Saturday, May 5, 2012

Liz's Week: A Recap

Okay, I just sent a text message to Gianna warning her that I was feeling punchy and planned to post something to the blog.  Her response?  "Ok!"  That's support.  I know that usually I'm the less outrageous of our duo, but I am procrastinating from packing for a move next week, I haven't slept in days, the super-bright full moon is freaking me out at night, and I have enough allergy medication in my system that I'm getting dizzy when I walk around.  Oh, and I'm watching Twister on TV even though I have nightmares about tornadoes but I A) will watch anything with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and B) I want Bill Paxton to be ripped apart in a storm.  Maybe this is the time it will happen.  Cross your fingers.

Did I mention I'm procrastinating?  I'm moving in five days and making real progress.  This is the picture of my living room I sent to my pal/colleague Stacey yesterday:

And this is the picture at this moment. (Yes, that's Helen Hunt contemplating the death of her father years earlier as the monster tornado approaches the movie theater.  She's an Academy Award winner, you know, but I think this is as good as it gets for HH.)

Anyway, this is a book blog about our adventures selling books, and it's been awhile since we posted anything about our jobs as reps in the Book Land trenches.  This week I sold to three accounts in Houston, and I also drove around the publisher for Random House Audio and RH Travel, who was in town giving talks about travel books.  I'm not making this up--the publisher for a division of Random House uttered these words: "We want to be in your blog!  We love it!"  Right.  I've seen Jerry Maguire.  Everyone loves Jerry's mission statement until Bob Sugar takes him to lunch and fires his ass.  I will not be dining with RH supervisors at any point in the future.  My point is that people who probably shouldn't know about this blog are reading it, which makes me an idiot for telling this story.
Amanda D'Acierno,
VP and Publisher,
wants to be in the blog.

So on Thursday I gave a book presentation at a school parents meeting.  This event was scheduled at the beginning of the year by a woman who'd seen my dog and pony show at a school book fair luncheon last November.  Random House is actively encouraging reps to give presentations and perform direct-to-consumer marketing, so in theory my participation with the PTA gatherings is considered a positive career move.  I should say that I know next to nothing about schools in the Houston area other than that Rushmore was filmed at St. John's and my mother attended Bellaire.  Oh, and there's this other woman who saw my book fair presentation for the Briarwood School last year, found me on Facebook, friended me, and also has a kid at this school where I was giving my talk on Thursday, and she's referring to herself as "your biggest fan" and "your stalker."  She doesn't look like Annie Wilkes from Misery and she's never called me "dirty birdy," so I'm going to assume that she's not dangerous...but she is a nurse like Annie Wilkes.  (I watch too many movies.  This is what happens when you can't sleep and are procrastinating when you should be packing.)

Anyway, I knew nothing about this school.  The publicist traveling with the audio publisher, though, was all "Oh, Duchesne! The Catholic school!  That's where Chris Gillespie went to school."  Chris Gillespie works with Knopf and I think she's a Vice President.  She's smart and cool and I seriously hope she doesn't read this blog.  The point is that someone who's directly tied to the New York offices of Random House attended the all girls Catholic school where I was giving a book talk the following day.  I'd sent a list of summer reading type titles--my favorite books in hardcover from the spring and books new in paperback for book groups--weeks earlier to both the school contact and Georgette from Barnes and Noble who would be selling books at the event.  I didn't really think about the list after I sent it because they were all books I'd read and liked and were easy for me to discuss.

Here's a real conversation when I arrived at the school and ran into another woman who'd attended an earlier presentation of mine:

Mother of Duchesne student: Liz!  This is exciting.
Liz: Hi!  I'm so glad they'd let me do this.
Mother: We can't do understand that this is....well....
Liz: A Catholic school?
Mother: Some of the people are pretty conservative.
Liz: Gotcha.

Parents Association moms and the school head mistress.
What I was thinking, though, was "How is this PTA type gathering different from other PTA type gatherings where I've done my dog and pony show?"  The answer, of course, NUNS.  I have great respect for nuns because they seriously dedicate themselves to lives of service and the alleviation of suffering.  They are humanitarians.  I've met nuns in the hospital before, and occasionally sold books to them when I worked at BookPeople.  My presentations, though, tend toward the irreverent.  (My friend Elizabeth just had me call her house phone to see if she'd properly forwarded calls to her cell, and then mentioned that she's going out to fly kites with her family today.  I'd hate her except that I'm not exactly packing anyway.  Okay, I still hate her.  Also, Bill Paxton is going to survive.  This movie sucks.)

Nuns.  I wouldn't be dropping as much profanity, then.  (An aside, as if this entire post isn't just one long parenthetical statement--my stalker Facebook chatted with me the evening after the presentation and referred to the headmistress as S. NameOfNunICan'tRemember.  And I'm so unaccustomed to nuns that I thought the "S" stood for "senora," and I wondered how she could be a senora--a married woman--and still be a nun.  And then I thought that it's because she's married to Jesus/the church, which of course I was basing on my vast movie-watching knowledge of Catholicism and though this perhaps sounds disrespectful I don't mean it that way.)  Georgette from Barnes and Noble introduced me to the 35 or so women sitting on folding chairs in a building that was once the maintenance shed but was still nicer than my high school gym.  Oh, and Georgette told them that Zorro the cat weighs 75 lbs.  He's not a puma, for crying out loud.  He's just a little pudgy.  Also, one of the reasons I bought a house was so that I didn't have to fill out another apartment application and state that my pet weighs less than 25 lbs.  It was too close for me to not feel like I was lying on an official document.  As I mentioned, though, I picked the books weeks earlier and didn't think about them...and then I was talking about them.

(I've now flipped channels to Memphis Belle because I love David Strathairn.  Did you know that every member of the plane crew was ranked as a sergeant or higher?  That's weird right?  That there aren't privates?  Heh.  Privates.)

I love Harry Hole.
One of the books I was discussing happened to be Jo Nesbo's The Snowman.  I've presented this title before because it's the logical follow-up for people who read Stieg Larsson.  Also, it's typically a hoot discussing this title because the main character--who's Norwegian and I'm sure his name is St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Norway--is named Harry Hole.  It cracks me up.  Harry Hole!  It's a full book, in fact it's a whole series of books, about Harry Hole.  Are you following me here?  I said "Harry Hole" at an all girls Catholic school in front of 30 PTA moms and at least 3 nuns.  I am absolutely certain that people were praying for my damned soul on Thursday night.  Senora HeadMistress seemed to recover, though, and came up to me afterward to discuss another book I'd presented, Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison.  I did not mention that Kathryn Harrison's first book, The Kiss, was a memoir about an incestuous affair with her father.  See?  I do have restraint.

This is what I do for a living...for now.

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