Tuckered from the Tour ... But Feeling Blessed

Friday, August 28, 2009

So, Gary says to me this morning, as Marge and Mable were spooning us in a loving, and not creepy whatsoever, way: "You are officially done with your book tour. How's it feel?"

I feel ... tired. And blessed. And emotional.

This has been a bittersweet summer, highlighted by the success of my memoir, underlined by the death of my mom.

I remember talking to her over the phone when she was in the hospital, as AT LEAST IN THE CITY was being talked about on The Today Show (I had seen it an hour earlier ET). "My son on the Today Show!" she had said. I will never forget that moment.

In June I traveled to Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis. This month, I headed to northern Michigan, and did events in Petoskey, Gaylord, Traverse City, Holland and Saugatuck.

I have done radio and TV. Gotten great reviews and bad. And been greeted by mega-crowds at nearly every bookstore where I've done an event. Gary has been by my side the whole time, supporting me, helping me, entertaining the crowds. He is not only half my life, he is half my act. I am blessed.

But now it's time for a little routine. I love a good routine ... same foods (Kashi and a latte, please), exercise, and, most importantly, writing.

My fourth memoir, WHY IS SANTA TAKING DADDY'S LIPITOR?, a holiday memoir, is in the can, and awaiting a pub date from my publisher. And now I will begin working on my fifth, tentatively titled: "ME, MY MOM & ERMA: How I Learned to Live with Passion and Laugh through Tragedy from Two Great Women." It's about my mom and Erma Bombeck, and how their humor and zest for life buoyed me through every critical juncture of mine. I am also working on a TV pilot based on AT LEAST IN THE CITY.

"How's it feel?" Gary asked me again this morning, as our mutts sighed and nuzzled a bit closer.

"Like a dream," I said, before adding, "And like it's time to get back to work."

Pennies from Heaven?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My apologies for the blogging delay ... from some of the responses, you'd have thought I was the one who forced Paula Abdul to leave Idol. Settle, everyone! Free lithium for all next time, OK?

But I've been prepping for my writing seminar next week (testing out my ruler, my chalk and walking around in my smart-sexy teacher heels) ...

... guest-blogging for The Debutante Ball (www.thedebutanteball.com ... I'm a Deb for a day on Saturday, August 15!) as well as for www.abunchofwordz.wordpress.com) ...

while readying myself for the next leg of my book to northern Michigan (Hello, resort towns of Petoskey, Gaylord and Traverse City!) ...

and also nervously pacing/waiting to hear my editor and publisher's reaction to my next memoir, tentatively titled, WHY IS SANTA TAKING DADDY'S LIPITOR?: And Other Heartwarming Holiday Tales." (Yes, it's a holiday memoir ... one to which I think we can all relate -- filled with loads of love and dysfunction -- but this book has a twist: It's a FULL YEAR of holidays, including Easter, Arbor Day, Mother's Day, 4th of July, anniversary, even Barbie's big b-day.) I adore this book, and think it has a chance to resonate with loads of readers. I mean, what defines family more than its holidays? What defines America more than its holidays? And each family celebrates every holiday in such a unique way ... and, boy, did we.

Speaking of family, it was recently my mom's birthday. As you know, she passed away in late June, and she would have been 71 on August 1.

Each day brings a new set of difficulties and triumphs, laughter and tears, and boatloads of heartache. I miss her desperately, and some days I just want to go back to sleep so I can dream of her, see us again floating in the creek, our butts hanging through innertubes. To help me celebrate her life, Gary has planted a memorial garden in her honor, which I can see right outside our kitchen window. He's filled it with some of her favorite plants and colors (PURPLE! LOTS OF PURPLE!), as well as a cross, a photo of her from our old cabin watering her beloved butterfly bushes (which attracted hundreds), and a stone etched with the word that truly defined my mom: "Grace." I have watered that garden -- with hose and tears -- many times already. It's a wonderful place to sit and think about my mom, my life, my writing, my path in life.

After my mom's funeral, I brought many things back with me, which I am slowly going through when I have the strength (the photos, right now, are a bit too tough). However, I discovered -- in this old Get Smart-esque briefcase -- my old coin collection. And it's filled with treasure: Coins from the 1800s, buffalo nickels, ancient silver dollars, bicentennial souvenirs. I forgot how much time I spent collecting coins -- looking for them, polishing them, putting them in protective coverings, researching their value -- with my grandfather. It was my mom's idea, this coin collecting, as a way to bond me to her father. And it worked. We spent countless hours with our eyes over a magnifying glass, studying coins, talking, getting to know one another. I remember bringing my "finds" to my grampa, and he would beam. Slowly, however, I grew tired -- as any kid does -- of this hobby, and I moved on ... to Pez. (You heard me ... I was a chubby freak as a kid. I used to mainline that nasty-ass candy, but I loved my little footless friends. And I write about them in WHY IS SANTA TAKING DADDY'S LIPITOR?)

Gary and I spent a few hours the other day looking at the coins, which, of course, led us to looking up their current value online. Some have increased greatly, some are about the same, and some are worth a tidy sum of cash. But I already know I will never sell them. They will stay in that case forever, in my writing office, just like my Pez, and remind me -- as the memorial garden does -- of my mom.

Because no money can ever replace the memories of her, or how she secretly bonded me with her father, or the fact that she was, like the stone in our memorial garden says, the epitome of "grace".