So I just logged into Livejournal to post about random stuff and found this unposted draft. er... oops? Guess I've not blogged since before WisCon.
WISCON WAS AWESOME.
Friday morning, May 27th, at 7am, Brian dropped me off at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones transit center downtown to catch the Megabus.
This was my first Megabus experience and I was a little nervous, though many friends had sung its praises.
I got a lovely seat on the upper deck and my row-mate was a charming, quiet young woman. We got on great!
Despite not sleeping much the night before, I didn't drop off but sat up, knitting. I finished an owl hat to give to my friend Gabby at the con.
I'd packed some snacks, but I ended up not eating them. We paused at a rest stop near Toledo and I just wandered around, admiring. I had plans to eat a hot dog in Chicago.
It started raining as soon we approached the Skyway bridge and I panicked a bit, knowing I'd have to walk two blocks to pick up the next bus. But it was in front of Union Terminal so I thought: Well, I can see that!
I'd worn my vintage crinoline and my yellow Bernie Dexter dress, white gloves and a flat satin hat with demi-veil. I was so relieved to walk into the old train station and finally be dressed appropriately for my environs!
There were signs for a food court 'on the Mezzanine level' but I couldn't figure out how to get there. I went up and down several staircases and kept finding "employees only" signs.
Eventually I figured out there was another entrance across the street, a newer entrance in modern archetecture. The food court was cramped, but there was, indeed, a hot dog stand and I got an official Chicago Style hot dog. It was ENORMOUS with neon green relish. I didn't think I could finish it, but I DID.
Then I bought some toffee cashews at the nut stand and wandered around, looking for where the megabus would pick me up. The bus ended up being quite late, so it was good that I took forever finding the correct spot, which turned out to be the first spot I thought it would be.
I didn't get all that rained on, even, but I began to worry, as the bus creeped into rush-hour traffic at 5pm, if I would ever get to WisCon! The bus stopped in a random small town - Rockford? Something like that - and the driver announced he was over hours and we would have to wait for a replacement driver.
There was nothing at the bus stop but a vending machine and a restroom. It was a tedious wait.
Worth it when we got to Madison! The town was so adorable! The road we took was little more than an isthmus and the town spread out before me in glorious sunset over water, the capitol dome very prominant and lending a grecian feel to the scene. The bus let me off in front of an art museum and I eagerly picked up my printed map and started walking! College campus! All around me! Quadrangles and sidewalks and skateboarders and the weather was lovely!
I got a little lost, but didn't mind. I stopped in an ice cream store and got a cone of "Exhausted Parent" - espresso, rum, and chocolate. YUM. As I licked, I got a text from my clarionmate, Kodiak, saying she and clarionmate Brandie were at a restaurant at the intersection of such a street and another... turned out to be one block from me! I didn't have to worry about figuring out where the hotel was anymore!
I dropped into a seat with them in their restaurant and we lived happily ever after.
Well okay I mean we talked a lot and then went to the hotel to catch a panel on genre boundaries. It was awesome. I was seeing my clarion! We ran into others at the panel. I was feeling a wee bit panicked - did peopel really want to hang out with me? Was a third wheel? Okay, eigth wheel? I wandered to the hotel bar and found Christian! With delightful companions. We argued about movies. Then Christian showed me to Patrick and Isa and Alyssa's room. Patrick immediately gifted me a bottle of bourbon. We drank it in paper cups with coca cola and talked about all the drama in our lives and how much we loved and missed each other. I got such hugs from Isa. I missed my tiny bonesaws! I just had to find Gabby, with whom I was rooming. And I did! And I gave her the hat I'd made and she LOVED IT.
I don't know when I retired for the night, but I woke up around 7:30am fully clothed, having clearly just stepped out of my shoes on my way to the bed. My frist thought was "Oh good, I can make an 8am panel!"
The 8am Saturday panel I chose was "Sex with Robots" and it was VERY VERY worth it.
So, on April 23, just before we went to NYC, my older sister and my niece moved in with me.
I find I'm stressing out about being a good aunt. Is Jennifer getting enough cultural and educational stimulation? Will she finish her school work before the end of the school year? (This week! EEK! She has seven math lessons to complete and a standardized test by Friday. She's "home schooled" through an online program.)
This weekend the local NASA station had its annual open house. I so wanted to go. I got up early and dressed in my space shuttle skirt. It was 1pm before we got the whole family on the road, though, and we discovered when we got to Berea that the NASA open house is about as popular as DISNEYLAND. Two solid hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic going into the parking lot. We finally got a parking spot, I ran through the checkpoint and into line for the shuttle bus. The bus was bording and I looked back. John was behind me, looking back at the checkpoint. I ran back. "What's the hold up?"
"Jennifer and Terrisa can't get through."
Sure enough - you needed a valid ID to enter NASA as it is a government facility. Terri hadn't brought her purse. I wanted to cry. It was now 4pm and everything we could have gone to instead was closing. My first thought was the Science Center. Then Brian suggested Lakeview Cemetery (It really is a great place to visit.) Who ever heard of a Cemetery closing at 5:30??
As we passed East 30th I remembered the Cleveland Asian Festival was this weekend, at Asia Plaza. A quick left and another, and I was parked one block from the fun! Day: saved.
We got egg rolls and saw all the cute Totoros and we watched dancers and a beautiful harp solo and martial artists and ran into friends. And since we were right next to Good Harvest, we were able to pick up a big bottle of Maggi and Brian's favorite Vietnamese sausage. I hope the Asian grocery was a bit of a cultural/educational experence, even if it wasn't NASA.
We're so broke.
I hope I'm a good aunt.
Our last day in New York was IndieCade day! It was also the coldest, rainiest day of all. I wore my Pac Man print skater dress, space leggings, and the space print scarf I'd bought at The Enterprise gift shop. Brian had been quietly tweaking and touching up his video game in the hotel room in all spare moments to prepare to take part in the Show and Tell portion of this national independent games conference.
It took place in the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. We had detailed subway and bus directions, but at the last second, Brian feared we wouldn't make it in time due to the bus running only every hour. So we hailed a cab.
Well, one must ride a cab at least once when in New York, right?
Turns out there was a huge bicycle event that day - roads were blocked off and fleets of brightly-clad cyclists sailed alongside us as we crossed the Queensboro Bridge.
The cab dropped us at 35th Street and 37th Avenue instead of 35th Avenue and 37th Street -- or maybe it was the other way around. Dude, who designed the street naming convention for Astoria? It sucks! AHEM. After a few blocks of wandering in the rain, we found the event site, only to find it closed! We circled the building and finally found people going in a staff entrance. Young, gamer-y people. So I pulled a reluctant Brian through the door and explained our situation to the security lady, who led us to the room Brian would be setting up in. We were the first people there who weren't organizers, so I helped set up tables and chairs while Brian unpacked his laptop.
Shout out to the Cleveland Game Developers! Brian was so anxious to get his CGD t-shirt before this trip.
Indiecade was kind of a big deal! There was a hall full of stand-up arcades with independent games on them and a hall full of interactive and unusual interface games. I played a game whose interface was a DJ's mixing board and another whose interface was a giant beach ball hanging from the ceiling. Another game had you pose to match a random two-dimensional shape and scored you on how well you filled the shape without being outside of it. I was a tree, a stack of bowls, and zig-zagging legos. (It also took your photo as you posed so you could see how silly you looked after.)
And the Museum of the Moving Image was a Steampunk utopia. I had no trouble filling the hours on my own, watching videos about the first moving pictures (made for science not entertainment!) and admiring all the old equipment and the exhibit on designing 2001: A Space Odessy and other science fictiony tidbits.
This is a camera. A movie camera. Can you believe that?
Over all, this was a science fiction vacation. Start to finish. After a delicious late lunch in Astoria ( Tacuba. Mexican place. SO GOOD. Guac. Breakfast burrito. French toast with bananas and dulce de leche. The last meal of the trip was the best! Some foodies we are, though, didn't take a photo) we took the subway back to Manhattan and claimed our luggage from the storage robot at Yotel. (Yes. The robot. They call him Yobot. Sadly, pic did not seem to come out.)
Our 8-ride Metro Cards lasted exactly to the airport, where we relaxed and ate chocolate after an easy trip through security.
Oh, then our flight was delayed an hour, then it failed to take off and we had to deplane and wait and we ended up getting home really late buuuuut still it wasn't bad. I had chocolate, after all, and Angus' cookies and my mini bottle of whiskey. So we didn't really miss a sit-down dinner.
So, after Opera Night, obviously we slept in.
Except I can't sleep in. I'm so not a sleeper-in-er. Not on vacation, anyway.
I brushed and braided my hair while watching the morning unfold 22 floors beneathe me. Bright yellow and orange construction guys. Buses with id numbers on their backs. The falafel truck opening up his windows.
Then I went down to get my muffin and tea, and I stopped in the gym to do a set of curls and tricep presses. Just 'cuz.
This was Coney Island Day. My ensamble consisted of my Cthulu print skater dress and the "No Gods No Masters" necklace JenBo had given me. I thought that made a nice statement. Also the necklace is green, which matches the dress.
I forced Brian against his will to have a muffin and we were off to Coney Island!
Every time I've been in New York, I've ended up on some train that says it goes to Coney Island. It was joyous to finally stay on one to the final stop! Well, next-to-final - that was the stop closest to the Cyclone.
The Cyclone! It crouches majestically across the street from the train station. Built in 1927 it is a true classic, with only a lap bar and low seat backs. Safety shmafety. Operated of course by simple wooden levers.
I was freaking and fangirling the entire time. The loading platform is a bit of a free-for-all, so we coulda gotten first car, or last car, but in deference to my hubby, I selected a car in the middle for a smoother ride.
The Cyclone is fast and fun! Even the chain-lift is surprisingly fast. Lots of air time on the smaller hills, and some real throw-you turns. Would ride again. And again. And again.
My one regret of the vacation is not getting the Cyclone t-shirt. It looked really cute. But... I already have too many t-shirts.
Luna Park is unique in many ways. It's not really one park? There are mini-parks with different owners. Like a confederation. There's no main entrance, really, and the park is broken up by streets. Imagine five blocks of amusement park, where each is actually a block. You have to exit each block onto the beach or the street parallel to the beach, and re-enter the next block. Did that make sense?
We didn't do our usual pre-amusement-park roller coaster reconaisance, so we had to rely on the ticket booth gal, who proudly figured out we could ride all the remaining roller coasters on a $40 value card. (They would have cost twice as much purchased individually!) She also had the most dawling New Yawk accent.
First up was The Soaring Eagle. A lie-down coaster with a spiral lift hill that was nauseating yet awesome. Compare to "Superman" but more janky? Also it was a wee bit more comfortable and easier to load and unload. You climbed a short ladder into your human-pod, which closed behind you and then tilted forward.
Next: The Steeplechase. Horsey Coaster! I started running for it as soon as I saw. You straddle a vaguely carosel-horse seat (they had molded plastic cowboy legs that sat outside your legs.) The lower-back bar squished me uncomfortably, but my tummy is sensitive that way. It was a mag-launch, which is always scary - doubly so when you're on top of a fake horse! After that, though, it was a fairly tame ride, and much fun.
"Wow," I said. "Those were both brand-new-to-us types of coasters! What's next?" The Thunderbolt. A vertical lift, vertical drop steel coaster. Yeah, we'd ridden one of those before - The Shark in Galveston.
I chickened out. Brian agreed to take a nice boardwalk stroll first. I laid down in the sand for a bit. Just to lie in sand. OMG SAND. I love sand. Warm, soft, summery sand.
At last we made our way back to The Thunderbolt and I got my chicken self strapped in. There was no wait. The girl next to me assured me she'd ridden it dozens of times without dying. The lift hill was scary. The sun was directly over head, so I closed my eyes, but then I didn't know how close we were to the top. Until I felt us bending forward. I opened my eyes just in time for the drop and...
Oh, right... I /like/ hurtling toward the ground. That's why I ride these things. The Thunderbolt was awesome, if a bit short. Longer than The Shark, though. Would ride many times again. Smooth ride, too, and much more fun once I put my hands in the air.
Jubulent and famished, we hit the beach cantina for tacos! I had the veggie taco and Brian had the fish and they were both AWESOME. Also I got a mango marguerita that hit me like a brick with a slice of mango tied to it. It was a wee bit chilly for frozen drinks, but there was something awesomely summery about tacos and tequila on the boardwalk. Oh, we also had mac and cheese bites. They were nice and warming.
Content and full, we went to ride the spinning wild mouse coaster, The Tickler. It had the longest line we had yet faced that day. The front of the park was now quite full of people when it had been nearly empty when we arrived. The sun was warm, too, as the day reached its peak temperature of sixty-something.
I did wonder if getting drunk and eating a taco was a sound plan before getting on the spinny coaster.
We survived. ;) Nausea factor about half a tilt-a-whirl.
We then walked down the boardwalk the other way, just to see as much of Coney Island as we could. We admired the new Aquarium building under construction and the neat futuristic beach bathroom houses. Then we walked through all the wee sections of park we'd missed, which resulted in buying tickets to the haunted house, which was delightfully tacky!
I felt downright at home in Coney Island. Already miss it and want to go back. Not just for the Cyclone T-shirt. I wanna ride the Big Wheel and the Carosel.
Content and with shoes full of sand, we boarded the train back to Manhattan. I was still tipsey when we stumbled into our hotel room to check email and confirm dinner plans with my pal Angus, who lives in Manhattan.
Then we took a nap. YAY NAPS.
Dinner with Angus was a mini-adventure, as the restaurant I'd picked - Max Brenner's - was a madhouse with an hour and a half wait for a table. So we abandoned it and went walking in search of food. Angus said there was a great pizza place nearby, but when we got to it, the gods of restauranting had smited it! We looked forlornly at the abandoned storefront and then started walking "Toward Angus's Place" because he was more familiar with restaurants in that direction. We ended up at a pub named Phoebe's where I had a very nice burger and whiskey and finally gave Angus the owl hat I'd been carrying around for him.
I took two hideous, blurry photos of Angus. Sorry, Angus. His photo of me and Brian came out MUCH BETTER.
He gave me homemade cookies by his girlfriend. They were oatmeal chocolate chip. SO GOOD. I didn't want the evening to end, again, but Angus had to get home, so we swung by St. Mark's for some shopping and gawked at some archetecture around Union Square before heading down into the subway again.
Concluded in NYC Day Four >>
Time for a mini vacation! And time for me to post too much about it. :D
Thursday, April 28th, we landed in New York at 3pm. Peaceful flight. I brought Girl Scout cookies and whiskey. (May I say the Samoas and Maker's Mark pairing works.)
We found metro cards and the bus stop and skillfully navigated our way to our hotel. OMG our hotel.
Yotel: New York.
The hotel was a short walk from the Subway and it was gorgeous and ultra modern with a luggage storage robot in the lobby and music from Star Wars in the elevators. Instalove. The bed was comfy, too, which is a priority for us.
With no plans for the first night, we wandered off to explore and found ourselves pretty much ON Times Square, so we shopped, people-watched, and took in this Star Wars exhibit at "Discovery Center". It was very cool to see R2-D2 in the flesh and all the blasters and light saber handles! Loved that. Also amazed at the textures you can't see on the big screen in costumes like Obi-Wan's raw silk kimono and Rey's fine gauze desert dress.
I fangirled quite a bit, and was sorely tempted by the gift shop, particularly by the Storm Trooper clutch purse.
I then dragged Brian to the Hershey store, because I knew I could get a Giant Reese Cup there. It was... like... SO BIG. One half pound each cup so like a hamburger of chocolate and peanut butter.
Jealous of my own past self. I want another one.
Foot-traffic in Times Square was set to "Moooo" and I got quite annoyed at people pushing and shoving their way through a crowd that was, really, not just standing around for no reason, yo.
For dinner we... I forgot. Was that Pony Bar night? OMG weekend so blurry! Yes. Pony Bar. We went wandering looking for food in our neighborhood and found a place called PONY BAR. (My nickname on the football team is Pony. I was excited.) Fabulous Cuban sandwich. Fabulous deep fried pickle nuggets. Fabulous micro-brew. Five out of five Pony Stars.
My glass says "PONY" on it and I didn't steal it. I'm so virtuous.
So that's about it for our first half-day of the weekend jaunt to NYC. We retired to our fabulous hotel 'cabin' for The Daily Show and Nightly Show and planning for the next day.
Continued in NYC Day Two >>
Life is pretty darn good. (I do have to keep repeating that to myself.)
Brian and I leave for New York City tomorrow morning! We have an action-packed extended weekend planned, with museums, the opera, and our first Roller Coaster of the year: the iconic Cyclone at Luna Park! EEE! Can't wait.
My bluebells have once again bloomed despite my negligence and the fitful Ohio weather. (See user photo. Bluebell.)
Also some random strangers spent a good fifteen minutes talking about my story on this podcast:
I'm flattered I'm on anyone's radar, really... though I was anxious to listen to this, knowing how autobiographical the story is.
Anyway, I found the podcast interesting and will likely listen to more of theirs in the future while I anxiously wonder if I will ever, ever sell another story again.