Greetings from the air above Chicago!
Boy, what a looong day. It’s hard enough getting up at 5:30 AM, but doing it more than twice in the same week is a killah. And can I just say something about my feet? They are not used to being in shoes this long. I’ve seriously underestimated my sock supply. My first of three pairs did not pass the sniff test this morning. I’m seeing a sock detour in my future. It’s the little things that trip you up.
I got into Chicago around 8:15. The plane was early, which was swell, but the car that was waiting for me was scheduled to take me to an interview at 9:10. We got to the studio at 8:45. I was thinking about asking the driver if I could sleep in the car since he’s supposed to wait on me anyway, but he hustled me out before I could get my mouth open. Fortunately, the folks at Black Dog studios were ready to go. The facilities were pretty cool and modern looking, and Steve Bertrand, the guy who interviewed me, was very nice and had obviously prepared. Y’all might know him from his former gig doing author interviews for BN.com but now he’s doing them on NewsLook.com. He’s interviewed a lot of authors and did a very good job of helping me sound not so much like a jetlagged idiot, which is what we in the business call a miracle.
After the interview, the driver took me to the hotel. I love the Kimpton Hotel chain and have been an InTouch member since 2000, which affords me extra goodies, such as a $10 credit on the minibar and a free bottle of water. Sweet! And the mini bar is fabulous. Not Penthouse Fabulous (which is doubly fabulous) but fabulous all the same. They had Pringles, along with the usual stuff, plus more exotic fare like organic fruit bars. Kimpton used to have what was called an “intimacy kit” which had a condom and a wet wipe, but they didn’t have one of those so I guess people who go to Chicago are more self-sufficient.
One of the reasons I love Kimpton is they are dog friendly and when you walk into the hotel, there’s usually a blackboard set up over a couple of treat baskets and water bowls where they write, “Welcome, Chewy!” Or, “Glad to have you back, Sir Barksalot!” I guess they welcome other pets, including cats, but we all know that cats prefer we to stay at home (it’s their “me” time when we’re gone).
I went up to my room, which was such a treat because they decorate their rooms in really cool ways. Mine was all red and circly and looked like a clown’s rectum. That fissure-looking thing on the bed is a zebra-printed robe. I set my iPhone alarm and slept for about 45 minutes, then went downstairs to meet Merle, my escort for the day.
Merle isn’t really an author escort. She is a retired librarian from the Chicago system whom I met ages ago when I first started. She loves chocolate as much as I do, and she brought me some of the best home made chocolate cookies I have ever had in my life. Oh, dear Lord, were they good.
Anyhoo, Merle is a very good driver, which is important, especially in Chicago. While Atlanta was rated the city with the worst traffic in the nation, I am never in it since my life is basically confined to one square mile when I am at home. We were in the thick of it in Chicago, and we were going to places that Merle wasn’t as familiar with. She is a Chicago native and told me all kinds of cool things about the city and pointed out exciting places that we wouldn’t have time to visit, like the Shedd Aquarium. I love aquariums. They’re a lot of fun to visit. Just the day before I read an article in The Week about how scientists put a bunch of clown fish in ocean water with extra acid in an attempt to predict what our ever-more-poisoned oceans would do to fish and they learned that basically by 2050, clown fish are going to be completely deaf. I know what you are thinking — WHY ARE THEY BEING SO MEAN TO CLOWN FISHES? I just don’t understand. They couldn’t do this to sharks?!?!
So, our first stop was at La Notte Cafe in Berwyn, where I met some other librarians and folks from the Adult Reading Round Table (AART) for lunch. I had a tasty chopped salad (no onions) and some bread, which would’ve been good if I hadn’t eaten so many cookies beforehand. This was a very nice group of people (one doesn’t often meet a nasty librarian) and we talked about reading and books and the library systems and basically a good time was had by all.
Next, we went to the Berwyn Public Library. What a beautiful branch. Not as modern as some, but well-cared-for and with the most helpful staff in the world. Seriously, all I had to do was LOOK like I was thinking about peeing and someone was at my side pointing me toward the bathroom.
The group I was speaking to was a mixture of librarians, one of the reading clubs who use the facilities, and AART folks. What a nice bunch. Many of them were well-versed in my books and the lady who interviewed me was fantastic. You can tell when someone really loves what they are doing, and when they are excited about the genre, so she made my job very, very easy. During the question and answer period I mentioned some of my favorite authors, and when I got to Gillian Flynn, Gillian Flynn stood up in the back of the room and I sort of lost my train of thought. She said she stood up because she knew I was about to trash her so she wanted to shame me into shutting up. Well, we’ll never know now, will we, Gillian?
After the event, I signed some books, then we had to skeedaddle to Merle’s place, where she had a nice pork roast to cook up for me, and more cookies, and some gelato, though I’m not sure what the difference is between gelato and ice cream. Either way, I had to force myself not to lick the bowl. Merle is an excellent cook and she has a lovely, lovely home and it was really nice to sit and talk somewhere with a friend and have a sort of respite from touring. Merle also gave me a really cool gift from AART, an engraved Tiffany bookmark, which is beautiful and almost too nice for me to use, but I will use it as a reminder of Chicago and my swell time with my friend, Merle.
But, of course my respite couldn’t last forever. Once more into the breech — or in this case, the Dan Ryan Expressway. We got to the Evergreen Park Public Library with a few minutes to spare. Holy cow! What a library! I felt like Jed Clampett when he first got to Beverly Hills. This place was pristine, with sweet little reading rooms (with fireplaces!) and gleaming shelves of books and — wow. Topping it off, the folks who greeted us at the door were fantastic and just the sort of people you meet and think, “wow, you are really a nice person.” One of them was even wearing an “I GOT SLAUGHTERED” tee-shirt, which I thought was very kind of her, and generous because all proceeds from the sale of the shirts goes to my local DeKalb County library.
I really enjoyed this event, even though I was under some bright spotlights and felt a bit what it might be like to be inmenopause. The group was really engaged and they laughed at my jokes, which means they’re really smart, too. And the folks who stood in line to get their books signed were all polite and generous, just like everyone else I met in Chicago.
The only glitch in the trip was I almost forgot to use my $10 minibar credit. I got a bottle of water in a bottle that looks like a flask and a really cool toothbrush that’s made from recycled yogurt cups. Yogurt usually makes me skeeve because it looks like phlegm, but that’s not really an issue here because it’s an AWESOME toothbrush. The most awesome toothbrush in the sky!
Thus ends my Chicago report.
We should be landing soon, when I will say–
Hello, Carmel, Indiana!
Your intrepid author,