to look at, to listen to, to buy, etc etc
babes, it’s been too long. i went on book tour for a week and i would like to think of myself as a person who reads while traveling but i’m not, i’m a person who is nervous and intimidated and cannot relax enough to comprehend words on a page while in an airport or on a plane. i’m not even afraid to fly, i like being trapped in the cozy confines of a metal tube hurtling through the air at warp speed, it’s just all the other stuff: who is looking at me? am i annoying anyone? how many godforsaken miles do i have to walk between the delta terminal and baggage claim this time?? i cannot resist an airport bookstore and every time i pass one i get amnesia and think maybe this flight is the one where i’ll read an entire novel like people brag about on instagram and this tour was no different, i bought a paperback copy of trust by hernan diaz and it went to new york and philadelphia and chicago and back to kalamazoo but you know where it hasn’t been? my eyeballs!
i can’t stand the sound of silence when i’m in a hotel. it’s equal parts “oh no i’m all alone with my thoughts” and “oh no is that a sex noise please god i don’t wanna hear a sex noise!!!!!!” why don’t more hotel rooms come equipped with white noise machines? i sleep with this one blasting every night and if i had to choose between it and, oh i dunno, a mattress? it might take me a minute to decide. it’s that soothing! generally i put sports tv on and let the bombastic yelling of stephen a smith keep me company, but a few years ago i became obsessed with this podcaster leon nayfakh after listening to the first season of fiasco, his podcast about the bush v gore election. i am a sucker for any kind of in-depth “whatever you think you know about [historical incident] is wrong” podcast, and that first season is good as hell. so is season two about iran-contra, an event i don’t care about, so is season three about the civil rights movement in boston (hey, did y’all know not everybody in the north wanted black people to be free???), and so is season four about benghazi.
i have audible and can’t figure out how to turn off the push alerts (my punishment for supporting amazon, probably) and one morning i got an alert that leon made a new podcast (freaking out) that he had co-produced with jay smooth (freaking out!!!!!!!!) about the life and death of michael jackson. the podcast is called think twice and i’m pretty sure it’s available on all the traditional platforms now, and it is riveting. jay and leon don’t take sides, necessarily, and they also don’t gloss over the weird and bad shit. lying in a big, empty hotel bed listening to each episode gave me the same kind of feelings i had watching that absolutely incredible oj made in america documentary. like, you don’t feel good after consuming it, but also not bad? just kinda gross yet informed. anyway it’s stunning. blew me away.
i love to meet people but i am always like “geez how the fuck can i present myself to gorgeous strangers without ruining their fucking day” when faced with an open suitcase and every item of clothing i own (and now hate) strewn across my bed. i knew i had to have something to wear for a new york times photo for which their instructions had been to “show up camera-ready” (WHAT) and i know what those words mean individually but all in a row like that??? i haven’t the faintest idea. do authors ever publicly talk about how weird book tour is, about how insane it is to be on the road for weeks at a time to hang with people who can actually touch and smell you? by day four everything in your suitcase starts to smell like fishy underwear and you’re never in one place long enough to wash your goddamn clothes. my solution: not eating so i wouldn’t poop my pants, weapons-grade deodorant, disposable underwear, and dragging almost every thief and bandit piece i own across the country with me so i might look cool. they are the nicest people and they make the best clothing for little asses and big asses and everything in between, and yeah it’s expensive but it’s ~ethical~ and isn’t that what everyone is pretending to give a shit about these days? if i can’t pay some sweet canadian to hand-paint ancient artifacts on my pants for me what is the point of living???
i had two meals in nyc that weren’t room service soup. michael patrick king insisted he take me out for dinner, and my number one rule for life is if a rich person offers to do something for you? girl, you let them. he made a reservation at jean-georges, this place i had only ever heard about on top chef??? it’s so fancy i can’t fucking believe they even let me in. we got this incredible table and mpk paid approximately one million dollars for us to have a pre-fixe eight course menu of tiny, elaborately-staged foods served by deadly serious people in suits. we’re both so fucking stupid that every time someone set a dish down and walked away we turned to each other like “what did he say this was????” my publisher took me and a bunch of people from vintage to lunch at this incredible restaurant called iris, where i didn’t eat as much as i wanted to because i never know how to conduct myself in those situations. on the one hand i wanna say “thank you for letting me write about slutty porn nuns” but, you know, on the other hand they want to thank me for writing it and that makes me feel good but it’s so awkward because i don’t know what to say in response. what am i gonna say to thee maya mavjee, boss of the boss of the boss, “you’re welcome for my fart jokes?????” anyway i say all this to say that if you have gnarly hemorrhoids like i do, especially ones that are easily aggravated by overpriced new york city meals, i have a tube of this miracle ass cream on my person at all times and it is a godsend.
i stopped my tour early because my lady had a 16cm tumor attached to her pancreas and smashed between her stomach and spleen. she decided to have surgery at the university of michigan which is in ann arbor, an hour and a half-ish from our house, and they told us she could be there for up to two weeks. every word of that is terrifying, right? when she first sent me the scan results i was at the gas station and burst into tears in my car, because when someone says “pancreas” you immediately think “dead.” the surgeon didn’t think the tumor was cancerous but we wouldn’t know unless they took it out, so she and i basically moved to ann arbor for a couple weeks so they could scoop her insides out and only put some of them back.
when you’re not the patient, a new experience for me, there’s not much to fucking do that won’t exacerbate your dread and worry, so i mostly tried to distract myself from thinking. i got obsessively into wordle and the crossword and the spelling bee on the times app, and i also watched yellowjackets and succession. i listened to this ep by lutalo on repeat, i read yellowface by rf kuang and everything’s fine by cecilia rabess and maeve fly by cj leede. i tried not to get lost in the biggest hospital i’ve ever seen. i ordered zingerman’s every single day. i tried to spot jim harbaugh on campus.
they got the whole tumor out, clean margins and everything, and that giant veiny softball was benign!!!!! kirsty lost her spleen and 40% of her pancreas which, despite how it sounds, was better than we’d hoped for. so she’s okay, for now.
more soon! love you love you!