Well, we’ve finally come to the end of this crazy book tour…Three events, half a decent meal, fifteen coffees, and two fights a day FOR THIRTY DAYS! And suddenly, it’s over. Now I know thirty days doesn’t sound like very long, but WE ARE TIRED… Over the course of this month, we visited seven states, 39 schools, 18 libraries and bookstores, and presented to over 4,000 people! Before I give you some of the highlights, let me outline some of the unseen hazards of traveling all over the country with your brother on a super-charged, highly ill-advised, caffeine-fueled speaking tour:
1) Coffee can give you the shakes. Also, it doesn’t work.
2) The “shakes” mentioned above are amplified if the only nutrition your body receives is cheese steaks, truck stop discount beef jerky, and pancakes. The picture below was the most nutritious meal we had all month (that’s Dina’s husband, Philip. He bailed after a week of road-tripping with a comment along the lines of, “You’re both insane. I’m going home.” ).
3) Yes, beef jerky comes in “regular” and “discount”…. the discount kind is the flavors no one else wants.
4) After 2 hours in a car, Daniel starts to make a low whining sound, like a dishwasher on the fritz, that he seems completely unaware of…. huh….
5) Dina only brought enough underwear for 2 weeks… there were no laundry mats. Daniel only brought one pair of shoes. They were a big hit, and incidentally, they go with anything!
6) After 4 hours in a car, Daniel starts laughing uncontrollably at his own thoughts
7) Google maps lies sometimes. It is very unapologetic about this.
8 ) If you get the flu and suck it up and go to an event, no one shows up. If you decide to cancel, the event is packed.
9) Daniel thinks it’s funny to whisper Indian tribal chants under his breath on dark, foggy mornings in the car. When Dina jumps and says, “what was that?”, he likes to put on an innocent face and say, “What? I don’t know. But I did hear that this highway was built on an Indian burial ground.”
10) When Dina gets scared (for example, by the possibility of an Indian ghost attack), she WILL pull on the emergency break while the car is moving at 70 miles per hour. Consider yourself warned.
Of course, this tour has been incredibly fun too! Besides all the laughs we had in the car (taking pictures of random crap on the road and playing round after round of “would you rather”), we met so many wonderful students, teachers and librarians! Thank you all for being so awesome! Meeting all of you made the exhausting car rides worthwhile… speaking of which, here’s a snapshot from the road around Boston.
We started the tour in New Jersey, at the Wardlaw Hartridge school where we met Marina Kennedy, one of the coolest teachers ever. We also got to start the tour off right, during “beach day” when all the students wore their hawaiian shirts and cartoon towels! Nice. We also experienced our very first fire drill. So far, we have had three fire drills and a lock-down drill during our speeches (the lockdown drill is apparently communicated to the students as “practice in case a squirrel gets into the building”). We’re starting to think our visits are jinxed. Or that the fire department really hated Another Faust. Anyway, our New Jersey tour also included Princeton where we rewarded ourselves with Hoagie Haven and settled a debate about T-Sweets ice cream versus the Bent Spoon. The verdict: They are both necessary to life. In New Jersey we had some of our best and worst moments. Visiting the beautiful Purnell school, and experiencing the hospitality and incredible charm of the girls there was a highlight of our tour! You are amazing, Purnell! On the downside, our car broke down right before we had to speak at another girl’s school in Princeton and we ended up missing it. What a disaster it is to break down on the highway between Princeton and NYC. Wow.
Here’s us at Wardlaw Hartridge, and the floor of one of the dorm entryways at Princeton. The big “Yes” is what Princeton puts on its admission letters.
In New York, we learned a big lesson: It takes 2 hours to ride from Queens to Brooklyn on the train! Leave the house early! We sprinted into Fort Hamilton high school in the southern tip of Brooklyn covered in rain water, sweat, and positively out of breath, JUST as they were introducing us to a library full of eager students. Yes, we cut it THAT close. But in the end, it was a lovely visit. THANK YOU Fort Hamilton for the awesome chicken salad and croissants.
The great thing about New York was that we had a whole week there, so that we could visit middle schools, high schools, libraries, and book stores. Books of Wonder and Borders Columbus Circle both gave us memorable reading events. And the New York Public Library too was great fun as always (I wish I had a picture of the Halloween raffle prize, a big squishy ball full of fake cockroaches!). Here’s us at Borders, including a shot of us with AWESOME book blogger Mitali and her friend Kim, and another shot with Liz and Jonny, aka, Bice and Valentin!
Next, we hit Wall Street. Daniel was nervous going into our talk at the NY High School of Economics and Finance, but then I told him that we could just talk about our book and wouldn’t have to calculate the price of wheat futures or anything. Phew. And Bard High School gave us one of the most fun and outgoing audiences ever. We ended the NYC portion of our trip with Pajama Day at a middle school in Brooklyn (first photo)!
By the time we flew to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, we were pretty much falling down with lack of sleep and proper nutrition. But, wow, was it worth it! Austin is AMAZING! Besides the Tex-Mex, barbecue ribs, and best ice cream ever, we got to meet the fabulous Cynthia Leitich-Smith and her husband Greg, who showed us around town. Our panel with Cynthia “Deals with the Devil” was incredibly fun and we ended up buying a lot of great books at the fair too. Here’s us with Greg and author-slash-panel-moderator-extraordinaire, April Lurie. (Apparently, I didn’t get the memo that when Cynthia says, “Funny pose!” that means, “Everyone stand still and let the gullible dufus make a fool of herself.” Cynthia, I know your game now! Just wait till next time )
In Austin, we visited some great schools, including a KIPP school with amazing students, as well as both Austin High and Bowie High. We have to take the time to give HUGE props to Bowie (specifically to Meg, Orr, Dalton, and Josh) for keeping a whole auditorium entertained while we got our act together! It turned out there was a miscommunication between us and the school and we thought the event was an hour later than it was. So we strolled in an hour late, while these four amazing students kept the audience entertained (apparently Josh knew the names of all the Pokemons!). A huge thanks to Bowie, Josh, Dalton, Orr, and Meg! YOU SAVED THE DAY! Also, Orr came up with one of the best ideas for a Jekyll and Hyde retelling (“How about having good lunch ladies versus evil lunch ladies?”) NICE!
Now, here comes the crazy part of the trip: We thought we could actually get up at 4am, fly to OKC, do two events in our home town of Edmond on the SAME day as our flight, then meet up with all our old friends and still have the energy to do another school event the next day before flying out. Yes. it was foolish. Yes we were dead on our feet. No, we don’t regret it one bit. Thanks to Edmond Memorial High School for being so welcoming of a couple of old alums! Thanks to our English teacher Mrs. Vandegriff, and Mrs. Price, our librarian. And thanks to all the wonderful students there who laughed at our lame jokes. Oh, and Mrs. Harold, your signed copy is waiting for you at Best of Books! Thanks for whipping us into shape with all those AP History essays.
Next stop: Philadelphia. We went to two schools in Philly. And no, we didn’t have time for cheesesteaks. In retrospect, I regret the decision, but at the time, we were so stuffed with beef jerky, gummy bears, and pancakes, that it seemed gratuitous. I have to send a shout-out to Librarian Tiff at Lansdale Catholic High School, who gave us such awesome fuzzy blankets. Thanks Tiff! At Lansdale, we did a speech as well as a writing group with some future novelists in the class. And we got to practice our “awkward turkey”… (picture below)
Also, ATTENTION LANSDALE CATHOLIC TENTH GRADERS: I have an endorsement to make. CHRIS DRUM FOR CLASS PRESIDENT! VOTE TODAY!
THE DRIVE FROM HELL FROM PHILLY TO BOSTON
The car ride to Boston was something out of a horror movie. Our radio broke and we had six hours of driving ahead of us with no entertainment but each other. Plus we got stuck in NYC traffic. Bored out of our minds and desperate for entertainment, we decided to come up with the most German sounding phrase on earth, then the most French sounding, then the most Japanese sounding, and so on. Then we proceeded to say these phrases over and over in the most over-the-top stereotypical accents possible.
Then, Daniel did the Indian chant thing for like an hour, started the laughing/wheezing/laughing track that happens when he’s starting to go crazy, talked about his kitten for an insanely long time and then did some random cat noises. At some point we stopped for food at a truck stop. Before getting back in the car, Daniel, out of the blue, started shouting, “Why me? Why me, God?” Of course, I then broke into a half-hour fit of laughter… I think it was one of those malnutrition euphorias.
In Boston, I had the wonderful opportunity of going back to Harvard. Wow, what an amazing place. I missed it so much. But the welcome Daniel and I received at Eliot House (the house where I tutored during my grad school days) was the best part. Now, most of you don’t know about Eliot House, so I’ll take a minute to say a few words about it. Imagine if you combined Hogwarts with one of those schools from 1990′s prep school movies like “Scent of a Woman,” then mixed in a Swiss Chalet, a dash of Christmas, and a big green dome… then you would have Eliot House… a beautiful residential house on the Charles River. Now, imagine if you combined Anthony Quinn, your favorite professor from college, Papa Hemingway, and Dumbledore, and mixed in an Italian accent, a couple of PhD’s, and a lighthearted distaste for linoleum floors and non-vintage wines, you’d get Housemaster Lino Pertile… It was so heartwarming to be back in Eliot, and to have so many of my old friends come back to campus to greet us! Thank you, everyone. (Domus!)
In Boston, we were interviewed by Robin Young of the nationally syndicated radio show HERE AND NOW, a huge highlight of the tour. Oh, and Boston was the city where we visited the most schools. Several auditoriums-full all over the city and the suburbs. We must have signed thousands of books, backpacks, pieces of paper, cell phones, scrunchies, socks, shoes, and faces. Yes, faces. I knew we had gone too far when one kid asked me to sign his shorts. Dude… boundaries.
Finally, we spent a whole week in Connecticut. Oh, Connecticut in November. It was a blissful way to end the trip. We visited another super fabulous girls school (Woohoo, Ethel Walker!), and went down to Greenwich to visit Greenwich high, home of Liz Stillman, the model that plays Bice on our book jacket. It was amazingly fun. Thanks to super-librarian Jennifer Lau for inviting us!
One of the funniest moments of the trip happened on that last drive back to New York, when we were both dying of exhaustion, and we pulled up to a tollbooth and realized we had no cash. Suddenly, we remembered something. Earlier that day, one student in Groton, CT had wanted to buy two copies of Another Faust, but only had loose change with her. We had accepted twenty dollars worth of coins (since she had the moxy to offer it) and even took a picture of all of us with the ziplock baggie full of change (below). When we arrived at the tollbooth, that bag of change was the only money we had on us! So Daniel proceeded to pull out the baggie and say to the poor tollbooth operator, “Ma’am, I’m afraid we’ll be paying the full $12 in dimes.” She sighed and said, “just start counting.” It was a long and humiliating ten minutes.
That brings us to the end of our thirty-day, seven-state tour for Another Faust (we considered making it a 10-state tour by crossing the border at several strategic points and just tossing a copy of the book to the first teenage passerby who could be lured to our car. Our judgment was severely impaired by this point in the trip)!
It was an amazing time and we loved meeting all of you! Please feel free to email us, and CLICK HERE to join the Facebook group for ANOTHER FAUST.
AND DON’T FORGET TO ENTER OUR WRITING CONTEST HERE (DEADLINE JAN 31)!
Until next time (perhaps the tour for ANOTHER PAN, the Second of Another Series),