Category Archives: day in the life

Justice

So Worldbuilders wrapped up yesterday. While we still have a lot of work to do, assigning and shipping out prizes over the next couple weeks,  there was a general sense of exhausted triumph in the air.

I won’t lie to you, it’s a lot of work making worldbuilders happen. It’s exhausting at times. But y’all made things worth it by stepping up and helping us raise more than I’d ever thought possible this year. I’ll do an official recap about the whole experience in just a couple of days.

Anyway, since Worldbuilders was done on the 7th, I celebrated by reporting for jury duty on the 8th.

I’ve never been called for jury duty before, and while I’m busy these days, I’ll admit that I was looking forward to it. For those of you who haven’t guessed, curiosity is one of my driving forces, and I really wanted to see what a jury trial was like. I’ve never seen any sort of trial, actually. I probably know more about the Renaissance legal system than the current one here in the US.

So no matter what happened, it was going to be news to me. So I got up at the ungodly hour of 7:30 so I could be at the courthouse at 8:00.

The first thing that I learned is that not all juries have 12 people in them. You can have a 6 person jury too. That’s the sort of jury they were going to use for this case.

What happens is this: They pick a bunch of jurors at random from a pool. Then those people have to show up at the courthouse. From that pool of potential jurors, they chose 12 of us, knowing that they’re going to pare that down to 6.

My name was the second name picked. So the second thing I learned is that the chairs in the jury box are really comfy.

Next they ask you questions to make sure that you can be a good juror. These were fairly straightforward. Do you know the plaintiff? Do you know either of the lawyers? Have any of you ever been to court? If so, do you think you were treated fairly?

They didn’t ask us these individually. They asked us as a group. It was rather casual, actually.

When the defense lawyer asked, “Is everyone here familiar with a person’s right to defend himself?” Everyone kinda nodded along.

(I’m paraphrasing here, the quotes are meant to indicate dialogue, not a verbatim transcript of the exact words said.)

I raised my hand and said, “I’m familiar with the *concept* of a person’s right to defend themselves,” I said. “In general moral terms. But I don’t know anything about a person’s *legal* right to defend themselves.”

The defense lawyer nodded and said, “That’s an important distinction.”

Then the other lawyer said to the judge, “Can we have a sidebar on this issue?”

The judge agreed.

The third thing I learned is that having a sidebar is when the lawers go up and talk to the judge privately.

That was pretty much it for the questions. They lawyers got to take turns crossing off members of the jury. It’s like the reverse of getting picked to be on someone’s team. You don’t get picked, you get un-picked.

I got unpicked.

I will admit, I felt a little snubbed. A little disappointed. I was looking forward to seeing the trial and doing my thing as a responsible citizen, being a vital part of the legal system.

I tried not to take it personally, either. I know that they had to cut 6 of us anyway. Statistically, it was a 50/50 shot.

And honestly, if I were a lawyer, I probably wouldn’t want me on a jury. Not only do I look like a hobo, but I overthink and tend to ask questions like, “What you you mean when you use the word ‘mean’?”

Nobody wants to deal with that. Nobody wants to be a part of the Stevens Point amateur production of “Six Angry Men.”

All in all, I was out of the courthouse by 9:15. And since I had my day free, I went and had pancakes.

So you see, the story had a happy ending.

*     *     *

Also, for those of you in the area, I’m going to be doing a reading/signing/Q&A in Wisconsin Rapids tonight at 7:00. I think I’m going to be reading a piece of the new novella, just to see how it sounds out loud…

Details, as always, are on the tour page

Also posted in appearances | By Pat66 Responses

A little family update

My thanks to everyone who sent well-wishes and good thoughts my way on Friday. It was a stressful day. We had to take little Oot in for surgery.

I don’t care to talk about the details, but it wasn’t anything life-threatening. It was just one of those things that we needed to do if we were going to be responsible parents.

Still, it involved putting my baby under heavy anesthesia and having someone cut him. It’s really hard to express how unacceptable I found this. You know how sometimes you can shrug something off and be cool about it? Yeah. I was the other thing. Whatever the farthest edge of the spectrum is from cool, that’s where I was, emotionally.

I tell you. I never knew what it was like to be afraid until I was a parent.

Anyway, rest assured that he’s happy and healthy. He’s taking it easy, reading books and playing with duplo.

When I asked him how he felt today, he said, “Iyhava owie belly.”

“You have an owie on your belly?” I asked.

“Owie *inna* belly,” he corrected me. He does this with only a little reproach in his voice, as if he knows that I can’t help being stupid.

This is something that’s been happening a lot over the last couple weeks. He’s been shocking me with how fine-tuned his conversation is becoming.

For example, on Friday when we were in the hospital, after he’d come out from under his anesthetic I asked him if he wanted some juice.

“Okay,” he said blearily.

I know how thirsty you can be when you come out of surgery, so I hurried to his bag and rummaged around quickly. I couldn’t lay hands on a juicebox, but I found his sippy cup full of water and flipped up the top so the straw came out.

I handed it to him, and he took hold of it kinda unsteadily. Then he got the straw into his mouth. Suck. Suck.

He swallowed and looked up at me. “Dat’s wadder inair,” he said.

At first I thought he was just making an observation. He’s a good talker these days, but still, a lot of our conversation is limited to making observations about the world, or asking and answering simple questions.

Then I realized that wasn’t what he was saying at all. I played it through my head again and caught the emphasis. “That’s wadder inair!” His tone was thick with disappointment. “Wannet JUICE,” he said, sounding hurt and more than a little betrayed.

And you know what? That’s fair. I’d promised juice and delivered water. That’s a shitty thing to do to a guy who’s just been through surgery. I hurried to get a juice box and appologized.

Still, I’m kinda stunned that he’s already at the level where he can communicate reproach. If he’s doing this at 21 months, I can’t even imagine where he’ll be in another year.

That’s all for now folks. Keep a close eye on the blog for the next couple days. I’m going to be posting up a bunch of things before I leave for ComicCon.

pat

Also posted in Oot, recommendations | By Pat61 Responses

Signing in Iowa City

So a couple weeks ago, a scientist down in Iowa City asked if she could take a picture of my brain.

Apparently they’re doing research into what happens in creative people’s brains. They’re studying what goes on when we make thinkings. Or whatever. It’s science of some sort.

The important thing is that as an incentive for participating in this, they offered to give me a picture of my own brain.

So I agreed to do it. Partly because… y’know. Science. But mostly because I’m curious as to what my brain looks like. Plus, I’m hoping if something goes wrong with the MRI while they’re scanning me, I might develop superpowers.

The upshot is that I’m taking a quick trip to Iowa City next week.

Whenever I visit a city I’ve never been to before, I try to set up a reading so people in that part of the country have a chance to get their books signed.

Unfortunately, I only got the details of my Iowa City trip finalized today. (Wednesday the 13th.)  Since I’m going to be down there on the 21st, that means trying to set up a signing a week ahead of time.

As a rule, bookstores hate this. They want to set up signings months in advance. It gives them a chance to advertise, put up posters, order books. Stuff like that.

Still, I figured I’d try.

So this afternoon I did some googling. Then I called 4 different stores and talked to 10 different people. There was one store that did events, but they already had something planned Thursday night. Another store was too small. Another store only did signings for sport-related books. Another store just didn’t give a damn….

It’s hard setting these things up. When I call a bookstore to set up a signing, I’m effectively asking the manager if they’d like to do a whole lot of extra work. What’s more, even a well-advertised signing can get low attendance, and I was springing all this on them with barely a week’s notice.

What’s more, I’m a pretty new author. If you read fantasy, there’s a chance you might know who I am. But y’know…. a lot of people don’t read fantasy.

Given all this, it’s not surprising that I wasn’t having much luck finding a venue.

Still, who knows when I’m going to be in Iowa again? So I called one last bookstore: The Haunted Bookshop.

It was a shot in the dark, as I could see on their blog that they’re mostly a used bookstore.

But nobody knows the local book scene better than folks that work in a used bookstore. If they didn’t have any interest in doing a signing, I was hoping they could give me some advice as to where I might be able to find a space at short notice.

So I gave them a ring and told them pretty much what I’ve told you. I’m an author. Research. Picture of my brain. Hoping to find a place for a signing….

Them: Have you tried Prairie Lights?

Me: Yeah. They’re booked. (I was kinda proud of this pun.)

Them: If you do literary stuff there’s a local library with a meeting room you might be able to use…

Me: I’m not really literary.

Them: What did you say your name was?

The thing is, I hadn’t told them my name. I’d skipped it because nothing is more depressing to an author than calling a bookstore, giving your name, and having the person on the other end of the line have absolutely no idea who you are. This had already happened twice, at some of the other bookstores, and I wasn’t looking forward to having it happen a third time.

Me: My name’s Patrick Rothfuss. I only have two books out, and if you don’t read fantasy, there’s no reason that you’d ever have heard of me.

Them: I think you’ll have to do your signing here. Because if you don’t, one of my co-workers will cut my throat.

Me: I beg your pardon?

Them: Your first book is amazing.

Me: You know who I am? Thank god.

Them: What day are you thinking of?

Me: Thursday the 21st. I’m sorry it’s such short….

Them: We can do that. What time would you like to do it?

Me: Well, 7:00 tends to be good because then people can drive in from out of town. But I noticed your store normally closes at….

Them: We can stay open late. How much space do you need?

Me: Since we’re only setting it up a week ahead of time, I’m guessing we’ll only get 60-80…

Them: We’ll move some shit around.

Have I mentioned how much I love used book stores?

Anyway, the end of the story is that I’m going to be having a reading/signing at Haunted Bookshop in Iowa City on the 21st of April.

Here’s the facebook event, if you’re interested. Feel free to invite any of your friends you think might be interested.

I’ll do a reading mixed with some Q&A staring at 7:00. Then I’ll sign books until everyone is happy.

Seating will be limited, but you can show up early to claim a seat if you want. Plus, if you’re there early, you get to browse through the used books. If I can get there early that’s probably what I’m going to do.

In addition to copies of The Wise Man’s Fear. The store will also have hardcover copies of The Name of the Wind and The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle available.

You don’t need to buy a copy of my book to attend. (I know a lot of you already have your copies.) But I do encourage people to buy something at the hosting book store. It’s a nice way to thank them for giving me a venue to meet with y’all while I’m in town.

If you have questions, you can call the store at 319-337-2996.

We are setting this one up on terribly short notice. So if you know of anyone in the area that might be interested, I’d greatly appreciate it if you dropped them a link. It breaks my heart when I get e-mail that says, “I just missed you in [city]! When will you be back?” and I have to tell respond, “Maybe a year or two? Maybe never?”

Sorry to postpone the blog telling the story about the romance convention and my reading with Amber Benson. I needed to post this up first, given how little time we have to spread the word about the signing.

Stories soon,

pat

Also posted in appearances, cool news | By Pat60 Responses

Giving Thanks

One of my best thanksgiving memories is from 2003, back when I was still living my old student lifestyle.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t really a student at that point in my life. But the only real difference between 2003 and 2000 was that I was teaching classes rather than taking them. My habits, hobbies, and income hadn’t really changed from my student days, and I still felt like a student at heart.

A couple days before the real Thanksgiving, my friend Ian said to me: “We should get people together and have Thanksgiving tonight.”

“My stove doesn’t work,” I said. “And I don’t know how to make stuffing.”

He shook his head. “No. We should all go to the store and buy some kind of food we’re thankful for. Then we get together and share it.”

And that’s what we did. That night we ate taco dip and poppin fresh biscuits. We had fried mushrooms and shrimp and mountain dew. We had nutty bars and ice cream and a bunch of other things I can’t even remember.

We gathered round, ate these wonderful things, enjoyed each other’s company, and watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Times have changed since then. These days, most of my friend have left town. I miss them terribly, but I have a different sort of family now. More specifically, I have a baby.

I’m going to post up a picture of him. Because it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want.

Apparently megalomania is genetic.

Today I’m taking a break from copyediting and posting more Worldbuilders books. That means I have time to do one of my favorite things. I get to have lunch with Sarah and Oot at the Olympic.

The Olympic is a restaurant I’ve been eating at for years. Sarah and I had one of our first dates there. And she tells me that once, years before we met, she watched me from a nearby booth, eavesdropping, lust simmering in her innocent young heart.

These days going to the Olympic is fun for me because I get to feed little Oot.

For months I had nothing to do with this. Sarah breastfeeds, and because she’s stay-at-home Oot can get a snack pretty much whenever he wants, straight from the tap. But now he’s over a year old, and while he still loves the boob, he’s eating solid foods too.

I order the chicken soup and give him parts of it. A noodle. A little chicken. A bit of celery. A little piece of carrot that’s soft enough for me to cut up with my spoon.

Oot investigates these things. He pokes them with a finger, then crams them into his mouth. It is not unlike the way his daddy eats, though his daddy tries to be more genteel in public.

I have a lot to be thankful for. My first book has met with stupefying success. I have an understanding editor who has given me the time to turn my second book into something I can be proud of. My work is being translated into thirty languages. I have awards. I have money in the bank.

But none of that makes me as happy as lunch with Oot. I give him a piece of lettuce from my sandwich. A piece of tomato that I bite in half for him. A little bit of turkey. He moves them around on his little plastic mat, then pokes them happily into his drooly little baby maw.

I was a fan of Heifer International long before I ever considered having a kid. I donated money. I got weepy when I read Beatrice’s Goat.  I gave goats and chickens and sheep as Christmas presents.

But now that I have a baby, it’s something else entirely. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I couldn’t get enough food for my baby.

Actually, that’s not true. I have a very good imagination. I can imagine exactly what it would be like to not have enough food for my baby. It’s a horrifying feeling. It’s a huge feeling. When I think about not being able to feed my baby, my mind brushes up against the edge of something very big and dark in my head. Like nighttime swimmer who feels something firmly bump against his foot.

They say any civilization is three meals away from barbarism. And now, having a child, I believe it’s true. If I couldn’t get Oot the food he needed, I think I would do monstrous things. Barring that, I think some part of me would break and never, ever be right again. Not ever.

Still at the Olympic, I give Oot my whole deli pickle mostly out of curiosity. He pokes it, then picks the whole thing up and bites off the end. He makes an indescribable face. Then he takes another bite. At first it looks like he’s going to eat the whole thing. Then he holds it out to me, and I take a bite. I made a face and he laughs. He takes another bite, then holds it out for me again.

I am very lucky. I think this all the time. I have a warm house. I have a healthy baby. Not only do I have food for him, but we have food enough so that eating it can be a form of play.

This is why I started Worldbuilders.

When I started making serious money off my first book, it was nice. I paid off my credit card. I earned enough so I could get a mortgage on a house. But other than ordering a slightly better brand of frozen burrito, my lifestyle hasn’t changed that much. It’s nice to be able to order Chinese takeout whenever I want. But really, money hasn’t made me noticeably happier.

Matching donations through Worldbuilders makes me happy. It’s my new hobby. I look forward to it all year long.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I see the donation thermometer jump up by a thousand dollars and I flinch a bit.

Then I remember that 120 dollars buys a family a goat. I think about children drinking milk. Not just one morning. Every morning. I think about children eating eggs. I think about mothers and fathers selling the extra milk and wool and eggs to buy things they need to have a better life.

And then I’m happy.

After we finish up at the Olympic, I run some errands. At Shopko, I see a little bath set. It’s got a little comb, and some bubble stuff, and a yellow sponge duck.

Oot loves ducks. It’s one of his favorite words. We could play with this in the bathtub.

And I almost buy it before I realize how stupid this is. We have combs at home. We have stuff that makes bubbles. I would be paying twenty bucks for a bunch of plastic packaging and a sponge duck. For twenty bucks, I could get a flock of chicks from Heifer.

And once I think of it in these terms, it’s easy not to buy this useless piece of crass commercial shit. Oot is deliriously happy playing with a cardboard tube or one of the rubber ducks that we already have in the house. He doesn’t need this.

When I get home from errands, the first thing I do is check the donation totals. I’m really hoping we can get the thermometer up to 130,000 dollars again this year. Maybe more. It would be great if we could beat last year’s total.

The thermometer has gone up another 500 bucks. That’s good. That’s another $250 I’ll be kicking into the pot. That’s six goats and a bunch of chickens.

That’s a lot to be thankful for.

Have a good turkey day everyone,

pat

P.S. Just in case you want to wander over to the Worldbuilders donation page, here’s the link…

Also posted in Heifer International, musings, my student days, Oot, Sarah | By Pat31 Responses

A surfeit of surreality

So the other day I make a trip to the university surplus store. That’s the place where the University sells things that it doesn’t need anymore.

(Whoops. That should be university. No capital letter. It’s hard to break certain typing habits after working on the book.)

I love the surplus store. I’ve bought couches there. Chalkboards. Computers. The chair I’m sitting on right now came from the surplus store. Five bucks. It’s cushy and everything.

But on this particular day, I wander over because I hear the chemistry department has surplussed some of its glassware. Back before I fell under the dark sway of the liberal arts, I was studying to be a chemical engineer. I quit early on, before I could get sick of it. And as a result, I still have a real fondness for chemistry equipment. Especially the glassware.

So I head over and look at what they have. After poking around in a dozen boxes, I ask them what they’d take for the whole lot of it. We negotiate for a while, and eventually settle on a hundred fifty bucks for everything. I get them to throw in an old hand-crank centrifuge as well. Because if you’re going to have a  lab in your basement, why wouldn’t you want a hand-crank centrifuge?

It was a pretty frivolous purchase, I suppose. But I just love the stuff. Not even because it’s useful. Hell, some of the stuff I don’t even know what it’s called, let alone how to use it.

Other pieces are easier to identify.

This, for example, is obviously a bong:

This, on the other hand, is a much cooler, more complicated bong:

Okay, fine. I’m not sure what either one of those things is for. But look at the lower one. Witness its awesome. How could anyone not want something like that in their house?

After I bought the glassware I realized Sarah was off running errands. So my intrepid assistant Valerie offered to come pick me up and help me move the boxes.

While I was waiting for her, I wandered over to Starbucks for coffee. I know, I’m not proud of it. But I was on foot with half an hour to kill, and daddy needs his medicine.

By the way, we’re getting to the point of the story now. Did I mention that there was a point to this story? There is.

So I’m at Starbucks, trying to overcome the guilt of not supporting my locally owned, independent coffee shop. They don’t have blueberry syrup, either, which I figure is fair punishment for my betrayal.

Then the woman behind the counter says, “I really liked your book.”

I’m always surprised when someone recognizes me. It doesn’t happen that often, but it’s always flattering.  We talk about the book for a minute, and then I head out the door.

On the way back to the surplus store, I walk past a previously out-of-business store someone’s remodeling. I’ve heard a rumor that someone’s starting up a new restaurant in town called “Curry in a Hurry.” Needless to say, I’m delighted. Stevens Point is a nice place to live, but there’s no Indian food around these parts, and that makes me sad.

So I go over and ask the guy that’s painting a few questions. He confirms it is actually going to be the new curry place. I tell him that’s awesome. We smile.

Then, as I turn to leave, he says. “I’m a big fan.”

And this time it strikes me as a little weird. Two stranger in less than three minutes. And they haven’t just read my book, but they obviously know who I am and what I look like.

Still, I shrug it off. This is my hometown after all. And there have been more than a few local-boy-does-good stories in the paper. And I do have a bit of a distinctive look to me…

Given all that, I decide it’s just a coincidence, and that helps me keep my cool together.

But then, less than an hour later when I’m picking up an air conditioner at Menards, the guy in the loading bay smiles and says, “How are the books doing?”

And then it’s just all different colors of bizarre. Flattering? Sure. Cool? Yeah.  But mostly it was just weird. None of them said, “Are you that author guy?” They all just knew who I was. I’m not used to that. How can anyone ever be used to that?

Everything said, it made for a very surreal afternoon.

Later space cowboys,

pat

Also posted in cool things, Valerie | By Firebirdblaze87 Responses

Circadian Spring

Okay. I’m going to tell a little story. But for it to make sense, you’re going to have to understand two things…

First, my sleep schedule is wildly variable. When I’m in the thick of revisions, it’s not odd for me to be up until 5 or 6 AM. Neither is it odd for me to sleep until 2 or three in the afternoon.

Second, spring is a confusing time in Wisconsin.

Don’t get me wrong. Spring is great. In Wisconsin we appreciate spring way more than most other folks because we spend half the year buried in snow. In more temperate parts of the world, if the thermometer dips to 68 degrees people start putting on sweaters and shutting their windows.

Not here in Wisconsin. Our winters can easily dip to -40 Fahrenheit (Which, for those of you who are all metric, is the same as -40 Celsius.) So when we get a sunny spring day that hits, say, 55 degrees, we’re all putting on our shorts and playing Frisbee. To us, 55 degrees is like getting a kiss from God…

The main problem with spring in Wisconsin is that Mother Nature is beginning fresh after the hard winter. She’s effectively starting her whole life over again.

That means in April and May Mother Nature is the equivalent of a 14 year old girl. Which is to say she’s insane.

So on May 13th, she can be sunny, happy, and sweet. She can wear a pretty sundress and hug puppies. Then, 12 hours later, she’s weeping inconsolably in her room. By May 15th she’s listening to NIN, wearing black lipstick, and burning herself with cigarettes.

That’s what a Wisconsin spring is like: Sun. Warm breeze. Two inches of snow. Lilacs. Birds singing. Hail. Tornado.

But even in her less extreme mood swings, a Wisconsin spring can be troublesome. Lately I’ve been heading out to my writing space at night, and it’s been chilly, if not chilly and damp. So I put on my coat and hat, walk over there, and write most of the night. Then, if it’s gotten really late, I sleep on the futon mattress I have over there just for that purpose. (Yeah. I know. Pretty glamorous, huh?)

The point is, when I wake up the next day at 1:00 in the afternoon, it’s lovely and sunny. I don’t want to wear my coat home and get sweaty, so I leave it at work and enjoy the weather on my way home.

The first day this happened it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t have my black leather duster, so I went to the back of the closet and pulled out my old, grey denim duster that I wore for 9 years back in college. It’s tatty, but it’s warm. I also found a weird furry hat that was too small for me, and stuck up about a 8 inches off the top of my head.

So I walk, write, and sleep again. Then when I get up it’s lovely, so I walk home coatless to see Sarah and Oot.

But the third night I was out of options. I don’t own multiple coats. It goes against my whole philosophy. And while Sarah has roughly one Billion hats, they’re all too small for me.

Normally I wouldn’t mind walking a mile or so if it’s just a little chilly. I’m built like a bear, after all. But I was fighting off a bit of a headcold, and I didn’t want it to get worse just a before heading off to so a reading down near Madison.

So, for all these reasons, I ended up walking through downtown Stevens Point at 1:30 in the morning wearing a cloak.

I’d forgotten I owned it. I bought it back when me and my friends used to hit the Ren Fair. Or maybe when we were doing our fantasy LARP. It’s green and black, and in many ways, it was the perfect garment for the job, as it had a hood, too.

But wearing it made me realize two surprising things.

First, the silhouetted figure on the cover of The Wise Man’s Fear is absolutely perfect.

(Click to Embiggen)

I know it’s perfect because when I was walking down the street, the shadow that splayed out in front of me on the sidewalk looked exactly like that. Almost to an uncanny degree.

The second thing that surprised me was how amazingly self-conscious I felt. I don’t like to admit it, but I was really mortified at the thought of anyone seeing me walking around in a cloak.

I think I’m vain. The old denim duster I’d worn the night before was really ragged and awful looking. It’s frayed and torn. Holes in the pockets. The furry hat looked stupid, but not nearly as stupid as the hat that I wear the rest of the time.

So if I’m not vain, why was I so uncomfortable with the thought of someone seeing me in this cloak? It couldn’t be that I was worried I might look stupid. I’m fine with looking stupid. I go out of my way to look stupid sometimes.

I think my worry was that someone would recognize me as, “That Local Fantasy Author,” and then that they’d assume I dressed up in a cloak because I was desperately trying to be… I dunno… extra fantasy author-y. (Which would make me a poser.) Or that I was trying to dress up as Kvothe. (Which is worse.)

All whys aside, I was trying to stay out of sight. But it quickly occurred to me that trying to be inconspicuous while wearing a cloak looks really, really suspicious. And if there’s one thing worse than being identified as “that local fantasy author who dresses up in a cloak.” It would be people thinking of me as, “That local fantasy author who dresses up in a cloak and hides in the bushes outside your house.”

Plus, there are some places you simply can’t hide. I have to cross a couple parking lots to get where I’m going.

So, of course, when I’m crossing one of these parking lots, that’s when the cop car drives by. He’s trolling along Main Street at bar time, looking for drunk college kids. I’m the middle of the empty parking lot, wearing my cloak.

I knew the cop was going to circle back and come talk to me. He would drive up and say, “Um, hello?”

And then I would get my ass in trouble because when I’m put in a situation like that, I just can’t take it seriously. The urge to flap around like Batman would be overwhelming. Or I’d pretend to cast Magic Missile when he talked to me. Or when he asked “Who are you?” I’d say something like, “I am the servant of a secret fire! Wielder of the flame or Anor!” and then get my stupid, sarcastic ass would get tazered and put in jail for the night.

But the thing is, as soon as I saw the cop, I wasn’t nervous any more. If one person sees you doing something kinda weird, it’s really embarrassing. But getting thrown in jail because you wore a cloak and then quoted Gandalf? That’s awesome. That’s a story I’d tell for the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, the cop didn’t circle around. It would have been the perfect ending to this little adventure, but real life rarely gives us that sort of satisfying closure. That’s why we love stories: they give events the pleasing shape the real world so seldom provides.

pat

Also posted in my dumbness, small adventures | By Pat90 Responses

There and Back Again….

So I’m back from Penguicon and the signing off near Detroit.

Both events were a good time. I had the chance to read the Princess Book to a few people, hung out with other author types and talked geeky writing talk. It was fun. I’ve even got a few pictures to share…

I’ll post those things later. Today I’m going to talk about part of the convention that usually gets glossed over: The traveling.

The truth is, traveling is one of the hardest parts of going to conventions. It is for me at least.

Conventions themselves are easy for me. I meet people, sign books, talk on panels, and do readings. It’s exhausting, but it’s not hard. I’m a fairly decent public speaker, and I like meeting fans and other authors. So conventions are a treat for me. They’re a break from my otherwise rather unsocial and solitary life.

But the traveling isn’t fun. It’s expensive, irritating, and time consuming. Worst of all, I seem to get sick every time I go on an extended plane ride.

That’s the main reason that I do so many events here in the midwest. And that’s the reason that I decided to drive to Penguicon.

It takes about 8-9 hours to drive from central Wisconsin to Troy, MI. Still, given check-in times and layovers, that’s only a couple hours longer than a plane. Plus it’s cheaper and I don’t have to worry about people groping through my luggage.

The trip to the convention was relatively uneventful. I made a pitstop in Madison to hang out with some friends I don’t see nearly often enough and helped one of them move some furniture around in his new apartment.

Have I ever mentioned that I used to be a professional mover? It was only a summer job, and I was in better shape back then. But still, it’s nice to keep my hand in, just in case this whole writing thing doesn’t pan out for me in the long run.

It’s on the way back from the convention that things get interesting. After my library reading I hop in my car, enter my home address on my Magellan, and start driving.

I feel I should mention here, in yet another tangent, that I feel morally conflicted about the Magellan. I got it as a Christmas present from my dad, and it’s wonderfully convenient. But at the same time I believe devices like this are actively endumbening the populace. You should be able to read a map, folks. You should know which direction north is.

Did I ever mention I used to be a delivery driver too? I was. I can read a map. What’s more, using a brilliant mixture of zen navigation, Aristotelian logic, and pure rage I can get you your package and/or delicious sandwich relatively close to on-time.

That’s another fallback career for me.

That said, I do use the Magellan when I’m in unfamiliar territory. I don’t have a map of Detroit. It’s quick, easy, and usually accurate.

Note the *usually.*

The Magellan tells me to turn right, then left, then right. I just follow along, as most of my attention is focused on listening to Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein on audiobook.

But something doesn’t feel right. I look at the one of the passing signs and see that I’m heading north. I pull over in a gas station and have a discussion with the machine:

Me: What the fuck, Magellan?

It: Calculating Route.

Me: No. Seriously. What the fuck?

It: Turn right onto North 74.

Me: North isn’t the right way to go.

It: Ding!

Me: I’m going to Stevens Point. In Wisconsin. Through Madison.

It: Calculating route. Stevens Point is 974 miles away.

Me: The fuck it is. Go south.

It: Ding! Turn right onto North 74.

So I throw the thing into the footwell of the car. I throw it hard, too. So it knows who’s in charge. You people might have to deal with that sort of insolent backtalk from your machine overlords, but not me. I work with machines in one way: they do what I say or I fucking destroy them and do it myself. I consider myself a Darwinistic force in machine evolution. I’m encouraging them to evolve along more helpful lines.

The gas station is depressing. The woman behind the counter doesn’t know which road leads back to I 94. She doesn’t think the gas station has any maps to sell. She suggests I get directions from someone who has an iphone. She has one eyebrow. Not kidding.

So I find the maps myself, buy one, and get back into the car. Using the map and eight seconds of rational thought, I find the sensible route home.

After two hours the Magellan’s battery starts to die and it chirps at me pitifully from the passenger-side footwell. I let it starve for another ten minutes then bring it out and we have another conversation.

Me: How far away is Stevens Point?

It: 820 miles?

Me: What’s your name?

It: M-Magellan?

Me: No. Your name is bitch. I’m asking you one more time, how do you get to Stevens Point?

It: You should head south through Chicago on I 94.

Me: That’s right I should.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that an hour later, after paying a toll, my driver side window refuses to roll back up. Machines tend to stick together like that.

So I pull over at another gas station and kick the hell out of the door for a while. I do this partly in case it’s a loose wire or something that can be fixed by kicking, but also as a warning for any other machines nearby that are considering insubordination.

Then I go into the gas station and explain the situation. I don’t want to drive another three hours with damp, 50 degree air blowing into my ear. Cardboard and duct tape isn’t good either, as it would limit my visibility too much. The attendant there is cool, and lets me poke around in back looking for useful supplies until I find a roll of that plastic stuff you use to wrap up pallets.

Did I ever mention I used to work in a warehouse? I did.

I have to say, even though I’ve been out of the game for about two decades, I still have some mad pallet-wrapping skills.

Then I went home.

Everything said, it was still way better than flying.

pat

Also posted in being awesome, conventions, tangentality | By Pat94 Responses
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