The Friday Five!

1. Confession: I was totally going to bail on writing this Five today. I drove up to Asheville for my LAST bookstore event for THE MOON AND MORE last night, then zipped back here to home this morning, and I am WIPED out. It’s not just that trip, though: I think that the cumulative effects of the tour wrapping up are hitting me all at once. Sure, I’m going to be at the Austin Teen Book Festival, and The Southern Festival of Books, and the VAASL conference in Williamsburg, as well as at NCTE (okay, now I’m tired again) but those are different than touring, plus I have over a month before they all start up. I had my first event for this book all the way back in May, at the B&N in Union Square, and now as of the second week of August, it’s over. I gave it everything I have, and then some, and I am so, so glad because it was an all-out blast. But now, I just want to sleep, and sleep, and maybe think about writing again someday, but mostly just sleep. But I did rouse myself long enough to do this Five, out of the guilt that drives my daily existence. It just may be a shorter than usual.

2. AFTER I finished my event last ¬†night, I started back to my hotel. I realized I hadn’t checked my messages in awhile, so I grabbed my phone. The first text I saw was a picture of my daughter, holding something. The next said, “TOOTH IS OUT!” So, yes. At some point while I was reading, doing Q&A or signing books, my little baby girl finally lost her first tooth. SOB! I called my sitter for the play-by-play, then hung up and kept walking, feeling all verklempt. Why is it that endings and beginnings always happen so close together, even concurrently? I think it’s so we don’t get too hung up on any one thing for too long. I can remember, though, when she was so fussy as a baby when those same teeth were coming IN. Sob! And yikes.

3. I kept walking, through downtown Asheville, past all these little restaurants and coffee bars and clubs. There was a bluegrass combo playing on the street, some classic rock coming through an open bar door, and then I heard…Frank Sinatra. Okay, not Frank specifically, but one of his songs. I was passing a restaurant that had a jazz combo playing. I looked at my watch: it was still kind of early, and I was feeling all emotional about the tour/tooth thing, so I went inside and took a seat at the bar. I ordered a glass of wine to celebrate being done with all my bookstore stuff, then sat to listen to the music, which was great. Eventually, I noticed a lot of women hanging around, sipping drinks, tapping their toes to the music. There was one guy, a great dancer, who was taking each of them out on the floor at a time, dancing up a storm, then moving onto the next partner. They were all having THE BEST TIME EVER. Seriously. Slowly more guys began to show up, more couples hit the floor. I sipped my wine. The great dancer guy came over, smiled at me, asked me if I danced. I said no, I was just there to listen to the music. (These days, I only dance with my daughter in our playroom, when I’m known for busting out the Fresh Beat Band “It Was A Great Day,” dance. This was not that kind of dancing.) He asked me what I was in town for, I said I was at an event at the bookstore, he asked who was reading. I said that, um, I was. Turns out he writes as well, nonfiction and fiction, and we struck up a conversation about all things writing. Meanwhile, the ladies were all still sipping, tapping toes, waiting. I finally said to him, “You should get back out there. You’re needed!” He laughed, then shook my hand and went. I love so much when I stumble onto something like this, a scene I can just file away in my head for a book someday. There are stories EVERYWHERE, people. You just have to keep your eyes–and your ears—open.

4. And now, an update: I DID end up having to go to jury duty. We watched the “You, the Juror,” video (all I could think about was Jenna from 30 Rock’s movie THE RURAL JUROR, and I kept fighting back giggles) then all got herded into the courtroom for selection. They called twelve names: I was number 11. Yep. I went into the box, then sat there as we were asked questions to see if we were fit to serve. It was a drug charge trial, so we were asked about our experiences in that area. Which was…weird. I mean, here I am in a courtroom full of strangers, and I’m pretty much required to share some pretty deep stuff. I hesitated when I was asked. I mean, these are things I don’t really talk about much. I don’t think I’ve even discussed them here, except in very vague ways. But here’s the truth: I had a drug problem in high school. I smoked a lot of pot, and did some harder stuff as well. I am not proud or bragging, and it was a pretty dark time for me, all around. The last time I did drugs was July 7, 1989. Like I said: it was a long time ago, I was in a much different place. But I own it, albeit usually more quietly than this, because it is part of who I am, and probably part of why I write as well. I’m often asked how I can tap into what it feels like to be a teen, all these years later. It’s easier when the memories, or some of them anyway, are both vivid and not so good. (I cannot believe I am confessing this here, on this blog, after all these years. If I don’t delete this it will be a miracle. My poor mother.) The bottom line is that I HAVE often said, here and while talking about my books, that high school was a pretty rotten time for me. Now you know one reason why.

Anyway, I took a deep breath and told the DA this information. That I had a drug problem in high school, but had not used drugs in many years. That I had friends who had gone to rehab and jail for drugs, and friends from high school who still struggled with them to this day. It was weird and strangely cathartic and I still can’t believe I had to do it for my civic duty. Maybe I didn’t. But it DOES affect my experience, and you’re supposed to be honest, so….I was. And you know what? I got picked! Who would have thunk it? So I sat on a jury for a full trial, and deliberated with my fellow citizens. I even came THIS CLOSE to being the foreperson (but am so glad someone else stepped up instead). Anyway, it was a long, wild, confessional day. And that was only Tuesday! Honestly. This week. Whew.

5. Okay, I just read over #4 and I’m still thinking I’ll probably end up deleting it, but for now…I think that’s enough for one week, don’t you? I mean, the end of tour. The tooth falling out. The swing dancing and writing connection. And the part of my past that I have never really addressed (that I remember, anyway) in my 13 or so years of writing this blog. I’m going to hit POST before I chicken out. Sorry, again, Mom. I love you!

Have a good weekend, everyone.