APW Book Tour: Austin

The Amazing Wonderful Fabulous & Kind Team—Organizers: Elissa R. for the taco after party * Photographers: Elissa R. Photography (Digital) & Zachary Hunt Photography (Instant)* Event Venue: Book Woman, Austin’s Feminist Bookstore *


Until this trip, I’d never been to Texas. I’m not sure how that happened, given how huge Texas is and how many friends I have in Texas (it seems like half my friends at NYU were from the arts high school in Houston), but there you are. So I was curious, to say the least. And what I can tell you is that Texas treated me very, very well, and it was also the hardest and most exhausting part of my book tour.

I showed up in Houston where one of my best girlfriends lives. She put me right to bed, and then I was up at 6:30 am for super delicious hipster Houston breakfast, and then off to rent a car and drive to Austin. I listened to country the whole way because it seemed like the thing to do. Also, a lot of country songs surprise you by being about Jesus, right at the end. Which I suppose isn’t surprising, once you know the drill. But it was like: heartbreak, I love my jeans, I love my dog, I love my wife, love my kids, I love ice cold beer… I love Jesus! And every time I was surprised by the final twist. But I digress.

So, I arrived in Austin (which is in fact more adorable and hip than you’ve heard), moved into my Bed & Breakfast, and then sat down and did four interviews back to back. Even my publicist thought I was crazy, scheduling that many interviews in a row, but I figured knock them out, get them done. And then it turned out two of the interviews were for feature articles, and were an hour long. Perhaps I should pay more attention to what I’m scheduling next time! But what the heck. I do like to talk, and everyone I was talking to was charming and smart. So by 5:30, I was done with all the interviews and I could hardly stand up, let alone speak coherently. And I had an event to do. Hum. So I lay down for a quick nap, ditched plans for an exciting hairdo, chased a wayward cat out from under my bed (which took ten minutes and made us late). Then my friend Michelle and I (Michelle drove up from College Station, just for the event) whisked off to Austin’s feminist bookstore.

And, somehow, no matter how tired I am, when you put me in front of a crowd, I’ll stand on the chair and sing my song. So I made everyone move up to the front, so we could all be cozy. Then we talked about feminism and weddings, and about how weddings brings us right up against the parts of our lives and culture that are still far from equal and makes us grapple with them. We talked about name change, and how in my opinion, the important bit isn’t what decision we make, but how we open a dialogue with the people around us (and particularly with men) about issues of equality and emotion and family names. The crowd was lovely (Austin you do it up right), and after I signed books, someone gave me a crazy delicious gluten free cupcake to eat, and I somehow stumbled off to eat a few tacos with the final stragglers of the night.

And then, when I woke up the last morning, I felt like I’d hurdled the last huge hurdle of the tour. And after some girl gab and shopping in Austin, and way more girl gab in Houston, I caught a train. LA, I’m resting up for you… because I think the last stop of the tour should arguably be the best. Let’s bring it.

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  • Can I tell you how much I love seeing Zach and Elissa’s photos together?

    And LA shall bring it indeed :)

  • “… I love Jesus!” I am constantly pointing this out! Also in sad songs. “This girl broke my heart, my hard knock life broke my heart, my questionable father figure broke my heart… but Jesus, you’ll never break my heart”. What? Where did that come from?

    • meg

      Haaaa. Indeed. It’s like they just STICK IT IN THERE NO MATTER WHAT THE TOPIC. It’s baffling and super amusing.

      • Class of 1980

        Um. There are many places in the south where “Jesus” is inserted into countless casual conversations that are not remotely religious conversations. Generally, this is a southern rural thing.

        It will really take you by surprise.

        If you want to gain understanding, read “Deer Hunting With Jesus” by Joe Bageant. I moved to the country, got culture shock, and then read this book. The author is so accurate, that Obama’s campaign contacted him for advice.

        A county near me posted pictures of a patriotic parade they had a few years ago. There was a float with a caption on the side reading “Unimaginable Sacrifice.” One half of the float had a display of U.S. soldiers fighting and the other half had a giant cross.

        It’s woven into life here in ways you can’t imagine, Meg, you West Coast Hipster! ;)

        • meg

          You know my family is both from the South and old school Baptist, right? I mean, I get Jesus. But, um, not QUITE like this ;)

          • Class of 1980

            My family is Southern Baptist too. The maternal side from Virginia, but we grew up in Miami, FL.

            So, Baptist, yes … but, ummmmm, NOT like this. This is a whole other world. I promise you this – you can’t grow up in a large metro area and not experience major culture shock, even if you grew up in the same religion.

            So, when I read that book, I was like “yes, yes, yes!” That’s how it is.

            I’m glad my horizons were broadened. I have a love/hate feeling about it all.

            BTW, all the locals are ARMED TO THE TEETH, but there is no crime except petty stuff. They hunt. Many of them would have hardship if they weren’t able to hunt deer to store in their freezers.

            I locked myself out of my car at 10:00 p.m. on the long valley road to my house last year. No street lights – pitch darkness – thousands of stars.

            I ended up with five locals there to help me. One to lend their phone, one to bring me a Cherry Coke, one to bring a lantern, and one that got the car door open so I didn’t have to wait an hour for my emergency service to arrive. And all of them entertained me and calmed me down.

            I get annoyed at some things, and then they nearly make me cry because of their kindness. What a journey.

            And by “rural” I mean there’s just under 11,000 people in our whole county. But it looks like this.


  • WHO is the dude with the moustache? I like his style.

    Lauren McGlynn has already made me really want to go to Austin. In my head it’s like San Francisco, but in the South, with amaaaazing Mexican food. Don’t tell me if it’s not like that, I don’t want to know.

    • meg

      Dude. That’s Zach, Lauren McGlynn’s best friend.

      It’s not like San Francisco. Well, I guess the hipster parts are. It’s more like LA to me though. And while I had some really good mexican food, I’m loyal to SF’s mex. That said, they have fried pickles. Just saying.

      • Gigi59

        Fried pickles are SOOOOO good – I don’t care how many weird looks I get when I say that. More for me!!

      • MDBethann

        Yum, fried pickles! I will be forever greatful to the Texas colleagues who introduced me to them. Austin looks awesome. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your journey Meg!

        • Fried pickles must be a Southern thing; they’re popular in North Carolina too. As are fried green tomatoes, yum!

          • meg


    • I’m glad I got a few dapper photos of Zach. He was stylin’!

      I’ve heard that Austin is very much like Portland. I’ve never been to Portland, though, so I can’t say for sure if that’s true. But we’re sister cities. Except Austin is sunnier.

    • Tex-Mex is very different from California-Mexican. Both are delicious, but they are not the same.

    • Yeah Kirsty, you’ve even posted pictures of him on your blog before. This is him:http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurencleaves/3990172117/ remember.

      Meg clearly didn’t go to the right tex mex restaurants otherwise she would not be saying that about our Mexican food, but really what Texas does better than anybody else (other than my home state of eastern North Carolina) is BBQ. Go, eat some brisket, be happy.

      • meg

        I went to South Congress Cafe for goodness sakes. The mexican breakfast was good, but you’ve got nothing, NOTHING on our tacos. Sorry ;)

        • Austin has some good tacos, but no burrito is better than a burrito from Papalote in SF.

          • meg

            Papalote. Not to brag, but we eat there at least twice a month ;)

    • Class of 1980

      It seems like people are always saying some town is like San Francisco every time a place is tolerant, artsy, eclectic or just plain weird.

      People constantly say Asheville, NC is “The San Francisco of The South” or the “Paris of The South” and that just makes people itch to point out the differences.

      I think of Austin as the most open-minded and fun quirky part of Texas, but still Texas.

      • meg

        It’s totally Texas. And I loved that about Austin.

        Ehhh. While I love San Francisco’s tacos, it’s honestly not my favorite city, so I don’t compare things to it…

        • Class of 1980

          I know you love New York and London. Where would you live if you could only pick one place?

          • meg

            Um. TOUGH. I don’t know, because I’ve never lived in London, so it’s unfair to pick. Brooklyn????

  • Amelia

    Glad you were here!! Zach had a great time w/ you.

  • Class of 1980

    AUSTIN: The part of Texas that went right. ;)

    Love the photos because there is a huge white owl on the top shelf in that bookstore and Meg is standing next to a book titled “Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus”.


    Oh, country music. One time I was arguing against the war, and someone quoted country song lyrics as a rebuttal … and they were serious.

    • meg

      TOTALLY intentional. I said I was so happy not to be speaking in the children’s book section for once that I insisted that they take pictures.

    • Very intentional. (says the photographer) :)

      • Class of 1980

        I am laughing … out loud.

    • That photo made me giggle because I’m 14.

  • boots!

    • meg

      I got new ones in Brooklyn, too.

      • Those boots are kickin’ (wakka-wakka)…but oh. my. god. those earrings!

        • meg

          I got those for $9 in Brooklyn. I got the boots in Brooklyn for maybe $40 ;)

  • tonia

    Although I wasn’t able to make it that night, I need to chime in and say Austin is not like San Fran, or LA, or even Portland (and not just because most of the year is suuuuuuper crazy melty hot.) I really wish people would stop playing it up as “cool” because it overshadows what it really is: a lovable, embracing, modern city that takes each person for what s/he is and finds a comfortable place for them. From raw vegan to black & blue steak, from cow patty covered boots to jimmy choos, its got something for everyone. The beautiful thing about that is that (most of the time) all of the stereotypes overlap and you find conservative politicos hanging out at local mom n pops or hardcore roller derby gals nursing their sweet babies between bouts. Some folks just take it all too seriously. :)
    Glad you came through, Meg, catch ya next time.

    • Class of 1980

      I LOVE places where you can’t just take for granted what someone’s outlook is.

    • meg

      I didn’t think it was like any of those places. I was just pointing out it’s REALLY not like San Francisco. If you were to compare it to anywhere in CA, it would be to LA. It’s not like LA either, but the comparison would make slightly more sense.

      • I hear ya. agreed :)

  • I am praying to the Gods of country music that I’ll make it to the LA leg of the tour. I came down with a cold that I’d hate to spread to APW fans, but if I’m well by Sunday, I’ll be there with bells on. Actually, in a supercute Modcloth dress. Maybe with bells.

  • Austin does sound amazing! And Los Angeles *WILL* bring it!!

    I can’t wait ’til Sunday!!!

    **Ok, I can, b/c I have food poisoning. If I’m not totally better by Sunday afternoon, I’ll just sit in the back with a blankie, since at least I’m not contagious.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I’m not sure that part about country music is a digression. I’ve read that 2/3 of American weddings take place outdoors, but I’ve read on other wedding blogs lots of “Do we have to get married in a church?” questions and “Neither of us go to church or are even religious. How do I find a church to get married at?” questions. There’s a lot of regional variation in “traditional wedding expectations” in the US, and relative religiosity (in terms of attending services, making friends through religious institutions, etc.) is a lot of that.

    • meg

      I am, for the record, religious. But those country songs slayed me. Just because when you’re talking about jeans and beer… I don’t see Jesus coming ;)

  • “… how we open a dialogue with the people around us (and particularly with men) about issues of equality and emotion and family names”. THIS. My husband doesn’t care which way I go, but he had a hard time grasping my emotions about this until I asked him how HE would feel if I asked him to change his name. That question got us talking a lot more about getting married-changing names and all the societal stuff packaged with it, but it seemed like he couldn’t really get my perspective at a gut level until he considered his emotions in the same scenario.

  • I LOVE your seven year pen!! I have the exact same one! same color with the cute little anchor on the top, LOVE

  • I always wanted to get the bumper sticker that says “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” Texas gets under your skin and in your blood. And there’s just so much of it! I’m a proud adopted Texan.

  • Kate

    Thank you for coming to Austin! I had a blast. And now I have interwebs proof that I got to meet you. :-)