oh, the places we’ve been

We left over a foot of snow and arrived in a false Spring.  The air has a warm touch, and if I didn’t know better, I’d think tulips were going to be sprouting any day now.  They might be already.  And soon February through April will kill them.  The fucking birds are even tweeting like green leaves and blue skies are just around the corner.  I think we are all going to be disappointed on that front for another four months.  At least.

The calendar page has turned, and here we are back in Germany and in 2014.  I like the sound of that number.  It has a pleasant evenness about it. Rag on 2013 as you will, but it was a good year too. I published two articles in the ever-charming magazine New Escapologist and wrote a mini-guidebook of Frankfurt for The Hunt guides.  (If you’d like to hear about some of my favorite places in the city, you can read an e-version here for free.  Just click on “buy guide.”  You won’t actually have to buy it.)  I started my first fiction story in almost a hundred years, something I hope to have wrapped up and sent away in the next couple of weeks.  I wrote and edited a shit-ton of stuff for Young Germany too, though the world still seems to be infinitely less impressed by writing that is published digitally.  Joke’s on you digital skeptics!  Web writing is where most of the regular pay checks are at.

as I was saying

We went to the States.  Things happened.  We paced up and down the east coast.  We introduced Pickles to her American family, stuffed ourselves at Thanksgiving and at Christmas and at pretty much every opportunity in between and slept in a lot of beds that were a little bit too small for three people.  There was singing and snow and a trip to the aquarium.  There was bad-to-non-existent public transportation, there were peaceful car rides, there were glorious thrift stores, and there were cold playgrounds and books.  It was fun and stressful, as traveling with a kid just under two can be.  We saw a lot of people, and missed a lot more.

A few visuals of our travels (there wasn’t a lot to choose from, what with not wanting to post photos of any people, but still):

Friday January 10th 2014, 6:21 pm Leave a Comment
Filed under: america,conspiracies


the year in books 2013 and a book-lover blog hop

The bell has tolled.  The time has arrived.  I can now reveal the Click Clack Gorilla Year in Books. There are still two reading days left in 2013, but there is no way that I am going to finish any more books before 2014.  There is jet lag.  Psychedelic zombie ponies are stomping on what is left of my brain.

But look!  Previously, my brain did work, and I read a lot of things (links lead to reviews I’ve written of said books, or read all of the year’s book posts here).  I even reached my goal of reading 100 books in one calendar year.  That felt like a fucking lot of books at the time.  Then I met a lot of really voracious readers who accomplished even more.  And who I will duel to the death next year by attempting to read myself out of all life outside of the printed page.  Just kidding.  Pickles has already seen to that.

If you also like to read, please join in the Year in Books Blog Hop at the bottom of the page.  Basically what “Blog Hop” means is that you blog about your year in books (and if you didn’t keep track, posts on a favorite book this year or any other related book topic are also welcome) and add a link to the post to the linky at the end of this post.  Linky etiquette requires you to link back to this post in your post, but I won’t flog you if you forget.  (Still it is nice, and makes google like us all more.)

If you want to hear some more babble from me about the year’s highlights, you’ll find that after this very long list that I expect almost no one to read, but hey, there are pictures too.  If you do read it, I’d also love to hear if you’ve read any/many of these and what you thought of  ‘em.  To the comments with you!

1. The Scourge of God by S.M. Stirling
2. Origin of Paranoia as a Heated Mole Suit by Rupert Wondolowski (reread)
3. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (reread)
4. Whore Diaries: My First Two Weeks as an Escort by Tara Burns
5. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin (reread)
6. The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin (reread)
7. The Sword of the Lady by S.M. Stirling
8. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (audio – reread)
9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
10. Ten Thousand Miles by Freight Train by Carrot Quinn
11. The Giver by Louis Lowry (reread)
12. Gathering Blue by Louis Lowry
13. The Scar by China Mieville
14. Messenger by Louis Lowry
15. Son by Louis Lowry

16. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
17. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
18. The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
19. Boating for Beginners by Jeanette Winterson
20. The High King of Montival by S.M. Stirling
21. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
22. Blindness by Jose Saramago
23. Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson
24. Export A by Lisa Kränzler (first German read of the year)
25. An American Plague: The True & Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
26. Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven
27. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
28. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
29. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
30. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
31. Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
32. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (audio book – reread)
33. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
34. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
35. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
36. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
37. The Battle of the Sun by Jeanette Winterson
38. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
39. Begegnungen auf der Trans*fläche by kollektiv sternchen & steine
40. Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson
41. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
42. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (reread)
43. The Wind’s Twelve Quarters by Ursula Le Guin
44. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
45. Sabriel by Garth Nix

46. Unnatural Creatures edited by Neil Gaiman
47. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
48. Hothouse by Brain Aldiss
49. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
50. Witches by Roald Dahl (reread)
51. Gremlins by Roald Dahl
52. The Word for World Is Forest by Ursula Le Guin (audio book)
53. Someone Like You by Roald Dahl
54. Finding Life Beyond Trauma by Victoria M. Follette and Jacqueline Pistorello
55. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
56. Sorry Please Thank You by Charles Yu
57. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (reread)
58. Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl
59. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (audio book “reread”)
60. Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino
61. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
62. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (reread)
63. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (reread)
64. The Wasp Fastory by Iain Banks
65. Makers by Cory Doctorow
66. Adventure Rocketship!: Let’s All Go to the Science Fiction Disco edited by Jonathan Wright
67. The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
68. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
69. The Tears of the Sun by S.M. Stirling
70. Von Bänken und Banken in Frankfurt am Main by Bernd Kostering & Ralf Thee
71. Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy A. Bastian
72. The BFG by Roald Dahl (reread)
73. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
74. Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke
75. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

76. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
77. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
78. Wicca for Beginners by Thea Sabin
79. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
80. Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
81. The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling
82. Book of Shadows by Phyllis Curott
83. Wool by Hugh Howey
84. Beauty in Decay: The Art of Urban Exploration by RomanyWG
85. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams
86. Beauty in Decay II by RomanyWG
87. The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
88. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
89. Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss
90. Steering the Craft by Ursula k. LeGuin
91. It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Indian Acorn Preparation by Beverly R. Ortiz
92. The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks
93. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (reread)
94. The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
95. The Boxcar Children 1 by Gertrude Chandler Warner (reread)
96. An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski
97. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)
98. Slow River by Nicola Griffith
99. Chick Days: Raising Chickens from Hatchlings to Laying Hens by Jenna Woginrich
100. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (audio)

Mieville, Rothfuss, Lynch, Doctorow, Murakami, Butler, Gaiman, Winterson, and so many more talents have made the year’s reading pretty damn staggering.  I mean, sure, I also read the Twilight series, but the rest, the rest!  If you forced me at gun point to choose one favorite, my first answer would be Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.  Then I would remember that I also read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline this year and chose that.  (I liked it so much that I listened to the audio book immediately after finishing the paper book.)  Then I would re-read the list and become very agitated because look at this fucking list.  There is no way to pick a favorite and mean it forever and ever in stone.

I was deeply impressed by Nicola Griffith’s Slow River, and I really disliked Brain Aldiss’ Hothouse.  I revisited a number of classics from my childhood, and of those, The Boxcar Children was the weirdest.  I still enjoyed it for its “kids surviving in the woods, living in a boxcar, and going scavenging at the dump” aspects, but damn, cookie-cutter gender roles anyone?  I found Doomsday Book by Connie Willis incredibly boring for a long time, and then spent a sick day listening to it for hours and became obsessed to the point of relistening by the end.  Still don’t love the reader of my audio copy of that though.

Fourty-five of the year’s books were written by women.  Four of them were written in German.  (Guess I really went after last year’s goal to read more German language books, huh?  Cough.)  Seventeen were re-reads.  Sixteen were non-fiction.

The Year in Books is one of my favorite blogging traditions.  Actually, it is my only blogging tradition, so BE APART OF SOMETHING UNIQUE TODAY.  Or something.  At the very least I hope 2014 brings you as many awesome books as it looks like it is bringing me.

My goals for 2014 include not buying any new books until I’ve read at least fifty from my current to-read shelf and writing more reviews when I do.  I am not even going to pretend to try to read more in German, though for tradition’s sake, I should probably promise to finally read Kafka in the original (on my to-read shelf for eight years and running).  Which I guarentee I will not have done by the end of 2014.

What did you love reading this year?  What reading goals have you set for 2014?

You can read the Click Clack Gorilla Year in Books Past by clicking your mouse–2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012–and then go check out what other Click Clack Gorilla readers have been reading this year.

Monday December 30th 2013, 4:28 pm 23 Comments
Filed under: books,conspiracies


thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d

Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they found it hard to leave.

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Here, here J.R.R. Tolkien, here, here.  The Hobbit is just full of tasty lines that apply seamlessly to our own travels. Luckily we are not likely to encounter any trolls. But I suppose that really depends on who you ask.

There have been witches. And possibly ghosts.

Though a comfortable stay in a cozy house with ample food and drink may not make for much of a story, I can tell you this about our first two weeks in the U.S.:

Pickles can now pedal a tricycle and say a lot of new English words. English is winning the language race now that we’re surrounded by people speaking it.

I can now say, tried and tested!, that this recipe for Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread is the best cooking decision you will ever make.  (Oh. My. Cod.)

Sculpture parks can be creepy and fun.  (See photos.)

Jet lag with babies sucks more than you ever could have possibly imagined.

There are air mattresses in this world that are actually comfortable.

Tonight will find us on the highway heading south.  Who knows when we will make it back to New Jersey.  Next year?  In three? In five?  But it has been fun.  And off they drove, tra la la!

Wednesday November 27th 2013, 8:54 pm 3 Comments
Filed under: america,conspiracies


what i’m reading right this second

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.

-The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Show of hands: who’s read The Hobbit?  And who’s going to see the second Hobbit movie come December?

Friday November 22nd 2013, 3:03 pm 8 Comments
Filed under: books,conspiracies


the traveler by john twelve hawks

He knew that newspapers and television announcers reported on a certain level of reality. What was happening to him was on another level, like a parallel universe. All around him, different societies were growing larger or being destroyed, forming new traditions or breaking the rules while citizens pretended that the faces shown on television were the only important stories.

-The Traveler, John Twelve Hawks

The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks was the only non-digital book I brought to America; I assumed I would enjoy it without feeling the need to read it again—my requirement for releasing a book back into the wild. I was right.

This is a fun book that keeps you turning pages, a thriller, and I enjoyed the ride. But the dystopian elements didn’t do much for me. The ultimate message—that surveillance culture and panopticon-ical control are a bad idea—is an important one, but the capitalized terms for things (like the Vast Machine aka the government/culture of computerized control) didn’t ring out like a note of genius among the muck, the way a well-invented Sf/F term can and should. The story itself is based around a fierce female body guard (a Harlequin) who is (reluctantly!) sworn to protect a man whose spirit can leave his body (a Traveler) and was a bit too alienating-yet-cookie-cutter for me. But this is the new Big Brother! But everything happening in the society of this book is happening right now! Yes. Yet it still didn’t stimulate many brain cells. It still was a bit too lollipop-ish. And I fucking hate hearing story after story about the godsdamned Templar mythology, which Twelve Hawks weaves, albeit sparsely, into the book’s secret-society back-story without blinking.

But I did like it; let’s be clear about that. However, I doubt I will feel the need to read it again in my lifetime, and I’m releasing its pages back into the wild. Before I do, I thought I’d preserve one more handful of its words in blog formaldehyde.

On an intentional community the book’s characters encounter:

“We didn’t want to run away from the world and pretend to be medieval farmers,” Martin said. “Our objective was to gain control of our lives and prove that this Third Way of ours can work. There are other groups like New Harmony—the same mix of high tech and low tech—and we’re all connected by the Internet.”

The Third Way. Not going backwards, like so many off-grid intentional groups are accused of doing, but moving forwards by picking and choosing from all of the tools available to them. I like the ring of that.

 

Thursday November 21st 2013, 2:11 pm 6 Comments
Filed under: books,conspiracies


on stranger shores

I am writing this to you from the shores of America.

It is a fact that I still find hard to believe.

The jet lag was horrible; I don’t recommend traveling across time zones with babies to anyone, ever, period, exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point.

I spent 23 years of my life in America, and now it strikes me as a country of people running in circles, frantically waving their hands above their heads.

Not everybody, not individuals, and probably not you: It is a feeling, an image that comes to mind when people start telling me stories about the health care system and gun violence and the economy and abandoned houses and minimum wage and the way people drive.  America doesn’t make any sense to me, and I’m not sure that it has anything to do with the fact that I have lived elsewhere for the past eight years.

But we are having a lovely time, eating decadently and enjoying watching Pickles get to know a new set of grandparents.  We’ve been to the beach (it was foggy; we built castles) and a thrift store (I miss the warehouse-sized American thrift stores, though it turns out I can get much better deals at the flea markets in Germany) and on walks beneath the brightly colored stragglers still hanging onto their trees.

Monday November 18th 2013, 11:47 pm Leave a Comment
Filed under: america,conspiracies,gorilla parent (year two)


wherein china mieville makes me sad and neil gaiman makes me happy (wfc 2013 part 6)

China Mieville. His name on the program was the reason I had initially decided to attend World Fantasy. Then his name disappeared from the program. Had it all been a cruelly realistic dream? A dream that had resulted in tickets purchased and charges to my credit card? At the airport at 5 am I scrolled through the convention website and found the communique explaining his sudden absence (which actually explained nothing at all, where were you China?!?). Which was also when I found out that Neil Gaiman would be replacing him as Master of Ceremonies. Huh. Now there is a substitution I can live with.

Every morning I walked past the ruin pictured above on the walk betwenn my sleeping hotel and the con hotel.  It made me think of China—it would fit right in on Armada, give or take 500 other skeletal vessels lashed to its sides.  If you haven’t read it yet, I really can’t recommend Perdido Street Station enough (or The Scar, which is what this ruin made me think of).  Neil Gaiman was probably the only author that could have softened the blow of his absence.

I fell in love with Gaiman’s work when I fell in love with Neverwhere, a book about an alternative world in underground London, given to me just after my first trip to the city in 2005.  I read Sandman as part of a class on Literature of the Fantastic during college.  And I’ve read everything else he’s written (excluding the comics and his first book, which was a biography of Duran Duran that apparently sells for 10,000 pounds these days).  American Gods and The Graveyard Book eventually vied with Neverwhere as my favorite.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane was the scariest book I read this year.  His worlds and his words are dark and magical and enthralling.  Not to mention that he is a charming, well-spoken human who is married to the force that is Amanda Palmer.  He’s become a cult-figure in his own right, and now I was—surprise! wohoo!—going to get to see him speak, was going to run straight into him coming out of the door of the hotel one evening, was going to get used to just seeing around.  And the people rejoiced.

I arrived at the convention hotel early on Friday morning, prodded out of bed by my own excitment, jittery with coffee from the all-you-can-eat English breakfast that would become my daily morning routine.  I hadn’t planned on attending the Joanne Harris interview, but I was glad I did.  She’s written a lot more than Chocolat, you know (don’t worry, I didn’t).  She was a joy to listen to, and attending her panel meant that I had secured a front-row seat for the conversation between Neil Gaiman and Jo Fletcher which would follow.  Not that I needed to fight the crowds; apparently the changes to the program had gone unnoticed or (and!) the hour was still too early—the room was barely a quarter full.

I didn’t take many notes during their talk—it was more fun to sit back and absorb every word—except for one quote.  “You can just do so much if you don’t know the rules.”  (Amen.)  They chatted—old friends—about the start of Gaiman’s career, about the last time they had attended a World Con in this very same hotel, about making sure you at least make your hotel bed look sleeped in so that the management don’t sell your room to someone else.  I’m hard pressed to imagine what could make a day better than seeing Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris speak (Jo Fletcher is a publisher and is quite interesting as well, though I hadn’t known anything about her at the time), and yet that was only the beginning.

Wednesday November 13th 2013, 8:00 am 8 Comments
Filed under: books,conspiracies


witches in the air

I meant to post this on Halloween. But photobucket wasn’t working and then Brighton swept me off of my feet. But I still wanted to share because…tiny dragon! Did you celebrate Halloween?

It has arrived: The time for pumpkins and ghosts, crispy leaves and apple pie, early darkness and candles in the windows.

I wish I was going to be at home for Halloween. I would have liked to take Pickles trick-or-treating. I would have liked to have a harvest dinner party. Alas, I will be in England having a very different and wonderful brand of fun. But we still got the dragon.

Tuesday November 12th 2013, 8:00 am Leave a Comment
Filed under: conspiracies,gorilla parent (year two)


people i wish i had met at world fantasy, and people i’m very glad i did (wfc 2013 part 5)

I noticed her on the first day because of her t-shirt.  I didn’t get a very good look at it, but in passing thought I saw the word feminism.  Was there something about Marx on there as well?  My people?  Likely.  But panels happened, readings happened, and I didn’t get the chance to say hello.  At a party several nights later I found myself chatting with someone I had met in line at the Susan Cooper signing.  The woman with the t-shirt was sitting nearby.  That’s Foz Meadows, she told me, pointing in her direction.  Who’s that? I asked. Just the very intelligent and articulate writer of Shattersnipe (and a fiction writer, says the internet).  Just someone whose blog I am now totally enamored with, now that I have been led to it by the hand (d’oh).  Just someone who is writing about feminism and speculative fiction articulately, wonderfully, engagingly.  Just someone I really, really, really wish I had gotten a chance to meet and chat with during World Fantasy.  I hope there’s a next time.

Cheryl Morgan came to my attention on the “We’re All Bloggers Now” panel, which was itself a ridiculous mess that very blatantly exposed some of the flaws in the convention planners’ system (or lack thereof) of assigning voices to panels.  But Cheryl’s comments stood out, and yup, she has a wonderful blog called Cheryl’s Mewsings.  She’s also behind Wizard’s Tower Press, who are doing their damnedest to put more voices of women, LGTB, and other marginalized groups into print.  And actually that’s just the tip of her iceberg of amazing.  From what she’s said on her blog, she’ll be attending Nine Worlds and LonCon next August, and I really really hope I don’t miss another chance to chat with her then.

Cheryl Morgan and Foz Meadows, thanks for doing what you do.

But wait!  I almost forgot.  Polenth Blake of Polenth’s Quill was there as well.  I’ve been following her blog for a while now, but in the busy that led up to World Fantasy, I missed the posts that mentioned that she would be attending.  I wouldn’t have minded telling the folks over at Pornokitsch how much I enjoy their writing either (don’t let the name fool you, it’s a damn fine book blog).  How many more bloggers that I follow did I miss?  We should have couped the blogger panel, damn it, and saved the sinking ship.  Remind me to try to organize an informal book bloggers meet-up at the next convention I attend.  Then maybe I won’t have so many missed connections to lament.  Maybe.  It is inevitable that you are going to miss talking to hundreds of amazing people at a convention like this.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

As for the people I did meet…

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz who writes at From the Beloved Country, Chie and Weng Read Books, and as a columnist over at Strange Horizons also caught my attention on the “We’re All Bloggers Now” panel.  She had some interesting things to say about the internet providing a speaking platform for people on the margins and at one point said something along the lines of “I can’t seem to stop writing about revolution.”  (Correct me if I’m misquoting you there Rochita.)  I got the chance to chat with her during one of the publisher’s parties, and subsequently went to her reading on Sunday morning.  The politics and themes in her writing are right up my alley, and I am glad that the most ridiculous of panels at least had the positive side effect of bringing her work to my attention.  Looking forward to seeing more of it in the future.

Then there was my constant convention companion, at first by accident, and then by choice.  We’d been to all the same panels on Friday, sitting several seats away from each other in the front row, both taking notes, both slighted by the traumatic experience that was the Terry Prachett reading (more on that in another post).  I saw her taking pictures with a little stuffed pig (as in the picture above) and guessed that she was also a blogger.  She was, and we bonded over our anger at the way the blogging panel had gone and our dislike of the behavior of one of the panelists.  With every subsequent panel—and it was no longer a question of whether we would run into each other, but when—we talked a little more, found a few more things we had in common, geeked out about a few more favorite authors and books.  It wasn’t long before we were making plans to run into each other.  It was a grand old time and having the company of Sullivan McPig (who is the centerpiece of the book blog Pearls Cast Before a McPig and The Life and Travels of Sullivan McPig) for the weekend was the icing on the con-cake.

There were others of course: people from the newbies corner at the hotel bar whose names I didn’t write down and therefore immediately forgot, two Scottish girls, authors, writers, bloggers galore.  If I was more organized I would have all of your names and internet info to share here.  But alas.  If any of you are reading this, please leave a comment with your calling card or find me on twitter @bookpunks.

Read part six of the WFC saga here.

 

Monday November 11th 2013, 8:00 am 5 Comments
Filed under: books,conspiracies


wherein i find a place to rest my head and all is well in the land of eternal darkness (wfc 2013 part 4)

Just tuning in?  Catch up on my World Fantasy Convention saga with Part One (Scott Lynch!  Elizabeth Bear!  Trains!  Twitter!), Part Two (S.M. Stirling!  Missed connections!  Anxiety!  Rain!), and Part Three (Patrick Rothfuss!  Feminism in Fantasy writing!  Hope!).

The way I saw it, I had several options: staying up all night drinking at the bar (after which I would feel like total shit and probably fall asleep during the panel discussions I had been looking forward to), getting back into my couchsurfing non-host’s apartment building and setting up camp in her foyer (but where would I go to pee? and what if she never actually came back?), finding someone willing to let me sleep on the floor of their hotel room after hearing my sad sad story of strife and abandonment (it’s happened before, but there is a lot of luck involved), or just curling up under all my clothes on top of my suitcase under the pier (and get my books wet?! fuuuck).  Or I could just get a hotel room.  Cod damn it.  I am getting too old for this shit.

At the end of the Patrick Rothfuss reading at Waterstones, I had returned to the convention hotel.  My phone’s battery was almost dead—because not being able to get in touch with your host in a strange city isn’t traumatic enough without the constant threat of having your communication device crap out completely—and I knew there were both plugs and free wifi in the hotel lobby.  People in dresses and suits were mingling, drinks in hand, as I set up camp on the floor next to a free plug, hair wet from the rain, resolve stiffening into a wild joy at the thought that I would not be fucked, not as long as I had electricity, a convention badge, and a credit card.  A woman playing a game on a tablet helped me get onto the wifi, and I started to look for accommodations.  I really would have appreciated a minority report on that couchsurfing host.  There had been so many lovely Airbnb options that I had almost booked.  Instead I opted to save money and ended up spending even more of it booking a room at the last of the last minutes.

The internet, the telephone, and the credit card made it possible.  I don’t hold much by credit cards in general, but my mom has always encouraged me to have them around.  For emergencies.  Well, mom, right again.  Good thing I grew up in America at a time when credit card companies were throwing themselves at anyone and everyone.  I found a room online and booked over the phone.  Twenty minutes later I was walking toward the Royal Albion Hotel.  The walk took under ten minutes, a straight shot beside the pebble beach and just past the Brighton Pier.

The price was more than I had wanted to spend, but it was a room, a room in a city I had been certain had been completely booked out by the convention and the Halloween party-seekers whose wobbling, scantily clad bodies lined the sidewalk beside the water that connected the Royal Albion and the convention hotel.  I had considered and discarded the idea of booking just one night, of booking something more affordable or finding my gods damned couchsurfing host on the morrow.  But then I would have had to drag around my luggage.  But then I would have missed panels getting the details straight.  Fuck that.  I did not come to this convention to miss half of it chasing hotel rooms and irresponsible hosts, I told myself.  No I did not.

There is something about having a hotel room all to myself that makes me feel like an adult.  More so than almost anything else I’ve ever done, including having a child.  What a strange phenomenon.

The manager upgraded me to a double room, and even so it was a small white cave, the usual bed-television-closet-desk-weird-art combo of high mid-class hotels everywhere.  It was also in the basement.  The Land of Eternal Darkness: A good place to sleep in, a good place to lose track of time, place, and weather.  I lined my books up on the desk—they already numbered in the double digits—and poured through my program at the events of the next day.  The bed was incredible—warm arms, security, the womb of “I am not going to be sleeping outside tonight”-ness.  It enveloped me, and carried me through dawn into morning.

Read part five of the WFC saga here.

Note: The first and last photos on this post are from one of the exhibiting artists at the convention. Her work—the tinest of sculptures featuring bug corpses and minute skeleti fairies—blew my mind. Her name is Tessa Farmer.  Yes, I am aware that skeleti is not the plural of skeleton.  Sue me; I like the way it sounds.

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Sunday November 10th 2013, 8:00 am 7 Comments
Filed under: books,conspiracies