So I’ve been on the road for a week. Things are officially starting to get blurry.
Let me play catch-up quick, before I forget everything.
Day 7 was Monday and Monday was….. checks notes…. Chicago! Right!
(Want to know where that phrase came from? Poet Carl Sandburg’s poem, “Chicago.”)
My Author Nanny in Chicago was Judy, who might look like a mild-mannered knitter, but has the driving skills of Mario Andretti and a photographic memory for bookstores, schools, and the locations of every bathroom in Cook County.
Chicago was three school presentations (Hello Highcrest Middle and King Lab Middle School!), a phone interview,
four stock signings,
an evening trip to the airport, much muttering at the Departure Screen as my flight out of the city was delayed, delayed, and – finally, stepping foot on the soil of Nebraska for the first time in my life. I was picked up at the airport in the middle of the night by terrific Omaha YA librarian Paul Christopherson.
Picture the Tired Author, struggling down the hotel corridor, the wheels on her suitcase gone funky, her backpack slipping off her shoulders, her little mind whining “Why? Why are we still awake? We never stay up this late!”
Tired Author fumbles with her room key, drops it, fumbles again, and finally – finally opens her hotel room door. And the room smells like……
A giant bag of popcorn from Vic’s, a local institution, was waiting in my room along with other goodies and gifts.
Vic’s Popcorn should become standard issue in hotels across America, as commonplace as coffee makers and tiny bars of soap. Please forward this idea to the necessary CEOs immediately.
Omaha was another crazy day, but good-crazy because everyone in Nebraska is friendly and sweet. Probably because of the popcorn. Omaha technically wasn’t a book tour city. I was there in my guise as a YA Author, brought in to talk to teens about my books by the good people of the Omaha Public Library System. Chris Crutcher and Terry Trueman had been there before me, which meant that not only did I have big shoes to fill, but they were big, smelly shoes.
Students from their culinary arts program prepared a feast for me: spinach salad, hashbrown casserole (every bit as delicious as it sounds), chicken Wellington, winter vegetables, and tiramisu that tasted better than what you are overcharged for in most restaurants. The entire meal was amazing. AND they gave me a sweet birthday present and card.
AND I met their mascot (because I have this thing about mascots)
Yes, folks, that’s right; the football players, basketball players, field hockey players, nay, all the students at Benson are proud to be called “The Bunnies.” The name came from the number of rabbits that lived on the building site of the school when the land was bought in 1911. Several generations of students have found tremendous pride in being Benson Bunnies. In fact, when given the opportunity to change the mascot a while back, the measure was voted down. They are Bunnies and they are proud. Which delighted me so much.
Fired up with Bunny Pride, I gave two presentations, enjoyed another good meal with the committee of librarians who brought me to Omaha, then headed to the evening’s presentations, which I was sure would be a small but intimate group of popcorn lovers and cornhuskers.
More than 200 people turned out, including two vans full of students from Boy’s Town, many English teachers (collective noun = a correction of English teachers or a subtext of English teachers?) and many, many grad students. (Would that collective noun be a fatigue of grad students?)
I was stunned and grateful. The rest of the night went by in a flash. Somewhere in there I got a few hours sleep, was driven back to the airport by Paul the Valiant Librarian, and now I’m back in Chicago. Well, Naperville, to be specific.
TONIGHT’S EVENT! COME SEE ME! Wednesday, October 29 at 7:00 pm: Anderson’s, Naperville, IL 630-355-2665
TOMORROW’S EVENT: Thursday, October 30 at 7:00 pm: Harry Schwartz Bookshop (Mequon store) 262-241-6220