Tags: travel

Snow White

The Friendly Skies

(Due to the sheer awesomeness that was "Alethea's Adventures at BEA 2009, and What She Found There", I will begin at the end and go on until I come to the beginning. Because I am the princess and I said so.)


The Friendly Skies
Monday June 1, 2009

It's been said -- and I've mentioned it before myself -- that "the point of the journey is not to arrive." Well...that's crap, really, isn't it? Of course the point of the journey is your destination, or there wouldn't have been a journey in the first place. Arrival is simply the period at the end of the sentence. But if all you're concentrating on is the punctuation, you've definitely missed something.

While in Charleston with my sister over Memorial Day weekend, Sami and I did a spot of shopping -- just enough to make it worth our while but not completely nauseous (a distaste for so-called "retail therapy" is genetic, apparently). See...now that I'm brazen enough to slap pictures of myself all over the internet, I feel pressured to constantly add to my wardrobe to prevent all of you from suffering from the crazy delusion that I'm a Smurfette with only one nice dress. So I bought some fun things--a few you'll see in the BEA pics, a couple you'll see during Hypericon, and one I've saved for when I get nominated for an Oscar.

I also purchased what quickly became my new favorite shirt: a brown babydoll tee that reads: "faith hope love" in gold across the chest. (This has a point, I promise. It's not just 3000 words about clothes. Bear with me.) This shirt cried out to me, appealing to my inner six-year-old, the one who used to lock herself in the bathroom with a tape recorder and give inspirational speeches that begged everyone in the world to love each other, be happy, and "ho, mo, and grow" (I still haven't decided what "ho, mo, and grow" means, but it was important enough for me to repeat. A lot).

While at BEA, I picked up a button that said "HAPPY" and wore it on my badge until I lost it. Some people wear their heart on their sleeves; I suppose I have a tendency to wear my feelings on my chest.

As those of you who follow my FB/Twitter already know, I opted for the pretty dress/cute shoes every day of BEA weekend -- and I'm currently wearing the band-aids to prove it. By the time Monday rolled around, I was overjoyed to slide into my crumpled jeans and that soft brown t-shirt. (I am now compelled to find a button that says "OVERJOYED.") Mary and I went for a walk around the Upper West Side, stopped for breakfast, and dropped far too much cash at Bank Street Books. (One of my favorite children's authors is Arnold Lobel. Not only did Bank Street have some of the Frog and Toad books in hardcover, they had Frog and Toad in PLUSH. How was I supposed to pass that up? Exactly.)

Mary's done her share of traveling, so she knew right where and when I needed to catch the M60 bus back to Laguardia in time to check myself in and get settled. My suitcase full of books managed to squeak by just under the weight limit (yes!) and there was zero line at security, so I had plenty of time to sit back and relax before flying back to Nashville (via Charlotte again). I wandered over and bought a Snapple and some dark chocolate with almonds, found a comfy spot in front of the window, and cracked open Frog and Toad Are Friends.

Okay, yeah. I suppose any thirtysomething girl with braided pigtails and a cute hat sitting crosslegged at the end of a row of chairs eating chocolate and giggling into a Caldecott Honor book is just asking to be approached. When some guy tapped me on the shoulder, I turned and smiled at him...mostly because he had had the courtesy to let me finish reading my book before he interrupted me.

"Hi, sorry," he said. "This may sound a little strange but...well, I noticed your shirt....and it looks like you enjoy books, and reading..."

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Bowler Hat

Millennicon Memories # 1: The Deadline

The finished manuscript, and congratulatory roses from Korea-by-way-of-Portland

Millennicon was the reward I gave myself for finishing the novel I've been working on for the better part of three years. It was also my deadline -- if I wasn't finished by March 20th, I wasn't going to let myself go.

For some reason, John Scalzi had become my Muse. I've had a bit of a crush on him since the reading at WorldCon where Mary Robinette Kowal introduced us, but other than a chat in the taxi on the way to the airport, an interview, and a few scattered emails, we weren't exactly bosom buddies. Mary's very much like me, though -- she can pinpoint certain qualities of certain misfits and she inherently knows which ones complement each other. She wouldn't have introduced us if she didn't think we'd hit it off. So I looked forward to one day getting to know Scalzi a little better.

I can't tell you how bummed I was to have missed the "John & Mary Show You Their Shorts" event at Borderlands Books in January. Two of my favorite people in the world strutting their stuff in a pretty awesome town the weekend after my birthday...and I just didn't have the $500 I needed to pull it off. So I waited, hungry for the pictures and the video and the audio that was promised by so many on Scalzi's site.

Eventually, those podcasts arrived. (You can listen to them all here.) I spent an entire morning at work keying in buys and listening to all those awesome stories, one right after another. When I got to the "Petmaster 2000" I giggled so much it bugged my office mates, and when "Miss Kontis" met her untimely end, I smiled so big I pulled a muscle in my cheek. Here were my friends, and their stories, and ME...and it was wonderful. This was just another facet of my amazing, beautiful, and dynamite life. Why on earth would I put any of it off for one second longer?

A week later, Scalzi mentioned his Millennicon appearance, and I gave myself a deadline. It wasn't unreasonable to finish my novel by March 20th. Completely doable, if I actually SAT DOWN AND DID IT.

I wrote "THE END" on March 9th. I had it edited and off to my agent by the 12th. (Here's the part where we all keep our fingers crossed.)

Skip ahead to March 20th. I jumped out of bed that morning, excited about my trip. I got a bunch of last-minute things together, made some CDs, packed the car, and forced myself to slow down because leaving too early wouldn't have made sense -- no one wants to get stuck in Nashville at rush hour. I left around nine, filled up the tank, and set out on my fairly uneventful 5-hour drive.

Well...it was uneventful until I hit Cincinnati. The stop-and-go driving on 75N tore my nerves to shreds. I was so tired of being in the car and so close to the hotel...I just wanted to cry. I finally arrived, shaking from head to toe. Jason had been delayed an hour, so there was no room in which to put my stuff and no Apex table to help set up. Registration wasn't open yet. I didn't recognize anyone; I've never been to this con before. Not knowing what else to do, I plunked myself down in a corner of the lobby, pulled out my little notebook, and forced my scattered brain to jot down some ideas for my Harlan County Horrors story. In tiny letters on another page, I also wrote the sentence that kept racing through my mind: "What the hell am I doing at another convention?"

"Hi," a voice said, and I jumped up to collect my Scalzi hug. "How're you doing?"

I summed up my harrowing drive through the city and, because I couldn't help myself, those other silly words fell off my tongue. "Why am I here?"

"Because you're going to have fun," said my Muse. I didn't believe him.

Silly me.

[Tomorrow's entry: The Queen of Karaoke]
Big Gun

Six Degrees of Exasperation

This is all the fault of damnedrodan . He tagged me to do one of those "six random things about you" posts. I'm only doing it because six is brief. And I love Mark. Go buy one of his books.

1. My favorite tea is Red Rose Tea. It's what my Greek grandmother drinks.
2. One of my goals in life is to put a prism in every window of my house. I like rainbows.
3. My French grandmother used to be a singer. I grew up humming lots of the Rosemary Clooney classics. This one in particular.
4. My altar at work now includes: David Tennant action figure, Ratbert, cairech and her daughter, rose quartz, Buddha, the Eiffel tower, shoes from Amsterdam,  a trolley from San Francisco, and a fortune from the Musee Mechanique.

5. Yes, kellidunlap , Lauren David and I went geocaching with Mark Rainey last summer and were stopped by the police.

6. I originally posted this and forgot Number Six.

Sweet & Sassy

Awesome San Francisco Pics

Sunset on the Pier 43 Arch

I had a free afternoon this time in San Francisco, so I explored Fisherman's Wharf through the lens of my camera. Ghirardelli Park, the shipyard at the Hyde Street pier, Alcatraz, the Coit tower, Golden Gate bridge, Golden Gate park and greenhouse, hilly streets, trolley cars... I'm always conscious of the fact that I'm living vicariously for more than a few people, so I try to make it worth their while.

My favorite part of wandering amongst the tourists was taking pictures for other people. I must have taken ten photos, both asked and offered. I know what it's like, coming back from a town as picturesque as San Francisco with no pictures of yourself, or you and all the loved ones who suffered beside you for hours on the airplane beside you. Since everything's digital now, I always asked that they review the photo and make sure it's okay. It made me feel good, and I got to try out a few different brands of digital camera.

I've always said that when I die, I want to be taken to the place where we get to see all the photos we didn't know we were in, stuck in the back of someone else's vacation pictures. In addition, I think I'd also like to flip through all the ones I've taken for other people. So far, I think Facebook's the closest thing we have to that on the mortal plane. (Kudos to all you folks who take the time to tag things.)

Enjoy the pics!

San Fran Part One -- Scharffenberger tour, Jeff Carlson signing, and Berkeley (earlier this year), Fisherman's Wharf
San Fran Part Two -- Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate park & greenhouse

Always take advantage of a full moon.

Aviator Girl

Around The US In 323 Days (roughly)

I was gazing out the airplane window at this view over the Rockies and thinking: Gee, this looks familiar. Once upon a time, I had never been west of the Mississippi River. This year, I've been in the Denver airport (to change planes AND as a destination) so many times I've lost count. Now that I'm done traveling for the year, let's recap.

Conventions, Book Festivals & Workshops attended in 2008: 9

States visited (not including Tennessee): Kentucky, New York, South Carolina (2), Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, California (2), Oregon, Ohio

And this is a year of me "taking it easy." Right. Apparently, "taking it easy" means "only domestic travel."

Southern Fest

"Ghost Dancer" Now Up at The Writer's Eye

She shelved books like an accusation...

Yesterday I came back from lunch (one should always go out to lunch on Halloween, especially if one is dressed as a princess) to a lovely acceptance letter (few acceptance letters are not lovely) from Amber at
The Writer's Eye. This pro-rate online magazine is celebrating its first year of publication. As a writer who loves to dabble in other creative outlets form time to time, I found The Writer's Eye an interesting venue. All submissions must be accompanied by a jpeg file -- a photograph or piece of art also by the author, specifically illustrating the story or poem.

I don't have as much time as I'd like for art anymore, but those of you who've friended me on Facebook know my passion for photography. As it happened, "Ghost Dancer" was inspired by a photograph taken by
nihilistic_kid, when I visited his new SF digs and automatically took over organizing his new, fabulous bookcase (shelving books is just muscle memory at this point). With Nick's permission I monkeyed with the photo a bit, giving it the same sense of eeriness and mystery as the flash piece, and submitted it. Then, like most submissions, I promptly forgot about it.

Amber apologized for the lateness of the acceptance, following it up with "...and the new issue will be going live tomorrow." Hah! That kind of promptness I have nooooo problem with. Instant publication. I do love the internet.

[Pop-Up Trivia: the first line of "Ghost Dancer" is actually a joke. Earlier this summer, Nick graciously let me try my hand at reading slush -- the only kind of editing I *don't* do. The first two lines of two completely unrelated stories involved the main character doing something "like an accusation," and in neither occurrence did it seem natural. "Hah!" I told him. "I'm going to write a story with that in the first line too." And so I did.]

[Pop-Up Trivia 2: the word "ersatz" appeared on my GRE. I had no idea what it meant. Thanks to Lemony Snicket, I do now.]

"She danced in front of the TV like an accusation, spinning and swaying and butt-wiggling in the space between his monitor and the television. The bottoms of her white socks were gray with the dust and dog hair hidden in the ersatz wood grain of the laminate floor. She wrote a secret code into the steps, much in the way of bees, scolding him for squandering her brief visit and reminding her, even a little bit, of another man who had squandered her soul from behind a similar flat screen."

Read the rest of "Ghost Dancer" here.
Aviator Girl

Travel Goddess

I hate flying. I don't vomit constantly like I did when I was a kid, but it still gives me a really bad migraine and I'm essentially useless for the entire trip (thank heavens for iPods). Regardless, I still like to get into the airport and get my luggage and myself settled with all due haste. It isn't always easy -- especially when choosing your security line is the same roulette wheel as picking what line to stand in at the grocery store. You think you've got the most efficient-looking one...and then the guy in front of you has to take off his belt, unpack his laptop and his XBox, remove his cell phone and all the loose change from his pocket, and be reminded to take off his jacket. And on top of that all, his credit card bounced and he forgot his checkbook, and he needs a price check on frozen peas.

So imagine my surprise when I got to the Orlando airport yesterday and the decision had been made for me. Security is now broken up into three sections: Families with Children, Casual Travelers, and Expert Travelers. OH, THANK GOD. I actually waffled back and forth between "casual" and "expert" for half a second...it's not like I was dressed in a business suit or the regulatory blue shirt and khakis...but I'm a writer. I was wearing my uniform: jeans and a suntan. I decided that if I've traveled enough to get a free ticket on Southwest, I'm an expert traveler.

Heck, if I'm the kind of person to look at the new line hierarchy and think OH, THANK GOD, I'm an expert traveler. :)