Hours in the Glamorous Life of a Publisher
I sit here at my computer on a Sunday
afternoon wondering what I should write
about for my column in our next issue, my mind goes blank.
I begin to wonder how many brain cells
are have left or how long what's left
will last. The older I get the fewer
that spark, it seems.
haven't showered in two days and haven't 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 twelve-page business proposal and
meet the next issue's deadline before
I leave for my next trip in two days. No pressure.
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 New England state of Rhode
Island. Ah, those were the days. Anonymity sounds pretty good right about now.
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. That everything in my world is perfect and that those all around beckon at my call, leaving me wanting for nothing. That everything in my orbit is always perfect. After all, I live the life of a glamorous publisher. Or so it seems. Keep in mind, things are never what they seem. In fact, there's usually tumultuous turmoil going on in the life of a glamorous publisher. And very little social life.
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 auto and
travel stories, developing new issues, editing new articles, creating new marketing campaigns, selling advertising, creating new sponsor proposals, interviewing candidates for jobs, and producing events. Yes, even on Easter. I'm not complaining.
I love what I do. And I know some wish they had my cushy job but before we go there, allow me to share
what 48 hours in the glamorous life
a publisher is really like. Then, decide.
January, I flew from LA to Detroit to attend press days for the
North American International Auto Show, the biggest press event of the year in the auto industry. I went from a 70 degree coastal paradise to a 10 degree freezing ice pit in the span of four hours. Stepping off a plane into Detroit's dark, cold air is like jumping into the arctic ocean naked after leaving your mother's womb. Not fun.
Press days are a few days prior to the show opening to the public which means most exhibits
are still being built, so there are
plenty of ladders, forklifts and really
cute construction workers with leather
tool belts on. Forgive me, I digress.
It was the last day of press week and I couldn't wait to get back to the warmth of Santa Monica. 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, face down, palms
and knees stinging, where I
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.
any glamorous publisher, 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.
immediately, I began sneezing. Of course,
I assumed it was from all the sawdust
that lodged up my nose and down my throat upon my face plant.
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 convention hall with thousands of workers abound and dozens of doors left open for easy access to forklifts and trucks coming and going.
The hall was about 40 degrees inside. Even the workers had on gloves, scarves and double hoodies. So perhaps my sneeze-fest was a combination of flu infestation and the velocity
at which I was propelled through the
air landing in a pile of sawdust on a bitterly cold Detroit day. Who cares? I just wanted to leave.
to get to my plane and just sleep it all 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. Because glamorous publishers always get paid last if at all.
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.
cop cars immediately surrounded our little inconspicuous
white Chevy press car. Within moments,
five DEA agents were banging 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
Too scared to leave the warmth of the car, I instead rolled down the window
to politely ask the nice officer 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.
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 unsnapped
holsters, just in case I pulled out
anything other than a license, one of the agents grabbed the
license from my raised hands and hustled it away to the fourth police
car in their convoy. As they all huddled
together to investigate, a crowd began
to gather with pointing, snickers and stares. Glamorous, indeed.
While we waited in the freezing cold with our mitten-covered hands up, the
uniforms had us surrounded with
their hands placed firmly on their visible
guns ready to draw in an instant if need be, while others stood silent in their
plain brown windbreakers with big, bright
yellow letters that screamed DEA. How
subtle, I thought. This alone should be a good warning to those thinking about muling drugs. Just being 'surrounded' is a deterrent in itself. I nearly peed my pants, which of course would have frozen in the January cold air before running down my leg.
like a cowardly lion
due to the immense adrenaline I felt, coupled with below freezing 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 WITH THEIR MIDDLE-AGE MUGS!
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. OOPSIE! We got the
wrong dame. WTF?
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?
no, indeed this was real. Apparently,
they'd been on the lookout for some
female drug ring kingpin (or is it queenpin?) whose description
I clearly fit. They finally let us go unscathed but shaken to our cores. Lucky me. Just another
day in the glamorous life of a publisher.
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. The adrenaline
was still racing through my veins from the
big ring-leader-sting-gone-bad, and
the freezing temperature was venting
its wrath on my already numb body.
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.
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
finishing my airplane snack, which they
tried to pass off as a meal, I reclined
my seat and lifted my 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.
entering the dream state, I felt a nudge.
It was the sweet elderly Japanese man next to me 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 stout, like a tea cup, he couldn't
reach the floor when on top of me and
began to flail around like a beached
whale. I am 5' tall, 100 pounds soaking wet. He was at least 250. Then of course, he panicked which caused allot of noise and attention our way. To those around us, it looked like he was attacking me. To him, it was mortifying. To me, well, just another day in the glamorous life of a publisher. He finally waddled his way off me.
are you laughing? Do you have any idea
what it's like to get the Pillsbury
Doughboy off of you in such a small
wrestling match with each other to get him
upright, the glass of
water I had left on the table between
us was knocked over. Naturally, it landed in my crotch
of my black velvet pant suit, 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. By now, I'm not a happy camper. The saturated seat was cloth,
not leather, 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 splinters.
finally landed...safely. OK, so there's
one good thing. But by now I'd had 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.
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 for anymore outlandish adversity. I was done.
baggage claim belt turned and turned 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.
spending nearly an hour filling out
the missing luggage report for one freaking little 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.
did show, and by doing so saved me from
walking into the nearest bar
and drinking a bottle of tequila. And I don't drink hard liquor. 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 think you know. Rather, a vision of the "Exorcist"
comes to mind.
pouring my defeated ass 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.
next day was scheduled for moving RTM's
six-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.
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.
myself into the house for the insane began to look like a good idea
right about now. What am I supposed to do now? At this hour? Sick as a dog? Exhausted from a trip gone bad? How much more could my patience be tested?
My daughter Shannon, who's as strong as an ox,
was the only one who came to my rescue with her tiny, two door SUV.
Well, she and her ex-boyfriend who was
6'4" and weighed about 90 pounds.
He was so thin that when he turned sideways, he disappeared. He could never be jailed as he'd easily escape sliding through the bars. Shannon could lift him with one finger. What could he possibly lift, I wondered? Nonetheless, I was grateful for the help.
We all pulled our hair back in ponytails with scrunchies, yes even Todd, and got to work. 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.
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 for another day. But
the worst was over. Or, so I thought.
made it. I made it, 102-degree fever
and all. When my head hit the pillow
late 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.
did stop by the new office on Sunday afternoon offering
to help after everything already had
been moved. After my head spun around
my neck a few times spewing green grime
from my pores at his too-little too-late offer, he left in a huff and
never called again, nor I him. I hope he was
thankful that I let him leave alive.
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 flu 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. The weather is warm again. I feel better.
The nightmare is now behind me. I lived to tell the tale. I survived. It's a new day. Things will get better from here, so I thought, again.
shower couldn't have been hot enough and felt
fantastic. You all know that sense of a hot shower after a couple of long hot dirty days? After getting 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. Calm and normal had returned.
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'd been tested and passed.
then removed the towel from my head,
took one long look in the
mirror and let out a
bloodcurdling horrifying scream that raised Shannon's
diabetic blood sugar to comatose levels.
In retrospect, it was a scream of rage that was a culmination of events from the last few days. But, the removal of the towel from my head was the final trigger.
materialized in the bathroom like a puff of smoke, even before
the end of my scream, to rescue me from the grips of whatever monster was dragging her mother into the hole of hell. The monster, turns out, was my glamorous
publisher's blonde hair, which was now a balayage of streaks and stripes of green and
blue, a look not to come in style for another 20 years. I looked like a parrot.
this be some maniacal plot to drive
me insane?' I wondered. I was too stunned
to laugh, too stunned to cry. Shock would be a good word. 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, tears streaming down her face, cheeks swelled red from laughter. 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!
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 stripes of green
and blue hair all week-long,
single-handedly bringing back the afro
and mohawk all in one fell swoop, not to mention a look twenty years before its time. Ah,
the glamorous life of a publisher.
Did you know that wearing a black scrunchy in the pouring
rain causes the dye to run, especially if you have blond highlights? Well, we know now.
and velvet don't mix.
Pillsbury products for the rest of
returns lost luggage in two days.
situations bring out your real friends.
flu doesn't stop the mission.
can survive a drug-ring bust.
wear scrunchies in pouring rain.
The dye runs in highlighted hair.
your composure at all costs.
indeed, I live the life of a glamorous