Chapter 2… or is it 3?

Posted on July 27th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. 2 comments

Woke up yesterday with my tail wagging and a smile on my face.

I know, I know… most people can’t get used to the idea of me being happy, but don’t fret… I’m sure it’s temporary.

Yesterday was the last day of the first phase of my training at the new job. No more 5am wake-ups. Next week I start at 8pm, and work overnight. That’s something I’m much more acclimated to, but at the same time, I’m going to be the new guy again, with a new round of introductions. I’m sure the anxiety rate will be high again come Monday.

I left work at 4 and bolted up the NJ Turnpike anticipating another great evening at the Bay Ridge Summer Stroll. Last week was great, despite the heat and humidity. Despite the lack of crowds, I had a get night; sold a few books, met a bunch of people, get a lot of new traffic on my website. Last night was 15 degrees cooler, there were tons of people out…

and it sucked.

Let me take that back… The event was great, the people were having a great time, there were bands and singers and great food and fun for everyone…

I sucked…

I can’t really explain it.. I was out in the street, giving out flyers,, engaging the public, doing my thing… and yet, nothing clicked. For whatever reason, my confidence wasn’t at it’s peak and I guess it translated. By 9 pm, after two hours of hustling… nothing… bupkus… not one sale.

I gave one flyer to a woman that I vaguely knew… she asked, “what’s this?” “My book,” I replied eagerly. She moved away and read the flyer… I walked away and watched… she continued to read… she walked a few feet.. still reading…  30 seconds later… she was still reading… most people read the first few lines of any flyer… she read the whole thing…  at this point, any good salesman would have run over and went in for the kill… made the sale..

I walked in the other direction… hoping she would visit the website.. read the blog… maybe buy the book… that’s not how you get it done…

It’s funny. Mom was shy and timid most of her life… The old man, on the other hand, was the center of every party he was ever at… middle of the room, drink in hand, holding court. I waffle between the two. I suffer from social anxiety, and yet I long to be the center of attention. When I was younger, I would stand in the back, head up, mouth closed, waiting… waiting…

Later on in life, people would say… “I always thought you were so stuck up.. you always stood in the back, like you were too good for everyone.” 

Nah, I wasn’t stuck up… I was terrified.

I was once dating this girl who wanted to have a dinner party and invite other couples over… I said, “Great, let me know when it is, so I can make other plans.” As you can imagine, that relationship didn’t last much past that.

And yet, put me on a stage, fill the room with people and hand me a microphone… and it’s like I was born there…

Finally, after a few hours of hustling, my cousin Anthony showed up. He bought a copy. It was like a weight was lifted. I wasn’t going to get shut out. I wound up selling a few more, the evening wasn’t a total loss. In fact, it was a great night. Towards the end, Christine from the Bookmark Shoppe came out and said,  this girl wants to talk to yousign a book? I inquired.  No, she’s from the Home Reporter.  I almost crapped myself.

Amanda was her name, and she was tall and good looking, and she asked me a bunch of thoughtful questions about the book, and where I was from, and what my hopes for the book were….

I sounded like an idiot.

I have a certificate in broadcasting… I’ve stood up in front of 2,500 people at an AA convention, and I couldn’t formulate a coherent sentence at the most important juncture of my career.

My friend Valarie said I looked like a 6 year old talking to the pretty girl from school.

I couldn’t wait for the interview to end…. If she writes – “I met an idiot, who somehow managed to write a book.” She would be well within her rights. Hopefully, she shows a little mercy.

The event was over, and I made it home exhausted. I was frustrated because not only did I not sell 4,000 copies, I didn’t have a blog topic. I was tempted to start a fight or get arrested just so I had something to write about. I went home and listened to old Dylan songs on Spotify. Hard Rain, Shelter from the Storm, Tangled Up in Blue.   I wasn’t a huge Dylan fan growing up. In fact, he bored me when I was a restless teenager. He didn’t smash guitars, he didn’t date supermodels, he didn’t sniff coke in Studio 54. He was fairly useless to me. But now, all these decades later, I realize that all those guys that I grew up idolizing; Morrison, Roth, Tyler…  They all owe a debt to Dylan…  There would have been no counter-culture without Dylan… The Beatles would have been another Kingsmen Trio...

I went to bed with Visions of Johanna sounding in my dreams.

I woke up with a list of chores and no blog topic… I was ready to move on with my day, when I heard the old adage, “A writer writes.” I sat down at the keyboard immediately. 942 words later… I’m still typing. Hope you enjoyed it.

I’m off to Coney Island to watch my boy, Robbie Emery play with his band, Ragtag. Gotta support other artists… especially the ones from BayRidge…

See you next time…


2 thoughts on “Chapter 2… or is it 3?

  1. It is hard to talk about yourself and your work to other people; I teach preschool, and I only feel comfortable talking to a group of people when they are under 5. I did not appreciate Dylan’s work until I was much older, even though my mom listened to him; I think he has a hard time talking about himself; from some of his interviews I saw him in.

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