Over the summer a couple of stores asked if I would be interested in doing a reading. After coming out of my deer in a headlights paralysis, I said, “Maybe, let me think about it.” But as soon as I left the store I knew there was no way in hell I was going to speak in public.
I write so I don’t have to speak. In fact, after so many years of communicating mainly with people under the age of six, I am quite certain I am incapable of speaking coherently. There was no way I would willingly humiliate myself that way.
But then I received an email from the Angelina Jolie of Chelan, WA. She invited me to join her for a reading at the independent bookstore in Chelan. It seemed innocent and easy enough, so I said, “Maybe” and meant it this time. I don’t know anyone in Chelan and she promised there would be wine, so I thought it could be fun. But when I learned that Jason would be out of town that weekend and that the roads were icy, I wasn’t heartbroken to have to cancel.
But Angelina wasn’t going to let it go. She is a mother of seven, yet somehow still has time and energy to wreak havoc on the old-boy network of Chelan and be a Marketing Queen. She writes press releases in her sleep, calls local papers and is offered a bi-weekly column, and is on more committees than I knew existed. Basically, she is everything I’m not. And I have to admit, I resented this at first. I was jealous of her successes and envied her courage. She was doing all of the things I said I was going to do, but never did.
I contemplated making a voodoo doll of her, but decided learning from her would be a better option.
“Teach me how to be a marketing bitch,” I begged.
She willingly accepted the task at hand. “It’s easy, you’ll see. We’re going to take over the world.”
“Cool. Wait, huh?”
I decided it didn’t matter how or when our world domination would take place, the point was, I was on board rather than hiding at home like I usually do. She made it sound so simple. Her enthusiasm and vigor put me under a spell. Almost like being drunk, yet still able to function. As soon as I got off the phone with her, I’d find myself approaching a new bookstore to sell my zine, querying a new agent, or telling a small press that I had a readership of 8,000 (what’s a couple of zeros?). Before I knew it the words, “Why don’t you come to Seattle for a reading?” came out of my mouth.
She agreed, of course, so it was up to me to make it happen. I started small, by emailing bookstores and places that I was familiar. But by the time a couple of smaller venues had gotten back to me our quiet reading had turned into a Mamapalooza. We had a belly dancing, goat milking, radio talk show mama and a hip-hop dancing zinester on board and they were ready to perform. Press releases were being written, papers were being notified, and world domination was beginning.
“We can’t belly dance in a book store,” I claimed. “We need something bigger, something grander. This is no ordinary reading, it’s a performance.” Clearly, I was having an out of body experience when I called the Hugo House, literary Mecca of Seattle, and asked them if I could book their cabaret. It was available, which I took as a sign, and gave them my credit card. And then I didn’t sleep for three days.
I’m still not sure I’ll be able to read in front of a crowd, but the show will go on with or without me. And it will be fabulous. Join us and see for yourself.
Motherhood: From Egg to Zine (and everything in between)
will feature belly dancing, music, and live performances by Christina Marie Wright of Gonzo Parenting zine (www.myspace.com/gonzoparenting), Christy Cuellar-Wentz of Mommy Muse radio talk show and E-book (www.mommy-muse.com), Monica LeMoine of Exhale zine (www.exhalezine.com), Nina Packebush of the edgy-catin mama and the true adventures of the feminist snails zines, playwright Ann Teplick, Pushcart Prize winner Kristin King (www.eskimo.com/~kaking/index.html), authors Janna Cawrse Esarey (www.byjanna.com) and Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti. Join us on
Saturday, January 24th at 2:00 p.m. at Play Matters
on Greenwood Ave. (www.playmattersseattle.com)
Saturday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Richard Hugo House
on Capitol Hill (www.hugohouse.org)