I laughed, I cried, I was poisoned

By Mir
August 31, 2008

I am home from the Decatur Book Festival, and I’ve gotta say that now that I’ve gone, I will go back every single year as long as I live in Georgia, because that particular gathering is pretty much a book nerd’s nirvana. I will go back, and I will do all of the same things again, EXCEPT that I will not whine at Joshilyn that “We HAVE to have sushi because I NEVER get to have sushi at home!”

Joshilyn did not want sushi. I whined and needled and she acquiesced, and so it came to pass that four of us found ourselves enjoying a lovely dinner at a local sushi joint.

Afterwards we went to a martini bar and hung out with some folks and this was all on Friday night, right after we’d gotten there, and all I could think was, how lucky am I? I’m hanging out with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met, this is SO MUCH FUN.

I was still having fun late that night when I left Joshilyn and Karen in their hotel room and went next door to mine. I was still having fun as I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and climbed into the nice big hotel bed. I was thinking about how I’d just met and hung out with Joss’ writing group partners who’d I’d heard about for years but had only now met, and how I’d met Daniel Wallace and Patti Callahan Henry (whom both Joss and Karen call PATTICALLAHANHENRY —all three names, and at top volume, ALWAYS—so that I am now completely unable to think of her as Patti, she is PATTICALLAHANHENRY and that is that) and how I couldn’t imagine anything on Saturday being even better, because this had pretty much been the greatest evening of my life, so far, already.

About half an hour later I stopped having any fun (or sleep) at all, and while I shall spare you the play-by-play, let’s just say that it didn’t take very long to figure out that I was being punished for insisting we get sushi. PUNISHED. SEVERELY. (And before anyone asks: I had not been drinking, so, yeah, DEFINITELY THE SUSHI.)

I’d had about three hours of sleep, finally, when I called Joss at 8:30 on Saturday morning. Because she and Karen are clinically insane, they had decided the night before to get up at 7 and go to the gym. I figured that by 8:30 they’d be on their way back. So I called and asked Joss if she could bring me a few things—a can of Coke, some Immodium, and possibly a new spleen—and she was very sweet, wanting to know why I hadn’t come to get her, the night before, when I was sick.

“Did you want to watch me puke?” I asked.

“Okay. I’ll be back with your Coke in a little bit!” she answered, brightly.

I took a shower and got dressed and put some cover-up on the circles under my eyes and then put some cover-up on the cover-up, and then some powder over the top of all of that. I still looked like I’d spent the night barfing up tainted tuna, but oh well.

Joshilyn and Karen came back and were extremely solicitous ("Well, you know, you look GREAT in that dress!" Karen told me, and it was probably true, because, you know, I was now four pounds lighter than I’d been when I BOUGHT that dress) and patted me and told me everything would be fine.

We made our way over to the festival and met up with Kristen and then Joss sat in the audience and looked encouraging while Kristen and I did our panel. It went okay, I think, although I was very shaky and worried that people would think that was because I was nervous, not because I was completely dehydrated. (These are the sorts of things I worry about. Don’t you wish you were me?) We talked and read and then went and sat outside and signed books, and after the last person had left I thought, “Yay! It’s over! We did it and I lived and now I can go TAKE A NAP!”

Except that there was too much stuff I wanted to see, so I never did go have that nap.

(I did find out, however, that a couple of other people who ate at the sushi place that poisoned me had also fallen ill—Karen and Joss didn’t eat what I ate, and were perfectly fine—and that was strangely comforting. Prior to that I’d wondered if maybe I was SO INSANE that I’d given myself PSYCHOSOMATIC FOOD POISONING because I just can’t be happy. Heh.)

And then, of course, I wrapped up Saturday by giving my husband the WRONG HOTEL NAME so that when he drove out to Atlanta 1) he went to the wrong hotel and 2) upon finally reaching the hotel was greeted by me in my pajamas saying, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so stupid, I’m sorry, okay, I have to go to sleep now.” Five minutes later I was snoring and drooling and he still seemed happy to see me when we woke up this morning, confirming that—poisoning aside—I am pretty lucky OR Otto is a glutton for punishment.

Tomorrow I can tell you all about what country bumpkins do when they have a child-free day in Atlanta. And how they go right ahead and do it even though one of them is still sort of sick and exhausted and not entirely lucid. Woo!


  1. Em

    I’m glad you mostly had fun. I only wish you had only fun without the food poisoning. Maybe this is the universe’s way of making sure the next one is even better (if this one would have been perfect without being sick, NOT being sick will vastly improve the following festival. Follow?).

    I get you on worrying about the reason people think you are shakey. I went on a whale watch last week and had an anxiety attack when we saw, you know, WHALES. Maybe not anxiety, maybe just sh*t-your-pants fear. Anyway, I decided if anyone saw me crying, I would prentend I was overcome by the majesty of the animal, not fear of death by swallowing. Luckily, no one did. I don’t know if I could have pulled it off.

  2. Courtenay

    wow, i really needed a good laugh tonight, even if it was at your expense. thanks for making the ordinary funny….hope you’re all better.

  3. TTULizzy

    Sounds like a fun weekend! Well, minus the food poisoning.

    Are you going to be at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville in October?

    Hope you are feeling better!

  4. Fold My Laundry Please

    Food poisoning is the worst! My husband and I drove 3 hours to eat at a restaurant that we used to live near and really loved. I had the seafood medley pasta thingy. I only made it through 2 hours and 50 minutes of the drive home before the pukage began. I haven’t been able to even look at seafood without my stomach lurching and it’s been at least 4 months! The best part was that the lady at the restaurant said that she would reluctantly refund me the price of my meal, but that if it were really food poisoning, it would have come back within an hour of eating it. Because apparently that’s what happens when their other customers are poisoned!

    It is no longer my favorite restaurant.

  5. Hip Mom's Guide

    Well, the book nerd’s nirvana part sounds awesome, but oooh, so sorry about the rest. Hope you get great sleep tonight and everyone lets you sleep in tomorrow. Ha!

  6. liz

    You were lovely! I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong at all if you hadn’t told me beforehand. (By the way, some of those posts I read in the book last night made me laugh so hard that I cried.)

  7. elizabeth

    you did look fabulous and I never would have known you were recovering from being poisoned had you not mentioned it. still, that is why I talked Linda out of the sushi place for lunch.

  8. Janssen

    Wow, that sounds like an amazing book festival. Texas has a killer one too every fall, started by Laura Bush when W was governor here. I can’t wait for it!

  9. All Adither

    Sushi does frighten me a little. I stick with California rolls. Which are safe. As long as there’s no salmonella outbreak on cucumber. Or carrots. Or rice. Or Nori.

  10. Astrogirl426

    Well, I am absolutely blown away. The things you’re willing to do for the creative process. Food poisoning? The night before you’re about to speak on a panel? Most other bloggers would be satisfied with just writing about a pleasant experience at the Decatur Book Festival; but not our Mir. Pretty, pretty Mir went the extra mile and ate questionable sushi JUST so we, her audience, could have be entertained. You, my dear, are amazing.

    Of course, you know that you’re going to have to do something really phenomenal to top this, at next year’s festival. Like maybe lose a limb. Or streak.

  11. Mike Golch

    Mir, I hope that you are haveing a great weekend.

  12. Karen

    The last time I had food poisoning was from salmon patties that I made. And then I had to ride all the way to Page, Arizona the next day, 125 miles. I slept all the way there, most of the time I was in Wal-Mart (shopping in my sleep) and all the way back. Major pukage. Sorry you were sick in my home town.

  13. Heather

    “I am pretty lucky OR Otto is a glutton for punishment.” – I’m gonna go with both ;-)

  14. Lady M

    Psychosomatic food poisoning – I could totally do that to myself too.

    Hope you’re feeling better.

  15. Kathy

    So sorry about your food posioning experience. I have been going to the DBF since it started and yes – it is AWESOME!! I wish I had seen your talk on SAT, but I could only make it on Sunday – maybe next year??? I say next year you eat at Watershed – awesome food and hopefully no food posioning.

  16. Leandra

    I WAS going to say that I’m so jealous, but maybe not. Okay, definitely jealous about the fun parts.

    Guess we won’t be doing sushi anytime soon, huh?

  17. Randi

    Rotten luck! Wait – how did you get food poisoning and not the others who went with you?!

  18. ruthwells

    Oh, man. I’ve had food poisoning exactly once, and that was enough! Glad it passed quickly.

  19. melanie

    You are a far better woman than me. I had food poisoning once from a beautiful meal steak and sauteed mushrooms. I’m not sure which was the offending food, although I try hard to convince myself it was the mushrooms. I would hate to live in fear of prime rib. Anyway, after the sickness portion of the show was over, I still stayed in bed from what I assume was post traumatic stress disorder of the whole thing. The fact that you not only got out of bed, but sat on a panel, in front of people… well, there’s not enough xanax to take away the anxiety I would be feeling. I have such a phobia about getting sick.. and especially in front of people or in any place that is not my home. This weekend you lived my nightmare.

  20. jennielynn

    Aside from the puking and all, it sounds like a wonderful trip. Poor Kristen. I felt for her a BlogHer.

  21. The Other Leanne

    Sushi: Do. Not. Want. Here, have a delicious little side dish of raw chicken wrapped in uncooked bacon while you’re at it.

    That said, I’m in complete sympathy about the food poisoning. You know those little packets of mayo and tartar sauce you get at fast food joints? Did you know they can get little pinhole punctures in them and you can end up in the emergency room at 2am?

  22. Walking In My Sleep

    Oh, that sounds just like something I’d do! There’s nothing in the world worse than being in a hotel when you’re sick. Hope you’re recovered and happy again!

  23. Aimee

    Oh no… I’m so sorry about the bad sushi. Yech.

  24. Angie at Baby Cheapskate

    I was witness to the fact that you looked neither nervous nor dehydrated. It was great to meet you, however briefly!

  25. Katie in MA

    You are so funny and cute when you’re loopy from exhaustion! :)

  26. Missy

    You were great in your panel. You couldn’t tell anything was wrong. I was staring at you from the front row and any other time I saw you only because you looked familiar, not because you looked wacked or anything ;)

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