I'm off later today to eat sweets and do a book signing at the PLA conference in Philadelphia, followed by my first reading at White Bliss Boutique in Manasquan, New Jersey, which is in conjunction with BookTowne bookstore (Yay! Let's hear it for libraries and indie bookstores!).
It's been awhile since I've done a reading. In fact, it's been nearly five years since I read my essay from Single State of the Union. So, in the spirit of practicing and loosening my jangling nerves, here's an excerpt from the book:
Can one question change your life? I’m willing to bet a 25-piece box of Jean-Paul Hévin bonbons on it.
In the fall of 2008, I was sitting in my office, living what I considered to be a pretty great life. I was single, owned a cute apartment in the East Village, and I was braving New York’s dating scene. I had the best friends in the world and a jam-packed social calendar. I enjoyed my job as an advertising copywriter. But what I really loved were my moonlighting dalliances: exploring bakeries, dessert bars, gelaterias and chocolate boutiques and documenting my delicious discoveries on my “Sweet Freak” blog and column for Metro newspaper and other local magazines and newspapers. You could say my life was good: easy, fun, comfortable.
I was enjoying my afternoon bonbon (a piece of 78% dark chocolate hand-delivered by my boss who had brought it back from a business trip to Germany. It had these lovely little bits of cocoa that added a nice semi-crunchy texture to the sharp flavor). I was definitely coasting. My creative directors at Ogilvy & Mather, the agency where I worked, always made sure I wasn’t overworked. Which was a good thing since my best friend, AJ, and I were often in the habit of lingering over kir royales at Keith McNally’s fabulous Meatpacking District bistro, Pastis, until 2 a.m. On that particular autumn day, I was wondering if Rafaa, the Romanian gazillionaire I had met the night before, was going to call when Allyson, the agency’s in-house recruiter, walked into my office.
“What do you think about Paris?” she asked, pausing in the doorway to adjust her Ugg boot. I was surprised to see her. I had been with Ogilvy for two years, so there was rarely a reason for her to come into my office. I put the chocolate aside—already looking forward to getting back to its thin, almost-bitter bite later—and gave her my full attention.
“Why, are you going over for vacation?” I asked, her visit suddenly making sense. A few months prior, I had spent a week in Paris, touring the best chocolatiers on the city’s Velibs—three-speed bicycles stationed all over the city that, for just a Euro a day, were for the taking and leaving. It was genius because it not only allowed me to hit up multiple chocolatiers each day, but it kept my annihilation of the bonbons from going straight to my ass. After my return, three colleagues were planning trips to Paris and had asked me for my must-eat-sweets itinerary. I thought Allyson might be a sweet freak, too.
“No,” she said, brushing her bangs out of her eyes, still all nonchalant as she took a seat in front of me. “Well, actually, they’re looking for an English-speaking writer in the Paris office.” Pause. Our eyes locked. “I thought of you.” We both started to smile. “On the Louis Vuitton account,” she finished dramatically.
I spun myself around in my Aeron chair and laughed. “What? They’re looking for an English-speaking writer in Paris? To work on Louis Vuitton? And you’re asking me?” That elicited three nods from Allyson, and suddenly my life was changing.
Next stop: Books, Inc. on Van Ness in San Francisco. I'll be doing another reading there on Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 7pm. Spread the word!