In the nick of time plus it's too late, baby

I'm running a week behind, and today it all caught up with me.

My plan for last weekend was to go to the post office and ship all the prizes (CDs, T-shirts, autographed books) I've been giving away through my website, through Internet chats, and drawings at book signings, plus autographed bookplates to readers and to bookstores where my titles sell particularly well. Seems perfectly reasonable, right?

I'm currently on a temp assignment, which a) gets me out of this tiny apartment we're renting up here; b) gets me around live people with interesting careers I can ask them about and use for my characters, c) allows me to do some marketing of my books to employees; and, finally d) puts a few bucks in the household coffers while I wait for that next royalty to show up in November. Why am I telling you this, you ask? Because post offices in this quiet suburban area (which makes Jacksonville, Florida, look like New York City) are only open during business hours. Getting to one during the week when I'm on an assignment is next to impossible.

The trouble started a week-and-a-half ago, when I developed a sharp, stabbing pain in my side. It got worse as the day went on. I called my husband, who brought me to the ER (of course, being new to the area, we had to get directions to the nearest hospital.) I was diagnosed with a ruptured ovarian cyst and stayed there until eleven o'clock that night, when they sent me home with orders to rest.

At three the next afternoon I was dozing off (doctor's orders, right?) when my husband called from his office. He just learned his mother had been admitted to the hospital with numerous symptoms, which meant we (that means me) had to pack up and drive (that means him) 80 miles to Northwest Indiana (by the way, rush hour traffic in Chicago is to be avoided at all costs.) We spent the next six days there, and my mother-in-law is recovering nicely, thank God.

Because of all the illnesses, the prizes I was supposed to send out last weekend got pushed to this weekend. So was my intention when I rolled out of bed this morning at a later-than-usual 8AM. I burned CDs, printed out CD and jewel case labels, signed bookplates, and made up mailing labels. Then I realized I had to refer to my e-mail for a friend who had wanted bookplates for some of her friends, since I didn't know their names. That's when I saw the e-mail in my Inbox with this subject line:

"Interview, October 14th."

Oh, my God! Today is October 14th. In all the excitement of the last week and my anxiousness to get these prizes shipped I'd completely forgotten about the radio interview I was supposed to do. My mind raced as I scanned through the e-mail. There were the directions to the studio, which I highlighted and printed. So far, so good. Then I looked for a mention of what time they wanted me. Nothing. Shit. That meant this had been provided in an earlier e-mail. But surely it was sometime in the morning; who does interviews in the evening? Wait a minute; it's coming back to me. Hadn't my contact said something about 10:30, 11?

I checked the time. 10:55AM. Great. Here I was, still in my sleep shirt, holding an e-mail with directions and having no telephone number to let them know I was running late.

After a few moments of what-do-I-do-now, I decided to make a run for it. After all, it wasn't a live interview. I had some wiggle room. So what if I was fifteen minutes late? At least the studio wasn't far away, in downtown Waukegan. I'd been over that way once when the agency sent me to a law firm, so I pretty much knew where it was. I threw on some jeans, a t-shirt, decided I could spare a few seconds to put on some socks, grabbed a jacket and my purse and hit the door. I ran a comb through my hair while I drove, after checking the directions to see where I was supposed to turn. I looked like Who Did It And Ran, but after all, it wasn't a TV interview. Nobody would see me other than the staff.

Traffic was surprisingly heavy, considering I was heading east on a road that dead ended at the shores of Lake Michigan. Where were all these people going? Still, I managed to get there at 11:12. The interviewer and the control man were very gracious.

The interview went well, but unfortunately, by the time I got back home and packed up everything (God forbid I send a book autographed to Martha to Ginger) it was 12:54PM, six minutes before the post office closed. The post office is close to where I live, but it's not that close.

You've probably guessed this by now, but I will have to try for next week. Our local post office is equipped with an automated postal clerk, but I've got some international pieces to send, and I don't think a machine is going to allow me to post parcels for South Africa and Vietnam.

Next weekend, come the proverbial hell or high water, I will get to the post office. All you folks who are awaiting for your prizes, rest assured I haven't forgotten you. You've just gotten caught up in the crazy world of Bettye Griffin, Novelist.