Taking Emily Freeman’s lead to share a handful of things I learned this month, from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow.
1. It’s worth making your bed.
Even in a hotel. A friend gave me this tip years ago: make your bed when you travel, because that ensures you won’t accidentally leave behind your eye mask or pajama pants or iPad beneath the sheets. I don’t want to leave an iPad behind, so I make my bed.
When I was in Winston-Salem for book tour, the authors for the Bookmarks Literary Festival all stayed in a lovely hotel in downtown Winston. And in this lovely hotel, the fire alarm went off at 4:00 am, and we all shuffled out into the rain. (Before that night I might have considered standing in the rain in my pajamas next to Newbery winners the stuff of anxiety dreams, but nope, that happened.)
It turned out to be a false alarm, thank goodness. But the next morning we were EXHAUSTED. So I didn’t make my bed, because what could I have possibly left in bed? And that’s how I left behind my precious advanced review copy of Nine Perfect Strangers, the Liane Moriarty novel that doesn’t come out for five more weeks.
2. The prototype for the Empire State Building is in North Carolina.
And it houses the hotel of the 4am fire alarm! One of my kids has long been obsessed with the Empire State Building, so I was over the moon when I learned—just hours before we checked in—that we’d be sleeping in the historic Reynolds Building. (I love having legitimately cool stuff to text my kids from my travels, like my awkward misty morning photo above.)
The Reynolds Building opened in 1929 and quickly received accolades for its unique design, so when they were asked to submit plans for a soon-to-be-built NYC skyscraper, they submitted a similar design, on a much larger scale. And that’s the Empire State Building you know today.
To acknowledge their debt, every year the Empire State staff send the Reynolds Building staff a Father’s Day card. Isn’t that fun?
3. Book tour is really hard on my reading life.
Ironic, no? I’m hitting the road to celebrate the pleasures of reading, and reading less than I have in months. (If I loved to read on airplanes, this would be a different story.)
In September I went three whole weeks without finishing a single book. That might be normal for most people, but it’s not normal for me!
(Although I went camping this past weekend and read nearly 500 pages in a day, thanks to this page-turner.)
4. But The Office holds up.
I don’t love to fly (it all comes back to this) and on airplanes I need a higher level of sensory distraction than a good book typically provides. I usually alternate between podcasts + 2048 and a movie or show.
This trip, my show-in-rotation has been The Office, and it’s been so much fun to re-watch. (Well, fun except for those scenes I choose to skip because sometimes Michael Scott is too painful to watch.)
5. There’s a reason that glasswork looked familiar.
When I was in Asheville, we made an impromptu visit to Biltmore, prompted by the beautiful fall day and current Chihuly exhibit. The glass was amazing, but not altogether unfamiliar.
Thanks to your blog comments, I now know why—I’ve seen his work on display at another favorite destination, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis.
When I shared the Biltmore photos, I was surprised to learn how many of you are raving Chihuly fans, and how many different places his work is exhibited: Maker’s Mark distillery right here in Kentucky, The Bellagio, the Mayo Clinic. And apparently the Seattle museum is out of this world.
6. The generic Beauty Blender is not the same.
I’ve dabbled in makeup more the past year than I have in my life, and last year—at the prompting of a Sephora employee—I got myself a Sephora Pro Expert Sponge (basically, a generic Beauty Blender) to apply my new-to-me foundation (it’s this). And I liked it just fine.
But then this fall I was gifted a Real Beauty Blender. I started using it right away, because I figured I’d keep one at home and drop one in my travel bag. I didn’t And WOW, is it different. Maybe not better (although I do think it is for my pores and my foundation), but definitely different.
7. A Chinese edition of Reading People is on the way.
Now THIS was unexpected! It’s a long timeline, and I’ll get copies when they’re available in a year or two. I guarantee I will share photos when I have them. (Read more about my first book right here.)
8. Serial is back.
And it’s different this time. Season 3 just started up and I found episode 1 fascinating. I’ll keep listening.
More podcast news: I’ve been looking forward to the new podcast Last Seen, about the Gardner Heist, since I first heard about it in July, and it’s finally here. Will and I listened to the first two episodes in the car this past weekend and they were not quite what I expected. Interesting, but whoa.
What did you learn in September?