What a whirl-wind last few weeks it’s been! Book tour can be exhausting, especially a DIY-tour, which has had me dashing off between coasts (thank you USC English department!) and venues in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Mystic CT. Here are some tour highlights, and tips at the end for avoiding Mommy Melt-downs.
Edible Manhattan: I had the pleasure of foraging with a wonderful writer and photographer in Central Park for Edible Manhattan’s summer issue. With the beautiful warm weather, the wild edibles were in their glory and we foraged for over 2 hours, picking dock leaves, lambsquarters, and violets, among others. Later that night, after hours in the kitchen, we feasted on morel and ramps pizza, a savory wild greens pie (derived from a recipe in Eating Wildly), and a wild salad.
Virtual Tampa: While recovering from the Edible Manhattan photo shoot, I was thrilled to listen to this interview I did with Tampa WMNF’s Mary Glenney of “A Woman’s Point of View.” She and her cohost Arlene Engelhardt even made a gluten-free version of my wild greens pie! Go Mary and Arlene!
Mystic: The family and I traveled to Mystic, CT for Memorial Day weekend to lead a 40-person culinary foraging tour with DPNC director Maggie Jones. Ms. Jones is not only a knowledgeable botanist, but also a terrific cook. After our walk, which my kid seemed to love, I gave a short reading from my memoir and a fun Q&A while everyone munched on Jones’ delicious ramps pie and other wild tidbits. The local newspapers like the Day showed our event lots of love (even writing about it twice).
Before returning home, we visited friends in Greenwich, CT to check on their young ramps patch. While I was nosing my way through the ramps, my kid was romping around on her own (she’s industrious like that), and unfortunately, after returning home some 3 hours later, we found a female deer tick on her abdomen. My Momma rage kicked in and after some thrashing around (our 2-year-old is quite strong), I removed the tick with my Tweezerman, and dropped that sucker into a jar of rubbing alcohol. It was only until our kid was happily playing in the living room, that I proceeded to have a major Mommy meltdown worrying about the effects of Lyme and other tick-born illnesses.
Back to Manhattan: I had to keep my Mommy-worrying in check in while we waited for the lab results, in order to do the two back-to-back events I had long been excited to participate in: Food Stand and Change Food’s Storytelling & Food evening as well as a webinar for Food Tank (input the info on the registration page to watch). It was so amazing to meet artists like the inimitable Tattfoo Tan and to connect with folks who are interested in the intersection of food and art.
I nearly lost my voice the next morning, but thankfully drank tea while presenting a slideshow of my foraging work and neglected food sources for the Food Tank webinar. Food Tank and Change Food are both doing wonderful, important work to highlight the Food Movement and the changes folks are trying to make to our industrialized food system.
WNYC & KCRW: I’ve been a member of these two public radio stations, so it was thoroughly gratifying to be back on WNYC’s “All Things Considered” food segment (“Last Chance Foods”) talking about lambsquarters. I love dishing about food with host Amy Eddings!
I was thrilled to be on KCRW’s “Good Food” with Evan Kleiman, a show I used to avidly listen to when I was living in L.A. I took listeners on a virtual foraging trek through Laurel Canyon and had fun reminiscing about a prickly pear cactus fruit I’d been too chicken to actually acquire myself.
Heritage Radio: My publicist Meg and I braved the heat to trek out to be on Heritage Radio’s “Eat Your Words” at Roberta’s restaurant. Co-host Talia Ralph (pictured above) was lovely to talk to and afterwards, we partook in some of Roberta’s yummiest fare (read: First Born pizza).
Baltimore: Ah Baltimore, how I love you! It’s not just because I attended the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, or the great meals I’ve had at Golden West. It’s not just the funkiness of Hampden and John Waters (who I used to see at the Giant supermarket), or my favorite Afghan restaurant, or the seaport. It’s the people! People like Marc Steiner, who runs his own radio show on WEAA, a delightful host with a resonant voice who adores books and whom I talked to about the pleasures of Eating Wildly and what’s in season now.
What could be better than attending the amazing #BlogU14 conference, and learning from bloggers like People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Baby Sideburns, and Honest Mom, plus hanging with the irresistible Kathy Radigan of My Dishwasher’s Possessed, an Urban Moo Cow, and the ladies behind The Science of Parenthood?
Brooklyn: After Balti, I high-tailed it back to Brooklyn for the AAWW’s Publishing Conference where I was on a panel with novelists Tayari Jones, Min Jin Lee, and Chinelo Okparanta to discuss our 1st book deals. These ladies had the crowd hooting and hollering, and it was so much fun seeing old friends again. #AAWWPubCon.
Tips to Avoid Having a Mommy Melt-down
Whew! So how did I avoid a major Mommy melt-down while juggling worrying about my kid and still showing a happy public face?
1. Taking Deep Breaths. I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but slowing down, being meditative, and reminding myself that I didn’t know what was happening with my kid, and wouldn’t know until the lab results came in, was helpful. Sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing, but I had to admit that it wasn’t worth freaking out about until there was reason to freak out.
2. Key Reminders. I reminded myself over and over again that it was a little like giving birth. As a wise friend of mine once said, “No matter what, remember this: You cannot lose your shit.” This means, no yelling at innocent people, no taking it out on your partner, and always try to be polite. Since I was able to withstand 9 hours of labor, including a 1.5 hours of pitocin with no epidural, I knew that I could keep it together until either my daughter showed symptoms or we received the results. Incidentally, this has also been helpful throughout this entire book-making process.
3. Motherwort. This is an amazing herb that I’ve written about in Eating Wildly, which helped me to weather the loss of my grandmother as well as keeping my migraines at bay. More on this incredible mothering plant later, but this is my secret mother’s little helper. Any Type A personalities like me, who have this growing in their garden, need to be better acquainted with this herb.
4. Be Honest When You Can, With the Right People. If anyone asked me how I was, and I felt like I could share my anxieties, I did. Being surrounded by lovely women at work and having an online community of mommy blogger (and non-blogger) friends, really really helped. They clucked in concern and shared their tick bite encounters. They reined me in when I was going too far with the Mom-worrying. Basically, they saved me. Thanks, ladies!
So the upshot is, our kid never developed a rash, and both she and the tick’s lab results came back negative for Lyme’s as well as other tick-born bacteria. I am thrilled, but because I’m a mother, I’m still keeping an eye out to make sure she’s okay. Which I’ll do until the day I die and even from the great beyond (sorry, kid!).
Staying busy helped at times, because I couldn’t obsess over every little bump on her skin or every moment when her temperature was slightly above normal. Well, okay, I still obsessed, but knowing there were other things to do helped put a limit on it.
And now, we know to always always check her immediately after a walk, even if I have yummy ramps in hand, a book event to plan, or a long car journey ahead.