Sunday, July 31, 2011

i want a new drug

I awoke at six a.m., which may be a sign that the jet lag is still having a subtle effect on my sleeping patterns -- I wasn't able to go back to sleep, which is rare for me, so I laid in bed for three hours going down some rabbit holes on Wikipedia. I eventually got up, did the dishes, took a shower, made some breakfast, ate said breakfast, and was still in my chair at my desk by eleven with the intention of writing.

And despite that intention, I still tried to avoid it. I checked Google +; I checked Twitter; I checked Facebook; I chatted with Ritu Rani; I checked the social media triumvirate again; I copied my to do list from my notebook to my whiteboard; and I typed up the scenes that I'd written in longhand while I was traveling. Eventually, though, I pulled myself out of the procrastination morass and forced myself to write, and I turned out 1500 words (six pages), which ain't so shabby. Figuring out what to reveal and how to reveal it in the opening chapters of my non-gargoyle romance is going to be tricky, but at least I love a challenge, right?

I finally needed a break, though, so I walked to Starbucks, grabbed a latte, came home, and tried to call my parents. They weren't home, so I did some researching of women's names, then started reading up on famous weapons. I did talk to my parents for a few minutes eventually, but it was only to tell them that I couldn't talk because I was on my way to book club (sorry parents!). Book club was quite fun again; Lauren (aka Subz) wasn't able to make it because she was in Tahoe for the weekend, but Vidya, Terry, Katrina and I met at Katrina's to discuss this month's book -- BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey. I think we all agreed that it was too light to really have grievances with; we all seemed to enjoy it, and yet we also wished there was more of a narrative thread or perhaps more substance or something. But, as the point of the book club is to drink, we succeeded, and a good time was had by all.

Post book club, I got a call/text from Katie, who said that a coworker of her sister's was in town and was looking for someone to get a drink with. I thought I was doing him a favor (although it turns out that Katie's sister is also in town and could have hung out with him, but foisted him on me instead -- well played), so despite my lingering cough and the fact that I got up at six a.m., I agreed to meet up. So, I dropped Katrina off at the bar, took Terry home (where we quickly grabbed food), and then took a cab back to the bar to hang out with Katrina and two of her friends. The friends ended up being total rockstars; I want to start a romance book club with one of them, and the other makes elaborate themed-food Oscars parties that sound v. reminiscent of my Olympics extravaganzas. Needless to say, we all got along swimmingly, and it's probably a good thing that one of them had to leave before the guy showed up, or we would have totally overwhelmed him. But, he was nice and the conversation was fun for an hour, which was all I could take before it was time to return to the Marina and my lovely bed.

And now, I shall sleep; my whole plan tomorrow is to write and catch up on bills, all of which is v. necessary. Goodnight!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

moon river

I'm still sick, and so shirked the only task I had for the day (driving down to the southernmost part of the glorious south bay for a picnic in honor of the friend who passed away three months ago). That may make me a terrible person, but given how much I was coughing this morning, it was probably for the best. Instead, I got up, ate some breakfast, watched some tv with Terry (the last two thirds of "Mamma Mia", which I find vastly entertaining), and eventually wandered upstairs to shower and do some work. I didn't get any writing done today, but I did start trying to pin down a name for my female lead character - she's got a couple of different working names going, but I feel like I should know her name before I start writing her in earnest. Or maybe that's just the procrastination talking - I shall write tomorrow whether I know her name or not.

Even though I wasn't feeling well, I was craving Mexican food (which I hadn't had in ages, given my trips to Germany and New York), and so I conned Terry into dinner. We stopped by the mall first so that she could use some points that were expiring tomorrow, and I refrained from buying anything (mostly because current 'fashion' with the flowy dropped waists makes me look frumpy and oversized, not because I was being particularly good about expenses). After the mall, we had Mexican food, stopped at the grocery store, and came home. Then, Lisa and Doug (and their daughter Ellie) showed up for a surprise visit; they're in town from LA for the weekend and wanted to see the place, which we duly showed them. Then, Doug took Ellie back to the hotel, while Terry, Lisa and I sat around and discussed life for an hour or two.

And now, I shall go to bed; if I'm going to get to a solid draft by October 1, there's no time to waste. Goodnight!

Friday, July 29, 2011

deceitful country

I should be at Adit and Priyanka's housewarming party, and I've no doubt that I will hear incessant complaints about my absence, but I just couldn't rally my cold-struck self for the monumental task of getting there, being friendly, and coming back. Adit called me this morning while I was still in bed to harass me about whether I was coming or not, and I assured him that I would, but as the day progressed, the chances diminished considerably.

Yes, I've reached the extremely whiny phase of my illness. I did make a doctor's appointment, but as it's not until the 9th of August, I have a feeling that we will be discussing my ulcer rather than my cold (unless the cold is still around in a week and a half, in which case it will certainly need to be discussed). I also made some efforts toward finishing the task of unpacking my room; there are still two boxes that I haven't unpacked during the last three moves, so I'm not sure what to do with them, and I need to hang photos, put away the last bits of office supplies, and sort all the mail that's come in over the past month. But, the room is close to livable, which means I should be able to start writing next week (or hopefully this weekend) without feeling like I'm living in a sty.

My efforts exhausted me, though, and I took a nap from 6:30 to 7:30 in an attempt to rally for the party. 7:30 turned to 8:30, and I dragged myself into the shower hacking and coughing -- which Terry apparently heard, since she returned from LA while I was trying to wake up. I'd already decided I couldn't go, but when I stumbled downstairs in search of strong, sweet mint tea, she confirmed it with one horrified look at my ill self. So, I sat on the couch and drank my sweet mint tea while watching last night's premiere of "Project Runway" with her -- not my original plan for the night, but much more suited for my stamina.

And now, I shall go to bed, and hopefully I'll get past the whiny stage tomorrow, even though I'm still deep enough into the illness that it will probably be at least a few more days before I'm feeling better. Sigh. Goodnight!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

my heart's a stereo

The jetlag + the cough are hitting me hard, so even though it's not quite ten o'clock, I'm going to call it a night. I forced myself to be moderately productive today, despite my general wishes; I got out of bed around ten a.m., after sleeping for eleven hours, showered, dried my hair, and went to Samovar to indulge in one last meal of happiness since I needed to go grocery shopping and was too hungry to wait until after lunch. Samovar was lovely, as usual, and I did a bit of brainstorming for the gargoyle book, so I'm glad I went. After Samovar, I went to Container Store and picked up some glass canisters for my teas, then went to Whole Foods and stocked up on a bunch of stuff I was out of.

After the grocery store, I realized that I had perhaps overexerted myself, and so I took a bit of a nap - not long enough to completely screw my attempts to get back onto normal time, but long enough to keep me sane. And then I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening trying to straighten out my cluttered bedroom, with a break to make some white chili for supper, so all in all it was a good day.

But, I'm now falling asleep on my laptop, and I should post this before I turn incoherent. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

back when ain't nobody listened to my mix tape

Today was v. long - it started out in our apartment in Berlin and continued through two trains from Berlin to Frankfurt, several hours of hanging out in the Frankfurt airport, and a 10ish-hour flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco. Chandlord and I were about to take the BART to San Francisco when she called her sister and found out that her sister could pick us up instead, so her sister v. kindly dropped me off at my apartment, where Chandlord and I parted ways.

And honestly, the end of the trip could not have come a moment too soon; I coughed and sneezed and generally felt like death the entire thirty-six-hour day, and while I love Chandlord and traveling, the fact that I was sick the entire trip pretty much made me over everything, even things I usually enjoy. Which, I know, is kind of a bad attitude to have, but hopefully my attitude will improve with some sleep and a doctor visit in the next few days.

I shall go to bed now to spare you any more mutterings; the trip really was fun, when I could ignore the feeling that I was slowly coming apart at the seems, and I'll post pictures when I get a chance. Goodnight!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

once upon a time in brandenburg

I'm once again blogging earlier in the night than usual, but tomorrow we will all return to regularly scheduled programming - aren't you excited? Today was our last full day in Germany, and we spent it in a v. depressing way by visiting Sachsenhausen, the concentration camp intended mainly for political prisoners on the northern outskirts of Berlin. I visited it ten years ago, when I came to Berlin on my college research trip and spent several depressing days visiting nazi era stuff before meeting up with the boys for a v. different experience at the Love Parade. This time, though, we did a guided tour, and the tour guide was quite good; she's been a guide here for over five years, and while I didn't really learn anything other than a few anecdotes that I hadn't heard before, it was still a worthwhile way to spend a few hours.

And now, I'm hanging out while Chandlord goes to a modern art museum, which i had no interest in seeing; lucky for her, she befriended a girl on our Sachsenhausen tour who wanted to go, so hopefully she has fun. Then we will meet for dinner, which can't possibly rival last night's experience - we had a v. extended two hour tea at a Tajik tea room that felt v. East German to me. It was on the second floor of a building that the reunification rebuilding mania seems to have missed and the service was slow, but it was awesome. The Tajik themed room was a gift from the USSR at some point in the seventies, and after the exhibition that it was used at, it was turned into a tea room. I had two servings of their bedouin tea, which is Assam mint tea with a shot of bright green peppermint liquor (which I'm happy to report I was able to drink, despite my bad encounter with peppermint schnapps so many years ago), and Chandlord and I befriended a Japanese kid and his family who ended up sharing our table, since the place was packed. Then we went to a gayborhood and had dinner - our first attempt was thwarted by the fact that they only served meat (which reflected the clientele, ha), but we ended up at a decent Thai place, which was enjoyable, before heading back to the apartment and to bed (for Chandlord, at least - I stayed up and finished reading a book called DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth, which is sort of like Hunger Games but not as good, although I did enjoy it and will read the next one when it comes out).

And now, I shall enjoy a glass of wine and think about gargoyles while I wait for Chandlord. We shall be back in the US tomorrow!

Monday, July 25, 2011

achtung baby

Once again I'm blogging in the afternoon when I know that I have Internet access; you'll just have to assume that the rest of my day goes well, and I'll pick up the blog again tomorrow. Chandlord and I have parted ways for the day - she wanted tot do a bike tour, which I had no interest in, while I wanted to see yet another baroque palace that wouldn't trip her trigger. So, she went off to the bike place, and I laid around in bed, repacked, and then took myself off to Schloss Charlottenberg (with a stop at a cafe first).

Schloss Charlottenberg is the largest remaining Hohenzollern palace in Berlin, and housed several kings and queens, of which the most recognizable was probably Frederick the Great in the 1700s. However, the palace was badly damaged during the war, like so much of Berlin, and while the interior contents and been removed for safekeeping prior to the 1943 bombing that took out most of the building, some of those contents were later looted by the soviets (whom I thoroughly despise), and have never been returned. But, they've done a pretty good job of recreating the palace, even if it's kind of sad to know that the painting, wall covers, floors, etc. area almost all reproductions.

I didn't spend a ton of time there; only part of the palace was open today, and I made it through that wing in about an hour. Then, I took the ubahn to Zoo Station, where I got off and wandered up Kurfurstendamm, which was the place to see and be seen before reunification suddenly turned the area from the heart of west Berlin to the outskirts of the main city itself. There are still tons of shops and restaurants there, so I wandered a bit before ending up in a v. cute tea shop near Savigny Platz that may or may not cater to a clientele at least twenty years older than me. And I've been working ever since - believe it or not, but I've squeezed quite a bit of writing time into this trip, even if most of it has been brainstorming rather than actual page production. But I'm a lot farther along on the plot for my gargoyle book than I was before I left the states, and I think I'll be able to write quickly when I get back.

And now, I need to settle up here and make my way to the city center, where I'm meeting up with Chandlord at some Tajik tearoom. Tomorrow we are ending our Berlin time on a depressing note by touring Sachsenhausen, and then Wednesday we leave for the US!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

ich bin ein berliner

In lieu of a full blog post, I'm just going to list some stuff and let you tell yourself your own story...

- floh markt
- chicken schwarma and mint tea
- pocket watch necklace
- strepcils
- Prenzlauer Berg (aka Noe Valley)
- Berlin's answer to Four Barrel Coffee
- tons of platzes
- boat tour to nowhere
- Vapiano
- inefficient restaurant concepts
- red wine + ulcer + cold = jhoketime

And now, this blog will end prematurely; we aren't home for the night, but I'm
posting while we are out and about and have Internet access at hand. We have two more days in Berlin, with grand plans for both days, so hopefully I don't come down with cholera or something in addition to my other ailments. Goodnight!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

germania

The rest of my day, after my midday post, was v. lowkey - perhaps too lowkey, thanks to some poor planning and a lack of desire on my part to go out in search of strangers to befriend. I met up with Vidya at the appointed time, and we had the worst lunch we've had on this trip, which was unfortunate given how much good food there is here. Then we went to Kreuzberg and had a drink (tea for me, wine for Chandlord) at a cool cafe right on the riverbank. It wasn't raining today, which was a miracle, so we quite enjoyed ourselves.

After that, we wandered around the area and saw an art installation of painted panels from the Berlin Wall (called the East Side Gallery - it's a permanent fixture on the river), then had some delicious ice cream. It was after this that our plans fell apart, since we tried to take a boat tour that never arrived at the dock it was supposed to leave from. At that point we were both tired and I, at least, was cranky from my sore throat, so we came back to the apartment, where I wrote and Chandlord read. This wasn't enough activity for her, so she left in search of the people we met at the bar last night, while I stayed behind to nurse my cold and my hatred of people.

Hopefully tomorrow will get things back in gear, provided Chandlord doesn't die tonight - we're going to do some flea market stuff, etc., so I'm praying it doesn't rain. And now I'm going to log onto data roaming just long enough to publish this post, which will probably cost me a million dollars - the things I do for the blog. Goodnight!

kreuzberg sonata

Apologies for not blogging yesterday; we don't have Internet in our apartment in Berlin, and we got back too late last night for me to seek out a hotspot. I may not be able to remember anything about yesterday since I didn't blog about it last night as usual, but hopefully you'll get the highlights.

Our apartment in Berlin is great; it has a sleeping space separated from a cute little living room by a curtain, and the kitchen more than meets our needs since we aren't cooking. Sadly, the tv doesn't work, and so while I can quite easily amuse myself by writing, Chandlord doesn't care to spend much time there. This is probably good for me, but it's hard to remember that when I'm dealing with both the remnant effects of my now-medicated possible-ulcer and the cold that started forming yesterday. It's like I've got a tropical storm season going on with my health: hurricane ulcer, followed by tropical depression cold (that I hope won't turn into anything worse), followed by who knows what else.

Anyway, enough whining. Chandlord and I left the apartment yesterday with grand plans to see some museums, which we accomplished despite the steady rain and wind. We went first to the Pergamonmuseum, which hosts a lot of antiquities that the Germans took from Greece and Mesopotamia; as far as I know, they weren't any worse than the British about this, and in any event they lost some of their stuff to the Soviets (who haven't deigned to give it back), but it's still a little crazy that so many things, like the Pergamon altar and the great Ishtar gate, both of which take up gigantic rooms all their own, ended up in Berlin rather than in their original sites. But, it was super convenient for me, since I won't be making it to Babylon anytime soon, and I got some more ideas for my gargoyle series (which I will have to start cutting back at some point), so that was great.

After that museum, we made a quick stop at the Neues Museum, mostly to see the famous bust of Nefertiti, which was as beautiful as any picture you've seen of it. Happily, we'd gotten a metro card that included entry to some museums, so we were able to skip the hour long rain-drenched line for tickets at both museums, which was key. Smug about our success, we wandered around and had a late lunch/early dinner (whatever a meal at 4pm is) at a fancy Italian restaurant - we split a mozzarella burrata, I had an awesome saffron pasta with bacon while Chandlord had a great ravioli, and then we followed up our meal with tea for me and coffee for Chandlord. It was one of the best meals I've had here, so it was quite successful even if I felt too drenched and grungy to be in such a lovely establishment.

After "lunch", we walked down Unter den Linden and saw the Brandenburg Gate, still obscured by rain. Then we went back to our apartment, where I took an hour to write while Chandlord discovered that the tv didn't work. Mostly, though, the reason to go back to the apartment was because my shoes were soaked; it is no wonder that I have a cold developing, since it's rained almost every day since the wedding. Vidya finally dragged me away from my notebook and out into the city; our destination was a bar in Kreuzberg, which is an up and coming area of former east Berlin that is quickly being overrun by artists, hipsters, and their ilk. The bar was utterly ridiculous in a good way; the decorations were artistically appealing/appalling, the drinks were pretty cheap and generous, and it gradually became quite packed over the course of the evening. We ended up striking up conversation with some girl whose mother lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma (and so we bonded, since I spent several days stranded there after my brother's graduation), although the girl has lived in Europe for the past eight years making some sort of living as a bartender/artist, so she's clearly too cool for me. When we parted ways, Chandlord and I had doner kebab, which turned out to be mildly ill-advised, and then stumbled home.

We didn't get back to our apartment until almost two, and I warned Vidya that I was unlikely to want to get up early to see the jewish museum that I have already seen. So, she left this morning without me, and I've had a relaxing time lying in bed, showering, and making my way to east Berlin, where I will meet her in a bit (after I get some writing done). Perhaps I'll blog tonight, or perhaps I won't, but either way, more fun awaits!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

swamperdoo

Chandlord and I arrived in Berlin, found our utterly lovely apartment, and promptly went out for dinner to a Chinese restaurant chosen solely because it's called Good Friends. And that, my friends, sums up my day - I'm blogging from a street corner where I can get Internet access, so read thevpost below for more about today. Goodnight!

heil heidelberg

I am blogging v. early in case I don't have Internet access tonight. Chandlord and I are sitting on a bench in the Frankfurt airport train station, waiting for the train that will take us to Lepzig, where we will switch to a train that will take us to Berlin, where we will attempt to find the apartment we are renting. But despite the fact that we got up earlier than I ever like to (6am), we've had a lovely day so far. Even though last night's hotel was quite strange, their breakfast was acceptable, and so we fueled up before hitting the road to Frankfurt.

En route, it became clear that we had tons of time, and so we stopped off for an hour in Heidelberg, an ancient city with the oldest university in Germany. Our destination was not the university, though; instead, we wanted to check out Schloss Heidelberg, the ruined castle overlooking the city from vast heights above a hill. There isn't much left of the castle; it's all in ruins, with crumbling walls slowly descending into the grass filled moat (although I suppose that descent has been stopped by the town's desire to preserve the remnants and charge people money to see them). But even though the interiors are long destroyed, the exterior still has some wonderful masonry, sculpture, etc., and it was quite easy to imagine how imposing the castle would have been hundreds of years ago in all its glory. I took tons of pictures for my gargoyle research, so I am glad that we were able to stop; Heidelberg is a city that I will have to come back to, since an hour was not enough to do it justice.

And then we brought the car back to the airport, bid it a fond farewell, grabbed some Thai food from an airport restaurant, and sat down to wait for our train. And now I shall bid you a fond farewell as well - I will blog again sometime in Berlin!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

she's got nothing on but the radio

Chandlord and I are in the ancient and beautiful city of Augsburg, enjoying a stay at a v. strange hotel before heading to Berlin via Frankfurt tomorrow. We arrived around ten a.m. and spent the day exploring; unfortunately it rained all day, which was all the excuse I needed to buy an umbrella and two sweatshirts, but the city was still lovely despite that.

Augsburg was founded by the Romans and remained an important city in Bavaria for two millennia. Our first stop was the cathedral, which had a romanesque crypt underneath the gothic main building. The stained glass was incredible, and the artwork was also lovely. From there, we wandered to the Rathaus and saw the Golden Hall - I was disappointed that this had nothing to do with the golden hall of Rohan in Lord of the Rings, but it was still quite impresive. The Rathaus was the town hall, built in the 1600s, and the Golden Hall was about as gilded as you would expect given that name. Augsburg was home to the Germans' version of the Medicis and was the foundation of German finance, and the money that flowed through this town over the centuries was obvious in the quality of the art and buildings.

After the Rathaus, I wanted to take a break and enjoy the prilosec that an apothecary gave me for my stomach, so I had a cappuccino while Chandlord climbed the tower next to the Rathaus to get a view of the city. When she returned, we finally had Bavarian pretzels before wandering down the street. We saw the Damenhof, which is now a restaurant but used to be the lovely courtyard of the women of one of the richest families in the city - it had a gorgeous pool/fountain and a lot of tiles and pillars, and Chandlord somehow came to the conclusion that it was like Miami or Vegas. Then, we proceeded to a gallery of baroque art; the ticket seller there proclaimed that we were art students and let us in for free, which was v. kind of her. I must say that I loved the gallery, since it gave me all sorts of ideas for the gargoyle series and was also not filled with rain, unlike the outdoors.

Post museum, we grabbed pizza at a cafe that used to be a cinema. Chandlord wanted to walk around some more, but I was eager to write down my ideas, slightly sick to my stomach, and tired of the rain, so I had tea in a super cute cafe while she explored. When we reunited, we retrieved the car, checked into our hotel, took a nap, and then walked back into the old town to have dinner at an Italian place that Chandlord found on her walk. The food was delicious - I had lasagna and she had gnocchi, and while I should have taken it easier and so ended up with a stomachache, it was still a lovely meal.

And now, I must say auf wiedersehen; we leave for Frankfurt v. early tomorrow so that we can return the car in time to catch our train to Berlin. Goodnight!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

in the burning heart

So my stomach is still killing me (I hope not literally, because I never have sat down and written the final blog post to be posted in the event of my demise, and this would be an anticlimactic one to end on), but that didn't stop me and Chandlord from getting out and enjoying Bavaria. We left Munich and drove to Schloss Neuschwanstein, the castle that Walt Disney based the Disney castle on. This ended up being an all day excursion, since we hadn't booked ahead and so couldn't get tickets immediately - the next three hours worth of tours were sold out, but at least we were able to get in. While we waited, we drove back to a v. picturesque village and had lunch on an outdoor patio; Vidya had a delicious lunch that made her full, while I had a delicious lunch that made me hurt. Then we went back to the entrance area, had a cup of tea, and caught a bus up to the top of the hill to see the castle.

King Ludwig II built the castle in the 1800s, inspired by Wagnerian operas, and was the only person who ever lived in it. He spent less than 200 days there before he was declared mad, taken away, and found dead under mysterious circumstances shortly thereafter. I will describe it more when I upload some photos, but suffice it to say that the castle was both quite impressive and a tremendous example of why most monarchies have failed in the last century, since it was a huge waste of money. But, that village is getting plenty back from the millions of tourists who come there every year, although I doubt Ludwig built it with the intention of promoting tourism.

We got back to Munich around seven and met up with our hitchhiker from the wedding, who brought along a couple more people. We started at a biergarten, but a powerful storm suddenly overtook us, so we relocated to a Cuban restaurant and spent several hours talking. It was a lovely way to end our time in Munich; we leave for Augsburg tomorrow, which should be lovely. And now I should get some sleep and let my stomach attempt to heal itself - goodnight!

Monday, July 18, 2011

the church built by the devil

Chandlord and I had a lovely day in Munich, interrupted only by the rain and my stomach. We escaped my hated hostel by nine am and walked into the center of town, which (as with most old european towns) is roughly s circle bounded by what used to be the city walls. There were no walls to stop us today, and we ended up in Marienplatz, home of a world famous glockenspiel clock display that is not particularly enteraining.

However, what was entertaining (v. entertaining) was the free tour that we took of Munich, led by one of the more entertaining tour guides I've had in recent memory. I can't really replicate how entertaining he was, although he did call Vidya up to demonstrate something and mangled her name repeatedly in ways that were funny only to us. He also seemed quite knowledgeable, and since I learned my lesson at a v. young age about the dangers of attempting to correct tour guides (age 10, Laura Ingalls Wilder museum), I let the couple of minor errors that I noticed slide without comment. I know, I'm so magnanimous.

Munich is a pretty fascinating city. It was home to a series of Bavarian kings back when Germany was a bunch of loosely organized city states, and the guide said that there are signs of human habitation in the area stretching back for ten thousand years. What fascinates me most, though, is how a city of such culture and learning, etc., could have been the cradle of Nazism and Hitler's rise to power. This is not a judgment on Munich - rather, it's a sobering reminder of how quickly a cultured, reasonably smart populace can fall into chaos and end up losing everything. It's also amazing to me how they rebuilt the city after the war like modernity had passed it by; they used concrete instead of masonry in a lot of places, with painted-on columns rather than grand stone facades, but the intent to rebuild everything as though the world wars had never happened was clear.

Anyway, after the tour ended, we had some extremely delicious pizza at a nearby Italian place, then looked at expensive dirndls and bought a sim card for my phone so we can call the US. However, my stomach was in intense pain after lunch, so rather than touring, we picked up the car and checked into the new hotel. We sat around for an hour, and then I encouraged chandlord to abandon me so that she could go out for drinks with our hitchhiker and I could rest up and hopefully stop having stomach problems soon. And so now I'm going to go to bed - we are doing a day trip someplace tomorrow, but don't yet know where. Goodnight!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

spandau ballet

Chandlord and I are still alive, no thanks to alcohol and German youth hostels. We had an utterly fabulous time at the wedding, and may be some of the best wedding crashers ever - after three days at the castle, we were fast friends with scores of guests, picked up a hitchhiker to bring to Munich with us, and had clearly partied hard enough to fuel five weddings.

I can't do justice to the experience, since I'm typing on my iPad while sitting on an uncomfortable bench in a German youth hostel - we booked it from the car this afternoon while driving to Munich, but upon arrival it became clear that it was going to live up to my horrid hostel experiences rather than Vidya's decent ones. I promptly rebelled, so we are switching to a hotel tomorrow, but needless to say we spent no time here tonight. Instead, we went to a biergarten with our hitchhiker, where we watched most of the womens world cup final amongst a crowd that was split pretty well between Americans and Japanese. I'm having some stomach issues that are threatening to derail me, but as they manifest themselves most when I eat, perhaps I will just treat them by not eating tomorrow. Yay.

Sssanyway, Germany is awesome, the wedding was amazing, and I will post pics and more stories when I have time. For tonight, though, you'll just have to be satisfied with knowing that I'm alive and, therefore, that this blog and all its drively glory will continue in the future. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Goodbye!

We are taking off - goodbye!

rolling in the deep

My day started off well and descended into a veritable swamp of annoyance. I drove down to the glorious south bay to train with Alyssa, who had a gift for me - or rather, Equinox had a gift for me, since I've apparently spent enough on personal training and massage to merit a v. nice new gym bag. It's the most expensive gym bag I've ever bought, given how much I've spent there, but c'est la vie. Our training session was good, and I was sad when we parted ways; I really haven't been home enough to make any progress toward my goals since April, which is both amusing and frustrating - I'm looking forward to settling down again at some point, even though I'm not sure when that point will be.

After showering and drying my hair, I made my first attempt to pick up my dry cleaning, only to discover that they were closed for an hour - annoying. But, I got over it because I had lunch plans with my friend Becky, who is also a writer, and whom I met during my historical fiction class a couple of years ago. She works for one of the local newspapers and just finished writing her first novel, so we had a lot to discuss. And, we discussed it at the new incarnation of Joanie's Cafe - they just opened today in their new location, and I'm happy for them. They're clearly still working the kinks out, since the service was slow even though it's all the same people (I think they kept forgetting that there was a corner they needed to check around, since they seemed to forget about our existence at several points in the meal), and my cobb salad for some reason had olives instead of bacon, but otherwise, the space was nice and I think it will be a good move for them. And, it was great to see Becky and catch up on our writing lives, which was a nice interlude in the stress of trying to get ready for my trip.

I left lunch and made my second attempt to pick up my dry cleaning - only to be told that even though it was supposed to be ready yesterday, it had somehow not arrived on the truck last night. Boo, hiss. They told me that it might be on today's truck, arriving sometime after five p.m. This was bad news, since there was a dress in that dry cleaning that I intended to wear at the wedding, and I didn't have time to drive down again tomorrow to try to pick it up. So, I messed around Palo Alto waiting for the dry cleaner; I went to the mall, got some travel sized moisturizer from Sephora, got two pairs of flat walking-around shoes, and stocked up on unmentionables at the Nordstrom annual sale (which I got to access early, since they value me so much and all). The stocking up on unmentionables was a good thing, since the sale will be over when I get back, but still. Then I ate at Chipotle so that I wouldn't have to try to scrounge up something to eat upon getting home, and then I went back to the dry cleaners.

And the dry cleaner then told me that the dry cleaning delivery truck had been in an accident, and wouldn't show up until at least ten a.m. tomorrow. So, I gave up and will wear a different dress at the wedding, since I don't have time to deal with it. That of course meant that I drove back to the city at the height of rush hour, increasing my aggravation, but I managed to calm down while talking to Terry (and to my brother, who called to discuss [censored]). Terry and I watched some episodes of "Bones" while I took care of vital things on my laptop like buying train tickets, answering multitudes of emails, paying bills, etc. And now, I should really, really sleep - Chandlord and I leave for the airport around 4:15 tomorrow afternoon, and then our adventure begins! Goodnight!

Monday, July 11, 2011

we could have had it all

I had a moderately productive day - it would help if I knew where to do things in the city so that I didn't feel compelled to go to the glorious south bay to run my errands, but as I didn't have time to figure out where to do everything I needed to do in the city, I drove down anyway. Even though I didn't get out of bed until ten, I still managed to drop off dry cleaning, eat at Chipotle, get my oil changes, get gas, get an international drivers permit from AAA, get an iPad (finally my dream has come true, which means that it's much more likely that I'll blog from Germany if I can find Internet access), get a more comfortable pair of walking around shoes, and stock up on leggings at the Nordstrom sale. Yay to all of that, right?

I must say that I'm in love with the iPad - I do think that I'll get a lot of use out of it with my writing, and it's going to be super handy with my freelance editing business. I've been salivating over it for a year, and occasionally tried to buy it in the store, but they were always out. Today, though, the Palo Alto store had the exact model I wanted, so I snapped it up. I may love pens and ink and cute japanese stationery, but I'm also a technophile, and I'm kind of surprised that I managed to hold out this long.

I got home around five, just managing to beat traffic, and cleaned the kitchen like a good girl before letting myself play with the iPad. When Terry got home, I was in my pajamas, but I uncharacteristically managed to rally and go out for an 8:30pm dinner with Vidya, Julie and Rat. If you know me at all, you know I usually don't rally once the pajamas are on, so I was quite proud of myself. It was totally lovely to see them, even if Julie, Rat and I subjected Vidya to too much reminiscing about our days in Loro. We finally parted ways around 10:30, and now I really need to sleep - my to do list tomorrow is ridiculous and I need all the sleep I can get. Goodnight!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

hunger games, etc.

I should have accomplished way more than I did today, but it all worked out - I may not be entirely ready to get on the plane to Germany Wednesday afternoon, but at least I had fun procrastinating. I didn't get up particularly early (as expected, since I didn't go to bed until after two a.m. last night), and when I did get up, I took my time showering, eating breakfast, etc. I also needed to make a list of groceries to procure at Whole Foods, and it's unsurprising that I put off the trip to the grocery store since I expected it to be a zoo. It wasn't quite as terrible as I thought it would be, but it was still annoyingly crowded, etc., etc., etc. (this post is starting off even more slowly than usual, apologies).

When I got home from the store, I mixed up a marinade for some chicken, then went to my room and talked to my mother for well over an hour. I had to take a break then to put some tomatoes in the oven, but I spent another chunk of time talking to my father, thus meeting my weekly phone quota. After the phone calls, I got sucked into watching a bit more of the Harry Potter marathon going on (I'd watched some 'Prisoner of Azkaban' earlier, and then got pulled into 'Goblet of Fire') before suddenly realizing that our guests were going to arrive momentarily and that I should really get cracking with the food.

The dinner guests were the inaugural meeting of a book club that I just formed; I purposefully kept it extremely small, so don't be offended if you aren't part of book club. And it was a complete success - Terry, Lauren (aka Subz), Vidya (aka Chandlord), Katrina and I all read the first book of the 'Hunger Games' trilogy to discuss tonight. As it turns out, all of us but Chandlord had read the final two books as well, but we managed to confine our conversation mostly to the first book, and it was all good. We targeted our discussion toward an 'airing of grievances' around problems we had with the book, which seemed like a good way to go since for the most part we all enjoyed it, and a gush-fest about how great it was would have gotten boring quick.

Then again, splitting three bottles of wine meant that boredom was impossible, and the group was a v. good mix. We also ate some chicken (marinated earlier in this post, if you were paying attention), my favorite caprese salad w/tomatoes (roasted earlier) and mozzarella, Terry's penne pasta with cheese and tomatoes, and some various accoutrements, and everyone seemed to have a grand old time. But, as it's a work morning tomorrow (for everyone but me - I have high hopes of writing, but I don't have to wake up at six a.m. to do it), people left around 10:30 with grand plans for the next meeting post-Germany. And now, I shall go to bed too - three nights from now, I'll be on a plane somewhere near the Atlantic, and I should get some sleep so that I can complete my massive to-do list before then. Goodnight!

when you see my face, i hope it gives you hell

I should have gone to bed ages ago, but sometime around midnight I started to realize just how much I need to get done before I leave for Germany on Wednesday, so I slogged for a couple of hours instead. Today was generally much lazier than it should have been. I didn't get out of bed until after ten, and then I sat around for awhile and ate breakfast with Terry. I did eventually drag myself up to my room and work on unpacking, and today's focus was my closet - so the good news is that I now have my clothing, shoes, bags, makeup, and other girly accoutrements organized so that I can easily see what I need to take with me when I leave for Germany. I also finished unpacking from my New York trip just in time to pack again.

I took a lovely break from my productivity, though, since Priyanka came over for tea and a tour of the new place. She marveled appropriately at my miraculous teamaker, and then we hung out for a couple of hours before I drove her home so that she could avoid the horrors of the bus. Then, I spent the afternoon and early evening alternating between unpacking and procrastinating before throwing in the towel entirely around 7:30 and making myself dinner (a hamburger and some potatoes, yay midwest). Terry and I then proceeded to watch a couple of episodes of "Bones" and a bit of one of the Harry Potter movies before she went to bed and I came back upstairs with the intention of going to bed as soon as I cleared a path to it...

...and instead I finished organizing my linen closet and created a detailed trip itinerary for zee Germany excursion, and reviewed my list of what else I need to do before then. Sigh. I'm v. excited about Germany, but I'm suddenly not excited by the next four days and what I need to accomplish before I go. But, I'm sure it will all get done, and I will be happier for it. And now, it's time for bed -- goodnight!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

he always in the air but he never fly coach

I had a perfectly lovely day - it's rare when I manage to squeeze so many of my favorite things into such a short span of time, but I managed to hit the swampler trifecta today by enjoying a masala chai from Samovar, getting a facial, and buying office supplies from a Japanese stationery store within the span of three hours. And that's not even all the fun stuff that I did today - aren't you excited to read the rest of this post?!?!

The morning started by rolling out of bed, checking twitter, and realizing that I could catch the last space shuttle launch live on tv before leaving for the south bay. So, I watched the shuttle take off while eating the most amazingly delicious peach I've had in ages. Surprisingly, the shuttle launch made me feel like bursting into tears; it really is a glorious achievement for mankind, and I'm quite annoyed that we don't seem to have a solid commitment to space exploration (even though, according to some stats I saw which may have been of dubious origin and I don't feel like verifying tonight, the lifetime cost of the shuttle program was less than the combined total cost of the 2008 bank/insurance/auto bailouts). Granted, my mother should be happy since less space exploration = decreased chance that I will sign up for a one-way ticket to Mars on a whim (although I would only do it if I could blog), but still.

After the launch, I sped down to the glorious south bay and trained with Alyssa, which was lovely in a v. sweaty sort of way. Unfortunately, I wasn't really paying attention post-launch when I was cramming things into my gym bag, and I ended up with two tshirts and no bra. Oops. Perhaps no one that I ran into noticed, but even though I felt more comfortable physically sans underwires, I was psychologically quite uncomfortable all day. But, I got ready, grabbed a quick lunch at Chipotle, drove back to the city of sin, and had a quick masala chai at Samovar while writing some gargoyle stuff for an hour or so. Then, I went to my stylist to get a quick bang trim in preparation for my Germany trip before walking over to the spa (where I still keep meaning to cancel my membership and never quite manage to bring myself to it) and getting a facial. The woman was v. brutally aggressive with extractions, but my travel-ravaged skin looks great (which is why I keep going back).

Post spa, I sped (or rather crawled, since I was trying to get out of the financial district/Union Square at the worst possible time) home and met up with Terry to discuss dinner plans. We agreed on a relatively late dinner, which gave me time to procrastinate and shower before leaving the apartment. We drove to my old neighborhood and had dinner at Mission Beach Cafe, which was utterly delicious - we split a mango/avocado/feta/mixed-green salad, and then I had this filet mignon that may have been one of the best steaks I've ever had. It was served with green beans, heirloom cauliflower, etc., and some v. decorative sauces, and overall was amazing. We ended the meal by splitting a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode, and I had a fantastic latte that reenergized me for the rest of the night. All in all, it was a great meal, and while I mourned the fact that I've officially become a pretentious foodie, I still loved it.

Our evening took a strange detour after that - rather than going home, we went over to Adit and Priyanka's and visited them for a couple of hours. They're surprisingly well settled into their new place, with tons of photos and paintings (mostly Marina's paintings, mostly Adit's photos) on the walls and a bunch of lovely midcentury modern furniture that Priyanka has scoped out. We drank a fairly delicious wine out of v. nice glasses while discussing the royal wedding, romance novels, midcentury modern design, etc., and it was all quite lovely. But by midnight, Terry and I were both tired (Terry moreso than me, since she went with decaf rather than full-strength coffee at Mission Beach Cafe), so we came back to the lovely, foggy Marina. And now, I should really sleep; I have grand plans to organize my bedroom tomorrow, and I intend to stick to them. Goodnight!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

i might take you home with me if i could tonight

Today was one of those days that makes me wonder how I lived when I had to be at the office for 9-12 hours/day - how did I get anything done for my real life? I know that I must have, since I didn't starve to death, or have oozing sores from living in filth, or end up in jail, or anything similarly dire. And yet errands took up a lot of my day - enough to cut into the writing time, but not enough that I wasn't able to squeeze in a few pages this afternoon.

I made it down to the glorious south bay in time to train with Alyssa. I hadn't seen her in a couple of weeks, so it was good to catch up, and while my trip to NYC was by no means a healthy voyage, I didn't seem to experience any backslide in terms of my fitness levels. I'm working out with her again tomorrow and next week before going to Germany, and then I'll have to hit the gym in earnest once I get back from Germany if I'm going to justify driving down to see her multiple times per week.

After the gym, I went to Joanie's Cafe - it's probably the last time I'll eat at that incarnation of Joanie's, since they're moving down the block next week. So, I said a fond farewell over a cobb salad while writing some ideas about the gargoyle series, and I'm eager to see what they do with their new space. After Joanie's, I went to the bank, dropped off my dry cleaning, took the combined mass of me and Terry's moving boxes to the recycling center, and drove to the Comcast office in Foster City to return my cable equipment from the old place before they charged me millions of dollars. Then, I drove back to Palo Alto and went to Stanford library, where I wrote approximately six pages over the span of a couple of hours.

I wasn't writing Ellie's story, though; I started a new Scrivener project and began writing the first gargoyle book. This book is speaking to me in a way that Ellie and Nick currently aren't -- it seems that everywhere I go, I'm daydreaming of the gargoyle series (which still has nothing to do with gargoyles, fyi), and ideas are just slamming through me and forcing me to stop periodically and write things down so that I don't lose all those great ideas. It's a very odd experience, living with a whole world and set of characters inside your head, and I can't really explain what it feels like, other than to say that I have to write this book or go crazy trying.

But, I took a break from being crazy to have a long dinner with Heather (aka dear respected madam) at The Counter. We discussed work gossip, books, life, children (why is everyone talking about babies these days? isn't turning thirty punishment enough?), etc., and I'm glad that I got to see her between New York and Germany. After dinner, I drove back to the evil city, watched a bit of South Park with Terry, and am now going to go to bed relatively early. It's a shame that I'm getting readjusted to Pacific time when I'm about to go back east (and even farther east than I was before), but c'est la vie. Goodnight!

zee germans

I slacked off today; it felt good to slack off in my own house, even if my bedroom isn't unpacked to the point that it totally feels like home. I woke up sometime around eleven and discovered that I was on the verge of getting a sunburn; I'd left the blinds open last night so that the open windows could promote a nice crossbreeze, and when the sun tried to wake me up this morning, I opted to put my eyemask on rather than close the blinds. In my sleeping haze, I forgot that the rest of my skin would still be exposed, and the mask plunged me back into enough darkness that I slept for another three hours as the rising sun traversed my body. Oops. Luckily, I didn't actually burn, and this is an interesting (albeit unsafe) way to get a deeper tan this summer, I suppose.

After I dragged myself into the shower, I realized that I was starving, and I had no food in the house. So, I walked down to La Boulange and had a sandwich while working on my young adult series; I spent the lunch hour plus another hour afterward analyzing the book that I read yesterday, continuing to brainstorm ideas, and dipping just a toe back into Ellie and Nick's story (which I intend to squeeze in a few pages of tomorrow). Sometime around two p.m., Terry arrived; she was in LA for the week and just returned today, so we were reunited after almost two weeks apart. We spent some quality time this afternoon catching up before I retreated to my room to take care of various tings, and then we went to the grocery store to stock up on food. She went to yoga while I did some desultory unpacking (which mostly involved shifting things around), and when she came home, she made me dinner (isn't that lovely?) before watching two episodes of "Covert Affairs".

And now, sadly, I realized that I need to go to bed immediately - I have to drive down to the glorious south bay to train with Alyssa and then take care of all sorts of annoying errands, so I should get some sleep. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

rush and rush until life's no fun

I'm finally back in California - yay. I spent the day in New York, alternating between working, packing, and procrastinating. I managed to grab my first and last 'real' New York bagel of the trip, which was quite tasty; the lox cream cheese spread was admittedly more delicious than any lox cream cheese spread I've had before, but I thought the bagel would have been better toasted (which the bagel place apparently does not do, as it considers toasting to be an abomination). After the bagel, I went to the UPS store and bought a box, went back to the apartment to pack the box full of books, and then shipped the box to myself. I probably could have come close to making the weight work in my bags, but it would have been dicey, and I likely would have had to carry on far more weight than I wanted to schlep around Newark and San Francisco. Thus relieved of both my burden and my worries, I went to a coffee shop and worked for a couple of hours over a latte before returning to Ritu's to clean up, finish packing, and catch my ride to the airport.

I grossly overestimated the amount of time it would take to get to Newark at rush hour, and so I was at the airport two and a half hours before my scheduled departure time. That meant that I could 'enjoy' a sit-down meal, which turned out to be mildly disgusting; I should have stuck to McDonald's rather than the airport's attempt at a diner. I also got to indulge in some extreme people watching, particularly being bemused/horrified by a couple who appeared to have one of the worst relationships I've ever seen in terms of their ability to communicate with each other. Sadly, this continued on the plane near me, since the woman was seated in first class and the man was sitting behind me in coach (only three rows away from first class). After she came back to harangue him about something and held up boarding, she went back to her seat, but she called him at least twice before phones had to be shut off to tell him that there were empty seats in first and that he should move up to be with her. He rightly pointed out that the seats would fill up and that it wasn't going to happen, but if I were him, I would have happily spent six hours in coach to not be subjected to her ridiculousness.

sssanyway, the flight was uneventful, and I read all of THE IRON KING by Julie Tagawa. It was one of the free books I got at the conference and won a Rita for best young adult romance, and had been sitting on my vague to-be-read list for quite some time, so I finally picked it up. I was interested in it mostly because it has a first-person teenage heroine on a quest, which is sort of what I'm considering for zee gargoyle series, and so it was good to read it and pick up on some of the pros and cons of choosing first-person narrative for that kind of book. I wouldn't say that I adored it, but perhaps I'm just not all that into the faery world, and it was in some ways too similar to WICKED LOVELY, which was also about the faeries and the Winter and Summer Courts, etc., and which I didn't particularly love either. But, if I had to read one of them again, THE IRON KING would win hands down, and I intend to read the next book of the series (unlike the WICKED LOVELY series, which I abandoned immediately).

After arriving in San Francisco, I gathered my bags and was picked up by Adit, which was v. lovely of him since it was close to midnight when I got out of the airport. Less lovely was that he regifted me the catfish pillow that has now survived over a decade of abuse; his mother apparently stuffed it in his car when the car was shipped to California, and Adit immediately decided to thrust it back upon me. It will have to go into the storage room downstairs again until I find the appropriate home for it, but after all it's been through, I can't really turn it loose into the wild (and by that I mean the dumpster). But now that I'm back in my lovely apartment and in my pajamas, I should really get some sleep - goodnight!

Monday, July 04, 2011

span the length of the isle of manhattan

It's my last night in New York; tomorrow at this time, I'll be flying over the land of my youth to the land of my adulthood. I had a lovely last full day, though, and got to catch up with my v. oldest college friends, which helped me to remember that staying in New York this long was a good thing regardless of what my taskmaster-side is feeling about my lack of productivity.

I slept until sometime after nine, and then I showered, etc., and met up with Claudia and Emily at Union Square. Longtime readers will remember that Claudia and I lived together for two years in college and another six months after college (it would have been a year if I had not abandoned her for ye olde India) before she abandoned the west coast to get a PhD at Yale; Emily moved to New York after graduating and has been here ever since. Claude was nice enough to come down to New York for the day, which was awesome; I hadn't seen her since Adit's wedding over a year ago, which is far too long given that she was one of my closest/most constant friends before she went to school. I'd seen Emily slightly more recently than that, but only for lunch, so some major catching up on all sides was in order.

We started out with brunch near Union Square, which was tasty and satisfied the main requirement of finding food and a cold beverage, since it was ninety degrees and v. humid today. Then, we walked across Manhattan to the High Line, which is a garden that has been created on an abandoned elevated railway track. We didn't walk along very much of the High Line because it was burning hot up there with no shade, but it seems like a wonderful place for a stroll on a slightly cooler day. The walk across Manhattan meant I got to see some new neighborhoods, including the meatpacking district, so I appreciated that. Then, we took a subway to Brooklyn, where Claudia and I rebelled and demanded cool drinks to soothe our heat-sensitive Californian ways. So, we went to a chocolatier and had 'not hot chocolate', which was appropriately cold and seemed to revive us all.

After the chocolate, Emily took us to the Brooklyn Promenade, and I finally got a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty - this means that I've finally seen something that is a traditional tourist destination rather than the medieval/fashion exhibits I've been concentrating on. After the Promenade heated us up again, we went back to Emily's apartment to cool off for a bit, and then had dinner at an Italian place near her. Dinner was delicious for me but may have been a fail for Claude and Emily; we went for Italian because I'd talked up the mozzarella burrata that I had the other night, but the place was out of burrata because they couldn't get it in stock on the holiday. Also, Claude can't eat gluten and her entree was covered in bread crumbs that weren't on the menu, but she ended up switching entrees with Emily, so it all worked out. After having a leisurely Italian meal, we walked over to a bakery and continued our conversation over pots of tea. Eventually, though, it was time for me to bid them farewell, and I took a taxi back to Manhattan to spare my ravaged feet.

So, it was great to see both of them, and I wish they would move back to the best coast rather than continuing this farce of living on the Atlantic. I also hope that a) I come out to see them again sooner rather than later, and b) when I come back for the romance conference in four years, neither of them live here anymore (since that would mean that they've found better opportunities in other, preferably Californian, places). But now, I should really sleep. I intend to write tomorrow, I need to put everything back in my suitcases and potentially mail some books to myself to avoid having overweight bags, and I have to be ready to get on the plane. I've had an awesome trip, but it's definitely time to go home - and enjoy a week in my own bed before leaving for Germany. Goodnight!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

pyroclastic

I had a lovely day in New York, although my main focus was decidedly un-American; rather than seeing anything related to New York or the United States, I went to the Cloisters, which is the Metropolitan Museum of Art's building of medieval art and architecture. But first, I should say that I slept until almost ten a.m., and then I spent two hours showering, dressing, and attempting to pack all my belongings with an eye towards a) weight and making sure that my bags would make it on the plane and b) organization so that I wouldn't have to unpack everything during my 48-hour stay in Ritu Rani's apartment. I think I mostly succeeded, although we'll see if I'm right when I try to get dressed tomorrow morning. After checking out of the hotel, I stowed my bags with the bell desk, grabbed a sandwich at the diner across the street from the hotel, and then took a v. long subway ride the 150 blocks from Times Square to the Cloisters.

The Cloisters is in a lovely setting overlooking the Hudson, located in Fort Tryon Park, which had some significance in the battles for New York during the Revolution. They've made a wonderful garden in the park that I would have liked to have shown my mother, if only so that she could tell me what the plants were. The Cloisters is reachable by a meandering 10-15min walk through the park, and is utterly lovely upon arrival; they built the museum to complement the medieval art/architecture so that everything feels like it might have felt in its original location rather than being surrounded by steel and glass. Of course, I had a total geeked out field day, taking photos, making notes, dreaming of stories, etc. I came up with an idea for a major plot point of my young adult book, and spent half an hour sitting in their garden cafe, drinking an earl grey tea (made with a tea bag in a paper cup, which is how low I've sunk to after a week away from my Breville teamaker), and writing a couple of pages of notes about the story and what might become of the characters.

So, overall the excursion was worth the distance traveled to get there, and I saw some cool stuff that none of you would appreciate, so I'll leave it at that. I went back to Times Square around five (and was subjected to some sort of v. loud flash performance of music/breakdancing in my subway car during a particularly long interlude between stops - damn kids and their music), picked up my bags from the hotel, and took a taxi to Ritu Rani's place, where I promptly called my parents and caught up. Then, I spent the evening alternating between looking at apartments in Berlin, catching up on stuff, procrastinating, eating pizza, writing several more pages of notes about my young adult book, and obsessively reading about volcanoes. Yes, I'm weird, but you knew that already. And now, I really need to sleep - goodnight!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

the fragile kingdom fall

I'm slowly recovering from zee romance conference. It will be several more days before my feet recover, and I can only hope that they will recover before Chandlord and I go to Germany and walk them to death. But, I had a 'lie-in' this morning, as they say in Britain, and I took a nap this afternoon, so I'm feeling a bit closer to normal.

My roommate left this morning around eight a.m., and so I bid her adieu before crawling back into my lovely bed. But, I made it out the door by noon so that I could do something other than sit in the hotel. I didn't make it far; I was starving, and I ended up back at the Irish gastropub where I had lunch a few days ago since it made a delish shepherds pie and the decor was perfect for brainstorming. I spent a couple of hours there writing some notes for a series that I'm considering developing; it's not the young adult series, but rather an idea that my agent and I discussed last week and that I wanted to spend some time thinking about before the idea faded too badly. The problem right now is that my ideas are outpacing my production, so I'm going to have to hit the productivity much, much harder (realistically it won't happen until I get back from Germany, although I'll have to leave Chandlord to her own devices occasionally so that I can continue brainstorming/working). But, the idea I was playing with today was interesting, even though it's too early in the process to share it with anyone, so at least I felt mildly productive this afternoon.

After lunch, I spent a couple of hours at the Discovery Times Square building, where I toured an exhibit on Pompeii. They had a ton of artifacts, art, and plaster casts of dead people from the eruption of Vesuvius, and it was utterly haunting and memorable. As you may know, when the city was overcome by the volcano, people were buried under twelve feet of ash and rock. The debris settled and cooled around the bodies, which eventually rotted away, leaving hollow spaces in the rock where the bodies used to be. Some smarty-pants archaeologist in the late 1800s (when they were starting to be legitimate archaeologists rather than glorified grave robbers and cultural thieves) realized that he could pour plaster into the spaces and then break away the rock, making a cast of the bodies. Some of the casts are amazingly lifelike, capturing people, dogs, pigs, etc., in the moment of their death. Crazy stuff, and I was the crazy girl standing off to the side taking copious notes as visions and stories exploded in my head. Pompeii now has something to do with my young adult series, and I think I figured out a piece of the puzzle that I was missing about what the obstacles, goals, and stakes are for my heroine, so this was an excellent research stop.

I came back to my hotel after finishing with the exhibit, my mind still reeling from all the visions, and caught up with some mundanities like paying my bills and answering some email before taking a nap. Then, I took a quick shower and ventured out of Times Square (finally!) to meet the original Jen Lui for dinner in the East Village. We went to Lil Frankie's, an Italian place that served as out of this world mozzarella burrata (fresh mozzarella filled with mozzarella and cream), and I had a delicious spinach and ricotta ravioli as well. I hadn't seen Jen since Tolu's wedding last summer, so we had much to catch up on, and we continued the conversation during a stroll through the East Village (and one block of projects, which we realized rather belatedly while listening to a dude scream at someone during our entire walk down that street). We stopped again at Saint's Alp Teahouse and lingered over pearl milk tea (sans pearls) until after ten p.m. Then, Jen saw me safely to the Times Square subway stop, where I emerged to face the hated, despised throngs of humanity still clogging the streets and being obnoxious and awful (you can tell I'm not really into Times Square).

And now, I should go to bed; I have to pack tomorrow morning, check out of the hotel, and then venture to the northern edge of Manhattan to see the Met's medieval collection at the Cloisters. Yes, I'm a dork. Goodnight!

Friday, July 01, 2011

the winner takes it all

I'm blogging from my phone again, which is unfortunate. Even more unfortunate is that I lost, but c'est la vie. Actually, and I totally mean this, if I couldn't win, I'm glad for the woman who did - she finaled the year I won, so I've known her for a couple of years, and she's super sweet.

Anyway, I still had a lovely day despite all that. I met up with some board members and staff to talk about next year's awards ceremony, then had a shitty hotel breakfast, then watched rehearsals from 12:30 to 4. I really like the woman who will be my assistant chair, and the staff member helping us seems awesome. I wrote some rather copious notes of what I would keep and what I would consider changing, and I'll have to get cracking on a plan when I get back from Germany. But it should be fun, a great visibility opportunity, etc - sort of like my old job, I'm just not getting paid for it.

After rehearsal, I came back to my room, showered, blew out my hair, did my makeup, and then talked to my mother while eating a Starbucks sandwich and trying not to throw up from nerves. I don't get to that point often and I hate it when I do, so I'm glad I was able to chill for awhile. Then my roommate came back, got ready, zippes me into my dress, and we we went down to the ceremony.

My category was first, so at least my nerves died after that. We enjoyed the rest of the ceremony, and I didn't even have to get drunk to do so. I hung out after the ceremony with some awesome members of the San Francisco chapter, but I finally bid the conference adieu, and am now about to go to bed. My roommate leaves in the morning, and then I need to decide what to do with my last couple of days in New York (and force myself to do more than just read and write, which is all I want to do). But now, it's time for bed - goodnight!