I wake at 7am and don’t feel like heaving. This is a big improvement over this stage of my last book tour. I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve adapted to the 17-hour time difference so far. The only issue I have is with my appetite: it’s coming up on 24 hours since my last meal and I’m not hungry yet. That’s just not right.
I pack up my stuff and leave my hotel, pausing only to try to check my reflection in the TV. Honestly, this thing is the size of a surfboard; I keep thinking it’s a mirror. I also swipe a hotel pen, because back home I’m running low, having by now lost most of the pens I stole from hotels on my 2006 tour.
I board my flight to Denver and settle in to my seat. The woman to my left dabs at her nose, and with dawning horror I realize: she has a cold. Over the next 90 minutes, she sneezes, hacks, coughs, and wipes, while I try to breathe through a pillow. I wish the check-in screen had mentioned that during seat selection. I would definitely have chosen the “non-virus bearing” area of the airplane. In fact, when choosing my seat I’d ideally like to see little pictures of who’s going to be seated where. That would be interesting. I would choose to sit near small but tired-looking people.
But for now, I am stuck leaning to the right, away from Cold Woman and her contagens. Then the passenger on that side, also a woman, unexpectedly tells me: “You have lovely eyes.” I don’t know quite what to say to this. But I suspect I may have been leaning too far.
This is my first visit to Denver, and I like what I see: it’s quite charming, the kind of size that’s big enough to be interesting but not so crowded that you can’t stroll down the sidewalk without elbowing somebody, or being mugged. It’s definitely spacious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much ground-level car parking. I imagine that if you tell a Denver resident that in other cities they have entire buildings for parking cars, one level above the other, their eyes would widen in shock.
I check in to my new hotel and go searching for food, since it’s now a day and a half since I’ve eaten and my body has decided it’s ready for something now. In fact, in between ordering a burger and it arriving, I become ravenous. Then, eight bites in, I’m not hungry at all. I’m getting a bit exasperated with my appetite. It needs to figure out what the hell it’s doing, and get with the timezone.
My reading is at Tattered Cover, which is a completely cool bookstore in a converted theater. It’s 25 or so people, very warm and friendly, and I think it goes great. While signing books, I notice a guy still in the seats, feeding a baby, and start to get misty-eyed for home. Then the baby starts barking like a dog. It’s coughing, but seriously, in the most eerily dog-like way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As a parent, I completely understand that kids do odd things. But people in line could very well be under the impression that this guy is feeding a bottle of milk to a swaddled-up pooch.
Beth, the organizer at Tattered Cover, has a surprise for me: an Advance Reader Copy of Syrup. This is the first incarnation of my first novel ever printed, back in 1999, and I managed to lose every one of my copies many years ago. Since then I’ve been trying desperately to get my hands on one. And suddenly I’m being given one! Well, when I say “given,” I mean that Beth asks me to sign it for her, and then I tell her this sad story about not having any of my own left, and she caves in and hands it over.
On the way back to my hotel I stop off at a drugstore to load up on bio-weapons with which to fight off any viruses I acquired on the plane. There I discover that I have somehow lost my credit card. This is my second worst fear on tour, right after running out of dollar bills and having to endure the silent contempt of doormen, and I panic, because if I have no cash I can’t even pay for a cab to the airport tomorrow morning. I finally locate my card in my other pants, back at the hotel, but only after spending my last dollar bill at the drugstore. Oh-oh. Tomorrow morning could be tough.