Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Week (Or So) Into the Mailing

As I hope you've figured out for yourselves, we've been quiet about the Bava book mailing because we've been overwhelmingly busy with the Bava book mailing -- and still are. I'm not sleepy enough to go to bed yet, so I thought I'd post... not an official update for the Bava Book blog, but some personal WatchBlog notes on how it's going. It's hard work, but it's going very well. Our first day paid off in lower numbers than we hoped, but we quickly adapted to increase our productivity and have been meeting daily goals after midnight that sounded unreasonable (at least to me) earlier in the day. This is new terrain for us, you understand -- a job this size may be new terrain for any married couple living in a modest suburban house. The only way to unpack, sign, repackage and ship, say, 100 twelve-pound books in a day is to go through the experience of unpacking, signing, repackaging and shipping 50 the previous day.

But, with Donna at the helm, it can be done. We've also been blessed to have friends and family members rally to our aid. Donna's mom Ellie Goldschmidt and our friend Jan Perry deserve special applause for being here through virtually every day of this process, cutting bubble paper, boxing the books for shipment, and keeping our spirits buoyant. Our pal Joe Busam, who some of you may remember as the producer of MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES and Rondo's Monster Kid of the Year 2005, has also generously stepped in on occasion to lend some additional manpower. Even on short notice. Even on Labor Day weekend. Donna's sister Barbara Harding, who hosted a wonderful and much-needed family gathering at her house on Sunday, came over to offer some assistance this afternoon. They've all played important roles in helping us get the books to you faster, and we're thankful.

Perhaps you are picturing me in a smoking jacket, sitting in a comfortable wing-backed chair, signing book after book with a flourish, and waving those who carry them to my station blithely away. Not so. According to Jan's calculations, I've been lifting somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 pounds per day. Needless to say, this is not my habit: I'm no stevedore; I'm a guy who sits on his duff and types his thoughts for a living. That's how I got into this predicament in the first place.

Here's my routine of the past week in a nutshell: I wake up around noon. Before coffee, Donna sits me down and tells me how many books she intends to have ready for pickup the next day. The figure is always conspicuously larger than the previous day's. After coffee and a quick breakfast, I set to work lifting and carrying 38-pound boxes from the towering stacks in our foyer and dining room to one of two "signing stations" (eg., card tables set up in our living room and dining room). The stacks are usually taller than me, so there is no way to observe the tradition wisdom "Lift with your legs, not with your back." Before sitting down, I cut each box open, dump the wrapped contents onto the table, tear off the brown shipping paper (or shrinkwrapping, if need be), sign the three books from each box, tip a postcard inside each one, and move the books aside until I run out of boxes. Then I carry the accumulated signed books in stacks of two, three or four (depending on how ambitious or energetic I'm feeling) to the nearest "shipping station" (eg., tables in the foyer and dining room). Generally, we've been starting around noon and carrying on, with a brief dinner break at a local restaurant (nobody's got the time or the will to cook), until 2:00 or even 4:00 in the morning.

Donna, Jan and I worked straight through the holiday weekend, taking only Sunday evening off, and got a huge number of boxes out the door today. Our goal is to get the remaining boxes of books out of the house in a couple of days, tops. It might be possible: the foyer is now completely clear of all but tomorrow's outgoing books (a hundred or so) and I was pleased, at the end of today, to see that we had made a noticeable dent in the boxes occupying the dining room. I'm seeing every possible variation of my signature all day long yet I've been feeling, from being so long away from my usual work, out of touch with who I am -- another reason I felt the need to blog; I haven't seen a movie in about ten days. This is not a good position to be in, especially when we're supposed to be prepping VIDEO WATCHDOG 135 as soon as the decks are cleared. Also, VW 134 (which we've been too busy to preview either here or on our website yet!) is due back from the printer any day now, and we need to be done with the book shipping to tend to that shipping. Thank goodness I don't have to sign copies of VW!

Yes, the work is punishing and makes us wish we were about 25 years younger to better cope with it. But when we receive e-mails from happy early recipients or discover message boards like this one where folks in Germany are sharing photos of their newly-arrived Bava books with such obvious and infectious joy, the extra effort we've put in makes the pleasure we feel that much more gratifying.

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