Part of my refusal to conform shows up in a ridiculously long spring break each year to Palm Springs. For over 20 years, the annual trip to the desert has become part of me. Every year is a new experience. I have enjoyed some of the best times of my life in this area with girlfriends and family. Last week, I took a break from the break to visit San Diego and present at six libraries.
As a self promoting speaker, I often equate the adventure to being an aspiring musician playing the dive bars. My fantasy is to be discovered by a super-speaker agent, but in reality, I am pleased to touch a few souls and cover my travel expenses with book sales. Mick Jagger was correct when he sang You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
Last Tuesday, without the help of roadies, I loaded the car with books, my laptop, and a grand sense of adventure. I swiped the address of the Sheraton at Hotel Circle into my Samsung Galaxy phone. I have no clue how travel happened prior to turn-by-turn directions. 128 miles later, I tried to check into the hotel. I arrived a few hours early and they were kind enough to let me into the exercise room. I studied my speech notes on the elliptical.
My first gig was at the Crest Library. For those not familiar with San Diego, this is on the outskirts of the outskirts. A windy road took me to a building covered in red panels. The faded wood sign hanging from four silver chain links was swaying in the afternoon breeze. The show started at six, so I had about an hour to meet the delightful manager. At curtain time, one patron was eagerly chatting with me. Halfway through the set, four more showed up hear my story. The original lady felt sorry for me and bought five books. One for each attendee.
Wednesday morning began on a stressful freeway loaded with California drivers. My Idaho skills were no watch for these professionals. 35 miles later, I was at the Lakeside Branch. There were about 20 people for the morning performance. Between shows and without groupies, I drove to Ocean Beech and walked across the moist coast towards the famous pier. Nothing calms my soul like watching waves pound the sand. The night event was at Fletcher Hills. Upon arrival the manager said, “we hear you draw a big crowd so we did not publicize.” Surprisingly, all six people had ample places to sit. The evening revenues barely covered my double cheese at the In-N-Out.
Thursday morning was a trip to the Wild West. 40 miles and 3,500 feet of elevation took me to a lovely town with one library and 1,500 residents. The staff at Descanso could not have been nicer. Rheana was there to greet me and Christine baked some world class chocolate chip cookies. About seven people heard my story. A young lady named Taylor is planning to walk the Pacific Crest Trail and was very interested in the Camino. She forgot her money and promised to buy a Kindle edition. Her enthusiasm was so high that I gave her to have a signed copy. Her gratitude was overwhelming.
After the lightly attended evening event, I drove to a friend’s house for some pizza. I was lucky to meet Karen Pearlman during my January tour at two San Diego branches. Both of those had over 50 people and a I ran out of books at the first stop. GPS delivered me to her doorstep where I was greeted by the most photographed hound in universe. I had been looking forward to meeting Chloe for a long time. This cocker spaniel has more FB fans than I have friends! From Karen, I gained insight into the Jewish culture including the purpose and placement of a mezuzah. Her nephew, Rueben was also in the house and we swapped stories for a few hours.
The bellman at the hotel provided top notch service so I gave him a book on the way out of town. 30 miles later, I was in Santee for my final performance. A crowd of about 35 gave me a much needed ego boost as they devoured the topic. A young Vietnamese man, Andy, gave me a walking stick as a gift. I was amazed that a stranger could be so kind. He plans to bring me back to town and speak to over 500 people at his Unitarian Church.
Mick was correct, you get what you need…..