I had the absolute pleasure this week of going on my very first BOOK TOUR. This was a huge milestone for me, something I have daydreamed about since I was a child.

Monday started out very early, when the car picked me up at 6 am. I kissed the kiddos good-bye (Little Girl didn’t even remember it) and the car picked me up for the airport.

Somehow I managed to get everything into a carry-on with wheels, plus one briefcase sized purse. Woot.

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The best thing about this car, besides the fact that it existed, is it had water bottles and snacks. Snack! Luxurious. Okay, it was so early I didn’t eat them, and it was the only car that had snacks, but still.

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Then I had to take a photo of my book in the airport. #4!

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The radio interview I had canceled due to the host’s illness, so when the car dropped me off at the hotel, it was around 1:30 and the room wasn’t quite ready. Hotel Monaco is a couple of blocks from Pike’s Market (unfortunately, the way back is all uphill) so I left my bag there and walked to the market. I hadn’t been there since Cadillac and I lived in Washington 12 years ago.

There are a lot more people around now. And everyone (well, not everyone) dresses well.

The weather was gorgeous, around 70 and sunny, so people were just out in droves. Nobody was throwing fish, so I didn’t bother taking a picture. I got some food and coffee and wandered the length of the market.

Then I went back to the hotel. The room still wasn’t ready and I was exhausted. I also had to leave to be on a news segment at 4, so I was getting a little worried I wouldn’t be able to get into the room.

But then the nice lady at the front desk came through and gave me a key. Not just any key. A key to the 11th floor, which had its very own elevator. Wow!

The room was a suite.

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I loved how it was decorated, with all the different patterns and colors, though I’m sure I couldn’t replicate such a thing. How do you mix all these patterns without clashing?

There was also a goldfish named Harry, and they brought me wine and a fruit plate. Fruit plate not pictured. It got in my belly pretty fast.

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Look at this funky lamp. Now I could make this.

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Then I changed and went over to the news, which turned out to be about three minutes away down the street.

I was to be on between 4 and 4:30, so there was some waiting involved.

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Here’s the anchor, Mary Nam, waiting to go on the air. She stood and did the news. When it was my turn, I went over and stood next to her.

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Ms. Nam was very nice and genuinely interested in what I had to say. I just pretended we were talking. I’m getting pretty good at it. I should go into politics! No. Not really.

Then, that evening, I went over to the Bellevue Library, where I completely neglected to take any photos. For shame!  But it’s an impressive library, lots of wood and high ceilings and meeting rooms and a used bookstore.  And they say the place gets a whopping 2500 visitors per day. The readers there were engaged and laughed appropriately (thank goodness) and then asked fantastic questions, so it felt a lot like a book club.

I went back to the hotel, where I basically went to bed.  When I got up, it was time to go to the airport for LAX.

Redondo Beach was overcast the entire time I was there. Fancy Southern California having grayer weather than Seattle!

I could see the harbor.

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The Redondo Beach Library event was co-sponsored by Mysterious Galaxy, a great independent bookstore with a place in San Diego and one opening in Redondo Beach. It’s run by the two ladies on either side of me. On my left (that’s your right) is Terry Gilman; the lady on my right is Maryelizabeth Hart.  That guy  in the picture is the librarian, and the lady with blue bangs is a bookseller. I will see them again when I speak at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in September, as they will be vending books.

Did I mention they’re freaking OPENING another bookstore? I bow to their greatness.

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Redondo Beach looks like a fun family community, with things like arcades along the walk, but I didn’t have the chance to do anything because it was all closed by the time I finished, and then I left in the morning.

San Francisco was my final stop. The plane was a small plane you had to walk across the tarmac to get to.  There were two funny things on the plane (because a lot of my time was traveling, I had to amuse myself by observing things).  There was a guy across the aisle who was reading a novel and making notes and marking the pages.  Why, I don’t know.  Anyway, first he dropped his carry-on baggage claim stub, which I retrieved.  A half hour later, a highlighter cap landed in my lap. I looked around for the owner, asking the mom behind me.  The man with the novel would NOT look up.  I smelled highlighter!  Then I saw it stuck into his seatback,so I asked if it was his and he said, “Oh, thanks,” like he didn’t know it was missing.  Ha!  I think he was too embarrassed to retrieve it.

Also, the mom behind us had three kids, one across the aisle, a girl maybe 2 next to her, and a baby on her lap.  The humanity! Let me tell you, I”ve traveled with kids, and as soon as your fellow travelers see you have a baby or worse, more than one, they eye you like you’ve got TB. To add to this, she had a Muslim headcovering, so you could tell the other passengers were clearly looking at her funny (though really, the three kids would have done it).   Her two little girls started wailing, doing that thing where one starts and then they form an unholy chorus of notes  like they both know the music, probably because their ears hurt.  I played peekaboo with the older girl and she stopped, staring at me through the crack, chewing on her blankie. I remember people doing that with my kids and being so happy to have a little help.  Please, for the love of God, if you see a person traveling solo with kids, throw the kid a little attention. It works much better than being crabby, Kirsten Johnson (seriously, Octomom’s poor kids didn’t ask to be born).

The SF driver went through some surface streets to avoid traffic and I snapped pictures. Here’s a building that’s being renovated. I love all the architecture in the city, particularly the city hall, which looks like a State Capitol building (not pictured) with a big old rotunda. If you live in SF you wouldn’t feel bad if you had to get married at City Hall because it’s so grand.

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This was another Hotel Monaco, of the Kimpton Hotel chain, and I can’t say enough good things about the Kimpton staff in Seattle and SF. They were so cordial and lovely, and everything is well-appointed.  This time I didn’t have a big room, but it was very cozy. Look at the bed!  I would have loved this bed when I was a kid.  I slept like a rock.

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There was a fire going in the big fireplace because it’s SF and it was cool and drizzly.

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Below is a view from the lobby looking toward the street.

Also, I have to note that people in SF are very friendly.  People actually said hi to you in the elevator and in the hallways!  What do they think this is, Mayberry?  And I went to the restaurant twice (once after I got there and once for a late-night snack) and they actually remembered me!

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Then, I went to the SF event at Books Inc in Opera Plaza, a lovely bookstore.  What I love about this place is how they lay out their recommendations.  It’s done so you find all these books you would not have.  For example, I found a book about contemporary Asian American artists that I would have never have found otherwise.  And the staff was so friendly.

My college friend, Sarah, showed up with her husband.  I haven’t seen her since graduation day!  After the event, we started talking like we’d just seen each other yesterday.  She looks exactly the same.  Her husband was really nice, too.  ( Don’t you love it when that happens?  When you actually like both parts of a couple? So often you like one better than the other, you know?)  I could have talked to her for about 48 more hours, but it was time to go.

 

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