The first thing I think you should know about me is that I have a cold. It isn't a god-awful cold ? on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rank it at about 6.5. But it's still terribly annoying. I am beginning a week of getting on airplanes and giving readings and talking to strangers about my book
, a week in which I need to be bright and witty and engaging, to sound good on the radio and look okay on television. At the moment, I'm a little worried: My nose and eyes are red and runny. When I talk, I'm so congested that I sound like a man. Let the book tour begin!
My point: I'm looking for remedies, those miracle cures you learned about from your great-grandmother who brought them over from the Old Country. Over-the-counter cocktails, herbal teas, concoctions made with roots and cider vinegar ? lay 'em on me. I'll try anything.
Now that I've gotten that self-serving tangent out of the way, I should probably also mention that this is my first experience with the exciting world of blogging. Hard to believe, I know, considering that you can't swing a stick these days without knocking over six bloggers. At least. But somehow, I have managed to fall behind the trend. I don't even have a MySpace account.
I only first learned about blogs a few years ago when I heard that a girl I went to high school with was keeping one. Curious, I looked it up. Mostly, it was filled with graphic descriptions of her various sexual escapades interspersed with photos of herself in tight clothing.
(To be clear, that is not the route I intend to take here.)
Anyway, so scarred was I by my introduction to blogs that I have pretty much avoided reading them ever since. So when, a few months ago, I learned that I was going to participate in the Powell's blog, I was a little worried. I had no idea what to do or where to begin.
"Think about it this way," a friend suggested. "Writing a blog is just like keeping a diary. That anyone can read. Try to be funny. Talk about current events ? the funny ones."
"What's been funny lately?" I asked, and she thought.
"Ford died," she said finally. "Could that be funny?"
So you see what I'm working with here. I'm starting from zero. My dear friends have been no help whatsoever. I couldn't possibly write about my sex life for five days, even if I wanted to, and I don't have anything humorous to say about the late President Ford.
"Just be yourself," my friend added. "But, you know, interesting."
Sadly, it has recently been brought to my attention that, aside from writing a novel, I have not done much that constitutes "interesting."
If there is one thing I have learned from the book tour, it's that I need to get some cooler hobbies. People keep asking what I do when I'm not writing and through a series of trial and error, I have learned that "pace around my house worrying about the fact that I'm not writing" is not the answer they're looking for.
Also an incorrect answer: "I sometimes watch America's Next Top Model."
I blurted this out the other day in an interview when I realized that the silence following the question What do you do when you're not writing? could not possibly last another second. I was trying to be funny.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them. It was pointed out to me that instead of watching America's Next Top Model I could be doing something valuable with my time, like reading Dickens or learning how to ballroom dance.
Now, I have read Dickens, and, as lovely as I think ballroom dancing is, it's not the sort of activity that would really fit seamlessly into my current lifestyle. Even so, I agonized over this interview for days, wishing that I had that moment back so that I could say something smarter, hipper, better.
Look, I would love to be able to claim that I study Finnish politics or go spelunking on weekends, but it just isn't the case. The truth is that this past year has been one of the most personally demanding of my life. I sold my book, which was great, then moved in with my boyfriend and his two children. Anyone who has lived through the early stages of cohabitation will probably back me up when I say that it makes things like learning how to ballroom dance seem fairly, well, non-pressing. Instead, I've been having family dinners, carving jack-o'-lanterns, attending choir concerts and piano recitals, decorating the coolest Christmas tree to ever grace the planet (don't even get me started on how fabulous our Christmas tree was).
In between all of this, I write, I go to the gym, I make long phone calls to my friends, and I worry that I don't write enough. Also, I work on not beating myself up for saying something stupid or sounding less than genius-like in front of strangers.
That said: I watch America's Next Top Model. Every week. And when I'm going to be out of town, I record it. So there. Judge me.
Okay, I am now off to nurse my sad little cold in the hopes that I will not arrive in Seattle looking like Typhoid Mary. I intend to wake up tomorrow completely recovered, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and brimming with funny, interesting things to say.