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.


About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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9 Responses to On The Road But Off My Head

  1. Lynn says:

    Any interest in dinner with Downwards whilst you’re up here, either tonight or Sunday? You can email me privately – I don’t know how to do that for you.


  2. Marc Bailey says:

    What is this “memory” of which you write?


    • Kate says:

      I dimly *remember* memory from younger years – unless it was just hallucination. Things got pretty weird in our teens and twenties … Kage and I were daughters of the 1960’s, after all.


  3. mizkizzle says:

    That kidney needs to go. Yes, the right kidney is generally the larger and more powerful of the two. That’s why it’s known as the “Boss Kidney.” (It’s not, but I think it’s funny to call it that.) But really, your right kidney needs to go. You’ll be much better off without it and you’ll have an impressive scar that you can say you got fighting pirates, or velociraptors.


    • Kate says:

      Really? My Boss Kidney is more like Boss Tweed – down with Tamany Hall! As for the scar – hoo boy, I am liberally supplied with interesting scars. The 1st one from kidney surgery went in when I was 18 – I won the Best Scar in the Showers at Faire one year; I look like a failed human sacrifice. Then there is the vertical on that runs down from my breastbone – a difficult gall bladder surgery, when my muscle tone was SO toned after 6 months of Faire that the anesthesiologist just kept increasing the dose until I coded. Result: a scar that should be half an inch is 7 inches. And then the hysterectomy scar went in 4 years ago … hip to hip, that one. I look like the velociraptors won. But they didn’t!


  4. johnbrownson says:

    Kathleen, look at the space by the back door, hanging on the door frame. Lots of extension cords. Love. -Buff


    • Kate says:

      Buff – yeah, I found those afterwards. Duh. But that was all right, because I needed on in my kit, anyway. I used my last one to connect a fan in the living room this June, and it’s still there … so now I have a nice new one.


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