Drove down from Fort Worth to Austin today. Last night’s reading in Fort Worth was small — 14 people plus your author — but actually calming, fun. I had people sit in a circle in the TCU Barnes & Noble cafe. I donned the Burger King Wise Man crown (hey, Laura T. Faherty: It travels well! Excellent work on the gold adornment!) and read some, and talked some, and then the group asked questions, and then the intercom voice of God said: Attention Barnes & Noble customers, we will be closing in 5 minutes. Which means: mighty fine time for a beer next door. Got to see an old friend, Jennifer LaBoon (nee Dasovich) — we go back to Oklahoma City high school days and St. Charles youth group. Also met Jeni’s (I still call her that) husband, Stephen, and adorable son, Will. And Jessie Milligan and some of her friends from the Star-Telegram, or who used to work there. And really? It seems like I spent the entire evening eating piles and piles of tortilla chips, with so much salsa that it was brought to the table in Mason jars. This is something Texas and I do very well together.
Jessie put me up for the night and fed me a splendid breakfast — more fresh fruit than I’ve had in a week. Vitamins canceling out corn chips as we speak. Jessie is so great — so wise and full of spirit and now aglow with a peaceful vibe I’ve recognized in others: She took a buyout from her newspaper job last year and has MOVED ON. I loved seeing some of her artwork, hearing about her masters’ work in library science, and staying in her lovely house with loyal ol’ Andy, her dog. In the middle of the night, there was a terrific thunderstorm — loud enough to wake me and it was just scary enough to enthrall. As for peaceful slumber, Jessie’s couch gets an A-plus.
I’m in Austin tonight — about to go wander around and invariably do more damage to my cholesterol count. Everybody had prepped me for the big changes, at least skyline-wise, that Austin has seen recently. I was ready for that, but it was the urban infill that really shocked me, too — all my beloved frontage roads north of town are maxed out with tributes to the dream of capitalism — I mean, PROGRESS. I’ll write more about Austin after the weekend is over. I’m here til Monday morning.
Speaking of life in Austin, here’s that review from the December issue of Texas Monthly by Mike Shea that I mentioned earlier this week.
If you’re actually in Austin, please come to the Book People reading Saturday at 3 p.m. I’ll be grateful to see those chairs not-so-empty.