So first, I fell deeply into an Outlander hole (the television series, then the books, and I am hard pressed to say which I like more) and then I went to the RT Booklovers Convention in Las Vegas.
And somewhere in there, the Slapstick Fairy came to visit me again, and, oof.
Many of you will be familiar with the Slapstick Fairy from such old, vanished adventures as, A Car Rammed Itself Right Into My Bedroom and I Arrived In North Carolina But The Bag With My Contact Lenses And Solution Didn’t. More lately I’ve been able to add things like Never Use An Immersion Blender In Hot Soup If You’re Wearing A Crop Top and a big hit, I Cut My Finger On My Yogurt Lid, that’s fun.
But my favorite thing is when the Slapstick Fairy visits before big, important trips and then just doesn’t leave. An entire week I had to endure this crap and while I admit the Car Incident did give me a healthy dose of perspective to help deal with it all, my patience and ability to laugh at horrible situations are not unlimited resources.
Ol’ Lady Slapstick hit me first, I think, with Ha Ha Fuck Your Business Cards. In which I carefully designed business cards for RT Con, new cards that were shiny and had both my book covers and even a silly tagline, and they were cute, but the printer did not at all print what I designed, and instead, three days before departure, delivered 100 completely fucked business cards and then refused to answer my emails for the next week.
Although concurrent with that was, You Have No Sense Of Dimension When Ordering Luggage Online, which resulted in an adorable but very small suitcase arriving at my home and a mad scramble to rearrange my packing plan. Three lists, all out the window, and my laptop ended up not traveling with me.
(which is fine, ha ha, because Slapstick McSparkles has also heaped on a nice big mountain of Who Needs To Write Another Book Anyway, awesomely enough)
Oh! I can’t forget Hope Your Tetanus Shots Are Up To Date. I ran my leg into a decorative metal table. Fortunately, yes, my shot record is good, but ugh, that hurt like a frickin’ biznitch.
Still, I was managing. I was limping along. I flew to Los Angeles, my flight was uneventful, I had plans to rent a car and go visit The Ripped Bodice, a brick and mortar bookstore dedicated exclusively to romance novels – they carry my book! And I had dinner plans with my friends Josh and Kayla, who I hadn’t seen in years. Then I was to pick up my fellow Interlude author C.B. Lee and we would drive to Las Vegas while singing along to Hamilton. I had a plan, I had directions, I had it all laid out because I am so good at organizing, sometimes.
I arrived at LAX and followed my car rental directions to catch the shuttle. And that is when Oh Did You Not Realize That Things Have Changed Since The Last Time You Rented A Car made its big, disastrous debut. Deposit and the full cost of the car up front. Oh, giggles. I had no idea. In fact I thought I had paid the deposit, but no. I had paid for some sort of car rental travel insurance. Ha ha.
I know, I am extremely dim. I don’t travel much, I never usually have need to rent a car when I do. I last rented a car in…1999, maybe? Good lord. Anyway, things were different then, but after I cried and gritted my teeth and asked for help, that deposit issue was resolved.
Mercifully, the Slapstick Fairy left me alone as I navigated Los Angeles traffic, for which I am grateful. Although between my general flying anxiety and exhaustion from insomnia caused by said flying anxiety, I was a little slap-happy during the drive and when at one point I saw the Hollywood sign, just right in front of me out of nowhere, I am afraid I have to confess that I shrieked in shock. Then I cackled hysterically and pointed at it as the driving Angelenos around me gave my little Hyundai a wide, wide berth…or as wide as they could give me, as the streets were a little narrow in spots.
My visit to The Ripped Bodice was lovely (and came before I had a screaming fit of giggles on Highland Avenue). I got to meet one of the owners, Leah – Bea was not in the shop that day. I bought books, I signed my book for them, and honestly I could have stayed there forever. It was that super.
I had a lovely dinner with my friends, who were kind enough to indulge my morbid curiosity and drove me past the really big Scientology temple and also the Celebrity Center. Holy crap, they are actually ludicrous, they’re so big. And everywhere! I kept asking, “What’s that?” And Josh or Kayla would just casually reply, “Oh, that’s a Scientology thing.”
I toodled off to go get C.B., which drive occasioned another laughing fit as I just passed Paramount Pictures, which much like the Hollywood sign, appeared out of nowhere. It is one thing to intellectually know giant landmarks like that exist and are in a city you are visiting, it is entirely another to have them just appear like that. Especially when you are sleepy but hopped up and you just had really nice ice cream and demonstrated your new Faire character, Sheep’s Rights Advocate Fionnula the Red to your friends.
Um. Maybe we will discuss Fionnula later.
After this is when things blur slightly. I did pick up C.B. We did drive to Las Vegas, singing along to Hamilton. And…I know I had fun all week. I know it. I saw old friends and met new ones, I collected a lot of books (though fewer than last year)…and I also spent a lot of time exhausted and hurting because it was a literal one mile walk going to and from our hotel room at the Rio to the conference area there, and you only kept it to a minimum of that mile if you stayed in the conference area and didn’t leave for anything.
If you wanted lunch, you were going to add to that mile, and also you were going to walk through nasty clouds of cigarette smoke because guess where it is legal to smoke indoors. Guess.
The Slapstick Fairy continued to hover over my head, as the cellophane bags I had bought to wrap my gift basket in were too small (that pesky dimension comprehension issue again). Happily, I found a florist in the hotel and that solved that problem, but that was also right about the time I was beginning to understand that there was not a single Coca-Cola product served in the entirety of the Rio, I desperately needed caffeination, and I do not drink Pepsi.
But, I mean. I learned so much (caffeinated or not) – there are so many panels! So many good ones led by smart, amazing women (I am thinking here primarily of the diversity panel led by Rebekah Weatherspoon, accompanied by Suleikha Snyder, Alisha Rai, and Alyssa Cole). And I met readers! People who had purchased and read my book! I’m sorry. The thing is still less than a year old, I am still tripped out by it.
I left my favorite sweater at the Hard Rock Hotel, in case you were wondering if the Slapstick Fairy left me alone. I got it back, though. There is something about the notion of having to fly home in a tank top and leggings and no comfy enveloping sweater that just motivates you to grit your teeth and drive through Las Vegas to rectify a situation like that.
(I rewarded myself with a trip to the Lush store at Fashion Show Mall, I mean, as long as I was out, might as well go out)
C.B. and I drove back to Los Angeles on Sunday. We had an amazing lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant that she knew, and we played lots and lots of Glee covers and sang along, and
I missed my flight. Because of course I did.
I tried. I really did. But the restaurant only took cash, and we being modern gals, we had none. C.B. had to take the rental car and go find an ATM, which took a long time, and I tried to check in for my flight ahead of time on my phone and it didn’t work.
I dropped her off at her home and I plugged my iPod directly into the car and set it on shuffle and…well. That was an experience, because I have a new phone (Slapstick Fairy: iPhone 5, Meet The Ground. With Your Face.), and when I had restored it from the backup of my old phone I guess iTunes decided I needed all of the massive instrumental scores I had purchased a few years ago. Purchases I had made to motivate me during the writing of a very large project set during the Wars of the Roses.
Reader, I would like you to picture it. Los Angeles, 2016. I am doing 80 miles an hour down the 105 in a small silver Hyundai, I am weaving in and out of traffic like I never have in my life and this is my soundtrack.
I mean honestly by the time I parked the car at the rental place it was all I could do to not leap out of the car yelling FETCH ME MY HORSE AND SWORD IT IS TIME TO KILL KING RICHARD OR I SHALL DIE TRYING
So that was exciting.
It was also to no avail, as I made it to LAX with ten minutes to spare before my flight, and the stories of the security lines there? So totally true.
It was after 6 PM Pacific time. They put me on standby for a flight that would leave after midnight. I went and bought two Diet Cokes and a $20 box of macarons, and sat down with Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon, because again, by now I am not just in an Outlander TV show hole, I am deep into the books, too. Which is good if you are staring down the barrel of a six hour minimum wait for a flight home. I kept getting interrupted by the gate agents. “We just want to be sure you are here,” they would say. Then, ominously, “but just so you know, you might not get on the flight.”
And then they would go back to their gate desk thingy and the flight monitor would suddenly inform us that our flight was delayed. This happened several times.
I got on the flight. Well after one in the morning. Middle seat, of course. The Slapstick Fairy was just not about to let me go without one last tweak to my nose.
But it was a flight home. And I arrived safely, if feeling rather battered from head to toe. I checked my garden, found it had not died, fed my cats some fancy wet food, and I collapsed into bed. It was 7 AM my time on Monday. I was dead to the world for most of the day.
Worth it, though, I think. Well, maybe not the part where my lungs crackled for a week thanks to all that secondhand smoke but otherwise…yes. It was really a good trip, slapstick and all.
I’m dancing around a small part of it though. Something happened. Something I have always feared. I need to talk about it (and I did a bit, on Twitter, when it happened), but I have already gone on too long and I think it needs to stand alone.
So I will be back.