MaxBarry.com
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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Sat 04
Feb
2006

Travel Diary: Days 10-12 (New York, L.A., Melbourne)

Writing I sleep in later than I mean to and have to shower, dress, and pack so fast that I barely have enough time to steal a hotel pen. I’m meeting my friend Charles for breakfast, and we decide to use the hotel restaurant. This turns out to be a mistake, as Charles manages to order the world’s most expensive bagel, a whopping $18 because along with the juice and coffee it qualifies as a “continental breakfast.”

Our plan is to walk to the Museum of Natural History, but it’s such an extraordinarily sunny day that instead we end up just chatting on a bench in Central Park. During this time I watch a lot of parents with prams go by, and enjoy peering at their babies until I see one with beady little eyes and a hairy face. It’s a miniature poodle. Yes. In a pram.

That afternoon I have lunch with my impossibly cool agent, Luke, in the kind of restaurant where ladies come to complain to each other about their nannies. (Seriously. I hear them.) I also meet Luke’s dad, legendary agent Mort Janklow. This is a little nerve-wracking, because if the stories I’ve heard are true, when Mort enters the room editors fall to the ground and cry. But he seems quite normal; friendly, even. I guess that’s how it works: the killer is never the one you expect.

I catch a ride out to JFK where I stand in the check-in line behind a Hasidic Jew and a blonde woman dressed as a cowgirl. I feel as if the Universe is trying to tell me something, but I’m too stupid to understand the message.

It’s a little over six hours in the air to L.A., then I have a couple hours on the ground before the 16-hour flight to Melbourne. The most interesting thing about this is that we cross the International Date Line at around midnight, so I miss Friday entirely. When it’s my time to die, I want that day back.

This makes it Saturday when we touch down in Melbourne. I’ve taken no more than ten steps off the plane when I hear someone saying, “Yeah, they’d make Riewoldt captain in a second anywhere else.” They’re talking about Aussie Rules Football. Ahhh. It’s good to be home.

I find myself walking quickly toward the baggage carousel—not just places-to-be quick, but drug-mule-freaking-out quick, and force myself to slow down. Of course, I know the odds are pretty high that (a) despite our plan, Jen and Fin might not have made it to their airport in time, and if they have, Fin may be (b) asleep, (c) in a bad mood, or (d) cry when she sees this smelly, unshaven man shuffling toward her. But I can’t help being so excited about seeing them again that I have to use the bathroom. In retrospect, I’m a little surprised I wasn’t stopped by customs agents and internally searched.

Then I stand by the baggage carousel for an hour. It’s not just me: the whole planeload of passengers waits and waits. Crappy Australian baggage handlers! I just know they’re outside having a smoke break or reading their union pamphlet on workers’ rights or something equally insignificant. Actually, bags are coming down the conveyor belt, it’s just that there are about a thousand people waiting for them. It seems that a lot of planes have arrived at the same time.

I am seriously considering just leaving the terminal and worrying about how to get my bag later when finally—finally!—it appears. I collect it and, one security check later, am permitted to pass through the sliding doors into the main terminal. There is a huge horde of people waiting outside and I have no idea how I’m going to find Jen and Fin among them. Then I hear, “Max!” I turn and there they are, three-deep in the crowd: my beautiful wife Jen and Finlay in a sling on her chest. And then the most incredible thing happens, something I could never, ever put in a story because it is too far-fetched to be true: despite all these people and all this noise, Fin looks directly at me and gives me a big, gummy smile.

Comments

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Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 5002 days ago

Welcome back, Max.
Is there going to be an Australia book tour?

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 5002 days ago

Saturday...soon to be sunday

THAT FRICKEN' GROUNDHOG WAS RIGHT!

In case you didn't hear about this while you were in America, Max. We have this thing called Groundhog's Day. It's where a bunch old guys gather around a groundhog and try to discuss whether it saw its shadow. If it sees it's shadow, we have more winter. If it doesn't, winter ends...everyone is happy. The groundhog saw his shadow on Feb. 2 and today it is snowing in Indiana after being unseasonably warm all winter. I was looking forward to spring...

-adam

PS Is it just me, or does Max Barry use the phrase "in retrospect" a lot?

Jodie (#1706)

Location: Newcastle, Australia
Quote: ""we don't know how far down it goes...but as far as we know, it's all turtles""
Posted: 5002 days ago

Hi Max,

Is there an Australian release date scheduled for COMPANY?

-Jodie

Kate Nancarrow (#825)

Location: Stratford, Gippslandia
Quote: "veni vidi velcro ~ i came, i saw, i stuck around"
Posted: 5002 days ago

Thanks, Max, for sharing your extraordinary odyssey! It was such fun to read all about your experiences. I especially loved the ending...that Fin sounds quite a delicious cherub!
Hope the jet-lag is minimal!
~Kate

Emily (#609)

Location: New York
Quote: "When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt, get in doubt!"
Posted: 5002 days ago

Awww!

Glad you had a good time. Friday was nothing special.

Write another book soon and come back when I have a car!

-Em

Marina (#2023)

Location: Den Bosch, Netherlands
Quote: ""Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend.""
Posted: 5002 days ago

That was so cute!

(...the poodle I mean)

Daniel Rose (#1367)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Posted: 5002 days ago

You better come for an Australian book tour so I can write that in my English Enxtension 2 logbook and count it as research. Seriously, you're an Australian author and America gets the novel first. I had to pay about 35AUD for a copy of Company.

And welcome back.

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 5002 days ago

max barry, a hasidic jew and a a cowgirl walk into a bar. . .

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: "www.caffeinatedmuslim.com"
Posted: 5002 days ago

Max, glad you're daughter smiled at you like that. Babies are just too cute.

I always thought 'pram' was a funny word. We use the word stroller here. Pram. It just sounds weird.

Kristen (#1157)

Location: Jersey
Quote: "Insert quotation here."
Posted: 5002 days ago

Yep. I totally had to look up pram.

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 5002 days ago

You think pram is a funny word? Check it's definition. http://www.wordreference.com/definition/perambulator

SilverCloud (#2038)

Location: SANTA MONICA ,CA.U.S.A.
Quote: "Fortune Favors the Brave"
Posted: 5001 days ago

Mucho Thanks for your moving commentary...
Glad you arrived home safe and sound.
SilverCloud

Andrew Riley (#1970)

Location: Parker, Colorado, USA
Quote: "Predictions are difficult, especially about the future."
Posted: 5001 days ago

I always enjoy reading your posts here Max. I'm glad you made it home safely to your family.

Now get to writing more books!

John (#194)

Location: Los Angeles
Quote: "You understand the meaning of the word "foreboding?""
Posted: 5001 days ago

Congrats on the New York Times review!

Ada Rell (This Girl) (#2463)

Quote: "There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't. Tee Hee."
Posted: 4863 days ago

Awwwwwww. . .that is so unlikely. I probably would have screamed if I saw you. (No offense or anything.)
Which brings me to another topic: why do people always say no offense when what they say is really offensive? I mean--
Yay, my co-author sent me the novel! Must run!

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