I spent last week at the Smarter Artist Summit in Austin. If you look around the interwebs, you’ll see all sorts of wrap-ups from writers who came out of their shells, talked to other people, and learned about writing, marketing, and branding. It was an awesome time, even for introverts who aren’t used to peopling.
Of course I had to mess some things up. It was inevitable, and knowing me it could have been way worse. If you ever think to yourself, That Julie sure is brave! Look how she goes to other states with other people and tries new things! you should quickly correct your thinking to I wonder why Julie’s family even lets her out of the house?
Embarrassing Moment Number One: The Room Key
There were 240 authors at this event, and I handed out a lot of business cards. My business card is black. Just like my hotel room key. What do you think happened? If you guessed Silly Julie must have tried to use her business card to open her hotel room door! then you are a kind person but completely oblivious to my advanced level of social awkwardness. No, I managed to do the opposite. I met an author, chatted a bit about work, and went to hand him my business card but instead handed him my room key.
My. Room. Key.
Let that sink in a minute. Imagine a woman handing YOU her room key, while saying, “Hi there. I write Romance.” Another author observing this interaction asked if I was inviting him up for research. I was too mortified to play it cool, so instead I got all crazy/over-compensating/embarrassed and started sputtering things like “I’m so married! Like, super married! Totally, completely married, like for a quarter of a century happily married.” And the author with my room key smiled politely, handed it back to me, and backed away.
Later that night, I told Joe about this exchange and how it was the most embarrassing thing I’d done at the conference. The Man to Whom I am Super Totally Married To said, “Well, you’ve got a couple days left. A lot can happen.”
As usual, he was right.
Embarrassing Moment Number Two: Unintentional Flashing
On the last day of the trip, my adorable roommate Bobbi and I saw a very familiar man walk off the elevator. I said, “Hey, it’s Julie, I know you from my neighborhood, you are Megan’s Dad, aren’t you?” He sort of cocked an eyebrow at me. “No, that’s not who I am.” As he walked away, he said over his shoulder, “Ming Tsai. Nice to meet you.”
Then I wigged out. He came back with a smile, and offered to take a picture with me. Of course I wanted a picture. I smiled like a crazy person.
When I looked at the pictures later, I was extremely NOT thrilled to discover that my top was unbuttoned.
That same morning, I saw Aarón Sánchez in the hotel lobby. I shook his hand but did not get a picture. He was very polite and I tried my best to reign in the crazy but I was still suffering over the whole Ming thing.
And by the way, holy guacamole can you even stand the smolder going on here?
For the record, I did not mention to either of these celebrity chefs that I WRITE ROMANCES ABOUT CELEBRITY CHEFS and oh yeah maybe it would be cool if you pose with my book? That’s what a savvy business person would do. I was too busy making all the things weird.
I did see Ming Tsai again, and he got a look of alarm on his face and turned right around and walked back to his room. I choose to believe that look of alarm was because he was thinking, Oh, shoot, I forgot my cell phone! But it’s also possible he was thinking, Holy blue dragons, here comes that unhinged middle aged topless woman.
Ah, well. Let’s be honest: two mortifying experiences in one week is a pretty low number for me. The tacos in Austin were good, and I threw down some Jay-Z at karaoke. It is entirely possible the karaoke was Embarrassing Moment Number Three, but the gin & tonic I had that night has assured me otherwise.