Tuesday, May 26, 2015

if i were in witness protection, i'd be dead

Sorry I've been MIA. The other day DM said "Why haven't there been any new posts from my favorite blogger?!" I know I've been slacking when that guy notices my absence ;) 

I was briefly considering going into retirement. I mean, I've got to think I Still Just Want To Pee Alone is the highlight of my career, and I want to go out while I'm still on top, you know? Don't want to be like Michael Jordan coming back 13 times to several different sports and making a fool of myself. You gotta know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, right?

But I can't stay away. 

Plus I never told you guys about the fancy book signings. What good is experiencing the zenith of your writing career if you don't tell the tale?!

DM texted the night I was leaving (I was still at work) and said "Somebody loves you." Spoiler alert: It wasn't him. I mean he DOES love me but he did not leave me this Good Luck Goodie Basket. That was all my little sis. Not pictured: Antiperspirant and Immodium AD. Just kidding ;)
So. Book signings. Calabasas. It's so pretty there, by the way. And they definitely did not get the memo about the whole biblical drought situation in California. It's like living in a luscious green golf course. Also, hotel. By myself. Enough said. 

Darcy Perdu of So Then Stories orchestrated our book signing double-header, and let me tell you, that woman knows how to get. shit. done. We were supposed to meet at her house before the lunch-time signing at the Calabasas Library. She lives in this nice neighborhood and there's a gate with a guard and whatnot. Now, beforehand, we had talked about my whole pseudonym situation. Darcy herself writes under a nom de plume, and Foxy Wine Pocket did until recently as well. Jen Mann also kept it incognito for a while so everyone was super understanding of my privacy. They said they'll just know me as Mackenzie and that would be that. 

Here's the deal though. I can't, looking back, even tell you what possessed me to pick the name Mackenzie Cheeseman. I mean, there's the obvious mac-n-cheese reference of course. But if I had any idea that I might have actual non-obligatory readers, or be published, or sign books with that name, or introduce myself with a straight face, I probably would've given it a little more thought. I had the choice when the book was being published to go with my real name, but for multiple reasons, my continued employment being the foremost among them, and creepy chinless pervs driving windowless vans being a close second, I decided to stick with Mackenzie. I even got a cheese stamp for book signings. I'm what we call pot-committed at this point. 

Anyway, here I am driving up to the guard house. The guard asks for my name and I.D. 

Me: Ummmm, wellll.... here's the thing. I'm on "the list" as Mackenzie Cheeseman, but that's not my real name. 
Guard: ...
Me: See, I'm here for a book signing. Cuz I'm in a book? And I used a fake name because I don't want to get fired and also I'm terrified some chester molester will adult-nap me and turn me into human sushi so... Mackenzie Cheeseman is the fake name. But that's not on my driver's license. Obviously. 
Guard: I'm going to call [Ms. Perdu]. 'Hello, Ma'am, I have a [REAL NAME] here at the gate? 
[Judging by the guard's face, I can only guess Darcy said something along the lines of, "I've never heard of "REAL NAME" before in my life. Send that psycho stalker far far away, back to where she belongs, the land of crispy grass and TJ Maxx." (I kid I kid ;))]
Me: Tell her it's Mackenzie Cheeseman. 
Guard: 'She says she's Mackenzie... Cheese... man...?'  *Beat.* Then he hangs up, hands me my ID, and allows me to pass. But it becomes clear that I should probably not leave or attempt to re-enter the property alone ever again or else I will be locked up in the Calabasas Clink (which is probably quite comfortable, actually. I'm imagining Ethan Allen and 600 thread count Egyptian cotton linens). My crime: Impersonating a funny person ;) 

So. I show up on Darcy's doorstep even sweatier and nervous-er than I already would have been. Darcy, Kathryn, Tracy and Jen are already there, just chillin'. Still, I walk and like I'm under interrogation at Guantanamo, I completely spill the beans. "I can't do this. I can't. I can't live a lie. Just call me REAL NAME." Then I proceeded to give them my social security number, my bank accounts, and my high school locker combination in short order. It (I) continued to be weird for the rest of the day, because I had unburdened myself with the ladies, but still introduced myself during the readings and signings as Mackenzie, and was generally a spaz throughout. I was mostly referred to as "Mackenzie or whatever your name is" for the duration. 

The library signing was good. It wasn't empty, so that was a plus. Two good friends of mine came. People laughed some but then vanished into thin air the second we were done. My one friend had dutifully purchased her book beforehand, and I strong-armed my other buddy into buying one (after he had already graciously driven all the way to the valley, with an iced latte to boot) but that may have been the only one we sold there. (Actually that's not true. We ran into Ken Fink, author of Brass Knuckles, on our way out, and didn't even have to gently persuade him to buy one, he was totally game!) Anyway, my buddy was really funny about the whole thing, he said he told his guy friends "Oh yeah my friend is a published author, I'm headed to her book signing." Guys: "Cool, what's the name of the book?" Friend: "Uhh, I forgot. Gotta go!" Ha. What's wrong dude? If you forget the name, you can always use the giant toilet on the cover to jog your memory ;) But there were cupcakes and it was a good dry run for the evening affair. 

Along with my fake-identity crisis, I also decided  I didn't have the wherewithal to do the hand-held avatar for photos so, here I am. A blogger friend asked if I was "out of the closet" with respect to my secret identity. I made the analogy that I am like a man who has sex with men but does not self-identify as gay. (I had this on my mind because I just read "A Little Life." Whoa. Intense.) Anyway, I took from her reaction that the analogy was not remotely apt or appropriate. So. A more socially acceptable explanation: Real face. Fake name. (Sometimes.) Awkward. (Always.)
And, the evening affair was amazing! It was at this gorgeous community center and we had a totally packed house and I think we sold a book for every person in attendance! And maybe people got their pre-game on because they were certainly a more forgiving, boisterous crowd. It was really fun. As I told the other lovely ladies, it was one of the least painful experiences of spending an entire day with strangers, ever! And I didn't faint or barf or pee my pants (which would have been really awful because I wasn't wearing pants), so all in all it was a win. (Also, Darcy "The Powerhouse" Perdu is seriously a champion at life. I need a Darcy. She was the most gracious organizer and host. And her kids are just... lovely. I normally cringe when people use that word in seriousness but there is no other way to describe them. They are teenagers but they were SO friendly and helpful and not at all assholes. I plan to send my own children to Camp Calabasas in a few years :))

Here's a funny thing though. Out of all the authors in the book, I am probably the least "popular" or well known. I think I had 99 Facebook "likes" when this started and I literally have 4 followers on Blogger. Tracy On The Rocks is not quite as green as me but we were definitely both the "newbies" amongst the seasoned professionals and she and I were kind of in awe the whole night, just hearing about everything that is involved in putting yourself out there and growing your readership and all of this. I was like, shit, should I be taking notes? I have A LOT to learn. And I will probably never have a social media following worth writing home about. That's mostly on me - it's not something I put much time or effort toward at this point. Mostly because I just can't believe people are actually listening to me! Every time someone I don't know "in real life" "likes" or "follows" or comments, I am always blown away. I don't think it will ever stop surprising me that strangers might actually want to hear what I have to say. I feel very "Aw shucks" about it all!

So, social media maven I am not. But I am so -so-so-so- thankful for what I do have. Real life, honest-to-goodness friends and family who are there to support me. I can't help but feel like I am putting people out, asking them to schlep an hour or more in LA traffic strapped to a portable breast pump (for example), just to listen to my strange fake-self awkwardly sweating and reading in front of a crowd. But they were like, "Duh, of course we're going to come!" As one of my girlfriends said, "I have a personal policy that when one of my dear friends is a published author, I will make it to her book signing, even when it is a pain in my ass." Nevermind that it's three little pages in an anthology. They are my number one fans all the way. (I keep worrying that people will think I wrote The Book. No no no. I am IN a book. For one hot minute. That reminds me though. One woman at the signing definitely thought it was MY book. She swore she saw me on Good Morning America or the Today Show or something. I was like, ha, I wish, but not quite ;)) Incidentally, for a funny/insightful and dead-on look at how women vs. men "sell" things (products, or in this case, themselves), watch this video. ("Do you want to buy my thing? You don't have to. It's not very good.... Maybe I should give you a discount.") 

That's all. I'm just thankful. And #blessed ;) I know, I know, gag me, but it's true.

Darcy Perdu, Mackenzie Cheeseman, Jen Mann, Tracy Sano, Foxy Wine Pocket
Purdy ;) 
Photo courtesy of Foxy Wine Pocket :)
I gotta say, I make a mean gift basket. It's one of my special skills. I call this "party in a box." (Kinda like d*ck in a box, but funner and cuter.) Or, "everything white and gold from Paper Source."
It was basically all worth it just to get this. Reusable totes are one of my weird obsessions, along with trial sizes. You could probably circle the Earth seven times with the number of reusable grocery bags strewn about my life (but never, ever in my possession in the check-out line).


  1. Bwahaha! Loved laughing at your account of our adventures, MackenzieOrWhateverYourNameIs! It was so much fun meeting you in person and enjoying our performances at the library and community center. Your reading was hysterical! And the book, of course, is awesome! You're welcome in Calabasas anytime, baby!

    1. Oh I wasn't kidding about sending my kids to Calabasas boot camp to learn them some manners! ;) Xo

  2. I got so excited when I started reading this, thinking 'here it is, she's going to tell us her real name!' But alas no, so I've decided to fill in the REAL NAME blank for you:

    "I can't do this. I can't. I can't live a lie. Just call me BERTHA." - you didn't want us to know your real name because you hate it and it makes you sound 89 years old

    "I can't do this. I can't. I can't live a lie. Just call me JENNIFER LOPEZ." - you hate telling people your real name because it happens to be the same as a celebrity and you hate the follow-up questions or jokes that come along with meeting new people

    "I can't do this. I can't. I can't live a lie. Just call me SPRING SUNSHINE." - your parents were actually very hippie-ish in their children's names and you don't think you're taken seriously by people calling you by your real name

    "I can't do this. I can't. I can't live a lie. Just call me CHER." - you get so sick of people telling you they got you babe or asking if you could turn back time that you actually welcome the Cher Horowitz jokes

    "I can't do this. I can't. I can't live a lie. Just call me MICHAEL." - you have a male name and always get asked if that's your real name (true story: I knew a female Michael)

    "I can't do this. I can't. I can't live a lie. Just call me CYDNEE." - pronounced like the capital of Australia, usually mistaken for Cindy, you have to follow up on the spelling and pronounciation EVERY time you meet new people

    So, am I right?

    1. This is amazing. How'd you find me out?! Are you really Edward Snowden?! I'd rather be named Bertha than Sydney spelled Cyd-knee ;)