Many of you have asked me how it’s going on the book tour for my new book What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, and I wish there was an easy answer to that question. I know you all care about how I’m doing- how I’m feeling, what it’s like to be in the limelight, how I’m sleeping/ eating/ coping, but implicit in the question is a curiosity about how the book is doing. And honestly, I just don’t know.
The truth is, when you write a book, people like to use the word “buzz” to describe how many people are talking about and buying your book. But when you’re the author, how do you judge this buzz? Those responsible for the whole book junket craze prefer that we authors rave about how awesome everything is. They want to maintain the appearance that if you haven’t read the latest buzz book, you’re a good-for-nothing nobody who’s totally out of the loop. If anyone asks how the book is doing, I feel like I’m supposed to say “It’s selling like gangbusters and it’s only a matter of hours until Oprah calls and we hit the New York Times bestseller list.” But you know me. I tend to tell the truth.
Well, the first week was crazy exciting and simply exhausting. The day before my book launched, I visited Northwestern, where I did my residency, to perform an exorcism of sorts and release some past traumas that no longer serve me. Then, that night, I spoke to an auditorium of shy, young college students and cut my teeth on public speaking (to be honest, I think I kicked ass, even if I do say so myself.)
That night, the night before the book officially launched, I went to bed at midnight but was still awake at 2am, and 3:14am, and 5:12 am. I think I finally nodded off sometime before 6am, when the sun woke me shortly afterwards. Why the insomnia? I think I just felt the tremendous gravity of what I was about to do- the mission, the calling, the pressure to succeed, the fear of failure, the culmination of four years of intense work and great anticipation. My friends have been calling me VaJesus, and I guess it was my dark night of the soul. I was just totally wigged out. My heart was pounding and I was having palpitations and I felt like I could barely catch my breath.
And yet, dawn came and I didn’t get struck down with lightning or crucified. In fact, it made me realize how narcissistic I can be sometime! My book came out, and the earth didn’t move, the phones didn’t start ringing off the hook, and I still had to take a shit that morning, just like every other morning.
The day of my book launch, my publicist arranged for me to be driven around to book stores all around Chicago so I could sign their “stock,” (the books they’ve bought to sell). This was a humbling and admittedly demoralizing experience. Having never looked for a book I wrote on a bookstore shelf, I was pretty excited to see the pretty pink cover of What’s Up Down There, sitting on some front shelf. But when we got to the first bookstore, they were like “Who are you again?” And the books weren’t even on the shelves yet. All four books they ordered were sitting in a box in the back. So I twiddled my thumbs, playing with my fancy schmancy book-signing pen, waiting for the embarrassed clerk to deliver the four books, so I could sign them with a big heart, so they could slap an “Autographed copy” sticker on the book. The good news is that, once I did that, they put the books on the front shelf in the “New and Noteworthy” section. Score!
I was delighted to walk into the big Borders on State Street in downtown Chicago to see my book on the front table, right there waiting for me! I felt that giddy, butterflies-in-tummy, Christmas morning feeling, and Jayne snapped my photo in front of the display just as someone snatched the camera away from her. “No photos! Copyrighted material.” Ah, spoilsports. I thanked the store manager for singling out my book and putting it right up front and he said, “Thank corporate. They told us to feature it.” So thank you corporate at Borders. I so appreciate the vote of confidence! Who knew Borders was so vagina-friendly?
Take that story and repeat it times 10, and you’ve pretty much got a feel for the afternoon of my launch day. Were there drumrolls and fireworks? Did Rob Lowe call and ask me to have coffee with him? Does Madonna want to be my new BFF? No. But was it exciting? You betcha.
No book launch would be complete without a launch party, and the one hosted by Sheila Kelley’s S Factor was a hoot- smoking hot women dancing on poles, while we chatted, talked about vaginas, sold and signed books, and rallied together to empower women. The whole thing was very chill and relaxed, and the S Factor women were definitely my peeps. They GET what my book is about, so I didn’t have to sell the book. I think everyone there bought one. And the highlight of the night was seeing all these sexy women curled up on pillows in the corner, reading away until late in the evening. The sight of that made the whole thing worthwhile. (The main picture above is me modeling one of the tutus in the S Factor lobby -- ooh la la!)
The next day, I did the Dr. Laura Berman Show on Oprah Radio. How was that? Well, it was thrilling to stand next to that big Harpo Studio sign, hear my publicist tell stories about how the studio was apparently haunted by the children of the orphanage it used to be, and pee on the same toilet Oprah herself has surely peed on.
How was the Dr. Laura Berman Show? Well, they made me sign a contract promising I wouldn’t blog about my experience. So there you go. There you have it. You’ll have to write your own story on that. But you can listen to the audio here (the first ½ hr is another MD. I’m on for the last 45 min of the audio clip here).
Next, we were off to Boston, where it rained. And rained. And rained. And there was traffic. And more traffic. But I did get the weekend off, and got to hang with Matt and Siena, who joined me there. We rode rollercoasters at the famous Topsfield Fair, saw a 1600 lb pumpkin, petted all kinds of bunnies, pigs, and goats, and gorged on chili parfait (yes, you heard me right- chili parfait. Think layers of cornbread, chili, and that liquid pasteurized processed cheese food they use to make nachos at the movie theater).
Monday was a whirlwind. After 2 ½ hours in more traffic to go 30 miles we arrived 45 minutes late for a community access TV show in Waltham, MA, which THANK GOD was recorded and not live. I spent 1 ½ recording the interview and then Lauren whisked me off to Northeastern University, where the dean introduced me with a 2 page introduction, while bedazzled in a pink tie and pink shirt. I did another college chat as part of the Ask The Girlfriend Gyno tour.
Then we took a quick and dirty stop at Sweet & Nasty, where the girls at WCAC TV told us we HAD to make an appearance. Turns out it’s a bakery/chocolate shop that specializes in sexy parts. So we indulged on labia cupcakes and boobie pops before sprinting off to Boston University, where I did a very casual, sit in a circle with 50-some girls fireside chat, answering more Q&A about you-know-what.
The next night, I did the fourth of my college talks at Connecticut College, which was founded in the early 1900’s after girls got booted out of Wesleyan College. The school has been co-ed since 1969, but their women’s college roots made them, by far, the most vagina friendly of the colleges we’ve attended so far. These girls rocked my world!
The rough part of the night was that there was one woman there who just didn’t quite have a sense of social boundaries. I mean, you all know how loving I am, and you can only imagine how much I’d love to hug each of you along the way as I’m on my book tour. But this woman loved me. I mean LOVED me. Like I think if I had any extra fingers or toes to give her she would EAT THEM. Like she literally tried to follow me into the bathroom stall. Like Lauren had to escort her out of the building like shielding me from her. But she was SO SWEET. I mean seriously sweet. But she kept raising her hand and would have dominated my time and not let the other women ask questions had we not set limits on how much of my time she could have. Afterwards, I felt awful, knowing that, in another setting -- like my medical office -- I could have offered her so much love and support. But at an event where a line of women are waiting to talk to me, I had to basically cut her off mid-sentence because she just didn’t understand.
All that aside, Connecticut College was crazy fun. Really, we had a great time.
So what’s the high point of the book tour so far? Well, it’s not what you might think. Seeing my book on that shelf was great, but the high point, honestly, has been interacting with women, answering the questions they’d only ask their gynecologist if she was their BFF. Just seeing their eyes light up and hearing them talking the campus hallways afterwards warms my heart.
So what’s the low? Well, having to peel my 4-year old off of me when I left Boston busted out every soft spot of my heart until it broke. I only left her yesterday, but today she told me “Mommy, I’ve been crying for 3 days.” Well, me too. Following our dreams comes at a price. And it’s HARD.
But I stand true to the mission, and my daughter said, “Mommy, you LOVE vaginas, don’t you?” Well, it sounds funny, but I guess I do. I believe in my mission. I want to help erase the shame, get women talking, negate the taboo, and open women up to the full possibility of how we can access all aspects of our being and live vital, mojo-full lives.
Is it easy? No. Am I passionate about it? Yes. Will I continue to fight against the forces that aim to keep me silent? You betcha.
So here we go.
NYC, here we come!!! (Ok, we're actually here now. Bring your books and come see me for fun signings today, October 8 at the Irene Goodman Agency and tomorrow, October 9, at Kush! Details here!)
Vagina vagina vagina
Fabulous photos by Jayne Jeffrey!
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