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November 13, 2007

What a weekend!

My crazy non-stop weekend (and month) (OK, two months) has finally wrapped up in the form of me spending all day yesterday lying on the sofa surrounded by felines and, truth be told, adult beverages. I'm not sure I have ever been so tired, but it was well worth it!

And wow, I take a lot of pictures. I love this flickr thing, it makes sharing ONE BAZILLION vacation pics so much more fun! For me! You can check out all my Florida pictures right here.

Before I headed off the the Miami Book Fair, I made a one-night stopover in Deerfield Beach, Florida where my publisher HCI is based.

I got off the airplane, changed clothes and twenty minutes later I was seated at a table with these guys:
That's Sean Geary there in the blue shirt, seated. He's the stone-cold FOX who I cannot be alone in a room with because I might molest him, and alas... he is married. Also, Sean has managed to get every store on the planet to buy my book, so to reiterate once again... you SO cannot leave a grateful cat-hair author alone in a room with that guy. Next to Sean is Allison who made my book happen. Allison is my editor and I adore her and even better than that I respect her. She's pretty amazing. Allison is the one person on this planet who has read all my inner junk, all the paper-diary stuff... and she is still speaking to me even after a 500-page initial draft, which says something about her fortitude! There's Jose sitting next to Allison, and he is in charge of IT for all of HCI and is very cute and also married. Damn you guys. I mean really. That's me in back with my friend Terry York, also cute, also taken, who I love and he has three cats too so we kind of bonded on the cat hair issues.

The next morning I got to take a tour of HCI, given to me by these three amigos:

Kim, Terry and Allison.

We walked through the press facility and it was like smelling home, I love press rooms. They remind me of all my childhood summers spent at the newspaper office with my dad, and later working in the newspaper and hearing the bell ring before the press run. I remember watching my very first ever story come off the press (it was about plumbing fixtures, not exactly the heights of journalism but still so exciting. For me.) And if just being in the press facility at HCI wasn't exciting enough, Kim managed to somehow finagle the surprise of a lifetime:


Ya'll. THAT IS MY BOOK. Coming off the binder!

I took a video of it too, in which I sound shrill because I am bawling like a freaking baby. There is nothing so exciting in all this world as seeing your very own book being assembled and shipped. I cannot even describe it to you.

One of the reasons that I feel so at home at HCI is because everyone who works there is just good people. They don't even laugh and point at you while you cry in their press room. The whole company is staffed by creative, talented people and they have a huge history of philanthropy. Also, they can hold their liquor.

But my favorite initiative by far (what with my desire to marry Al Gore and all) is their partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation -- HCI actually replaces each tree it uses in the printing process.

Since 1998, for every tree used by HCI one is re-planted through the National Arbor Day Foundation. That's a lot of paper ... and trees!

Later after I pulled myself together and re-applied some mascara, the President and Publisher Peter Vegso totally let me hug him and attach myself to him in this photo much like a fungus attaches to a tree:


I am all about the inappropriate hug.

I loved meeting everyone there, we even had an impromptu book signing before lunch!

Thanks for coming to the signing!!

Later I got to see Allison in action:


Allison is not just a rockstar editor, she's also an author and a bonafide germ freak. When we were in the ladies room at the restaurant in Miami (after the book fair), we both managed to wash our hands and not to touch a single surface and found this incredibly normal. You see why we get along, yes?

She wrote an awesome book called The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu: Guerilla Tactics to Keep Yourself Healthy at Home, at Work and in the World. She has five-year-old twins (a boy and a girl) and if anyone needs to know about how to keep the germ level down it is a mom of twins! I actually blame (or credit, depending on your level of nutty) Allison's book for making me move my toothbrush from the countertop to the inside of the medicine cabinet. For people like me (i.e. "Obsessive Handwashers") this book is a must-must have.

After hanging around HCI for a while and having lunch (I ate more grilled fish on this trip than my body is used to, I had to later offset it with a cheeseburger for breakfast) Kim and I drove to Miami ... by way of Dania Beach and the Yarn Tree:

That's Maya on the left, thanks for having us!

And then we were back in the car and you know I made Kim listen to that Will Smith song "Miami" about eleventy-nine times in the car. I believe I also sang "Hot Stuff" and maybe she had a headache by the time we arrived. But definitely not related to my singing.

Now I have seen some pretty places in my life, but Miami is just unbelievable. The weather was paradise while I was there -- not too hot, very low humidity -- and as soon as we drove up to the hotel we saw Nich Lachey and his girlfriend having lunch. Did I take a picture? No. I did however get a shot of the typical prettiness on our way:


That night we had dinner at a Haitian restaurant called "Tap Tap" and if you go to Miami and want a restaurant with outstanding food at very good prices, you should definitely go to Tap Tap and while you're there you MUST have their coconut cake, it's gooey and creamy and rich and SO FREAKING GOOD. I ate well on my trip to Florida, I am just saying is all.

This is my favorite picture:

That night we had dinner with the author M.J. Rose who was gracious enough to let me interview her for this here website! I was so excited about this I changed clothes like three times. I sort of became obsessed with her latest book and I'm going to run our interview in a few days. I don't want to spoil it by saying anything more, but we had a great time at dinner!

The next morning I discovered that I am the only human in South Beach who gets up early:


It was by far one of the best moments I have had on this whole crazy tour, just being alone and walking on one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. I didn't bring flip-flops with me (who goes to Miami and forgets beach footwear?) so at 6 a.m. I walked down to the gas station near my hotel (in my three-inch heels thankyouverymuch) and bought a pair of flip-flops and walked down to the water and collected shells for the better part of two hours. It was peaceful and beautiful and I felt like I got a little present, having the beach all to myself:

Perfect beginning to the day.

Kim and I had breakfast and then headed out to the Miami Book Fair International, where I got to not only accost General Wesley Clark, I also got to shake his hand! Did I take pictures of this event either? Sadly, no.

I did get some happy-smiley face pictures of me with Dr. Adamse, God's Shrink:
I'm still doing that thing the photographer said would make me look like I have a skinnier waist but it is so not working. Also, I am shiny.

Dr. Adamse was very gracious and leaned over to me across the table in the author's area and lowered his voice and confessed he was not wearing Spanx. He got a good chuckle out of that one as I tried to melt under the table in horror of realizing he had read my website. Whoopsy.

The book fair was PACKED! Here is a shaky Blair-Witchesque video of the crowd:

I was a little sad to leave Miami because of these two:


But I know I'll see them again soon, hopefully in just a few months. I feel like there have been a hundred best moments in all of this, a hundred number one memories, a lot of inappropriate hugs and smiley pictures. It has been hands-down the most scary, exhilarating, exciting, exhausting and rewarding adventure of my whole life. I can't believe I'm so blessed.

Also -- I still can't believe I did all that!

Also -- I still can't believe the mannequins in South Beach have such giant boobs!

Notice she does not have to pose with the hand at the waist to emphasize... anything...

I'm home now, comments are open!

Posted by laurie at November 13, 2007 12:07 PM