Eastbound & Down

Sad face.  It’s the third and final update for the Calorie Accounting World Southwest-West-Coast-Semi-Midwest-American-Regional Book Tour, and I am majorly depressed about it!!  The thing is, #tourlife really works for me.  For the most part, anyway.  I am addicted to the idea of living and dying by the tightest schedule imaginable, where every on-time appearance feels like the hugest victory, and the whirlwind receiving line of friends and family (and dareisay fans!) coming to cheer us on in every city gives us the rush and the high we need to peel out and haul ass to the next one.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  (Though ironically, #tourlife allows for fewer showers than one might consider ideal.)  The only thing that really got to me was the fact that our XM radio gave out after Week 1, and eventually the entropic clutter that came to be in the back half of the minivan was definitely messing with my head.  But besides all that, it was heaven and I never wanted it to end.  Let me take you through the final act…

We left off where I was about to take a run through the ridiculous hills of San Francisco, right?  Well, that was about the most embarrassing exercise session of my life.  I don’t know how you Frisco Joneses do it!  You must have the best butts in the business though, I tell you what.  I was huffing and puffing like a snuffleupagus.  But it was a good workout, and unfortunately, admittedly, the last one I was able to fit in on the road.  V. important, because I followed it up with the most glorious picnic at Baker Beach, full of delightful summer salads, blackberries, cheeses, and some hard-earned Anchor Steam.  This might have been the best afternoon of the whole trip.

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I also helped a man with his fish:

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Once I was satisfactorily sunburnt, it was time to head over to Pause Wine Bar for the evening’s event.  I was thrilled with the turnout–old friends from my pre-teens, angsty-teens, and terrible-twenties all showed up!–and I was able to convert a handful of perfect strangers at the bar into eager Accountants as well, so Mission (a little San Fran humor for you) accomplished!!

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After the SF show, we had to drop Sister Sam off at the airport for her redeye back to NYC, and Billy and I drove as far as we could into the night, Portland-bound.  We stayed at a haunted/dragonfly-infested Twin Peaks-y motel (my fault; we should have gone for the Motel6 but I can’t resist the kitsch), then in the morning, as if lumberjack country was laughing right at me, I drove over an ax in the road and we had to get a new tire.  (A travel tip for those not in the know–your car rental company will reimburse you with the receipt!  Learning!)  Despite the detour, we miraculously made it to Portland’s adorable Annie Bloom’s Books on time, and I did my reading/discussion/signing, where a feline was a part of the audience for the first time! (But hopefully not the last!)

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Shame we couldn’t stay any longer in PDX; it’s my favorite place to gain ten pounds in a weekend.  But for our purposes, maybe that was a good thing.  It was on to Kansas City.

On a Wednesday, Billy and I drove 1200 miles.  TWELVE HUNDRED MILES.  We drove and drove and drove and drove.  I’d drive and sing along to the Killers while he slept, then he’d drive and react to sports radio while I slept, then we both slept and left a box of books on the gas and crossed our fingers.  Somehow, after a day and a half, we ended up in the fantabulous Zona Rosa shopping mecca of Kansas City, hey hey hey.  We had a very fun and very fruitful meet-n-greet, made friends with the proprietor of the Kansas City Mark Zuckerberg Book Club, learned that Kansas City Italian weddings cost more than your house (and that if you pawn your engagement ring to pay for the cake your fiancé will be upset), and got super jazzed for the eagerly-anticipated release of Jurassic World.  (We’ve since decided we’ll wait for it to come out on video.)  In a word, it was weird.  In two words, it was weird and wonderful.  And soon enough, like lightning, we were on our way to Cincinnati.

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Cincinnati, Ohio.  I talk about it a lot in the book.  I spent four kind of random years of my life there.  It might almost be my favorite place I’ve lived.  There’s literally no place like Cincinnati, so full of energy, and history, and reinvention, and support, and love, and creativity, and art, and goings-on, and involvement, and community.. it’s like a little bubble of fun and productivity, and hardly anyone knows about it.  But I’m happy I’m in on the secret.  As predicted, our Cincy show was a smashing success, and the West Chester B&N signing a couple days later was a real hoot too!

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And then…homeward bound.

After returning Old Nellie (the minivan, for those who have never road-tripped with a Levy), I was able to enjoy a couple of days to sleep in (yeah right, I had to go immediately back to work the following morning), and find clarity (yeah right, I was out of my mind at my office desk and didn’t know where/who I was), before wrapping it all up at one of my top 5 suburban Chicago childhood malls, Orland Park.  It had my favorite Contempo.  I was completely blown away with some total surprise guests–blasts from the pasts who I hadn’t seen in years, in some cases decades.  (I used to watch TGIF with one of these lovely ladies back when Family Matters and Step-by-Step were still in the top slots!!)

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And…scene.

I’m going to take a teeeeensy tiny break, watch some Orange is the New Black, lay out in the sun a bit, and I’ll be back in a couple weeks.  City Lit Books, Logan Square Chicago, July 9.  The day after Weezer at Taste of Chicago, if that keeps things more organized for you.

Love you guys.  I just lived the most incredible 3 weeks of my life, and that’s for real.

Stay PHAT,
Mandy

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Go West, Young Mandy!

Omg Calorie Accountants, I think we’re like two-thirds of the way done here and I could cry! This summer book tour has been nothing short of amazing. We’ve had a reunion every night of the tour, spending lovely time with so many friends and family scattered across the country. We’ve been meeting tons of new people, eating (generally lo-cal but not always) dinner in a new city every night, singing the Calorie Accounting gospel from coast to coast, laughing, performing, meet-n-greeting, sell-sell-selling, Q&A-ing, hugging, thanking, getting nervous, being humbled, experiencing mad FOMO (fear of missing out, for squares—this is a particular brand of depression I battle every time I have a good time in a place I don’t live in permanently), and on top of all that, I can hardly believe it but we’ve actually been on time for every event! God bless our little minivan; she has done us good. But let’s see if I eat my words when we have to somehow miraculously make it from Portland to Kansas City in 36 hours… More on that later.

In the meantime, another quick update!

Last you heard from guest-blogger Billy Hot Chocolate, we’d wrapped up our dates in NOLA and Texas and were enjoying a pleasant ride through New Mexico (where we got one heck of a deal at the Days Inn in my favorite new roadside town Las Cruces–$50 for a lovely room, great TV selection, nice gym, and a winery/pizzeria down the street! Hello!), on our way to blaze through Arizona and California. It’s freaking hot in June in Arizona, but I felt pretty cool presenting Calorie Accounting to a participatory audience in the Children’s Reading Corner at Barnes & Noble Pima & Shea. Being surrounded by titles such as “The Berenstein Bears: Too Much Junk Food” felt very relevant. Got a few new Accountants on board the next night too, at B&N Desert Ridge. Sister Sam’s shamelessness on the loud speaker helped wrangle up a good crowd—and a few shoppers mistook my headshot for Cameron Diaz’s! They came to check out my presentation, but turned right back around when they realized I was some schmuck about half her height and twice her width. No worries, the whole thing felt like a win for me!

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Onward to California. Billy and I both used to live there, and we have a huge community of very dear friends out in LA. Our release party in collaboration with Skylight Books at the Red Lion was a roaring success. A wonderful reading, an enthusiastic discussion, and even a heartfelt testimonial or two from some locals on the plan. And when the night ends with Mando taking the mike and singing show tunes with the piano man, you know I’m in a very happy place. It was the best. And my goodness, Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade B&N on Saturday morning is the place to BE, son! It was a whirlwind of activity for 3 solid hours! Definitely our most successful B&N event to date. We met so many wonderful new people, sold tons of books, and I even got mistaken for Meghan Trainor! This is nice but I think it means the In-N-Out buckle was a mistake.

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After a quick detour to Pioneertown for a beautiful wedding (and a requisite photo shoot in the morning because I own this outfit)–

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–we headed out to San Fran… which is where I am now… we’ve got a reading and signing tonight at Pause Wine Bar in Hayes Market, but in the meantime, I’m going to force myself to take a jog around these ridiculous streets (Fleetwood Mac should help me through the ups and downs), and will earn myself a burrito reward while laying out in Golden Gate Park.

Do I have to ever come home??? I don’t want to. #TourLife is my jam.

LOVE YOU GUYS! MORE SOON!

xoxo
Mandypants

Summer Book Tour Update!

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Hey Accountants, Billy Parker here, live from Day Five of The Calorie Accounting Summer Book Tour. Mandy and I are having a blast on our march west so far. The tour kicked off Friday night in New Orleans with a party that sent us off in style. The book tour launch was also my farewell after two years living in NOLA. Mandy and I were both touched at how much love our friends showed for the book with a great turnout for her reading and signing at The Hi-Ho Lounge. And if there’s one place Mandy shines, it’s on the karaoke stage, making the 24-hour karaoke joint Kajuns a natural fit for the after party. Her rendition of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and unexpected Backstreet Boys duet with a stranger inspired a group of bachelor party singers to pick up a copy of the book. Hope they’ll be accounting their way into those tuxes after raging with us down in NOLA.

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Then it was a quick turnaround en route to our first Barnes & Noble stop outside Houston Saturday afternoon. Houston often gets a bad rap for being America’s weightiest city, but we were able to find some soon-to-be-accountants ready to slim down to their ideal Naked Cowboy weight. After Houston, we shot right up to Austin for a reading at another B&N Sunday night. This marked the first Q&A of the tour, where Mandy and her readers discussed the possibilities of working FitBit into your Loser Ledger, as well as their favorite season of Burn Notice (gotta love the B&N media section!).

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Next up is two stops in Arizona before our big blowout at The Red Lion in Los Angeles Thursday night. Thanks so far to all the family, friends and new friends who came out in New Orleans and Texas—can’t wait to see even more familiar faces on the west coast. And to close, in honor of our current drive through the great state of New Mexico, in the words of Albuquerque’s favorite podcasting and body-conscious son, Marc Maron…Boomer Lives!

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