When we last left our traveling trio, they had bid farewell to the Windy City.
At precisely 3:12 p.m.--
Little did they know they were moving straight into the scene from Wizard of Oz where they expected cows to swarm across the darkened cloud-encrusted sky on their way to Osh Kosh by Gosh to see Ms. Jess Riley for her debut book launch party.
This is the part of the weekend events that Mr. Manic had coined, "Aggressive."
What does a six-year-old do when his mother tells him for the 20th time that she doesn't think it's a good idea for him to go outside and play in the backyard because it's all muddy and it might rain?
Of course! The kid goes outside to play in the backyard where it's all muddy and it might rain.
Case in point with Mr. Manic beating the proverbial "dead-aggressive-plan" horse into the ground. No way in hell I was going to say, "You're right honey, it's too aggressive. We won't go." Unless of course I would have had the sense to check the weather and KNOWN they were doing a remake of The Wizard of Oz on 94W to Osh Kosh.
So, the traveling trio set off for Wisconsin on a three-hour tour. Snacks were packed (animal crackers, pretzels, Diet Coke, mini-twizzlers, M&Ms) and we were off.
The rain started immediately. Actually, no it didn't. The traffic started first. For about an hour. THEN the rain started immediately. But our spirits would not be wrecked! After all, we were warriors! We were on a Road Trip out to pay homage to our great friend Jess, who just happen to write an incredible book on the very same topic--A ROAD TRIP, oh and kidney disease, which, speaking of, we might actually have to check out Trish Ryan's kidneys cuz I think they're like the size of a medicine dropper. (Wait, do we have two or one kidney?)
Seriously, I thought I had a pee problem! We would be in the car and at first, she and I were on a united front. Swish is a camel by the way and can go weeks without urinating, so Trish and I were like, "OK, majority rules, when we have to pee, you have to stop." That was the plan, but then like every six and a half minutes, Trish had to go!
So, to get Trish off the pee trail, Swish and I would ask her to rate how badly she had to pee, and at times, I felt like a coy mother trying to coax her child into just hanging on for a few more exits...
"Trish! Tell me again how you and your husband met!"
"Show me some pictures from your book launch party, Trish!"
"Tell me again about how you dated a guy who decided he wanted to bat for the other team!"
"Let's search for out-of-state license plates!"
ANYTHING to get her mind off having to go pee!
I really don't understand how the urge came to her so much, what with all the rain pounding the car, swivelling us from one lane to another, causing us to hydroplane ever so gently now and then? But we were closing in on the land of imperilous and treacherous rainstorms with about six tornadoes thrown in there for good measure.
We're So Happy it's Sunny!
One Side of the Street:
The Other Side of the Street:
Can You Spot the Rainbow?
We finally arrive! Jess is so excited to see us, as we are of her! And lo and behold, the MINUTE we park, all rain stops! It stops for the WHOLE time we are there with Jess. She has that effect on people. She is full of sunshine and cheerfulness!
Jess's adorable newphew and sister:
Surprise! We're Here! A half-hour earlier, I texted Jess and said, "We're not making it out of Chicago." Am I stealthy or what?
The party was great, although we missed the
And then, we were off, back into the car, and yes, THE SECOND we left Jess, the skies opened up, and greeted us with, "Hey, you idiots are back in the car! Let's throw some tornadoes your way! And while we're at it, we'll make the rain so stinking heavy, we'll get you lost and land you in Fond Du Lac, just for shits and grins!"
And so, they did. And we drove, and drove, and drove, and to keep things light, we decided to do some really Road Trippy things and played, "I'm going on a road trip and I'm bringing..."
Here's our list: avocado, bananas, condoms, dildo, ex-lax, highlighter, indigestion medication, jamba juice, kickball, looooootion, masterbation devices (plural), nailfile, opthalmologist's number, pantyliners, queen-comma-drag, razor, shaving cream, Trish Ryan, underwear, my vagina, a wheelchair, x-ray, yoga instructor and a Zenith TV. Those supplies will get us far on Survivor Island, ya think?
We finally find the highway, and as we're driving along, the tension is high. We're all a little stressed in our own little quiet worlds and I'm shoving Twizzler niblets down my throat like this might be the last food I'll ever eat, and do you know how hard it is to digest those things?
We come across a particularly iconic billboard, an anti-abortion one saying CHOOSE LIFE. I scream in the car, above the thunder and rainstorm: "I CHOOSE LIFE! PLEASE DEAR GOD, I CHOOSE LIFE TODAY!"
We just wanted to be back to where we didn't have to be so scared anymore. It sucked.
So, later, the rain kept coming, and the tension was high! I mean high. Consider this. Swish and I love each other. LOVE like probably without sounding too gay, if we were opposite sex or gay, we would be like soulmatey, that's how good we get along, BUT, also consider this. No matter how much you love someone, throw in a stressful, tension-induced car ride, some tornadoes, a long-freaking day, exhaustion, a terrible 'back-seat' driver sitting in the front passenger seat (ahem ... me), someone a decade older who thinks she's a know-it-all (ahem ... me again), when really it's the younger one who is way well more prepared to face what life throws at her and is so much more independent despite her young age, and well, then, there might be some, shall we say, conflict.
So yes, the first ever Swishy and Manic "not-quite-a-quarrel-or-disagreement-but-more-along-the-lines-of-if-I-could-throw-your-ass-outta-this-car-I-would" situation evolved. Her throwing ME out, not the other way around.
I could sense it. Because I'm good at sensing these things. Swishy started chewing her hair; I tried to make cheery small talk. Trish sat in the back seat probably wishing the eye of the tornado would sweep down and take us all from this misery.
But, we perservered, and got back to Chicago, in three pieces (one piece for each of us). And after we dropped Trish off, Swish and I communicated like we were normal adults, got everything squared away, and went to bed. This being 1:00 am.
The whole journey took 10 hours. Eight-and-a-half in the car with rain pelting. One-and-a-half spent with Jess. Since we got back to Chicago alive, it was totally all worth it, no matter how aggressive the plan was!
Here's my HAPPY HAPPY Bed!
Yes, there's more...
Next morning, my cell phone rings, it's Mr. Manic.
"Hello?" I mutter.
"You alive?" he asks.
"No, this is her answering machine. She's dead. Of course I'm alive! There is nothing too aggressive for moi!"
He was off to take Ajers, Diva and Tukey to the Sox game!
I jumped into the shower while Swish slept and when I got out of the bathroom, Swish was gone! My first thought was she decided enough was enough and bagged it, left town. ENOUGH MANIC! But fortunately, she had only gone down to the lobby and hadn't deserted me.
Because today was Day 2 ONLY of our aggressive weekend, can you believe it, and we were going to see Trish Ryan IN ACTION at a writer's panel for memoirists!
Before Trish's panel, Swish and I headed over to see Elizabeth Berg who read from her latest book: The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation.
Also at this panel was, Elizabeth Crane, who I was not familiar with, but am now a fan, who read from You Must Be This Happy to Enter.
Then we headed over to Trish's panel, and I don't have any photos of this because I was her personal publicist and used HER camera to take shots during the panel. I have not read He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After yet, but am very much looking forward to it, especially now that I know some of the behind-the-scenes "what-is-said-on-this-10-hour-car-ride-stays-in-this-10-hour-car-ride" stuff in Trish's life.
She's had an amazing journey to finding Mr. Right and Wonderful, and credits Jesus without being preachy or freaky, and I am envious of her relationship with Him. I think not many people have what she does, and it's something she truly cherishes. Trish is an incredible person, so much fun, and I'm so glad that she is now a real-live friend!
And then, our last of the author fest took us to new author, Sloane Crosley, who wrote I Was Told There'd Be Cake. Cute, witty, charmingly snarky without trying to be makes Sloane the one to watch! Her book is a bunch of essays, including one she read from about how she baked her boss a cookie in the likeness of her head and gave it to her as a sort of peace offering. The boss gave it to her daughter, and the daughter promptly puked. Great stories.
After Sloane read a bit and the discussion was over, Swish high-tailed it out of there to pick up a copy of the book. I followed her.
"I got the last one!" she claimed.
I could not let my weekend end on a note like this! Fortunately, a volunteer suggested to me that there was one book left at the table where Sloane would be signing books, so I rushed in, grabbed it and met Swishy back at the cash register where we both did a happy, "we got the last two books" dance!
Couldn't have ended our first experience at Chicago's Printers Row Book Fair any better than that. Oh wait, yes it could be better... maybe someday she and I will be guest speakers on a panel talking about the books we will someday publish. One can dream right? Cuz that's not too aggressive of a plan now is it???
One last picture at lunch before we bid farewell to Trish on Sunday. Of course, we had to have our cute and funny waiter, Ryan, join us for the photo!
As a recap, here are some of the great books you might want to check out, and some that I didn't have a chance to mention:
I Was Told There'd Be Cake
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After
You Must Be This Happy to Enter
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation
Belong to Me: A Novel
Driving Sideways: A Novel
Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp
Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or Why Pie is Not The Answer
The Rest of Her Life
The Heroines: A Novel
All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House