My Book Release Weekend Rocked
Dear James Franco,
This letter really isn’t addressed to you, but to the six or so people who read my blog. Actually, it’s for me. I want to keep a record of my happiness so that the next time I go through a bout of gloom and declare that life is never-ending hopelessness, I can re-read it and say, “OK, it’s true. Joy sometimes interrupts the otherwise ceaseless march of despair.”
October has been a wonderful month. First, I got a story published in Playboy. That’s kittens to you, but I recall an evening twelve years ago when I sat in my Syracuse apartment, reading a Kurt Vonnegut story that had originally appeared in Playboy, and I thought, “Wow. That’s a heavy deal. You know you’ve got it made when Playboy believes that one’s experience of reading your story is compatible to the lustrous bliss of gazing at naked women.” I felt like I’d reached a bar I’d set, way back when I was a silly dreamer.
Then, the official release of my book Wally was on October 9th.
Let me back up and show you why this weekend was so great.
On Wednesday night, I think, I did a recorded interview on thedrunkenodyssey.com. That was my first “live” interview. New experience = excitement.
Thursday morning I drove to the airport in Kentucky and picked up Ryan Rivas, the man behind the helm at Burrow Press. He’d come up to Cincinnati for my Saturday night book release party. We hit it off quite well, but unfortunately, I had to ditch him at my house. I had six hours of seminar classes to take. After class ended, my wife and Ryan met me in the graduate office. We ate a quick meal and headed over to the final reading at the Emerging Writers Festival: Danielle Evans and Ron Currie Jr. When the readings finished, we all—as in the English grads and professors—headed over to Michael Griffith and Nicola Mason’s house for a party. Ryan and I yapped with the emerging writers and my fellow grads for a few hours, then headed back to my house, exhausted. Nonetheless, I stayed up all night and worked on a story.
During the day on Friday, Ryan and I took a trip to Joseph Beth’s Bookstore to see if they’d carry Wally. It’ll be a while before the verdict comes through. We returned my house and jammed on guitars. At some point, I went off to do something on my computer, maybe catch up on Kirsten Dunst news, and Ryan went upstairs to check his email. When I finished comparing myself to Dunst’s boyfriend (he looks better than me and has more money, but clearly, I’m smarter) my wife asked me if I’d go down to the store on the corner and buy her a Coke. I grabbed a dollar and headed out. As I approached the store, I saw something so fucking disorientating that I wondered if I’d accidentally taken my sleep medication and was having a hallucination. It’s happened before. It’s happened to Tiger Woods. Anyway, there were three people leaning against cars in the parking lot, and each held up issues of Playboy. I blinked a few times. When I recognized them, I thought, “Wait. These people aren’t supposed to be here. They live twelve hours away. I must have taken Ambien instead of Tylenol.”
No, it wasn’t Ambien. Long story short, my friends Tara had driven up from Virginia. Justin drove from New Orleans, and picked up Morgan in Mississippi on the way. They’d traversed hundreds of miles to come to my book release party. Even as I write this now, I feel the tears building on my eyelids. Listen, I have issues with intimacy. Not sexual intimacy—that’s fine, bring it on Phoebe (but not on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday night)—but emotional intimacy. It’s tough to break through my barriers. Well, seeing my friends there, the smiles on their faces, the joy they receive upon being around me, the sacrifice and warmth and love and devotion—it seemed so unreal. My protective layer turned to dust. Never before had I felt so grateful. My friends have the biggest hearts in the world. It gives me hope about humanity.
So I remained startled for about three minutes, which they found so amusing that they took a few pictures.
Phoebe was the mastermind behind this surprise. I have to say, it’s the best gift she could have given me.
So, there were a lot of people staying at our house: Me, Phoebe, Ryan, Tara (who would crash at her Rabbi’s at night), Justin, and Morgan. Excitement! Adventure! I was on a tight schedule, though. After everyone’s arrival, we ate a quick dinner, swapped stories, and then I had to rush off to band practice. The Knife Incident would be playing at the release party on Saturday, and we needed to solidify some of our songs. So, that evening, the women went out together, and Ryan and Justin came to band practice. Although I’d warned them in advance that The Knife Incident is a wild bunch, Justin and Ryan didn’t get the full Motley Crue experience. Two practices ago some drunken groupie intruder kept squeezing my nipples and grabbing my ass, and I pulled my knife. It almost got ugly, but Mark dragged him to the edge of the lawn and closed the door. We tend to attract that kind of chaos. Anyway, my friends didn’t get to see drama, but that’s OK. They got to meet my best friends Mark and Greg, and Anatole and Brian.
We jammed until about 1AM, then headed back to my place so that everyone could crash. Once Justin and Ryan had gone to bed, I stayed up until about 4:30, revising and editing a paragraph in a short story that I’ve been trying to fix for years. Since 2008, actually.
Alas, Saturday had arrived. I woke at 1PM, still tired. We lingered around the house, chatting, all afternoon, and slipped out momentarily to the NY-style deli for sandwiches. The only thing NY about it was the 9-11 memorabilia everywhere, and the Yankees photographs. The sandwiches tasted like sandwiches made in Cincinnati.
At four, we packed the cars and headed over to Baba Budan’s in Clifton for the big event… the book release. I’ll stop right there and continue later in my effort to describe one of the best times I’ve had in my life.