Posts Tagged ‘Carlene Bauer’

At the Pennsylvania house this weekend with Husband, Matilda, and a cold which just won’t quit. I hope I have similar endurance at the Baltimore Half-Marathon next weekend… Drinking coffee and browsing through my friends’ blogs reminds me I wanted to share this Maryland runner’s hilarious attempt to get onto the 59th Street Bridge during a recent visit to the city. (Mind you, I had emailed him instructions days earlier but unfortunately he just “skimmed” that email.)… Tomorrow my best friend is going to be on TV! Carlene Bauer will be interviewed as an expert on the CBS Sunday Morning Show for a segment on what Americans believe. This is because her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, is in part a spiritual quest… My work friend LC and I frequently find ourselves around the water cooler amusing each other with stories over our husband’s annoying habits and freakish quirks. Then she sent me this blog. I laughed so hard at my desk people came by to ask what was happening… I always thought that if I were European, I’d be an Italian, and una buona Marchegianna at that (yes, I had it dialed down to the region). But, this list makes me think that perhaps I could be French…

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Decatur Book Festival DinoUnhindered by a fire alarm or any other kind of nocturnal interruption, I awoke Sunday (September 6th) rested and ready to run. I couldn’t wait to get a piece of Georgia under my sneaks and onto my Garmin Forerunner. 

I was grateful the air retained some of its morning chill; we had anticipated heat and humidity. In fact, the weather had been moderate all weekend; we were lucky. My hamstrings were aggravated from all the sitting I’d been doing on planes and in cars, so I didn’t need to go far. My only requirement was that I wanted to be thrust in the middle of a suburban idyll. West on West Ponce de Leon Avenue it was, then, away from the festival grounds. 

Mansions and homes sat back from the curb, placidly awaiting the rousing of their occupants. The houses were beautiful–symmetrical brick structures surrounded by trees that had aged to ample fullness. When I run through new places, sometimes I wonder about the lives of the people who live in the houses I pass, but not today. Today I was in straight-up fantasyland, wondering what my life would be like if I lived in one of these houses. I tried to memorize the addresses where realtors had put up their shingles, thinking I’d google them when I got back to the room. 

The air was so sweet and clean, as if I was wading through a pine forest–this must have been because all the garden beds were mulched with dried pine needles. I was delighted with this discovery, because I have always associated pine trees with New England, not the South. My out and back was over before I knew it, 3.43 miles in 33:24. 

Decatur Town HallThis Sunday sped quickly by, as CB and I puttered in tandem and separately until her panel at 2:30. She was part of the spirituality track, which meant she got to preside at City Hall for an hour. As her panel (“God, Sex, and Coming of Age”) got underway, the moderator threatened that if the audience did not ask questions, the authors would be forced to pass zoning laws and other town regulations. Oh my goodness, Carlene was fantastic! Much to my shock, she chose to read a passage from Not That Kind of Girl which included a cameo appearance by my “character”–apparently this took even CB by surprise as she herself had forgotten I was within those particular lines. (She read pp. 175 thru 180 for those of you who have the book.) She is so smart, so elegant. Lucky for me she and I are so different there is no comparison to be made because surely I’d fall short in every category. She flitted smoothly through the question and answer session (there was no need to hold a vote), and then we all walked to the tent where she’d sit hoping someone would come by to buy a copy & get it signed. That bit was underwhelming, but no matter. After it was all over we went to have a beer and that was enough consolation for something that seemed beside the point, anyway. Decatur was sunny and hot, we were two lovelies, and we had a plane to catch in a few hours: the world was her oyster, and I peeked at it from over her shoulder.

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Early thanks for you putting up with my off-topic posts, as I rhapsodize some more about CB and her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl. Last night she gave a reading in Brooklyn, and once again she charmed the crowd. My goodness she was so fetching, in her cornflower blue dress and red beads. Truly, this is a woman who defies nature and gets more beautiful with each passing year. She read one of my favorite passages of her book, the part where she gets busted during college freshman orientation for turning in early on a Saturday, choosing instead to read a biography of Queen Elizabeth I than cavort with prep school boys. (Although predisposed to cavorting, I could never fault her for opting for a virgin queen over prepsters. I was once similarly busted when I was dragged out of a deep sleep on a Friday night, forced to exit the building because someone had tripped the fire alarm. I stood on the sidewalk outside my dorm for an hour in a pink fuzzy robe, pink slippers, and my “Family Ties”-era blue glasses, surrounded by students who nuzzled languidly with whomever they’d been fucking, or swayed drunkenly with whomever they’d been partying, when the alarm was pulled.) 

As Carlene read, I stood there beaming, gratified with every bit of laughter the crowd offered up, proud once again of her humble, classy demeanor. (As if I have anything to do with it! Quite the contrary.) She took questions, and signed books. I mingled (fancy that) with people I knew who had come in for the event. My folks were there (“We wouldn’t miss it for the world”); my cousin RM came from Carroll Gardens; runner/blogger and Brooklyn resident Miss Joy was there; and a dear friend who I rarely see showed up in a wonderful surprise for both me and CB. There was also the chance for me to catch up with CB’s parents, her blonde bombshell sister, and her boyfriend (my friend JMW). Afterwards, we all went for drinks, and I stood out like a sore thumb in my flouncy white sundress among the Brooklynites attired in slim vintage outfits. But no matter, as one of them exclaimed, “Why, you’re her oldest and dearest friend!” I’m not sure if that is technically true, but it’s a description I will gladly accept. 

(Psst. Buy her book.)

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Carlene Bauer, author of the memoir Not That Kind of Girl, will be reading selections from her book, as well as answering questions and signing copies, at the Barnes & Noble on Court Street in Brooklyn tonight at 7 PM. I hope some of you will be able to make it; I of course will be there.

Reviews have continued to hit this week as well. The L Magazine says CB “writes like a slumming angel,” and calls her “an elegant, jazzy stylist, puckish without being flip, she makes most other memoirists — of either gender — seem shallow and gabby by comparison.” And in Time Out New York, the reviewer is right on when she writes, “The book is thick with contemplation, packed with ideas and images rendered in exacting, evocative prose.” Elle.com took the time to point out the amazing blurbs Not That Kind of Girl has garnered from other authors; and the Jezebel.com post gave me chills: “That Bauer’s story has a happy ending – she is, by any standard, a gifted and accomplished writer – is a testament, ultimately, to the power of talent.”

Come on — you know you want to read her book now!

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I could say many things. For instance: I don’t fret when I skip workouts, I only run for the joy of it, and I run to get skinny. Or, I stopped flirting when I got married. Or, I am modest; and I agree so as to avoid discord. Or, I don’t seek approval and favor. But actually I’d be lying because I’m Not That Kind of Girl.

Tonight was a Big Night. The kind of night when jaded experience gets set aside, and instead one exists purely to revel in another’s moment of ascendancy.

IMG00050You see, tonight my dearest friend in the whole entire world had the launch party for her first book, which is officially on sale tomorrow. Even though I have watched books succeed and fail in this fickle publishing industry for eleven crusty years, I still sat there in my plastic folding chair at the Corner Bookstore on the Upper East Side and got misty-eyed as I read the dedication (“To my mother and father and to Dan and Ilona”), and saw my Carlene stand behind the counter and read sweetly aloud from her memoir. “In February, we went on an overnight retreat to a college in North Jersey,” she recited.

Her memoir is called Not That Kind of Girl, and it is amazing. If you’ve been paying attention, you already know I adore CB, that she makes me a better person simply by being my friend and confidante. But when I say her memoir is amazing I am going beyond the loyalty and love I have for her, because she’s written a stunner. Not That Kind of Girl is the honest, humorous, at times painful and incredibly intelligent story of her life thus far–a life begun as an earnest and frightened believer in an Evangelical God, and a life through which she evolved into an educated and disappointed skeptic, with more confidence in the prowess of her own mind and in the truth of sensuality than in some church’s creepy dogma.

Carlene was my college roommate; ever since our sophomore year she’s been my best friend. We’ve seen the best and the worst of each other; we’ve weathered more storms than most married couples. Yes, I’m in her book; but merely as comic relief for a few pages, as an example of who CB would and could never be (thankfully).

Her writing is smooth and economical, insightful and revealing. Although the past seventeen years of my personal history overlaps with CB’s, it hardly resembles her experiences; and yet as she parses hers I recognize truths about my own. In my line of work (as a marketing director for a book publisher) I read a lot of crap memoirs and even more crap novels. Keep that in mind when I say that Ms Bauer has nothing to be ashamed of; indeed, her written voice is pitch-perfect and classy, charming and disarming. She is Audrey in a room full of Marilyns.

NotThatKindOfGirl What is this book about? You can click here for a summary; and here for more information about my best friend; and here to read a lengthy excerpt. There are some reviews–Elle, the New York Post, and Publishers Weekly (scroll down). But truly, just take my word for it: if you have a functioning brain, if you think about your place in the world, if you’ve ever felt awkward, disappointed by reality, or wanted more than what made the rest of the people around you happy–you will love her book. Please buy it.

My dearest Carlene, who never scoffed at me for my running when even I thought it was absurd, to you I say Congratulations on a life story well told, and a book well written. You are a star, you give me hope and direction. I love you and I am proud to be numbered amongst your friends.

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Many thanks to Joe Garland for inviting me to participate in this week’s Runners Round Table podcast. It was a feel-good moment to sneak out of work for an hour to talk about my participation in the Green Mountain Relay. Joe led a great conversation, with the race’s director, Paul, acting as special guest, and Teri from RunningRelays.com chiming in with her ten years of experience. You can download the episode from iTunes… GOOD LUCK TO MY GIRL DT (the bachelorette, the dart-thrower) AS SHE COMPETES IN THE ZURICH IRONMAN THIS WEEKEND… Would you trade your abilities to read a map, follow multiple tracks of thought at once, and get yourself organized if it meant you could run for days at a time? (Thanks Husband for that link)…. I lived and loved here for seven months when I was in college… Time to exercise your brain: the fancy-dressing, gallant and insightful Mike has had a few more book reviews published.  Please oh please go see what he has to say about contemporary literature —I’m Down plus a wry recap of a handful of short story collections, and John Cheever’s biography… and I must once again point out that my dearest’s memoir, Not that Kind of Girl, is on sale July 27th. It’s nothing to do with running, though I do have a cameo appearance on a page or two. It is nearly as delightful as CB is herself. Please pre-order it at Powells.com. For me?… Special thanks to said authoress for sharing with me this literary porn video of the velvety rugged Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty from The Wire) reading a passage from Pride and Prejudice. Truly, though? With that gravely voice and English accent, his wide brown eyes gazing at me from across the top of his book–he could be reading a legal brief and my heart would still beat fervently.

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