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May 11, 2007

And they never invited her back to New York City again, the end.

So this whole upcoming trip to New York is fine and exciting and great except for a few tiny things:

The normal stuff I worry about:
1) I don't like to leave my house.
2) I'm terrified of flying.
3) I have germ issues.
4) I worry about my cats. I know. I know. Please judge silently to yourself.
5) I'm fat, blah blah blah.

The new worry:
6) There will be people there, lots of people, and I sometimes cannot speak to strangers and need to hide, alone, in my house with a bottle of wine and that good microwave popcorn that I found from Whole Foods that you can eat the whole bag for like 200 calories and it's organic and no one tries to talk to you and wonders why you're suddenly either A: not able to speak or B: Not able to nervously shut up. And also why is your face sweating.

You know, minor stuff.

Oh, and there's that thing where I'm feeling like MY ENTIRE FUTURE is on the line here. No biggie!

I've known this thing was coming for months, so with a little help from Dr. Norman Vincent on the ipod, heavy rotation, I've managed to get myself pretty excited to do the booth events and the main autographing thing (my schedule is here) and I'm excited about this part because for the first time ever I will have the chance to meet real readers from other parts of the country and that's an opportunity I can't fear away. I want to enjoy it, I'm really excited to meet folks who show up and explain to them in detail that the galley is not a finished final product, there are no pictures and the good patterns are still being worked on by real, actual good knitters and also there are typos ... but hey, hope you like the novel! (It's really a novel, anyway, not a knitting book.) I'm excited to take pictures and later start stalking Judy Blume. She will be there, somewhere, and I will find her. Alert the po-po!


I've been very very worried about the speaking event. Because I do not know if ya'll have heard the story of the last, the very last, time I was asked to speak in public. It was at work and I was supposed to go over three little powerpoint slides and somehow I ended up comparing the privacy needs of one of our online services at Very Upstanding & Conservative Job, Inc., to ONLINE PORNOGRAPHY. The porny kind. The kind we at Very Upstanding & Conservative Job, Inc. pretend does not exist.

I made this horrifying faux pas in front of the EVP, two SVPs, twenty-eleven VPs and a partridge in a pear tree. After the words left my mouth, you could actually feel the shock and horror in the room -- it was palpable. I was a train wreck and they were the Looky-Lous. My boss has never asked me to speak anywhere again, including staff meetings. I barely speak on the phone at work anymore ... it's for the best, really.

Just knowing that a public speaking thing is looming in the horizon brings back an entire lifetime of really icky embarrassments.

• Like the time I forgot my lines in "Hansel & Gretel" and AD LIBBED one of the best known children's stories AS IF NO ONE WOULD NOTICE.

• Or the time I accidentally did a herkie into Angela Boudreaux's left forehead during a pep rally in front of the whole school and all the cute boys and she had to be carried out on a stretcher and gee, did I feel like a klutzified dumbass or what.

• Or the time I misunderstood the assignment and wrote a speech for class that contained Edie Brickell song lyrics. I was passionate back then ... about something or other.

Nowdays I get so nervous when talking to any group larger than four cats that not only does my voice shake, my whole body starts to tremble. Or I sweat profusely. Or you know, I say porn to a roomful of executives. I am a public speaking disaster area. I come with my own set of orange cones. And yet the advice people keep giving me is this:

"Just be yourself."

Ah. Yes. Just be myself! Here is what "myself" being "myself" looks like:
I am home alone, writing instead of talking out loud, drinking wine while wearing mismatched pajamas, and there is a cat sitting awkwardly on my ankle. I actually cry like a big doofus while watching Tivo'd Oprah show episodes. I knit, quietly, until the swearing stitch appears. And sometimes I sing made-up songs TO MY CATS. If I go someplace other than "home" and "work" and "knitting group" it is the grocery store, where I try to talk to the Trader Joe's guy when I'm paying for my groceries but sometimes I still stare studiously at my thumbnail and can't speak. Or I blurt out such gems as, "Wow you have a lot of paper bags."

Do you see where I am coming from here?

So I decided to do the business professional thing and email my publicist to see if I could weasel out. Or at least try to figure out what the requirements were so I could better humiliate myself in context, and also, DOES THE JAVITS CENTER HAVE A BAR?

I had assumed there would be a reading and we'd just need to figure out what chapter to read and then I could make my Dad ask a question for the "Q&A" part, then we could all go get drunk. I get this email reply:

Subject: Don't flip - it'll be ok!! From: "My Publicist" Date: Fri, May 4, 2007 2:02 pm To: laurie@crazytourist.com

Here's the scoop on your BEA presentation. Not to worry, I've contacted our media trainer and he will have you feeling perfectly comfortable at your event, and so will I! Have a great weekend.

And below that was the note she attached, explaining my role in my own demise:

>> This event is an entertainment venue. We expect her to speak for
>> about a 30 minute time slot. This can involve any kind of speaking she
>> feels comfortable doing. getting into character, doing a little
>> monologue and then reading from her book. Some q&a at the end.

HELLO. Did you see the part about GETTING INTO CHARACTER? Doing a monologue? (By the way, if you know me in person you are right now laughing in your Cheerios because you know that anything is possible except A) pigs flying from buttocks and B) me getting into character and doing a freaking MONOLOGUE. I am the person still trying to grow balls enough to say "hello" to the Trader Joe's checkout guy.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Laurie Perry
Sent: Friday, May 04, 2007 4:08 PM
To: "My Publicist"
Subject: Re: Don't flip - it'll be ok!!

I'm sorry did I hallucinate?
"Getting into character" and "doing a monologue"(???) I'm guessing they don't know that I am a socially awkward cat lady? I work at a bank. I knit. I write instead of talking to humans. OH MY GOD. Unless by "getting into character" she means "getting very very drunk."
xo, laurie

So, now my publicist is frantically trying to arrange media training and I am trying frantically to arrange a flask that goes directly into my bloodsteam via some sort of aquaduct which will hide beneath my Spanx.

Lord help me.

21 days and counting.

Posted by laurie at May 11, 2007 2:01 PM