying not to smoke. Or drink. Or fall asleep.
Finally, at 1:15am exactly, a puke orange car pulls up and idles by the fire hydrant across the street.
I grab my guitar and head downstairs. Get out into the street. Look around to see if there's anyone anywhere else around. There is not. Watch my breath coming out of my nostrils as I cross the street, where a guy with a very big head is sitting on the driver's side of the puke orange car, facing forward. I smile, but he can't hear a smile, so I knock on the window. He looks at me (with his big head and closely cropped white hair). Then his window whirrs down slowly.
He looks at me.
Doesn't say anything.
"I'm Jen Trynin," I say. "Are you my car?"
He keeps looking at me. Then he looks down at a clipboard resting on the passenger side seat. Looks back at me.
"Huh?" he says.
"What?" I say.
"You what?" he says.
I put my guitar down.
"Did someone from Harcourt send you?" I say, really loud, really slow, because I think he's from Russia.
"Huh?" he says again.
I try not to roll my eyes because he's a big guy, the kind of big guy with big hands who could crush my larynx while sipping on a Diet Coke.
[CHECK IN TOMORROW TO FIND OUT WHETHER JEN EVER MAKES IT TO THE JOEY REYNOLDS SHOW, AND IF SHE DOES, WHAT HAPPENS???????]
Books mentioned in this post
Jen Trynin is the author of Everything I'm Cracked Up to Be: A Rock & Roll Fairy Tale