Tuesday, November 24, 2009

meeting HER

It seems like I should start this recap of my adventure to meet HER....the Pioneer Woman-Ree Drummond with "It was a dark and stormy night..." or "Call me Ishmael" since it feels like an adventure of epic proportions. It started about two years ago. I was reading a blog which linked to another blog which then linked to pioneerwoman.com. I read for hours and hours. She is witty and inspirational on a very practical level. I have read every post, past and present, on her blog and loved every one of them. The cooking section of her blog is one of my faves...seriously, I really shouldn't pick a fave since they are ALL so great. She posts step by step pictures of her recipes....so easy to follow and makes a girl like me feel like I can cook anything!! Soooo, about 5 months ago she announces that she has a cookbook coming out in October! WOOHOO! I was so excited! Then she goes on to say that she is going on a Griswold Style cookbook signing tour. If you know me than you know I have great fondness for the Griswolds....PW is a girl after my own heart. Double WOOHOO!!! Then to make it even sweeter she was going to be in Minneapolis at the Mall of America on November 21st. Triple WOOHOO!! That was only four hours away! Easypeasy lemon squeezy!

So I planned a weekend in the Twin cities to meet her, get my book signed and to do some Christmas shopping at the big ol' mall with my sister and my nieces. Big fun!! We drove up Friday and hit IKEA. Saturday morning we got up and to the mall by 9:30am. There were about a dozen women already waiting so my sister and I and the girls enjoyed a Magic Pan Crepe Stand crepe ( I had the bananas and caramel crepe-delish unless you are Meredith and then it didn't taste good at all....too much gluten.) I went back to see how the line was doing and was alarmed to see about 80 women in line...so I hopped in line and wished my sister and nieces "Happy shopping."

It was about 10:15 at this time. Only 2 hours and 45 minutes to wait to see HER! I was ill prepared to be standing in line for almost 3 hours but I did have my cookbook. I sat on the hard tile floor reading the cookbook while grumbling that my womanly cramps (ha! I have never called them that in my life...it just sounded more appropriate somehow) were back in full force. Texted Chad to pray that they would go away. They eventually did...yay God! It was a pretty boring wait. I wasn't sitting by anyone particularly friendly but I didn't really put myself out there either. Can you see me??

There was a little bit of excitement when the audio guys came and hooked up the sound system or when the Barnes and Noble guy clarified to the crowd which page PW was going to sign. There was a representative from Barnes working her way through the crowd with Post-It notes. She was asking if we wanted Ree to personalize our books. ABSOLUTELY! So I told her one was for "Cinnamon-C-i-n-n-a-m-o-n." and the other was for "Manda-no A at the beginning-M-a-n-d-a." Pretty simple right? You would think that a person whose job it was was to write a person's name on a Post-It for the author to be able to read would have clear and concise penmanship. Right? Hold that thought.

1pm finally arrived and Ree came out looking as fabulous as ever. Don't let her self deprecating humor fool you...she is gorgeous!! Tall, skinny, absolutely lovely! She did a quick Q&A. She was witty and clever and so freaking sweet! Just like I imagined her...only better.

She sat down to sign books...FINALLY! Her husband, Marlboro Man, and her two boys showed up at the signing for a bit. Very fun to see them! I didn't assault MM with my book to have him sign it although I heard later that he and the boys were at their own table signing. Maybe next time-like when "From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" comes out. It is her retelling of how she and MM met and ended up getting married. She is adding to what is already on her blog and then extending the story. Can't wait!

The line moved steadily (is that the right word) and with about 80 people in front of me it took an hour to get to the front...EEEEK!!! What the heck was I going to say? Would I stumble over my words? Would I bombard her with useless trivia? Would I gush all over her and make her feel uncomfortable??

I had made a marriage proposal booklet from Lola to Ree's basset Charlie so I figured that would be a good ice breaker. The moment came...my stomach was in knots...my hands were clammy...I was a tad sweaty....here goes...it was my turn to approach "the table." I sat down. She started signing the first book (Cinnamon's) and said some sort of greeting. I stumbled about and told her she was so beautiful and touched her arm...twice. Seriously, I think I had stalker written all over me. I gave her the Lola pics/marriage proposal. She set it aside and we started a deep and meaningful conversation about bassets and their smelliness. We compared basset stink and breath. It was a beautiful moment between two besties. I swear I heard birds chirping, ocean waves, and soft music playing while gorgeous rays of sunshine filled the mall.

Do you think I talk with my hands much? Notice the first picture in the third row....we have the same facial expression. We are practically sisters. You would think that I would have had better posture. Her statuesque-ness makes me look kind of troll like (y'know-short and squatty) in these pics but whatev.

Then I looked down as she signed my book. *gasp* Who the heck is Manola? What in the world? The poor thing (her, not me) had misread that crazy girls Post-It note. This is what it looked like....I can see how that would happen.

I pointed out the mistake (last pic in the collage) and she VERY graciously turned it into a silly moment when she covered my page in hearts. Then she said, "I am going to call you Manola from now on." That is fine with me, Ree!!! Call me!!! Anytime!!!

I have to tell you this was SUCH a FUN FUN experience. She is the best blogger out there and she has found such success. You meet her and you seriously see her for exactly who she is. She is fantastically generous with her time. She adores her fans/friends/stalkers. She sat and signed books for HOURS and HOURS and she gave us all a totally adorable Pioneer Woman t-shirt commemorating her book tour. Sweet!! She is a true inspiration and I feel so blessed that I got to meet her.

Now go read her blog and buy her cookbook!!!


Stefunkc said...

Isn't she amazing???? I loved every moment I spent with her. Which was about 4 1/2 minutes. So glad you got to go!!

Cassandra Frear said...

Entertaining post about your visit. You held my attention all the way through. I was visualizing what this looked like, felt like, sounded like.

I have bookmarked her site.

Anne said...

Hi, Manda. You don't know me, but I was in that MOA crowd, too! :) I enjoyed your recounting of your experience there. I had a similar, "I'm going to seem like a stalker" feelings and the feeling of being a blithering idiot beside her! LOL! Glad to find another PW fan. :)

meredith said...

oh.my.word. I love it!! i totally spotted you first thing in the massive line of people!! i love your montage of pictures while meeting Ree and I still can't get over the manola story!!

Put me on your list of buddies to take with you when Black Heels to Tractor Wheels comes out on book tour!!


meredith said...

p.s. love your new background. i totally want to copy you....maybe next week. :)