Greetings from the air over Carmel, Indiana!
What a beautiful town. Carmel skirts the Stepford label by having a lot of fun and interesting people, no more so than David, the driver who picked me up from the airport. Six-three (I asked) with a deep, sultry voice and a firm hand on the wheel. Also, a scintillating conversationalist. He told me a lot about the city and local events. Carmel is a seemingly small town, but they are very dedicated to supporting the arts and giving their citizens a high quality of life. The roads are pothole-less, which should get ABC News down immediately because it’s probably the only place in America with good roads right now. There is a huge music hall (Liza Minnelli is booked in the fall!), and there are gorgeous houses with beautiful gardens. There’s even their version of New York City’s Village with hopping bars and nice restaurants. But, then David told me the saddest news ever, which is that the baby dolphin at the Carmel Aquarium recently died. First Snowy and now this. As the owner of an elderly cat with three teeth and one sort of functioning kidney, I do not want to hear about baby animals dying anymore.
David drove me straight from the airport to my hotel, where I was very happy to find they were still serving breakfast. Let me tell you a little secret about hotels and their so-called 24-hour room service. You can get whatever you want at midnight, but at 5:30 in the morning, what that means is toast and a cup of coffee delivered by the maintenance guy. So, I was very happy to dine in the Renaissance Indiana breakfast room, where I ordered an omelet. The waitress asked me if I wanted toast, and even though I had already had maintenance toast, I said yes. She brought out a catsup bottle with my coffee, and I was reminded that eating catsup on eggs is some weird Yankee thing, but I was glad to have the bottle to put down flat so I could rest my Kindle on it. I read some more of my Evanovich book, which is a great thing to check out at the library, and then the waitress brought the plate, which had my omelet and toast and HASHBROWNS. Oh. Dear. Lord. I haven’t had hashbrowns in eleventy billion years! It reminded me of my favorite Emily Dickinson poem, one of the few she wrote that cannot be sung to the Battle Hymn of the Republic:
I love you so.
Into my tummy
You will soon go.
And boy did they! With catsup and everything!
Satiated, I headed back to my hotel room to freshen up. In the elevator, I ran into a mother and three young children who’d just been in the pool. As soon as the doors shut, the little boy put his hands down his pants. I tell ya, it’s not usual that kids that age know exactly what they want to be when they grow up, but this particular lad was obviously destined for the United State Congress.
My hotel room was very nice and clean with soft linens and an okay mini bar. Pringles. Water. What else do you need? I also had a fabulous view of the parking lot, which I looked at a total of two seconds because….
After a brief nap, I headed down and met David so that he could drive me to my first interview. WTHR‘s Eyewitness at Noon is housed in a typical TV studio, which is to say everything on camera is gleaming and pretty and everything behind it is kind of a mess. I got mic’d up and sat on the interview set (two chairs and a glass coffee table) while I waited for the anchor to join me. They had the news on (haha), and I watched some of the stories. Did you know Carmel has over 70 roundabouts? It’s true. The weather woman’s name was Chikage, which kind of made me giggle, especially because it was pronounce more like Chicago. And then I remembered I was sitting alone in a room with a live mic on me and stopped giggling.
At first, they told me I was going to have to talk directly into the camera, which I hate, because you are basically talking to a teleprompter or a dark, black lens, and there’s always a monitor below the camera and it’s wired into our human DNA to always want to look at a TV set, and if YOU are the person on the TV set, then it’s awful because WAHHH!!! WHEN DID I GET SO FAT??!?!!? The first time I had to do this I basically looked like the life model for The Scream. Anyway, they changed it up at the last minute, and I got to talk face-to-face with the anchor. I’ve gotten used to seeing men who wear more make-up than my Aunt Sadie (a rather loose woman), and we had a nice talk about the library event and how folks should help their local libraries. This is an important note to all you librarians out there: people really care. Usually, anchors and interviewers and whatnot want to kind of direct a story in their own way, which is fine because it’s their show or column or whatever. But, to the last person, they ALL are happy to talk about libraries and what we can do to help. So, I just wanted y’all to know that, even though it might not seem like it sometimes, you are deeply, deeply cared about.
The interview lasted about three minutes, and then I went back outside and David drove me back to the hotel. I was sitting at my desk with my head in my hands trying to work up enough energy to fall into bed when the phone rang. My 1:30 interview was apparently at 1:00. Woopsie! Good thing I was back in the room. I talked with Jennifer at the WomensRadio Network for a show called Your Book is Your Hook. This was a very interesting interview. It was different in that Jennifer wanted to talk about the business of being a writer, which I thought was kind of cool. Then, we talked some about libraries, and how folks can help libraries. Jennifer is such a library lover that she is doing a whole library show. She already interviewed Heather McCormack here at Library Journal and she was planning on putting together her own piece on helping libraries, so I think that this was a really, really good show to be on as far as spreading the word.
And it was a good thing that it only lasted 30 minutes, because I was practically dead when I got off the phone. This getting up at 5:30 in the morning and going to bed at 11 or midnight thing is not for me. I was wired for at least nine hours of sleep a night. I don’t even change out of my pajamas during the day unless I’m going outside for something! (And then, if I am being honest, I am still wearing my pajamas, but y’all know my motto: Once you wear it outside, it stops being pajamas.) So, I took a nice, long two and a half hour nap and awoke a little before 4:30, when Ruth from the Carmel Clay Library Foundation was scheduled to pick me up.
Ruth is a lovely woman, and she took me to an Italian restaurant called Mangia’s where I met some other folks who are library supporters, as well as the head librarian, who looks around my age but is a grandmother. (And I am saying this because she looks much younger than she is, not because she had a wild youth) Carmel only has one library and these ladies are very excited to support it. They are also excited to talk about the Carmel firemen, who are apparently a group of very attractive fellas. (I bet David, my driver, is a volunteer. Note to self: consider arson the next time you’re in Carmel.) I met a couple of women who are writers themselves and are heavily involved in the writing community, which was nice because we got to talk shop a bit. I had a mixed salad as a starter and spaghetti for my main meal, but there was so much of it and I was still filled with hashbrowns, and even though I technically did not eat lunch so could eat twice as much at dinner, I couldn’t force anything else down.
Next, Ruth and the ladies caravanned to the library. Library? Nay, palace. This place was spectacular. I’ve never seen a library like this before. It was as big as a school–only, the kind of school where really smart kids go. Two beautiful stories of books, videos, and CDs. There were sculptures everywhere and it was decorated in calming colors and wood paneling and…wow. Originally, the library was located a few blocks away. It was started by a group of women at the telephone exchange at the turn of the last century (as many of y’all know, most libraries were started by women who either worked together or were in clubs). Then, they became a Carnegie library, then they somehow became elevated to Library Utopia. Tons of reading rooms, a little kids section, a big kids section, a huge reference area. Separate technology centers for kids and adults (magic!). Holy smokes, what a place!
I got a nice tour from Ruth, then the head librarian took me back behind the scenes, which is really the part I love seeing. I love automation. It has always been my dream to live in a Jetsons world where I stand on a circle and the shower and hairdryer come to me. The Carmel Clay public library is pretty close to achieving this nirvana. Everything has RF tags, so patrons can check themselves out. They have this cool, automated sorter where librarians scan in a book and it slides down a belt and gets dropped into the appropriate bin. I asked if I could ride the belt and they said no. I think they were afraid I wouldn’t end up in the “S” bin. I was willing to take my chances, but–whatev.
There was a nice group assembled in the main room for my talk. I should mention here that at all of my events, there have been folks who have driven quite a distance to see me. Two or three hours in some cases. There were folks at my Cleveland event who took a hotel room that night so they wouldn’t have to drive back late. These are the kinds of readers who make me sorry we have such a relatively short time together. I mean, they get their pictures taken with me and their books signed, but then they just go back home and I feel kind of bad that we don’t have more time together. I guess this is why Facebook is so good because we can keep in touch, but anyhow, this is my way of saying to folks: thanks for making the drive!
My event was finished and my little group of women asked if I would like to go to get ice cream or cake. Haha, do bears like to wear bow ties? Of course I wanted ice cream and cake, and to spend more time in their company, but I was exhausted, despite my naps, and knew I had to get up early the next morning, so I had to take a pass.
I got back to my hotel room and set all my various gadgets to charge. I’m getting kind of worried about my cell phone charger. It says it’s charging. The phone agrees. Only, the battery was empty this morning. Why do you lie to me, phone charger? What does it accomplish? I am also a bit worried about my hair. It’s kind of hard to describe what is going on, but–take a monkey. Jungle monkey, not zoo monkey. Put a football helmet on its head. Come back three years later. Remove the helmet. That is what my hair looks like right now. Between that and the exhaustion I was getting worried, so I went onto WebMD and looked up my symptoms and got all panicked and emailed my doctor and she wrote back (extremely snippy) “you do not have Tays-Sachs.” I’m really kind of concerned that she’s making these snap judgments without even seeing me and already made an appointment for a full physical when I get back.
Anyhoo, I had a nice, relaxing evening in my room and finished my Janet Evanovich book and then went to sleep. I am now heading to New Orleans and the ALA conference, which should be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and catching up with the Random House library folks as well as my pals Virginia Stanley and Talia Sherer. Libraries are so lucky to have these stellar advocates looking out for them, and I’m sure we will have a lot of fun. Thanks for y’all’s comments (I’ve been to Killeen! And I warned you I’d talk about that crack creme!) I will report back from the ground, but meanwhile…
Your intrepid author,
On Facebook, find me at AuthorKarinSlaughter