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Thisbe Nissen: Tour Diary

Preliminaries - Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6 -
Day 7 - Day 8 - Day 9 - Day 10 - Day 11 -Day 12 - Day 13 - Day 14 - Day 15 -
Day 16 - Day 17 - Day 18 - Day 19 - Day 20 - Day 21 - Day 22 -
Day 23 - Day 24 - Day 25 - Day 26 - Day 27 - Day 28 - Day 29 - Home Diary - July 25 - July 26

Day 13: Wednesday, June 13, Madison, WI

We're all up at what Allison Amend's dad would call "o'dark thirty," though Emma's wake-up call is even earlier than mine and Matt's. She's flying; we're driving. Destination; Madison, Wisconsin. The day starts out in lighting storm (and we find out later that Emma sits on the runway for two hours thinking what a cruel joke it will be if she dies in a plane between Minneapolis and Madison, after all this...), but our weather improves as we cross into America's Dairyland. Matt and I crack out the Billy Joel and pretty much don't stop singing until we're there. And we're of course there hours too early because I've insisted on allowing time for every possible unforeseeable disaster. Highlights of the trip: "Captain Jack" ("You're sister's gone out, she's on a date, and you just sit at home and masturbate...) and other joys of early Billy; string cheese; the mixed nuts Matt has taken from the Minneapolis minibar (and passing the nut-carrying truck with huge nut murals painted on its flanks, Matt holding our nuts out the window to the driver -- "Look, we've got nuts too!" and getting a heart midwestern thumbs-up).

We meet up with Emma at the Canterbury Inn (which is really lovely, if anyone's planning a trip to Madison...) and walk over to our luncheon with Borders folk from the area. It's such a nice lunch, we all agree. Everyone we meet is awesome -- such smart people, such readers! -- and we hang out just talking about Ryan Adams solo vs. Whiskeytown, about Bo's solo career and his work with Lucinda, about new musicians I'm supposed to look for --- shit, it's Kelly somebody, but not Kelly Willis -- Kelly Holland? Kelly Hammond? Amy, help, what was her name? We talk about Judy Blume (Amy's got a Judy Blume reading group going -- such a great idea, everyone talking about what it was like when they first read "Are You there God, It's Me Margaret?" I feel the need to go back and reread my favorite, "Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself." I find another Laurie Colwin devotee in the bunch, (coincidentally named Laurie) which always makes me feel at home. We eat creme brulee and profiteroles which everyone just keeps wanting to say over again -- profiteroles. It's a good time.

The off to Public radio where the three of us get interviewed by a guy who seems a lot more interested in Matt than in either me or Emma, but he's got the whole package of us, so what're you going to do? Matt stays after we leave to talk some more about his New York Times Magazine article on Ecstasy. I go for a ten minute run in order to feel virtuous.

The reading is at a B&N way the hell out in nowhere and we are convinced no one will show up. We vow that if there are fewer than 5 people there we're doing what Emma says Nick Shakespeare once did when three people showed up for one of his reading in some enormous hall in England: we're not reading and we're taking everybody out for drinks, on Random House. The bookstore is the size of Super KMart and if it weren't for our incredible Borders friends from lunch it would be us out for Margaritas at Chili's across the strip mall with a young couple and their two daughters, Ada and Harriet, strapped in snugglies. Also in attendance are a few women who it turns out are taking a class at UW Madison here, in which they're reading 'Out of the Girls' Room..."! I am amazed and completely flattered that someone has put me on a syllabus! Definitely the surprise of the evening. I sign a book for a woman named Tenaya and am about to say, hey isn't there a poet named Tenaya Darlington, at which point I instead ask what her last name is. (Note to self: go pick up her book at Canterbury Bookstore tomorrow before we leave, with Booksense gift certificate from Jim Berhle.) Emma reads her fabulous "curly dog" chapter again, and her descriptions are so glorious we all become ravenous for curly dogs. We get incited back to the home of our Borders friends, Michael and Allison, and the rest of the Borders folk show up with a package of Oscar Meyer wieners and Chris (a new Chris, not my Chris) proceeds to fry up some curly dogs. We get the whole thing on film. We order pizza and see Allison's printing press in the basement which is beautiful and so cool and I think again that I should get involved in book arts stuff back in Iowa when my life settles into something that resembles my life again. Tomorrow: IOWA!!!!!!

Borders' Chris cooking up Emma's curly dog recipe

The infamous curly dog

Matt having a beer with Borders staffer Lisa

Matt lunges, fork ready, for the curly dogs

Borders' Allison and Tim partake in the curly dogs