It is Tuesday morning and I am freaking out. Why? Well, for starters I am finally going to quit my day job. I gave Head Boss my two weeks notice yesterday and although I wrote a polite little note hinting at my desire to take a “leave of absence,” I intend to be absent for a while. Forever, if possible.
I wish I could say that the circumstances of my life have changed—so much that I can actually afford to quit my day job—but the simple truth is I’m returning to London at the end of the month. I’ll be gone for three weeks, attending the needs of my alter ego (who is presenting her very first academic paper at the Society of Dance History Scholars conference in July) and the only way to get three weeks off from The Shop is to have a baby.
I should have started planning earlier—nine months earlier, to be precise. If I had gotten myself impregnated, I could have taken three weeks off, hopped across the pond and popped out a charming little anchor baby while in the midst of delivering my PowerPoint on percussive dance at the University of Surrey(although my luck, the kid would be born in international air space).
Those of you who’ve been willing victims of my previous blogs know that I’ve been trying to marry a Brit since the tender young age of nineteen. And it hasn’t happened. So I’ve gone the student visa route instead, but the problem with student visas is that they expire eventually. An anchor baby, therefore, seems like a much safer bet (and seeing as The Shop lost power again on Saturday, I could have arranged to get knocked up on the spot; my co-workers could have used their employee discounts to buy me Necessary Things from the Baby Shower Aisle such as the beribboned, rattle-shaped, ugly-as-sin-favors we sell; all things considered, it would have been quite convenient, really— certainly more convenient than saving £3,000 for a Post-Study Work Visa).
But I digress. The real reason I’m freaking out is because Friday marks the start of the Philadelphia Writers Conference. This means that on Friday night, I’m going to have to get up in front of 200 people and read a chapter of my manuscript.
That is, I’ll have to get up and read a chapter of my manuscript if I haven’t had a heart attack by the time Friday night’s Manuscript Rap rolls around. And given that I am meeting with a literary agent on Friday afternoon, the odds of my having a heart attack are very good—very good indeed.
Four agents are sending representatives to the PWC, and I’ve done my homework. I’ve scoured their websites, I’ve scrutinized their lists of clients and I’ve emptied (and I do mean emptied) the shelves of the Publishing-Your-Novel section in the public library. After selecting my target (and my most convincing bright young thing outfit) I scheduled a three hour session with a professional salesman to construct my pitch (this salesman happens to be my younger brother and seeing as we drove down to Hooper’s Island in his car, he had no choice but to listen).
But this doesn’t change the fact that I will have only five minutes to make my case. Five minutes, in which to convince some frazzled, harried and travel weary New York agent that mine, amongst 200 conference attendees, is a name she won’t want to forget.
Fortunately, I have a secret weapon: a new bag.
The moment I laid eyes on the bag— a beautiful, oversized, work of red leather genius—I knew: this was it. I don’t have to explain the sheer necessity of proper accessories (and undergarments) when it comes to building a convincing façade of self confidence (at least I didn’t have to explain this to my mother; my dad, on the other hand, pointed out that I already own two bags. Two leather bags. Two red leather bags to precise—but this one is different).
You know how shoeboxes usually have product names stamped on them like, “The Zena (Size 6.5),” “The Cocktail (Size 8),” or “Sashay (Size 9.5)?” And how the jeans at Old Navy are called things like, “The Flirt,” “The Boyfriend” and “The Diva?” Well, this bag was called “The Authoress.”
Actually, it was called nothing of the sort. It was called “50% off plus another 15% discount taken at the register.” But it will do the trick. It has to. Because another six months at Reggie #1 will probably kill me.