I am going to admit something.
I didn't want to leave home this time. I miss Joe. I miss my kids, I miss knowing why the middle of the hall floor is sticky and calculating how long this family will have no overhead light in the dining room before someone will go to the corner and buy an 88 cent package of lightbulbs so they don't have to eat in the dark. (Sadly we shall never know the complete answer to that one, since I snapped last night (day five) and sent Joe over to get one. DAY FIVE. The difference in our priorities has to be the reason I still find him interesting.) Despite not leaving home with the highest possible degree of enthusiasm. Despite the weenie on the plane who made my eyebrow twitch...
I had a wonderful time. Reasons to love this trip?
1. I started the Chicago trip at the Great Lakes Booksellers Association Convention/Trade Show/Thingie. This, by itself was not fun. In fact, if it had been specifically designed to frighten authors they couldn't have done a better job. You sit with the booksellers while they eat dinner, telling them charming things about you and your book and trying not to say arse or express your deep concern that *no* alcohol was served during this....and then an announcer gets up and tells you to move and you go to the next table and do it again. It's like speed dating for writers. It's horrifying. I got some pretty nice tables of booksellers (non of whom are actively trying to be terrifying) and survived neatly. I staggered over to the signing tables, plunked myself down to a really nice writer where upon the two of us were pretty soundly ignored. (Scott Turow was there. We were not surprised.) The moment that made the evening worth it was when I said something to the author beside me and she didn't reply. I reached out, touched her arm and said it again. She turned, startled and said "Oh, I'm sorry dear. I didn't hear you. I was busy asking God to kill me."
I laughed for hours. Sarah the wonder publicist was there...along with Stephanie from Storey Publishing, and I didn't tell them about that. They seemed like they were having so much fun that I didn't want them to know I was thinking about sitting in the hotel room closet.
Aren't they cute? (Note to self: I should immediately cease and desist with standing anywhere near these two. I don't come off well in the comparison. I'm waiting for someone to ask me if my daughters have been helpful to me on the tour.)
I know you must be asking what would be worth this. (Besides the whole "it's a job and everybody has one" thing.) Why, if it's scary, far and weird...why would I go? This brings me to:
My lovely Rams. Yes gentle readers, our lady of Kalamazoo was at the book thing...and I had lots of lovely time with her. No matter how much you love her on the blog...there is no compare to the live Rams. How can you not love a woman running a convention with a half knit sock in her pocket?
3. The day after the ritual book hazing, Rams and I had lunch. I ordered a sandwich and fries and I asked for vinegar. The Canadians/Brits know what for, but the American waiter was badly shaken, though obedient...and brought me this.
Raspberry vinegar. I laughed and laughed.
(and yes, it was the only vinegar they had.)
4. Later that day Sarah and I took the "L" from O'Hare to the other side of Chicago.
Here's Sarah-the-wonder-publicist being rather bemused by the L map. (I am convinced that you need a higher IQ than mine to figure out the "loop" where you transfer.
If it were not for the kindness of a very nice man who smelled like waffles...we would still be there.) When all was said and done...I really liked the L. I think if you go to Chicago you should take it. It runs about 12 inches past all these old houses and buildings and it seems like a really neat way to see the city.
5. Arcadia knitting and the knitters in it is totally worth leaving your husband (temporarily) for.
click to make 'em bigger. The sock thought (can you tell from the pictures?) that the way this shop was laid out was pretty neat. Never seen anything like it. It moved through the colours like a rainbow. All the blues, then the yellows, then the greens.....
Beautiful. By a lot.
6. The people. Noteworthy (though I'm sure I missed some of you...speak up in the comments!)
Cori, who came from Minnesota, holding the sock...
(For the record, Cori is not freakishly taller than me. I didn't stand up to take the picture. She is normal sized.)
Rana and Daniel, both the cutest knitters ever. (Don't you just almost want to give them yarn or something?)
Tamara and her muggle husband. In town from AUSTIN to celebrate their anniversary, this man is enough of a peach that when Tamara took him on a little detour, this was the look on his face. Atta boy.
(In case, like me..you are worried that this was their whole anniversary celebration, they did this later.
I think that it's lovely that Tamara grasped that even though her needs for romance could be met in a yarn shop...dude might have needed this.)
Also there was Franklin (for whom there are not words. If you would ever like to meet someone who is kind, clever and only slightly taller than me, you need look no further.)
Susan aka Roggey (who's parade of morally corrupt behaviour brought her there...much to my delight. I was so stunned that she was actually there that somehow I didn't get a picture. It's a wonder I was able to speak.)
Melissa (Charming. Really, really charming, smart too...) Mel (click that link. She's a smart one too...) Emily (if she is a spaz then I've got no right leaving the house.) and Marcy...who very, very generously drove a whack of overexcited knitters to a nearby restauraunt. Very sweet. I know there are more that I have somehow forgotten the url's of. Speak up!
6. Bonne Marie. This lady
(seen here as the centre picture of elegance at a dinner after the event...for the sake of all of us, please overlook the number of glasses on the table. I don't know why they are there.) Bonne Marie is unbelievable. You know how it is when you have someone that you really admire all built up in your head because you've been reading them forever and then you meet them and you worry that maybe they aren't going to be as good as all that? That's how it was for me with Bonne Marie. I was so nervous to meet her that I worried that I would arse it up. I needn't have worried. There isn't a more genuine person in the world. She is kind, generous, funny, more beautiful than she looks on the blog (which is pretty freakin' beautiful) ... really actually interested in other knitters and I would spend more time with her in a heartbeat and count myself lucky for it .
I'm her biggest groupie, and if you met her...you would be too.
7. The next day had me at Sit'n Knit in South Bend. This shop has free coffee. Free lattes too, if you like 'em. Me? I like my coffee medicinal, but do enjoy knowing that others are enjoying all the foam they would like. It's a charming shop, with charming (high energy...that's probably the free coffee) knitters.
Erin with the sock. (I miss dorky's best friend Carma. She had car trouble. Sniff.)
Elizabeth with her stunning Tina
and random rabble ...
In the picture above is my fellow FTer Elizabeth....spinning away and making us all look like slackers, and Kristine in the purple. Completely adorable. A knitter/writer should only wish for such days. Many thanks to Jack and Kim for setting it up.
8. Lake Michigan
as seen by a new sock, since these...
roaming socks are done. (Since someone will ask, they are Opal sock yarn color 1016 done on 2mm needles, in my usual boring self-written pattern. )
10. The last reason that it was a good trip.. is that I got to go at all. I get torn sometimes, between my family and my home and the job for the books...and I wonder how I'll juggle it all. It turns out that you don't juggle it. You can't keep all the balls in the air. Either you are doing family life and worrying about your job, or you are doing your job and worrying about the family. This was the trip when I figured out that you can't do them at the same time. That I can't run a family from Chicago...no matter how hard I try. You just have to give up a little....celebrate the good things about it. (That would be the knitters) Be glad that I've been given the priviledge, grateful that I'm seeing so much...and let go of the laundry and wondering if Sam is doing her spelling. Thanks to all of you for making it a good trip. There aren't many people who can say they owe it all to knitters, but I can.
Small sweaters. Picking up stitches. Discovering that I can't count.