I spent some time a few weeks ago in the Portland International Airport - or PDX, as we world-savvy travelers refer to it. (Okay, I admit it. I just learned that abbreviation.)
Through a series of miscalculations (mostly having to do with the fact that I live in Los Angeles and am used to allowing an extra hour or two for traffic snarls), I ended up at the airport three and a half hours before my flight home was due to depart.
Oh, great, I thought as I staggered out of the security line and found a bench where I could put my shoes back on, slip my belt back through the loops on my jeans and cram my laptop back into its slot in my briefcase. Now I get to spend the afternoon in a molded plastic chair, listening to some self-important businessman bark into his cell phone while the person on the other side of me coughs on my shoulder.
Boy, was I wrong.
Ten minutes later, I was settled into a window-side table in the pleasantly cavernous main lobby of the terminal, sipping a steaming Starbucks triple latte as my laptop gorged on free WiFi. Nearby, a lithe young woman tinkled away on a grand piano, accompanying herself as she sang in what turned out to be a lovely voice. (She was overly partial to those soul-crushing Adele songs, but still – the girl could sing.)
As I sat back under my indoor cafe umbrella and watched the late afternoon sky outside begin to color, it occurred to me that I’d been on vacations that were less relaxing than my current circumstances.
I began to unclench, to catch my breath, to reflect.
That morning, I had done my first television talk show appearance to promote my book – on the local morning program “AM Northwest.” I had flown up the night before in order to be at the studio at 8:30 am (another appointment for which I was ridiculously early thanks to my LA conditioning).
Overall, it had been a lovely experience and well worth the trip. The folks at the station were warm and gracious, as were the show’s hosts. In the green room, I made friends with other guests: a woman who specializes in taking photographs of pets, a local dentist, and a journalist/author who just released a book on the infamous D.B. Cooper. We shared coffee in paper cups and conversation in varying degrees of nervousness.
Before airtime, the producer walked me through the studio to the set, showing me where I would sit and explaining how it would all work. A few minutes before my segment, one of the assistants instructed me to run the mic cord up under my sweater so she could clip it on the neckline.
Before I knew it, my portion of the show was over and I found myself back in the green room. There on the monitor was my new friend the pet photographer, sitting in the chair I’d just vacated and critiquing someone’s photo of an oddly washed-out Labrador. (Turns out you should never use your flash when taking pet shots. Who knew?)
The day’s TV experience – my first – was over. I had managed to talk with logical progression, to make the people in the booth laugh (the hosts are pretty much required to laugh, but the people in the booth – that’s authentic), to get my message points about my book across and – most importantly – not to throw up on myself on live television.
The CHICKtionary is my first published book and so this is my first marketing push for my own work. In my previous life, I worked in public relations and marketing, but when the product is yourself, it’s a whole different experience.
For most of this year, I have been cloistered in my office at home, writing. Writing writing writing. And editing. And more editing. (You’ll notice that the word “housekeeping” is conspicuously absent from this paragraph. The less said about that the better.)
The transition from the solitude of the creative process to the “Hey, look at me!” blare of the promotions process has been an interesting one so far. I find that, although I consider myself an extrovert, I can only be all the way out of my shell for short bursts of time before I need to retract and recharge for the next round. I first became aware of this when I was doing standup comedy, but I didn’t realize it would be the case for less-extreme types of exposure as well.
From the creation of this book through its current launch, this has been a year of unintentional learning about myself – a process which I expect to continue. I never thought of myself as a person who would be spending time in a green room or smiling into the dark, round eye of a television camera. It’s rare for me to travel without my family, but in the last two weeks, I've made solo trips to Northern California, Phoenix and New York City - and I've got another one this weekend to Indianapolis (see below). I find myself handing postcards about my book to people I barely know, like salesclerks and cab drivers.
None of these things “feel” like me, yet here I am.
And there I was in the Portland airport, watching the sun sink over the Alaska Airlines plane I would soon board for the trip home, thinking about the many doors I had passed through – and would be passing through in the coming weeks – all of which were opened by those months spent alone in my office…writing, writing, writing.
The Bob & Tom Show
I'm very excited to announce that on Monday, December 19 I will be live in studio in Indianapolis with Bob & Tom on their nationally syndicated radio show which runs 6am - 10am EST. (Here's how to find your local station.)
It's going to be fun and funny and wicked cool and I'm already freaking out about what to wear. (Yes, I know it's radio, but you can hear plaid.)
I hope you can tune in!