Kage Baker really enjoyed going to conventions. She had a meticulous packing routine, special music for the road, and had always scoped out the on-site bar and restaurant so as to plan her meals and aperitifs ahead. (For example, she liked to know if she’d be teaching a bartender how to make one of her damned sticky retro cocktails …)
In the car, we would hash out whatever book on which she was currently at work, and Kage would go over her panels. She liked to discuss what might come up, and speculate on who’d be on with her. And as soon as we had a program in our hands, she’d Google all of the other writers, to see what they were like. She would be psyching herself up for the task, too, because she didn’t like having to fight for mike time: could she be polite, or would she have to be stern? Some writers are so fond of their own voices they forget to share …
Even at times when I am not living in a state of emotional melt-down, I am just not as efficient a preparer as Kage. Transportation, lodging and rations were my primary tasks, and I’m very good at those. I’m a lousy packer. I only did my laundry today, and I have packed only one item so far: my phone and Kindle charger. I’m excited to be on the road again, but worried about leaving my family here in Los Angeles – not that I am a lot of use these days, but I really can’t be of any assistance 300 miles away in Santa Clarita. On the other hand, I can’t cause any trouble for them up there, either.
My chief regret is that my nephew Michael is staying home to take care of his parents: as he should.I am not complaining. But he’s good company, and does enjoy travelling so … but my good friend Neassa will be meeting me there, so someone can make sure I don’t fall down or forget a panel. And she is great fun at these things, too. A muchly literate lady!
Always have an entourage, Dear Readers. It doesn’t matter so much if anyone thinks you are important, but having your own hive mind is always a good strategy. It makes a better impression than talking to yourself, too; although nowadays, just stick a bud in your ear and you can pretend you’re on the phone while you speculate on the motives, species and home planets of the crowd. But laughing at your own jokes is not as much fun.
Despite my packing handicaps (I run more toward garbage bags than nifty wheelie bags), I have located most of the clothes I mean to bring. I have enough underwear for a cholera epidemic. I have old-lady pressure stockings, lest I inflate like a toad, but they are all printed with the works of great painters: Monet, Renoir, Matisse, the godlike Van Gogh. I have my writing hat. I have a brand-new laptop, a functioning phone, a Kindle, a portable power safe – so I can keep broadcasting for a while if the zombie apocalypse occurs over the Memorial Day weekend. And I have knitting for my copious free time.
Neassa and I will probably giggle half the night away – the last time we were in the glorious Green Gable Inn in Pacific Grove, we were snickering so late and loudly that our next door neighbors had to knock and politely ask us to please shut up … at our age, too. We’re on the cusp of clinging to youth and giving in to senility, and I can’t tell where we are on that spectrum. I’m old enough to drink if I want to and eat dessert for dinner, and that’s enough for me.
I am really looking forward to this – even worried about my family, I am eager to be on the road again. It’s likely to be at least grey and probably wet, but I stopped fretting about getting wet decades ago. The hotel and my car won’t leak, so I shall be fine. Mind you, the hotel is located in a weird pocket universe – it’s difficult to get to on ordinary streets, and while you can see the damned thing from the freeway, getting to it is like navigating hyperspace. In a cheap Ford. Thank goodness for GPS!
Anyway, Dear Readers, I seem to be set for a new adventure. I am well supplied with gear if I break down somewhere, and I have friends in the area. And for all the peculiar geography of the Marriott, it’s a nice, comfy hotel, once you actually get there. Elevators and a bar and everything. Down pillows. Good coffee. A lobby shop well-stocked with candies and eccentric sodas.
And, of course, the inestimable company of the people who share my interests and actually like to read! Now, that is a draw like no other.