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48 Hours in teh Glamorous Life of a Publisher

48 Hours in the Glamorous Life of a Publisher

by Courtney Caldwell

As I sit here at my computer on a Sunday afternoon wondering what I should write about in this issue, my mind goes blank. I begin to wonder how many brain cells I have left or how long what's left will last. The older I get the fewer that spark, it seems.

I haven't showered in two days nor have I seen another human being for three. I've been locked behind closed doors since I returned from a New York business trip Thursday night, trying to bang out a 12-page business proposal and meet the next issue's deadline before I leave for my next trip in two days.

My mind feels numb as I gaze out the first window I've ever had in an office. I remember it's Easter Sunday and reflect back on all the Easter egg hunts and big family dinners we used to have when I was living in total anonymity in the obscure little town of Warwick, Rhode Island. Ah, those were the days.

I find myself laughing in my silly little daydream all by myself in my office. What am I laughing at? I'm laughing at how everyone seems to think the life of a publisher is so glamorous, exciting and social.

So glamorous and social is my life that when I'm not traveling, most of the seven days a week I work are spent on emails or behind my trusty Dell with most of my mind focused on cars and travel. Even on Easter. I'm not complaining, because I live the life of a glamorous publisher. In fact, allow me to share what 48 hours in the glamorous life a publisher is really like.

In January, I attended press days for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Generally, most exhibits are still being built, so there are plenty of ladders, forklifts and really cute con-struction workers with leather tool belts. Forgive me, I digress.

I was feeling pretty dapper in my new black velvet pant suit, cowhide boots and black suede hat. But that didn't stop what was to come next. While walking by the Dodge exhibit, I suddenly found myself airborne, having tripped over a pile of unseen two-by-fours. The next thing I know, I'm on all fours, palms and knees stinging from where I had landed - in a pile of sawdust. Too stunned to realize it was sawdust, I rolled over on my butt to get my bearings and realized I had now sat in the sawdust. Did you know that sawdust sticks to velvet? Very glamorous, indeed.

Like any glamorous publisher would, I picked myself up, brushed myself off and sauntered on my way pride not withstanding. Not one of the nine construction workers taking a break two feet away came to my rescue. Either no one saw this amazingly graceful feat or they were laughing too hard to offer assistance. And trust, me they were laughing as would I had it not been me.

Almost immediately, I began sneezing. Of course, I assumed it was from all the sawdust that lodged up my nose upon landing. It didn't take long to sink in that instead I had caught a cold but not just any cold; the dreadful flu that had been permeating the showroom floor. Or perhaps, it was from the velocity at which I was propelled through the air, or maybe from one of the coldest January days Detroit had ever seen.

Anxious to get to my plane and just sleep the whole thing off, I drove back to the motel to pick up my suitcase. Sue Mead, one of our contributing editors, came along for the ride. The sneezing and sniffling got worse. I couldn't wait for the sanctuary of my private and cozy seat on the plane, in the glamorous coach section, of course.

After leaving the one-star and oh-so-glamorous Red Roof Inn, we drove 30 miles south to the airport, where we pulled up in front of Southwest Airlines. Suddenly, police sirens consumed the winter air.

Five cop cars surrounded our little inconspicuous white Chevy press car. Within moments, five DEA agents were tapping on the windows from all sides insisting we eject ourselves from the car immediately with hands up. That was the first clue that this was not just some traffic violation.

Instead, I politely rolled down my window to ask the nice policeman what the problem was, to which he gruffly replied, "Just get out of the car, lady." Shaking in my cowhide boots, I obeyed. Sue was a snowy shade of white.

After fumbling nervously through my luggage in the trunk where my purse was stored, and while all the cops carefully watched with one hand placed on their unstrapped holsters, just in case I pulled out that Uzi I keep stashed in my carry-on (a glamorous publisher can't be too careful), one of the coppers took my license and went to the fourth police car in their convoy. As they all huddled together to investigate, a crowd began to gather with snickers and stares.

The uniformed men had us surrounded with their hands placed firmly on their unstrapped guns while others stood silent in their plain brown windbreakers with big, bright yellow letters that screamed DEA. How subtle, I thought.

Shivering like the Cowardly Lion, most likely due to the immense fear I felt complicated by subzero weather, I blurted out, "I'm just a magazine publisher, what's the problem?" He told me to be quiet, a difficult feat for me in any situation. "Who would bail us out?" we wondered. I could see the morning headlines: DRUG QUEENS POSE AS MAGAZINE PUBLISHER AND EDITOR: FOOL THE NATION!

Finally, a tall, dark, rather young, plain-clothed DEA agent walked up to me with a big, forgiving smile, handed me back my license and apologized. OOPS! We've got the wrong dame.

As it turns out, they had been staking out the Red Roof Inn from where they tailed us all the way to the airport. I wondered why they just hadn't stopped us in the parking lot of the Inn instead. Was the big airport mega-drama really necessary to the success of the bust? Were we the stars of a hidden camera TV show? Had we been punked?

Oh no, indeed this was real. Apparently, they'd been on the lookout for some woman drug-ring kingpin whose description I clearly fit. Lucky me. Just another day in the glamorous life of a publisher.

When checking in, the ticket agent behind the counter obviously could tell I was having a bad day. My knees and palms were still stinging from the sawdust dive, not to mention still picking it off of my black velvet suit. I could see a trail of sawdust behind me as I walked to the counter. Now, adrenaline was racing through my veins from the big ring-leader-sting-gone-bad, and the subzero temperature was venting its wrath on my already numb body.

The agent kindly upgraded me to business class. At least they had big, cushy reclining seats with a foot rest. Finally I could snuggle up to my pillow, hide under a blanket, take a cold pill and sleep off this bad day for the long flight home to LA.

They gave me the aisle seat. At first, no one sat next to me in the window seat. I thought, 'Oh good, no one to talk my ear off.' That quickly changed when a sweet, stout, elderly Japanese man, who reminded me of the Pillsbury Doughboy, excused himself to climb over me to the window seat. He didn't speak English and I didn't speak Japanese so I foolishly assumed, "No problem, he'll sleep too." And he did until they brought dinner.

After finishing my airplane snack, which they tried to present as a meal, I reclined my seat and foot rest into full snooze position. I left a full glass of water on the armrest table between us. After all, cold medicine leaves one dry as does the oxygen deprivation at high altitudes. I wanted to be prepared.

Just entering the dream state, I felt a nudge. It was the sweet, elderly man who needed to go to the restroom. I tried to push my seat upright and decline my foot rest to let him by but apparently he just had to go too badly. He instead swung one leg over me straddling me like a horse. He lost his balance and fell on top of me while I was still in the reclined position. Because he was short and very stout, he couldn't reach the floor when on top of me and began to flail around like a beached whale.

Why are you laughing? Do you have any idea what it's like to get the Pillsbury Doughboy off of you in such a small space?

While wrestling with each other to get him upright, he knocked over the glass of water I had left on the table between us. Naturally, it landed in the crotch of my black velvet lap, leaving me sitting in a puddle of water. After he left, I used his blanket to absorb the puddle. If I'm going to be wet, then so will he. The saturated seats were cloth, so on top of everything else, I had the very wet butt of a glamorous publisher all the way home. And naturally, all the remaining sawdust now turned into wood chips and gook.

We finally landed...safely. OK, so there's one good thing. But by now I'd had just all I could take. This life of a glamorous publisher isn't all it's cracked up to be. After a quick exit, I ran, not walked, to baggage claim to get my one and only suitcase.

I was still sniffling, sneezing and coughing, so everyone around me retreated to a 10-foot distance, which was just fine with me. It made it that much easier to retrieve my luggage and get the hell out of there. By now, I wasn't in the mood to dicker.

The baggage claim belt kept turning and turning as each bag was slowly removed, one at a time, by other passengers. Finally, I was alone. All the bags were gone. I even waited for the belt to come to a stop. Nothing. My luggage was lost. I wanted to scream. Really loud. But I didn't because glamorous publisher's don't scream.

After spending nearly an hour filling out the missing luggage report for one duffel bag, I dragged my glamorous publisher's ass to the curbside of the the terminal where my friend John said he'd pick me up. After the horrible last several hours, I really didn't expect him to be there...because that was the luck of the day.

John did show, and by doing so saved me from walking into the nearest post office and offing four or five disgruntled postal workers. Well, can you blame me? By the time he arrived, it was 10 p.m. and I wasn't exactly looking like the glamorous publisher you all know and love. In fact, a vision of the "Exorcist" comes to mind.

After pouring myself into his car, I tried to share my tale of woe with John but he didn't seem to care. I even tried to explain it in a way that would make one laugh. He wasn't laughing. Obviously he didn't see the humor in my glamorous life. Well, 'that's okay,' I thought, because all I really wanted to do was go home and hide under the covers anyway.

The next day was scheduled for moving my 6-room business office to a new location, an endeavor I wasn't looking forward to. I was sick as a dog and worse, the first heavy rains of the season were on their way. The only help I had was John, who told me not to worry. "We'll get it done," he assured just a few days before.

Before dumping me out on the sidewalk in front of my apartment John announced that he wouldn't be able to help move my offices after all, nor could his friends. It's now 11 p.m. on the night before 1,800 square feet of office furniture and equipment had to be moved all of which had to be done over the next two days. My lease was up and my landlord was not a nice guy.

Checking myself into the house for the criminally insane began to look like a good idea right about now.

Thank heaven for my daughter Shannon who's as strong as an ox and the small sport utility vehicle I was testing that week. It seemed like I was being tested that week, too.

Shannon was the only one who came to my rescue. Well, she and her ex-boyfriend who was 6'4" and weighed about 90 pounds. For the next two days, we lifted, carried, moved, dragged, heaved and hauled nearly 70 loads of office furniture and equipment in what ended up being the heaviest rainstorm Southern California had seen in years. We were drenched, but none of us ever complained. We just did it. And whatever was too heavy to carry, we tore apart with screwdrivers, wrenches and hammers and hauled it over piece by piece to the new office.

By Sunday night, it was over. Everything was scattered in the new office everywhere in boxes or in pieces. The monumental task of putting everything away and back together was still to come. But the worst part was over. Or, so I thought.

We made it. I made it, 102-degree fever and all. When my head hit the pillow that Sunday night, I remember thinking, 'I can't believe I just lived through the last 48 hours.' Why me? Because this is the glamorous life of a publisher. Silly me.

John did stop by on Sunday afternoon offering to help after everything already had been moved. After my head spun around my neck a few times and green grime spewed from my pores at his too-little, too-late offer, he left in a huff and never called again. He should have been thankful that I let him leave alive. I wanted to strangle him!

Much to my surprise, I woke up the next morning. I was amazed I hadn't expired in my sleep from pneumonia or anxiety. In fact, my cold symptoms had subsided. I jumped out of bed and ran for a hot shower. The worst is over, the sun is out, the birds are singing. I feel better. The nightmare is now behind me. I survived.

The shower couldn't be hot enough. It felt wonderful. After I got out, I wrapped my hair in a towel and myself in my big red, ugly, fuzzy 20-year-old bathrobe. Shannon was in the kitchen getting ready for her day. I could hear her humming her favorite song by a group that made me realize I had finally lost touch with the MTV generation. All was right with the world again. Consistency and calm became my new favorite words.

As I stood in the mirror applying lotion to my glamorous publisher's face, I felt lucky to be alive. I thought nothing else could go wrong, because it was a new day, and I certainly had had my share. I'd been tested and I had passed.

I then removed the towel from my head, took one long horrifying look in the mirror and let out an uncontrollable bloodcurdling scream that raised Shannon's diabetic blood sugar to comatose levels.

She materialized in the bathroom before the end of my scream to rescue her hysterical mother from the grips of the attacking monster. The monster was my glamorous publisher's blonde hair which had turned into streaks and stripes of green and blue. I looked like a parrot. Or the Grinch that stole X-mas.

'Could this be some maniacal plot to drive me insane?' I wondered. I was too stunned to laugh and too stunned to cry. However, my sympathetic daughter was of sane mind. Her reaction was to fall to the floor on her knees laughing so hard she nearly choked to death. In fact, so overwhelmed in her amusement at my misfortune, she had to give herself extra units of insulin in her morning shot. The price one has must pay to live the glamorous life of a publisher!

Stricken with fear that my hair would fall out if I brushed or blow-dried it I left it alone for a week. I lived with green and blue hair stripes all week-long, single-handedly bringing back the afro and mohawk all in one fell swoop. Ah, the glamorous life of a publisher.

Tip: Never wear a black scrunchy in the pouring rain especially if you have blond highlights. Did you know water makes the dye run?

Lessons learned:

  • Sawdust and velvet don't mix.

  • No Pillsbury products for the rest of my life.

  • Southwest returns lost luggage in two days.

  • Tough situations bring out your real friends.

  • The flu doesn't stop the mission.

  • Anyone can survive a drug-ring bust.

  • Learn Japanese.

  • Never wear scrunchies in the rain.

  • Maintain your composure at all costs.

Yes indeed , I live the life of a glamorous publisher… Lucky me!

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