It’s cold out there!
We are in the crux of Polar Vortex 2 and it is difficult to believe that I was in sunny California only three days ago.
Yes, I was lucky enough to be invited to join five other authors (Eileen Goudge, Julie Valerie, Jen Tucker, Samantha Stroh Bailey and Francine LaSala) on a beach vacation in Watsonville, California over MLK Junior weekend. To think I almost declined the invitation. Yeah, when the subject first came up last June, I was completely stressed out, and the idea of planning a vacation for seven months down the road was too overwhelming. Leave it to me to get stressed out over planning a vacation where the sole purpose is to de-stress! When the topic was revisited later in the year, I welcomed the opportunity to escape New York City and my own troubles for a few days and now, as I sit in Cosi drinking my Vanilla Kiss Latte (see above photo), I am visualizing myself on the back porch of the beach house looking at the Pacific Ocean right across the street.
The trip started out in typical “Meri” fashion—I was in such a hurry to meet my friend and fellow “beach babe” Francine LaSala at the airport bar that after purchasing a water bottle and a bag of pistachio nuts for the flight, I ran out and left my phone in the store. (I blame my friend Dee for texting me about a possible trip to Las Vegas while I was paying for my items, but it is my fault alone for responding immediately rather than waiting until I could focus properly. I don’t multitask well.) By some stroke of good luck, a man found me in the bar and advised that the clerk was holding my phone. I chugged my beer and ran back to get it. (Okay, I didn’t really chug the beer first.) After getting sufficiently buzzed off of my bottle of Sam Adams Seasonal (yes, I’ve turned into a serious lightweight), I really had to use the bathroom but the flight was boarding and I feared it would leave without me. Francine assured me I had plenty of time and so I ran to the bathroom and back to the gate as fast as I could (I probably looked like a huge dork in the process) and she was right; I had plenty of time. As I made my way to my aisle seat in row 15, a man called out, “Did someone lose her lady hat?” I turned around knowing it was my “lady” hat to which he was referring. In my tipsy state, I yelled, “It’s mine!” and the hat was subsequently passed through the line of people behind me until it was safely back in my hands. I have no idea how I lost it in the first place but I’m so used to losing things or leaving items behind that it doesn’t faze me. I’m just glad I got it back because it is a super cute hat and while I didn’t need to wear it in California, I cannot leave the house without a winter hat this week in New York!
Anyway, that is how my vacation began. From that moment on, it was smooth sailing. The flight there was comfortable and turbulence-free, and there was no one in the middle seat of my row which is always a good thing. I even managed to write a couple of pages of my fourth novel, although I only did it because when I got up to go to the bathroom, I saw that Francine had her laptop turned on and assumed she was writing. I felt guilty for not taking advantage of the free time to write and so I put away my Kindle (was reading Sophie’s Turn by Nicky Wells –awesome book) and got to work. My only issue during the flight was how badly my ears hurt during our descent to San Jose airport. I’ve been having sinus/congestion issues since Thanksgiving and correctly predicted that flying would put unwelcome pressure on my ears. They were still popping the next morning!
What is there to say about the weekend itself? Are you curious what writers talk about when we get together? In no particular order, it is this 1) writing, 2) sex, 3) marketing, 4) sex, 5) food, 6) sex, 7) reviews, 8) sex, 9) children and 10) sex.
I would like to say that we woke up at a leisurely hour, but this is not true for me as I was woken up at the ass crack of dawn by the voices and laughter of my fellow housemates. Fortunately, it came as no shock as I already knew these ladies were early risers based on the number of tweets I wake to every morning before 7 a.m. I got used to it eventually and it wasn’t as if I needed a good night’s sleep to participate in the weekends lazy festivities. We spent mornings talking over coffee or tea on the back porch or sitting around the large kitchen table. I managed to go for a run on the last morning as well. Some of us got writing done (not me…) and Julie Valerie gave some lessons in social networking. She’s a master! She even shot a trailer for the box set I am releasing of all three of my books next month. (More information regarding the set as well as the trailer will follow in a separate post.) Afternoons were spent taking walks on the beach or more laziness on the back porch. During the evenings we drove into Santa Cruz and Capitola-by-the-Sea where we walked around and ate dinner. (There were six of us in one car and so poor Sam had to sit between Julie Valerie’s legs and duck whenever we drove past a police officer. That’s what she gets for being so adorably petite.) And nights were spent drinking wine, laughing, sharing writing/marketing advice and swapping stories until one by one, we all said “goodnight”. I shared a room with Sam and we spent our last waking minutes talking about the books we loved and venting about bad reviews.
Tears were shed when we all said goodbye. Jen was the first to leave early Sunday morning and I was glad I gave her a big hug on Saturday night because while she promised to wake us up the next morning, I had a feeling she would let us sleep instead. On Sunday evening, Francine, Julie and I shared a cab to the airport. Julie’s flight left first, but Francine and I had several hours to waste (or get wasted) in the airport. We were so early that there was no representative from Jet Blue available to check my bag and we had to wait an hour and a half. Once that was taken care of, we made our way to a bar at the airport. Funny how things come full circle like that, although this time, I didn’t lose my phone or my “lady hat.” Once again, there was no one sitting next to me on the flight home and I spent most of it with my head on the tray table trying to get some sleep as it was a redeye flight and I was still tired from the three hour time difference and waking up so darn early! The first thing I did when I got home was crawl under my covers and sleep for five hours.
And that, in a long summation, was my trip to California! What fun it was re-living that wonderful beach vacation while looking at the snow in frigid New York City (see photo below)! Before I get back to the real world, I would like to extend gratitude to each of the beach babes as follows:
Eileen – thank you for inviting me to join you on this mini-holiday and for your generosity and hospitality. Thank you for your humor. You are the only New York Times bestselling author I have ever spent significant time with and I am so happy to experience first-hand how genuine and laid back you are. And thank you for your dating advice and sharing your experiences with me. I won’t settle – I promise!
Julie Valerie – Thank you for sharing such helpful information regarding marketing and social media. Thank you for being so uniquely funny and creative and slickly finding out which scarf Eileen preferred! Thanks for volunteering to have Sam sit on your lap whenever we got in the car! Finally, I promise I won’t share “the picture.”
Jen – thanks for allowing me to vent my concerns/fears about my best friend’s illness and for listening to me talk about my love life. Thanks for making me giggle when you involuntarily raised your eyebrows during your “exercises.” You are adorable and I love you so very much!
Francine – Thank you for being hilarious and never failing to make me laugh. Thanks for the company of your coolness, for not getting angry when I bought the same jacket (“We never hang out!”), for assuring me that people hating Jane is actually a good thing and for being the best airport drinking buddy a girl could ask for. You and your books are NEVER a waste of time!
Sam – Thank you for always “getting” me and therefore making me feel that I am not alone in my neurosis. Thank you for your hugs. Thanks for making me laugh always but making it safe for me to cry as well and thanks for not thinking I am a bitch for some of the things that come out of my mouth. Thanks for letting me have the full sized bed and for being just as sloppy as me.