Sunday - Monday, 03.09 – 03.10.2008 Grand Rapids/Holland, Michigan
My chauffeur picked me up from my house in Arizona at 11:00 AM to drive me to the airport. Actually, he was 15 minutes early, which made me happy. I would soon find that all Carey drivers arrived a good deal earlier than scheduled, which really gave me comfort during a time when I felt like I wasn’t completely in control of my everyday actions.
This was my first experience with having a driver. I had questions – where do I sit? Do I tip? My driver ushered me to the back seat, passenger side, where water bottles awaited (and a TV). And yes, you tip the drivers in the black sedans, most of whom are Carey drivers. But you don’t tip the media escorts (more on media escorts in the next entry).
Brrrr! I arrived in Grand Rapids around 9:30pm local time and made my way to the rental car desk at the airport, only a little worried about the piles of snow I saw outside – I haven’t driven on snow in four years. Luckily the roads were dry and clear. Why am I renting a car and driving myself? Because I am crossing the state in the next 24 hours and media escorts basically drive within their greater city area only. There was no one who was available to drive me the 2.5 hours from southwest Michigan to southeast Michigan. My lovely publicists at S&S made sure well in advance that I was comfortable with the plan, which I was -- I grew up here and have made the trip from Holland to Novi many times. I felt very comfortable driving myself.
I made my way to the elaborately appointed Amway Grand Hotel downtown to spend a (very) short night. They greeted me with an envelope – my publicist had thoughtfully sent a copy of my itinerary to the hotel for me. I found out they did this at every stop. It made me feel important, lol.
Starving, I grabbed a room service burger at 11 p.m. The 3-hour time difference had me still twiddling my thumbs at midnight, unable to sleep when my body thought it was only 9pm. A few hours later I finally managed to doze off and the 6 a.m. wake-up call was pretty hard to take when my body said it was 3 a.m. But I was SO excited, because Holland is my hometown. So the adrenaline kicked in. Breakfast in the room while I packed up again. I drove into Holland (about 45 minutes away), met my media escorts, Amy and Michelle from Treehouse Books, and was off to West Ottawa High School, where I presented to three classrooms. Afterward, I had 2.5 hours to make a round-trip back to Grand Rapids to stop at two excellent bookstores. I stopped at Schuler Books on 28th Street and at Pooh’s Corner in Breton Village (my old place of employment while in college and afterward). I signed books both places so if you were unable to make it to Treehouse for the signing, you can find autographed copies in Grand Rapids.
Then it was back to Holland for an after school gig, again with West Ottawa HS, this time a wonderful book club of students grades 6 and up. We had a terrific discussion and some pretty great homemade salsa, too.
I had a couple hours to spare after that, so I stopped in to spend some time with my parents, and then made my way back downtown Holland to see my sister-in-law’s awesome art collection on display at Uptown Gallery. Her name is Michele Gort and she’s a wonderful painter. To my chagrin, the store was closed for the day, and I’d missed my only chance to see her collection up close. Luckily, I could see them through the store window...not the same, but better than nothing.
Back at Treehouse Books, I arrived to find two LOVELY myspace friends already there and waiting. It was so great to meet them both for the first time! After them came a steady stream of people including all my dear family members. The signing lasted nearly until the 9 p.m. closing time and we sold some 65 books or so. As things settled down, I had a great and rare opportunity to chat with Danny Reyes, who is a terrific musician and a dear friend of my husband’s (and mine). But too soon it was time to pack up and head out to the next place – Novi, Michigan, and a 2.5 hour drive to my next hotel. The drive gave me a great chance to come down off the high of a fantastic signing and seeing all those old friends and relatives. Exhausted is an understatement, but it was a good sort of exhaustion.
Thanks, Treehouse Books! Hope to see you in July when I’m back in town.