On The Road But Off My Head

Kage Baker, as I have often observed, loved to travel. One of the great joys of adulthood, for her, was the ability to just take off at a moment’s notice – out the door and away on the first road we saw, to Wherever. North. Left. Thataway.

One of the things she wanted me to do, in her absence, was to continue that tradition. Take off and go see all our friends, she urged me. Spend a summer wandering around. See things. Camp. Couch surf. And I said, Cool.

What the sometimes-prescient Kage did not foresee, though, was that when she was gone, I would collapse like the One Hoss Shay: all at once, a universal breakdown. I’ve been shoring things up ever since, while trying to follow her instructions. All of her instructions – including that time-consuming one of writing. And that is going pretty well; new agent, new work being finished and published now and then, old publishers like Tor expressing cautious interest, new ones like Mondadori eager to publish foreign editions.

My health collapsing has kept me home. That’s helped. But it hasn’t done so well for the travelling goal. This year, I didn’t even make it to the semi-sacred writing retreat in Pacific Grove (sorry, Neassa – we’ll make it eventually.). The few things I have managed to do are a token annual appearance at Dickens Fair, and my occasional gigs as a cat sitter in the enchanted cottage in the East Bay …

At the moment, I am waiting for a decision on the fate of my right kidney. An unusually concerned  doctor decided to test my kidneys separately, to see if one was doing all the work while the other slacked – and yes indeedy, the right one is only operating at 28% capacity. The only reason my kidney function looks normal is because the left one is such a trouper. It’s a testimony to the success of democracy, and an indictment of what happens when part of the democracy decides to be a parasite … anyway, political metaphors aside, I am anticipating surgery soon. All that’s left to decide is what sort. My nephrologist seems to think my plan of removing the right kidney and feeding it to the cats is a bit over the top. And some of you, Dear Readers, have pointed out that it might be mean to the cats.

So I guess I’ll eschew the vengeance, but it still means that this Fall and Winter will be somewhat constrained as to travelling adventures. So, when my good friends Buff and DJ asked me if I’d like to escape the LA heat and come spend the weekend house and cat sitting – I leaped at the chance! In fact, I left Los Angeles at 5 AM this morning, and have for some hours now been happily ensconced amid the blackberries and the perfumed datura and the New Zealand flax, playing with blue-eyed Angel the cat and typing away.

Of course, I also leaped so energetically that I got up here and discovered I had  forgotten to bring my extension cord – a necessity when one does a lot of typing in hotel rooms and little old Berkeley cottages. I also forgot to sign up my new Buke for Internet access … luckily, all my many devices are linked and synched and actually talk to one another. Once I found my way to a Walgreen for a cord, I could plug in the Buke before the battery failed, and secure a network connection through my other toys.

And here’s the real reason to travel with a phone AND an e-reader AND a notebook: so you can augment your failing brain with the data banks you now keep, of necessity, outside the confines of your skull … Kage gave the Operatives a tertiary consciousness for memory storage out of wistful envy, because she resented the fact that her own brain was not directly upgrade-able.

Anyway: sudden flight for adventure successful! Cravings for the road being satisfied before I get benched for plumbing  maintenance! And it was an interesting ride North, about which I will probably write a bit tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m going to go see if I can get a few hundred words in on “The Teddy Bear Squad”. Or Marswife.

Mind you, in my mad eagerness to get out the door and on the road, I also forgot all my thumb drives. (Remembered my Writing Hat, though.) But I know just where I was on the stories. That’s a part of my memory I still keep firmly in my head.