We left this story in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a great reading at The Green Bar. The next morning, I was up early to grab breakfast with a friend before heading out to Louisiana for a reading later that night. About halfway through the process of getting dressed, I nearly passed out, apropos, apparently, nothing. Next came the beast-like sweating, then chills. I did the mental math. Yep, I’d managed to get the flu, or something like it, on a day when I had a three-state drive ahead of me. Good going, Davio!
I lay back down, and tried not to move a muscle for the next two hours until I had to check out of my hotel, trying to decide whether I should cancel my reading in New Orleans, then get on the phone with the airline and try to change my flight home, or tough it out, get in the car, and drive on. In the end, forging ahead sounded like the simpler of the two options, so at the last possible moment, I checked out of the hotel, got myself an enormous bottle of water, took enough Dayquil to kill a large animal, turned the air conditioning in my rented Ford up to full blast, and rolled out.
I pretty much actively wanted to die somewhere around Meridian, Mississippi, but managed to make it to New Orleans a mere five hours later. I had just enough time, and just enough chutzpa, left when I got in to walk a few blocks around the French Quarter, grab a quick meal, and make myself presentable (i.e., hide the evidence of illness) before the reading the reading.
The 17 Poets series, a very respected and established reading series in New Orleans, usually holds its events at The Gold Mine Saloon in the French Quarter, but some renovation work on the building’s plumbing made hosting the event there impossible this time. One of the members of the poetry group was kind enough to open up her truly spectacular, turn-of-the-century home in the Bywater to us. I wasn’t sure how many people would come out to a reading in a private home, but the place–no small venue–was filled to brim with poetry people.
I was lucky to be the opening act for a group of great readers (I always enjoy getting my own reading out of the way first so that I can enjoy the other readers without worrying about my own performance), and I had a poetry reading first: a small poodle named Pebo attacked, killed, and celebrated the death of a large bee/wasp thing all during the final stanza of my poem “Senescence.” I understand that the incident was filmed for later enjoyment.
At the end of the very long day, I was glad I stuck with the road instead of dragging my sick self home; I met some fantastic people, and the event turned out to be a fine way to close out the road-intensive portion of my book tour.
Now I’m back home in Seattle, but the readings continue! Tomorrow at 3:00pm, I’m reading with the incomparable Jeannine Hall Gailey at Open Books in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. See you there? I promise: I’m not contagious any more!