I am just home from a delicious tour & it’s spring! & my girlfriend planted a little lawn while I was away & Maia dyed her hair black & I’m wanting to thank all the awesome bookstore folk & potluck hosts & amazing hospitable mamas–so many I already know I won’t be able to mention you all here . . .
Everyone warned me before I left home that East Coasters are not as open & warm as West Coasters & I should bring all kinds of mad money. What a lie! I left home with $5 and was so well-fed, my jeans don’t fit.
Bleary from the red-eye flight & wandering the streets of Philadelphia, Adam opened his home to us & together with Dawn from Healing Mama & Lu Hanessian, author of Let the Baby Drive, we pushed our way into a hipster restaurant that at first wouldn’t have us. (Lu said, “Listen, we’ve got five national authors here, one of whom is VERY tired . . .”) The hipsters found us a table, poured Margaritas & dished out guacamole.
I’d met up with Katherine Arnoldi, author of The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom, and the wild essayist Annaliese Jakimides at Robin‘s most excellent bookstore & read from The Essential Hip Mama to an audience that included Annaliese’s grown son. . .
The next day we woke leisurely late & headed down to Baltimore to find our fourth traveling companion, the legendary China Doll Martens.
More dark beer & Mexican food at Holy Frijoles, thanks to Kristin & others. The reading was packed with inspiring mamas at the one and only Atomic Books.
China had just finished the work issue of The Future Generation. The original punk parenting zine, The Future Generation has been around since 1990! Get your copy of Issue #14 “WORK” by sending $3 (+ 2 stamps if you’ve got them) to P.O. Box 4803, Baltimore, MD 21211.
We slept at China’s house, then piled into the boat of a rental car and headed for the City. Mamas Rising Up co-hosted the event at Bluestockings. You must go to their Mothers Day Festival in May (email for info).
Katherine spread her message of love and mama-friendly colleges; China, still dressed in her waitress uniform, read of mother-work and salad bars; and Annaliese wowed us all with tales of enduring soulful mamahood as the kids grow and grow . . .
Her daughter appeared, so Annaliese went that way. Vickie Law appeared, blessed me with a copy of Family Values: A Parental Approach to the Republican National Convention, and whisked China away. Katherine thought we should do all kinds of New York things–or at least go see a movie–but I just wanted to sleep. We went home to Katherine’s to find all kinds of food & nurturance & crazy stories & novels-in-progress & strokes of genius.
Days begin to blur with geography at this point, and I never did figure out the date again, but somehow miraculously we landed where we were supposed to land when we were supposed to land there.
On our way out of the city, China admitted that she’d come on tour with broken heart & broken pockets. “You need a Botanica,” I told her. “Too bad we’re not in New York anymore.”
“Botanica,” she repeated, and suddenly there it was! Between a junk yard and a beauty parlor, a gorgeously well-stocked Botanica San Pedro where we bought a Love Breaker bath and a purple John the Conquerer candle. Onward!
Anarchist housewife Traci in Providence made the most delicious prawn salad I have ever tasted. Someone at Books on the Square asked the most important question ever asked: “Why don’t you go to therapy?!?” I’m not sure I answered well, but soon Providence morphed into someplace else and we found Katherine’s daughter & son-in-law at a beautiful home with two brilliant children psyched to see their grandma.
Can I tell you how much it rules the world to travel with a bunch of mamas who’s kids are grown? With a teenager at home, I so often feel like a freak among both kidless friends & newer moms. But now I was the one with the youngest kid! Now I was crawling the path these brave grandmas and moms had seared for me . . .
Anyway! You wouldn’t believe the spread of deserts Mothers and More had for us at Food For Thought Books in Amherst. And the bookstore had wine & childcare! What more could we ask for? Every event should have wine & childcare. The babies shrieked through our readings & I begged for more. June Day appeared, looking ten years younger than she had ten years ago and I said, “You are aging in reverse.” And she said, “Yes, I had a renaissance!”
Katherine had to go back to New York, then, and we were lost without her.
The mouthwatering gourmet potluck in Cambridge was almost too much. We filled our pockets with pie and went out to find the Center for New Words. Have you been there? We dabbed rescue remedy on our tongues, but the crowd could have rescued us without any flower essences. Imagine if the whole world were like the Center for New Words–Where the most conservative person you’ll meet is a Democrat.
We planned to stay in a motel, but Liza from Portland took us home and fed us herbed omelets and squid pie.
North, north, north we traveled, to the other Portland up in Maine. Oysters and seafood chowder. Every book at Casco Bay seems to have been hand-picked for juicy relevance. You know how it is when you browse a bookstore? The way that every third or tenth book–if you are lucky–seems interesting? At Casco Bay, you can close your eyes, grab anything, and you must have it!
Hausfrau mamas served us wildly delicious baked hummus and feta and a pink “Hip Mama Heart” cake. Nicole’s muthah-zine is a must-have for anyone who voted against W. Just send $12 (check to Nicole Chaison) for a one-year subscription: Hausfrau, P.O. Box 10383, Portland, ME, 04104. Maybe she’ll even put some of the potluck recipes in the next issue.
Which way to Burlington, VT? The weather couldn’t have been more perfect as we crossed the White Mountains. At first it seemed nutty that we had two readings back to back and right next door to each other, but both were packed with moms and kids and friends. Long live the Peace & Justice Center!
I was so star-struck to finally meet Annie Downey, I can’t even tell you.
We’d lost out mics by this time, but still managed to prove that there’s no reason in the world not to welcome children to book readings. Our stories were written in utter chaos, and so they should be performed in chaos!
We were rewarded with the Mama Says newsletter, frothy white beer, and Thai chicken burritos. The folks at Mama Says actually have a Mama Care fund! They gift local mamas with massages!
For the readings, we’d been drawing numbers to see who should go first-second-third-fourth, but China requested special permission to go last for our final show. Six-foot-three or so, and suddenly China was Bigfoot in this crazy-fury mask!
Abide in me, as I in you she began . . .
As Bigfoot loved me,
so I have loved you
Continue in my love,
Abide in my love . . .
Love each other!
If the world hates you,
Know that it hated me
Before it hated you.
You are not of this world . . .
I’m telling you this
cuz when the time comes,
I want you to remember.
Because I’m leaving you now.
I had some other things to say, but I don’t think you can handle them. . .
In this world you will have tribulation
But be of good cheer!
I have overcome this world . . .
Momentum and weather and Bigfoot love had reached a Crescendo in Burlington . . . we trickled back down. Four had become three, and then we were two, and we ate breakfast for $1 at the Roadkill Cafe. Then we without car and on foot, then train and planes and bus and taxi, which all happened very fast, and soon we were home and it was as if it had all been a dream, but the kind of dream where when you wake up, you have a grand pile of mama zines next to your bed.