20 September 2004
Warning, this is a long one.
On the east coast, there’s the annual SFWA “Mill and Swill” where writers and editors get together and gab. For the west coast, they tried an “Authors and Booksellers” event for the first time. It was held aboard the Queen Mary. Now, while she’s been in Long Beach for many years, I’d never been to see her. Given my fascination with cruise ships, I found that rather odd.
My usual practice for an early evening event is to fly down early in the morning, then fly back early the next morning. My thinking was this: that way, I could go out to dinner and not worry about hurrying back.
What I didn’t realize until I was actually there was that Sheila Finch, the SFWA Western Regional Director, had managed to get a hotel block for the Queen Mary. Had I known that, I probably would have stayed there. It may have been a bit more expensive than where I stayed, but it would have been way cooler.
But I didn’t.
Rented a car for the day, tried to go down to see Jeanne (because I knew she was ill), managed to get a long-needed errand done: retrieving my aunt’s remains from the house I moved out of in 1998 and forgot to pack. Yeah, that’s as bad as it sounds.
So, when I’m driving back north to the QM, I realize that I’ve not packed anything other than one small suitcase. How the heck am I going to pack in a box of remains about the size of my CPAP when the CPAP itself takes up almost 1/3 of the suitcase?
I figured I’d buy a tote or something, though normally I pack one just for such emergencies.
Anyhow, I get back to my hotel, change into my nicer clothing and head off for the QM. Naturally, I park too far away (it looked close).
Sheila did a really great job putting on a stellar event. Dinner afterward was even better.
Then, dawn came way too early and, alas, I had to pack. I discovered that I did pack a wet bag (meaning a bag for wet items, even though I had nothing wet at the time), so I put my CPAP and scarf in that and packed everything else into the suitcase.
“Please,” I implored the universe, “don’t embarrass me by having them search my bags.” I had visions of trying to explain my aunt’s remains, of them wanting to open the box, of them commenting on the too-long-ago postmark, of the guilt related to all of the above.
Naturally, my bags were searched. Fortunately, the TSA agent didn’t emit so much as a peep about them.
Tired and weary, I got to work just in time.