(At the Chihuly Museum in Seattle)
I try to keep up with my blogging duties, but I am not as good at it as I was. Used to be, this blog and website were my only digital responsibility and my main conduit for contact with you. Then my publisher urged me to enter the Twitterverse. NO! I cried. But I went, and I loved it. I have been very happy with the sense of community there, and the instant-gratification of Tweets (or, in Spanish: tuiteos). Though Twitter makes for Instant Writer Neurosis: what do you mean I only have 4,700 followers? Neil Gaiman has a million! Boo-hoooooo. I’m a HACK.
Then the publisher nudged me onto Facebook, something I was never going to do. My kids absolutely forbade it: FB is for kids, Daddy! That’s like WRONG for parents to be on FB. What are you, a creeper? This made me feel like there must be awful pictures of my little blossoms of youth drinking and puking or scampering about in weird outfits. But it was OK once I got to FB. Well, maybe Eric and his pals dressed up in my gorilla suit and ran around college a little. And, again, I enjoyed the contact and the immediate community.
And with both Twitter and FB, I have been amazed how people I have never heard of follow/add/friend whatever they do. New friends! All over the world! All right, yes—and some haters. Flamers and trolls and white supremacists and compulsive masturbators who pause in their fantasies of licking SS boots to fire off some badly-written diatribes about why I’m an un-American idiot. (“Don’t wanna be an Un American idiot!” Green Day should have sung if they weren’t America haters, Beaner-lovers and liberal scum.)
Well, anyway—went through a tumult of road warrior travel. It started out in D.C. at the PEN organization gala banquet. I love wearing a tux. That vest works like a man-girdle and makes you feel all James Bondy. I’ll avoid the name-drop bombing run, though I will say that being with people way beyond me who agree to let me be their peer is always moving, and even hilarious. Big love to those colleagues. Cinderella sat at the dinner table with a billionaire who wants to know if I was illegal or not. Other millionaires say he was kidding. Wasn’t the first time.
(Ben Fountain, Major Jackson & friend, Ron Charles, me)
We rushed home and did laundry and collected our li’l one, the fabulous Chayo, and went to Washington State. Oh yes. Love me some Puget Sound. I had an event at PLU in Tacoma. They were lovely—they put us up in the Hotel Murano, where you should stay. Every flood is dedicated to a different visual artist, and is a gallery of his or her work. Nice, right? Nearby is the Chihuly bridge where his giant glass pieces tower. Hilarious awkward moment # 1,001: a young woman in the signing line said, “Everyone trashed this book” while handing me her Into the Beautiful North for an autograph. Me: “Really? Who trashed it?” Her: “Like, everybody! Everybody who had to read it!” Me: “Why?” Her: “You’re so political!” I signed. Smiled. “Cool,” I said.
(At Pacific Lutheran University)
On to Seattle for family hang-time with Cinderella’s siblings. Space Needle, museums, Indy Jones in Imax, and another dose of Chihuly—the astounding glass museum. Wow! Squared. And King Tut! We also trudged down to Pike Place Market and made our nerd pilgrimage to the comix shop to buy Dr. Who crap. I mean, priceless objects. Who can possibly live without a TARDIS lunch box? Surely, not I!
(Chayo and me, getting our Tut on)
Home. More laundry. I was off to Amarillo. The nicest people in the world live in Amarillo, and it was a thrill to be the speaker at the Wesley Center’s fund-raiser banquet. I flew out to NYC and met Cinderella and Chayo at LaGuardia. Feeling so freakin’ jet-set.
Well, it was Ellis Island, natch. You know me and those America-hating immigrants! We were hanging out in Battery Park when Fat Spiderman went by in his full suit and gave me the wazzup nod. I love New York. We were there for the Brooklyn Book Festival, but I had started the visit at the lovely and important Casa Azul Books in Spanish Harlem. That crazy Librotraficante Tony Diaz was there doing an anti-book-banning event with Martin Espada and Sergio Troncoso and a full army of New York Latino writers. (No, AZ, don’t write to me—NO BOOKS WERE BANNED, WE KNOW—THE BOOKS WERE BOXED! Boxed, I tell you! It was the people who were banned.) I was a last-minute addition to the hoedown, and we sped there from the airport with our luggage. Frankly, they did me a great honor by acting like I was some godfather. That was really sweet—it pays to get really old and decrepit.
But here’s the thing. We have these dear friends from The Aspen Writers who are trying to change the world. Colum McCann lives in NY, and Lisa our mentor and guiding light was visiting. She texted us in Battery Park that Colum wanted to take us on a picnic in Central Park. Can you imagine this? We went to his apartment and hooked up with them all, and Mona Eltahawy was there. She has awesome Egyptian goddess tattoos on the arms where the Egyptian goons broke her bones. Chayo knew nothing of this—she only knows she loves Egyptian mythology. (Remember Tut.) Chayo saw the tattoo on one arm and said, “That’s Sekhmet!” They became fast friends. And Colum made me shake on a Dad’s pact to have an arranged marriage between Chayo and his oldest boy. And we went to the park and ate pizza and fruit as the sun set over the city.
I don’t know what is happening in our lives, but it is all about love and family and friendship and art, and I am grateful and trying to live my days as if they were prayers. Most days, all I can really say is “Thank you.”
So, thank you.
Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat: If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.
Lecture and booksigning as part of Bilingual Minifest and naturalization ceremony celebration.
Workshop, readings, etc. For more information,here.
Montclair State University reads The Devil's Highway. Details to come.
Aurora reads Into the Beautiful North. Lecture/discussion in Spanish Oct. 23 and in English Oct. 24. Details to come.
Reading, book signing, discussion. Details to come.