Friday, December 4, 2009

Pioneer Woman in Austin

As I mentioned yesterday, my friend Mandi and I loaded ourselves into my minivan to head down I-35 to a bookstore in Austin to meet the Pioneer Woman and have our cookbooks signed.

No matter how many times I tried to explain, I decided that it never gets easier, or starts to sound any cooler, to say, "There's this blog I read. On the internet. And the lady who writes it? Well, she also wrote a cookbook. And I'm going to drive 3 1/2-4 hours round trip in order to get her to sign it."

If you haven't tasted the PW kool-aid, you just won't understand.

Mandi packed some snacks for us since we couldn't leave town until shortly after 4:00. Because who has time to stop and eat dinner when rumor has it that Ree/PW's Dallas event lasted until 2:00 AM (as in THE MORNING. Or really, THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Or as I like to call it, "The Time Of Day That I Hope I Never Have To Be Awake For Again. Ever.")?

We were desperately hoping beyond hope that 1) no one in Austin knows about Ree/PW beacuse they're too busy being weird or, the more likely scenario, 2) we would get to the event early enough that we would be able to be back on the road for home before midnight.

Another friend, and local Austinite, gave us excellent directions for avoiding the interstate in Austin at rush hour and instead took us around MoPac, assuring us that MoPac would be moving smoothly at that time of evening.

Unfortunately, I was a bit unclear about the exit to MoPac and ended up taking the wrong one. Which ultimately meant that, to head back in the right direction, I had to drive over a freakishly tall bridge.

And I have a phobia of freakishly tall bridges. Gephyrophobia.

But that's a post for another day. Or never.

To the 183S bridge: You blindsided me with your presence, but I conquered you with my perilous 25 mph speed, sweaty palms, and palpitating heart. You kept your end of the bargain by not throwing us over your edge to plummet to our fiery death. So I will uphold my end of the bargain and will never intentionally drive over you again.

We did indeed hit stand-still traffic on MoPac. And do you have any idea how stressful it is for a Type A personality to watch the ETA minutes on her GPS climb and climb and climb and not be able to do anything about it? No? IT'S STRESSFUL.

That GPS feature is simply a technological torture device, taunting me with its smug satellite accuracy.

My Austinite friend might be dead to me today had she not suggested an alternate route which got us moving out of traffic so that we reached our destination approximately 30 minutes before the event was to begin.

When we found the bookstore, we got our wristbands for the signing line and found out we were in the 4th group, which meant there were about 180 people who would be in line ahead of us. Ree/PW was going to come out at about 7:00 for a brief Q&A, then we'd cut to the chase and get the signing thing going.

We all crowded into a space the size of a cracker jack box and waited until about 7:20/30ish. One of the bookstore associates, bless his heart. He split the group down the middle and had us shout "PIONEER" "WOMAN" back and forth, and frankly it was rather embarrassing. I refrained. He called it a "Rock Star" entrance, but I think it was just his feeble attempt at killing time. Because let's be honest. The last time any of us did something like that, it was in 3rd grade.
Ree/PW came down and was just as delightful and charming as she is on her blog. She joked effortlessly and was truly absolutely adorable.

I realize the picture quality from my iPhone is astounding(ly bad). Objects in picture are closer than they appear.

She wrapped up the Q&A about 7:40/7:45ish. And then we all got to stand around and wait for our color to be called for the signing line.

Mandi and I spent the next coupleish of hours browsing the store, chit-chatting with other PW fans, and people-watching. Austin might be the people-watching capital of the universe.

I found that all the waiting was making me particularly thirsty. Or my nagging thirst could have been due partially to the fact that I had a slightly elevated body temperature as a result of wearing 3 layers of clothing because some irrational part of me was afraid we might have been expected to wait in a line located outside. In the elements. The freezing, blustery, downright stinking cold elements.

Black Friday lines have traumatized me and I may never be the same. But as God is my witness, I'll never be cold standing outside in a line again! As God is my witness! {fist held high}

We went to the bookstore cafe and purchased bottled water from a guy who was as bland as toast, then hung around and waited some more. At 9:15ish it was finally our turn to get into the maze of a line and wait. I truly thought the line moved fairly quickly and Mandi and I were taking bets on whether we would be out of the store by 10 or 10:30.

At 9:30 we still had to go

up this set of stairs (yes, that's Ree/PW's oldest "punk" on the left. She was wearing some super cute boots (which I also snapped a picture of, but this post is already getting a little tired, don't ya think?)

up this set of stairs

and across this landing into the room where PW was signing.

While standing in line, we chatted with Marlboro Man for a minute about how bizarre it feels for tens of thousands of strangers to know everything about you, from what time you roll out of bed in the morning to the names of your pets to what kind of sandwich you like best (I bet Jason can't even name MY favorite sandwich). But he agreed they are friendly strangers and said he's enjoying the book tour.

To pass even more time, Mandi and I solved all of the worlds problems, except for the phenomenon of why my purse still felt liked it weighed the same heavy amount when I only had one cookbook in it (mine) as it did when I was carrying 2 books in it (hers and mine).

Finally, after all the waiting, it was my turn! While Ree/PW was signing my book, I babbled on about how my husband does all the cooking (with good reason), but that everything I've made from her cookbook has been delicious (totally original, I KNOW!). And then she said to me...

She said...

I have no idea what she said. Everything started happening at once- my book was signed, she moved on to sign Mandi's book, there was more talking, some vague directions from the bookstore associates, shuffling around into a pose for a picture, thinking about how much I hoped I didn't look like an idiot, a flash and then, "Thank you, girls, for coming out." Next!

And it was over. We didn't even get to discuss our possible shared lineage based on our overwhelming similarities.

Marlboro Man and Ree/PW's brother-in-law (who I recognized from her blog, of course) were passing out t-shirts, which Mandi and I gladly took. We thanked them, bid them goodnight and set out for home. At 10:00!

It felt nice to sit down once we got in the car after All the Standing In Line. And my shoulder was hurting from lugging my crap around all night. Because Mamaw is 90 and doesn't get around quite as well as she used to, so pass that Ben-Gay over here while I find my Dr. Scholl's.

It turned out to be a great night, despite the dicey-ness of the traffic and the bridge. So thanks, Ree/PW for blogging, for cooking, and for photographing, and for being an all-around charming human being!


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