stillsostrange: (Plot Octopus)
I leave for Portland tomorrow (now today)! I'll get in too late to attend the VIP party, but in time to dance at the Lovecraft Bar. My official schedule is as follows. Otherwise I’ll be watching movies or hanging out at the after parties.


8:00 – 9:00 PM, Classroom – Reading (with Orrin Grey and Alex Renwick)


10:00 AM – Noon, EOD main/Classroom – Carbload For Cthulhu mass signing

8:00 – 9:00, EOD main – Sexuality and Lovecraft (Downum, Peterson, Cook, Smiley, Joshi)


10:00 AM – Noon, Sam’s Hollywood Billiards – Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast (I won't be doing anything here but eating breakfast and drinking mimosas.)
stillsostrange: (Valkyrie Air)
I saw Bestial Mouths last night, breaking my two-year SXSW curse. I shall brave the madness again on Saturday and see what I can find. Of course, my partner and I are running Warrior Dash early on Saturday. Last time I did WD and SXSW in one day, I ended up not eating enough and blacking out on the sidewalk outside the club. We will strive to avoid that this time.

Day 1 - Ten random facts about yourself
Day 2 - Nine things you do every day
Day 3 - Eight things that annoy you
Day 4 - Seven fears/phobias
Day 5 - Six songs that you’re addicted to
Day 6 - Five things you can’t live without
Day 7 - Four memories you won’t forget
Day 8 - Three words you can’t go a day without

Day 9 - Two things you wish you could do

You'd love it. Nobody tells you when to go to bed. You eat all the ice cream you want. You get to kill all day, all night just like an angel.

Teleportation would be pretty badass, too.

Day 10 - One person you can trust
stillsostrange: (Brigitte)
So, last night Steven and I went to a deathrock night in San Antonio. We had a fabulous time. We also ended up leaving just as storm was blowing down from Austin. We hit about fifteen minutes of bad hail, which we spent sheltered under a gas station awning. Hail passed, and we went on. I eventually fell asleep in the passenger seat, as is my wont at 2:00 am.

I woke up to the sensation of the tires losing contact with the road. Steven cursing. The car spinning. My eyes never opened for this. I doubt it lasted more than a few heartbeats. Next came an impact. I shouted at this point--whether it was articulate or not I'm not sure. What I was thinking was mostly What the fuck?! Immediately after the first impact came a second. This one hurt. I yelled something again. A short time of confusion and annoyance followed, and then the car finally stopped moving and my eyes opened to rain and a wet divider and the remains of the passenger side airbag and the headlights of oncoming traffic. Luckily we had spun into a wide grassy median ditch, safely out of the way of any other cars. My right arm hurt like hell. ETA: I forgot a telling detail: the burning chemical smell of airbag propellant.

We sat there for a short span of time. Steven asked if I was okay; I said my arm hurt. At this point I thought to test the arm, and determined that it wasn't broken. I suspect I'd had a leg propped on the dashboard, so I was extra lucky that wasn't broken either. Northbound traffic kept moving.

Steven tried moving the car, but it was firmly wedged in the ditch. At this point I called our babysitter with what was probably a shocky warning that we would be late. This was, thanks to DST, at 3:30 am. After that... Reader, I updated Facebook. Yeah. Sorry. But then I thought to call roadside assistance! Steven talked to roadside assistance, and they eventually transferred him to 911. Several minutes and many cars has passed at this point, and finally one person stopped to ask if we were all right. By then sirens were inbound.

Cops and a fire truck showed up to determine that we were neither dead nor drunk nor on fire. I hadn't moved from the passenger seat at all, being a bit shocky, in pain, wedged in a ditch, and having foolishly decided that I didn't need my jacket that night. I got to sign waivers declining a trip to the hospital. The cops seemed a bit bemused by my torn fishnet and shiny glam goth pants. Eventually I crawled out of the car, and some nice officers put us in the back of their cruiser. They took us to the nearest sheltered spot, asked more questions, consulted about tow trucks. It was now 4:00 am and we were on the southernmost edge of Austin, so I decided not to wake up any of my friends. The cops called us a cab. The cab dispatcher said something that translated to "It's 4:00 am on the first Saturday of SXSW. Good fucking luck." And because of those conditions, the cops were getting a lot of calls at this point. So eventually they dropped us off at the nearest 24-hour fast food place and left us waiting for the cab.

We sat there drinking bad coffee listening to the absolute worst canned music selection ever for another hour. The cab was not coming. Steven called them again. Finally I broke down and called my parents, because someone had to relieve our poor babysitter. My parents returned the babysitter and stayed with the kids. At some point I finally checked a mirror and determined that my arm was friction-burned as well as bruised, and that my artfully torn fishnet top now had authentic battle damage.

6:00 am came. The cab did not. So finally my parents came to retrieve us. My father returned us to our house at 7:30 am. I wandered around in a daze, taking pictures of the fishnet pattern burned into my arm. I finally went to bed around 8:00, very gingerly.

Four hours later I got up to go with Steven to check on the car. It had been towed--to where, we're not entirely certain. Hopefully this will be sorted out quickly. Right now I'm upright only by the power of caffeine, and the fact that it hurts like hell to lie down. I did make one sensible attempt to go to an urgent care clinic, but the one that was open was out of network, so I'll call my doctor tomorrow. I did not go to work today.

I am very lucky, not only to not be hurt and to have not injured anyone else, but to have had people to call, people asking if I was okay, and people to email at 4:30 in the morning from the back of a police car.
stillsostrange: (Elbow sex)
My latest New England adventure is winding down. I parted ways with [ profile] matociquala at the T station, and now I'm safely holed up in an airport hotel. Beacon Hill is as gorgeous as it was the last time I was here, and I'm stuffed to the gills with dumplings and scallion pancakes and nasi lemak. The signing at Pandemonium was a lot of fun, if slightly blurry from all the pre-signing cocktails we consumed at Drink.

Providence was also as lovely as last time, and this time we found the right yellow house on Benefit Street. So of course my camera seems to have devoured those photos.
stillsostrange: (Rilke)
Last night I went on a night dive (by which I mean snorkel, as I do not have a SCUBA cert) with manta rays. Neptune Charlies--who were lovely, and I would recommend--took us on a boat to a point off the Kona coast, gave us wet suits, snorkel gear, and high-powered flashlights. (People with SCUBA certs were given diving gear and lights.) Then we jumped into the cool, night-black water of the Pacific* and waited for manta rays to come, following the plankton drawn to our lights. Then we spent an hour clinging to a styrofoam tube, watching the rays and the divers and the iridescent schools of fish that came to share the plankton.

The rays roll between the divers' lights and the snorkelers' lights to eat the plankton, all wide dark wings, pale, spotted, nearly nacreous bellies, and wide wide mouths. They come close enough to touch--which you cannot--and sometimes brush you as they roll. The water is cold, and the whole time you're hearing the guides talking and joking and the people next to you gasping, and being kicked and bumped the fins of your fellow snorkelers, but that all falls away when a ray is swooping inches from your face. It was probably the most beautiful, awe-full experience I've had. I took a lot of pictures--on film; how adorable!--and I can only hope some of them turn out.

* Several Kona beaches had closed earlier that day due to shark sightings. I went anyway, and was not eaten by sharks. Go me.
stillsostrange: (Siren)
Good morning, LJ! It's 6:25 in Kona, and I was awoken twenty minutes ago by my optometrist's office calling from a place where it is not 6 AM. Luckily, that got me up in time to watch dawn breaking across the ocean that is right under my balcony. Yes, I am in an honest-to-Cod beach front resort. Last night we saw eels in the tide pools under the balcony; this morning the tide has come in.

I may have found the glamour.

Sadly, the beach front resort lacks wireless in the rooms. I'm currently using a phone as a hotspot, but uploading pictures will have to wait till I can explore the supposed wireless in the lobby.

But first I think it's time to get up, get my free breakfast, and explore the beach.
stillsostrange: (Default)
I'm in the final throes of packing. I have a suitcase full of clothes (and shoes--at some point I became a mammal who can't travel without four pairs of shoes*), three novels and one and a half crit novels to read, a bag full of tiny toiletries, my contacts, my swimsuit, a new camera**, and an idea for my fungus story. I've also cleaned the catboxes, tidied for the cat-sitter, and painted my toenails.

What am I forgetting?***

* But I found a pair of black Keens on clearance at REI today! I win at shopping!

** Let us pray that this one doesn't end up swimming in the Pacific.

*** I'm not forgetting my phobia of sharks, while going to a place full of shark gods.
stillsostrange: (Drop bears)
I was hoping today would be a productive day like yesterday. I would haul some gravel, then write. Only while I was hauling gravel, what should appear in my yard but two stray dogs. I called them and they came over, then got distracted by exploring my back yard. I promptly shut the gate and got leashes and a spare collar. During the time they were shut in the back yard, Brown Dog managed to break a board in the fence and get into the neighbor's yard--luckily I managed to coax her back into mine. Brown Dog has a collar but no tags; her companion Yellow Dog has neither.

Next we went for a walk, and Brown Dog and Yellow Dog dragged me around the neighborhood, but never picked one house that might be theirs. None of the people we met knew them. After the walk we drove to my vet, where no one knew either dog, and learned they aren't microchipped. I took them to another vet in the area, with no better luck. I proceeded to print some fliers, put an ad on Craigslist, and leave my number with animal control, in case anyone calls to report them lost.

Brown Dog and Yellow Dog are both very friendly and well-behaved, but Brown Dog is a cat chaser. She also hates crates and bathrooms. Currently the cats are locked in the garage and my dogs are outside. I guess we'll go for a walk again at 5, and hope someone has come home to notice their dogs missing. Otherwise sleeping arrangements will be interesting tonight.
stillsostrange: (Default)
Goodbye, internets. I'm leaving you for foreign lands.
stillsostrange: (fatale)
Last night, friends and I participated in Austin's Midnight Madness scavenger hunt. It's an all-night, city-wide, team-based hunt, and it is totally awesome. It began at 6:30 PM, and we got home at 6:00 AM. I am extremely groggy.

Reader, we won.

The teams met at 6:30 at Zilker Park, where we were led to picnic tables with Jenga (and Jenga derivatives) sets. Game control explained that we had a murder mystery to solve, and then made us play Jenga. My team ended up with a shitty off-brand Jenga*, and finished last. We finished, though, got our clue, and raced to the next clue. The next clue involved stereograms, which no one on my team can see. It was like the sailboat in Mallrats. After that, and one more extremely frustrating clue, we were a little dejected, but determined. But then clues started getting more fun (I just noticed that I first typed "more better"; yes, I'm tired.)--semaphore code, crossword puzzles, carnival games, a flashlight hunt through a cemetery. All the while we were finding location clues, we were also getting Clue-style weapon and alibi cards for the NPCs. At this point we were tearing through clues, and starting to catch up with other teams. A couple of teams, being made of lesser stuff, dropped out.

By 5:00 AM we had deciphered the last anagram clue and solved the murder mystery, so we sped back to the scene of the crime to make our accusation. At this point, we had called for a fair number of clues (which give you time penalties), and it was late, so we weren't hopeful about our chances, but still happy to have finished. It turned out that we were the second team to arrive, but the first had more time penalties than us and hadn't solved the mystery. Then we found out that every team had greater time penalties. That's when we started jumping tiredly for joy.

The upshot is, as winners, we get to plan next year's hunt. This is freaking awesome.

Now it's two in the afternoon and I'm groggy and sore, and I need to finish last night's coffee and make inroads into Kingdoms.

ETA: A side effect of all this is that I just woke up from a dream about finding a dead body while Das Ich was trying to set up for their show.

* I am not even joking--Jumbling Towers sucks goats. After two tries with that we grabbed the real Jenga from a team who had finished, and stacked it in no time.
stillsostrange: (Worth a damn)
Today the Partners In Climb and the boy and I went kayaking on the San Marcos River, for seven miles. The river is gorgeous, except where it's full of trash because people suck. We just had a nice tropical depression last week, so the water was very high and fast in places. Especially after the Blanco joins the party. And there are many snags.

Reader, I capsized.

This is the first time I've flipped a kayak, and I maintain that I wouldn't have done so had not the person ahead of me flipped. The current then washed me into them and the snag, and I couldn't get out while not killing the person in the water next to me. Next thing I know...splish. I came up under the boat at first, bumped my head, and had to swim free. Somehow, I managed to lose neither my boat, my paddle, my hat or glasses, or the pair of shorts I'd had draped over my lap. I lost my gloves--which were in my lap and not on my hands--but other party members retrieved them. (The other two people who flipped on that snag lost their glasses, but I have already made my sacrifice this year.)

Capsizing wasn't scary, but I did have an oh shit moment as I was catching up to my friends. I went from a submerged sandbar which was comfortably hip deep into a spot where I couldn't touch, and the current was very strong. Luckily someone was on hand to grab my boat while I swam for the bank--I don't think I could have made it hauling the kayak.

I knew I would flip a kayak eventually, ever since I laughed hysterically at the boy when he capsized on the placid waters of Town Lake. I'm glad I did so when I was with a large and competent group.

The bad news is that my dry-bag failed to perform its most essential function, and my camera got wet. It's sitting in a bag of rice at the moment, and will hopefully make a full recovery. If it doesn't I'll cry.
stillsostrange: (Default)
by Amanda Downum, age 30 and 11/12ths

Day 1: Awoke at 3:30 AM to go to the airport. Boo. Security line at Austin-Bergstrom was STILL stupidly long. Sung the praises of Southwest as my flights were timely. [ profile] matociquala picked me up at the airport, fed me sandwiches, and took me kayaking on Union Pond.

Day 2: Woke up at a more sane but still early hour to leave for NYC. Endured the world's most uncomfortable train seat for an hour and a half. Got to the city and had lunch with Bear's fabulous editor, and then hung out at the d.b.a. bar before meeting my even-more-fabulous editor. (Sorry, it's contractual--my editor is always the most fabulous.) Met people who had formerly existed only in the internet. I remain fond of the city despite the noise, exhaust, and crowds--I need to test that by staying for more than a few hours.

(Photos of days 1 & 2)

Day 3: Slept. Went to the store. [ profile] batwrangler joined us, bearing ridiculous quantities of meat, and grilling ensued. I napped a lot.

Day 4: Climbed in the gym and walked the dog. Wrote part of a scene for "Spell 81A" so [ profile] matociquala would stop hitting me.

Day 5: Kayaking in Laurel Marsh, which was gorgeous, and involved paddling uphill on the way back. Word of the day: portage. Then we picked up [ profile] hawkwing_lb from the train station, and drove her all over Connecticut. I was forced into a Hot Topic to find jelly bracelets. I may or may not have cat-hissed at the place first.

(Laurel Marsh photos)

Day 6: Got up, drove to Pinnacle Rock, hiked in and set two routes. Then climbed them, under the baleful gaze of the daystar. I feel a little Pollyanna, but I was fine with trap rock. Ate food, hydrated, and scrubbed off the layer of filth so we could get ready to go gothing. I was very happy to go dancing, but Haven reminded me of something long forgotten: goth + raver = gravers. I'm glad the makers of glowsticks and D-ring festooned midget-smugglers are still in business, I guess. But there were pretty boys there, including Draco Malfoy in an Alien Sex Fiend shirt.

(Pinnacle photos)

Day 7: The beach! Both beaches we went to didn't allow swimming, which was annoying, but the water was cold enough that I was glad I had an excuse not to be butch. The Atlantic stole my glasses, which made me cranky, but then we had lunch at a very nice tiki bar in New London and found some awesome murals, which mollified me slightly. But my insurance won't pay for new glasses till July, so the world is full of frustration, blurriness, and illegal driving right now. After the beach we drove to Wallingford and climbed some more, and then went home and slugged.

(Beach photos)

Day 8: Back on a plane. Still very happy with Southwest. And then home, to find the CEM for Bone Palace waiting for me, along with a super-awesome present from [ profile] truepenny.

The End
stillsostrange: (Wild roses)
There. I wrote most of a scene for "Spell 81A" today. Maybe now [ profile] matociquala will stop hitting me.

Pictures of our exciting adventures (at least the first two days' worth) are here. Tomorrow [ profile] hawkwing_lb arrives, and more adventures will follow.

Hueco Tanks

May. 5th, 2010 11:35 pm
stillsostrange: (Valkyrie Air)
The Partners in Climb left Austin on Friday morning, starting the allegedly eleven-hour drive to El Paso. Luckily, whoever alleged that time didn't take into account the vast 80 MPH stretch of I-10. The first car (which contained me) left Austin at 8:30 and hit El Paso at 5:00 (4:00 El Paso time), and reached the Rock Ranch less than an hour later.

I wasn't sure what the Ranch was going to be like. I was dreading four nights of camping, sharing a friend's tent. (I am a delicate flower who likes plumbing.) Luckily, it was the off season, so rooms were plentiful. We pulled up to find a bottle tree in the front yard, and a climber boy--who recognized us from the Austin gym--attempting drunken slack lining. No one was in the house at first, except for a very large sleeping dog named Aurora. I would soon learn that Aurora is a professional sleeper. Eventually the owner showed up, and I obtained for myself a room with a bed and shower access and BONUS FISH. And there was much rejoicing. My less delicate companion set up his tent and we waited for the second car (full of people more dedicated to sleeping pass 7 AM) to show up. Eventually they arrived and we settled in and went back to El Paso for pizza.

The next morning we left early to get to Hueco Tanks State Park in time for our reservation. A day of hiking and climbing ensued. The rock (syenite porphyry) is gorgeous: sometimes sharp but not skin-shredding, and full of pockets--the eponymous huecos. The weather was unseasonably cool, and absolutely gorgeous. (Chilly and windy at night, but I wasn't freezing in a tent.) Outdoor bouldering scares the the crap out of me, and down-climbing often gives me panics, so I didn't send much, but I got to scramble all over gorgeous rocks. I would like to learn more about the rock art and anthropological stuff going on in the park, but that will have to wait till the next trip.

We climbed for three days--it rained Sunday night, and Monday was cloudless and warmer. A little too bright for me ([ profile] matociquala and [ profile] coffeeem will be happy to know I wore a hat the whole time), but I managed two top-outs before the sun sucked my will to climb, and a fun scramble across the rocks. The park's limited access coupled with the season meant it was quiet and peaceful. I can't remember the last time I felt so completely not stressed. (Except for the time I spent stuck in a chimney while my friends talked me through it.) The ranch was also relaxing--we met a steady trickle of climbers and their gorgeous dogs, hung out and drank beer and played Bananagrams.

Tuesday we drove east again, stopping for a swim at Balmorhea Park, which was lovely and timely, as the temperature had spiked. Now I'm home and nursing my scrapes and bruises and missing the beautiful, empty desert.

My pictures are here:

I encourage anyone who climbs or hikes or likes the desert to go. I'm so going back next year, hopefully for a longer stay.
stillsostrange: (Valkyrie)
I have returned, o my internets. If I missed book sales, agent-snaring, or other important life-changing events, please let me know.

In other news, Hueco Tanks was the Best Vacation Ever. A full recap with photos will follow soon. If you're on Facebook, the photos are already there.
stillsostrange: (Last Temptation)
Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for El Paso and Hueco Tanks State Park, for a boulderingstravaganza. I won't be back till Tuesday night. I will internet.

Yeah, this is petrifying.
stillsostrange: (Default)
So I ended up with a bag of bruised apricots after the camping trip, and I decided I should make apricot bread. I ran to the store for flour and such, but forgot to get new yeast. When I finally started to make the bread, I discovered that my yeast was, as I had suspected, a) expired, and b) nearly gone anyway. It was now nearly 9 PM and just starting to rain, but I wanted the bread, dammit, so I dragged the boy off Wolfenstein and hustled to the car.

As we got to the store, it was thunder-hailing. We hustled into the store, intent on grabbing the yeast and getting the hell out of Dodge. Only to be greeted by HEB staff dragging everyone into meat lockers, because there was a tornado warning. So I spent fifteen minutes in the deli cooler texting [ profile] matociquala while awaiting my doom.

The doom was postponed, and they finally let us go. This had better be some really good bread.


stillsostrange: (Default)

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