I've spent the past few days resting and playing with the dogs, so now I'm ready to file my tour report. In short, it has been pretty amazing.
3/10: Pasadena: I landed in LA midafternoon and got talked into renting a hybrid car which I immediately fell in love with. I drove down to my friend Patricia's office and went on a quick tour of their amazing facility, in which every department has a different pop Americana theme: a pet shop, a Yuego dealership, a Twin Peaks lodge, etc. They put together an amazing little street campaign for the book. I drove from there to Vroman's in Pasadena and was interviewed for Voice of America, then read to a crowd of about thirty and signed twenty books or so. Outside it was snowing.
3/11: Skylight Books hosted an afternoon reading, where some old friends showed up and some wonderful women from Friends of Animals Foundation brought a few dogs and joined my discussion of my good friend the pit bull. Afterwards, I got lost for hours on the streets of LA, and eventually ended up at the intersection of Sunset and Vine, where I turned and saw a whole wall decorated with the cover of my book--my little sweetheart, Sula. In the morning I stop back to get my picture taken in front of the giant Sue before heading to the airport.
3/12: I left LA for San Francisco, and realized the error of my schedule: I'd been giving myself less than 24 hours between events. I arrived at Cody's on Fourth Street and had a momentary panic when a staff member told me that they thought I was in the wrong store. I wasn't, and eventually was joined by another group of old friends and a few new ones, including the editors of The Bark. Again, the discussion afterwards was wonderful, and there were several people in the crowd who told me that they'd been drawn to the book because the cover looked just like their rescued pit bull too. My cousin Beth and her husband Lu took me out for an amazing dinner, then I checked into the Phoenix at about 11pm.
3/13: The dogsitter calls daily to tell me that everyone (ie, the dogs) is fine. While this is exactly what I want to hear, it is also disturbing--I, apparently, am not fine. After a few phone interviews, I drive north to Marin County, where Book Passage welcomes a small but very attentive group in the middle of another storm (rain this time). There are several dogs in attendance, and after signing books, the store presents me with a box of embossed stationary. Earlier in the day, I had returned to Cody's to retreive something and found that they'd sold several more copies already, and I'd just missed Tom Corwin, author of Mostly Bob. "He said he'd just been on a radio show and they'd asked about you," the clerk said. I don't know Tom, but I love his book, so I went home and found his email address to suggest we meet for coffee.
3/14: Newsweek calls for an interview and a photo. They want a picture of me and my dogs. My dogs, of course, are in New Orleans. So I begin a frantic search for a dog that I can be photographed with. There are dogs set to join me that night at the Capitola Book Cafe, but I don't have any idea what kind of dogs they will be. I'm worried that a photo of me and a lap dog might be misleading considering the book features mostly pit bulls and rotties. I try calling Bad Rap, telling them that I have a strange request. They agree, it is a strange request. After a twenty minute interrogation, they promise to call me back with an answer. I never hear from them. Finally, we settle on a plan: I'll wear my "I love my pit bull" t-shirt, and if no pits are around, I'll grab something tiny and make a joke of it. No worries: there are two pits to choose from. Pumpkin, a little puppy, joins me for the photo; another pit, a huge nine month old, later shimmies across the floor to my feet just before the reading, then rolls over on his back. "This is clearly a dangerous dog," I announce.
3/15: I meet Tom Corwin at the MOMA to attend the 1906 Earthquake exhibit. Unfortunately, neither of us considered the possibility that the museum is closed on Wednesdays. We end up having lunch instead. Then my GPS system gets me completely lost, directs me to drive through several brick walls, and I'm late for my final reading in town at Booksmith--an amazing bookstore with a very forgiving staff. I sign the remaining stock and buy several signed graphic novels from their collection, then head out for a beer with one of my online students, Vern, who also has a pit bull at home.
3/16: I get to the airport and can't find my ID. I wander around looking for someone to tell me what one does when they lose their ID in an airport, but no one can help me. After an hour in line I start begging for an 800 number, thinking maybe I can get the answer on the phone. Two airport employees laugh at me and say "You haven't been here for an hour, you just got here." It turns out that you can fly without ID; in fact, since I have to be searched anyway, due to my pacemaker, the procedure is no different than if I had it. But I've missed the flight while trying to get this information. (This, it turns out, is typical of each flight on my trip. Don't fly American Airlines, whatever you do. Airline security is no better: In New Orleans, on Day One, they made me stand waiting for a search and when my final boarding call was announced they said "What do you want us to do about it?" Then, knowing that I had a pacemaker, they told me I'd better run if I wanted to catch the plane.) When I get to Powell's there is a group of women already occupying the front rows: pit bull owners, it turns out, and they are thrilled that someone has written a book about them. Eventually a hundred people show up. The bookstore runs out of books. I meet some amazing pit rescue folks. A party follows--and I borrow a dog to sleep with for the night.
3/17 Flights to Seattle are delayed, and in a panic I resort to something that I never thought I'd do: I announce to the entire gate area that I am do on a TV set at 10:30 and they MUST make room for me on the plane. Remarkably, they do. Meanwhile, the dogsitter calls to say that Sula is very sick. I become convinced she is dying and it is my fault for being out of town too long. It is two years to the day since I found her. "Just make sure she's comfortable," I tell the sitter, cryptically. (She is fine within hours.) I arrive to the TV station direct from the airport, then spend an afternoon catching up on email. Then Case's brother Zane picks me up, takes me to dinner with his wife and I collapse somewhere in their house.
3/18 I join some friends from Portland for the Underground Seattle tour. I want to see what a city looks like after the ground has been raised. Then my final event at Elliot Bay. I'm thinking a 4:30 event isn't going to be a great draw, but the crowd is pretty nice in size and there are lots of questions. As in Portland, there are some students who have been brought to the event as part of a class. We talk about doing something in the future. But I'm very very tired. Back at Zane's I try to watch the Sopranos, but fall asleep instead.
3/19 Another American Airlines nightmare. Because they wouldn't help me with my lost ID (which I've now found), and because I did as they told me and rebooked that flight directly with the carrier, they've deleted the rest of my trip and want me to rebook. No, I tell them. They say OK, and hand me a ticket. But the flight is delayed, and I miss my connection, and the new flight is delayed...so 18 hours later I finally make it to New Orleans. I arrive home near midnight. The dogs are happy, but happily they are also tired. We climb into bed. We sleep.