A Seminal Month

Mike's 60th Birthday Dinner: Whne in Maine, ...

Mike's 60th Birthday Dinner: When in Maine, ...

This month is a crazy month for me—full of seminal events that are the culmination of years of effort. All of my attention over the last year has led to the next thirty days. I’ve written, strategized, edited, managed, promoted, orchestrated,…   And yet I’ve just realized that, in all the hubbub, I’ve forgotten something.

Last week my friend Sita was in town, visiting from Padua, Italy. I met Sita when I was writing Ere I Saw Elba, after I had decided to set a scene from this novel in Padua. I’d never before written about a city that I hadn’t at least visited one time in my life. I started diligently started researching, but no matter how mcuh I read or how many photos I saw, I couldn’t imagine myself walking the streets of Padua. Without this imagination, I couldn’t picture my characters walking these streets either. I mentioned this writer’s block to my friend Leslie, and lo and behold, she e-introduced me to two friends of hers who lived in Padua: Sita and Steve.  Sita and I began an email dialogue that finally began to shape my imagination. A year later, when Nick and I visited Padua, Sita gave us a scene by scene tour of every Paduan location I had mentioned in Ere I Saw Elba. It was amazing.

Now two years later, Sita and Steve were visiting San Francisco and I had no time to reciprocate this generosity. I barely had time to make it to the one dinner party that my friend Leslie hosted during Sita’s month-long visit.

When I opened the door, Sita was beaming with congratulations for the recent publishing of Ere I Saw Elba. I was so tired, I felt little more than numb. But then conversation or laughter forced me out of my head and into the moment. Spirits lifted and glasses clinked. There were many toasts: I toasted Sita’s visit, Sita toasted Ere I Saw Elba. and then partner Nick added, “and our anniversary.” Crap—I had forgotten. I’d spent so much work and time planning my seminal month that I had no time, energy or even the attention span to celebrate the seminal events therein.

I’m writing this blog on a plane ride to the East Coast where I’ve planned a brief book tour—three bookstores, all I could commit to given my insanely busy work schedule. While short, I’m looking forward to three days of limelight on a book that I spent the last four years squeezing insomniatic blood from a sleep-deprived rock to write. But first, I’m heading to Maine to celebrate my father-in-law’s 60th birthday—a seminal birthday. After I finish writing this, I will file email and then try to get a little shut-eye, so that this weekend I will be well-rested and caught up on work…and ready to celebrate.

Now, in Maine, I am indeed celebrating as attested by the photo that prefaces this post.  I’m even posting this blog one day early so I can actually enjoy Labor Day free of labor. This is yet another foreign land the treading of which I find difficult to imagine. Tomorrow, Nick plans to give me a tour.

Below are the details of my brief book tour:

  • Tu, 9/8, 12:30pm, NC, NPR/WUNC, “The State of Things” Interview.
  • Tu, 9/8, 7:30pm, Raleigh, NC. Quail Ridge Books. Reading.
  • We, 9/9, 7pm, Charlotte, VC, Park Road Books. Reading.
  • Th, 9/10, 8pm, Atlanta, GA, Outwrite Books. Reading.
  • Th, 11/12, 7pm, San Francisco, Books Inc. (Mkt. St.). Reading.

· September 8, 12:30pm, North Carolina. WUNC, “The State of Things,” Interview with Frank Stasio.

· September 8, 7:30pm, Raleigh, NC. Quail Ridge Books and Music. Reading and book signing.

· September 9, 7pm, Charlotte, VC, Park Road Books. Reading and book signing.

· September 10, 8pm, Atlanta, GA, Outwrite Books. Reading and book signing.

November 12, 7pm, San Francisco, Books Inc. Reading and book signing.

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