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.
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