For lunch Thursday and I hooked up with Anna Zabo and Jessica Freeley for lunch at a pita restaurant. It was raining so we took the most expensive cab ride for a block and a half ever (even the cabbie felt bad and gave us a break…) but had a pretty yummy lunch. I love Gyros.
Back at the ranch, Erica Pike, M.J. O’Shea, and I had only chatted via FB about what was to transpire in our Rock of Pages panel. I’d agreed that Thursday would read from our books since we were all squeamish about reading our own words which was why we didn’t opt in for a whole reading. I let Thursday know of this…eventually. Some might say the day of, but I know I told him he was reading from Black Gold at least a week in advance. I’m considerate.
Now, this is where it can get a little twitchy when I say things like, “I have social anxiety,” and then people watch me easily, conversationally rule a panel with an iron fist. Okay, maybe not an iron fist, but look, whether it was reality or not, theoretically those people were there to be entertained. My problem is really in starting a conversation. I have about 10 conversations with you before I approach, most of them ending with, “I’m going to leave to talk to someone more interesting now.” Rationally, I get that’s not going to happen, but YOU talk to my brain. We’re pretty done with each other.
Anyway, I had two missions before the panel: get out my swag and meet up with the ladies so we could finalize what we’d talked about. The idea was that I would bring the giant, paper guitars, M.J. would bring the materials to decorate them, and Erica would bring the big prize gift for the best decorated guitar. We brought other prizes as well and then my mom inundated me with inflatable guitars.
She loves Oriental Trading Company. I think this is because she was a teacher and it was a cheap way to equitably entertain kids so she could trick them into learning stuff. For the record, this method never worked for me because I preferred cold, hard cash. I am not even kidding. She put dollar values on my grades because I wasn’t getting an A for no inflatable plastic guitar. And, when I’d change schools from elementary, to middle, to high, I’d negotiate for more money because the work was technically getting harder. I don’t think those were the lessons she intended to learn me, but not bad ones to have in the end.
As we had been planning the panel, however, I was pointing out that there were BLANK inflatable guitars available that we could decorate and I was kind of accused of having an inflatable things fetish. Look, what goes on between me and Jody is nobody’s business but our own.
But back to the present. Erica wrote up a tentative schedule which I slotted in beside me. Since in the past I’ve done radio and various events, I thought it would just be easier if I ran it. This weren’t my first panel (but my first as a writer!) The timing was maybe a little off but it was as designed. We’d decided that while people were doing their thing with the guitars, we’d have Thursday read stuff and do mini-Q&A’s in between so it wasn’t just the sound of industrious marker users.
Because I don’t actually have an inflatable fetish and because my mom had given me about 20 little light-up guitar charms (one day I will figure out why she loves things that light up and make noises so much) we awarded them as prizes for when people asked us questions. See, mom? Bribery for participation. I learned it from YOU, mom. I learned it from YOU.
I was quite pleased by the quality as well as the quantity of questions. I’ve seen many panels crash and burn because they’d anticipated way more participation than was warranted. It may just be that GRL has such a well-defined niche that we just have that kind of family atmosphere that leads us to be a little more comfy. I dunno. But I was super-grateful.
After all that, I needed a nap.
I awoke in time for the opening reception where it was rumored food would be. I was a journalism/advertising major. If there’s free food, I’m there. That’s what my college education taught me.
The food was…peculiar. The patty pan squashes looked amusingly like penises. I don’t know what was up with the bruschetta, I personally thought it was a little pico de gallo sans cilantro and jalapenos, but it was considered by many Earthlings in the room, to be food, so I choked it down. Normally I really love meat on a stick but my mandibles were having a tough time with it so I stuck to the… pork? Pork on forks? I dunno. It wasn’t bad, I just usually prefer food where my identification isn’t limited to, “The fibrous quality of this material suggests meat.” (I swear I’ll stop mocking the hotel food eventually.)
Then it was Juke Joint. I’m just going to come out right now and confess, I am a voyeur. I like watching. But dancers get better tips when they interact and so they do and I flee the area. I don’t know if this is social anxiety or past stripper trauma, but it takes a lot of alcohol to get me to party that way and I was not up to the challenge of drinking that much.
Fortunately for me, there was another soul, Belinda McBride, who was also content to chill out in the quiet room and we chatted about everything. I mean, everything. I think we may have solved hunger, negotiated peace in the Middle East, and cured cancer. Unfortunately, people kept nagging us to see the dancers, so we kind of forgot what we were talking about and wandered into the other room.
My pulse was racing. I was sure some half-naked man was going to jump out, covered in Axe cologne, and demand a hug. This has nothing to do with the actual dancers there. This is my past Las Vegas stripper trauma coming back to haunt me. THREE DAYS it took me to get the smell of Axe out of my hair and clothes. I didn’t want to spend another week in a scalding hot shower rocking myself and crying, “Unclean. Unclean. Unclean.” (Seriously, it’s the Axe. It gives me massive headaches.)
But! Instead of that, what did I see hovering in the corner, looking oh so enchanting?
Oh yeah. I squealed with an undignified amount of glee. CAKE!
Chocolate cake! White cake! Glorious cake!
I may have still been a little hungry.
So, we grabbed cake and Belinda and I were laughing to each other about what goofballs we are to write what we write and to be ever-so-slightly intimidated by gyrating men. I was really starting to feel a little distressed that I’d taken on full-scale old-biddy status when I heard someone else, upon seeing our uplifted plates say, “CAKE?”
It was cake. And it was good.