Thanks to my family/friends for the Surprise Shudder Launch Party!

So, yesterday was a busy day.  I worked from about 6:30 am to 3 pm straight gearing up for the release and getting all the promotional work in place, updating links all over the internet to Shudder’s Amazon pages, sending out review copies to bloggers with upcoming dates, etc.  By the time the afternoon rolled around I was wiped, but my husband (Deep) had suggested earlier in the week that we go out for dinner to celebrate the release and I’d been craving hibachi for a while (pregnancy), so after taking a break outside for an hour to enjoy the sunshine, I sucked it up and showered and we went out for dinner.

Turned out the restaurant could only accommodate us for a 5:30 reservation, which normally I’m down with since I’m pretty much constantly hungry these days, but yesterday it was a problem.  You see, with all the book stuff going on and my work being especially busy, we haven’t had a single moment to go look at any stuff to put on the baby registry.  I’ve done some research online and read lots of product reviews, but there are just so many options and so many things to pick, the whole thing has really just been stressing me out.  So we’d planned to spend an hour before dinner just walking around the nearby Toys R Us so we could see some stuff in person and maybe knock some items off our list.

But we were running late to begin with since I needed a few minutes to decompress before I got ready to leave the house, and then the reservation got changed to 5:30, and then we roll up to the Toys R Us only to discover that it has moved and my stupid GPS won’t connect to the satellite and it then takes us 10 minutes of driving in circles to find the new Toys R Us location.  And then we pull into this massive 8 story parking garage and go to Level 3 where Toys R Us is supposed to be, yet we circle and circle and all it says everywhere is “Entrance to Shop Rite” and meanwhile the clock is ticking down and we now have like 30 minutes until our dinner reservation, and I know that there are going to be like 150 different stroller models to try to look at in that time and that we probably won’t have another chance to do this for weeks and now we can’t even figure out where to park or how to get into the store or how to pay for parking, and I just lost it.

I started bawling hysterically in the car while my husband looked on in horror, and I refused to get out and go into Toys R Us.  I just couldn’t deal with the prospect of cramming what should be at least an hour-long purchase decision into 15 minutes before we needed to walk to the restaurant, I couldn’t deal with the glaring fluorescent lights accenting my red eyes and puffy nose to every other shopper in the store, and I couldn’t deal with figuring out the F-ing parking pay machine and how to navigate our way out of the monstrosity of a parking structure we were trapped in without even a single sign pointing the way to our destination.  I was done.

This was supposed to have been a good day and an evening of celebration, and instead I was exhausted, and stressed, and miserable.  I just wanted to cram my already swollen belly with fried rice and go home.

But Deep, being ever understanding and patient, just gave me a few minutes to cry it out and then encouraged me to please just come walk through the store on our way to the restaurant, and assured me it was okay if we were late to dinner as they’d just have to accommodate us whenever we decided to show up.  So after destroying a few tissues and brushing my hair into my face to hide my red-rimmed eyes as best I could, we went into Toys R Us.

And it actually ended up being a pretty productive 25-minute jaunt, where we settled almost immediately on the only stroller (out of 150) in the store that wasn’t either a ginormous unwieldy tank or a flimsy little collection of sticks on wheels like I used to push my Water Baby doll around in as a kid.  (In case you’re curious, it’s the Baby Jogger City Mini, which is extremely highly reviewed, and for good reason – that thing folds and unfolds like a pro, and it weighs – and costs – half of what all the other fancy strollers do.)  In addition, we significantly narrowed down our car seat selection and I was able to confirm that the crib that I’d originally settled on and then decided against since it wasn’t awesome enough indeed was not awesome enough.  So overall, a worthwhile trip.

And then we had a nice dinner, which we showed up to maybe 5-10 minutes late and it wasn’t a problem.  I ate all of my rice and half of Deep’s, not mention the rest of the shrimp, scallops, vegetables, bean sprouts, soup, salad, and ice cream they put on my plate.  (Did I mention I love hibachi and that I’m pregnant?)  And all together it was a nice dinner, until I stood up to leave and felt nauseous for about 30 seconds, and then when the nausea went away I just felt wiped.

So we’re on our way home, and despite needing to be home by 7 to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, my husband is driving up the highway like an old biddy who can’t see over the steering wheel.  He mentions something about wanting to be home, and I literally reply, “Well, we’d get there sooner if you would drive faster than 50 miles an hour…”  And then we finally get to our exit, and I’m thinking about what I’m going to do all night so I don’t sit here and incessantly refresh my browser on my Amazon page to see how Shudder is doing (since let’s face it, no one’s buying books on a Saturday night – lesson learned for next launch) while he’s dominating the TV with this hockey game for the next three hours.  I’m too tired to even consider picking up another baby book – just the thought of holding 2-lbs of paper on my lap makes me want to cry again – and then I realize I have an episode of Rookie Blue DVR’d, which of course I’d need control of the TV to watch.

So I very gently ask if this is Game 7 or something, to gauge if maybe I can sneak 40 minutes of gripping Canadian TV drama somewhere in between hockey periods so I at least have something to look forward to all night.  And Deep replies that it’s only Game 2, so sure, he can watch the beginning of the game on the computer.  And then I’m wondering why the hell he even wants to watch this game, since he’s not a fan of either of the teams playing and it’s not like Game 2 is an important game or anything… but I just let it go, b/c I’m too tired to care.

And then we pull onto our street (which is only about wide enough for 1.5 cars to fit onto to begin with), and there are a whole ton of cars parked on the side of the road, and for some reason most of them are directly in front of our house.  And at this point you would think I realize something’s up, but instead my thought is (and I blame this on the pregnancy), “Why the hell would our neighbors let their guests park in front of our house when we have the smallest driveway and property on the block??”

And it’s not until we go to pull into the driveway and I see my dad standing there directing my father-in-law into a spot and notice my aunt’s bright blue SUV and then my ENTIRE family and all my close friends come sneaking around the corner of the house that I finally realize that I’ve been duped.  They’d been planning a surprise Shudder Launch Party all along, and I TOTALLY did not see it coming.

I heart ice cream cake!

I heart ice cream cake!

So after a long, stressful, and mildly depressing day, I got to cap off the night surrounded by all my favorite people in the world (except my brother Mikey, who was stuck milking cows at his farm apprenticeship a few hours away, my grandma, who was apparently livid that she was on vacation for this, and my brother-in-law Sujoy who is also away on a grand adventure), eating Shudder ice cream cake (the only kind of cake I like), and wearing a cute little Shudder button.  :-)

It was amazing.  My husband (who planned the whole thing) is amazing.  My family is amazing.  And I am so lucky to be surrounded by such a loving and supportive group of people, both in terms of my family and friends, and all of the wonderful readers and fans and fellow authors who’ve helped to make the series a success.  Thank you guys so much for everything.  I love you all.

Buttons from the Shudder Surprise Launch Party

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