Well, I walked into that one. In theory, I should get seven hours sleep after my L.A. reading and be refreshed and ready for the big day ahead. But instead, I write my blog entry until two in the morning, then lie in bed thinking about how cool my day was. When my alarm goes off at 7 a.m., I’ve slept for about three hours, and that in roughly half-hour blocks.
I feel so seedy that I think I’m going to lose my lunch, and a radio station is due to call me in a few minutes for an interview. I think seriously about what I should do if I’m halfway through an answer and suddenly need to barf. My idea is to say, “And another thing, Carl—” then hang up. Hopefully everyone will think there’s been a technical difficulty.
Luckily, this doesn’t prove necessary. But it’s not my best interview; sometimes even I can’t work out what I’m trying to say.
LAX Airport has clearly put a lot of thought into how to best design seats that are impossible to sleep in. But I’m so exhausted I manage to grab 20 minutes sleep by jamming my head against a pillar. I sleep some more on the plane, but I’m on the aisle and get woken by a woman who can’t last the 80-minute flight without using the bathroom. Damn her tiny bladder!
In San Francisco I meet Frank, my media guide. Frank, I learn over the course of the day, has done everything. I’m serious. He’s written a series of bestselling novels, he’s lived all over the world, he’s in a rap band, he’s writing screenplays, he’s developing video game ideas—there is no topic of conversation that doesn’t prompt some amazing revelation from Frank. He makes me wonder what I’ve been doing with my life.
Frank also puts very little store in the opinions of other drivers, even for a media escort. We spend most of the day visiting a series of bookstores and radio stations to a steady background of tooting horns and people yelling, “Asshole!”
I get a couple hours’ downtime at the hotel, where I lie in bed and try not to think about the fact that soon a few dozen people will be staring at me. I still feel a little queasy, and all I’ve eaten all day is a muffin and a few pretzels. But I do get a little sleep, and on the drive to Mountain View for my reading, the adrenalin kicks in. The closer we get, the more awake and ready for action I feel.
It looks like being another big crowd, and Books Inc have to break out extra seats. Then even these run out! It’s standing room only again.
I decide to go to the bathroom before we start, only to discover that it is directly behind the podium. This means that the assembled crowd gets to watch me fumble with the men’s room door key. When I come out again it’s too weird to not say anything, so I announce, “Yes! Here at Books Inc you get to watch authors go pee-pee!”
Then we get started, and it’s a blast. There are fewer people here than in L.A., but they’re very vocal. And they end up buying every copy of Company in the store, which is something like 100 books. They also take all the Syrups and all but two of the Jennifer Governments. It’s incredible.
I love chatting to people while I sign their books, but I feel bad that there’s such a long line, because some people are waiting for up to 90 minutes. I just want to talk to everybody. It’s such a thrill to hear how people found and enjoyed something I wrote; I could do that all night.
I also get to meet Ellis! He is exactly as cool as I always suspected.
I get back to the hotel at midnight. Then there’s the moment I’ve been dreading: I request a wakeup call for 3:50 a.m. Yes, that’s when I have to wake up in order to make my flight to Seattle tomorrow morning. Even I cannot really believe it.
Now I’m hungry, so I tuck into a banana cake that one of my readers baked for me and gave me at the reading. (Oh yes she did.) The bookstore people seemed a little unsure about this, perhaps wondering about the legal ramifications of having an author killed by poison attack on their watch, but it smells pretty good to me. I call Jen and tell her about my latest amazing event in between wolfing down big chunks of banana cake. She’s almost as thrilled as I am. Jen was with me when I visited San Francisco on book tour in 1999 and no-one showed up, so she knows what this means to me.
Fin is awake so I get to listen to her blowing bubbles. So sweet. In Australia, it’s her 5-month birthday.
I’m very tempted to fire up the laptop and write the day’s diary entry, even though I’m already looking at my second straight night of three hours’ sleep. But that would be insane. I come to my senses and instead hit the sack. I continue a newly-established tradition: I turn out all the lights and use my camera’s tiny LCD screen to play a 30-second video of Jen & Fin that I recorded before I left. Jen is holding Fin and Fin is looking sleepy at first and then snuggly and then she does a little smile and they are both utterly, unspeakably beautiful.