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Back on an airplane again

I’m sitting in the Richmond airport, getting ready to fly JetBlue to New York, where tomorrow evening I’ll be speaking at the Princeton Club. I’ve got several other interviews scheduled for today and tomorrow, and then I’m flying back early on Thursday (I’m teaching Thursday afternoon). Then I’m heading back out to Princeton next Monday, speaking at the Princeton Public Library. (Incidentally, I’ll be getting together with some readers for dinner beforehand…so if you plan on coming, let me know.)

Travelling is part of writing; if you publish a book, you’re going to have to spend some time promoting it. It can even be fun. This particular trip is STRESSING me, though, for four reason.

First, the flight just got delayed two and half hours. I have better things to do than sit in the airport. (Don’t we all.)

Second, this is my first talk based on the Art of the Public Grovel (not counting my dissertation defense, at which I was under no pressure to be entertaining). The more often I speak on a subject, the more fun I have. A completely new talk is no fun at all.

Third, the Princeton Club is one of those places designed to intimidate the uninitiated. I’ve been there for coffee with my editor a couple of times. The building isn’t marked; you have to be a Princeton alumnus/a to belong, so the place is run on the assumption that if you need to know where it is, you already will. When you do find it and (cautiously) let yourself in, doormen descend on you to ask you why you’re there. If you’re a guest, they escort you into a little side room (very pleasant, of course) where you sit and wait for your Princeton alumnus/a friend to come and get you. I could wish that my first talk on grovelling came in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere.

Fourth, business travelling–for mothers, anyway–is always fraught with guilt. It doesn’t matter how much time I spend with the kids beforehand, or how long it’s been since I’ve travelled; when I get ready to leave they look at me with huge Bambi eyes and say, “You’re leaving AGAIN?” Do men sit in airports and feel guilty, or is it just women?

And then last night, Emily (aged seven) came up to kiss me goodnight and gave me a huge hug and said, “Mommy, I just want you to know that I will never forget you.”


I’m not even a nervous flier, and that creeped me out a little. Probably watching the pilot episode of Lost (I’d never seen a single episode, but Pete just bought the DVDs) afterwards was not the best strategy.