This is basically how I felt yesterday.
I have a story for you. It’s not exactly the story I wanted to tell you (or rather, half of it isn’t, but i’m going to tell it to you anyway, because you’re my people, and that’s who we are. Grab a coffee and let’s have at it.
If you follow my posts/Facebook/Twitter/were within earshot of me this past Friday, you would know that I had a big day planned. Why? I was going to meet Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. Not only did I have tickets to attend a luncheon event with Deb, but I had also had the honor of being invited to a local bloggers meet and greet with her later on that evening before an additional booksigning event. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I know this could fall into the category of “Things You Say to Famous Food Bloggers at Parties,” but Deb truly is the biggest blogger-related reason that I began doing this. You know as well as I do that there are a multitude of blogs out there, some good, some not so good. At one point, as I was weeding through recipe sites trying to teach myself about cooking, I found Smitten Kitchen. It was like a beacon of light in the darkness. Her site was beautiful – unflashy yet stunning – and I couldn’t tear myself away from her writing. I found myself reading post after post, clicking on links to catch up on her stories and see all the things she had made. I was, yes, smitten with Deb and the way she treated both food and words.
Fast forward five years, and I still count her as one of my favorite ever blogs. She made me feel, through her informal writing style and gorgeous photos and pitch-perfect recipes, like I could actually do this too. Would I be as good at it as she was? Maybe not, but for the first time, she made it look like so much fun to cook food and then talk about it. And she was helping me learn how to cook without failing, recipe by recipe, and I wanted to do that too. Add one newborn baby and a decision to stay home with her, and here we are.
So meeting her Friday was going to be a big highlight in my real life and blog life. I planned outfits, I scheduled the day. My sister flew in from Nashville to go to the luncheon with me. And then, I woke up. Not to reality, per se, but rather to some sneak attack snowstorm on Friday morning.
People, we have had some snow this year. It’s been huge. St. Louis, if it is anything, is prepared for winter weather; I swear I have seen salt kiss the roads in mid-May because someone prank-called MODOT and said there were flurries on the way. So I don’t know what happened yesterday, but the snow took everyone by surprise. It was light, but it was serious, and we were not prepared. People drove to fast. By the time I turned on the news, they were showing what seemed to be the opening scenes from The Walking Dead. Cars were abandoned in ditches and on roads. No one was getting anywhere. I lost it.
And then, it died down. Cars were cleared, the winter storm receded, and I adjusted my plans. We arrived 45 minutes early to the luncheon, went and had coffee, and walked in with time to spare. All my driving fears were eased. The lunch was incredible, Deb is easily the most likeable person you will ever hope to meet, should you be lucky enough to meet her. I took notes while she answered questions and I have so much to tell you about her take on food. She was radiant, not at all intimidating, and made everyone feel at home. The day was going great.
We came back to the house, did a few things, and I set out to attend my big food blogger meet and greet. Not only would I be meeting Deb in a small group setting, but I would also be meeting more of my local food blogger friends in person for the first time. The few I met I barely got to speak to at the RFT Awards in January (which, FYI, if you meet me at an event where I may be asked to get on stage and say something, it’s never going to go well. You won’t be meeting “me” as much as you’ll be meeting “exceptionally anxious me”), so this was going to be a great chance to get to know everyone and talk Deb’s ear off at the same time. I was going to tell her how much she inspired me, and had even thought of a few non-stalkery ways to say that. I left over an hour early just to make sure I had time to spare.
But St. Louis weather had thrown down the gauntlet, and I had severely underestimated my opponent. I sat in accident after accident. Traffic was at a standstill. I had to move over a lane on three separate occasions to allow emergency vehicles through. The minutes I had to spare were sucked into a supermassive black hole. I was determined to make it, and even though I hate to be late, it didn’t matter, and I was really hoping she wouldn’t mind. I finally got to my destination 20 minutes late, parked my car in the first parking space I saw, and ran a few blocks to the bookstore. Yes, ran. I made it inside and managed to tell the man at the front desk that I was here for the blogger event.
Only to find out that this blogger event I spoke of was not where I was, but rather it was happening at their Downtown location.
People, i had no idea they had a Downtown location. Currently, I live in the suburbs of St. Louis, but I used to live in the city, and this particular Left Bank Books was the only one I knew of. Ever. Because I live outside the city, the area I was in reasonably qualifies as “downtown” to me Also, this bookstore was only a few streets over from where the luncheon was held, so when I Google-mapped the location, this is the one which pulled up. It never occurred to me that there would be a different location to go to, and with the snow completely throwing me off my game, I never had the chance to call anything into question.
I know the guy at the desk felt bad for me. You could see it in his face as he tried to deal with my shock and dismay. “The booksigning goes on until 10 pm,” he said; you could still go?” I don’t remember which words came out of my mouth, but I tried to play it cool as I explained that I had already had my book signed, and I was to attend a private meet and greet with Deb prior to the event. I gathered whatever was left of myself and walked out, with the guy softly shouting the address of the downtown location to my back.
I made it to the sidewalk before I lost it. And friends, “lost it” is probably an understatement. It began with sniffles, followed by that sad hiccupy sound you make when you’re super trying to hold in the sadness. Then came the body-wracking sobs, full force, as I walked a few blocks, in that wretched snow, back to my poorly-parked car. I sat in my car for a full 10 minutes crying for all sorts of reasons. I had missed my chance to meet Deb. I looked like a fool who couldn’t figure out where she was supposed to be. I was so late, and the traffic was so dire, that I had zero chance of making the meet and greet.
And all the local bloggers here – whom I don’t even know in person, by the way – were so nice about it. They saved me a seat when I tweeted that I would be late, they even followed up (presumably as I was dissolving in tears on the street) that there was still a seat waiting. They held my seat and they don’t even know me, people. Chances are quite a few of them (because I had to tell them what ultimately happened) think I am a bubble-brained, unreliable idiot now.
Dear St. Louis food bloggers; this part is for you. Ask the others here; I swear I’m not like this. I can give you references. I get things done early, I plan well, I meet deadlines. I am not the person who is overly late to events only to find out she has traveled to the wrong location. I promise. Thank you all for being so very nice, and I can’t wait to meet all of you. Next time we plan something, I know Deb won’t be there, but I’m going to probably get their five hours early and just wait for the rest of you.
Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t just head downtown, attend the event, and wait around until it ended to say hi to Deb and my fellow food compadres. Well, between the snow and the sobs, I looked like the Loch Ness Monster, and that wouldn’t have played well. Mostly, however, it was because I have only missed the Wee One’s bedtime tuck-in twice. She’s two and a half years old, and all she knew was that her mommy had errands to do, but that I was coming to get her that evening. When I promise her something, I keep that promise, and she trusts me. It was late enough, and honestly, all I wanted at that point was to feel those two chubby toddler arms around my neck.
So my really awesome day went dead south, just like that. After the sobbing subsided, I realized that had I not had the tickets to the luncheon, I wouldn’t have seen her at all, and I was grateful I had been there. If there is a silver lining, it is that even had I not detoured into the wrong location, that traffic had been so horrific I would have never made it to the downtown location anyway. I spent the time equivalent of a drive to Paducah, Kentucky to ultimately do nothing, but I my car wasn’t stranded and I made it home safely, which is more than I can say for lots of people yesterday. Either way, I had a lot of time to think on the way home, and my day, though poorly ended, had been pretty good up until that point.
I am in the middle of making something out of Deb’s book to share with you, along with all the things she talked about at our luncheon. You all were so fun to have with me (virtually) yesterday that I owed you, at the very least, a rundown of the day, good and bad. So many of you knew about my plans that I didn’t want to leave you hanging. My sister had to console me last night, and she is my best friend, so I’ll be spending the rest of the weekend with her, because I never feel like I get to see her enough. I will write an email to Deb which expresses, with any luck, my apologies for missing out on the meet and greet and my much-deserved worship of everything she does. I hope she understands; she seems like such a gracious person that I imagine she will. For sure I know she’ll understand about horrible days being instantly remedied by the arms of a sweet baby; this much I know. People, she’s every bit the awesome you think she is. I can’t wait to tell you.