evany's extended cake mix
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Thursday, Jun. 22, 2006 | link
Paul, one of my all-time favorite people, just got his second piece in the Times, and I am so proud and happy!
I'm thrilled and terrified to announce that I'm going to be doing the How To Kick People show next Wednesday, June 28th, in New York City (at Mo Pickins, 34 Avenue A). If you're at all in the neighborhood, maybe you'd like to come and hold a cold washcloth to my nape? Tickets are $8, and they're available both at the door and in advance.
So I've been back from the exhausting and chilling first leg of the book tour for over a week now, and I'm still not fully recovered. That was a very, very tough week: I am so afraid of public speaking! It makes me blotchy and sweaty, it fills my gut with perpetual feelings of "doom + self-blame" a la the first climb on a terrible roller-coaster (the Vomitron, maybe, or the Regretinator). And then there's the nausea and light-headedness and insomnia and hot flashes.
Knowing this about myself, I booked myself a wildly expensive hotel room in DC, just so I would be as pampered as humanly possible before embarking on my first reading -- and it was so, so worth it.
The Pantone-crazy rooms of the Hotel Helix.
Here's why the hotel was so spectack: The very day after Jill and I drove home from Yosemite (which was so fun -- gushing waterfalls! buffet chocolate pudding! rainbows! the ear of a fine friend! -- possibly the only things capable of getting my mind off the looming public speakings), I flew out on the red-eye to DC. My flight landed at 7am, but my hotel check-in wasn't until 3pm, so me and my hot pink travel neck pillow (which arguably could pass for a very, very fashion-forward space scarf) curled up in the baggage claim area for a few hours, but by 10 I'd had enough of the airport announcements, so I got in a cab a (hi, bye Washington Monument!) and went to the hotel, and? They let me into my room five hours early! I napped the living spit out of the next two hours.
The crazy Helix surf-themed beds, hang ten! (Or, in my case, hang $260 per night.)
Then I crammed some french toast in my french toast hole, drank coffee and coffee and coffee, and practiced my routine, which consists of huge, poster-sized printouts of select sleep poses (which Brian and Marco made for me while I was in Yosemite!) plus a crazy folding metal business-easel thing plus a telescoping pointer with built-in laser AND pen (the trifecta). Then I actively panicked for awhile, then I put on a skirt and some blister-shoes and panic-walked six sweaty blocks over to Olsson's Books and Records, then I got up there and pointed at some things, then I signed some people's books (harrowing), then I walked home, ordered one beer and a hamburger from room service, wrote up my Tour Dispatch, and watched The Whole Nine Yards until my brains melted.
The next morning, the awesome Michael Jay McClure (who surprise-attended my reading the night before, which made me so happy!) came and fetched me. After pausing a moment to admire my insane orange and green and pop-cultured hotel room (with two thick animal print robes), he whirl-walked me around DC for three seconds, then we gobbled lunch, then we cabbed to the train station. Go, go, go!
Once I arrived in New York, I went directly to Paul's apartment and practiced for the next reading. So boring! Oh except then we went out for pickles and birthday cake, that part was good.
Then on Wednesday morning Paul and I splashed our way through the pouring rain to the subway (me, riding with my head between my knees as an anti-panic-faint measure), to Coliseum Books, the in-case-of-rain venue for the Bryant Park reading.
Here I am, groping my way through the Coliseum Books/Bryant Park reading in NYC.
The reading was a little damp and rushed, but ultimately okay. I think? Afterward, some more people asked me to sign their books (!), then at like 3pm, my nerves finally mellowed enough for me to eat, and Paul and I went to some Italian-y place and I ate and ate and ate. The next day, I worked on my Power Point for the upcoming LA show, grabbed some beer and pretzels and dinner and cupcakes with Todd, then returned home to Paul's for another four hours of Power Pointing. At 7am the next morning I took Super Shuttle to the airport, got on a JetBlue jet, and flew to LA. (See? Not much fun, this trip: just an endless stream of churning worry and bile and Power Point.)
When I got to LA, I rented a car, drove to a cafe for a few hours of whispered practicing (luckily LA is full of actors whisper-practicing in cafes, so I totally fit right on in), then I headed over to Hollywood to stutter my way through a run-through for the sold-out (!) McSweeney's Presents: The World Explained show. The lineup: shivering, panicked me + Davy Rothbart (creator of Found Magazine) + Starlee Kine (of This American Life) + Joshua Davis (author of The Underdog: How I Survived the World's Most Outlandish Competitions) + Bill Hader (from Saturday Night Live) + host Andy Richter + music by Grant-Lee Phillips and the the Pretty Babies, together we all dogged and ponied up in the name of raising funds for 826LA.
At midnight, I drove home to the Octeau's, my home away from home, and slept for three hours. At 4:30, the panic prodded me awake, and I spent the next few hours frantically fiddling with my presentation, up until the point the three little Octeaus woke up and sprang into action:
Playing "Luggage" at the chateau Octeau before leaving to go to the horror show.
Then at 3pm, after a very, very dark hour trying to figure out how to operate the Octeau's devilish printer (big swears and tears), I headed over to the venue for disastrous final run-through, where I basically just read my notes without looking up once. Found Davy was all, I really dig your "scientist persona," with the notes and the wooden delivery, so awesome! And I was all, but...that wasn't...oh god.
A small message found backstage, one of two photos I managed to take before I had to leave to go weep quietly in the rental car for the hour just before the show.
Here is my other photo: it's Eli Horowitz, still glowing from when Zooey Deschanel cupped his right pectoral (I SAW).
Then Andy Richter took to the stage, and the show began! And I drank one very tall glass of everyone-backstage-prescribed wine.
Andy, it turns out, is hilarious and Michigan-cute and bogglingly nice and also he wears sandals. So that happened, then he introduced me, and I walked out there! And started talking in a surprise all-new Evany voice (according to post-show reports, it was very "husky librarian karoake"). The next eleven minutes were totally crazy, and I really don't remember much of what I did or said. But according to the LA Times: "Following Richter, Evany Thomas, a contributor to McSweeney's and author of a new, mostly tongue-in-cheek book called The Secret Language of Sleep, dissected couples' sleeping positions -- Classic Spoons, the Seatbelt -- to lots of amusement." Lots of amusement! Also: Carrie Fisher was there? The woman who wrote the book I once sat in a London bookstore for eight solid hours and read cover to cover? And then went ahead and bought it anyway? Holy crapping god. Just reading that little tidbit got me all retroactively nervous and star struck and sick in my mouth, and pants.
Here I am, in full blackout, talking to three hundred people about my acne and cuddle parties and puppies. The photo is a little out of focus (the slideshow aspect made things too dark for photos), but it's actually a super-accurate embodiment of the experience, from my point of view.
Then it was over, and I wandered off stage and collapsed (after Andy Richter hugged me) in total exhaustion, and then just lay there on the floor in a corner behind the stage, watching the rest of the show backwards through the back of the projection screen.
Between each presentation, Grant-Lee Phillips's gang, plus Zooey Deschanel and Samantha Shelton, all sang thematic songs. Like after my thing, they sang "Lay, Lady, Lay," and after Starlee's, they sang "Crazy" (her presentation was about how to find the right therapist), etc. It was sweet and lively and really made the show extra awesome.
After the show, I staggered over to the post-event VIP party (!?) to squeeze my many great friends who all turned out for the show. (Kristin and Pat and Jill and Marco all drove down, down, all the way down from the bay area!)
Wow, somebody loves blazers! (Evany + Stee + Pam love blazers.)
Pam is BLOWN AWAY by my Fran Drescher mouth.
The famous Tom Mott (a brand-new father! CONGRATULATIONS TOM AND MOUKI, and LITTLE EVE and LITTLE JOHN!) and I ponder life, love. (Turns out: wildly near-sighted people with glasses perched atop their heads = deep, mole-faced thinkers.)
Me, China, Jenny, and my wine.
Sophia, Becky, and Evany squint out some smiles and secretly long for bed (that's what I was doing, at least).
And that was it! I pretty much slept the whole next day, in between marveling over how old and frail I now am, then on Monday Jill, Marco, and I drove home by way of Anderson's split pea soup, the end!
And they all lived Happea-ly ever after.