An Introvert Walks Into A Book Signing–My Year-End Wrap-Up

Scary Author Appearance (trying to look calm)

A year has now passed since my husband and I moved from our relatively quiet suburban neighborhood to a narrow canyon populated by herds of coyotes and packs of wild burros. (The coyotes tend to get going about 2 am every night when they yowl and howl in unison. Whey they get too loud, the burros bray at them to shut up. It’s charming.) We’re just a few minutes from the freeway, but it’s a different world here, with moments of unexpected beauty. Two afternoons in a row, at approximately 1:20 pm, we caught a roadrunner pecking around our Asian pear tree for fig beetles. Then there was the night we listened to three Great Horned Owls hooting to each other from across the canyon. (That gave me goosebumps.) The largest alligator lizard I’ve ever seen slithered through our shrubbery one cool spring day. She was so long, I couldn’t capture her entire length on my phone’s camera, but I’d estimate her at thirteen inches from tip to tail. As I said, it’s different here. Our not-brave-at-all Border Collie Echo continues to ignore the wildlife, instead focusing her attention on me.

This past year also saw my mother-in-law coming to live with us–a move fraught with daily perils. Steve and I do the dance of being fully-grown adults in this situation where MIL instructs us on how to, basically, do life. We get helpful comments like, “You’ll need a jacket.” Or “You’ll want to put the mayonnaise on the bread first to coat it.” Endearing stuff like that. But we realize that she can’t help herself; she’s been a mom for much longer than I have. Her behavior is embedded within her at the deepest cellular level. She will never stop being a mother, and we will always be “the kids.”

Our son is away for his second year of college, so we worry about him from afar. He’s determined to save the world. (I’d say he has his work cut our for him.)

I still report depositions, but the majority are done over the phone, so I can wear my fuzzy slippers, pajama bottoms, and slouch my way through the proceedings, if I want to. (Isn’t this the way all business should be conducted?)

In author news, I’ve been busy, and I’ve done several things that have taken me out of my comfort zone, like:

1. An author appearance where I was invited to talk about my books, writing, and the publishing process to an assembled group. (Scary.) (See above picture.)

2. A live podcast with the subject matter: “When You Receive a Breast Cancer Diagnosis” for eCareDiary. (The “live” part was terrifying, but it went pretty well. I think. Listen for yourself, if you like.)

3. A radio interview with a CBS affiliate out of New York to discuss my memoirs Let Me Get This Off My Chest for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Again, terrifying, but I managed.)

4. A new book release in October, My Friends Are All Strange, the companion book to my YA novel Normalish.

5. A live author Skype chat with a creative writing group in Tennessee to talk about My Friends Are All Strange (after the members had a chance to read it). That was a lot of fun–after we worked out the technical glitches. (There are always glitches.)

6. I was part of a breast cancer survivor’s calendar, so I can now add “calendar girl” to my list of unexpected life happenings. The photo shoot took place back in August, and it ended up being a powerful, life-affirming experience. (It’s funny when I think of how this group of mostly strangers ended up topless in such a ridiculously short amount of time–and not everyone was drinking!)

7. And to begin the new year, I’ve just agreed to a book signing for the end of January for a local breast cancer nonprofit group, The Care Project, Inc. (Just long enough away so I can give myself plenty of time to stress over it.)

I’m going to try to keep pushing myself to do things outside of my comfort zone by remembering that:

Life is short

We need adventures


We never know what the positive consequence/outcome of our actions will be.

I wish you a new year filled with good health, good news, kindness, compassion, and, above all, love. Peace be with you, my friends.


Empty Nest (part 1)

Meg, Drew.
My boy and me

[ I wrote this six months ago, before my son left for college.]

I haven’t been sleeping at night. A sign keeps flashing, “He’s leaving in three weeks.” Soon it will be two.

We wrestled and puzzled, the three of us, with the idea of him going away. There were excellent schools locally. And he didn’t “necessarily want to leave,” he said. He was still recovering from the terrible illness that involved two trips to the ER, a painful lumbar puncture, and weeks spent flat on his back where the cobweb in the corner gave him something to focus on. (He told me that later when I tried to swipe it away with a rag. That just about killed me). Three months of his senior year of high school were spent on independent study, and he fought to get through his graduation speech. Steve and I are still suffering from what I think is a form of extreme anxiety in the aftermath. My brain chemistry seems to have been altered from nights of gut-clenching, mind-numbing worry. Everyone knows that a new parent doesn’t sleep at night, but I’m not sleeping either. My friend who tells me not to fret, to hand those thoughts over because they won’t affect the outcome–I wish I could do that. I just can’t. My brain’s worry center just won’t turn off.

How exactly do we send him four hundred miles away? We’ve talked the subject over ad nauseam, the three of us. The school he’s going to is a magical-feeling place where he’ll meet his people–smart, goofy kids like him, bent on saving the world through science. He’ll connect with others who think the idea of spending the hottest days of summer wearing Army surplus coveralls (complete with sewn-on Ghostbusters patch), motorcycle helmet, and gauntlet gloves to smelt aluminum cans in a homemade backyard casting forge just to make a belt buckle is a great idea. (How is that not a win?)

Steve and I know intellectually it’ll be good for him to be away in a place where he will have to figure things out, problem solve, and grow into adulthood without the cushion of us. But we also know that it won’t be any good for us either.

When he was born, Steve cut the cord. He told me it felt much more sinewy and tough than he’d expected. But the invisible cord remains, binding us close. These last few weeks of summer, we’ve taken nightly walks with our silly dog, Echo. The three of us talk about everything under the sun. Steve and I watch as our boy runs wildly with his dog over the grass, laughing, returning to his boyhood self of ten years old. In many ways he hasn’t changed. He still looks down, watching the sidewalk, for worms and bugs that need to be removed to safety. And he does this with the patience of a scientist, slowly and methodically. This summer, when he hasn’t been smelting aluminum, he’s spent time recuperating, designing custom T-shirts using stencils he cuts from freezer paper and then bleaches. He watches videos on physics and world politics as he rests–because he has to feed that brain. And this is how he has always been.

As his parents, we know that all of the work he’s done–those long nights of study and preparation, and his impossible schedule–it’s led him up to this point. We know that we have to let him go so he can be the well-formed person he is supposed to be. But we also know that the long drive home is going to be terribly sad. We are simply not ready. I know I will worry about him eating and sleeping. (Those two things–he has to promise us that he will sleep and he will eat because I know the lure of experiencing the wonders around him will always win out over those two boring basic biological necessities.)

It is just going to be hard, not having him here. The invisible cord has to stretch four hundred miles and not break. It simply has to. And I don’t know when I’ll get a good night’s rest again.