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I’m back in Chicago now. I’ve been home since Wednesday night, but it took going through the stacks of mail and all the other crap that accumulated over the past few weeks to feel like I was really home home, and not just shuffling through a familiar landscape of laundry piles and receipts and business cards (am I the only person who doesn’t know what to do with other people’s cards? Where do I put them? Should I put them in a bowl and have a monthly drawing and send the winner a nice gift certificate to Sizzler? I deliberated this as I went through the cards and about five hundred thousand other pieces of paper today.). But now everything is in its place and so am I.

I stayed in four different hotels on this last trip. I have a recurring bad dream about missing the check-out time. I collected all the complimentary shower caps from the bathrooms. I don’t know why. I have this idea I can use them like these things, which I would never buy. That’s how homesickness makes you weird, I guess: I began to imagine this domestic existence covering big bowls of homemade salads, even though I’ve spent the past three months or subsisting on handfuls of dry cereal and frozen burritos from Trader Joes. But it looks like I’ll be home long enough this time that it might be possible to have a legitimately kitchenlike experience in my own kitchen. Theoretically, at least.

I updated the book site. Go there! Be informed! Wisconsin is next.

In New York

I’m in a coffeehouse in Chelsea uploading some photos to the Flickr page. I know this is making me sound even more like the kind of dopey hipster kid that that Seattle Weekly review made me out to be. Please know that I am the stodgiest person in this coffeehouse, the least prettiest, and I think the only female, too. In a few minutes I have to go back to my hotel and get ready to do some more media stuff. The stupid Yahoo Weather forecast said it was going to be raining all week but holy crap, it is beautiful this afternoon. I have to log off once the photos are done uploading and I don’t know if I’ll be able to get back on before the reading tonight BUT YOU’RE COMING, RIGHT? TO BARNES & NOBLE ASTOR PLACE? PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE COME YES YES? Whew. And pass it on, too.

Notes from the road

I hate the key situation. I hate not having keys. It’s not until I travel that I realize how compulsively necessary it is for me to be able to reach for and clutch and stash and dig out my big jangly set of keys. I especially hate that one of the first things I have to do when I leave to go on a trip is bury my keys deep in my bag and pretend they don’t exist for however many days I’m gone. I hate reaching in to find them when I’m almost home and worrying that they’ve suddenly ceased to exist. I hate that when I travel my reassuring handful of keychain is traded for a plastic hotel key card. A card! How the fuck am I supposed to trust a card? It’s barely three dimensional. I put it in my purse and I can practically feel the universe threaten to suck it through any one of its slot-shaped wormholes back into total oblivion.

I do not like that most hotels seem to have Pepsi and not Coke machine. Diet Pepsi in a plastic bottle for $1.50 or more is three kinds of wrong, and it tastes like chemicals and exile.

I wish there was only one kind of alarm clock. Or only one kind for all the hotels in the world. The one this morning had TWO alarm settings and to the best of my ability to decipher the configurations of buttons and light-up dots I thought I’d set them both, but only one went off. I had a wake-up call and I got up anyway, but still, doubt lingers like a fart. Also, how does the “sleep” button work and who are these people who use it? Also, why is the default alarm setting always on radio mode, and why is it always tuned in at the most ragged edge of an AM frequency, at full volume, spraying big blurts of static and unintelligible newstalk? I keep waking up to what sounds like air traffic controllers attacked by bees.

I like those little folding stands that you use to hold up your luggage. I never used to understand the point of using them, but now in every hotel room I find the stand and open it and haul my suitcase up on it and I feel like a very savvy traveler for some reason.

I think I am seriously dyslexic or otherwise cognitively impaired when it comes to reading those signs in hotel hallways, i.e., “Rooms 301-319 –>” The numbers! The arrows! The greater than/less than propostions! Two out of three times I always start out walking in the wrong direction.

I like that I am writing this entry from the Limoliner going from Boston to New York. I checked, and I’m pretty sure that I’m only the 416th person to write a damn blog entry from the Limoliner. Really, it’s the pimpingist bus ever. It doesn’t have that toilet chemical smell that Amtrak trains totally have, either.

I have new pictures up on the Flickr page. Most of them are of Boston, with a couple of cameraphone pics of the day I spent in Nashua. Note to New Hampshire residents: I’m sorry that the only photos of your state are of a hotel and a gift shop, but I’m afraid that’s all I got to see in the very short time I was there. Only a few precious moments there, really.

We just passed a sign for Squantz Pond State Park. Where is that? Are we almost there?

K-ROCK! K-VETTE! K-VOL! K-ZAP!

Tonight I discovered I’d misplaced my cell phone. I drove back to work to look for it and when I didn’t find it there, in the car, in my apartment, or in my car again, I knew it lost and that in the moring I’d have to drive down to the one Cingular store open at 9 am to replace it before I got on the plane to Boston. And I hadn’t packed yet, and my apartment was a mess, and it took all the strength I had not to fall apart, and yes, I know that’s a disco line, but I called on my inner Gloria Gaynor and managed to do an evening radio interview, which somehow cheered me up. And then just before 10pm I got a call from the FedEx driver who’d found my phone in front of my office building, and who, thank fucking God, lived just a five minute drive away and let me come by to pick it up. So this is why this entry sucks. It’s okay. The real world sucks considerably less now that I have my phone, am almost packed, and have the finale of America’s Next Top Model on TiVo.

I am still doing a crazy amount of radio. I look at my calendar planner and that Fishbone song with all the radio call letters goes through my head. I have a nice review in Time this week. You should also get the new Elle, too. It still doesn’t make up for the lack of updates, I know, but I wanted to let you know I know about the magazine stuff in case you email me to tell me about it. I’m going to be in Boston this week. I’m going to be in New York. I’m going to see Monica! The Musical on Sunday night. I’m going to write in more complex sentences again someday. I miss you all. I’ll tell you stories soon. That is all. For now.

Tomorrow!

I’m going to be on Kathy and Judy on WGN at 10:30 am. Their list of past book guests is so great that I’m really looking forward to this one. (And yes, you can listen in online if you’re not in Chicago.) They might take callers, too, for those of you who like phoning in to radio stations. Or rather, those of you who like phoning in to radio stations and who are not bugfreaking crazy. But if you’re reasonably sane and don’t have a conspiracy theory you’d like to incoherently rant about, by all means listen in.

And later on I’ll be seeing Erin read at Transitions. Memo to Erin: in the part of the store where the readings take place there is a little Zen fountain that has little floating chimes, and they ALMOST sound like a cell phone, and you’ll hear this soft “ding, ding,” while you’re reading, and you’ll wonder where it comes from, and then you’ll KEEP HEARING IT and you’ll begin to think you’re going a little nuts. But you’re not. You’ll be fine. And can we go stalk Kirstie Alley at Borders afterwards? Will she flap her satin duster at us? I hope so!

The night after that I’ll be doing my Barnes & Noble reading, so if you’re not tired of (formerly) fat chick books, come see me. I’ve updated the book site; check it out for store details and other book news.

One of these days I’ll have something besides the bee oh oh kay to talk about again, I swear. Thank you for your patience.

Maybe all this radio stuff I'm doing can count as audioblogging, only without swearing and not quite as much snickering

At about 11:30 am CST and then again at 7:30 pm today you can hear me on Tulsa public radio, even if you’re not in Tulsa. (Click on the link for 89.5 KWGS.)

I had a lot of fun doing this one, and I think it’ll turn out sounding a lot better than the bit I did for a Colorado Springs station this morning: a 45-second live interview which included about 10 seconds of TOTAL BRAIN FART in which I was trying to decide whether “half-assed” was in violation of FCC rules.

And how was your morning?