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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 6: Wednesday June 6, New York to South Hadley, MA

We're ravenous. It's 5:30 and Erin's up eating cereal and then I have to get up and eat cereal because god forbid I don't do exactly everything Erin does We've both fallen back asleep finally when Mom comes to wake us and I pack in a haze (why must all packing be done in a haze?) and sign more books for Mom to send to the French friends and others, and then we're off to Harper Collins for cookbooking which all goes well (everyone tells me to STOP reading reviews, at least till I'm done touring, and I vow to try to stop wanting to read them all, good or bad, that morbid sense of being morally obligated to listen to everything bad that anyone has to say if I'm going to listen to anything good).

I beg my leave at 11:30 and go uptown to fetch the rental car, nearly die in eight taxi accidents, and finally land at Hertz where the woman gives me good directions and seems genuinely impressed by the book I show her in order to get the corporate discount. In a stroke of genius, when I hear her request a mid-size or full size car, I say, "I'm actually really used to something smaller," and they gladly hand over a little white Hyundai (sp? I know there's a "y" in there somewhere but I can't for the life of me figure out where...) So I load it up back at home and hit the road again, this time headed north. I stop in Stamford, CT for an interview and get to talk about Kevin Canty and get told once again that I just shouldn't read reviews. Maybe I'll start listening to someone one of these days. Half the people I see don't mention the New York Times review because, I assume, they, like me, would have been in fetal position in bed if that had been their New York Times review, and then the other half come up and congratulate me on that great New York Times review as though it didn't call the opening chapters shaky and cliched and awkwardly written, and I think maybe I really really do need to stop reading reviews. I honestly feel like I have some moral obligation to do it. Or maybe it's not moral -- it's like being in workshop, and you can't only listen to the people who think your story's perfect just the way it is, because how much are you going to learn if everything's perfect just the way it is? So I feel like I have to read them, listen to them in order to grow. But then it seems like maybe there is no growth to be had there.... Only, when I'm talking with the guy from the Stamford Advocate and he starts telling me about something he notices me doing in my prose I feel like I'm hanging on his every word, desperate, and thirsty for that kind of feedback, for someone to say: "I see what you do when you write, Thisbe, and it's _______." So maybe that's what I think I'm going to get from reviews, that it'll be like psychoanalysis and I'll understand something more if I listen to what they tell me about myself?

I leave Stamford with Teddy Morgan in the tape deck, and there's nothing nothing nothing sexier than Teddy Morgan in the tape deck, and it's a beautiful day and I'm zipping along, howling along, making imaginary mix tapes in my head of sexy songs by Teddy Morgan and Tim Easton and Bo and Dave Z. and I wonder when I really did replace all those lesbian folk singers with a stable of roots rock boys? But they're so glorious and the wind is blowing and the highway even gets pretty up there in Connecticut and all is well.

I am even on time for my reading in South Hadley with enough to spare for a few moments of quiet-by-myself time before hand. There are a small handful of people, including a few who were there the last time I read from "Girls' Room," and Cammie McGovern, who's work I'm been following for years, AND at the last minute the door opens and who walks in but my seventh grade science teacher, Ms. McCarthy! I manage to do what feels like a much better reading of the first chapter than last night, and I also read Miranda's "Spitfire" chapter which feels wonderful rolling off my tongue and I think that it's what I will read most maybe on this tour. I guess you don't ever really know what's going to feel right until it does. There is a really nice Q&A session after, lots of real, nitty-grit, earnest questions, from readers and writers alike. When it's really all done, Ms. McCarthy has waited for me and we go to a restaurant a few doors down from the bookstore and catch up on all the years between when I was a miserable, anorexic, weeping high school student and she was a Hunter science teacher and this moment in this night we are in right now, in South Hadley , Mass, where she is a mother of two wondrous-sounding children and I am this sleep-deprived writer who worked out her shit a while ago and is a mostly functional human being now who lives in Iowa and grows tomatoes, and damn it's really nice to feel like you've come a long way baby...