I wrote this definition in last year’s entry:
Vanguard: 1. the foremost part of an advancing army or naval force. 2. a group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas. 3. a position at the forefront of developments or ideas.
I spent my afternoon and early evening at a sales conference for my publisher. I’m not comfortable with speaking in public, I always prefer to have a song to sing and a character to embody, but today I had to stand up and tell approximately 250 people why they should care enough about my (non-fiction) book to go out and convince retailers to stock it.
Now, that I was there at all is a minor miracle, because there has been a stomach bug of some horrendous variety floating around my apartment for a few days now. On Sunday morning around 2:30, after I’d been out the night before singing a few songs with Wes Stace at his Cabinet of Wonders show, I woke and heard the cough — parents know the one — that preceded the throwing up. I tried to make it in time to get JH to the bathroom so he wouldn’t puke in the bed, but I didn’t. I slept two hours that night, and after I was roused I spent the rest of the wee hours running a warm bath in which to clean him up and soothe his precious soul, stripping the sheets off the bed and making him a new nest in which to lay and recover in, generally worrying, as you do, and wiping his brow with a cool washcloth. He finally cleared whatever horrific demon had invaded him around 10:30 or so the next morning. H. came in that evening for a few days, and spent the entire day yesterday moo-ing like a cow caught in a fence while lying as still as possible because he’d contracted the evil mess and had to deal with the resulting effects. I nursed him through that as best I could while fighting what felt like extreme tiredness and a headache. I got JH to bed around 8:15. H. was feeling better and enjoying a refreshing glass of electrolyte loaded orange-y stuff, and I covered myself up to the chin in bed, hoping that what I was feeling was just side effects of doing too much and the detox (herbs and such and little food) I’d been attempting since Saturday. Wrong. By 10:30 PM I had made my way to the bathroom, dizzy and disoriented, and ended up lying on the cold, tile floor because it was the coolest surface I could find. I was burning up. H. materialized with ice packs from the freezer (I had stuck some in there which I’d saved from some surgical procedure or another) which he handed to me. I placed them on my chest and lay back down on the floor with my head on a towel he’d put down there for me. Then he gave me one final ice pack, one covered with a terry cloth penguin head that I’d gotten for JH at some point for bumps and bruises because he likes Happy Feet so much (it doesn’t get that cold and I think is just for looks and fooling children into feeling better) which he gently placed on my temple. I laughed and thought, “this one doesn’t do anything, but if I’ve ever experienced more tenderness from another human being I’ve forgotten it.” I thought my heart would burst.
I don’t know if it was the penguin ice pack, or that whatever evility just finally completely passed through us all, or if my subconscious knew I had no time to not rally and appear as my very best self at this sales conference today, but I felt fine as I walked into the hotel where I would present a five to seven minute piece of business representing my memoir. I told the story about the stomach bug, the puking, the lying on the bathroom floor, and the penguin ice pack. And I added, “and that is why I’m okay.” I am okay because I have been shown such tenderness by such incredible hearts.
Those incredible hearts have influenced every piece of art I’ve ever made. I’ve made a lot of it in my life, and most of it I’ve released to the world. But I’m not sure there’s ever been a more important piece for me personally than this memoir, which will be released on October 29, 2019. There are a lot of incredible hearts depicted in it, and I’m proud to tell the world that I’ve been so lucky to have had such an breathtaking experience just being on the planet. So for me, today, that’s the vanguard. I, along with the very strong team that was assembled today and a few people that weren’t able to make it, am leading the way for it. It’s called Blood.
Happy Wednesday, Y’all
PS – the photo is from the car ride on the way to the conference.