Learning To Fly

You got the airplane off the ground! You’ve never flown a plane before but all those years of driving a car made you think eh, how hard can it be? Pretty hard, it turns out.

GIRL TO CITY book release day was looming and I was feeling pretty positive about this whole thing. Book release day, or Publication Day, was feeling like a fluid term, as the ebook had started showing up in people’s readers from the first time I uploaded an uncorrected advance version. But my copies of the printed book with the corrections made (although I winced on discovering a mispelling in the book: “excrutiating”. Not glaring but—wrong. Apparently you can keep correcting the file and reuploading into infinity but that’ll probably have to wait for a while…) arrived when I was briefly over in England, and so after a fun visit to Todd Abramson’s show on WFMU, I got busy filling the pre-orders. The pre-orders were really my version of crowdfunding, as this book publication business has pretty much drained my resources, so thank you those who pre-ordered! It also gave me the incentive to put together an album of old, unheard demos to go along with the book. That turned into a hugely positive experience. With Eric’s urging and patient help editing and mixing and mastering, I unearthed songs I’d completely forgotten that turned out to be- well I’ll let you decide for yourself, some of them are throwaway but I think some are pretty darn good, and I didn’t even have to be dead for this to happen! I’m alive. I think.

Possible cancellation of a date on the tour due to poor ticket sales had me feeling very low the day before the book release. It was ironic, because a few days before a writer had asked me for a quote about musicians and mental health— the struggles we go through. I’d written something fairly measured and trying to be upbeat about valuing ourselves and standing up for ourselves, but here was a bald example of the reality: you can work and work and feel good about your work and you know it’s good, but when somebody tells you “nobody cares—they don’t want you” well that hurts about as much as anything can hurt. You’re back in the school cafeteria wanting someone to look up from a table and see you and smile and wave you over, but they’re all laughing and carrying on and don’t notice you and you want to disappear into a hole in the floor. (in the end everything’s okay with the show. But when you wonder why musicians/artists are fragile characters, think about it. We are fragile characters who for whatever reason are compelled to put ourselves in a position that invites public scrutiny and judgment. If you have a manager you might be regularly spared a few hours/days of that kind of hell, and never know and that’s one reason why people have managers but—I don’t. A lot of us don’t).

So I was kind of a mess by the time I needed to head down to NYC for my book event at WORD Greenpoint. I’d gotten to know this store when one of my brothers lived around the corner and thought it would be great to do something in/adjacent to the old neighborhood, the last place I lived in the city. I was packing the car and trying to stay perky, and set off to drive down to Brooklyn about two in the afternoon so I’d have plenty of time for a 7 PM show. A few blocks from our house I pulled over and called the store, thinking it’d be good to know how many books to bring —not wanting to be too ambitious but not wanting to risk running out. “Well we have five reservations so, I guess ten books is probably good,” said the young woman on the phone. Ten? Ten?? I decided I’d been deluding myself all along —that literally no one in NYC was interested in anything I had to say about twenty some years of living there, that it was all so in the past, that I was so all in the past. I started heading towards the Taconic, my head spinning. I pulled over to tweet—“hey, is anybody coming? ANYBODY?” Got a little further and felt a breeze across the back of my neck, like the load was a little light in the back of the car—I’d FORGOTTEN MY GUITAR. The whole reason for the book, everything. I spun around in the Ace Hardware parking lot, drove back home, got the guitar, flew down the Thruway. The WORD people were really nice, I set my stuff up in the basement room they have for readings, and then realized I was desperately hungry, and that I should’ve brought some wine for everybody. I wondered why I hadn’t asked a friend to help me. It just hadn’t occurred to me how hard it is to get an airplane off the ground, cause like I said, I’ve driven a car for years…

Right around showtime, my daughter found me sitting on a stoop next to my brother’s old apartment building. I was eating cold beef stroganoff from a tub, drinking red wine straight out of the bottle (I wasn’t glugging, just sipping delicately, to go with the stroganoff.) “Nobody’s coming Haze —nobody.” 

“It’s gonna be great!” she said. I wondered if this really was my daughter, never inclined to be Little Miss Sunshine. “You’re gonna have fun. You’ll see.” (I could say something here about the joy of having a grown child, how lucky I am, but I might start sobbing and never stop, so I won’t.)

And I did have fun. So much. There were people there. Family and friends and people who’ve come to my gigs for years. They bought books, every book I had.

The nearly cancelled show was back on. The pre-order orders were going out. Press was starting to roll. People were posting that they were reading the book and loving it, that they were tearing through it.

And then I was standing in the spot where I’ve poured beer, put books on shelves, mopped, served customers for over seven years. When I walked in everybody had clapped, like I was Joni Mitchell coming into the Forum. Then I was playing songs and reading from this book that didn’t exist for real until just a few days ago. People were smiling and nodding and laughing and cheering for me. I was flying.

Taking off from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway

Here’s where I’ll be playing songs and reading stories, and in a few instances chatting with other writers about the book and music and life:

  • Thu Oct 17  Hoboken NJ           Little City Books   tix
  • Fri Oct 18    Vienna VA              Jammin Java w/writer Rob Brunner  tickets 
  • Sat Oct 19    Wake Forest NC   Piedmont Laureate presents @ Listening Room 7 PM
  • Sun Oct 20   Columbia SC        Curiosity Coffee Bar(Emily McCollum opens) 3 PM info
  • Mon Oct 21  Atlanta GA           Writers at the Wrecking Bar w/Chad Radford info
  • Tue Oct 22   Nashville TN        Grimey’s instore   6 PM  free
  • Thu Oct 24  Memphis TN         Bar DKDC 8 PM
  • Fri Oct 25    Chicago IL             Book Cellar  7 PM free info
  • Sat Oct 26    Madison WI          Kiki’s Righteous House of Music info
  • Tue Oct 29   Pittsburgh PA       City Books  7 PM   free reservations
  • Sat Nov 2    Newark DE            Rainbow Records 5 PM
  • Sun Nov 3   Wayne PA               Main Point Books 5 pm free
  • Thu Nov 7   Oakland CA           Starline Social Club  tickets
  • Sat Nov 9    Los Angeles CA      house concert
  • Tue Nov 12 Los Angeles CA     Stories Books w/Pat Thomas 7 PM  info
  • Fri Nov 15  Portland OR           Turn Turn Turn (Mike Coykendall opens)
  • Sun Nov 17 Seattle WA             Third Place Books Ravenna w/Kristi Coulter 7 PM
  • Thu Nov 21 Catskill NY             HiLo  8 PM
  • Fri Nov 22  Rochester NY         Bop Shop Records tickets
  • Sat Nov 23  Cambridge NY       Argyle Brewing at Cambridge Depot tickets


7 thoughts on “Learning To Fly

  1. Steven Manning

    The Spotty show was wonderful, the book is great—and yes, I’m tearing through it—but the CD! So many great songs. Even the “throwaways” are a hoot. It’s astonishing that you’ve been writing such smart, funny and poignant songs since day one. A treat. Have fun and nothing but full houses for the rest of the tour.

    1. amyrigby

      Thank you and Ellen for coming to Spotty, Steven! Glad you like the album of demos. Here I thought I’d “developed” as a songwriter, but when I heard this stuff I thought wow, I used to be more creative and take more chances before I sort of knew what I was doing. Or maybe it was the sheer volume of writing and I’ve probably transferred a lot of that energy to other kinds of writing. But I’m happy you’re enjoying it. Thanks again!

  2. John

    Hey Amy! We’re eagerly awaiting your “ascent” into Virginia at Jammin’ Java tomorrow night! Will you have the new CD with you or is that a mail order-only thing? BTW, the offer for a place to crash– I mean park the plane for the evening in Maryland still stands.

    Burn it Bright, Amy!

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