Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 6: St. Louis

Where in the world is Atticus the Phanaticus?

It's pretty uncharacteristic for Mark and I to stay up very late. We're on some sort of farmer's schedule. If it hadn't been for the Phillies v. Astros game going into the 16th inning, Mark wouldn't have been up at midnight, and if it hadn't been for Mark still being awake, I wouldn't have had a good excuse to keep reading Mockingjay. We figured that we didn't have to be in St. Louis until our afternoon tour of the St. Louis Arch, so we were okay to stay up late and have a leisurely morning in Terre Haute before our three hour drive to Missouri.

A little after midnight EST my phone buzzed. "Who's sending me a text this late?" I asked Mark as I checked the phone.

Amy--Melissa from Pudd'nHead Books. Are you ok with your directions for your two school visits tomorrow morning? Sorry for the late text!




I don't know what happened. Jason and Melissa don't know what happened, but with a schedule as packed as ours, there was bound to be some sort of snafu sooner or later. Jason had mentioned possible school visits, but I'd never received a confirmation, and due to some email landing in someone's spam folder or something like that, I found myself suffering the Mother Of All Panic Attacks.

I called Melissa. "WHAT? SCHOOL VISITS? MORNING? WHEN? I'M IN A HOTEL IN TERRE HAUTE!!!" Melissa began to panic. I was supposed to be at the first school at nine the next morning.


"WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!" Melissa screamed.






"Tell here that we'll be there," Mark said in his calm, low voice.

"Okay, okay, we'll be there, don't worry." I said. "We'll be tired, but we'll be there."

Technically, had I gone to sleep right then, I could have gotten in a solid five hours which would have been plenty to function throughout the day. I'd have been tired, but fine.

Thoughts That Kept Me From Falling Asleep


2. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, I'm never going to get enough sleep.

3. I wonder what happens next in Mockingjay.

4. If I don't keep reading Mockingjay, someone is going to tell me the end and ruin the whole experience me.

5. Many details of the bits that I'd already read of Mockingjay.

6. Ah, almost asleep. Hooray for me! Soon I will be asleep and everything will be okay!!! Oh, now I've woken myself up with being excited about almost falling asleep.

And so on and so forth. It was a long night. I never got to sleep. The alarm went off at 5, and we were on the road again. I drove until the sun came up, and Mark took over.

Very, very tired.

At the point that this picture was taken, Mark and I had been listening to an audio version of John Hodgeman's The Areas of My Expertise. There's a part of the book where he lists 700 hobo names. We had no idea that there would be so many. We listened to the whole entire thing. I don't know what was wrong with us. It was sheer torture.

The Mighty Mississipi. I'd never seen it before. As awful as it was to drive for three hours on no sleep, I love seeing things in the morning light.

We actually made it in time to stop and have breakfast.

Then, having just traveled for three hours on no sleep, I met up with Melissa and went into Blades Elementary School and did a presentation in front of two hundred 4th and 5th graders.

Yup. 200 kids.

I think that if I'd had to do a small event, the sort of bookstore visit where maybe ten people show up, I wouldn't have done that well. But with caffeine and the expectations of 200 kids flowing through me, I was on, and it was so much fun.

A line! An actual line for a book signing!

After the first school visit Melissa and I stopped at Pudd'nHead Books and met up with Nicki, the owner, who is wonderful and great and fantastic (and not just because she gave me more coffee). She used to work with and is still good friends with Dan, my literary agent. She told me that John Hodgeman was also once a literary agent in the same agency. I told her about his 700 hobo names and how we'd listened to all of them on the way from Terre Haute to St. Louis, and how it made us kind of want to go on a killing spree.

Melissa and Nicki at Pudd'nHead Books, just hangin' out, reading the exact same book in a totally candid photograph.

Then we were off to the second event at Bristol Elementary!

Lookit me, being all school author visity!

Finally, at around 12:30 I was reunited with Mark, who had spent his morning exploring Forest Park (he's supportive of my career and all, but he's seen a ton of my book events and didn't want to be "that creepy guy in the back of the gymnasium" at a school visit). We had about five hours to kill before I had to meet up with Melissa and Nicki and a student reporter who wanted to interview me at the evening library event. What was there to see for two tired people in St. Louis?

Approaching the St. Louis Arch.

The St. Louis Arch is one of those things that I always have wanted to see. It was amazing. We may have been exhausted (Mark had slept a little bit during my Night Of Anxiety, but not much) but it was a beautiful day and St. Louis is a really pretty city.

I totally huged the St. Louis Arch. I may have fallen a little asleep while hugging the St. Louis Arch.

Yep, I went to art school.

The pod that takes tourists up to the top of the Arch.

View from the top.

View of us inside of the Arch.

After our amazing trip up the Arch, we went to see a movie about the making of the Arch. It's the same film that has been showing since the arch was first made in the 1960s.

Movie time!

I took this picture right before I settled in to watch the movie. And by settled in, I mean passed out stone cold asleep in the movie theater.

We had one more event to do, so we drove up to the St. Louis County Library.

Was there a Wimpy Kid van there? Yes! Did I get a popsicle? No, because I was too distracted by the sudden appearance of...


Dan Lazar, one of the major driving forces behind the creation of The Popularity Papers.

My agent! My agent from New York had come to St. Louis! He scheduled his vacation to see Nicki and Melissa to coincide with my visit. I was bone-tired but I could not have been happier. What a fantastic surprise, and a great opportunity to feel like I was on Entourage.

Before the event I was interviewed by Lee Goodman, this local future Larry King. He brought me a flower. I'll have a link to his interview as soon as he posts it. Then, on to the library program.

Making nice with the local press.

Answering questions and drawing.

Dan, me, and Melissa. I adore her. We spent a good chunk of the day together and it wasn't until the very end that we discovered our mutual love of the movie Grease 2. I can't wait to come back to St. Louis and Pudd'nHead Books.

We would have loved to have hung out more with Dan, Melissa, and Nicki, but our hotel was an hour away in the direction of Des Moines, and if we didn't hit the road we were probably going to fall asleep and drive off of it. We said goodbye and headed north.

The lobby of the Super 8 in Troy, MO, or as I like to call it, Home Sweet Moose Head Home.

I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.


  1. How cool that your agent was there! =0)

    ~ Marie Elena aka BizzyMom

  2. The next time you come we will confirm everything eight times, go to the City Museum, and have a 24 hour Grease 2 marathon.

    Okay. Maybe 20 hours.

    Even with no sleep you were pretty much the Funnest Author Ever and the schools are still raving!

  3. I had no idea there were others that share our love of Grease 2! Perhaps we should start some sort of festival in STL.

  4. We totally should. We can dress up like different characters! I want to be Adrian Zmed's hair.